JOURNAL ENTRY MARCH 10, 2011
I love sitting with this family. I think I could just pitch my tent here and stay for days – I wonder – maybe I should. As I get to know and remember their names (one baby is named Regina in honor of my wonderful wife) and understand who is related to whom, understand how many kids and how few fathers and fewer jobs; as I see the banter among them, the easy laughter, the ceaseless braiding of the hair as they sit on miscellaneous buckets or rocks, I am drawn to enter into their life – to sit, not as the guest, but as one of them, with all the time in the world, with a carefree attitude regardless of the fact that any one of them might have no husband, no source of income, 5 children who have no shoes and only one goes to school, whose maize is growing (if one is fortunate enough to have a maize field) though the weed production is proving the curse of Adam is still very effective. But one cannot keep the children out of it – the demanding pain of hunger cannot be denied when there is a field of immature corn nearby – so forget the large harvest at the set time – better to settle for a gradual dwindling of the crop. What can one do?
As I sit studying them I remember David Livingstone’s words about when he was mauled by a lion in his early days as a missionary. The lion took him in his mouth and shook him as a cat does a mouse. And similar to the mouse, Livingstone said that he felt no pain. There was an eerie calm that soothed his soul, allowing him to experience his predicament without terror – as if an objective, interested, yet detached observer. He gave praise to God for weaving this system into the fabric of living beings to allow them to pass thru terrible circumstances with little pain or terror.
I first “discovered” this village and family on a Word from God – “go find the headman of Siamate Village, and the lady that Vovo prayed for.” Now our team knows it as “Dan’s village” – where I go when I have free time.
I try hard to just enjoy these lovely people – “you don’t need to pull out your ‘fix it’ gun the moment you hear of a difficulty” – it just cements in their thinking that the reason I am here is to be the solution to all their problems (in contrast to “help them find a solution to their problems).
But I can’t take it for long. Soon I am “fixing it”. Is this the compassion of God kicking in? Or is it my American way? When Jesus was “moved with compassion” – literally with “bowels of compassion” – an involuntary reflex to human pain and heaven’s resources – it must have been frustrating to his disciples – “Doesn’t he know we don’t have time to stop for one more leaper?”
But I can’t sit and watch as these wonderful young teens sit and molder with nothing to do because they cannot afford the $1.50 school fee and shoes and books – about $15 each in total to go to school. So after a two day spree I have 6 or 7 kids re-signed up for school!
So now are they going to settle into the easy believism – “ah, the muzungu (white man) will take care of me every semester”? No. We are trying to “teach them to fish” – so these are working every Saturday in the fields of a very poor family to “pay it forward.”
And Nimisha is busy taking a bunch of youth to a week of training to carve tourist nick nacks – of course this will take some money, so they are busy selling popcorn and home made popsicles thru the villages! And Sarah is busy designing some crafts for the village women to work on. With God’s grace we are instilling a spirit of “can-do” in the village psyche!
I pray for Siamate Village – so poor, so many orphans, so beaten down. I pray for a man of peace who will receive the Gospel of Jesus, not just with a passive nod, but with the violence of a Kingdom Champion, and will carry the weight of the cross to this village. I can come and share the story – but God is looking for a man of peace to take hold of it and plant that flag of the Kingdom on his own soil, and not rest until the shock waves have transformed his whole village!
I may have found such a man. When I told him of our vision of a grassroots church of trained disciples making disciples, he rose up, beat his chest and said in the typical Zambian way, “Even me! Even me!” May it be Lord.
We did baptize another yesterday – possibly such a Kingdom Champion for his village of Singnanga.
Now I sit under “our tree” – the place Regina and I would love to make our home someday, and listen to the birds – amazing African bird sounds – louder than anything I’ve heard in America – watching the water pass quickly by, enjoying the cool freshness of the morning, waiting for the tea to be prepared by one of the team. I set up my little tent and sleep on the edge of this mighty river once a week and soak in the hope. We pray and work and trust that God will do what he has to do.
And though I have done some small things for the poor this week, I think Jesus is saying, “Well done. You have done it for me.” That is enough.