Hope you are all very well!
As you know I regularly go to visit other villages , especially in light of our outreaches getting off the ground. To get to these villages is a real challenge as you know. During our 9 hour hike , we breathe sticky humid air and sweat without stopping . This is a muddy story and I always say to myself that it is not really nice to do. It’s not like at home where you backpack, on beautiful paths and have restpoints for picnic and lookouts . In fact I have the last few times hiked without shoes due to my hiking shoes being left behind at our support centre. So these kind of experience often leaves me without broken feet and also a bit of a broken heart. But this all changes when we reach our destination! When we come to the village, they occasionally given us a planked hut of our own to stay in for a few days. The first step would be to make it a little more live able. The heat and humidity is usually much worse in these windowless huts, and the rats and damp leaves behind a kind of smell I cannot describe. Its good that’s it’s kind of dark and I cannot really see everything in my house:)
Besides all the interesting things in the houses , there are the people whom I came to visit and grew to love so much over the years! Do not think that I am having this hut all for myself! No way, always when I come into a new village then there would be great crowd of villagers that will wrap around me and give me no space . The concept of privacy does not exist, and they will push through the door, and creep in through the openings or under the wall board. The smell is of course obvious because bathing with soap is for many of them a completely foreign concept.
Furthermore even though I travel very light, still everything I have is so new to them and they want to investigate everything I have, such as sleeping bag, camera , pen and notebook and of course toothbrush and toothpaste . They love to try out everything I have, and I thus often shared my toothbrush:)
As I try to get some order and space for myself , they will start making a fire in the centre of my hut. It will be no good for to frown upon them for this as how can we visit and story without fire! Instead of coffee they will rather chew ” koi “. It is a kind of nut that is chewed with a kind of mustard seed which is called “sibe” and a white powder called ” kapoeloe ” . Everyone, including me, thus gets a koi or two and start chewing . Do not swallow , first take the mustard seed and dip it into the kapoeloe and mix it all together. So we will thus start to visit and story while chewing away. The container with “kapoeloe” will be circulated and will all double dip. Remember not to swallow, no, you must spit out the red aqueous mixture. So we will thus story, chew and spitthere in that nice, humid, smelly warm cabin around the fire.
Soon the men will start making a big noice saying that its dinner time, which means we place sweet potato on the fire and maybe yesterdays piece of pork and fat, maybe some freshwater snails as well and then we chew koi again and so we will visit, eat and chew koi untill late night and sometimes until daybreak. And this is when we talk about real deep issues. No we do not talk about football, new cars or smart phones!
This is where we speak about who the true God is, and what is he like and what does he do and what is his character? Should we be afraid of him , he is far away, or he is near. Is he angry with us or does he love us. How can we make him happy and be at peace with Him? How can we get to know Him? How did everything come into existence? Why do people get sick and people die . What happens after death
We then chew more koi, eat more pig and then ask questions like why is it that the stories of our ancestors so differ from each other and why does it not make any sense? We talk about why is true that different people around us believe in different ways try and make God happy and live in peace with Him? And so we can go on and on until dawn!
As the day starts, the people will tell me, “Come Lourens let ‘s go fishing and talk more” but I will decline and tell them to give me some time to sleep because I know tomorrow night (tonight ) we will visit and story again. And so it will be very nice for me to sleep in my warm, damp hut that smells of rats and mold, while a whole bunch of people watch me and sometimes even share my bed:)
This is nice for me because I know we are busy sowing seeds that will grow into eternity!
Thank you for making it possible for me to do this!
Lourens for the Mengen church