Dear Family & Friends,
Well, Tuesday was a "red-letter" day here. First, the ham radio email server was finally fixed after being struck by lightning last week, so we are no longer "cut off" from communication. Secondly, our kitchen and bathroom cabinets (ordered 7 months ago) finally arrived. We haven't had running water in the kitchen since May, so we are appreciating it immensely. The boys were actually excited about doing dishes in a sink tonight!!
Always the enjoyment of material blessings is tempered by the realization that the Simba have so little in comparison. However, they are excited over their new homes. Many of them have completed their roofs now, and they have until February 10th to complete everything. One of the Simba told us today that the community is still lacking 4,000 roofing tiles, so we pray these will arrive before the deadline. The plastic sent by our Canadian home church has continued to be a tremendous blessing; we usually have rain now four or five days a week, but each house has enough plastic to cover the roofs in progress.
Today was an "Humita Fiesta" here in Taperillas. One of the missionaries here planted the area around the Bible Center with corn, and today invited the whole community to harvest it and enjoy it in the form of humitas (the corn is ground and mixed with sugar, cheese, cinnamon, etc., then spooned into corn husk leaves, wrapped, and baked in an adobe oven). Corn is the main food staple of the Simba, so corn harvest is always an important time of the year. We enjoyed visiting with the Simba while helping to husk corn and grind the kernels, and were encouraged to be understanding a little more of their language, though some things we try to say bring much laughter!
Language-learning is a continual challenge for us, with our progress being very up-and-down. It has been difficult to find language helpers with the people so busy with their crops and house-building. The two main helpers we are now using do not know Spanish well, so even simple questions and translations problems are often misunderstood. However, we are learning little by little and we praise the Lord for that. One interesting item we noticed...the Simba seem to have very little concern for the past, at least concerning details we usually think of as important. Just trying to get a simple phrase like "three weeks ago..." was extremely difficult and what we finally got requires some major oral gymnastics. The Simba themselves mostly prefer to just say "a while ago.."
One final prayer item is for the Bible Center which the NTM missionaries have begun. This building is to be for "cursillos" where believers from the remote Simba villages will be invited every 2 or 3 months for Bible teaching, which they can then take back to their villages. The main building is a simple adobe structure which is to include a kitchen area, and large teaching area that can be used rain or shine. We are praying that the local Simba believers will "catch the vision" for reaching other villages, and will work together to complete this project. A church team from the States came to help with this project in January, which was a big help and encouragement, but it is vitally important that the Simba believers themselves "own" this project. One encouraging item...our little group of believers here has received an invitation from another village of Simba about two hours away to come and spend some time with them teaching them the Word of God and some Simba hymns. So this weekend about 8 of them, along with one of our co-workers, are planning to go and spend Sat. night out there. This has the potential to turn into a major outreach for the believers here. Please pray that all would go well and that hearts hungry for the truth would be satisfied.
One final note, the last few weeks have seen much unrest in several parts of the country...mostly having to do with the government's determination to eradicate the coca production. There have been blockades of the major highways (what few there are) and some violence flaring up here and there. Where we are is relatively unaffected right now, but the protests are quite organized with the goal of expanding nationwide. Please pray.
Well that's most of the news from here...thank you for your prayers and may the Lord bless you.
Warmly in Him,
Bill and Kathleen