Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where There is No Road

There was a day that we went beyond all roads. We went further into the bush of Africa than I have ever been before. We had spent the previous few days in a community called Noosikitok in the Maasai region of Southern Kenya. We have been building relationships with the people of Noosikitok and beginning to lay out plans of action for transformation projects. Then one day they announced that the neighboring village would like to meet with us as well. "Neighboring" village indeed. A couple of hours into the bush, by vehicle. These folks travel on foot though!
I don't remember at what point we left the road, but there came a point when we had to back up the Land Rover and look for another route because the path we had been driving on became too narrow for us to pass. It was then that I realized we had been driving on footpaths, and the roads were long gone. We continued on in such manner for quite a ways until we suddenly came some huts and people gathered, in the middle of nowhere.

We were greeted with beautiful Maasai women singing us a traditional song of welcome, and then joined the community that had gathered there to welcome their guests. They introduced themselves as a people "in the middle of nowhere," and let us know that we were the first white people who had ever come to them before. Seriously, yall, they were out there in the bush.

It was so interesting listening to the community share about themselves, saying that they had been learning from their neighbors in Noosikitok about transformation, and that some of the church planters from Noosikitok had been visiting them and sharing about the stories of Jesus. They were learning from their neighbors and desired transformation amongst themselves as well.

They began to share about the great needs and challenges that they have, and we began to see and understand their hearts for change. The nearest school for their children is quite a distance to walk, and there is a constant threat of lions in the bush that would attack the children walking to school. Quite a different challenge from the complaints of the education system in the states. Most of the girls and women are completely illiterate, as they typically don't go to school at all. The threat of attack is too great, and there is much work for the girls to do to help with the home.

There is also no healthcare available to them at all. The nearest clinic is on the other side of the mountain, which is at least several hours walk. Imagine making that walk while ill, or having to carry an ill person that distance. The biggest challenges that they face with sickness are cholera and malaria. Both are life-threatening without medical intervention, but making that trek with the sick person could equally end in death. We were told that often they would start out the journey to get medical help, but either the person would die along the way, or would simply become too weak to go on, so they will turn back and return to the village to die. Not a good situation.

The other main problem is lack of water, which also contributes to the cholera outbreaks. The women and girls walk quite a distance to fill cans and buckets with water. This is a huge problem.

We (being the women on the team) were then given the unique opportunity of going (further) into the bush with the men to eat roasted goat with them. This is a culture that tends to lead very segregated lives between the men and women. And one of the distinct "man" activities for this tribe is that the warriors go into the bush for their fresh kill. They kill and roast a goat right there, and then usually send some parts of the kill back to the village for the women to cook with. Very interesting. Because we were unique guests, we were invited to witness the "man" activity and eat the kill with them.

It's hard to walk away from a people like that without giving promises of making their lives better. It's hard not to speak out of emotion and assure them that things will get better. But it's not hard at all give them the same assurances that we all have. That they are not a people of nowhere, but are actually somewhere. They are right where God has allowed them to be for such a time as this, and God's eye is on them. His heart is ever longing for them, and His Name will be exalted among even them. A relationship was started that day, as our God is one of relationships. And a relationship opens up a world of possibilities.

What possibilities are you opening up today?

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  1. Thank you for sharing new stories and pictures from your journey. I have loved being able to keep up with your travels and adventures. Sending you so much love!!!

  2. This may sound crazy, but I think the landscape looks like the desert surrounding Tucson. And I find it beautiful.
    Where in the world do those women get that vibrant fabric. It is amazing!


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