Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week 3, Main Outreach: Mt. Elgon

          Traveled to Mt. Elgon! *que Lord Of The Rings theme music* (near the Ugandan boarder) The roads were terrible! I shouldn't have been surprised, all roads in Africa are bad, but this voyage was painful! But we got to the town at the base of the mountain fine, and the family that hosted us was so kind! We were able to stay in their home.

Our time here was packed! We did door to door in the mornings and high school ministry in the afternoons. Part way through the week we hiked up Mt. Elgon to minister to the community up there for 2 days, then we came back down and worked with the local churches.
Local's homes atop the mountain.

Let me give you some background on Mt. Elgon. As you walk through it, it looks like paradise: coffee fields everywhere, everything looks green, quaint, lush, beautiful and peaceful. But it's not peaceful at all. This community has had post-election violence and tribal warring going on since 1963. There are 3 tribes, one tribe has a Rebel army that attacks not only the other 2 tribes, but their own as well. It wasn't clear to me if the cause of the fighting was over land, politics, livestock, or all of the above, but whatever the case, things are awfully intense. Why are the homes so quaint? Because the Rebel army comes through every few years and burns up all the houses, or the military burns the houses to flush out the Rebels. Therefore no church building has been built on the mountain; everyone knows that it will either become a Rebel camp or be burned to the ground, so it's not worth the investment. So people hike up and down the mountain to go to church at the bottom. This is a 2-3 hour hike each way. It is so steep that the only way to get up or down is on foot and with donkeys to carry your stuff. Even then, you have to stop and let the donkeys rest every so often if you have a big load.
Ripe coffee berries!
The people are poor. Though they have all the natural resources they could ever need at their disposal, they are being constantly displaced by the Rebel attacks. Their fields are torched and their livestock stolen. They can never get ahead. Just when they are starting to get back on their feet, the Rebels strike again. Even now, Rebel raiders hide in the surrounding forests and attack randomly.

This week, God really used us to reach out to a hurting community. A community that desperately needed someone to turn to in their grief and times of trouble. While God does not promise to remove us from situations, He does promise to walk with us each step of the way if we will trust in Him. He promises to work everything that happens to His children for their own good (even when it seems like the worst thing in the world at the time). We take comfort solely in the fact that our Creator knows the "big picture" even when we cant see past our own pain, and that He knows our pain as deeply as His own.
How people must travel up and down the mountain.

It was amazing to see the transformations as we simply took the time to talk to people. The walls, the pain, the anger, all come pouring out and melting away at the understanding of a God who wants to be their sense of peace and comfort in the midst of their chaos. The people want the Word of God. They are hungry for Bibles, but living in the middle of nowhere, there isn't even anywhere to buy them. The Athi River YWAM base is currently working on a Bible donating ministry to the Mt. Elgon area.

God moved in some amazing ways in this community! But they still have a long way to go. It was beautiful to see the local church really step up while we were there and their passion renewed to reach out to the communities that they live in. I truly believe that this place is in for some major spiritual transformation!
One of Mt. Elgon's majestic waterfalls

Funny moments on outreach:
- We had no water. I was on cooking duty with another girl and we couldn't prepare any food without water. A bit absent mindedly she prayed under her breath, "Lord, give us water". I kid you not, less than 5 minutes later, the spigot out front goes CRAZY! The hose blows right off! Water is rushing EVERYWHERE! We didn't turn it on! We couldn't turn it off! So we brought every bucket, water jug, and pot on the compound and filled them. The neighbor women even came and were able to fill their water cans. After 2 hours, it just stopped. We had more than enough water to cook, do laundry, and shower. Amen! :D
- Having a drunk man come stumbling up to us while we were doing door-to-door. He announced that he was a drunk... and tired of it. He wants to know God. After explaining things thoroughly to him and his wife so we could be sure that they truly understood, they both readily accepted the gospel!
- Passing out exhausted on the pastor's couch after hiking up the mountain while the rest of my team mates went and explored waterfalls and caves. I couldn't go another step. lol.

How we can pray for the Mt. Elgon community:

the home that my friend grew up in
- For the Holy Spirit to move. Healing existing wounds and convicting the hearts of the Rebel soldiers to stop attacking.
- That the government would continue to have compassion upon the survivors of the community and continue to send military aid to them as needed.
- A disbanding of the Rebel army. 20 boys were arrested from the local high school for being involved with them. (It's almost like a gang.)
- Strength and boldness for the believers living there. That they would continue to reach out with radical love to the people around them.
- For the written word of God to be brought to these people. That there may be enough of a supply that every person that desires a Bible may have access to one (and in a language that they can read).

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