A local family moved out of their house (haus) to make it a home for us. It really was a beautiful haus. Simple, neat, near the church and the river – perfect location. The handiwork was exquisite. Lyn and I shared the one enclosed room, Mike and Yabru shared the kuk haus (kitchen). We had to walk carefully on the matting and make sure we had a wood join beneath us otherwise we’d fall through it! Our haus was our sanctuary really. We could retreat there and find peace and quiet, lie around and rest, share ideas and plan sessions as well as meet visitors. Some days there were a constant stream of visitors wanting some personal support, encouragement, assistance with problem solving. I learnt a lot from Mike and the gentle way he dealt with people and their concerns. Always quiet, calm and loving.
As I sit here at my desk and I think over my thoughts and feelings at the time prior to the first session for the women I remember feeling quite inadequate. We had been welcomed in the most extraordinary way, now the weight of the people’s expectations were heavy on me. I woke up early on Monday morning after a restless sleep – tossing and turning a number of times to find a comfortable spot and also disturbed by the constant fighting dogs! I went through to the porch and sat and watched the sun come up over the river and light up the village. I opened my daily devotion and there was this verse: Isaiah 48:10 ‘I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction’. Charles Spurgeon, a great theological scholar, wrote that when we are stripped of all physical comfort and strength, in the fiery furnace, that is when God can use us most effectively. Gee I could relate to this. Even at 7am in the morning it was stiflingly hot and humid and I really did feel stripped of all known comforts. I felt reassured not to worry about what I would say or do, but just rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit and He would be with me and help me. I knew I was chosen to be in Yamen, now I needed to trust God that He wouldn’t just bring me there and then abandon me!
Each morning at 8am there would be a short devotion service in the church. We grew to really love those times. Men on one side, women on the other. They start by singing and then have a time of prayer. When they pray, there is no silent prayer. Everyone prays out loud at the same time. It’s actually quite beautiful because you have a sense that all the prayers are gathered collectively and then offered up to heaven as a fragrant offering, wafting upwards.
Mike led the devotion that morning which was inspiring. It was all about living surrendered lives for Christ. His analogy was that of the pig and the chicken – animals the villagers could relate to. His story went something like this: there was once a man who was planning a feast in his village. He needed some food to offer the guests. He went to the chicken and asked him if he would supply something for the feast. The chicken gladly gave him an egg. The man then went to the pig and asked him if he could provide something for the feast (At this point everyone laughed nervously).The pig went away with a heavy heart because he knew that for him to supply something for the feast he’d have to sacrifice his life. Surrender himself for the benefit of the village. Mike went on to ask us all which animal we thought we were. Are we happy to offer up an egg which is no big deal for us, and relatively easy to do or are we living lives which does take some sacrifice in serving/leading others? Interesting concept. I didn’t realise then how important that story was going to be for me to share with the women later that morning…
The view from our porch (above)
Lyn and I shared this room (below)