Hello Friends and Family!
I feel like it has been a long time since I last wrote. It seems I have been everywhere, except near a computer. The Southeastern team just left on the 1st of August. Two of our interns left this week and are now safely back in the USA. July, has been one incredible month. Southeastern came on the 3rd and stayed the entire month to film a documentary on our work with UPGs.
We first went and visited the Wataturu people and took our time to learn and video the incredible dynamics of their culture. I learned things I had never known before. I learned that they are afraid of the Cross, because back in colonial times the Germans crucified one of their people, so now they have a negative view anytime someone talks to them about a cross. I learned that they hold their ancestors in such high esteem that they worship those who have passed away.
I learned that the reason they do not send their children to school is that they do not want their children near any of the other tribes’ children. They are afraid that if they go they will lose their culture and learn things that could ruin their way of life, such as is in the case of female circumcision. They are nervous that their young girls will learn that female circumcision is bad and that they will refuse to be circumcised.
I also learned that the Wataturu people spend incredible amounts of money when they get married in order to buy jewelry for their brides. One thick brass bracelet can cost them an entire cow, which they replace when their oldest child gets married.
I was blessed in that I was able to give them the pictures I had taken of them last year, which really opened them up to be willing to let us do a documentary amongst them this year.
We also definitely had our adventures. For example, I decided to take the Southeastern team to go see Lake Kitangiri so we hired small little dug-out canoes and traveled east. We traveled through a few hippo paths as we meandered through the thick reeds. Shortly after having come out to open water, we met up with the hippos near the edge of the reeds. I do not get nervous very often, however, my adrenaline was pumping simply because we were in their element. After stopping to watch them for a good couple of minutes we made our way back into shore. I still remember what the guide told me, “If the hippo comes and capsizes the canoe, then just start swimming away from the canoe.” I thought to myself, “That’s all. Yeah, right!”
God did some really incredible things while we were there with the Wataturu people. The Wataturu invited us to partake in events that most other outsiders would not be allowed to partake in. This tells me that walls of skepticism are falling down and we are constructing bridges of trust and understanding. Secondly, some of the Southeastern students feel they are called to work amongst the Wataturu. Please continue to pray with us that these God given dreams and callings are not forgotten or neglected.
For photos of our trip to the Wataturu, check out photos from Myles Shank!
After being with the Wataturu we drove down to the Tongwe to film the progress of the road project and to show the great need that still exists there. We were able to interview the village leaders, while other team members did door to door ministry in the village of Bugaraba and Lufubu.
With the help of the team, we cut down the famous Demon Tree! It has been revered by the Tongwe, as an object where the spirits of their ancestors dwelled, and thus the Tongwe would practice witchcraft and offer sacrifices there when consulting the spirits of their ancestors. Last year we intended to cut it down, but due to an early departure from the road project we failed to cut it down. However, this year I was determined to make the Demon Tree the first tree we cut down. I found out on this trip that when we skirted around it and failed to cut it down the Tongwe jeered and told each other it was because we were afraid of the spirits. Now that we have cut it down they are telling each other that the demons are coming after us and that they will kill us before long. Therefore, we all need to pray that there are no accidents while we work on the road project so that they will have no way of saying, “Look the spirits took revenge.” We want revival to spring from what we did. I do not want this to backfire on us for whatever reason.
Our time with the Tongwe ended with the team walking 55 kilometers (33 Miles) from Kashaguru to Mwese, which is the closest working hospital to where people in Kashaguru live. The purpose of the walk was to film our experience of a common struggle that the locals deal with regularly. So the team followed the same route that we are planning on building the road through. The team members started walking at 6:45am and they did not make it to Mwese till 12:00am. It was extremely difficult and some of our team members did not make it.
One of the members (Paul) became extremely dehydrated and two others (Chelsea and Vanessa) were in so much pain that they could not continue. Our team suffered through great difficulty all starting out in good health, while most of the locals who make the trip are doing so stricken with sickness, injury, or are burdened by pregnancy. It showed us how miserable life can be without a road.
To end July, we went to scout out the Island of Mafia. Mafia is 99.9% Muslim (of which most are Shiite Muslims) and there is no missions work currently being done there. We posed as tourists, staying in small bungalows, and went about the island collecting research and building relationships with the people there.
I believe that any missions movement in the Island of Mafia will need to be tactful as the people were very blunt that they would oppose any advances of Christianity amongst them. I believe the best way to reach the people in Mafia would be through either a trade school or an English school.
I will send you the links to the documentary sometime in September after its premiere at Southeastern University.
Also look out for my next e-mail concerning my plans for the next 5 weeks.
Thank you so much for praying and continue as whenever I come to mind.