For those who’ve never been here it’s hard to explain just the way of life here is. It is incredibly full on a daily basis 52/7 and the added pressure and work load that charity commission demands from an accounting point of view is we consider, to a large extent, taking the mission out of mission. It feels more like we are having to run several small businesses in terms of paperwork for the various works we are involved in, instead of being missionaries.
It’s hard to believe that already seven months have passed with the world in varying states of COVID combat and seemingly no real end in sight. Life here continues at a pace, we have just come to the end of the dry season so there was pressure to get houses, latrines and kitchens we were building for folks in the village and in the leprosaria with mud blocks, finished and roofed before the rains came to destroy the blocks. We have also been able to build a house and kitchen for an older couple in the assembly who have lived in abysmal conditions for as long as we can remember with no ability to better their lot themselves so they were thrilled to have a new house with new roofing sheets, cemented walls and floors and a door that they an actually shut - AND lock!
It really is very hard to describe the abject poverty that so many here live in and who have absolutely no prospect of life being any different. Those who we have, through the goodness of the Lord’s people back in the UK, been able to help with roofing sheets either to replace their old ones or to go on a new mud house they have built, are so grateful that now that the rains have started the water doesn’t come pouring in to their homes. We live here among the people and know their situations, and yet it’s still hard just to imagine the sheer misery of going to sleep on a thin, filthy foam square on a mud floor with water pouring in the roof and absolutely nowhere else to go to escape so we realise that it’s even harder for those who have never seen this type of poverty to understand.
The rains have started and we are now working on renovating two houses (which aren’t made of mud blocks) for two young families. Bigel grew up with our boys but moved to town with his parents a good few years ago. He is now married and continues to live in Saurimo but he came to us a few months ago to say that he would like to return to the village to live. We were so thrilled to hear this because we have been praying that this would be the case because he is a tremendous asset to the assembly in gospel preaching and bible teaching and commitment. He is also a good influence among the youngsters coming up. We are therefore repairing a house for him in the leprosaria and it’s getting towards being ready.
Besides the actual study groups there is lots to be done in just a pastoral/parental way and as we are involved closely in the lives of those who are with us constantly we have opportunity to help and guide them in a way that in large, struggling families it is hard for parents to do even if they had the inclination so to do. We feel a tremendous sense of privilege to be able to give them help and opportunities which they otherwise would never have had and hopefully some life and work skills and work ethics which will stay with them through life and they in turn will be able to influence others.
The incredible poverty of the believers and unbelievers alike is only more profound with the effects on prices that the COVID crisis has had, and although we are so thankful the country has been preserved thus far and there is a very low rate of infections and deaths, there has still been a human cost in the deepening poverty of the population. We have had and continue to have more opportunities than we can possibly meet to help those in need and constantly have to remind ourselves that the Lord never wearied in such situations but as mere mortals it does become very draining and a huge challenge to know how and who to best help in the vast need which is all around us.
We know from scripture that we are instructed to do good to all men but especially those of the household of faith and to this pattern we have done our best to relieve some of the hardship and suffering of many, albeit we realise temporarily. There are six ‘widows indeed’ faithful over many years in the assembly who we are helping on a monthly basis with some food supplies in the hardship of their latter years. Can you imagine that late into your 70’s and 80’s you still HAVE to cultivate in the fields to be able to eat. It’s not a case of pottering in the garden because you enjoy it, it’s absolute necessity.
Today, a container should be leaving the UK. We are so grateful to Justin and Joanne and Phil Ramsey from our commending assembly at Helions Bumpstead who have received countless deliveries, dealt with the paper work, packed boxes and then have packed every square inch of it with love and attention to make sure things get here in the best condition possible. MMN are dealing with the paper work for the shipping agent for the export. The container is carrying hymn books, Bibles, study books, paper, ink, wheel barrows, Landrover Tyres and parts, mattresses and many other things for the work here and also some goods for us personally which are running very short due to not having been able to get back to the UK since February. Please pray for its safe arrival in Luanda at the end of November and swift passage through customs with the minimum of hassle and then the arduous journey up country on ever deteriorating roads.