Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Granny at the Workshop

(Day 5 of 15-day Prayer Challenge)

--Story as told by Margaret Beckett

We gave a whole afternoon to visiting the village chairman, greeting him with utmost respect, asking after his family, his business, his farm - and then moved on to politely explain the aims of the proposed workshop.

Yes, he understood absolutely:  the workshop would run over three Saturdays, we would teach in the local primary school, and we needed Rangi people who could speak, read and write Swahili. Both Muslims and Christians were equally welcome; in fact we really wanted an even number from both parts of the community.

He beamed delightedly. Yes, of course he would sort out a suitable group to attend, and yes, yes, he would be very pleased to officially open our first day. We made our farewells and returned encouraged to our office in the town.

Preview_TZ - Village near Kondoa Town 0029(2)She was there on the first day, shuffling a little in her walk, due to age, and poor sight, but very happy to be there. Before long, our elderly participant was snoozing away as the workshop proceeded. What a waste, I thought, she has only come because she knows she will be given food at lunch time.

On the second Saturday there she was again. This time she seemed to listen, at least for some of the time, but I was sure she couldn’t see very well, so therefore she was not at all a suitable candidate for the class. During the writing session, I helped her by writing the sentence she spoke to me. How do I help the village chairman to understand that this woman was not suitable for the class? I thought to myself.

The final day arrived. There had been a gap of several weeks since the second workshop, as we had not been able to use the school any earlier. I wondered who would come. There she was, walking towards the school. She had a few sheets of paper in her hands, torn from a school exercise book, and her literacy workbook, carefully covered with newspaper to protect it. "I can't see well," she explained, "and I never learned to read or write. I wasn't sent to school, you see. I was out with the goats every day. But I do know a lot of stories." She held out the pages, full of very carefully printed writing in the Rangi language.

"How did you do this, Grandmother?" I asked.

"I sat with my grandson for many evenings, I told him the old stories I heard from my father, then I told him again slowly, and he wrote them down for me."

Now we visit this grandmother often. She is a rich source of knowledge about the Rangi people, their traditions and the way they understand the world.

The story illustrates for me how easy it is to import my Western understandings, my too-quick judgments, when life here is so different - and God has different plans than I do. Please pray for this old woman; God knows who she is, and He knows her needs. She is a widow, living in one room of a courtyard house, near one of her nine children and some of her grandchildren, following a mix of African traditional religion and a world religion. She is representative of many Rangi women in this area.

--Photo of a Kirangi woman by Arlene Moe

Please pray:

  • That through Bible translation, the Kingdom of God would continue to permeate the areas of the world without God’s Word.
  • That God would prepare hearts to receive the seed of his Word.
  • That God would meet our financial need to his glory and the strengthening of our faith.


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