Witchcraft and Blankets

3/8/11 Tuesday- 3/10/11 Thursday

10:14pm SA
2:15pm AL

Up early.  Too early. Like 5:45am.  I heard some people stirring and I didn’t want to be considered the Lazy American so I took a quick birdbath, and headed out.  Only to find that Seps (the 13 year old) had left for school and Booma, the 20 year old daughter, was walking out the door for work.  Maba had to answer a phone call so she got up but I urged her to go back to bed.  She did.

Tim and I sat on their porch and watched the chickens while we read our Bibles.  It was nice and quiet.  Pretty soon Alyssa was up followed by Maba and then Peter.  Maba had set her table using her nice dishes and all the forks and knives and spoons and cups and glasses…I help her made some tea and before long we were eating.  We found out that she had had a toothache and was going to the dentist…she had not had much sleep.  I asked if she had any Tylenol or Advil.  “No.”  So I gave her one of my two supplies.

A young man names Gervais was asked by Ntai to ride with us.  Gervais is a student and musician.  His father is an American and his mother from Lesotho.  He loves jazz music and works as a sound something…Anyway he will be going to the University of Missouri to study Architecture, though his first love is music.  It is the compromise that he and his father came up with.

Our journey to the village did not take too long.  The countryside was nothing short of breathtaking and the quirky things that make Lesotho, Lesotho added to the allure.  People wear blankets like coats…everyone from every part of life: Some dingy some beautiful…young, old, teenagers, children, rich, poor men and women.  EVERYONE has or wears a blanket.  The roads to the village were wonderful but the storefronts on the sides of the road were worn down and dingy.  Many of them lined the roads selling everything from fresh fruit to cooked corn to sandals to sweeties (candy).  Many people were walking.  Seemed like there were many more people walking than driving cars.

Gervais was uncertain about exactly where the village was (we figured out that they had assigned him to go with us because he had the cell phone connection!) but told us to “look for the tent”.  Tim spotted it so we hung a sharp left off of the black top and onto a VERY bouldery (sp!?) road.  We headed for the tent and were met straightway by the team.

The 12-member team is a part of a larger 30-member team called Latreau (La Trio).  It is a part of the Lighthouse church.  These young adults age from 17-27 and give a year of their life to minister to the community and beyond.  They go into schools and other venues and perform music, dramas and step-shows.  They are full of life and are passionate about God and sharing Christ with the nations.

Anyhow, they are on mission in this village for 10 days.  We got there just in time for their devotional time.  Now their devotional time began like our devotional times in America but then……

Since I am writing this on Thursday (or travel day to Swaziland) I will consolidate Tuesday and Wednesday since both mornings and evenings were very similar.

Devotional: We began walking up a bouldery hill towards our devotional sight.  We by passed several grass huts, one of which housed a very simple man who came rushing out, and after kissing all of our hands, indicated that he wanted me to take a photo of his cow.  I did and, upon inspecting it, gave his approval by kissing my hand again.  Then, he wanted a pic of him with his cow.  How could I say no?  So I did.  Again he inspected the photo and was quite please.  He was so pleased that he grabbed by arm with one of his hands and then with the other quickly laid it on my chest!  All of this was in one swoop of a motion.  Some of the Latreau team saw it and gasped at the same time I gasped.  Note: the man was a simpleton and was CLUELESS at what he had done…but it did give some of the team a good laugh!

Then we noticed that we had a different type of audience on the other side of the road: school children.  They were SO excited to see the team and the white Americans (note, besides Peter and Alyssa, we were the only whites around)  At first they just wanted us to make their photos  but then they wanted hugs…and lots of them…but the team was trudging on so on we went.  Peter introduced me to Caron, a 17 year old girl on the team and said, ‘the two of you are just alike.”  And, indeed, we were.  We had so much fun together, though Tim had quite a time keeping us moving.

Anyhow, each morning the team makes its way to the top of the hill, which gives a spectacular view of the village that the team had come to minister to.  Words would not do it justice, but it was truly phenomenal to sit up there and just watch life happen from a bird’s eye view.  But I am getting ahead of myself

Ntai, the Lesotho pastor in whom his home we were staying, asked all of us to “sit on a pew in Table Top Community Church” (as he lovingly called the 10-day church).  Now a “pew” was one of the rock ledges over looking the village.  I opted to be a back row Baptist.  Tersia, the leader, ask if anyone had something to share from his or her early morning quiet time.  It was comforting to hear the students share the SAME type of things that our kids would share in the states.  God’s holy spirit does quite a good job at keeping his church consistent.  Then they asked if anyone had scripture to share.  Several of us did that each morning, turning them into proclamations over the village. Then we all sang…and sang loud…and sang long.  It was such a perfect church service: Christ centered, encouraging, focused.  I loved it!

On the first day we broke into small groups and prayed (our group prayed all together, out loud, at the same time).

Also, in our group was one of the young men—a shepherd—from the community.  Through a translator he told us how grateful he was that we were there for his village.  On the second day, Ntai handed out slips of paper that had been filled out by people who had made professions of faith.  We ach spent a long time praying for them as God led.

While up there, we had time to ponder and pray over the village.  I noticed a shepherd (wearing one of the customary blankets…as we were all getting sunburned, BTW) .  He led the herd of sheep (likely about 20 sheep) to a small grassy knoll inside the village proper.  He allowed them to graze for quite some time.  It was so serene: picture perfect (so I took a picture).  And then, that shepherd raised his rod and struck the hinny of one of those poor sheep!  It ruined my sereneness!  I thought, “Wow, what a mean shepherd!”  It really bugged me.  But then God showed me that that is what a shepherds job is…to keep us moving…to discipline (instruct) us.   I have been pondering that scene quite a bit.

Then, both days we went back down the hill.  Sweet fellowship time with some glorious people:

Ntai told us of the beginnings of the church in that village.  There was a young 20-year old girl who was from the village but worked in Lesotho and attended his church there.  She got ill about 2 years ago and, within a few days, died.  They went to her village (the village we were praying over) to have the funeral.  As a result, several folks prayed to receive Christ, and a church was begun.  The church in that village had struggled quite a bit (new believers), which is why the Letreau team was there.  They (we) were praying for more salvations.

HOWEVER, this village is held captive by a lot of witchcraft.  The people will go tot the witch doctor for healing or for answers…he will normally mix a concoction (known as a “fetish”) and tie it around the person’s neck on a piece of twine.  Many of the babies and toddlers had these (note fb pics).

After we got back to the team’s house they began preparing lunch: PAP, again…I am glad I like it.  I looked at where the team was staying .  It was an old two-room home that had nothing in it except a propane tank for cooking and a small table for serving.  All the team members’ air mattresses were stacked in the corner.  They had the church trailer outside of the door where they keep their food and supplies.  Some of the kids cooked and some washed dishes and/or clothes.  I asked about the bathroom and the girls laughed and pointed to the two outhouses.  Hmm. I must admit that I was very thankful that Peter has found other accommodations for the 4 of us.  It was a tough place but the team amazed me with their stellar attitudes.  They were truly there to serve.

Peter wanted us to meet the man who had loaned the empty house to the team.  He was “just up the way” in a hut.  Actually, it was only about 25 yards away with a stone cattle stall between the two places.  Before we began our short walk, Ntai took the time to explain to me that I was not allowed to walk between the cattle stall and a stone marker that was wrapped in barbed wire and chained.  That small muddy area had fetishes buried in it.  Men were allowed to walk over it.  Women, however, would call down curses on themselves if they walked over it. (Unless, of course, you were covered with the blood of Jesus! J)  I opted to be respectful and walk around the stone.

The man who owned the house was a fairly new Christian and was in a wheel chair. (I checked and couldn’t see, but was pretty sure he had two legs!)  Anyway we chatted with him, met his 20-year-old daughter and his two grandbabies.  The daughter was stunning…we did manage to get a photo of her, too.  They let us see the inside of their hut, which was much larger than I had imagined.  It housed a stove and some pantry space and had some mats folded up on the side of the wall.  Tim and Peter asked about how old it was (it had been built around the time the man was born: 1964).  We used some of Tommy’s money to bless him, in honor of the one legged man!

Then Tim and Peter and Ntai left us to run errands and the rest of us did house visits.  All were very interesting but the one that stands out was the home where a new believer lived.  We encouraged her with scripture and prayer and as we were leaving I noticed that her friends baby had a fetish tied around its neck.  I asked the translator to ask if she was a believer or not.  She was not.  So Tersia and I and the translators came back inside and Tersia led her to the Lord.  AS she was finishing up I looked across the table behind the translators and there, on top of the microwave was a rat…a rather large rat…he was merely a foot or two behind the translator’s head.  I looked a Tersia and she noticed it at just that same time.  We were both very thankful that God kept us from screaming…it may not have been conducive to what we were doing.

Then we went back, changed into long pants and waited for the church service to begin. Peer and Tim and Ntai returned and brought us some cookies which all of us enjoyed.  Then onto church in the tent where the children had already put in the chairs.

Now church is quite different and one has to “get in the grove” for it as it takes on a shape of it’s own.  When we first arrived there were lots of children who were clamoring to having their photo made.  We complied and it was greatly entertaining for all.  Then we moved into the tent where the keyboardist was playing loudly and not very well.  But neither the team nor the kids cared and they started dancing and praising to some Lesotho praise music. I was wondering if any adults were going to come but gradually they started slipping in.

A Lesotho man grabbed a mike (I assumed he was the worship leader) and began singing as the team and the children continued to sing and dance.  He did not sing very well, but I think I was the only one that noticed that.  On the second night the team pulled me in and, though I insisted that white girls cant’ dance, THEY insisted that they could teach me.  It was fun and very joyful.  Then the team led some beautiful praise music.  After about 1-1/2 to 2 hours NTai introduced his Cape Town and American friends and then stood Tim up to preach (YES, he was prepared!)  It was an excellent sermon about light and darkness and light consuming darkness…. and Jesus and salvation.  It was interesting to watch him preach with small children all up under his feet, a light bulb swinging in his face, and intermittent sounds from the keyboard, which sounded like old style skating rink music.

Ntai translated and led the invitation in which many villagers responded.  One (obviously drunk guy) walked up first, thru his hands in the air and shouted “Hallelujah!”  One of the Latreau guys tried to lead him out, but the drunk didn’t budge.  So, the team member just picked him up and carried him out like a baby.  Peter leaned over to me and said, “you should’ve gotten a picture of THAT!”  J

After that, several people did come up and the team gathered around them, praying for the various individuals.

Peter came over and tapped Tim and I on the shoulder and motioned for us to go outside.  He said, “I want to show you something you have NEVER seen before.  I mean YOU HAVE NEVER seen this before!!”  He was terribly excited as he led us to walk along the side of the tent.  There at the corner of the tent, (unbeknownst to Peter) was a young guy relieving himself.  Tim and I just glanced at each other as this all seemed very odd and then Peter pointed to the sky and exclaimed, “LOOK! The Milky Way!  I bet you have never seen this before!!”  (He was right!)  Tim and I laughed and told Peter why we were laughing and then just stood there for a while listening to the praise music and admiring the HUGE Milkey Way!  Peter also showed us the Southern Cross.  The stars were stunning…and it was cool to see the stars in the southern hemisphere that we had ever seen before!

We arrived home where Maba had boiled us some water for our bath which was very kind.  I waited till morning to wash my hair, as did Tim (actually, Tim took a bath, sans hot water, the next morning. Ew.)

On the second day (Wednesday) after our devotional, Tim and Peter and Ntai and I went to climb a mountain…we had to pay about 30 rand each to climb up this mountain that carries a lot of history about this village.  I made it about 2/3 of the way up and realized that it was just to steep and slippery…Tim and Ntai and Peter and Alyssa all continuted on and I opted to climb back down to the shade tree…tim was a bit worried about me and kept climbing AND turning around and watching as I slowly crept back down…it was seriously unstable…but I found a nice place to sit under the tree and prayed for my husband, Ty, Jonathan, and Hamilton and, of course, my church.  It was a rather nice time with God but VERY strange to think about sitting all alone in a foreign country so far from home.  Tim finally came back down and we sat and chatted until the others came.

Then, Ntai was going to take us to a store that sold the blankets that all the Lesotho people wore.  I was so excited about getting an authentic blanket.  We drove a long time and then realize that we had practically driven back to Ntai’s home…and then went to the local MALL!  Yep, I bought a blanket from a JCPENNEY’s wannabe!  So much for local flavor!

Anyhow…the second night was much like the first, except that Peter preached.  He did a fantastic job and really challenge the people about their fetishes being idols and challenged them to burn them.  It was really a bold sermon for that community and many people responded.

Needless to say, we slept well that night too.

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