Thursday, June 30, 2011

PAG church dedication

Last month a new building was dedicated for the PAG (Pentecostal Assemblies of God) church in Lokinene, the Ik area we live in. PAG is one of the strategic partners in our work since they will most likely provide a translator in the future and be the first to benefit from Ik Scripture translations and related materials. It is also the church we attend when we are in the area.

Before the new building was built, the congregation of about forty Christians was meeting in a dilapidated (from age and use) structure made of logs, mud, and grass thatch. The Pentecostal church in Germany donated funds for the construction of a new, permanent church building.

The small Ik congregation in Lokinene is one of the reasons we decided to locate where we did. At the time (2008), they were the only non-Catholic church in the Ik area, and the only church who met in a physical structure. (Now the Catholic and Anglican churches have constructed church buildings in other areas). In SIL our aim is to serve all Christian churches with our work, but we have had the most enthusiastic support and encouragement from PAG so far. In Lokinene, we felt a spirit of peace and welcoming we hadn't in the other areas we visited.

So while we believe strongly that church buildings are only secondary to the 'living body' of the church that is Christians living in community, we are happy for the Ik pentecostals of Lokinene who now have a beautiful, secure, and spacious place of worship to call their own.

Here the superintendent of the German PAG church and the bishop of the the Ugandan PAG church together cut the ribbon to officially open the doors:
Lots of people crammed into the building to hear the choirs and speeches:
Terrill trying his hand at mingling a bit of posho (he's really just posing!):
The crowds line up for their share of the celebration feast, which they put in any container they had available, from plates to pitchers to pails (one lady even brought a watering can):

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Plain Ole Grass

Usually when I’m out in the woods here in Timu, I notice the many wonderful kinds of trees. But one morning recently, my focus shifted serendipitously to the smaller, humbler plant life around the rock I was sitting on. All of a sudden, what was before ‘just grass’ at my feet, sprung out at me in all its timid diversity. In a matter of minutes, I had picked out nine different kinds of grass (and I know I missed some) on the basis of their different seed-heads.

The thin, forked one:

The spiny head one:
The long, fuzzy one:
The one that smelled like a kitchen spice:
The froofy one:
The oatsy one:
The Christmas-tree-looking one:
The other Christmas-tree-looking one:
The the one whose seeds stick to everything:

I'm afraid those are about the most scientific descriptions I can give for now...

As human beings, we have the ability to focus our attention on things around us to discover (and sometimes create) meanings and patterns. But we’re made in such a way that we can only focus on so much detail at one time. Too often we go through life focused only on this thing or that thing and miss literally a whole universe. (Did you know that it is now thought that we have identified only 2% of the earth’s estimated 100,000,000 biological species? I wonder if all these kinds of grass are already known?)

What details are you missing (out on)?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do you ever see snakes?

Yes! We get this question a lot from visitors coming to Africa for the first time. What brought snakes to mind? I found a foot-long, blue-black thing slithering through my garden last evening. It was the first snake I've had to kill. Thank God it was small enough and easily cut with a hoe. For the amount of time we've been living in Uganda, we haven't actually seen all that many snakes. Sometimes Ik will come to me with a bite, mostly on the legs and feet which they got while working in their gardens where the grass is high and they're not wearing shoes. So far, nobody that I know has died from these bites. The leg becomes swollen and painful for a few days but eventually it heals and people have a good story to tell. The snake below we saw on the road while traveling through a remote area west of Kaabong. It was already dead when we found it. This particular snake is a puff adder and people who get bitten by these usually die. This snake we saw last fall and it was quite alive when we passed. Terrill immediately stopped the car. He & a friend got out and threw rocks at the snake until it was dead. It's just a common courtesy to kill a snake if you see one near-by. You never know who the snakes next victim might be. We do thank God for his protection over us from snakes these past few years.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don't you hate it when...

...the mice start eating your clothes? Sometimes it's difficult having two homesteads and having to keep rodents out of both at the same time. Sometimes we don't achieve this end. We returned to Kaabong last week to find several shirts eaten right off the hanger. Seriously, a tank top had no more shoulder straps. Below is a beloved t-shirt that had the misfortune of having its collar eaten away. So far I've lost three shirts and had multiple others nibbled on. I think it's time to box our clothes up for the sake of preservation. We've patched every hole in the ceiling that we can find, but we keep our eyes open for any other destruction lurking in dark corners.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Karimojong Bible Dedication

In April we had the chance to attend one of the dedication ceremonies for the newly-printed Karimojong Bible called Ebaibul. It was intriguing to be there and imagine what it might be like in the future when the full Ik Bible is translated, published, and distributed. The first translation of the Karimojong New Testament was completed by the United Bible Societies in 1974. Then, in 1996, the Bible Society of Uganda produced a revised New Testament that accommodated more of the Karimojong dialects than the original. Now, the complete Karimojong Bible (including the Apocrypha for Catholics) is available in 2011.

As you can see, it's been a long time coming. And such things that take so long and so much effort deserve dedication and celebration, something that Africans do in a big way!

The first venue of the dedication was the Kotido Anglican church where celebrants gathered for introductions, singing, and staging the march through town.

After the beginning formalities, everyone marched through Kotido down behind a motorcade of vehicles, including one carrying loud speakers and a giant Bible. Speeches were made at the town center, the Pentecostal church, and then at the entrance of the Catholic school.

Finally, we all settled under white tents on loan from the United Nations to hear more speeches, sermons, pontifications, songs, etc., etc. from Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal Christians (the three mains churches in the area) as we waited (im)patiently for lunch...which didn't happen until close to 5 pm.

So you can see what written Karimojong looks like (it's quite beautiful, I think), here are the first five verses of the Bible, Genesis 1:1-5:

1 Anakisyakinet, abu Akuj tosub kidiama ka akwap. 2 Arae akwap ŋina amam iborekitamet ka amam ibore ayai tooma keŋ ka arapuwarit akiryonut kidiama nenicukul daadaŋ, aryakiryaki Etau ŋolo ka Akuj alokidiama ŋakipi. 3 Tema nai Akuj, "Toyakaun akica;" ido abu akica toyakaun. 4 Toanyu Akuj atemar ajok akica; totyaka Akuj akica anakiryonut. 5 Tolimok Akuj ekiro ka akica "Apaaran" ka ekiro ka akiryonut "Akuwar." Toyakaun ataboŋ ka toyakaun ataparacu, arae ŋin akoloŋit ŋina esyakinan.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Small friends

Since we're now spending a majority of our time in Timu, the people and place have become my constant companions...especially the children. If I had loved them as a people group before, now I can love them one by one since I'm learning their names and getting to know them. Being in community has it's perks but also it's challenges. This week we're trying to figure out how to set boundaries with the community that will allow us quiet times apart from them. Although we enjoy them, we'll not survive here unless we get this time apart. Pray with us for this.

My friend, Lojore, is jumping into a sand pit near the school. Ik kids don't have man-made toys or electronics; they play with what they find in their natural environment.
We brought a jump rope for the kids to enjoy. Now we hear a daily request in the afternoons at our gate: Bire nci sim (bring the rope). They often ask for me to jump with them and then like to swing the rope faster on purpose. Lemu Lucia is the girl jumping. She has a bubbly personality and always provides us with a laugh.

My neighbor & friend, Siti Rosemary is jumping in this one. Although only 14, she runs the household for her mother and takes care of her five siblings. Kids grow up fast here. Lojore, Nancy & Nakiru have a bonding moment. The kids are their own community when parents get too busy and can't spend much time with them. I think I'm becoming part of that community. I'm praying that God will help us show love to these kids and will give us opportunities to teach them truth.