A lot has happened in these last weeks and I'm happy to report that I have now settled into my new house - or should I say mud mansion - here in Iboni, a village among the Lopit people group.
Then I said, "It's all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven's Armies." Then I heard the Lord asking, "Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?" I said, "Here I am. Send me." (Isaiah 6:5+8, NLT)
I read this passage this week and it touched me once again. If you open your eyes, you see sin everywhere. Deceit, envy, anger, injustice, sleeping around, ... We live among sinful people, in the West just as much as here in Lopit. But as Isaiah says it powerfully, we are no better. "I am a sinful man." The transformation Isaiah experiences is what we are dreaming of here among the Lopit. A few people who are so touched by God's forgiveness, that they would say, "Here I am, send me as a messenger to my own people." What about you? Are you a messenger to your community?
Mong, mong, mong
After almost a month of different maintenance trips and practical work here and there, as well as an impactful missionary gathering, I was finally able to move to my new house in Iboni. Or should I say mud mansion? I feel very blessed to have a big garden for myself. But back to the beginning. After arrival on the airstrip, we called 15 women from the village to help us carry all my belongings to my house (1.5 km). It was quite a picture to see all my stuff being carried on many heads and I'm so thankful for this community. My house was completely empty and so for the last 3 weeks, I spent a lot of time setting everything up. Building a shade place in my yard (as life in Africa happens outside and I don't have a shade tree), installing solar, putting together a kitchen and unpacking all my things. I really like how it turned out and feel very much at home already.
"Mong" is the greeting in Lopit which can be repeated as often as you feel like. (Some go on for minutes) It's always a bit overwhelming first to learn a new language, but after 3 weeks I see some progress and can understand more and more. I especially love the local names as they all have meanings. My local name would be "Ohisa" which means "first born boy". As I have 2 older sisters. I'm the first born bov. It's really fun to now introduce myself as Matthias Ohisa :)
Other than settling in and learning language, I got to help my neighbor in the garden, attend Bible Studies and see how we do that, carry a sick person to the next hospital on my bike, spend a week with 3 older men (home stay) to see what they are doing (lots of crafts), build relationships, practice reading the Bible with 2 teenagers and go to 2 funerals. Life here is definitely hard. We've had some good rains this month, but that's still not enough. Food is limited and people are suffering. And we've seen 2 big funerals. But nonetheless, I love this community and I love village life.
Giving and receiving
We received a request from our neighboring village to carry a person with a snake bite to the next hospital for treatment. After discussing with the team, I went with my bike to visit the person and have a look at the injury. It was swollen and hasn't gone better in 2 days, so for me it was clear: I need to bring him to the hospital. After negotiating a chicken as a contribution to gas and praying for him and his family, I went on a journey. The roads are bad Potholes, mud, puddles and rocks. I tried to be very careful because of his leg, but in the mud, my bike slipped and I had to lay the bike down. Luckily nothing happened and I only melted my pants on the hot engine. After 1.5h ride (23 km), we arrived safely at the hospital. He was taken in and treated immediately. Thank you Lord! At the hospital I met some good friends from different villages in even from Torit (town). I was then requested to carry a lady back to the village center because she could hardly walk. She was very thankful for the ride. Arriving in the town center, I wanted to greet a shop owner that my team mates knew. She urged me to sit down and handed me some rice and beans. It was about lunch time and I haven't eaten yet. Wow, God provides!
Together as a team of 4 (Kenyans, American and German), living in 2 villages in the Lopit mountains, we want to see Christ-centered, self-sustainable, reproducing churches, one in every village, but united as one. Therefore we build relationships, share life with the people around us, do practical work (like teaching, building, farming, ...) and lead Bible Studies in several homes. In all that, we want to be a living example of the love of Christ, sharing the gospel not just with our mouths, but also with our lives to see hearts truly transformed by God's love. And we can do all the above only through God's strength and by His grace. What about you? Is Lopit a place for you?
In a couple days, I'm heading out to Kenya for 2 weeks of vacation with my sister. I'm looking forward to some days of rest. Once I'm back, I will start with my media role, continue learning language, practice reading with the teenagers and do an online missions study called
"Perspectives" (4 months). It will be busy, but l'm also looking forward to this new job.
God bless you,