Recent Posts from the Mumena Team

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Cross-Cultural Communication 101

One of the first tasks of the missionary newly arrived on the field is to “dismantle” one’s own communication processor in order to rebuild it along the frequency of the host culture.  This is easier said than done as many of our communication assumptions are so culturally ingrained that we do not think about them consciously.  “Question, Listen, Understand, then Teach” becomes a little helpful initial formula.  This results in a lengthy learning process that slows our teaching aspirations down and can be very frustrating… unless we learn to enjoy it.  I try to think of it as “smelling the cultural roses along the way”.  A good starting place is in the making of inquiries concerning a culture’s “symbols and meanings”.  Often a symbol that our culture and the host culture shares has two completely different meanings.  This can often lead to comic miscommunications.  I remember my nephew, Jason Davis, who discovered the many interesting chameleon species in our forest.  He very innocently placed one on his shoulder as he walked down a path.  He was somewhat non-plussed to find villagers running in terror from him… what meaning of horror do the Kaonde attach to the symbol of a “cute little chameleon”?

As our volunteers enter the Kaonde culture this May through July, this little formula may help you to communicate better.  Even Jesus and Paul have something to say concerning this: 

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand.  What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'"
Matthew 15:10-11  NIV

 

“I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.”
1 Corinthians 9:22  ASV

 


Never having found a communications short-cut yet,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson


BrysonWalkingHoldingHands 
Pictured:  Bryson walking to worship through the rain forest with an older brother in the faith.  What does the symbol of “holding hands” mean among the Kaonde? 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: Empire Building or Planting?

As many volunteers will be joining us in our team efforts this May through July, some thought might be given to “success measurement”.  Culturally, we may be conditioned to consider success as “bigger & better”.  Two hundred years ago, this way of understanding success would be referred to as “empire building”.  New Testament empire building images usually relate to the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God into the principality of Satan.  And certainly in this case, bigger is definitely better.  But notice in Jesus’ metaphors… in regards to church growth, spiritual maturity, and well-being, there is an absence of empire building imagery.  Rather, He uses imagery of planting, healing, & husbandry.  These images depend on indigenous principles and sustainable practices.  Thus, “bigger” – if not sustainable – is not better; …and “better” – if not capable of growing naturally in the environment – is not even workable.  Perhaps a better benchmark for success in these areas would be “what I leave behind that is healthier than when I came”.  As the Good News is for all, so churches and the redeemed individuals that make up those churches must be able to experience this kind of “good health” in indigenous and sustainable ways.   

“That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.”

Psalms 67:2  KJV

Pondering what is truly “best” in this environment,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

BakingCookiesOverCoals

Pictured:  Sondra’s chocolate chip cookies prepared over open coals.  (She assures me that less is healthier!)

Don & Rita Boyd Newsletter: April 20, 2008

Hello to all,

We are happy to be back home again.  Our family and the Church family all seem to be doing quite well.  It didn't take long for us to get back into the swing of things.  The welcome back that we got from everyone was GREAT!  I think a lot of people were not so sure that we would be back.  We have been showered with lots of gifts on our return, which has been nice. 

Last Thursday the Konkwa ladies' Bible class met here across the road from our house.  For the first time one of the ladies from the class presented a lesson on love and did a great job. I was very proud of her.  After the class they had me to invite Don over and they sang to us and presented us with some gifts.  They gave us a reed mat, a large amount of potatoes and a hen (that laid an egg for us while it was waiting there).  We all got a big laugh out of that.  On Tuesday one couple came by to welcome us and brought us 10 eggs, which was very nice because we only get 2 or 3 eggs a day from our hens.  The welcome home by everyone has been very humbling. 

Yesterday was the first mid-week study we have had with the Lunsala Church since we came back and there were 19 present for the study, the most we have ever had for that study.  Today will be my first time to teach the Konkwa ladies class and I am hoping for a good number.  Sondra taught that class while I was gone and last week the ladies gave her a nice "thank you" for filling in for me.  We can see growth in the new Churches here and are thankful to God for that. 

This is a nice time of the year here right now.  The rains have stopped, it is not so hot and the dust has not gotten too bad yet.  Boy the road from the highway to our place really got bad during the rains this year and so Brian has a crew starting work on it today, trying to get it in shape for the container truck that is coming next month.  There always seems to be some major work project going on around here and I guess that is to be expected when you live in a third world country.  We enjoy life here even with all the challenges, the people make it all worth while. 

That seems to be all the news for now.  I will try and keep you informed as often as I can, although I am not so good at writing.  We thank God for you, for your care, for your love and for prayers for us. 


Love in Christ,  
Rita & Don  

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: True Hunter/Gatherer Need

So how do I ascertain true needs within a Hunter / Gatherer society who is always asking for something whether they need it or not?  Ah yes, that’s a good question.  Our team tries to approach the matter on two levels:  personal and tribal.  On the tribal level, we coordinate with our volunteer development teams who seek to learn about and address the overall spiritual, educational, health, and agricultural needs of the Kaonde tribe, specifically the Mumena Chieftaincy.  Though these systemic challenges are great, they are often less confusing than how to determine the true needs of an individual person.

On the personal level (just as the tribal level), we are still governed by our values of indigenaity and sustainability.  Thus when asked by an individual for help, we not only have to discover the true need, but also how to apply any help in an indigenous and sustainable way.  There are a least two big steps in this process.  The first is to open one’s self up to reciprocal and transparent relationships with the host people.  In this way, we cease to be perceived as an impersonal object like a “water well”, which for a hunter/gatherer, is something to be used as many times as it gives you something.  Rather, we are part of the community and thus are allowed to be aware of legitimate needs.   The second is to learn to trust the emerging church leadership that God calls for his flock to compassionately administer appropriate times and methods for benevolence within the resource capacity of the local assembly.  Finally, it is crucial not to “short circuit” this indigenous and sustainable benevolence capacity of the local assembly by “doing our own thing” anyway.  If we fall to this temptation, we marginalize the local assembly and breed a congregational welfare mentality that further impoverishes the minds of the people we serve. 

The good thing about these lengthier and deeper processes is that – when respected – I am shielded from the use of benevolence as a quick emotional or guilt fix… which is not spiritually healthy for me.  Rather I am guided into a responsible and productive team effort of compassionate ministry wherein I can maintain an appropriate anonymity and humility.

“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth”
Matthew 6:3  KJV


God Bless
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

menBuildingNewKonkwaChurchBuilding
Pictured:  church leaders at Konkwa, who manage their own benevolence, managing the construction of their own church building without foreign funds as well.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Don & Rita Boyd Newsletter

It has been a long time since our last newsletter and much has happened so we will try to bring you up to date.  On December 6, 2007 I had a tractor accident. My injuries, a broken arm and orbital fracture of the left eye, required me to be air evacuated to South Africa for surgery.  We thank God that this was not as bad as it could have been.  After a two week stay and a couple of surgeries Rita and I went to the U.S. for recuperation.  There are many people we are indebted to for the good care I received.  I first went to Mukinge Mission Hospital at Kasempa, Zambia which is about one and a half hours from our home.  There I was treated by doctors from the U.S., New Zealand and Zambia.  The Staff of this small hospital are top notch and did a great job caring for me.  After an overnight stay I was air evacuated first to Solwezi, Zambia and then to Johannesburg, South Africa.  Rita and I appreciate the excellent care given by the medical personnel In Zambia and South Africa. 

We arrived back in Zambia on April 3rd and are happy to be back to our work here in Northwest Zambia.  I will let Rita describe the reception given by the people here on our arrival.

 

Rita here!  We spent most of our time in Missouri either at our sisters, or sister-in-laws, most of it being at Barbara's, our sister-in-law, because she lives alone and I think she was happy to have us for awhile.  Hopefully we didn't wear out our welcome.  We must not forget to also mention Jim & Tula Taylor, they were a real blessing to us while in Mo.  They were the ones who came to St. Louis and picked us up on New Years day and housed us for two weeks or more before we moved to Barbara's place.  Jim was even good enough to let us use his truck while we were there and that was truly a blessing.  We spent a good bit of time waiting between different doctors' appointments for Don, so we really couldn't travel too far from home.  The last week before we came back to Zambia we spent with the Cedar Hill Church in Texas, this is the Church that supports us in the work here.  We were blessed again by Sandra Mitchell who gave us a very nice guest house to stay in and one of our Elders and Missions committee members, Fred Yarbrough, loaned us his car while we were there.  We have a great supporting Church that we love very much, and we know they love us also.  The week there went by very fast and many expressed their love in many ways.

The Davis family was in Lusaka to greet us when we arrived back home.  Boy! was it good to see them, especially those sweet little boys.  We spent one night in Lusaka because Don had to pick up his work visa, and then we traveled back to Mumena.  From the minute we turned off the main road onto the road leading to our house we were greeted by many along the way.  The closer we got to home the greetings were much more lively and personal.  Some of the ladies on the road could not contain their joy and really gave him a true African greeting with clapping and shouts of joy.  Everyone was so happy to see Don back again and looking so well. Today some of the folks from the  Mumena Church even came to sing to us and welcome us back.   I think a lot of people were not really sure he would even come back.  Anyway, we are back home and very happy to be here among our brothers and sisters and friends.   We had a great day this past Sunday with the two Church plants that we have had a part in starting, both meeting together for a total of 130 in attendance and two were baptized.  We started our weekly Bible studies last Saturday with the Konkwa Church and today (Wed) we meet for study with the Lunsala Church.  It is good to be back in study with all of them again.  We give thanks to God for all of you and all the prayers that have gone up to the Father on our behalf.  We know that because of them we are back doing what we love doing and what we feel God has planned for us.  Some have told Don that God still has work for him to do, that is why he was spared.  We pray for all of you who are also busy doing his will.  Please let us hear from you in the near future and may God continue to bless you with his care and keeping. 


Love to all, 
Don & Rita 

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Davis Missionary Journey: A Time to Dance

The first time I visited the rain forest to hold a bush Gospel meeting, I remember being greeted by smiling brethren who, as I stepped out of my vehicle, promptly picked me up bodily while running to the forest and stripping off my pants.  Though I had resigned myself to becoming missionary stew, I soon realized that I had stepped out into a column of mpazhi, red fire ants.  While a bit hard on the dignity, the brethren’s method was most effective in removing these little beasts before they reached more painful heights.  I can only hope that our neighbors might connect this challenge with my behavior the other evening as I was walking about our garden.  Having stepped squarely into another column of mpazhi while looking at some flowers, I began to dance and strip before the Lord.  

 

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod."
2 Samuel 6:14 KJV

 

Though short on linen ephods, I did have on Wal-Mart under linens… for which I was very thankful.

 

Preemptively communicating this to our elders before they hear of it from our neighbors,

Brian, Sondra, Noah, and Bryson

 

termiteHillNoahBryson

Pictured:  Noah & Bryson in front of one of our smaller ant hills in our back garden.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

American Cultural Assumptions

Below are some interesting questions that illustrate the differences between the American culture and other foreign cultures. These are generalizations but most of them are accurate to the Kaonde mindset.

Any visitor to a foreign country must realize that the American mindset is not always right. Many differences exist and foreigners (the American visitors) need to be sensitive to the culture which they are visiting.

After you read through the questions, make sure to notice and think about the excercise mentioned at the bottom.


American Cultural Assumptions
Values Affecting Interpersonal Relationships
By Steven Rinesmith


A:Assumption or value held by majority of Americans
F:Assumption or value held by majority of persons of a "contrast-American society"; that is, one which is opposed to American society (in contrast to it) in its assumptions and values

How do Americans see themselves?

  1. What is our primary identification?
    A:Within ourselves as individuals.
    F:As part of a family, clan, caste, or tribe.
  2. What do we value in people?
    A:What people can achieve through special skills.
    F:A person's background, family connections, tribal affiliations.
  3. Whom do we rely on for help?
    A:Ourselves as independently resourceful people.
    F:Our friends, family, and others owing us obligations.
  4. How do we learn about life?
    A:From personal experience.
    F:From the wisdom and knowledge of others.
  5. What is the basis of social control in a community?
    A:From feelings of guilt because we are not living up to our personal standard.
    F:From feelings of shame because we are not living up the standards of our community.

How do Americans see their relationships with others?

  1. How do we relate to people of different status or authority?
    A:Minimize the difference; take for granted everyone's the same.
    F:Stress the difference; show respect for authority/position.
  2. How do we relate to new acquaintances?
    A:Stress informality; make people feel at home.
    F:Stress formality; act properly in front of strangers.
  3. How do we idealize work and sex roles?
    A:Little differentiation between male and female roles.
    F:Distinct and rigid differentiation between male and female roles.
  4. How do we idealize sex roles and friendship?
    A:People may have close friends of both sexes.
    F:People may have close friends of same sex only.
  5. How do we idealize sex roles in social relationships?
    A:Sex equality for males and females.
    F:Male superiority.
  6. What are our loyalties to organizational life?
    A:Move easily from one organization to another when our personal goals are not fulfilled.
    F:Remain with our organization from sense of loyalty even when personal goals are not fulfilled.
  7. What are the characteristics of friendship?
    A:A loose concept applied to many people and based on overlapping special interests; limited obligations to one another.
    F:A specific concept applied to a few people; total involvement based upon mutual love and respect; unlimited obligations to one another.
  8. How do we deal with conflict?
    A:Favor eye-to-eye confrontation between the two people disagreeing.
    F:Find it unacceptable and embarrassing.
  9. How do we regard kidding or joking at the expense of others?
    A:As acceptable, interesting, and fun.
    F:As unacceptable and embarrassing.
  10. What are our primary ways of social interaction with friends?
    A:Doing things together.
    F:Being together.
  11. What is the preferred pace of life?
    A:Fast, busy, conducive to getting things done.
    F:Slow, steady, conducive to getting the most from life.

How do Americans see the world?

  1. What is nature like?
    A:Physical; knowable by scientific investigation.
    F:Spiritual and mystical.
  2. How do natural forces in the world operate?
    A:In a rational, controllable manner.
    F:In a predetermined, spiritually controlled manner.
  3. What is the role of fate in life?
    A:It has little influence; we are the masters of our destiny.
    F:It has great influence; there is little we can do to alter it.
  4. What is the relationship between man and nature?
    A:Man should modify nature for his own needs.
    F:Man should accept and integrate with the natural forces around him.
  5. What is our attitude toward things we desire in life?
    A:What is good or desired is unlimited if we work hard.
    F:What is good or desired is limited and must be shared with others.
  6. How do we look at time?
    A:In precise minutes and hours by which we organize our days.
    F:In diffuse days, weeks, or months by which we organize our years.
  7. How do we value time?
    A:As a limited resource not to be wasted.
    F:As an unlimited resource to be used.
  8. How does life unfold?
    A:In a lineal fashion through history.
    F:In a cyclical fashion through recurring seasonal patterns.
  9. How do we measure progress?
    A:In concrete, quantifiable units which indicate amount, size, percent, and the like.
    F:Against abstract social and moral principles of our society.
  10. On what basis do we make decisions?
    A:Will it work?
    F:Is it right?

From Steven Rinesmith, Bring Home the World, pp.43f

A Biblical Exercise:

Go back through the list of assumptions and values above, thinking through anything that God in Scripture says about those assumptions and values. Which of the above have similarities to the cultures seen in the Bible? Which of the above demonstrates God's values as revealed in Biblical ideals/laws/Jesus?