Saturday, June 14, 2008

First Week

We’d like to share every detail of what we’re experiencing here but obviously that isn’t feasible. So instead I’d like to give a basic overview of what we learn each week. We’ll hopefully have some pictures up soon too – as I’ve found a way to get them on the computer without a cord. So, it’s been a busy first couple of weeks and we’re SO excited to have this, our first, day off.

A lot happened the first week, although most of it involved introductions and adjustments to living, culture, and climate. Classes started on Tuesday so we were able to have at least a couple days to get settled in to our new little mud brick home for the Summer. The first week of classes involved a lot of introductions of long term missionaries here, and we got started on our Portuguese classes. Here is some basic Portuguese we learned:
Hello/Good Morning = Bom Dia
Good Afternoon = Boa Tarde
Good Night = Boa Noite
How are you? = Como esta?
I’m well, thanks. = Estou bem, obrigado/a
See you later. = Ate logo.
Bye = Chao
So that’s been fun using that around with the kids, the guards, the Mozambiquan workers, and the other students. They also have a language called Makua, which is the name of the tribe here. That language is a little more difficult. All we know so far is how to say hi and thanks. And when ever we do use that language, the people light up, but then giggle a little at our efforts. Here is an example of that:
Hello = Salama
Thanks = Gooshukooroo
(I tried to spell that phonetically. The r’s roll by the way.)
We’ve also been getting our schedules and our first assignment, which I’ll share in a moment, and trying to make sense of all the activities and places and times we need to be each week, as it differs for every one.

Shara, Heidi’s assistant, has been teaching us a lot. She grew up in a Jewish/Indian home that didn’t believe in Jesus. She got saved at 13 and spent a lot of time hiding in her closet praying and reading the bible. She said she would go to “babysit” or “study at the library” and really be doing to church and prayer meetings. Her family thought they would get her out of Christianity by sending her to an Ivy League school but that only fueled the fire for her as she organized events and evangelized on the campus of Princeton. She heard about the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and moved down there living in her car for months. From there she went on a missions trip to Africa with Todd Bentley (the guy who is being used in the revival in Florida right now) and there met Heidi. There the Lord told her she would become Heidi’s assistant and soon after that, it came to be so.
This week she taught us about the three gardens in the bible: the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of Paradise. She broke down how each garden represented a time and a place not only in the stories in the bible but as a depiction of relationship with God. The one that blew me away the most was the Garden of Gethsemane and how it mirrored a Jewish wedding ceremony. “The son is given a cup to drink and he then gives it to his love. If she then drinks of the cup then they are betrothed.” (It’s interested about how the bible begins and ends with the metaphor of marriage, but that’s a whole other blog.) Then she shared with us how in Song of Solomon it writes about being a garden enclosed, a locked garden and how Kings used to build these gardens for their wives that where measures of their nobility by how large they were. They would delight in their Queens in those gardens, those secret places created only for them. This is how it is with our relationship with Christ, as we are to be that garden enclosed and he is to dwell within us and he delights in us. That’s just a little taste of that 2+ hour class. (I can post the scripture references on it, and will do that in the future, so you can look up more on these topics if you choose.)
Another day Heidi started her series on the Beatitudes. Her first lesson was “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit” and just what that means. Mark Muirhead says of the handicapped children they minister to in Jamaica every year that they are “handicapped on the outside, but we are handicapped on the inside,” and the same is with this topic. Compared to the rest of the world, the west is rich. Guy Chevereu said if you own more than one pair of clothes and eat more than one meal a day you are richer than the majority of the world. I think we are very blind to these facts in the west, and it’s a very real separation of the have’s and the have not’s here. So, back to the statement made by Mark Muirhead, in relation to this, these people may be poor monetarily, but are rich in spirit. They know what the spirit world is all about and see it, hear it, feel it, live it. Witchdoctors have a big presence in their lives and demonic spirits, curses, and other spiritual manifestations are part of their every day reality. However, in the west, we have to a great degree taken the Holy Spirit out of the equation of church and replaced it with a religious spirit. So in those respects we are poor in spirit. The bible says, blessed are those who are poor for they will inherit the kingdom. (In describing the events of the weekend of this week, you’ll see more of what I mean here.) So in being poor in spirit, I think we often don’t realize it or accept that, and some of you may even be offended at those statements. But the thing that I’m realizing is that we have to be poor in spirit. If we think we know it all or have it all under control or feel we’re doing a good job of handling our lives and our churches and our ministries etc etc, then we are not dependant on God. To be a child is to be dependant. One lady here had a vision of heaven and when she walked up to the gate, it was really small, all the doors were small, and everything around was small – child sized. I think we forget what it’s like to be dependant as adults because so much of our lives are centered on independence. So Heidi closed asking this question, and we found out later it was our first assignment – to write a one page paper on this topic. I challenge you to think about this and try to answer it for yourself: “What is good news to the poor?” How to you take good news to the poor? What does that look like? How can you approach a poor and dying person and tell them that God loves them and has great plans for their life and that he wants them to live a life of abundance? How do you bring this good news to a paralyzed person who has come to receive healing but is still paralyzed?

The week ended with a surprise schedule change for our team (Open Heaven Blue) to go on outreach. We packed up and drove about 4 hours in the back of a flat bed truck with about 30 others (students, visitors, and Mozambiquans) with all our stuff and sound equipment to a little village outside of Nampula. This is what they call ‘the bush.’ We got there, set up our tents and then made some beans and rice and showed the Jesus film in Makua (a pretty interesting thing to hear!). Then we had a time of testimony sharing and called for prayer. We saw all kinds of healings happen right before our eyes: stomach pains, headaches, limb pain, and more. It was like a chaotic mob of people begging for prayer and then you’re faced with what little language you know to ask, “where is the pain?” and “is it still there?” Then we played African music on the loud speakers and danced into the night. It was awesome! The next morning we handed out little bags of candy and cookies (which are so not sweet according to western standards, they are more like crackers) to the kids – talk about chaotic! Some of them would get back in line and we’d be saying, “OK, I know I saw that power ranger shirt with the two holes in the shoulder once or twice before.” Then we packed up again and headed to another village, and did the same thing. It is weird for these Mozambiquans to see our little tent villages I’m sure, all these instant homes with bright colors amongst their mud and bamboo huts. During the day we had church services by the way – which are so delightful and energetic! We sing and dance and sing and dance and sing and dance, and them a few groups will get up and lead a sing and dance and another sing and dance, all in this tiny little four walled mud and bamboo hut with ants and spiders and some grass mats on the floor. I think in K.P. Yohannan’s book it talked about someone saying “it’s hot in here, the AC isn’t working, I’m uncomfortable” at a church and an Indian woman who was used to sitting on the floor with no AC packed in with other people responding with, “what does comfort have to do with church?” After church had ended some guys stayed behind to pray for this man that wobbled into the church hunched over and eyes and mouth pursed shut. He hadn’t spoken in over 10 years. After about 45 mintues of prayer, he walked out of the church standing upright, eyes open and telling everyone his story. He accepted Christ and they told the Pastors to really disciple him. We’ll share more of this story when we return, because Darryl was there and he can tell you what he saw. Later that evening we went to a school, which was more like a picnic shelter at a park in the west, to show the Jesus film in Makua again. This time it was a little different. There was a much more Muslim presence and a lot of drunks and it was SO DARK outside, but you could see the stars even on the horizon and the milky way looked like clouds it was so clear! Some boys set up a little ‘store’ near where Darryl and I were sitting that was used liquor bottles filled with sweet tea (Southern sweet tea has nothing on their sweet tea by the way! Whew! *pucker*) and people would buy a swig of the tea and afterward, return the bottle that the boy would dip in a bucket of water and refill, tipping off to an even balance by taking a swig himself. This is Africa! When we did the alter call it was a little scary I’ll be honest. There were so many people, but they were seriously hungry for the Lord. Around 250 people accepted Christ eagerly, and again we saw so many healings right before our eyes; a lot of the same things, stomach and head pains (probably from eating what they can find, and carrying things on their heads and not drinking enough water). And a guy’s eyes were healed from partial blindness. It was amazing, and good to get back to what seemed like civilization to us! What with having to use the latrines (a hole in the ground, often without walls), and being outside constantly, we ended the weekend with a nice visit to Pemba beach. Remind me to tell about the gas station in the bush sometime!

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