I just got back from a trip down the valley to kickoff a new outreach. For years we have been receiving invitations to come down to a very large village to teach but we have not been ready. Recently one of the main teachers at the community school down there sent us an invitation to teach our chronological “Creation to Christ” Bible course as well as vernacular literacy in the school and we decided that the time was finally right. He was wanting us to teach in all the grades but we didn’t have enough trained teachers or materials to attempt that so we came to the agreement that we would teach in the two upper grades and the teachers from the community school would participate so that later they themselves could teach literacy in the lower grades.
The time finally came to begin so we headed down Sunday after our church service. It’s a three and a half hour rigorous hike one way so we got there in the late afternoon. The trail is slippery mud and climbs straight up in many places almost a 1000 ft so I always hike wearing logger boots with metal spikes all over the bottom. They work better than anything else on slippery mud and logs. The trail has two log bridge crossings and one high vine bridge over a large river but it’s a beautiful trail. We arrived down at the other village and were welcomed and given a nice house to sleep in. Much better than what we had expected. As for food: I had a banana for breakfast each day, a cucumber for lunch and some rice and tin fish for dinner. We visited for quite some time with the family that was hosting us and went out to greet others from the community. Young kids who hadn’t been close to a white man before kept surrounding me and were trying to get up the nerve to touch me. They would timidly get closer and closer till they would touch me and then run away, to which I would reward them with a big smile. Several very old people were also quite excited about my presence there.
The Simbari Bible/literacy teachers were feeling overwhelmed with everything but they continually asked the Lord for strength and said, “God chose us for this work so he will indeed strengthen us to carry it out”. In the dim light of a kerosene lamp we got the material ready for classes the next morning and went to bed early (I know at least I was exhausted from the hike). The next morning we were thrown upon the Lord again when the scheduling plan for the school did not give enough time for Bible and literacy but we were finally able come up with a good solution. The whole situation was causing our Simbari Bible/literacy teachers to feel inadequate but they just continued to depend on the Lord. As I watched this in progress 2 Cor. 12:9 came to mind: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
In the beginning we weren’t sure at all how the Bible teaching as well as literacy would be received. But the students and teachers in the community school were thrilled with both the Bible lessons and the vernacular literacy program. In addition to teaching in the school we also taught the chronological Bible lessons in the village market area for the whole community. Even though it’s a good community meeting place we’re still not sure if that is the best location for the teaching because of the disturbances of the nearby market. Pray for God’s direction in knowing what would be the best time and place for those meetings in the future.
As we were hiking back we stopped at the high vine bridge and had a little fun jumping off the bridge into the river. It’s one of the few places where there are no rocks and the water is deep enough to do that. We walked for much of the time in a misty rain and as we headed up the valley higher and higher we eventually ended up right in the clouds where the village we live in is located. After the message in our Sunday worship service we talked about the power of God at work in our midst. We also discussed bringing some sweet potatoes to put in the offering to help our teachers to not go hungry during the outreach. After church we played a few games of volleyball then the teachers headed off again on the hike down to the other village. I, David, stayed home this time to keep working on the translation of Ephesians. Please pray for this outreach in the school and community as it continues in
the weeks ahead.