Wednesday April 28th, 2010 marks one week gone and the mid point in our conference week. We are all starting to get attached to individual women, as they are to different ones of us. Shannon and Cristin have been taking the children out for part of the day to quiet our room just a little, but honestly there are still babies and toddlers in the room and I rarely hear a peep from them or see a woman distracted trying to keep them occupied. I’m not sure how they achieve such self control in their children at such a young age. I have seen no toys, nothing to entertain them. Mamas seem eager to have us hold them by walking up and offering them to us. So far 3 little ones have cried and held tight to their mothers when they see my white face and hands getting too close.
Two of our team stayed back at the hotel suffering with heat exhaustion or dehydration. I have to say that God has sustained me and protected me from either of those things, no headaches, no stomach issues with the food, no fatigue really. Thanks for praying those things for me. But with two women short, our small groups were larger and probably about 20 women in each. I must not ask the questions right, because they are so interested in counseling type questions, rather than going over the topics that have been taught.
Today they asked me “if I am having dreams, are they from God or the Devil?” “What things do American women struggle with?”, “What is birth control and how does it work?” (ya, I know. You are scared because you know how open I am which is exactly why I was scared to death trying to answer them truthfully and still be culturally sensitive, ya, I know!) “If I am married and then I am born again, do I have to divorce my husband who is not a Christian?” You know, easy stuff like that.
When you ask them if they have ever encountered God in a personal way, my word the miraculous things they have experienced make our jaws drop.
Praise and worship is interspersed throughout the day as well as an open microphone for women to share what they have learned or an experience that they remember where the topic would apply, i.e. forgiveness, grace etc…
We were served meat for lunch today, which is quite an honor and only the “visitors” were served that. We are thinking it was goat or beef and was good. It was served with potatoes, spaghetti type noodles and a fish sauce that looked like chunky pink yogurt. Now I know how it sounds, but when 100+ women are watching you eat and have sacrificed to honor you, YOU EAT IT and smile gratefully, honestly it has all been good. They don’t understand why we can’t clean our plates, because they eat a very small meal in the early morning and this meal at lunch time and that will be it for the day. We all just want to hand our plates over to someone else and please know they will take it without hesitation, but would never ask.
Everyone else had a large peeled boiled potato with the fish sauce poured over it. Again they ate theirs with their fingers, while we had forks. They collect all the plates from everyone and wash them in the back, bent straight over from the waist with a plastic wash tub, the size and dimensions of something we have at home when the oil is changed in the car, with soapless water…scrubbed by one, rinsed in a second tub by another then stacked to dry. There is no running water. This water was carted from somewhere and I promise you all 100+ plates were washed in the same portion.
We had plenty of water today and by 5:30 when the men usually arrive from the other location, I am surprised at how they day has flown by.
They are so so grateful that we have come. But today I told them that we appreciated everything they have done to show their appreciation and that this time next week when we are gone, they needed to know that visitors are not necessary. Encouraging, and interesting yes, but that everything they need is still in Kakiira, God and the Bible and people to support and love them as they continue to learn and walk with Jesus. “Amen, Amen! Hallelujah!” they shouted. But I know we will miss each other when the time comes.
One woman asked if I was available to come and speak at her church on Sunday, and I had to tell her that I would be leaving early Sunday morning. Dang.
The men shared at dinner tonight, that their day was really good and powerful. A man named Moses ate dinner with us tonight and is helping start a church in a village close to here. He said men are called to lead and serve, but they are not equipped. That is exactly what this ministry organization is focused on, so I think there will be some support for him and the new church at some point.
Its difficult to have an overall perspective of
Please pray for another day of strength and changed lives. Today I will teach on the woman caught in adultery and the way Jesus protected that woman, yet spoke the perfect balance of love, grace and truth. Our internet is so spotty, it is frustrating not to be able to email or post on facebook personally. Please know that any moment we are not engaged with the women, I am thinking how much I want to share with you all about
So sorry, not to have pictures today. I lightened my load to the village yesterday by taking only the video camera. I know photos are the best part...more today.
Shannon, Robin, Cristin are all back to great health. Susan our women's team leader is still down and I don't know if she's going to make it with us today. I would know that if I was actually at the meeting that started 10 minutes ago...but you are so important to me :) They are a patient group, so I'm good that way.