We’ve entered a marathon in taking on this ministry of Church planting. This language learning section of it is pretty tiring and there are times (like last week) when I hit a low ebb in my energy and encouragement.
Like the tides, it comes and goes, with the most important thing being to stay faithful to God’s work. I’m happy to report that this week has been better, still a grind, but more encouraging. Thanks for holding us up with prayer. Pure willpower to stay the course is never going to work, but if God is at work in our hearts making us love the work he’s given us and love the people we’re here to serve we’ll keep going simply because we want to because it brings us joy!
I spent some time with our Kovol grandpa checking one of the stories I’d spoken into my voice recorder and after a good session of my rehearsing the steps of building a house in the Kovol language, we switched to Tok Pisin so we could just chat.
We chatted about the school (Bible teaching) that was coming and he told me “It’s God’s mercy to me that you are here. We asked for years for missionaries and some of us said “It’s never going to happen”, but we always thought it would and here you are. All the bad talk can stop, God has thought about us and sent us workmen.”
That was a little boost. Right, let’s get back to it then. Can I try again to tell you how the wall studs of a house get tied together and how the roof goes on?
You never know what you’re going to see when you head out the door either. I managed to stumble into a piglet having his ears cut. Cutting the ears is equivalent to a collar or name tag. If the pig wanders off and people that don’t recognise it see it out in the jungle they’ll instantly be able to tell that it’s not a wild pig.
We’re working on filling up our culture file and so I pulled my voice recorder out and asked my friend to explain what was going on.
I was hoping for a minute or 2 on the how, why and ins and outs of it. I got a single sentence back instead (which I 100% understood – great!) “I got the pig and cut its ears”. I then prompted “why did you do that?” hoping for my long detailed description to slot into our culture file. “Ah, no reason” was the response 🙂 Oh well, that’ll come up another time surely.
The little piggy was then wandering around bleeding everywhere and almost got blood on me, which just isn’t polite so he was taken inside to have ashes from the fire rubbed into the wound. In other pig news we’ve been told it’s almost time for us to castrate our own pig. Doing so will keep his aggression down, and make him get fat. So now we have a conundrum. Do we do it the Kovol way (the no anaesthetic, cut, drill, scrape, scrambled eggs approach), or do we do it the way we’ve seen in a YouTube video from the Philipines which involves a local anaesthetic, haemostats and suturing? That would be quite a show. I guess we could say “we’re practising just in case a person needs us to sew them back up”, with the added advantage that afterwards, no one would dare come to us for suturing.
In other news Rhett’s long-term project to make bricks out of clay bore fruit… well he fired the bricks at least. After spending months shaping bricks and drying them he was able to stack them up and start a big fire to fire a bowl he had made.
Unfortunately, the bowl cracked, but he’s one step closer to his pottery goals.
The funniest part to me is how Rhett now has a reputation in the village as the guy who likes to play with mud and is interested in rocks. On one visit to a Kovol friend he was told “Hey, you like rocks. How about I tell you all about this stone?”
It’s interesting to see how people are interested in what’s going on, but they’re really hesitant to get too involved. People seem to be scared and embarrassed that the bricks thing might not work – whereas for Rhett he’s just giving it a go, learning as he tries to make use of all the nice clay we have around. It’s all very interesting to see attitudes towards new things.
In other news, we’re set to get a visitor next week. A volunteer is going to come and live in Natalie and Philip’s house for a month or two to help us out with childcare and home school. We’re excited to have someone new to talk to