(Note – since we arrived in Kha, it hasn’t stopped raining…)
This morning, we ate breakfast (omelet, vegetables, chapatti) and then left via jeep to go to two villages. We waited almost ½ hour at the police station while they decided if they would come or not. They demanded that we provide a car for the, ZL said “no.” Finally, they decided to come, in spite of the fact we would not provide a car for them. Four of them came to the first village… (at the end of the day, we ended up paying them 500 taka ~ $10.00 for spending the day ‘protecting’ us)
We got there, or at least to a small town close to it. A villager met us on the road and said, “The water is too high, you can’t go their by foot – the river has come up too high.” So, we asked about a boat- and sure enough there was a boat available. We clambered in, in spite of the mud and such…the four policemen also came with us. What a sight. They had guns too. Boy did I ever feel protected (?). We road in the boat maybe 15 minutes. On the way, I saw little islands that had been formed from the water rising. I saw some homes that had been deserted because of the high water. When we finally arrived, we got out and walked on a very muddy/slippery path to the village ‘church.’ I decided to take my flip flops off since it was easier to walk in bare feet. I felt like a true national of this country! :) ZL was concerned and kept saying we should get me some shoes – I said, “No, I wouldn’t wear any shoes- bare foot was so much better – I felt much more surefooted that way…and the ground was just mud, grass- it was pretty soft.
The building we were in was a bamboo building with mud floor. They had a large bowl with another small bowl inside of it for me to use to wash my feet off. We did the formalities of greetings and such. I then started in with the storying. The group was a mix of men/women and children. It was hard to know exactly what to do. It was also hard to hear people. It was raining the whole time and sometimes it would rain extremely hard. We were inside, but the roof of the church and most houses here is sheet metal- and thus when it rains, it is very loud. Anyway, it worked out alright. As I wondered so many times in the beginning of my time in India, I also wondered, “how did I get here again?”
(picture - a local leader telling his group a story!)
I had them read the David and Goliath story first from the Book in the national language. Then I explained how this is a long story, and sometimes we don’t have a lot of time to share a story with someone. I explained how it also had some hard names in it. I explained how having too many names in a story makes it harder to understand. I told them I would now tell them the story – potentially leaving some things out, but trying to make it easier to remember. They should pay close attention to what things I may leave out. After, I told them the story, I asked them to retell it back to me. They retold it back – pretty well. I told them that if we had time, I would go around and have each one of them, individually retell the story – but since we didn’t have time, we wouldn’t do that today.
I then did the 5 questions with them. Oh yeah, people from other homes – that had become their own “islands” due to the flooding also came – they came swimming through the water – holding their clothes on their head. When they arrived, they stood for 10 minutes to dry off, shivering since there is of course, no sun these days. Then putting on their basically wet clothes, they came in and sat down. (it was boys and men who came – I didn’t see any women swim). I wish I had gotten a picture of that, but wasn’t able to. The police were also standing close by during the whole thing – which was a little strange, but all well.
After the David and Goliath story – I spoke a little bit about storying and things to include, things to maybe not include, and how stories could be more effective/natural than perhaps preaching! :) They said they liked the story, and wanted to hear another one. I gave them an assignment. I told them the reference for the Demons story and told them to craft the story themselves.
I said, “Remember:
1) you want the story to be easy to remember [short/don’t use hard names/etc],
2) you want to make sure the main point is included [i.e. jesus healed the man],
3) if possible, see if you can connect it in any way with Cha culture.
We broke into two groups. Afterwards, they shared their ‘stories.’ The first group did alright. He forgot the end of the story – but I think it was because we were running out of time, and so had to cut their preparation time a little short. The second group told some of the story, but also threw in a little preaching/summarizing of things we can learn. I praised both of them.
I also told them how they can use a story like this to learn more about the culture. They can easily ask questions like, “Do you have spirits in your culture? Are they good? Are the bad? Where do they come from? How do they get inside a person, how do they get outside a person…?
I then explained how it’s important when we tell a story, to just tell the story. It’s very important to then get the feedback or opinions of our friends/the listener. If we do all the talking, there is nothing for that person to contribute. They may feel embarrassed, or shy since you have already told them all the answers. It is also not much help for us if we tell what we know, but don’t listen to what they have to say. They may have some great insight, we didn’t think of before. We want to ask their opinions about different parts in the story. It can help us see if they really understand or not.
I told them how every time we tell a story, we can get better and better. I said even my story I told today can still be made better.
Then I did the formalities of closing – saying how happy I was to see them, thankful I was to be here etc. I said that I have been to a few places in the world, and my favorite places are villages like this one. I said I was sorry I couldn’t speak their language. I said I may not see you again in this world, but I will see you in Heaven, and I look forward to being able to speak with you directly (i.e. not through a translator) then, and look forward to worshipping God together there. It was encouraging to think I will see some of them again there.
We then went back down the muddy path, got into the boat, and went back to the ‘mainland.’ The police switched with some other police who then accompanied us to the next village. This wasn’t as far from the road as the first one. It was raining cats and dogs and even though we didn’t have far to walk, we were completely soaked by the time we got there. We met in a concrete building… We ate lunch there, and then I did the Shadrach story with them, and the 5 questions. There were maybe 5 women, 10 men, 3-4 kids. I didn’t do as much training with them, but did still mention the importance of retelling, being able to remember a story, and getting the feedback from our listeners…
About 10 minutes into the ‘program’ – the police officer came and said there was word that there was a landslide- and we should probably leave soon. We said okay, and I tried to ‘wrap things up’ – but it was still about 45 minutes before we left.
After we finally left, we weren't on the road long until we got to a landslide. It was pretty big, and would probably take 3-4 hours to clean up. We got out and walked across it. I’m kicking myself for not taking any pictures – but somehow I felt strange taking a picture of something that was somewhat of a calamity for them. Fortunately, there was a police truck on the other side, and they agreed to take us back to the hotel.
We changed clothes, and rested for maybe 1 hour. Then we got ready to go to dinner. It was still raining. ZL and I got on one motorbike. I pulled my skirt up so my legs were showing from the knees down. But since it was dark, no one would really notice. I held an umbrella and we set out. Within about 2 minutes we were pretty wet. Then, the motorcycle died – there was no more gas. We got off, in complete dark and completely pouring down rain and walked to where we thought there was some gas. The local leader and his friend were behind us (in a bicycle rickshaw) so we knew they would be coming eventually. ZL felt bad about the situation, but I told him I was completely fine. I said, “my father has said before – it’s just rain, a little water won’t hurt anything…” He laughed and I think that helped him to realize I really didn’t care about getting wet.
Anyway, we got to the place we thought there was gas, but there wasn’t. There was one bicycle rickshaw – otherwise, there was no one around. Soon the local leader and his friend came. They took the motorbike and we got in a rickshaw. We finally arrived at the home of the the Leader in the town. We asked for “loongis” – or a skirt type thing. It was nice to have something dry to put on.
We then ate dinner – I was again surrounded by men – though the TR workers wife was nearby. I am not saying this because I felt scared- but only because it’s so different from India and most South Asian cultures. I talked to ZL about it more later and tried to find out if it was just the culture here, or because I was a guest, or was it that Riverland people just eat together. He said it was more the culture of believers to eat together, and that I was a guest.
After dinner, the TR worker showed me the back room of his house – it’s their kitchen. The river had flooded up to about 2-3 inches below their kitchen. He said, “I’m a little worried that the water might come in…It almost came in once before, but the rain doesn’t seem to be stopping, so I’m not sure if it will stop this time from coming in…:”
ZL, and his friend (who had come with us from Ban town) and I got on the motorbike – three people! That was exciting. It was still raining- thought not very hard. We didn’t used the umbrella on the motorbike this time.
We got back to the hotel, and went to bed!