What a blast discipling the community leaders. They today shared how life-changing is their daily time alone with God and His words. One man gave his life to Jesus this week, alone with His Father (no four laws, no sinner’s prayer, no music…). They are telling everyone in the area and many want to join us. And I am teaching nothing! We each read His words and interact with Him each day and when we get together once weekly, we share what is happening in our relationship with Jesus, share our personal struggles and joys, and pray for each other. His Spirit is still our Helper, Teacher, Counselor… for those with ears to hear…
What a long, exhausting and wonderful day! Clinics in two “stick and grass” villages… Such beautiful, beautiful people with absolutely nothing but what matters – relationships. Virtually no gospel presence and no health care… In my talk to the large group of people (100+) before we began clinic work (I always speak for about 15-30 min on who we are, what we are doing, and a short teaching on physical health and spiritual, Kingdom health), I asked about the “Our Father” prayer and no one was familiar with it. I spoke to them about God as Father, still a radical and shocking concept introduced by Jesus. Such a privilege to work in such places, with such people… I told my kids last night that I hope they have the opportunity to spend themselves on those with great need… there’s truly nothing like it…
Last week, our talented friend and MAF pilot, Brent Mudde, delivered in our small plane a recently purchased (in Namibia) solar lighting system for our small hospital in Cavango and he began the difficult installation process over an afternoon. Ben and I spent the rest of the week finishing the wiring and it is now functional and we have a fully lit clinic (the hospital building is phase two) at night. The following night I was called to the hospital during the night and it was such a joy to work under a ceiling light. The reactions of the nursing staff have been so gratifying and they are beyond thrilled for not having to work any longer by the light of a weak flashlight or a candle. Everything looks differently when placed in the Light!
Functional illiteracy has been the norm for the majority of the world’s population throughout history (including today). The majority of the people in our region are quite bright and cannot read. In especially cultures like this, stories and music are the principal forms of learning information (if you doubt it’s true in our culture as well, observe how your teens – learning machines – spend their time – music and movies). This is why the hymns were often written as repeated simple melodies that were easily sung by anyone), as they were a combination of worship and a principal means of learning about God, learning to walk with Him, establishing beliefs and a world view, etc. Verses put to music were a primary source of learning for the illiterate generations gone by and hymns and other music are in rural Africa still a primary means of learning of the Kingdom of God and of worshipping the King.
In the church services here, there may be as many as 12-15 songs sung by the congregation or by the several choirs that make up the congregation. Almost everyone is in a choir (young kids, youth, women, men, etc) and in these groups they learn (by repetition as nothing is written) several new songs every month and these all speak of the character and attributes of God and of life in the Kingdom. These songs are practiced extensively and performed many times, likely remembered and repeated for life. For some, they become seeds planted in the soil of hungry hearts. For others, the seeds lay dormant until, and if, the soil becomes fertile. It is easily understood how godly music has been a source of strength, encouragement and faith for generations of both slave and free.
Worship leaders and pastors, are the songs you sing in your services easily remembered and easily sung (without instruments and by those who can and cannot hold a tune) throughout the week? Do they communicate significant kingdom truth, easily planted to bear lasting fruit within sensitive hearts? Or are they complicated, beautiful and able to be sung only by those few with significant musical ability? John Wimber understood this in the early Vineyard gatherings. Do we still appreciate the power of simple, easily remembered, easily sung, and truly worshipful music? If we do, our music will draw people to our Father seven days a week. If we don’t, our Sunday morning concerts will be just that.
Virtually all communication among these rural people is in story form and relayed from person to person, with remarkable accuracy. The culture is highly social and interaction occurs throughout the day, every moment of every day. There is little embellishment and high accuracy in the stories, though minute details are never important. The bible has been communicated thusly for centuries. Do we focus on the messages or on the minutia?
Stories… all the time… When I’m traveling with friends from these villages and something happens… the other day in Huambo I tried to buy a printer and we had difficulties with the clerks and it was put in story form on the way home and repeated several times, then we were hit by a motorcycle in the driving rain and the story was developed on the way home… the stories are then relayed to others with remarkable accuracy. We humans were made for stories (we must not forget that God revealed Himself to us in a story consisting of many stories) and even in our US sophistication, we remember better truth communicated to us in story form. These people (like the majority throughout history) live in a world without TV and movies (modern-day stories) and feel no need to make their stories entertaining as, to them, life is the only entertainment they know, and consists of many stories. Each of our lives is a developing story, created, written, and edited to reflect the glory of our Father.
We made a day-long, difficult, off road trip to Huambo in the pouring rain. I was able to share with my two travel companions (our pastor, Jeremias, and our lead nurse, Florindo – these two have become dear friends and our travels together are rich) about how our Father has used a remarkable team of supporters to send us to Angola and how they give sacrificially so that people here can be served. I wish every one of our supporters could have been in the car to hear and see their expressed appreciation and gratitude for you and your heart to help them. They see themselves as largely forgotten and ignored by their country and by the world at large (though I never sense self-pity) and see our presence here (and the resources that come with us) as a miraculous response to their extreme needs, from a God that really does love them. Don’t we all need our Father (and our family/friends) to demonstrate and reaffirm their love for us from time to time to confirm the same in our hearts? I think of the woman with chronic bleeding (or the blind man or the leper…) waking up one morning, hoping that he/she was significant to God and that He cared, pleading with Him again to help him/her, only to that day encounter Jesus and His very practical demonstration of love for them…
I was able to share our story and how we ended up in Cavango and that it seems obvious that God has something in mind for this people at this time. How will He bless us to bless others? Who is it that He is specifically pursuing in this region, at the expense of many resources, human and otherwise? It could be one, it could be many…
I took along a MegaVoice, solar-powered, audio bible, containing the “Story of Jesus” and “The Story of God”. These stories are in the format of old radio “shows”, complete with background music and sound effects, and the two men laughed and listened attentively to every word for hours, stopping often to discuss and remark about the various components of the stories. I have about two hundred of these hand-held machines ordered, specifically for those who can’t read… We also have men in our village who will translate onto our computer portions of the bible into the three principle languages (Ganguela, Mbundo, Quioco) in our region, and then we will download them from our computer onto these beautiful, little machines, which will communicate the Kingdom of God to these illiterate folks for many years, charged on their grass roofs by the sun. Other MegaVoice pocket-sized machines will come with a Portuguese bible, the story of God, the story of Jesus and a question based study for the listener’s contemplation. So very, very cool! I’m excited to see the impact of these over the next several years.
On the way to Huambo, we stopped at Catchiungo (our governing municipality) to see about medications for TB and Leprosy, vaccines, etc (all only accessible in Angola through the government) for use at our clinic in Cavango. It was the third trip there and the leaders appeared to finally take us seriously, arranging for meds and equipment to be delivered to our clinic in March. When I voiced my frustration to my colleagues re. not being heard on the first two trips and only now seemingly getting a response to our requests, the Angolans traveling with me said, “It is only the crying infant that receives the breast.” They accepted this display of human nature in the government leaders without frustration (NOTHING frustrates these people, they criticize no one and approach life with virtually no expectations) and said that we may still need to “cry” some more before receiving the desired response. I learn every day from their perspectives and attitudes, shaped in such a brutal life environment.
In greeting, when I ask how a person is, the response is always, “We are doing well…” or “We rested well”… The sense of community is remarkable here in the severe African interior and integrates every thought and interaction.
During the standard greeting, one is always asked about his/her health. Health is so fragile here and it is not an insignificant greeting/question. All too often, the response includes a story of new health hardship and difficulty, and genuine concern is expressed, often accompanied by an offer to help.
There is little distinction in the rural communities between “uncle” and “father”. One’s children are also the children of his/her siblings and they love their nieces and nephews like their own. Last week, our community’s pastor’s brother (who lived several hours away) had three of his kids hit by a car, with only one surviving, and he was injured critically. My friend grieved as though they were his own and traveled immediately to support the survivor and his family. Watching this unfold gave me a renewed sense of love and affection for my brother’s and sisters’ kids and a desire to embrace and love them. The sense of community and family in this rural people is so a reflection of our Father and significantly lost in our busy, individualistic and prosperous American culture.
This is a culture that isn’t familiar with windows and, as these two were traveling with me in the car, they frequently called through closed windows to those we were passing in nearby villages.
With the solar system for our hospital, our pilot brought two national church leaders to Cavango to see first hand all that is going on here in this very remote outpost. We presented our work and the summary of our upcoming projects in the morning and then these leaders met with the community leaders through the afternoon. They left raving about the Kingdom work in this community and the response of the community to us and to our work, using words like, “fantastic”, and “incredible” and they voiced that God’s hand is obvious in this place at this time. I’m reminded again that simple love, honor, respect, and service really does win hearts and make an impact on people and on communities… Jesus’ way…
Below is the agenda of our discussions with these leaders, translated to english for our supporters and encouragers:
Kubacki activities in Cavango
* Daily seeing patients in Cavango 2-3 wks/month
* Meetings twice monthly with community leaders re. assessing and addressing problems of physical health and spiritual health in the community/region
* Once weekly medicine courses with the health care workers at the hospital
* English classes twice weekly
* Meetings once weekly to train/disciple those who will be training/making disciples (training the trainers)
* Clinics once monthly in Vicungo, Cambole, Chumbangombe (large villages 2,3,1 hr by car, off-road, from Cavango, respectively)
* Purchase and installation of the solar lighting system in the hospital/clinic (completed phase 1)
* Distribute Portuguese bibles to all who can read Portuguese (110 purchased and distribution begun)
* Distribute a MegaVoice solar-powered audio bible (size of iPhone) to all who can’t read but understand Portuguese (200 ordered)
* Distribute a MegaVoice solar-charged audio Gospel of John/Luke (whatever we can fit in 10hr recording time) in Ganguela, Mbundo or Quioco for those who can’t read and don’t understand Portuguese (we have 40 to record in Ganguela, Mbundo and Quioco – these are the local languages spoken in this region, where a small percentage speak Portuguese). A local man will do the reading in each language.
Pending Cavango Projects
* Build adobe brick church building (the community will make 5000+ adobe bricks from clay, curing in the sun)
* Carve out dirt airstrip this year
* Purchase a transport vehicle for patients (funding available), which will drive twice weekly 2hr north and twice weekly 2hr south to bring sick and injured patients to the clinic for consults (lack of transportation to a health facility is a major cause of death in the region)
* Renovations of the hospital/clinic (beds, blankets, roof leaks, paint, etc) (funding available)
* Gain supply of medications for Leprosy and TB
* Gain supply of vaccines (we now have a 12V solar-powered fridge)
* Begin monthly clinics in Katota (7 hr from Cavango via car, 15 min via plane)
Work with MAF (small planes) monthly, mobile clinics (1-2 wks/month)
* Current 2 day monthly visits
Mukwando, Tchincombe, Shangalala
* Pending 2 day monthly visits (awaiting governmental authorization)
Chitado, Oncócua, Virei, Katota
*We (Kubacki’s) have committed to two more years at Cavango (until our next furlough in the fall of 2016)