Today marked the first day of a four-day conference in Pastor Felix’s home church. We had not yet been to that area, so we were not sure what to expect. However, we have learned one thing for sure; in African terminology, apparently a bad road and a good road is the same thing. Josh and I must not be intelligent enough to understand the difference. We had many laughs over this, and gave Felix a hard time because he said they were good roads. Fortunately, it was a shorter distance to travel—Praise Jesus—but the frequency of obstacles was greater, with several of them being impassable, so we traveled a bit on foot. At one point I had an ominous feeling about walking over a dilapidated bridge, because I am not a very coordinated person, but it was the only option.
As we journeyed, I reconsidered the possibility of using God’s provision to purchase a small motorcycle for Felix to travel among churches. Through our discussions with Pastor Duncan, we realized that he had a nice small Mazda for sale, which was from his income through repairing and reselling automobiles, but he didn’t mention that Felix should have a car instead of a motorcycle. Fortunately, we didn’t jump to any rash decisions concerning a vehicle, since we needed to consider all options.
Earlier that afternoon, we had learned that the village needed 400 Bibles in addition to the 195 already distributed. As I was driving to the store to pick up some bottled water, God reminded me that our first area of assignment here was spiritual fulfillment. Then it was almost like He said, “Hey, knucklehead do the math.” All kidding aside, the Holy Spirit prompted me to decide that the funds from God would cover the cost of all the additional Bibles. At first I was a bit remorseful for not picking up on that point sooner, but that feeling was quickly replaced by lightness in my heart and joy in my spirit, knowing that there would now be 400 more opportunities for someone to know God. To top that all off, Duncan also had an immediate need in Mozambique for an additional 215 Bibles. This puts the total number of new Bibles at over 800! God has blessed us immensely with the opportunity to be part of this.
We drove two vehicles to our destination. The “Holy load” and the unruly roads would not make one trip possible. The drive was roughly 90 minutes and we were amazed by all of the people walking or riding a bicycle. Once we departed the perimeter of the city, vehicle traffic diminished to a trickle. Many times, we passed through small trading districts where little shops were set up down both sides of the street. Sometimes pedestrians crowd halfway into the lane on both sides, so the driver must navigate delicately through the crowds. When we arrived, we were able to see where Felix stayed and meet some of his family members. He doesn't have his own home, so please pray God will make a provision for his housing. One of his sons has acquired decent English language capabilities. The language barrier is certainly an issue at times, but there are enough knowledgeable individuals sprinkled amongst the group.
Since this was the first day of the conference and final preparations were still taking place, the time for Josh to speak was a bit later than planned. The tradeoff was that we had the opportunity to play with the children. Through these children and adults, we are meeting a whole society that appreciates much of what we take for granted. For example, the high-five is a big hit! We will eventually explain how it can represent fully surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but for now it was just a fun way to play around. I also taught the children thumb wars, while Josh unveiled his version of peekaboo with a beaming smile on his face.
Tattered clothes, bare feet, potbellies, skin disease, ringworm, and only the good Lord knows what else may ail them. It did not matter because we love these children and people. They are a part of God’s family, which makes them a part of ours. Our interaction and view of family in Christ will be the same regardless of who we meet. The people almost seemed surprised that we were taking such a loving interest in them. With the children receiving a few handshakes and pats on the head, they were gushing with love. Some of these children have great potential. It is evident in their eyes and bright smiles. Others have suffered tremendous hardship, with no apparent end in sight. Darkness looms heavy in their souls. Only the power of the Almighty will revive them to a state of joy. Even with bellows of laughter and engagement with them, some kids are far from us. Please pray for these distant little souls to be given hope and to be uplifted by God’s love.
Eventually Josh was able to deliver his first message. Because of the disorganization, I believe it was difficult for Josh to find his rhythm initially, but he still spoke well. I stepped in for the last 10 minutes to read an excerpt from a title I enjoy, The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn. It was somewhat silly what I tried to do because I tried to read both the teacher and the student interaction. Unfortunately, my voice is somewhat hoarse, and it was no use trying multiple pitches. I don’t think Duncan the interpreter was a fan of it either, but it did put a smile on my face as he tried to mimic my attempted vocal inflections.
Before departing the area, I took a picture of the beautiful mountainous landscape. We were also able to see several goats grazing on the grass, with the cornfields that the villagers had planted in the background. All of this had been provided by God’s provision. What we were seeing was absolute confirmation of the receipts that Felix had shared with us. He is a man of his word, and his desire to support his congregation is now well established.
We were then escorted to a small building, not far from the church, where lunch would take place. I spent most of my time outside with the children while the adults prepared simmer, a common dish of ground corn boiled over an open fire. Animal livers were included for guests or dignitaries, but today, they also added intestines as a delicacy. After working up a good sweat playing with the children, I returned inside and was informed that Josh had returned to the church to prepare for his next teaching session. Since we had brought the replacement parts for the wells (the ones we had secured the day before) I was hoping that we’d be able to repair one, if the right tools were available.
Since we had been unable to drive because of the unsuitable bridge, we walked back to the car to get the parts. While walking, we noticed that the water volume had further decreased, and disassembling the pump in direct sunlight would not help, but fortunately we had purchased all of the necessary parts to repair it. However, when we began to reassemble the pump with new parts, I became quite lightheaded. I knew if I did not sit down soon, I would end up on the ground anyway. In this environment, large amounts of water must be consumed on a regular basis. Praise Jesus that after sitting in the shade for a few minutes, I felt stable again.
The particular pump that we chose to repair had some water flow, but it was insignificant. Apparently, it was used often but I was surprised to learn that it would need to be repaired every four months or so. The neoprene seals are simple, and the wells could be improved in many ways. I will bring back some of the parts so that we can re-engineer them with specialized tools to utilize different seals with the same parts. Nazeer, the local gentleman with the car dealership and machine shop, might be able to help with this. After installing the new parts and testing the pump, we simulated a 50 to 75% flow increase, which will reduce the pumping time by half or more. We were thrilled to have our first success under our belt. Tomorrow we will be attempting to repair a pump that doesn’t work at all. Improving some of these basic necessities of life removes a few degrees of hardship from these people. There are literally thousands of wells that need attention, so I am eager to see how God works in this situation.
When I returned to the church, Josh was in full swing with his teaching, and his delivery was full of vigor. The Holy Spirit was present in this conference, especially during the closing prayer. Josh asked the whole congregation if we would all pray for the Holy Spirit to move within us during the next three days. After a song, everyone prayed, with many kneeling on the cement floor. There was a noticeable change in volume about halfway through their prayer. It was like the angels of heaven had joined their voices. The closeness of the Spirit was undeniable, and it filled us with His Living Water, just like the fixed well was replenished.