Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I'm writing this from the airport in Kenya. We are almost 1/2 way through a 10-hour layover. Catherine, Josh, Derek, John, and Nic went into Kenya for a bit. Catherine lived here for six hears before Josh was born and she was exited to show him some of the country. Gia and I could have gone, but we're both feeling really tired.
The last couple of days have been jam-packed. On Sunday afternoon - once most of the team was together, we made our way back through the "streets" of N'Durande to Marco's church where we were treated to lunch. They served us chips and salad (french fries and coleslaw).
After lunch John went back to the bus station (more like a bus "corner”) to meet the other team members, who had spent the morning in Chiwaya Village. We were told to think of questions to ask Pastor Marco. Only Daniel and I asked questions. I don't know if the kids were tired or disinterested. I suspect they were tired.
We asked Marco some basic questions about N'Durande and the surrounding areas. In the past ten years the town has grown from a population of 250,000 to over 900,000! It's no wonder that when walking through the streets and between the buildings, I felt rather like toothpaste being forced from a tiny opening.
Back to the questions and answers....
Daniel and I had a tough time thinking of questions, but we managed to keep the conversation going. I asked Marco about the largest religious denominations in the area. He said the Catholic Church claimed the largest numbers, followed by Seventh-Day-Adventists, Muslim, and Mainstream Christianity. I had always heard about the large presence of SDA's in Africa, but I saw if first hand as I saw many SDA churches and signs directing passers-bys down a path to the nearest church.
When John returned to the group with the rest of the team, the conversation with Marco turned to spiritual warfare, witchcraft, and demonic possession and deliverance, as that is the focus of Marco's ministry.
Demonic possession is very prevalent here in Africa and Marco had some amazing stories of deliverance. Witch doctors cast spells on children, who then take the demons home to their families. Often the demons manifest themselves in very real and outrageous ways - wild movements, screaming, heavy breathing, and all manner of "The Exorcist" like activity.
I really don't know if the kids were shocked, scared, confused, or simply didn't know how to respond, but they didn't have one single question on the subject. That surprised me. Back at our village digs the guys had been dealing with a lot of dark spiritual activity in their room. One night one of the guys woke up and realized that the side of his face was very, very hot. When he turned his head to look toward the heat he saw two red eyes looking at him. I've already written about the figure that was floating over the one of the guys while he was sleeping. The visits were almost nightly. The girls were thrilled to have been exempt from the visits! However, about two weeks into the trip, the guys would see a presence in their room and just wake up, look at it, and say, "Really? Again? Seriously, you need to go away". So much for fear :)
Satan is so much subtler in America. John pointed out that Satan doesn't want to show himself in America because people aren't interested in fighting an enemy they can't see. So, it benefits Satan to stay hard to define, hard to see, and subtle. I personally believe that if Satan were to prove he was real, people would HAVE to believe in the reality of God as well. That would not be good for Satan. The more atheists and agnostics there are, the better for the devil!
After our meet and greet with Pastor Marco (who was John's roommate when he was here on his DTS), we wound our way back through the sewage and sludge to the bus corner where our ever faithful bus and driver were waiting for us. Inside the bus are several bumper stickers. One of the stickers says, "Love Bubbles Of Joy", so that's what we called the bus.
Wherever we go children and people follow. The people yell and point, "azoongoo", which is slang for "white people". We greet them by saying, "Mulebwangi" (“how are you?”), or we acknowledge their greeting by responding, "Ndillybueno, zikomo", which means, "I am fine, thank you". I don't know why they giggle whenever we speak to them in their language, but they always do. They're probably laughing at our ridiculous accents! One man asked me to be his girlfriend. Gia is very, very attractive to the Malawians and many would love to have her as their girlfriend.
The second we load the bus we are swarmed like honeysuckle in a beehive by all the street venders. They are selling everything from donuts and fried pies, to barbequed rats on a stick! No kidding! I saw a vender with about 20 skewers of cooked whole rats - maybe 5 rats to a skewer. Mmmmmm. Actually, Gia and I agree that if we weren’t concerned about disease we would want to try that delicacy!
We stopped at Shoprite on the way home. Shoprite is a lot like a super Wal-Mart - food, clothes, supplies, etc... The kids love Shoprite! Anyway, we bought ground beef and tomato sauce and pasta. Like I said earlier, they call ground beef, Minced Meat - which sounds like mincemeat, which is a combination of raisins, dates, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. The idea of raisins mixed tomato sauce makes me smile :)
We got back to the camp in time to prepare dinner, clean up, have our evening service, and hit the sack.