Recent Posts from the Mumena Team

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Love Letters (News): November 2008

Everything is going well here in Mumena. The rainy season is here and strong. In fact, every day or night it rains for many hours.

 

Family News

We are all healthy and enjoying life here. Matthew and Lydia continue to play every day with the other children. Karen and the baby are doing well. She is glad to be finished with morning sickness. I continue to study the Kaonde language in the mornings and practice as I am out in the community.

Mission News

This is the heart of planting season among the Kaonde. Everybody goes to their fields nearly every day. On average, each person has a field about the size of a football field. First, they plow the entire field with a hoe. As they plow, they heap the dirt into mounds. Then, they will plant the maize a single grain at a time with proper spacing. After planting, they will spread fertilizer (if they can afford it). This process takes about a month to complete. Then for the rest of the rainy season, they will continue to weed the field until the maize is ready for harvest. It takes about 3-4 months from planting to harvest. In addition to maize, many will plant ground nuts (peanuts) and have small gardens for vegetables.

 

Because this is the busiest time of the year, each person shows his or her loyalty. For those who continue to attend church meetings, attend Bible studies, and interact as a Christian family, they show that God is most important. For the others, it becomes obvious that their loyalty to God is lacking.

 

Although this sounds like a disappointment, it is actually a good situation. I believe in quality over quantity. When those who truly love God come together, it is a great joy. We are developing deep friendships with others who also want to serve God in everything.

 

I teach at a Bible study each afternoon from Monday to Thursday and Sunday morning. I always focus on teaching about Jesus Christ. He is the king and only by becoming loyal and faithful to Him, can Christians understand and do what He wants.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Love Letters (News): We Have Internet Again

In case you were wondering what happened to us and why we haven't posted any news in a few months, our Internet provider has had a hardware failure for the past 2 months. We use a radio phone and the radio tower had a problem. Since we live in the middle of the bush, we don't really have any options for alternatives. Thankfully, the Davises and Boyds have a satellite Internet connection, but it just doesn't work as well so we could only keep up with high priority emails.

Family News

The biggest news for our family is that Karen is about 5 months pregnant. We are planning on staying here for the delivery and going to a medical mission hospital (Mukinge). We have visited an American doctor who works there. His wife had a baby there two months ago. The hospital has everything we need and they have an experienced surgeon who has done thousands of C-sections if that were needed.

 

(Spoiler alert: If you don't want to know the sex of the baby, don't read the next paragraph.)

Last month we went there for a check up and did an ultrasound. The baby is growing well and it appears to be a girl. The main problem is that we don't have any baby clothes anymore. The smallest clothes we have are Lydia's when she was about a year old. So, Cedar Hill is putting together some things that will be sent over to us on the next container. (There is usually a container shipped to Zambia about once a year which contains various supplies.)

(End of Spoiler)

 

Matthew and Lydia love being here in Mumena. We are especially blessed because the Bruingtons are here again. (They were in the states this summer.) True and Matthew are best friends, Savanna loves to play with Lydia, and Lane is often playing with them also. This has also helped Karen. Having Stacey next door is a constant encouragement for her. We usually eat a few meals together each week.

 

Mission News

A few months ago, it was recommended by the team that I try to work with the church at Campande. They are one of the oldest churches around here. So for the past many weeks I have been going there every Sunday. On Sunday morning, I teach from the book of Matthew for the Bible class. Then, on Thursday we have been going through the book of James. The people there have been focused on a few basic doctrines for the past few years (which misses the point). So, my goal has been to teach them to focus on Jesus our King, not just a few of his rules. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Love Letters (Culture): Follow Jesus, not Me

Sawanda: "If anyone has not been baptized, then you need to be baptized next time Rick is here."

Rick: "Why don't we go right now?"

Sawanda: "They don't have a change of clothes."

Rick: "Ok, why don't they go home and when they come back, you can baptize them later today."

Sawanda: "We will wait until you come back."

 

Sometimes, as missionaries in Africa, the color of our skin causes problems. Because of the history of Zambia, white people are considered "better" by the Zambians. When we are shopping in town, everybody calls us "boss." This even sometimes happens when we are among brothers and sisters at church service.

 

Therefore, we are constantly avoiding this perception. We do our best to appear as equals, but this is impossible to achieve completely. Everything from our homes, our cars, our clothes, and our food displays an economic difference.

 

However, with appropriate attitudes and policies, we can prevent many problems. Here are some actions we try to avoid:

  • Giving Items Away - This increases the gap by making people feel like beggars. We will not build a church building or do anything that the Kaonde should provide for themselves. Also, we are very careful about giving away Bibles: We will do this through the church leadership when appropriate. A great sign will be when people start to buy Bibles for themselves. At that time, it will be obvious that they are investing themselves and serving God with everything.
  • Taking Authority - Once a church is planted, they have their own leadership. We may attend with them, and we will teach when they ask, but we will not make decisions for them or otherwise control them.
  • Separating Ourselves - We want to become like the Kaonde. We should learn how to communicate properly in the Kaonde culture, learn KiKaonde as well as possible, eat food that is offered to us, establish friendships, and spend time with them.
  • Appearing as Special Christians - We constantly encourage people to know that we are equals in God's sight. Those of us who have come to Christ and accepted his forgiveness, are all brothers and sisters.

Another policy I will set for myself will hopefully confront and correct the attitude about baptism. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Paul said he was glad that he did not baptize many so that they could not claim they were baptized into Paul's name. He wanted the Corinthians to follow Jesus, not himself. Therefore, I have decided that I will not baptize anyone myself. Instead, I will ask one of the Zambians to do it. Baptism is a promise made between that person and God, and the one baptizing has absolutely nothing to do with it. If someone wants to be baptized by the white preacher, then they are missing the entire point.

 

Next time I return to Kankuwa, I will need to teach about this. Hopefully, they will understand that Baptism is in the name of Jesus not in the name of the white person.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Cognitive Domains

Our team wrestled for a couple of hours in our team meeting Saturday with Kaonde cognitive domains. Whatever are “cognitive domains”? We all have them, but we seldom talk about them. And if we haven’t worked with people from a foreign culture, we may not even be aware of them. We think of cognitive domains as “mental file folders for the way people perceive reality”. One doesn’t have to work in a different culture for long before one finds that our culture’s file folders are not the same as other culture’s file folders:

Axon is a Kaonde hunter. He has never seen television or read a book of fiction. So he has no file folder for “make believe”. While passing through the house one day, Noah and Bryson were watching “Jurassic Park” via video. Tyrannosaurus Rex caught his eye, and after a couple of minutes, Axon remarked, “American animals… dangerous.”

 

Cognitive domains have tremendous impact on the ways missionaries have to learn from the local people how to teach the Word of God. A culture hears, analyses, and learns with its culture’s current cognitive domains. The problem comes when the way God views reality is drastically different from the people’s view that we are trying to teach. Sometimes, we have to “build new file folders of reality” for our students before they will be able to understand the Kingdom of God. Of course, Satan is a master at stealing cognitive domains. If he can remove from our minds entire file folders of reality, he can hide truth very easily.

 

“they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God”
Ephesians 4:18 RSV

 

It makes you wonder how many of my own file folders might be missing!

 

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 RSV

 

Planning to share a few cognitive domain stories over the next few weeks,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

NoahBrysonAxonWithChicken

Pictured: Noah and Bryson hunting “not-so-dangerous” poultry with Axon.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Out of the Ashes of Despair

Team Meeting - July 26, 2008:

“The Kananga church plant may not make it.”

“Why, it had been going so well?”

“The Musole family, the backbone of this young church plant, had a 13 year old daughter who went to get vegetables in the market and never returned. That was two weeks ago. The extended family is now calling for the diviners to be brought-in in order to find the girl. The Musoles are devastated, and if they submit to the witch doctors, the church will likely not recover. Each week fewer members attend.”

 

Kananga Worship - August 3, 2008 (10:45 AM):

“Sondra, worship was to start at 10:00. No one is coming. I’m afraid it’s over.”

(while driving away) “Who is that coming through the bush?... It’s Mr. Musole.”

“Sorry, we are late.” (11 other members of the church emerge from the bush following Mr. Musole.)

 

Same Day / The Lord’s Supper (11:45 AM):

“As the head of the Musole family, I want to ask for the forgiveness of God and the church. For a couple of weeks, I have consented to pay the diviners. But I have decided to stop now; no one is above God. Our daughter is gone… We don’t even know if she is alive or dead… But God must care for her now. Maybe God will bring her back to us in a year… 10 years maybe. Regardless, my family will trust in God alone. We need your prayers. We are weak.”

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”

Matthew 6:13 KJV

Will you join us in prayer for the Musoles?

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson 

Witchcraft

Pictured: Diviners and witchcraft still pose serious threats to the faith & lives of our new Christians.

“For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.”

Deuteronomy 18:14 KJV

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Love Letters (Life): The Un-typical Day

A few people have asked what a typical day is like living in Zambia. Here are a few different perspectives:

Rick:

In Zambia, anything unexpected can happen at any moment. There are two ways of dealing with this: Schedule your week and fail every time to accomplish what you had planned, or go with the flow.

 

I've never really liked schedules anyway, so going with the flow works pretty well for me. However, if you are a highly productive American, you may have difficulty understanding how I get anything done. Well, first of all, I'm not here to "do" anything. I'm here to build relationships. The most important relationship I want to encourage is between each Kaonde and God. This isn't like a task I can complete and check off. It requires a lifestyle of building relationships with the Kaonde myself and constantly encouraging them to love and serve God. A "productive American" will never succeed at this task. The biggest flaw in the American culture is that people are too busy to build relationships. This is a major reason why marriages fail, children rebel, and Christians ignore God. It really is a great blessing to slow down and live close to the earth.

 

Let me try to give some practical examples of how this works.

 

Even while typing this, I can expect to be interrupted many times. Karen asked me to start a fire, someone came over asking to borrow a chair, some guys in the backyard (who are finishing a thatch roof that will provide shade for the children's jungle gym) needed a hammer, and Matthew and Lydia have been playing around me.

 

If my mindset is one of productivity, I would quickly become very frustrated. However, I accepted years ago by learning from other missionaries, that there is no productivity in Africa. If I am interrupted to do something else, that is fine, I will do something else. I can finish this later.

 

My highest priority is building relationships. That will trump anything else I am trying to do. If I am busy working and someone walks by and greets me, I will stop what I am doing and spend 15 minutes talking with them and "wasting time." That is the African way. It is a major reason why things seem so inefficient here. But it is also a major reason why people are so happy, have strong family values, and work together as a community.

 

The situation is very ironic: We Americans wish that we would spend more time with our families and less time working. However, we criticize the Africans who spend most of their time building relationships and neglect their work.

 

[I just spent 20 minutes going to get some more grass for the thatch roof for the jungle gym in the backyard.]

 

So each day is different. I have a few different projects that I need to finish around the house:

  • Finishing the closet/storage in our room
  • Building a storage room outside for my tools
  • Improving our solar system in terms of safety and efficiency
  • Combining the solar system for the water pumps into our houses' electrical system so that we can power the water pumps off our house batteries or generator
  • Building more storage space in the kitchen area
  • Building some shelves in the living room for pictures
    [I just spent 10 minutes trying to find something to entertain Lydia because she was done swinging.]
  • Fixing the torn screen on our back door
  • Securing our gas bottles to the wall to make them safer
    [I just spend 10 minutes talking with Don Boyd, checking the water level and turning the water pumps off, and getting an electric plug adapter for Phil Sullivan.]
  • Building a water level indicator for the water tanks
  • Building an overflow pipe for the water tanks so the spilt water can be used for watering trees

I usually try to work on one of these projects during the morning. Then in the afternoon, I try to prepare a Bible study, teach a Bible study, or learn KiKaonde. However, often I might switch things around or end up working on a project longer into the afternoon in order to complete it because I am interrupted so much in the morning.

 

Well, now it is time to eat lunch. I'll try to get Karen to tell us about her day soon, but it is difficult for her to spend much time on the computer. I will watch the children and even then she will be interrupted more than I usually am.

 

Karen:

My average day. Hum... I get up when our little early bird (Lydia) wakes up. Feed her and change her diaper. By then Matthew is getting up. After I've played with the kids for a little while I start preparing breakfast. Generally cereal though once in a while I pull out a real American treat (Pop Tarts), or make Matthew's all time favorite (pancakes).

 

Rick generally eats with us but a lot of times he gets interrupted by workers coming who are wanting to talk to him. "Is Mr. Leike here?" The Kaonde have trouble pronouncing their "R's" (Poor guy, sometimes he can hardly finish a cup of hot chocolate).

 

After breakfast, I grab which ever kid is the closest and get him or her dressed for the day and then grab the next one. After the kids are dressed, I play with them for a while. Sometime around 9:30 I start to prepare lunch. I get interrupted a lot due to the fact that our front door has turned into a revolving door. Either workers are coming, fellow missionaries have questions, kids want to come over and play with the "Muzungu" (white) kids, or people come to ask for something just because we're white. Also, our sweet Matthew and Lydia want to play with their Mama.

 

All throughout the morning I'm preparing lunch (in between interruptions). Finally around 12:00 lunch is ready and we send all the kids home, wash hands, and eat. After lunch it's time to clean up dishes, play with the kids for a bit, and then nap time. Then, during nap time the whole revolving front door cycle begins again. Also, I am trying to prepare for super until about 5 o'clock when we tell the kids that it's time to go home.

 

After 5 we have only a few kids knocking on our door wanting to play (which we send home) and then the parents start to come (especially mothers) wanting to spend time with me (which I understand since they've been working in the fields or working all day). We sit down and swap stories and share about our day. Also, we share about each others' culture and laugh as I try to learn new KiKaonde words. After the mothers leave with their babies, tied to their backs I rush and give the kids their daily bath and finish up super in hopes to get it done by 6. After super, it's time to tuck Lydia in bed (around 7) and play with Matthew. We read bed time stories until 8:30, then lights out for him. After he's in bed, I finish cleaning up the supper dishes. Then, I sometimes prepare meals that I can freeze, catch up on e-mails, or just brush my teeth, call it a day, and crawl into bed.

 

Our days may sound busy, but they are the good kind of busy in which relationships between ourselves as a family or our friends have a chance to deepen. Sometimes, Rick kidnaps me and the kids and takes us away for a surprise picnic or a trip to town(about 45 minutes away). In town, we do our weekly grocery shopping (or market shopping). Also, we eat at this little crack in the wall place with really good french fries and chicken. Yumm. Well, that's pretty much it for me.

Matthew:

Rick: Matthew, what do you do during the day?

Matthew: I do the slide, Mommy tries to swing me outside.

Rick: What else do you do?

Matthew: I push Daddy's button right here. Turn off, Daddy.

Rick: What else do you do?

Matthew: I do broke your computer.

Rick: No, you don't, silly. What else do you like to play outside?

Matthew: I play number games. [Matthew starts singing.]

Rick: Do you play the letter game on the computer.

Matthew: Yes. The letter game's... you push the button and click it.

[Matthew walks away to play with the Thomas the train toys in his room.]

 

Matthew spends most of his time playing outside. He can jump on a trampoline, go down the slide, swing (although he needs someone to push him), play in the sand, or play with any of his outside toys. When he is not outside, he is often playing with the toys in his bedroom.

Usually, in the afternoon other children come over to play in the backyard. He always enjoys playing with them.

About three times a week we play a game on the computer to help him learn his letter sounds and simple words. A few times a week we can even play his favorite game on the Wii, Mario Party, for about 15 minutes.

 

Lydia:

Rick: Lydia, look at me... What do you do during the day?

Lydia: ...

Rick: Do you like to play outside?

Lydia: ...

Rick: Do you like to play with the balls outside?

Lydia: ...

Rick: Do you like to jump on the trampoline with Matthew?

Lydia: ...

Rick: Do you like to swing outside?

[Lydia gets down off my lap, walks across the room, and starts playing with some toys.]

 

Although Lydia may not converse much, she does like to play with Matthew outside. However, she demands much attention from Karen and won't play for long on her own. When other children play with her (like Noah and Bryson Davis or some African kids we trust), it gives Karen some time to get work done. But if Karen really needs to focus on something, she either does it at night when both children are asleep or asks me to watch them for a while.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don & Rita Boyd Newsletter: July 31, 2008

Just a note to let you know how things are going over here. Last week Aaron Chilembe and I traveled to Muyashi. This is a large village located at the border of Chief Mumena and Chief Mutabo's area. We had requested a meeting with the village headman and was told to return on Wednesday. When we arrived he asked us to accompany him to Chief Mutabo's palace. The chief said he was wondering when we would come to his area and said he would be happy to give us permission to come to establish a preaching point there. We were accompanied by men from both Konkwa and Lunsala. Please keep this in your prayers as we seek to extend the borders of The Kingdom.

 

The Konkwa brethren continue to amaze me with their zeal to teach God's word to their neighbors. Last weekend six men from Konkwa spent the entire weekend teaching and encouraging the people at Lunsala. They brought their blankets and slept there. On Sunday, most of the Konkwa church Leaders were at Lunsala so Rita and I went to Konkwa to worship. It had been sometime since we had been there so it was uplifting to be with the Konkwa Congregation. There were 72 in attendance at Konkwa and 57 at Lunsala. We pray that both churches will continue to grow both physically and spiritually.

 

There has been a rumor spread that a lion has escaped from a game park near to Solwezi and has made it to Mumena. The trouble is when someone talks about it they have not seen it but have been told by someone else about it. It would be near to impossible to find anyone who has actually seen the lion. This is one of the biggest difficulties among the Kaonde and in fact all over the African continent. This is how rumors and falsehoods are easily spread. Superstition and ignorance are powerful tools Satan uses.

 

On Monday night our guard woke me at 11:30 PM and said, "the lion has come." He said he saw large eyes which turned from red to green. I went with him to the area and found the two donkeys that stay in the area where we live. There were no tracks and the donkey's were not alarmed so I was sure there was no lion. However, I helped him and another man make a through search before going back to bed. I did not want to make him feel foolish so I told him to keep a sharp eye and listen for animal noises. I went back to bed at about 1:00 AM. So ends the episode of the "Great White Hunter."

 

May God continue to bless all of you as you serve,

Don & Rita

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Don & Rita Boyd Newsletter: July 29, 2008

Greetings to All,

We want to keep you abreast of what is happening in our lives and our ministry.  We finished the campaign, which was a success in all the fields of agriculture, education, well drilling, medical and evangelism.  The last of the Americans returned home the middle of July.  There were 13 new souls added to the Kingdom and one new preaching point started as a result of the campaign, so we all feel that it was worthwhile.  It was good to have some familiar faces return from earlier campaigns and to make some new friends with first timers. 

We have enjoyed some new members of our team who have arrived this year.  The Love family, Rick, Karen, Matthew (who turned 3 today) and Lydia, who is about 18 mo. all arrived in May and Phil Sullivan who arrived in June.  Phil's wife Paula was not able to come with him at this time due to the illness of her mother.  Phil & Paula have plans to spend six months here and six months in the States.  We are not sure at this time how long they plan to do this.  Our team members, the Bruingtons, are in the States at present, but plan to return the end of August.  It will be good to have the whole team together for the first time when they return. 

Our ministry is going well, everyone is involved in studies one place or another and Sondra is busy teaching Noah and Bryson.  Noah is third grade and Bryson is kindergarten.  They both seem to be doing well and enjoying their studies thus far.  I, Rita have resumed the ladies Bible study at Konkwa, which seems to be going well and I plan to start another study here at home with the two ladies that work in our home and the ladies here in our immediate neighborhood.  This study will start the first Tuesday in August, Lord willing.  At present Don has 3 weekly Bible studies besides the Sunday worship time.  He has been ask to start a new study in a new area and Lord willing that will begin soon.  As you can see the Lord is truly blessing this ministry and partly due to all of your prayers and words of encouragement, please keep them coming.

We had one sad event during our campaign, at least it was to some of us.  We had just gotten a new puppy the 5th of May(our dog Patches had to be put down while we were in the States because he started biting people) and on the 4th of July the puppy was ran over by one of our trucks and her back was broken, so she had to be put down also.  I guess it is not meant for us to have a dog.  We still have our 2 cats and a baby goat (kid) was born the 13th of July.  It is all black except a bit of white on the ears and nose.  The boys have named him OREO.  He is cute and the boys really like him.  It is great to see the boys growing up here and having such good experiences, times that will last them a lifetime.  We thank God that our family is together and that He is blessing us in so many ways.  We also thank God for all of you and what you mean to our lives.  Please continue your prayers and letters of encouragement and you are in our prayers also.

Love in Christ,

Don & Rita

Monday, July 28, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Of Syncretism & Transformation

“We gave them what they needed! We taught them how to use it! Why didn’t it change their poverty?!”

This is often the initial frustration our development volunteers experience with their holistic efforts to help the Kaonde overcome poverty. Actually, it is a good place to come to as the understanding of change agents must be deeper than just resources and information. I used to experience this in the Inner City church plants with starving drug addicts. I could give them a dollar for food and tell them which shops had the best prices, but I just ended up buying that addict more drugs.

Syncretism is the adoption of “Christian” forms without the transformation of the inner man. This has been the norm here among the Kaonde for over 100 years. Their loyalty is to the ancestors, but most everyone “goes to church” on Sunday. Thus witchcraft, fatalism, and ignorance robs these people of their ability to steward God’s gifts. Transformation seeks to address the conversion and the sanctification of the inner person so that resources and information can be used responsibly. This is a process that takes time, but there are no short-cuts.

This year, after three years of trying different holistic poverty alleviating techniques, some of our development volunteers are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. As church planting – from the beginnings of our work - has challenged the way people are in their inner person, responsible uses of resources and information are now emerging. And our campaigners are now able to see the beginning fruits of their labors. One of the most exciting things from this year’s campaigns has been the beginning of a discussion by our campaigners on how to involve many volunteers in the transformational teaching process that must proceed responsible stewardship of development initiatives. As this conversation unfolds, I hope to write more “Journeys” about it.

As usual, Christ is WAY OUT IN FRONT of us. His sermon on the mount demonstrates this transformational teaching process as He moves from the inner person principles of the beatitudes to the practical behavior applications later in His sermon.

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”

Matthew 15:18 KJV

In Him,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

WellDrilling

Pictured: Well Drilling volunteers discovering sustainable clean water systems to be stewarded by trustworthy brethren who are beginning to see Jesus as the creator and Lord of their water. Previously, the members of this church gathered their water from an open seepage pit where the cows and goats were watered. The resulting constant disease robbed the brethren of their ability to study and understand the Word, let alone participate in the evangelism of others. Now they are doing both!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Davis Zambia News: July 2008

Hi there,

Here we are on the other side of our campaigns and now I’ve got time to write another newsletter. I did mention back in May that you may not hear from us until July. Remember? As usual we had a very busy, but productive three months. There were four medical clinics held, which saw many people. But the best part is we have a new preaching point because of the work. In the village of Kyangozhi there were a few baptisms so they are now beginning to meet together on Sundays and also have a weekly Bible study with Brian on Wednesdays. At present, there are about 10 people who attend but we hope to see that number increase as time goes by. Please keep them in your prayers.

Another big prayer request is for the Musole family, who are members of the Kananga congregation. This is a very new church plant and most there are very new Christians. The Musoles came from another congregation far away because of a job opportunity in the copper mine. About three weeks ago their 13 year old daughter went to buy tomatoes in the market and she never returned. The family is obviously suffering greatly from her absence. The police won’t help search for her and their family and neighbors are pressuring them to seek answers from the local diviner. Thus far we believe they have resisted. Even though Americans can’t fully understand it, the temptation is great for them to resort to such satanic devices because their culture is so blinded by his sneaky ways. Since this congregation is so young, falling to this temptation could destroy this new church plant. Please join us in earnest prayer for the Musole family and the Kananga congregation. Pray the child will be safely returned and pray for the spiritual strength of the family and congregation. They need to rely on Jesus as their strength, protector, and provider.

The biggest push forward from our recent development volunteers was in agriculture. Cleddy Varner spent about 9 weeks here developing a plan to teach the Kaonde better farming techniques year round all the while keeping it something that the Kaonde people can reproduce and continue long after the missionaries are gone. The program has just begun and there is a lot of upfront work to be done but the ideas have real promise.

Our four female interns were a joy to have around this year. They were good about going out on their own to visit with people and learn the Kaonde language and culture. They had missions and theology classes with Brian a couple mornings a week and then they were out in the afternoons. One week, after discovering that our boys had never been to VBS, they taught our boys Bible lessons and had crafts and games for them. It was fun to look out on the back porch and watch the interaction. After two months of so much time spent together talking, playing, reading, etc. the boys really hated to see the girls leave. These times with Americans are good for our boys to learn and identify with a culture that is supposed to their theirs and yet one they have never lived in.

Noah, Bryson, and I started school two weeks ago. It’s been an adjustment for all of us to have two grades going on simultaneously but I think we’re doing pretty well. Bryson is in kindergarten and has school with us for about 2½ hrs where he and Noah study Bible and history together, as well as share story time, music appreciation, and critical thinking skills. Bryson also is learning to read and has math activities during that time. After Bryson has finished for the morning, Noah, who is in third grade, takes a small break and then returns for science, spelling, language arts, math, reading, and handwriting. They’ve both worked hard the past two weeks and it looks like it will be a good year for all of us.

One last thing before I go. We want to send out a big thank you to everyone who came over during May, June, and July. We appreciate all the hard work you put in to help the church planting efforts among the Kaonde people. We saw some good things happen while you were here and now we will continue on.

That’s all for this month. Until next time….

Blessings,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

Friday, July 25, 2008

Love Letters (Missions): Church Planting -> Development (Understanding the Team Strategy, Part 1)

As a missionary team, we need a strategy which we all can agree in order to work together well. Our team strategy has been developed over the past few years through discussions with our supporting churches and with the experience gained here at Mumena. In a normal schedule, we have weekly team meetings to train and improve ourselves as a team. The knowledge gained from these meetings slowly molds our strategy. Ideally, this will make us more effective as we partner with God.

 

Brian Davis, who has been the organizer and academic mind for the team has created a presentation which can communicate the team strategy. He has also written many posts on the team strategy which you can read here (look near the bottom).

 

In the next few weeks, I (Rick) will try to point out some important concepts from the Team Strategy. Since I have just arrived a few months ago, I am also in the process of learning the team strategy. I will try to share what I learn with you who are interested in understanding our strategy.

Don’t get the cart before the horse... or oxen.

CartBeforeHorse

 


Productive Christian development must follow the transformation of the heart that comes by church planting.

 

 

Another words, church planting must come before development. If a person's heart has not turned to God, they lack the foundation to build a better life. Most of their problems are caused by sin or irresponsibility. God is the only one who can solve this and give them the strength to change.

 

Some examples:

A meth addict is trapped by his addiction. This is one form of sin. If you give him a dollar, he will use it to buy drugs. If you try to teach him a skill, he will never use it because he will be wasted most of the time. If you teach him personal hygiene, his teeth will still rot out because of the meth. The problem is sin, and the person needs help from God to overcome his addiction. Until, he starts to overcome his addiction, you will not be able to help him. After he begins to transform his heart to God, then you will make progress. He will trust God to give him strength whenever he is pulled by the addiction. You can begin to teach him positive values for his life. He can develop a purpose for his life. He can learn new skills which will improve his life. He can even use his new skills to help others. He will transform into a person who serves God in everything. None of this will happen until he transforms his heart towards God.

 

This same concept applies to the Kaonde. Many of their problems are caused by sin:

 

Drunkenness

Many men waste whatever money they make buying beer. They may have a good job, but their families are hungry because instead of buying food they get drunk. We cannot help them until they turn to God and begin to transform.

Many people who were drunks have become Christians and are now doing well. Their families are happy, they are better workers, and they are capable of helping others. Now they are able and open to improving their lives.

 

Greed

Among the Kaonde greed will destroy families. This happens when a man moves to the city to get a better job and leaves his family behind. There in the city, he starts to make more money. He may begin by sending the money back to his family. However, he soon begins to follow other desires. He is away from his family and support. He may begin drinking to overcome his loneliness. He may get a mistress or hire a prostitute to satisfy his sexual desires. His life will begin spiraling out of control as his family falls apart and suffers at home.

When a person dedicates themselves to God, they also learn the value of family. Instead of following greed, they begin to plan and think what is best for their family. They see what has happened to families when the man has moved to the city for work. Instead, they can decide that it is more important to stay close to their families than to make more money. Also, he begins to find appropriate ways to improve his family's well being. He will provide better food and shelter for his family, support his children's education, and listen to other ways to improve their life.

 

Sexual Sin

Sleeping around is very dangerous for our bodies, minds, emotions, and souls. However, it is common among the Kaonde. AIDS has wiped out almost an entire generation. The problem is more widespread in the cities, but men who visit the cities can bring AIDS home to their wives. Also, when the man is gone, the family is falling apart, and the wife and children are starving at home, she will exchange favors (prostitute herself) to a man who might take care of her for a short while.

God teaches us to love him with our bodies as well as our hearts. When a person dedicates their bodies to God and remains pure, they will avoid the pains of sexual sin. Husband and wife can dedicate themselves to each other and lead an example for their children. Young people can remain pure and find a spouse who will do the same. Marriages will be strong and the husband and wife will love each other. In this situation, the family will care for itself and the community and help bring change to others through example. They will listen to development efforts and understand how they can improve their lives.

 

 

Sin is not the only cause for poverty, but it is one of the major causes. When a person turns from sin and dedicates themselves to God, they now have a strong foundation for improving their lives in every way. This is how transformation begins with the heart, and then leads to transformation of the whole person.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Love Letters (Culture): Appropriate Teaching, Part 2

In my last post about appropriate teaching, I emphasized that simply reading and explaining the Bible is a great way to teach the Kaonde. I had a friend from the states, Aaron Brown, ask whether the following are also valid goals:

 

A. Encourage people to care about the message

B. Illustrate how to live it out

C. Harmonize/systematize with other scriptures

 

I think these are all valid uses of God's word. Paul pointed out to Timothy, scripture is useful in many different ways to teach and train us so that we are equipped for good work (2 Tim 3:16).

 

However, the three goals mentioned have different priorities according to the situation. For example, in the states among educated people, A. is a primary goal. The teacher is often trying to motivate an audience who is already familiar with the story and has already thought about its application to their lives. That is a difficult task.

 

However, among the Kaonde, the people already care about the message. (Not in a "warm fuzzy" way, but rather in a "how can I use this power to my advantage" way).

 

B. is more of a primary goal here. This is especially true because the people have been living with duplicity for years. On the surface they consider themselves Christians, but in the shadows they are loyal to their ancestors and live to manipulate the spirit world.

 

C. doesn't really apply here. The people don't know enough of the scripture to harmonize anything. Any jumping from verse to verse simply leads to confusion and gives the impression that the Bible is complicated and hard to understand. Also, the Kaonde are not systematic thinkers. On the contrary, their understanding is based on rote memorization for specific situations. They have never developed the ability to reason. In fact, the question "Why?" is almost impossible to translate into Kaonde and nobody can understand it.

 

In my opinion, this is the biggest cross cultural barrier: Going from a culture with a concept like "Question everything" to a culture that blindly accepts anything.

 

This is why it is vital that we teach only what the Bible teaches. The Kaonde do not have the capacity to say, "Well, Rick was just sharing his opinion about this passage, the Bible doesn't necessarily mean that."

 

Imagine trying to teach the book of Revelation in this context. I know that anything I say about Revelation might be taken as God's word. However, God has not given me the authority to add my own understanding to His word. In fact, Revelation contains a dire warning against adding any words to the book (Revelation 22:18).

 

So, in order to teach Revelation here, I must not teach my own understanding or interpretation. If the book makes a plain statement, I can explain that plain statement. For example, Revelation 21 teaches that God will be right among his people. We will all have direct access to Him and He will even wipe each tear from our eyes. Awesome! I can explain that and teach it to the Kaonde in a way that is meaningful to them.

 

However, where Revelation speaks in poetic and mysterious language (apocalyptic writing), I can't change this. I can't make a timeline out of it, tie it to historical figures (like Nero, Hitler, or the Pope), or do anything else to remove the mystery. John wrote it like that for a reason. I don't think he was just trying to send a coded message. I think he was trying his best to communicate heavenly/spiritual events that are beyond human understanding. He used mysterious language to communicate mysterious events.

 

This is a good example where I cannot change the biblical message or the language used to communicate it. If I ever do have an opportunity to teach this book to the Kaonde, I will start by saying this: "Don't try to figure everything out, just listen and take this to heart. And forget about questions, I don't have answers." Then I will read it and make the main point clear: "You better be on God's side!" I think the Kaonde will agree. In fact, I think they will understand the demonstration of God's power better than we Americans do.

 

Anyway, I think this example illustrates the difficulty in trying to communicate accurately to the Kaonde. But, I think there is a great reward if we learn how to communicate the written Word instead of our own interpretations and opinions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Love Letters (Missions): Appropriate Attitudes

As representatives of God among the Kaonde, we missionaries must be careful to have appropriate attitudes concerning our work.

 

Attitudes to avoid:

  • Egocentric: Thinking that only I am right
  • Ethnocentric: Thinking that only my culture and way of thinking is right
  • Methnocentric: Thinking that only my methods are right

The main problem is that once we make a decision, we feel a sense of loyalty to that decision. This is apparent in any argument. Once, a person chooses sides, he refuses to change. In the same way, once we find something that seemingly works, we have a tendency to reject and even criticize all other options. This even applies to our understanding of the bible. Often, once we have "figured out" what a biblical passage means, then we no longer see the actual passage but see only our own interpretation.

 

This attitude can destroy us. It is arrogance. We impress ourselves with how right we are. However, we are actually just blinding ourselves to our own foolishness. The fact is, we don't know much, but we follow the One who does.

 

Jesus is our Lord/King/Master/Teacher. He lived the greatest example for us to follow. So we try our best to follow Him.

 

In this light, we have the following tasks:

  • Constantly learn from Jesus by reading and studying God's word
  • Evaluate our own attitudes, actions, and teachings against Jesus
  • Admit the mistakes in what we think, what we do, and what we teach
  • Adjust our methods and teachings to avoid the mistakes
  • Trust God to work through us despite our imperfections

We must constantly consider what God teaches us about our situation. We must also teach the Kaonde as effectively as possible, so that they too will follow God in every way. We must do what is right and what works well.

 

Jesus brings us back to the simple commandments: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Also, love your neighbor as yourself.

 

If we as Christians, will focus on these commands, we will be much more successful at following the rest of God's word.

 

If we as missionaries, will live these commands, God will partner with us and make the work successful.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: 1 Supper & an Oreo

Finding the food to feed from 20 to 40 campaigners for two months can be a bit daunting after one’s main grocery store burns down.  We began scavenging about 3 months before their arrival… especially for meat.  As the propane gas shortage prevented us from using our freezer, the meat had to be “on the hoof” for the most part.  Noah and Bryson usually take on the livestock as their personal project.  As they are taking on a “farming” ethic, this year they decided to name two of the goats “Lunch” and “Supper”.  While preparing to slaughter Supper, the boys discovered that she was pregnant and thus granted her a stay of execution.  They had to serve Lunch for supper that night, but our campaigners didn’t notice the discrepancy.  Last Sunday, Supper had her baby, a little black and white male, and the boys decided to name it after a delicacy that the campaigners had brought with them for desert… Oreo.

 

Wondering whether or not to serve Supper for lunch next year and certain that Oreo would not make a good desert,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

GoatOreo

Pictured:  Noah and Bryson with Supper and Oreo

 

“And if his offering be a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord.”
Leviticus 3:12  KJV

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Website News: Catching Up

Today, I (Rick Love) was able to sit down and catch up on the website entries from the Davises, Boyds, and Bruingtons that I was not able to put online from the past few months. If you remember, my computer was lost at the beginning of May, so I am finally getting back up to speed.

 

Anyway, today, I will be adding some news to the website from past months. As you read, remember that some of this is old news.

 

Thank you for remembering God's work at Mumena,

Rick

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Love Letters (News): Getting Settled

Last week we went to Lusaka (the capitol city) to get our truck and work permit. We got out truck on Wednesday and my work permit on Thursday. We spent the rest of the time shopping for groceries and other items which we cannot purchase in Solwezi.

 

The trip was enjoyable and relaxing. The Baptist Guest House where we stayed in Lusaka had babysitting available. So, Karen and I went on a date with each other. We went to see a movie, "Hancock," in a theatre that is nicer than many in the States. Also, during the week, we took the children to see "Kung Fu Panda" and ate some American style fast food like Subway and hamburgers at Steers.

 

We traveled back to Mumena on Friday and have been trying to organize since. During the summer, there have been about 30 Americans visit doing various campaigns. They left while we were gone and when we came home, we found that our table was pilled with left over food and supplies. Those in combination with the items that we purchased have filled our cabinets and all our storage room. This is a blessing to have so much that we won't have to worry about rationing anything for a few months. However, we are considering options on where to add more storage.

 

Everything is getting settled are we are enjoying are home at Mumena. Before Bart Bruington left for the States, he began constructing a jungle gym for the children in the back yard. It is finished now with two swings, a baby swing, monkey bars, a tower and a slide. The ground under the slide and the tower is covered in 8 inches of white sand to make a soft landing in case any of the children fall. Also, this week we have been building a thatch roof over the whole area to provide shade. With this, a trampoline, and many toys, the children have a great back yard where they can play safely.

 

The children are both continuing to learn much. Lydia is beginning to say more words than "ball," so we are teaching her how to say more words. Matthew has shown interest in words, so he is learning the sounds of English letters and beginning to learn how to read a few simple words. We try not to push him, but if he enjoys learning, there is no reason to hold back.

 

Continue to pray for our family as we serve the Kaonde people.

 

In Him,

Rick, Karen, Matthew, & Lydia

Don & Rita Boyd Newsletter: July 2008

Most of the campaigners have left with only two remaining.  This last two months have been fruitful but sometimes challenging.  With forty or more people here it is difficult to keep everything at a normal pace.  However, we maintained our normal studies and the Lunsala and Konkwa congregations have continued to grow.  The gospel is powerful and lost souls continue to respond to it.  Tomorrow I am going to challenge more with a lesson about their "World View."  Lord willing it will at least cause them to think about their decision to either follow the Lord or the witch doctors and Satan.


BaptismJacksonMpamvuThe "Mudala" (old man) pictured in his baptism is Jackson Mpamvu.  He has been attending our Lord's Day service for some weeks and he made the decision to be baptized.  When I explained that he is doing what all members of the Lord's Church have done since the Church was established he had the biggest smile.  This is what it is all about, one soul at a time.

 

Today Aaron Chilembe and I visited a large village some 20 kilometers from Lunsala.  Some ladies from Muyashi asked us to come and preach at their village.  We went today to visit the headman but could only find his assistant.  He said we should come back on Wednesday and the headman would give us his okay to preach in his village.  We expect several people to be there.  Lord willing, in the near future there will be another congregation in our area.

 

Rita and I are grateful for your prayers and for allowing us to be here doing what we like to do.  We pray that God will continue to bless you as you labor.
In His Name, Don & Rita

Friday, July 18, 2008

Love Letters (Culture): Appropriate Teaching

As I teach, I want to show others how to teach. Therefore, my lessons must be simple. I cannot produce lessons that appear to take days to prepare. In fact, I shouldn't be trying to "produce" lessons at all.

 

God knew what he was doing when he inspired His Word. Not just the message, but also the form of the message was given so that we can learn. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are stories about Jesus life. They tell the history of Jesus' birth through resurrection. This is a wonderful form that helps people relate to Jesus as if they were following Jesus like the apostles. Other books have different forms that are appropriate to teach the message. Each book is a beautifully crafted work that teaches us something about God and our relationship with Him.

 

Therefore, I want to let God speak to the Kaonde through His word. I don't need to re-write what God has created. My duty is to convey that message cross-culturally. I am here to help explain to the Kaonde what was written to the Jews or Gentiles of the 1st century. Therefore, most of my time should be spent trying to understand the Kaonde culture and determine how to communicate in a way that makes the biblical message clear to them.

 

I believe, the most appropriate lesson for the Kaonde is simply reading the Bible and simplifying or pointing out specific points. Today, I began a study about Jesus through the Book of Matthew. I simply read and summarized Matthew chapters 1-3 and the villagers said I was a great teacher. I had nothing to do with it, they were amazed by the message. Very few Kaonde have read the Bible, so everything is new to them. By simply reading and explaining the message, it is a wonderful teaching for them. I told them that I was simply reading the Bible and that any of them can do the same thing with their family and neighbors. I was trying my best to model how they can evangelize themselves.

 

Hopefully, they will see the example and share the story of Jesus with others. Many of them have Bibles, so as long as they can read or memorize what is read, they can share the message with their family and neighbors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Love Letters (Missions): Not Too Poor to Serve God

What will happen after we leave?

Will those we are now teaching continue to teach others after we are gone?

 

Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples (of him) and teach them to obey everything he has taught us. He has taught us to go and teach others. If we fail to teach others who will in turn continue to teach others, then we have failed this task.

 

One false concept that we must always battle is that the Muzungus (foreign white people) are the only ones who can teach. If we are not careful, we could give the impression that there are requirements to become a teacher or to spread God's word.

 

False Requirements to Become a Teacher:

  • Own a vehicle
  • Own a bike
  • Have a nice house
  • Be American
  • Be white
  • Be selected by Americans
  • Be supported by Americans

If the Kaonde come to believe any of these, then we have severely injured God's work. I believe we will answer to God for that. Therefore, we must do everything possible to avoid teaching these false requirements.

 

Right now, I believe we are doing a great job working against these concepts. Many Kaonde have become teachers and are going out to their neighbors to teach them as well. For example, Konkwa church (about 2 years old) sends someone to Mushingashi church (less than a year old) each Sunday in order to teach them. In order to do this, the teacher needs a bike (it is a 45 minute bike ride or a 4 hour walk).

 

A mistake we could make is trying to provide a bike for this teacher. That would be equivalent to saying, "You are too poor to buy a bike, so we must give you one." Sadly, some Americans have this attitude toward the "third world." However, the fact is, that many of the Kaonde live in nice houses with iron sheets. Their iron sheets cost more than a bike. Many people have bikes that they have purchased themselves. By giving them something they can provide for themselves, we are teaching them that they are too poor to serve God without us.

 

"You are too poor to serve God without me." That is a lie that will destroy God's work. We Americans have a dangerous pride that we are the only ones who can save the world. God is the only one who can save the world and he doesn't need us to do it. Historically, the poorest Christians have been the most fruitful.

 

Here are a list of things that the Kaonde can and should provide/accomplish themselves:

  • Transportation to church service and Bible studies
  • Communion supplies (fruit of the vine & unleavened bread)
  • Bible for each member (who can read)
  • Song books (or better they can just create songs appropriate to their culture like the early church did without a song book of European songs)
  • Feeding their neighbors who are hungry
  • Caring for the widows and orphans of the church
  • Keeping God's family dry during the rainy season (building some shelter to meet in as the church family)
  • Teaching their neighbors who have never heard God's word
  • Anything else that God requires from them (God will not require something they cannot themselves provide)

We cannot and should not do these for them. These are duties that God has asked them to do. Instead, we must teach them that they are rich in God's kingdom. He has given them, his children, everything required to do His work. In our teaching and our examples, we must help them to know that they are indeed rich and capable.

 

Therefore, as an example, I will be walking to a Bible study today that is about 3 kilometers away. I could easily get in my truck and drive there in 5 minutes. However, I want to show that even without a vehicle, anyone can still teach God's word to others. It may seem like a waste of time, but by walking for 30 minutes I may be teaching a more important lesson than anything I could teach in 2 hours.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Are the campaigns worth it?

This year we will have had 7 major efforts back to back during our campaign season:
  • Well Drilling Development Campaign
  • Micro-Loan & Small Business Development Research Trip
  • Agricultural Development Campaign
  • Education Development Campaign
  • Health Development Campaign
  • Evangelism Campaign
  • Christian University Missions Internship

Though each event has offered its efforts in the name of Jesus and infused with His teachings, one campaigner still asked me, “Is it worth it?  After all, the missionaries have to focus primarily on servicing the logistical needs of the campaigners during these 10 weeks.” 

 

My experience with campaigns began with the “Treasure of Truth Campaigns” as I had the privilege to serve in them from 1985 to 2000.  And I still remember the theological grounding concerning the “worth” of campaigns from such missions teachers as Dr. Joe D. Gray, John Payne, and Ancil Jenkins, the campaign leaders:   

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

Luke 10:1-3  NIV

 

The “worth” of campaigns is measured in the multiplication of the Spirit filled hands of Jesus as Christians participate together in His Great Commission.  It was our Lord who first chose to use this method.  As He hints in His last phrase, He is under no delusion of the difficulties inherent in this method, but it’s worth is divinely assured!

 

Exhausted but truly thankful for each campaigner who offered his or her hands to the work of Jesus among the Kaonde,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

CampaignLine

Pictured:  Kaonde lined-up for physical and spiritual help from our campaigners.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Bruingtons Missionary Report: June 2008

Have you ever wanted something . . . have you ever set your sights on getting that something . . . have you fervently prayed for something . . . today . . . the something I have wanted, the something I have been praying for . . . was granted . . . by God!

 

Over a year ago I met a man . . . respected in the community . . . a man of strength and a man successful in his business . . . a man whose family is a reflection of his dignity.

 

This is a good man. I had been watching him for several months and I grew to respect him myself. When the opportunity was provided for us to meet . . . within minutes one could sense his commanding presence . . . I thought . . . this man could be a great man of God. So I asked . . . what he thought about God . . . he said, “I believe”. I asked him how he worshiped God . . . he said, “I do not go to church” . . . I asked why?

 

He said, why go to a place where most of these people drink with me on Saturday and then go on Sunday to church. Why, when many of these people lie, cheat, steal, and commit all manner of sin every day, yet faithfully go to a church on Sunday . . . Why?

 

I told him . . . it is most unfortunate the countless people . . . who worship in vain: Deceived by the lies of Satan and Ignorant of the truth of Jesus . . . yet, will set in a church every Sunday . . . and not know God . . . this is Satan’s greatest work . . . false religion and worship that is in vain . . . Satan does not want us to acknowledge . . . truth!

 

For one year . . . I have been asking Stanley to come to the bible studies. Yet, he had never come . . . he is a busy man . . . aren’t we all!. Finally, I realized . . . I must go to him . . . so for several months . . . I have been trying to see him at his village, but each time . . . he was in his fields, in town on business . . . working. Then he came to me and asked why I had been coming to his village . . . I said, “God is calling you Stanley . . . and I am the one God is sending for you to hear His message of truth . . . Jesus.  I will come to teach you at your village . . . at your home." He agreed!

 

We started four weeks ago . . . we opened the bible . . . God’s Word . . . the same Word that created all things. We learned about God and His kingdom. We learned about how God created us . . . in His image. We learned about Satan, sin, and the separation between God and man . . . when we choose to sin. We learned of God’s greatest work to bring sinful man back to Himself . . . by His power . . . His grace . . . through His Son!

 

We learned about this Jesus . . . the Son of the Living God and how He came to save us from our sin. We learned about the “Greatest Event . . . of all eternity . . . the Gospel”.

 

Today . . . the greatest miracle of God . . .“baptism” . . . where our sins are washed by the blood of Jesus and by the power of God a child of God is born.  This is God’s “Holy Place” . . . in the water . . . through faith . . . to those who believe!

 

Stanley Lombanya . . . is now my brother and fellow servant . . . in the Kingdom of God.

 

Let us all celebrate . . . what was lost . . . is now found . . . Amen!

Bart

Monday, June 23, 2008

Love Letters (Culture) - God's Power to Save

Since I have been here, I have taught three lessons during Sunday morning church service. Each lesson was about serving God faithfully because he is the greatest King and greatest power. The Kaonde live in constant fear of their ancestors, evil spirits, and witchcraft. I have tried to teach that although any of those might kill us, only God can judge us and send us to hell (Matthew 10:28). God is more powerful than any other power and even Satan can only act with God's permission (Job 1-2). Beyond this, God loves us and gave Jesus life for us when we were still enemies (Romans 5:8). We serve God not only because He is the ultimate authority over all things, but even more, because He loves us and wants what is good for us. So, it is better to die in God's promise than to turn back to Satan's powers.

 

You will notice that I have not tried to teach that ancestors, evil spirits, and witchcraft are not real. First of all, Jesus himself talked to demons and Satan, so evil spirits are real. They have real powers and are able to harm if God allows it. Second, I cannot always discern the difference between Satan's power to harm or his lies. It is certainly possible that he is using a witch to accomplish his desires. Whatever power he has, he could use a witch as his puppet to demonstrate that power. So, I cannot always know whether witchcraft is just a lie or Satan is really acting through it.

 

For example, there is a witch who claims to be able to travel to New York on a flying carpet in 30 minutes. That is obviously a lie, there is no way a person can travel on a flying carpet that fast ksk-smile. However, when a person who has a real disease goes to a witch doctor and comes back cured, what has happened? Perhaps, it is all a trick. Or perhaps, that person has really been cured from a physical disease. The difference does not matter because in each case that person is being trapped by Satan's power or lies.

 

You might also notice that in the Old Testament, God did not always confront the fact that false gods are not really gods at all. When the Israelites were in Egypt he did not tell Moses to teach that the Egyptian gods were fake. Instead, he demonstrated his power over them. Each of the ten plagues is directly aimed at one of the Egyptian gods. The plague of darkness showed that God had authority over Ra. The death of the firstborn showed that God had authority over the Pharaoh himself (who was considered the embodiment of the gods). God didn't confront the fake gods with words, instead he confronted them with power. From the Israelites perspective God defeated all the other gods. He truly had all authority and was the Most High God, the only one deserving praise and worship.

 

Whatever the Kaonde understand about witchcraft and evil spirits, it is vital they understand that God is the ultimate authority and deserves our loyalty, no matter what God allows to happen to us. We will all die one way or another, but only God can forgive us and save us from hell.

Love Letters (News) - Living Well

For the past month and a half, Karen, Matthew, Lydia, and I have been learning how to live well as a family in Zambia. Everything is going well and we find living in Zambia is healthier and more enjoyable than living in an apartment in the states.

 

Our primary goal for our first year here is to learn. We want to learn how to live as a healthy family spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. We also want to learn the language (kiKaonde) and the Kaonde culture.

 

One of the nicest things about living here is our back yard. We share the yard with the Bruingtons who live in the other side of our duplex. Bart built a brick wall enclosing a yard about 200 by 150 feet. They had brought a trampoline over and this week he will finish constructing a jungle gym. The yard is safe place for Matthew and Lydia to play with little surveillance. For the first time since Matthew was born, the children are able to entertain themselves without constant supervision. The worst thing that has happened so far is that Matthew threw one of the cats at Lydia and gave her a small scratch. They both love playing in the yard and often have friends over to play (the Bruingtons, Davises, or a few Zambian children which we know).

 

Our home is quite nice. We have a small two bedroom duplex. However, because we have very little junk we now have more room than we have ever had. Also, Bart (who constructed our house) did not complete all the furnishings because he wanted us to decide what to do. So, I have built many items for the house to complete it how we like it:

  • Additional shelving for our closets in both bedrooms
  • Large bookshelf in our hallway
  • Shelving in the bathroom
  • Entertainment/work desk in the living room
  • Large medicine cabinet in the bathroom (in progress)

Our family has been very healthy. Matthew and Lydia both got a cold with a fever about 2 weeks after being here. This is normal when moving to a new location and most likely due to the dust (there is a lot of dust here). They both were over the cold in about a week and have been perfectly healthy since then. Karen and I have both been mostly well.

 

During June and July we have many American visitors here doing various projects (from water well drilling to medical). Since everybody eats together, we have been eating breakfast and supper with the group at the Davises. Brian is the official cook during this time and he has learned to make many excellent meals. The meals have all had a large variety of vegetables with meat about 2-3 times a week.  Obviously, we don't have fried fast food or microwave meals, so almost everything we eat is healthy. In fact, I have already lost 2 inches from my waist from the diet and active lifestyle.

 

The main benefit of the Americans here is the fellowship we have with them. There are four college age girls who are interns here for about 2 months. Karen has really enjoyed knowing them and they have helped Karen adjust to the culture gradually. The interns, Sondra Davis, and Rita Boyd have all been needed friends for Karen as her best friend Amy Cates and her sister Jana Johnston are back in Dallas. I spend a large amount of time with Bart, Don Boyd, or Brian Davis so I also have developed good friendships with them.

 

Language learning is going well. There are many Kaonde who are willing to help us learn kiKaonde. At this point we have been learning simple greetings and phrases with basic vocabulary. However, it doesn't take much work to impress the Kaonde. There are few white people willing to learn their language. A basic sentence like "I am learning kiKaonde" is sufficient to bring amazement to their faces.

 

In addition, I have been able to find many resources in kiKaonde to help with language learning. I have a modern Kaonde to English dictionary, a overview of kiKaonde grammer, and many children's books with pictures. Right now I am reading a book called "Bokwe Mfumu," the Lion King (not the Disney version).

 

As far as technical items, we are still waiting for my work permit and our truck. This is Africa. Both were supposed to be ready three weeks ago. Don Boyd and I have traveled to Lusaka (about 9 hour bus ride) twice in order to obtain them (he was also needing to renew his work permit). Both times neither the work permits or the vehicle have been ready as promised. (We had to physically travel to Lusaka because we have report orders for the work permits). I got my report order extended and hopefully by the time the truck is ready the work permit will also be ready. I plan to take Karen and the children with me next time we go. This will give Karen a break and we will go to a nice restaurant and see a movie while we are there. This should happen in the next few weeks as soon as Toyota tells us the vehicle is ready to pick up.

 

Continue praying for our family.

Rick

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Don & Rita Boyd Newsletter: June 2008

Greetings to all,

Just a short note to say how much we miss everyone and to say thanks to all those who have written to us since we came back to Zambia.  We are happy to be back with our family and our family in Christ.  The Churches here really seem to be growing Spiritually.  We have seen the Konkwa Church especially growing. Spiritually they are reaching out to other areas with the Gospel, trying to start new congregations and now that they have their own building, they have began to make benches for it.  We like the way they work together when there is something that needs to be done.  This past Thursday there were 17 in attendance at the Konkwa ladies Bible study.  Some of that number was our 4 Interns from Harding and ACU.  I am hoping they will want to teach the class some while they are here.  They are very glad to help where they are needed.

  

Don and Rick Love are planning another trip to the Capitol to try and get the Love's new truck and their work visas.  Their first trip a little over a week ago did not accomplish much, just got Rick's visitors visa.  Hopefully this trip will be more productive, because it is not cheap traveling in Zambia.  We know you are paying more for fuel in the States these days, but you are still behind what we have to pay at $8 a gallon.  Zambia is having a shortage of electricity country wide and that is causing shortages in many other things that have to be processed by electricity, so you can imagine the difficulty we have in getting things like fuel, sugar, bottle gas and cornmeal (which is the staple food for the Zambians).  We try to adjust to each situation, but sometimes it can be difficult.  We do realize how blessed we are to be able to help carry the Gospel to others and have our good health to continue in that.  We know that many of you are always in prayer for us and the work here and we thank you one and all.  We also pray for you and your part in this work, knowing it would not be possible without you.  May God richly bless you all.

 

Love, Don & Rita

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Davis Zambia News: May 2008

Hello All,

Sorry this newsletter is late.  We are currently hosting several people from the States and life has been a bit busy.  Our new teammates, Rick, Karen, Matthew, & Lydia Love, arrived about a month ago.  It’s nice to have more permanent workers on the field.  Rick and Karen were former interns of ours in Cape Town so it’s nice to see that they made the decision to return to Africa full-time.  They have been very patient as we’ve tried to help them settle in and also get ready for our big (American) summer work.  We currently have 7 visitors here but we’ve had several who have already come and gone and a whole lot more who have yet to arrive.  Each day we feed close to 20 people.  Brian is the chief cook as he has the organizational skills and is also an excellent cook.  I and my mother are his assistants.  I can’t begin to decide how much food you need to feed a large crowd but I do know how to do what I’m told, therefore, I make a good assistant.  Most of our cooking is being done outside on the charcoal brazier since gas is always in limited supply.  We have used the oven for baking.  I thought it would be a difficult task to feed that many while cooking outside but it’s not been bad.

 

Our well drilling group has already come and gone.  Due to the lateness of our container (I mentioned that last month) most of their supplies were somewhere between the Middle East and Zambia so they had to come up with creative ways to get their job done.  They were able to drill a couple of wells and I think the inconvenience of not having materials was a good lesson as to how life in Africa works.  Despite it all they were a positive and helpful group.  We also have had some agriculture and small business projects going on.  Some of the local people have attended seminars on drip irrigation gardening and others have learned how to make yogurt and start a small family business.  It’s now up to those people to use what they were taught to better the lives of their families.  Pray that they do so.

 

We’ve got four girl interns this year.  Two are from Harding and two are from ACU.  One of the ACU girls is going to marry Brian’s nephew in December so it’s been nice to get to know her.  The boys were especially excited to meet a new future cousin.  All four interns have done well to jump into whatever activity is going on.  I think today’s young women are a hardier group than when I was their age.  None of them seems to have a problem with living in the dorm with no running water or electricity.  I don’t think I would have been so excited about being in Africa if my internship had been like that.

 

Yesterday our container arrived and was unpacked.  It happened to coincide with a sports day being held at the school across the path from our house.  When the truck with the container rolled past, hordes of people ran to the storage area where it was to be unloaded.  Fortunately from past experience we were prepared for that and had the proper security in place.  Everyone was quickly turned back and eventually went back to their own activities.  The container was unloaded in about three hours and the truck left.  I was a happy mother when Brian came home with our two boxes of school curriculum plus an extra reading curriculum given by one of our church friends in Abilene.  Noah wasn’t so sure about it but after we opened the boxes and saw all the great books we’ll be reading this year he said it made him more anxious to start.  Bryson also joined in the fun and even though he’ll only be in kindergarten he wanted to hear all the great stories too.  I assured him that he wouldn’t be left out.  Now if we could just find time for school.  I had hoped to start this month, but I now realize that it won’t be possible until mid-July when our visitors have left and life settles down a bit.  I’m not even sure when I’ll find time to put the books on the shelf, let alone find time to organize, plan and teach.

 

I hope to write again at the end of the month but it may be sometime in July before I find the time.  Between now and then we’ll have another 40 or so people passing through holding several medical clinics in the area.  But more on that next month.

 

Blessings,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Bruingtons Missionary Report: May 2008

Last months report was negative . . . I know . . . I delayed most of May before sending it out. Many responded . . . Are you ok? . . . Truth is . . . I am not! 

My wife and family are state side spending quality time with the aging Grandma’s . . . and I am here in Africa a long long distance from the one’s I cherish most. After we complete this year’s Medical Mission the first week of July . . . I will return to my wife, my family, home for two months.

We will all “together” return to Mumena the end of August to continue our work here . . . teaching Jesus Christ.

So, fact is . . . I miss my wife . . . I miss my family.

As I sit here . . . another sleepless night . . . I think I am only in a very small way beginning to feel what God feels . . . loving with a great love . . . so great a love it is beyond our grandest of imagination, beyond the greatest love we have ever expressed  . . . separated from what He loves most because of our sin . . . Isaiah 59:2.

There are many negative truths in the bible. This righteous God who loves us . . . loves us enough to warn of immanent dangers . . . Matthew 7:15, 21-27 . . . that surround us in this place . . . He loves us enough that He . . . Philippians 2:4-15 . . . Left the splendor of heaven . . . And came to this place . . . Acts 26:15-18.

To save us . . . I Timothy 1:15 . . . From our sins.

We know he has returned to heaven . . . John 14:3 . . . He is now preparing a place for us. So that we may be with Him.

We know . . . II Peter 3:7-11 . . . He is not slack with His promise. He is patient in waiting . . . allowing one more day . . . to repent!  The negative truth is real and an assured promise of God . . . He will . . . destroy this world because of sin, Satan’s lies, Satan’s deception, because the way of man will become continually evil, turning from the truth of God . . . II Timothy 4:3, 4 . . . people will accumulate for themselves teachers (preachers) to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth . . . creating another Gospel, false religions, deceptions of Satan . . . lies! Satan has come to kill, steal, and destroy . . . and his number one source of deception is religion, yes Satan will use truths of the bible, the word of God, twist them as he did with Eve as he tried with Jesus . . . Matthew 4:3-11.

Now! Enough of this . . . negative truths are a reality . . . and we must therefore put on the full armor of God . . . Ephesians 6:10-18 . . . we must be “In Christ".

The safe place . . . for in Him there is no condemnation . . . Romans 8:1 . . . are you “In Christ”???

Galatians 3:27 . . . Baptized into Christ . . . The Holy Place of God!

Acts 2:38 tells us that it is in this place our sins are forgiven . . . Washed away . . .

I Corinthians 6:11 . . . By the blood of Jesus . . . Romans 6:3-7 . . . Free from sin!

No longer separated!

Together again . . . with this God who loves us . . . Halleluiah! . . . This is Good News!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don & Rita Boyd Newsletter: May 2008

Greetings to All,

As everyone knows it has been a long time since our last report and we are sorry for that.  We arrived back in Zambia on the third of April after three and a half months in the States for Don's recovery from his tractor accident.  We are very blessed to still have him with us and in good health.  We know that people all around the world were praying for him and we know that God heard those prayers and answered them in a wonderful way.

 

We are happy to be back at Mumena and the people we love and the things we love doing.  The people here carried on our Bible studies and other duties very well while we were gone and for that we are thankful.  The welcome back that we received when we arrived home was great, with many gifts given in love and appreciation.  We were given 3 chickens, 2 reed mats, some potatoes, eggs, pumpkin and maybe other things that I can't recall at present.  We knew before that we were loved by many here and all those gifts certainly proved it.  

 

It is good to be back with Sondra and her family, we really missed them (especially those sweet boys).  We had intended to go home for a furlough this year, but not quite as soon as we did.  We are sorry we did not get to see too many of our friends that we had hoped to see on our time in the States.  Lord willing, the next time home we will get a chance to see more of you. Right now we are very busy trying to take care of seven who have just arrived from the States on the 16th of this month.  There are well drilling and agriculture people who have come to share their knowledge with the people of Mumena.  Our main job is to see that they are housed, fed and generally looking after their welfare.  They tell us we are doing a good job, so I guess we are. 

 

Don and I went to Lusaka a couple of weeks ago and picked up the Love family who is here as part of our team now.  We also have Phil Sullivan who arrived as part of the 7, but will be here for 5 months working with our team.  His wife Paula was supposed to come with him but her mother is not well so she had to remain behind, at least for awhile.  They will be spending about half their time in Zambia and the other half in the States.  We are happy they have decided to come and be a part of our team, at least half time.  Our rains have stopped and the cool weather has arrived and we are enjoying this weather right now.  It is sure a nice change from all the snow, ice and cold weather we experienced while in Missouri.  It was good to be with our families back there for awhile, but we were ready to get back to Zambia.

 

The Lord continues to bless our efforts here and we can see growth in the new Christians, for which we are thankful.  Please continue to pray for us and the work the Lord has so graciously allowed us to come back to.  Many people has told Don "The Lord was not finished with you just yet, he still has work for you to do". We believe that and are trying our best to do just that.  May God bless and keep all of you in His tender care. 

 

Love in Christ, Don & Rita

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Love Letters (News) - You Can't Take it With You

We are in our new home and everything is great. Matthew and Lydia enjoy their new friends and playing outside in our large yard. After living in an apartment where we had little outside environment, this is a great blessing. Bart Bruington has built a brick fence around about half an acre behind our house where the children can freely play. The other children enjoy playing with Matthew and Lydia and so for the first time we don't have to constantly keep our eyes on them. The yard is safer than any environment in the States.

The other missionaries prepared our house for us before we arrived. Our house was full of furniture and our cupboards were full of dishes. In Lusaka, we stocked up on groceries (which are often not available at Solwezi the nearest town), so we are ready to learn how to cook and eat here. So far, because we cannot eat fast food or go to a restaurant, our meals are actually much healthier and taste better than what we were eating in the States. We have had eggs, omelettes, banana bread, homemade white bread, tuna salad sandwiches, potato soup, roast, any other excellent dishes. Also, we are all aware of the amount of time involved in purchasing and preparing food here, so we are much more thankful for the food. Because of this, the food tastes much better than the best American restaurant.

There has really only been one problem, which in some ways has turned out to be a blessing. While we were traveling to Solwezi in the truck, the topper on the truck came open and nobody noticed. At some point a bag fell out and we were not able to find it. Out of all the bags that fell out, this was the one in which I put everything that I considered very important or irreplaceble.

Just to give you an idea of what I lost:
My Bible and Karen's Bible
My Laptop computer with all my files
An external hard drive which contained all the digital pictures of our children and the backup to all my files
(Just to emphasize the point, my laptop is my main tool for communication with my family and friends, storing and viewing family pictures, Bible Study, lesson preparation, language learning, financial management, and other things)
My MP3 player with all my music, audio recordings of Matthew and Lydia, and major tool for language learning
All my notes for Zambia, including language, etc.
Every important document for our family:
Passports (except mine which I had in my pocket)
Social Security Cards
Wedding Certificate
Birth Certificates
Medical records of immunizations
Other expensive items (which can be replaced):
All our Wii games
All our computer software discs

To sum it up, every item that I considered a "treasure" was in that bag. Now it is gone. Now, I have no treasure on this earth. My only remaining treasures are my family and friends, whom I hope to see in heaven.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in my that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
John 15:1-2

If God sees it fit, I will try to replace the items which were lost. I now have a completely new perspective for them. Instead of "idols" which I cherish and depended on, they have become tools which I can use to serve God. Whatever the situation, I will use whatever tool God has made available, instead of relying on things which will always fail.

So remember not to build up treasures on heaven which will be a great loss.

May God bless you with great heavenly treasures,
Rick Love

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Answers? I'm still trying to figure out the questions...

Communicating cross-culturally has a lot to do with what “gear” people are thinking in…  I think – and thus teach – in what is often referred to as a “high religion” gear:  the meaning of life, what is true, who is God, etc.  But much of the world thinks in “low religion” gear:  how does something work for me, how do I do this, etc.  I recently encountered this communication challenge after teaching in a Restoration Seminar concerning God’s power versus “the powers”.  My aim was to restore the understanding of my audience to the understanding of spiritual powers as being personal with only two sources:  God or Satan.  The corollary resulting from this is the understanding that man cannot manipulate spiritual powers; rather, he can only enter into a submissive relationship with one of these powers.  In defining the power of God, we read from Psalms 45:6:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.”

NKJV

 

“God, your throne will last forever.

Your justice is a sign of your power to rule.”

Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version, Revised Edition, copyright © 1987, 1999, 2005 World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.

 

The symbol of a scepter is common within the Chieftaincy of Mumena and has the same meaning as the Biblical symbol as described in the Easy to Read Version.  So I was expecting the topic to be well received.

 

After my lesson, I was surprised to find that the majority of people attending were not at all happy with my class.  My first reaction was, “Well, it’s true; deal with it.”  But “truth” in this case begged the question.  THE question was:  “Fine, the power of God is righteousness; BUT… HOW DO WE USE THAT?!”  (That is actually a very good Bible question.)  Their reaction, however, was as if I had shown them a compelling drama; stopped half way through; given them a “to be continued” sign… but with no time and date.

 

Hustling to develop the second lesson,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

 

BrainTeaching

Pictured:  teaching answers at a Restoration Seminar AFTER which I discovered the questions.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Love Letters (Technical): Preparing to Live in Africa

In order to live in Zambia as a missionary, one must obtain a work permit. This process is not very simple. It seemed every week we received an email telling us another document was required. So, I decided I would document the process for any other missionaries so that they might avoid any potential problems.

 

Documents that might be needed to obtain a Work Permit or to do other business in a foreign country:

  • Passports for everyone in your family.
  • Copy of all passports.
  • Extra Passport pictures for the work permit (at least 2).
  • Proof of Education: Copy of High School, College Diploma, or Transcript
  • Resume: A simple resume that documents any relevant education or experience.
  • Letter of Invitation: An invitation written from somebody in the foreign country inviting you to come work in the country.
  • Letter from "Employer": The Zambia work permit application required a letter from an employer in Zambia. If you are going into a country where the church is officially recognized, then you can probably get something from someone among the official leadership. If you are going to a country where there is no one to represent your employer, you will probably be able to process the work permit as if you were self employed.
  • Letter of Intent: A letter ideally written from your supporting congregation that describes the purposes of working in the foreign country.
  • Guarantee of Financial Support: A letter written from your supporting congregation that guarantees they will support your financial needs.
  • Police Clearance: A Certified Document that proves that you have no criminal background. I obtained this at the Dallas County Court House and had to get two separate documents for felonies and misdemeanors. I'm not sure whether the second is required, but I got it just in case.
  • International Driver's Permit: This will allow you to drive in some countries (when present with your US license). It can be obtained at any AAA Insurance office.
  • Letter of Recommendation from your Bank: A letter from your bank that recommends to a foreign bank that you are a good customer. This will allow you to more easily open foreign bank accounts. 
  • Marriage License: This might be required to prove you are married to your spouse.
  • Birth Certificates for family members: These might be required to prove your relationship to your children.

 

Process for obtaining Work Permit in Zambia:

  1. Come to Zambia.
  2. Upon arrival you must purchase a visitors Visa for each member of the family when going through Immigration Control at the airport ($135 for 3 years).
  3. Take all the required documents to the Ministry of Immigration in Lusaka along with the application fee (at the time it is K500,000 which is about $150)
  4. At this point, your Visa (in your passport) will be noted that your work permit is being processed.
  5. Wait 3 weeks.
  6. Go back to the Ministry of Immigration in Lusaka to see if your permit is ready. If not ready go to the previous step.

Hopefully, this will be educational and useful for someone.

 

May God bless you with patience and peace if you attempt to enter a foreign country as a Missionary :-)

Rick Love

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Love Letters (News): TIA (This is Africa)

As I will be sure to learn more in the near future, everything is different in Africa. Most obvious is that everything occurs on a different time scale. For example, an appointment for 9AM on Friday in Africa translates to "Maybe in the morning on Friday, or Saturday, or some day in the future."

Well, this concept of time is now becoming common in the aviation industry. Many flights are canceled now because of fuel costs in the US. All flights are full and there is no redundancy if something goes wrong (like a mechanical failure which grounds a plane). This past Friday (May 2nd), we got to experience this: After boarding the plane there was a software problem with the plane's navigation system. After re-booting the plane's computer twice it still didn't work (no surprise there, I hope the plane's operating system is a little more stable than windows 95 and won't "magically" fix itself by re-booting). Anyway, our flight was canceled and the airline had no way of handling 120 extra passengers. After waiting in a line for 5 hours, I was able to get the same exact schedule on Monday (May 5th) 3 days later.

Anyway, I took the whole experience as good practice for Africa. Ironically, it actually worked out quite well:

  • We were still in Dallas when this occurred instead of being stuck in some unfamiliar place.
  • We intended to give our cell phone to the people who took us to the airport in order to be mailed back to my parents. We forgot to hand the cell phone off and therefore had it with us (which was indeed a great blessing). We were able to update everyone on the situation and spend some of the time waiting by talking with friends and family.
  • Karen and I had only been able to get 3 hours of sleep the night before because of all the last minute loose strings to finish. With the extra three days (or actually two since one had been spent in line at the airport), we were able to get some rest having already tied all the loose strings. We have been able to enjoy our time with our friends and family instead of running around everywhere with endless errands.

Hopefully, the second attempt will go even smoother.

Rick Love

 

TIA: This is Aviation