This afternoon, the team and I were out and about. First, we wanted to go and drop off some food with a family in the greater neighborhood. During debriefing one evening, Adriel mentioned how strange it is to know we get such good food (and so much of it) while there are neighbors all around who don't have much. From that came the thought of fasting one meal and taking the food to neighbors. God laid two families on my heart: The first was the family of Caroline, a girl I had taken to the hospital last Thursday. The second is a family down the road where a toddler and another young child is taking care of their baby brother while their dad works. (Their mom left after the birth of the baby.) Granted, ELI seeks to empower rather than simply give handouts, but the Bible also teaches us, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"
So we set out today to go and bless these families, and then to head to town. As we rounded the second to last corner (at a place called Corner Bar), the children's home van almost got stuck. Keep in mind that it's basically been raining for three days straight, so the roads are less than ideal for anything but 4WD vehicles. And my Land Rover is still in for major repairs to its gearbox.
Back to the story. We almost got stuck, but I rocked the vehicle forward and backward in the mud (not pushing, but by using the gears) and voila, we were out. We were smart enough to park and walk the final stretch to the home. The family was indeed blessed by the token as well as by the mere fact that we had stopped by to pray for them. Caroline is still in the hospital, and they asked if we'd come back when she's out to pray for her again.
Off we went to the second family, but we couldn't find their home right away, so we went to town, first. The team wanted to buy supplies to make breakfast for the staff on Friday morning, so I took them to the market. This was quite the experience for them! They bought some fruit, too, and Kigen (Teimuge) took them for a walk through the entire market with its bright-colored fruits and vegetables, smiling (and staring) vendors, and the smell of produce that had been trampled upon and had gone sour. The smell really is quite something!
I had an unusual experience in the market today, though, when I greeted a young mother and she jokingly asked if I would take her baby. At first, I thought I must be misunderstanding her. Perhaps she meant "take a picture of her baby," but I asked Kigen to translate for me, and he confirmed. I know she meant it as a joke, but it hurt my heart that a mom would even say something like that. I tried to respond with the biggest smile with a "But it's YOUR baby!"
We ran a few more errands, and the team really enjoyed seeing what life is like in town. In fact, for debriefing tonight, they wrote poems about the experience, and some were really funny, others were touching.
By the time we headed home, it had once again rained. And at the very worst part of the road, the car fishtailed once again, but this time, I couldn't straighten out of the mud and VOILA, there we were. Stuck. The car had turned almost 90 degrees and the rear wheels were in the little ditch on the side of the road. Without 4WD, this car was going nowhere. As the team got out to push, a little Suzuki pulled up, and the local vet, Dr. Shah, pulled me out of trouble.
However, the entire time he was towing me (he was going in reverse, towing me with the dinkiest metal cable imaginable which was hooked onto the bar right under the driver's side of the car), I was praying. But not necessarily that he'd get me out of the mud. My greatest concern was that the cable would snap and come right through the window...
Great was my relief when the car was straightened and on somewhat dry mud. The team were really excited that we actually got stuck and that they were there to experience it.
By the time we got home (and after dropping of the second batch of food with the other family), the guys went to Sammy's house for a visit. Sammy is a neighbor who had recently been hit by a taxi at night (a hit-and-run) and had a cracked skull. The girls went to Peris' house for chai. She told us about being called to a neighbor's home two days ago to deliver a baby. (She's a Traditional Birth Attendant, sort of like a midwife.) We also learned about her chicken farm, as well as about how God has redeemed their family. And we got to meet the newest member of their family, a nephew who they've taken in since the passing of his grandmother who had taken care of him. The boy's name escapes me for the moment, but I'd ask that you join us in praying for his healing. When he was a baby, he was in the hospital and had had an IV in his right hand. By the time he left the hospital, his little hand was paralyzed, most likely because of a damaged nerve. But that's not too big of a deal for God to heal, is it? I'm believing God for his hand to be restored fully.
It was a great day of cultural experiences for the team as well as a time for them to step out in faith and obedience. They were pretty wiped out by the time dinner and worship was over. I don't think they even went to read to the kids tonight!
Tomorrow, the task of keying the children's home continues. They've finished the kitchen and have now started with individual homes.
It has been such a joy working with this team, challenging them at times when they get discouraged by how much the kids know, and simply seeing how God is using each and every one of them in various ways.
Speaking of challenging: George and Sue (who left yesterday) had met with the parents from the home on Monday and talked for hours about culture and marriage. In the end, they challenged the couples to express their love for one another. Even one couple who has been married for 25 years said, "We just don't do that," but they accepted the challenge nevertheless.
When we asked them last night if they've "done their homework" yet, they just laughed and said, "It's not that easy." But this morning, the husband walked into breakfast with a smile, declaring, "I have good news!" He shared how he had dreamed about telling his wife that he loved her, and in the dream, she was radiant! So the moment he woke up, he told her, "Why should we not express what we feel?" And so they told one another that they love each other... Though expressing affection may be cultural, I do believe most people want to also hear that they are loved. It's cute to see a couple who've shown one another their love and devotion finally take the plunge and say it!
On this note, it's time for me to head to Dreamland. Flannel's already fast asleep in the pillow on my lap.