We have opened our house and our hearts to the women of the community that they might come at any time to talk with us, to unburden themselves of their struggles, even if all we can provide is a listening ear and prayer. Yesterday we received many women at Musumba church, and also in the guest house. We visited Musumba church yesterday morning, to kick off our marathon round of church visits/meetings. Musumba church is in town, so luckily we did not have to go far to get there. They were very happy to receive us (they gave me a chicken).
Musumba has been a church that has struggled mightily since the war, as they do not have the resources to meet often as a church, especially during the rainy season since they have no roof. They asked for a roof from the UMC conference and were promised the materials they needed, but it took them so long to raise the money to transport the materials (VERY expensive) that the conference gave the materials to a different church. Though the conference is doing their best to meet all needs, they have few resources, so sometimes this happens. As a result, the congregation was feeling pretty dejected when I met with them, so I tried to instill some hope, mainly by being present and listening.
Today was a very LONG day, and I’m exhausted—so it’s likely that these musings will not be all that cohesive, but I have to try to get them down on paper before I forget them—we’ve met with so many people that already my memory is hazy just from yesterday. Today started really early—I woke up at 6 (much to my dismay) for a 7 am departure. We visited two villages today, Kabwe and Kiwewe. Give that this was my 3rd and 4th such expedition, I was a little more familiar with the routine, and am feeling a bit like Paul as he traveled around to meet with different villages and congregations, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. After setting out across the lake in the Indiana, I got my first glimpse of the river. Sad to report it’s not very “Heart of Darkness”-esque; it’s pretty laid back and groovy in these parts, anyway.
After picking up the Mama Kipandanos, it was singing all the way to Kiwewe, our first stop. Kiwewe was amazing to me—so much so that I have designated for it a separate post to follow this one, so for the curious, read on. After Kiwewe was Kabwe, which I perceived to be slightly better off that many of the other congregations we have visited (which may or may not actually be true—just my perception), owing in part to their access to a well. Though they did share that this well is not big enough to serve the whole town, which I certainly believe, and they are needing more wells. The fun thing about visiting Kabwe (other than the fact that it was the biggest celebration for our arrival so far, save for first landing in Mulongo) was that we were also able to appoint a pastor while we were there, as they have been missing a pastor for their church for a long time. So they were quite excited about that. They also have worked very hard to build a school building that I got to see and was very nice.
After Kabwe I was exhausted and it was back to the boat to return to Mulongo. I’m still loving riding in the Indiana (certainly more than Mana Mary who is afraid of water!) but felt like I could bearly put one foot in front of the other when we got back to town. Which is really lame, because most of the time I wasn’t even making the 30-minute treks from the river into these communities, I was lucky enough to ride on the motorbike with DS Mulongo (yay!) but I think the sun took it out of me anyway.
After such a long day, I feel completely sapped of resources, so I’m praying that some of my strength will be renewed overnight… for me, it’s not just the heat and all the walking and traveling (though that certainly does take its toll) but it’s also VERY exhausting navigating another culture, two to three new languages, and trying to absorb everything that I’m hearing while trying to instill SOME sense of hope. So I’m pretty spent at the end of each day, especially today. So for those of you out there praying for FPM and our work here, please pray that I get a much needed “jolt” of energy before too long… certainly before we make our BIG trip into Kabalo….