While traveling to Pakot, I got my 1st glimpse of what we’d be working with this week. Waiting for our transport vehicle, 3 little boys (probably 10-12 years old) came by, begging for money and food. At 1st, I thought they were special needs or something, then I realized they were high. Having nothing to do, even the children resort to addictions to pass the time. Huffing industrial glue out of old water bottles, they stumbled around the streets. None of the native people seemed to care. It was “normal”.
|My new little friend! This is how African |
mothers carry their babies around: on their
backs. (It's actually really comfortable)
|How we slept! Outside in the dirt. Gotta love it!|
After a hilarious ride on top of a lorry through gorgeous mountains, we arrived at our parched destination. Here in West Pakot, there is not water. And being no water, there is also no food. There is one well (that was put in place by another missionary team about 10 years ago) that people walk miles to and bring their herds to use. Everything is dust and dead, dry thorn trees. The daytime heat easily reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and with almost no shade, it’s quite intense. No electricity. No running water. Not even houses. There are some simple huts that they consider their “home”, but it’s usually so hot that everyone cooks and sleeps outside.
Peoples’ priority here is their livestock. It’s ALL about their flocks. Their entire social and economic system revolves around it. Families will have as many children as possible because the boys serve as herdsmen and girls are traded as wives to gain more livestock. It does not matter that they cannot feed and clothe these children; their kids are simply a piece to acquiring more wealth. They don’t ever send them to school (you don’t need school to raise cows and have babies), so the entire area is completely uneducated. This lack of information causes some problems, such as not understanding the effects of alcohol to unborn babies and nursing infants. Again, having nothing to do in the middle of nowhere, the people have resorted to addictions to entertain them, and have become very good at making moonshine. It is the norm for people to be drunk all day, every day, including pregnant and nursing mothers. The rate of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was ridiculous. These women have no idea that they are damaging their own children.
|Some of the Pakot ladies.|
So this week, we were able to work with the community as a whole. They are a very curious and welcoming people, and would usually come to where we were staying to sit with us, eat with us, and just spend time together. Since they are not educated they only speak their tribal language, so this made it very difficult to talk with them. We had a few translators, but not many. As a whole, we knew our main job as a team there was to help the people in the practical ways that we could (providing food and clothing) and interceding fervently. The people are so spiritually oppressed and witchcraft is extremely prevalent. When we were able to speak with them, we shared the gospel, and many were very open to it.
One of the ladies that I had the pleasure of getting to talk to about the gospel was a little, old, blind woman. After a time of visiting with her, we learned that she had heard the gospel before, but she always felt overlooked by whoever was sharing it. That as “just a little old blind woman”, she was shoved into the background and forgotten about. She felt that she was unimportant to people, and therefore unimportant to God. We later learned that she is a widow; that she had 5 children and all of them died at infancy, and that now she is all alone. In a culture where you rely on your children to take care of you in your old age, this left her in a very difficult situation. She would go from family to family, staying with them for a bit until she had worn out her welcome and they sent her on her way again. This precious woman had never been shown love. She had never been told that she was valuable, that she has a purpose, that she is beautiful and treasured. As we began to share with her how God truly sees her: as his stunning creation and lovely daughter, you could see the walls of neglect and pain coming down. I sat there and cried with her as she finally began to understand: she IS important and the God of the universe loves HER. She accepted Christ as her savior that day. J
We adopted her as our African Grandmother and call her “Coco”, which is Pakot for “Grandma”. Later that week, my friend and I went to visit her in her home and we brought the local pastor. As we visited with her some more, (this lady whom the pastor had never met) learned that she was very distantly related to his wife! After explaining the situation to his wife, they agreed to bring her to live with them. :D We praise God that she has finally found a home where she will be taken care of.
Prayer for the community of West Pakot:
- - Freedom from the addictions that keep them bound from living their lives to the fullest.
- -Continued spreading of the gospel in this land, and for full time workers to go there.
- -That the Holy Spirit would continue to move in their community. Open peoples’ eyes and prepare their hearts.
- -Strength and boldness for the believers living there.