I really thought I could just wrap up each day into a single blog post, but I think that it just won’t be possible. There is too many things happening to surmise it all in one simple post. Let’s start with a sunrise, shall we?
Our first official day on mission begins with SVT training, also known as Strategic Village Training. Essentially we find out what Mission of Hope is looking for when we head into the villages, specific data collection while also making a connection with the villagers that we meet. Our team is broken up in two groups, with 3 of our members heading off to the mobile medical unit. Each group is headed up by one MOH intern, a translator and a Village Champion. A Village Champion is a person that lives in the community, most likely grew up in the community and has a deep sense of love for their community. They are the eyes and the ears and the heart of the village and EVERYONE loves the Village Champions, us included!
The first person we meet is a woman named Margaret. She has 3 or 4 children, all with different fathers and all of the fathers have passed away. She does not work. As we continued to talk with her, we discovered that she used to go to church and sing in the choir. With a little coaxing we actually got her to sing for us and it was really lovely. When she spoke of her life there was a deep sadness about her, but when she sang, her whole face changed. Margaret’s story is not unlike many of the stories we heard from the women in the villages. If you are the praying type, let your prayer be that these women, and all women would come to know their worth and their value and their purpose. I think we all know the great role women play in all successful societies and for these women to recognize this in themselves and empower themselves and each other would create a ripple effect of change.
Here is a picture of Margaret and some of our group.
(Margaret is in the middle with the striped shirt. One of our Village Champions is on the far right, his name is Ro-Ro. More on him later!)
While some of the stories sounded like Margaret’s, there were stories that sounded like some of our own. The woman who had been married for 30 years and asked that we would pray that she could conceive a child. Prayers for health, protection, their children and a deeper connection and relationship with God. The last one hits hard. How often do we pray for that? Usually we are screaming for it in the depths of our struggles and suffering but otherwise just coast along with an occasional “high five to Jesus” when things are going smooth. Let’s chew on that for a bit…..
But not all is suffering and despair. We met a young lady who made a few bad choices when she was younger but was able to bring herself out of it and into a better place. She lived with her mother and her cousin. Her home showed us a quaint space where she had planted a flower garden, she had potted plants all around, a dog named Copper and let us not forget a kitten. A kitten ! There was no garbage lying around. She had pride in her home and in herself. And it was good and so evident by the gorgeous smile on her face.
With Abdias, another of our Village Champions!
After a morning of SVT’s, we headed back for lunch. We ride back and forth in a vehicle called a “Cantor”. Also known as a pick up truck with a cage on top. Like this:
Looks harmless enough, but what you can’t see is the hole in the floor, or the INSANE traffic. There are no traffic laws, just guidelines that no one follows. I will stop here and pick up after lunch.