was telling us about his internship in the "interior." The "interior" is another name for the remote area also known as "the bush." The area is extremely
underserved for numerous reasons--its distance,
its barrenness, and the people who live there have a
lifestyle that has adapted to such sparse existence and traditional ways that they do not seek change.
One of the main tribes in such areas is the Maasai. They are herders, moving their cattle from place to place, wherever vegetation can be found. Consequently, they live in mud homes (made by the women) so that the Maasai can quickly move from one location to another when necessary. Mother & daughter repairing mud home
The men are known for their bravery, protecting
their cattle from wild animals by use of only a spear and maybe a club. They are often polygamous, having more than one wife, and as many children as possible.
The Maasai's first love (almost to the point of obsession) is their cows. They are legendary for the large numbers they own. Their wealth is solely in their cattle. (There is a saying here that a Maasai's bank has 4 legs!) Our student said that he could go into that area with only 10,000Tsh ($5 USD) in his pocket and come back home weeks later and still have the 10,000Tsh. There is nothing to shop for there and no place to shop, so no money is needed.
The Maasai's diet consists of meat and milk. The men and boys graze the animals and the women and girls gather the firewood, find a stream to collect the water, and take care of building/repairing their mud home. There are no schools and very few churches. There aren't nearly enough pastors or evangelists to go around, so it is common for a Christian women and children to gather outside on Sunday mornings under an Acaia tree, place an opened Bible on a tree stump (rarely can the women read but they believe that God reads it for them), and proceed to sings hymns they've been taught and say prayers from their heart. This was a sight that was very familiar to our theology student. He was warmly welcomed whenever he happened to be there, and he said the women would want to stay for such a long time that after several hours he'd have to say, "It is over. Go back to your homes now."
He also explained to us that Maasai are afraid of dead bodies, so it is a very unfortunate person who has to drag the deceased into the woods where it is left for wild animals to consume. Consequently, when our student would see a dead body, he would dig a hole, put on his robe, have a small service and bury the person in the ground. The people would gather out of curiosity when they would see him digging. He said they'd stand around and watch, shake their heads, and question why he wouldn't just let the animals take care of the body. He took that as an opportunity to talk about God to them.
He said that they know God. In fact, he recalled an elder in one of the bomas putting his hand on each cow as it left in the morning, and saying, "God keep you safe until you return." In the evening when the cows returned, the mzee (old man) repeated his practice, touching each cow and saying, "Asante sana, Bwana, for the safe return of this cow."Our student said that the Maasai are a "religious" people, in that they believe in God, but most do not know Jesus, and their practices keep women in a very lowly position.
|Maasai women bringing in charcoal & taking care of the "transport"|
One day, a Christian Tanzanian woman who lived in a village on the edge of the "interior," passed by and saw again how hard life is for the Maasai. So as she walked, she prayed that God would show her a way, to help. She prayed and prayed, then thought, "If only I could read Maa (the language of the Maasai), I could read them the Bible so they could know Jesus.
Our student had heard about this Christian lady and one day he met her, and she told him the rest of her story. She said
she prayed for many days about what she should do, and she got a Bible, opened it, and started reading it in Maa--and understood what she was reading. Now, she is being sent to a 3 month school by our student's supervisor for leadership training and teaching techniques, so that she can proclaim with confidence the Scripture she reads to the people. Everyone there, including our student and his supervising pastor, agree that what happened was a miracle.
God works like that here. . . .it's 2016. . . technology, globalization, politics fill the headlines in much of the world. . . but in a place, less than 100 km (less 60 miles) from where we are, life is still very much
Old Testament times.. .
|Maasai woman attending to the birth of a calf|
|A Maasai woman's wounded toe|
With hopes that you are staying warm, and safe, and having a good January!
With our love, Tim & Diane