Sunday, August 19, 2007
Recently, we had the opportunity to travel to the northwest part of Namibia - Kaokoland. Kaokoland is home to the Himba tribe of Namibia. The Himba are one of most nomadic people still left on the earth, living much as they have for hundreds of years. We were told that there are well over 600 small villages of Himba people in Kaokoland. We visited and ministered in four of these villages.
In the first village we met a woman and her children. She was making a small mud hut for one of her children as a school project. In our conversation, I asked this woman if she had heard of Jesus Christ to which she promptly replied, "Yes." I asked her if she had a Bible, and she said that she didn't. In fact, she could not read, but one of her children could read. We were able to give her a Bible in their language thanks to LFTL (Light For The Lost). In a moment she stopped what she was doing and began to talk in her language. My interpreter told me that she said, "Someone comes and preaches to us and the light comes on. Then it is a very long time before anyone comes again. The light just goes out."
This woman was hungry. She was hungry to hear about God. She was hungry to know the ways of God. She was hungry for the light to keep burning. Few statements have moved me as much as this one. It seems to be embedded deep within my spirit, and I hear her words often.
She and her family were physically hungry as well. It has not rained in this area for a very long time. The men of the village have traveled many miles with their cattle and goats in order to find suitable grazing. The women and children are left to take care of their belongings and the village. We were also able to share maize meal with this family. Maize meal is much like cream of wheat in the USA. It is a staple food for most of Africa. Fredna gave biscuits (cookies) to all the young children and adults as well! Everyone likes a sweet!
The spiritual encouragement and maize meal was not much in light of the need, but at least the light was turned on for a time... then I suppose it will go out once again.
In the next village we ministered to this old woman and her granddaughter first. The grandmother could not turn her head. She had been to the town and was able to see a doctor, but she was still suffering. We shared the Word of God with her and prayer. She was grateful for both because she believed that God could heal her.
These two women in another village were both ill. The lady with Fredna had been in an automobile accident sometime in the past. She was having many problems with her legs and knees. She was the spiritual leader of this village and a believer in Christ. The lady seated beside me was also suffering from an illness. The white markings on her face are not tribal, rather some kind of medicine that she had put on sores. We prayed for both and shared maize meal as well.
On Sunday morning I preached in the church that one of our Bible school students pastors. This picture was taken of all those that accepted Christ during the service. People are hungry to hear the Word, and the Word does not return void!
Please pray for the Himba people. They are a beautiful group of people that God sent His son, Jesus, to die for. Many have heard, but many have not. Remember, it is only Good News if it gets there in time!
Walls and security gates are being painted, lights are being installed and the outside windows are being finished. We will build the steps to the entrance on Tuesday and hang the doors. The last coat of paint will go on, and the final cleaning will take place. Chairs and benches will be brought in, and we will be ready for services!
Thursday, August 16, 2007
That is exactly what happened today in Otjiwarongo. No, the circus didn't come to town, but something almost as good. It was a 49 metre long "cold box" mounted on a specially designed trailer being pulled and pushed by two huge trucks. This cargo weighed in at whopping 140 tonnes and travels at a top speed of 30 km/h! It will take 6 weeks to make the trip from Walvis Bay, Namibia to the destination in Zambia. It took two cranes to off load the box at the harbour in Walvis Bay - the heaviest twin-lift operation ever accomplished at the harbour. This "cold box" was specially designed and manufactured in England, and according to the press release, it will be used in Zambian copper mines to separate pure oxygen from the air, which in turn will assist in the separation of copper from the ore.
News spread quickly around Otjiwarongo that the load would be coming through town early this morning. You can't imagine the excitement in the air. Literally hundreds of people filled the streets in an effort to watch this monster crawl down main street. When we found out what was going on, Fredna suggested that I should bring the workers to town so they would not miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. Everyone jumped on the lorrie and we headed to town. There wasn't a parking place within three blocks of the main intersection so I let everyone off and I parked a few blocks away. These guys were so excited! Oh well, such is the life when you live in a small town and the "circus" arrives!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Aaron and Margaret Wetterling came to Namibia about 2 months ago for a 3-month stay. They are MAPS workers from the State of Oregon in the USA. The Wetterlings are retired from full-time work and have entered part-time work traveling the world and assisting in work projects for missionaries. They were recently in Botswana for a time doing the same thing they are doing here in Namibia - building cabinets and cataloguing the library.
Aaron has built and installed almost all the cabinets in the NAMTI kitchen, while Margaret has catalogued the NAMTI library. Margaret is retired from the public school system, where she worked in the school library. Aaron is a self-made carpenter who enjoys building most anything. They have both been a blessing to the Bible school, and we have enjoyed their company very much. Please take a look at their online blog at http://aarmar.blogspot.com/.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The young lady that we prayed for (and her mother) that was in such a critical condition, passed away yesterday. To the officials and record keepers - another statistic. To Jesus - a person He gave His life for. Did she know the love of God? Did she know that Jesus died for her? Did she accept His love? I cannot be certain. I wish we could have met her before she became so ill; we could have shared His love with her while there was still time. There are others that must be told of God's love and grace.
Romans 10:13-15 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Most every Saturday evening we drive into a division of the Location called Saam Staan. Saam Staan means "Stand Together" in Afrikaans. Siska (In the blue dress and head cover) opens her home to us so we can hold a church service. We have been having church here for almost a year now.
It all started when we were driving around this part of the Location one day when we heard someone yell, "Pastor, Pastor!" It was Siska. Siska is a single lady in her thirties that we met at the morning devotions we held at NAMTI. Siska and three of her uncles were constructing her new house. It is a one-room house made of corrugated metal (referred to as zinc here). The house is about 12 feet square with a dirt floor. She was so proud to be getting her own house! She asked if Fredna and I would come in and pray over her new home.
We did, then she wanted us to pray for her uncles, then her neighbors, then her friends... I think you get the picture. Before we left that afternoon there were about 20 or 25 people that came for prayer. Not long after this we began having church services as the Lord opened the doors of opportunity. Many people have found salvation through House Church.
Notice the white couple sitting next to Fredna. They are Aaron and Margaret Wetterling. The Wetterlings are MAPS workers that are here for 3 months doing work at NAMTI. Aaron is building cabinets for the Bible school kitchen, and Margaret is cataloguing the NAMTI library. I will tell more about their adventures later.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
As we were leaving the ward, we stopped to pray with two other patients, both female. One young lady looked to be in her late teens or early twenties. She lay in a fetal position with her eyes rolled back in her head. I would guess that her total body weight was no more than 60 pounds. Her mother was by her side and welcomed our prayers. Neither she nor her daughter spoke English, so my friend translated for us. After praying for the daughter, I took the mother by her hands, and we began to pray for her. As I prayed for this mother, who was literally watching the life drain out of her young daughter, I was overcome with sadness for her. I began to weep for her as her tears rolled down her tired, worn face.
There is so much pain and suffering in this country. The true reason we are here is never very far from us.
Work at Ombili is progressing nicely. Most of the inside windows are finished, all security gates have been made and one is hanging this afternoon. Three of the workers primed about three quarters of the outside of the building. Over the next couple of days they will finish plastering the remaining part of the building and the two inside rooms. The remaining security gates will be hung as well. Monday we should start painting for real.
Time for games...
A family from the Kavango region lives next door to the church. Today they were all outside in the sun playing one of the traditional African games. I am not really sure of the name; it seems to be called something different by each tribe. This family calls it "calculation". One of the ladies in this family gave birth to a baby boy a few weeks ago. We had asked her what she was going to name the baby when it came, and she said, "If it is a girl, we will call her Fredna, and if it is a boy we will call him Pastor Brown." Well, it was a boy, and when we asked what she named the child, she said, "Pastor Brown, just like I told you!" Now she is not really going to name the baby Pastor Brown, I hope, but it seems they don't get in any hurry about naming their children. She persists that they will call him Pastor Brown until they actually give him a name. So, Anna and little Pastor Brown are doing well and enjoying the game of calculation in the sun!
I walked around the area today investigating different toilets. You see, the toilet facilities at Ombili is a challenge! Do you realize how good it is to have running water? Or sewer? Neither of these are available in this area. It seems there are various ways to approach this issue. Some folks have dug a hole in the ground and let everything run into that. Others have dug ditches from their toilet to the street and let it run there. The really fancy toilet in this area (only a kindergarten and a beer joint have them) is called an "air toilet". A pit is dug, and a toilet is built over it. A 35 gallon plastic trash can is placed inside the pit, just under the toilet seat. This trash can has holes drilled all in it so the liquid can run out, and only the solid material remains. Yes, it runs out on the ground just like every other type toilet. Just typing this makes me shudder to think that a bio-chemical, haz-mat, team would have us thrown in jail in the United States. Decisions, decisions... such is the life of a pastor! By the way, you will never guess how these toilets are emptied. A crew comes around about every 6 months or so. They reach down in the pit with a long hook and grab the handle of the trash can then lift it out. It is loaded on a trailer and taken to a nearby field and scattered for fertilizer! Yes, folks, they really do this!
Today was Erastus' birthday. Fredna got a cake and we took a few minutes to celebrate with him. He turned 34 and probably had his very first birthday party ever! Everyone was so happy to get a piece of his birthday cake.
Just a thought... statistically, he will probably only live another 15 years or so. Average life expectancy here is only 49 or 50 years. About 1 out of every 4 people are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. That means that out of the 14 workers I have presently, 4 or more of them are HIV positive - statistically speaking.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
After the closing prayer the group split up into their designated jobs for the day. Two ladies went directly to the mud-pit, three men headed for the cement mixer, the bricklayers started climbing the scaffolds, the welder and his helper attacked the security gates, and the remainder of workers began their duties as "support" personnel. Maybe some of the job descriptions need a bit more definition for you that are not familiar with the African building process.
The mud-pit... this is the really interesting job for sure. We are using clay blocks to build the church. These blocks are made on-site using a mixture of clay, sand and water. Building with these blocks require the same clay, sand and water mixture for mortar. So, the two ladies hand mix the "managwa" (local dialect for mortar) for the bricklayers to use. I promise to post pictures and tell you the process of the actual brick making at a later time. You will be amazed at the process and the back-breaking work involved!
Support personnel... these guys do what ever is needed at the time. They carry bricks for the bricklayers. They make sure they have mortar when needed. They tear down and re-build the scaffolds when needed. Without these guys the work would be really slow at best.
Today, slurry was applied to the bricks that were laid yesterday. Slurry is a really wet mixture of cement mortar that is thrown on the surface of the clay blocks. When this slurry dries it becomes the bonding agent that holds the plaster in place when it is applied. The slurry will dry for at least two days before the plaster process begins. There is only a 5 metre section of the building that is not already plastered. After the plaster dries it can then be painted.
Here are a few pictures of the workers in action...
Keeping the work site clean is a never-ending job. None of the guys like doing this, but they all know that when they are not "busy" with another job they have to pitch in and help keep everything as clean as possible.
Here are a few pictures of the building and surrounding area.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
The building is totally closed in today! 80% of it is ready to paint and the other 20% will be within 2 or 3 days. Security gates are being made for all the outside doors and will be installed in a couple of days. The end is in sight, what a great feeling!
We had our regular Monday night Bible study (Victory Bible Class) at NAMTI tonight. It is a very basic Bible study, but it is well attended and liked by all. One young man told us tonight that he has never attended a Bible study of any kind before now. He is very excited. Statements like this make all the efforts and work worthwhile!
The picture below is of some of the class receiving their certificates of completion for the first course. They were very thrilled!
This picture is of Fredna while teaching the Victory Bible Class.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Today, I once again join the bloggers of the world. It has been a while since my last blog - just before we arrived in Africa. There are many reasons for not continuing to blog, but I will resist the urge to justify myself, this time!
The weekend is drawing to a close; it has been very nice! Fredna and I went to the Fire Brigade (fire station) to fill the water tanks that will be used tomorrow at the work site. The building is almost complete - almost, but not quite. There remains much to be done, but the end is in sight!
It seems that every day someone asks, "When will church start?" I think most people would be happy to just have a roof over their heads and call it church. Actually, we have had two services at Ombili A/G. The first was Easter Sunday. Literally, there was just a roof over our heads! On a dirt floor over 500 people worshipped the Lord, and 204 of them accepted Jesus Christ as Savior! The second service was on Father's Day. A group of 26 people from Christ Church A/G in Ft. Worth, Texas was here helping us to get a good start on the church plant. It was an incredible time! This group of young people ministered to well over 3,000 people during the week! On Saturday we had a children's service with over 450 kids present. On Sunday morning over 550 people filled the sanctuary. 199 people came forward to accept Christ's redeeming love!
Tomorrow, we begin the final "push" to finish the building so we can begin regular services. I think we will be able to complete the task in 2 weeks or so. We will see.