Sorry it's been a while since our last post. We have experienced so much over this last week! We are currently sitting on the floor of Summer's house in Nabilatuk, Karamoja, babysitting the newest member of the team. The new member is named "Tangles" and is a 3 day old ostrich! Possibly the cutest thing in the world.
On Saturday the 18th we met up with Summer in Kampala and spent an evening out being encouraged by her and Jean and Roger Tripp (who are a British couple that act as the country coordinators for Pioneers International in Uganda - the mission organisation that Summer is with).
The next morning we gathered up our packs, threw them into Summer's newly tuned up 4wd and headed off to Jinja to visit Sarah and her daughter Naomi and the 13 foster children who stay there! After a brilliant day of relaxing, chatting, volleyball and general hanging with the kids we headed off to town to stay the night at Calvary Chapel with Bev and Jesse Rich (friends of Melissa's and the church Summer has her visa here with). Brenton found it cool how, if he had still been in Australia, he would probably have been doing the exact same thing at 3pm in the afternoon whilst on holidays - playing volleyball in the lake up in Forster with lots of people!
After a great evening and morning of fellowship we once again jumped into the 4wd and headed off to Soroti to meet up with Daniel and Rachel Graham from the NGO CLIDE (Community Livestock Integration and Development) and to meet the E3 (Equip, Evangelise, Establish) mission team from America with whom we were linking up for the next week in Karamoja. By the way, organisations over here really like acronymns!
|E3 Mission Team - photo by lanternvision.org|
It was so awesome to meet the team from America. It's amazing how God calls people from all over the world together to serve in His mission. We had a brief orientation as to what the plan was for the week, had some dinner together, spent some time in getting to know one another and headed off to Nakayot the next morning (we made sure to throw in some true blue Aussie phrases to entertain). We all worked together setting up camp and were quite suprised by the sudden rain storm which came flying in to rain cats and dogs upon us. It was a great team building time.
Nakayot is the central village of the Peace Villages that were established by Dr Val and some key Karamojong elders in the middle of the 'raiding corridor'. This is a strip of valley between two mountains (very beautiful) that men from one tribe wishing to steal cattle from another, pass through. By placing the Peace Villages in this corridor, the men are discouraged from coming through and are sometimes even stopped and told about Jesus! Pretty cool.
We all gathered together with Dr Val and Waffle (married couple whose main ministry this area is) and went through some methods of presenting the gospel in Karamoja for the culture (e.g. tribalism is obviously massive so this can be used in explaining the gospel, e.g. God invites us into his tribe!) as well as looking at what we were all hoping to achieve over the week.
Brenton found it really interesting to learn about the different culture here and how that would alter the way the gospel could best be presented. The plan for the week was to meet with the churches in the surrounding villages and spend time with them encouraging them in their walk with God and to present them with tools to help them gain access to God's word as the communities are mostly illiterate. We were blessed to be given the opportunity to serve the village 'Alakas'.
Each morning we would be up by 6:30am and have a morning devotion surrounded by a lot of worship songs, most of which were in Ngakaramajong. The Karamojong people sing their songs so enthusiastically with lots of clapping and jumping. Their songs are sung with call and reply; the song leader will sing a verse for you to repeat after they sing a section. Devotions were followed by a breakfast of porridge made from corn flour with tea (sometimes coffee!) and a banana.
After breakfast we headed out with our team of 13 on foot to Alakas along rocky paths, up and over a hill, a bit steep in parts, and just over 5km for a round trip. The church in Alakas is led by a young man named Micky who can read and understand both english and ngakaramojong! What a blessing. We split up for our time at Alakas with Brenton teaching with the men and Melissa teaching with the women.
The tools we had at our disposal were mp3 players with the Bible on them in ngakaramojong and some other languages that they could play through and listen to, booklets with study questions that go along with each Bible story on the mp3 player, a cloth with about 30 pictures on it that depicted each Bible story so they could see a picture and be reminded of the Bible story, ngakaramajong Bibles for anyone who could read (these were first printed in 2011 so are recently translated which is cool) and evangelism cubes if people wanted to use them as well. None of the women could read but a few of the men could which was neat so Brenton could give out and use a lot of the resources.
Melissa and the other people in the women's group went through a Bible story (the stories are chronologically in order), using the cloth as an aid and asked 4 questions that could be reproduced for every story to learn, as they couldn't read the study booklet. These were; what was the story about/retell the story, what did we learn/hear about God, what did we learn/hear about people (in the story) and how will we change/be different, after hearing this story. Over the four days of meeting up, we did this again and again as we progressed through the stories (with prayer and a lot of singing accompanying each session as well of course) so that by the 3rd and 4th day, the women were leading the group and using the mp3 player without us as we sat back and enjoyed.
The men's group, Micky included, spent the first day learning about why it is important for christians to be looking at God's word. They spent some time sharing testimonies with each other and Brenton was amazed and greatly encouraged by what was shared by the men; it is a big thing to be willing to share your testimony within a group and be open and vulnerable. The mens group then all listened to the first story on the mp3 player; the creation account. It was awesome to see the men all listening intently to the story of creation; how exciting that those who were iliterate were now able to have access to God's word. Brenton was able to spend time showing Micky and the men in the group how to ask questions of the story using the study book and was very encouraged by the responses of the men in the group to the questions. It was amazing to see these warriors sitting together and allowing themselves to be vulnerable to attack or ridicule from the others as they gave their responses. All throughout the week the people involved with the men's group were encouraged by the willingness of the men to respond to the studies. It was particularly encouraging to be able to help Micky learn how to help the men to learn truths from God's word without having to preach to them.
The E3 group had a 'pass the baton' philosophy for the week; start the week off walking with the Karamojong church in your village and gradually pass the baton off running besides them until they take the baton to finish the race. The long term missionaries and local pastors will keep visiting the village churches to encourage and for accountability.
We both loved the entire week, it was an exercise in faith to leave the men and women at the end in the arms of God and trust the Holy Spirit to complete the work in the hearts of the people. It is God who teaches us and changes us, so prayer is so important for these new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ we have come to love over this last week.
"So what is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
Points for Prayer:
Ø That the people in the villages we ministered to over this week would remain faithful to God.
Ø That they would be using the tools and resources that E3 provided them with to learn more about the awesome God who created them, loves them and seeks a relationship with them.
Ø For the long term missionaries serving these villages; that God would hold them in His hands and give them the strength needed to keep carrying out His mission and desire for all peoples to know Him.
Ø Praise God for such an amazing opportunity to be able to serve with the team from E3 and to be able to serve the Karamojong people.
Ø Praise God for all the members of the teams who went out to the villages and through the sharing of the gospel over 100 people were saved; including a Commander of the warriors in a village who had killed 25 people. He is a changed man and is actively sharing the gospel with those he meets! What a great victory for the gospel!
Ø Safety as the E3 team returns to America and that this time in Karamoja will stay with them and give them courage to share their faith and the good news of Jesus there as well.