Greetings to you in Christ's Name!
Well, after a week and a half of living out of a duffel bag, it was sure nice to get home! I wanted to just take a few minutes to let you know how our survey to the southern half of the Simba tribe went. Actually our first destination wasn't the Simba, but rather another tribe called the Tapiete, hidden in the very hot, dry and depressing Chaco region of southern Bolivia. The Lord gave us two good days of overcast weather...a real blessing in an area know to often have temperatures in the high 40s celsius (that's well over 100 degrees F.) The bulk of the tribe is in Argentina and Paraguay, but there is a small group of about 20 families here in Bolivia. We knew, from a previous very brief visit, that the language they speak is related to the Simba, but were unsure how close they really were. This time we had traveling with us four of our Simba brothers from Taperillas, and they proved to be absolutely invaluable in discerning the differences. The bottom line is that the languages are close but not close enough for effortless communication. I suppose the saddest thing is that this tribe has already been "reached" by a very emotional and works oriented perversion of true Christianity. While there they all tried so hard to convince us that they were really believers but every time we questioned them as to just what they believe and their understanding of the Gospel message (and we tried every angle), they had no answer, but rather preferred to go on and on about how they sing and dance all night sometimes. Sad. In all we spent two days with them and had two teaching times with them, trying to lay some very basic foundations from the Scripture. What these people really need is conviction from the Holy Spirit of their lostness and inability to approach God on the basis of their works.
>From there we headed west across the Pilcomayo River and up into Simba territory. The villages there are much more traditional in dress and somewhat different in culture...more centered around the river and fishing than the agriculture and corn here in our area. However it was encouraging to see that the language spoken there is exactly the same as is spoken here. As to where they are at spiritually, what we found was a little of a surprise to me...village after village with absolutely no knowledge of God (although a few told us that God had a wife and her name is Mary!), no church and no believers...surprising as the roads in this region are much improved and travel remarkably easy. And it seemed that everywhere we went we were told of other outlying villages which were only accessible by walking. In all we visited 8 of the bigger and more accessible villages, meeting with the Capitan in each and asking for permission to meet with the village as a whole. In each case we were welcomed and allowed to explain who we were and what we were doing in working to bring God's Word to them. As well we taught them the first lesson from the Bible chronological lessons. Afterwards we were able to find at least one person who is literate and leave with them copies of scripture portions, New Testaments and some translated lessons. This is one tribe that is truly ripe for the Gospel. And it is only a matter of time until these villages are reached by the very aggressive cults in that area. So from here, we really need wisdom on how to best go about reaching these areas with the truth of the Gospel...we have talked about having cursillos like we do here in Taperillas, in an area central to all these villages, but are unsure if this is the best approach, as the cursillos are more designed for long term teaching and discipling of those already believers. Please pray that we have wisdom in the future as we discern the Lord's mind on this. The absolute best would be for someone to go and live in each of these villages, but unfortunately there is no one to go yet. I found the time to be an excellent exposure time to the language...it is encouraging to be able to understand much of what is being said, but I am still light years away from any serious communication. Please pray for us in this...right now it is our "Goliath". In all we logged about 1400 km of travel and returned safe and sound, albeit a little thinner :) Thank you for praying.
Well that's most of the news from our part of the vineyard...we hope that this finds you well and at rest in the Savior.
Love in Christ,
Bill for us all