Well we have had an unexpected deluge of rain during what is usually the driest time of the year, that caught us completely by surprise. We were on a day trip and in order to get back home we had to string a rope across the "little" creek below our house and work our way across the absolute raging torrent one at a time. Sometimes life here is a little more adventurous that we would like! It has made a great object lesson, though, while teaching about Noah this week!
We are all well, thank the Lord, and continuing on with the teachings in our little church here in Taperillas. Bit by bit several of our locals are coming on a more regular basis. I (Bill) am beginning to trade off teaching with our national co-worker Felix...up to now I have been pretty much going it alone. Please pray for Felix...he really has a lot of potential. Up to now he has had some problems being consistently motivated, but we are really hoping that he has turned the corner. Last night he taught on Noah and the great flood and did a pretty good job. Tomorrow I will be teaching on the Tower of Babel.
Last weekend we, along with several other Simba from our community, attended a 4 day conference in Camiri (3 hours away) that the Brethern fellowship in that city puts on every year. It was really a very good time for us and the teaching was just excellent. The Simba just love attending the conferences, as the food is really good and it gives them a chance to see other Simba from other villages that have had contact with the Camiri church. Most all of the teaching was in a very high level Spanish, which unfortunately is very difficult for the Simba to really get much out of. On the way home I talked some with my main language helper about it...he said "we all know that the teaching is really really good and we really like to listen, but most of it just doesn't stay in our hearts like when it is in our own language". There were several Simba there from Tentayapi, which is by far the most traditional and historically closed Simba community to the Gospel (as well as the most remote). They indicated that there are several families there that want to be taught from God's word. Several others from different Simba communities at the conference also asked us when we could come teach in their village, as there is just no one to teach them. All of this has made me very thoughtful and wondering if the time is now ripe to begin having regular cursillos...where we invite them to come for several days of intensive teaching in their own language. Please pray that we would be sensitive to the Lord's leading in this.
One major factor of any cursillo becoming a reality is our own position in the community here. We are facing of late some very different pressures that may in the end cause us to have to leave the community. In the last few years the Simba have been having a lot of outside influence from organizations and individuals opposed to the Gospel. In a nutshell they have been told that because they are one of the original inhabitants, and have been historically downtrodden, the world owes them. Appealing to their fleshly desires, they have been consistently encouraged to ask for whatever they want (everything from schools and health facilities to cows and barbed wire and seeds for their gardens). In short they have developed a welfare mindset. There are alot of outside organizations (many of them of very dubious nature) with money for these projects. Unfortunately most of the money ends up in the pockets of corrupt government officials or engineers but enough trickles through to make the Simba hungry for more. Lately, due to this pressure and as well, politics in the community here, the public opinion of the missionary families here has really changed. Now we are viewed by many as stingy, as we haven't given or done enough for them. It has even affected some of the believers here to the point where some are not coming to be taught any more. We just heard that at the last community meeting it was decided that in order for us to continue living here we will be expected to either 1) build a boarding school for the community for kids from other local non-Simba villages (a prestige thing) 2) buy a tractor for the community or 3) buy some more land for them. The ironic thing is that over the years the community has been tremendously helped in so many material ways by the missionaries. In any event, we are all wondering if we will be able to continue to live in this community in such an atmosphere. With so many seeming open doors elsewhere we are all asking ourselves if this is the Lord's way of "pushing us out of the nest". The hardest thing if we end up relocating would be leaving the church here still so far from being well grounded. Please pray for this situation that we really would know the mind of the Lord in it all, and that the Lord would work in the hearts of those in the community who are being adversely affected by the present atmosphere of greed.
We thank the Lord for every one of you and trust that you are seeing His marvelous hand of grace working in your lives.
Bill and Kathleen Mann