Friday, December 23, 2011

Visiting Without Directions

Two weeks ago I was invited to a church to talk with some of their people who wanted to be baptized. It is out in a village and is led by a lay pastor. I had met the pastor before, but had never been to the church itself. I agreed to come, secured transportation and a translator, set a schedule, and kinda got directions. I understood that it was just past Gamsara Village, a place I am very familiar with.  The morning of I picked up the motorcycle I had rented for the trip, picked up my translator, and we headed out. I called before I left and we were told that we should just head passed Gamsara and we would see someone on the road. Not the most promising directions as far as I am concerned, but I have learned to roll with it. We passed Gamasara and kept going. I wasn’t overly concerned about the distance because I have been told that it is a short distance before only to find out that their definition of short and mine are more than a little different.  The problem came when we eventually hit another main (dirt) road that I am familiar with and I realized we have probably gone too far. So we called that pastor again and sure enough we had passed the correct turn off…by about an hour. We turned around, headed back, and had to call four more times before we finally met that guy on the road that we were supposed to pass the first time. I then had a new adventure. The man that came out to meet us and lead us to the church was on a bicycle. I was on a motorcycle. I got to follow the man on the bike back to the church on my motorcycle. We went very, very slow. It is a toss-up as to whether it was the motorcycle following the bicycle or crossing a river on a 125 pikipiki (swhaili for motorcycle) that made me wish I had brought my camera more.  I will ruin the end of the story and say that it took two hours to get to the church and only thirty minutes to get back home. Visiting without directions is hard. 

However, leading a church in a place where you cannot even give directions to may be more difficult. We arrived at Masalula (don’t try to pronounce it yourself) to find a church made out of sticks, mud, and a grass roof. A church that I later found out had been built by several widows in the church. They were continually apologizing about the state of the church, the small space, and the way I had to double over to duck into the door. The spirit that filled the church though was what really caught my attention. The strength with which they prayed, the way the pastor knew the lives of those around him, and the obvious relationship that has grown from time together in prayer and study of the Bible. During testimony time the pastor, with barely concealed, water filled eyes talked about the death of his son only a month earlier and now his daughter was in the hospital. However, the testimony ended with praise that God was still with him and still loved him. 

I had come to give them instructions on the upcoming baptism that they wanted to do for several members of the church. I started to ask questions and received answers back that came straight from the Bible and their hearts…they meant what they were saying. I had come to give directions to the church and the pastor that was there. And while it may have been difficult to get directions to the location of this church, the actions and faith of the Christians there gave me great direction in my own life and in anticipating future visits to these hard to find places.     

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