To state that Siawiland is one of the harshest places to live and work that I have ever visited, is saying a lot. I’ve been in a lot of places.
The dugout canoe is uncomfortable with no seats and tippy; the 2 hour hike incredibly exhausting. I realize my body is no longer accustomed to travel this way. The heat is oppressive. The sweat runs rivers down my face and I cannot wear my glasses. We wade creeks, cross logs over creeks, and tromp through tall grass. These tribal people do not clean their trails, they just power through them. Why build a bridge, when you can just skinny across on a pole or wade through leech infested swamp water?
We arrive in the village. Tribal smiles all around and this sweet missionary wife is so excited to see us. Her welcome is infectious. She waits on us, refreshes us with drink and food and she chats about the people, her people, and I can see the pride in her eyes, the joy on her face. I am so impressed.
The night is no cooler. The heat is oppressive. The sweat will not stop. I take a cold water shower, but when I step out the sweat starts again. I towel it off. I am tired, rumpled and hot. Very hot. I try to get to the bed without exerting myself but the sweat runs down my back in rivulets. Staying dry is a hopeless cause, but I towel it off. I get behind the mosquito net and begin the battle to remove the entrapped mosquitos and the sweat starts all over again. My first day in Siawiland.
Contrast the living conditions with the excitement in the eyes of the missionary as he listens to the tribal elder teach from the book of Acts and watches the people’s intense understanding of Truth. The people take notes and flip through Scripture. Sunday Church is pretty amazing.
The missionaries tell me, it’s worth it all. I see it in their eyes and in their speech. The missionary’s job is soon done, here. In a month they will pack up and leave this place with a functioning mature church and a printed New Testament in the Siawi tribal language.
The realization dawns on me that this missionary and his family have lived years amidst the harshest of conditions, in order to see this mature church established. It’s down right miraculous. Can you sense the awe, I feel to be in this place? Can you feel it?
God is building His Church in the most unlikely of places. The world is unaware, unimpressed. God sees and heaven erupts with praise.