Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Questions and Cannibals

I know I have been somewhat vague in describing what is going on here and I apologize. The days are often filled with activities and there is always something pressing going on. Classes often last until 4 or later and it gets dark at 5:30 and we are not allowed to go out of the base in the evenings without a taxi and an entourage. So, that makes it difficult to get into town and limits my evenings. I have had very little time at the beach or any down time to play. Also, I am very frustrated because I am having a hard time running here. The banditos are infamous here in Pemba and running is simply not safe, they will knife you. So I really miss my long runs and feel sluggish without it. I look forward to my long runs in downtown East Point.
I have been processing a lot since my weekend outreach. I wanted to determine in my head how God can change a village and what a changed village looks like. It doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, I am in missions school and here I am questioning everything, doubting everything and wondering how in the world people can go to a village, preach the gospel and make a difference of any sort. So my questions become, what is poverty? Is this village really poor? They seem happy, as long as they have food are they okay? What else do they need? Clean water and a latrine…okay, if we give them that and get them to pray the sinner’s prayer and baptize them, is that enough? How do you start a church? We have no curriculum? No one can even READ!! It cannot be done. The Makonde people are cannibals and eat each other, how can I even relate to them? My questions are endless. Then Dr. Heidi shows up for weekly teaching and I can’t think of all those questions anymore.
She starts by saying, as she has so many times before, “I have no idea what I am doing.” Iris Ministries is huge, with over 7,000 churches and they feed 50,000 a day. Every day they face constant, severe need. She begins with questions too, “How do we carry love, grace and mercy in the midst of constant need”? Her answer. Focus your eyes on Jesus and the beauty of who He is because He is perfect. He never gave up and He loved the ones crucifying Him. He is the example of divine love and shows us how to do missions. He knows how to change a nation, even a nation of people who are cannibals, don’t read, living in extreme poverty. We need to pray for incarnational love to so take hold of us that no one can resist. John 1:14 says, the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one of a kind glory, like Father, like Son. (The Message) Jesus knows precisely how to bring His love to a culture that is so incredibly different from our own. We are simply to be laid down lovers, carrying His love. Mozambicans have a very oral oriented culture. They learn through listening and looking, some stemming from the fact that most do not read. They way you act is even more important than what you say. So, you must have Christ so fully in you that they want to know Him. It cannot be a strategic plan (as is my idea with my degree) and it is not turning them into Westerners! The plan is simply to learn from them and work together. Our job is to love, if you love well eventually other things fall into place.
So, I am learning from them. In a recent teaching along with the pastors, Heidi had pastors who had lost a child stand up. Probably as much as one third of the group of 150 plus pastors stood up. Most children died of Malaria and dysentery. These men are all so poor and they depend on God like a child on its mother. If you tell them God will heal you, they believe in a heartbeat. They have no where else to go and no doctor’s to turn to. They have no Western world to seek or escape to. Their faith of these poor in spirit is beautiful to witness. We doubt so much and convince ourselves that we are fine without God. These men aren’t fine without God. They depend on Him for everything. I want their faith! They prayed for us to receive and believe like they do. They have been in desperate situations that most of us will never experience. They show me why we need God to begin with. When we are stripped of all our comforts and we are faced with a life where we truly need a Savior, then I see that life is impossible without faith.
So these are the kinds of things that are daily a part of my prayer and meditation. This is all coupled with living with 9 other people, someone is always sick, it’s hot, the water is not always running, I miss my blackberry, computer and communication with the outside world. I have no idea what is going on. Thank you for the cards, Christine and Gran McCarley!! They were a big surprise!! I turn the big 3-O next week! I look forward to celebrating with my family here and can’t wait to come home and celebrate some more with all of you!

I did take an unexpected trip to Ibo Island this past weekend. It was a long drive and then a boat ride in a dhow with 20 people. We camped the night before we took the ferry over and then camped again on Ibo. You will have to do some research Dad and let me know more about the history there. Portuguese traded there and it was a huge area for slave trade, the Portuguese left there in the 1970’s. It was basically an abandoned trade village now inhabited by 5,000 Mocambicans. The area is beautiful and there is a five star hotel there. I opted to stay in the 10 million star hotel underneath the Mozambican sky.


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