Well, it's hard to believe it's been a week and a half since I wrote my last e-mail. So much has happened, time has gone by so fast! Thursday on the way up here to Opuwo, just a couple hours after leaving Windhoek, I had the interesting experience of sliding to a stop in a vehicle nearly out of control, while watching the rear wheel of the truck roll past my window...
You know--there's a reason engineers put 4 wheels on a car--they don't work too well when one is missing. I have no idea how the wheel came off. Apparently the lug nuts worked their way off and the whole rim came off the hub. After we came to a stop, as I was getting out of the truck, I noticed a car stopped behind us and I heard Gideon greeting someone like a long-lost friend. It turns out that one of Gideon's friends from the church in Windhoek just happened to be following us when the wheel came off (I would say that was providence). With their help we managed to put the wheel back on using nuts from the other wheels and drove on into the next town, Otjiwarongo, about 15k away. Got the vehicle repaired (thankfully there was only minor damage to the hub and wheel rim) and spent the night in Otjiwarongo. We arrived in Opuwo on Friday in time to clean up and settle in before the Sabbath.
My first Sabbath in Africa was very enjoyable. You should just hear the enthusiasm of their song service! Even though I didn't recognize most of the songs, I was able to follow along and join in occasionally on the repetitive choruses. Sabbath afternoon, Gideon and I went out and visited people around the town, and I got a chance to meet some of the local people for the first time, and see how the people really live. Its so sad--so many people living all their lives with so little. How much we take for granted every day! I could sit here and complain because I don't have DSL Internet, or because I don't have the newest car or the latest computer--but seeing how these people can live with nothing and still be such happy, contented Christians--that makes me so thankful for what I have!
This week I really got a chance to be immersed in the Himba / Herero culture for the first time. Tuesday morning I packed up a tent, bed, food, and clothes enough for several days and Gideon took drove me up to a school about 30km away to spend some time observing the culture and learning the language. That was quite an experience. I was a little frightened at first, at the thought of being all alone in a strange place, with hardly anyone who knew English. But I really had a lot of fun. The people were so friendly--they helped me set up camp, cook food, and then visited with literally the whole time that they weren't sleeping or in classes! We talked, laughed, played games, and went on walks together. They showed me their Himba villages, their garden, and even their graveyard. They probably taught me over a hundred words and phrases in otjiHerero, which I wrote down and recorded on my voice recorder. Of course, I can't remember them all, but at least I'm getting familiar with the language and with some drill and some practice, I think there's hope that one day I may actually speak a second language!
When I left the school Thursday morning, it was actually hard to tell all my new friends goodbye. But I will be going back to the school next Sunday until Thursday again for more language/culture study. After next week, I will probably not go back to the school but I'll be spending 2 more weeks or so in another village, even more primitive than the school, where I can be with a family to really integrate with the culture and learn the language with a little less "cushion" (fewer people who know English). So keep me in your prayers. It will be interesting, it will be challenging, but I know I'll have a great time! I pray that I will be able to be a positive Christian witness at the school and in the village. Even in the short time I spent at the school this week I was able to speak to the student body for a few minutes during their morning exercises, and I even taught a song to the first and second grade class. I hope that I will have more experiences like this, as well.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and e-mails. Even if I haven't been able to respond personally to each of your e-mails (although I try) be sure I have read and appreciate each one. Take care and God Bless!
In His Service,
P.S. I've uploaded several dozen pictures to the website that you can take a
look at. I've got pictures of the trip, as well as pics around here and up at
the Okahozu school where I stayed this week. Take a look if you want at
http://sms.fiforms.org/photos/ and click the link to "Daniel in Africa"