Our life right now continues to be full of words, words, and more words. I have been reporting to a local Catholic clinic to learn medical Kiswahili words. To my surprise, upon my first visit, I was greeted warmly by some very caring nurses who seemed like they enjoyed “teaching me” all about their work including how to pack a wound, give Vitamin A, chart on the baby growth charts, etc., all (of course) in Kiswahili. I also have found a group of girls who sell juice near my house who I have been visiting with for a few hours weekly. They are all very interested in the subjects of birthing, marriage, my relationship with my husband, pregnancy, etc. Honestly, I have been a little surprised by the boldness of the questions that they ask me, as this is considered more of a traditional culture. I guess women are essentially the same the world over and enjoy talking about the same subjects.
If you had a zoom lens that could see from you to Tanzania, on Sat night, you would have caught us around a crackling bonfire in the backyard of our friends, JJ and Ester, who live three hours into the bush from Mtwara. They hosted Andrew, Sarah, Ross and me for two days this weekend. JJ and Ester are from Holland, and JJ is a medical doctor who is volunteering in a bush hospital. They have two kids and have been here for two years. They are also Christians. We enjoyed fellowship and Christian community together at their house and marveled at how they have survived out in the bush w/o electricity and running water for long periods.
The other morning, Ross was walking downstairs and noticed one of our friends, Z—-, a Muslim woman, intensely reading the Kiswahili Children’s Bible that we leave out for our neighbors to look at. We found out that she has read the entire thing all the way through. A few days ago, when she was at the point where Jesus was crucified, she said that she felt “great pain” or “uchungu” (women use this word to describe the pains of child birth), and her eyes were filling with tears. She has never read the Bible before. Please pray that we would be able to minister to Z— in her openness to God’s story (even with our limited language ability). There are others like her (and many Christians) who have never read the Bible or heard stories from the Biblical narrative. Actually, most people in town can barely read (and these are the town folks, in the country literacy is even less common). When Ross reads Bible stories with people on our porch, often it is as much literacy teaching as imparting spiritual insight.