It was an exciting day! We pilots are usually in the plane and see things from that perspective, so it was great to be on the dusty dirt road and on our way to Geti where the big celebration to dedicate the brand new Ndruna New Testament was scheduled to start at 9:00 AM. Dave, Donna and Andrew Jacobsson, as well as Drs. Warren and Lindsey Cooper and their little son Emmanuel, were in the Land Cruiser as we drove to meet up with the big bus load of SIL workers and translators along with other special guests. We were to meet at the intersection out of Bunia and join up for a UN escort into the area, as only Monday there had been a bandit attack on the road and 2 people had been killed. As we bumped down the road at 6:00 I got a call from Maryanne saying that the bus had not showed up yet. The driver had a hard Saturday and the bus company was looking for a new one. So we carried on past our planned rendezvous point enroute to Bogoro. It is a lovely, climbing road into the mountains that fall away into the Albertine Rift and we slowed to enjoy all the sights. Someone had put up a new cement signpost marking a place where Stanley had camped in his trek across the continent. We got to Bogoro and went to the old German Daguna mission station, which is now the UN camp, where we were to pick up our escort. We walked around the camp to the old mission guesthouse overlooking the valley below and then were invited in to the Bangaladeshi officers’ hut for some coffee and biscuits while we waited for the escort to assemble themselves. By that time the bus had showed up and we set off. We were only 2 hours and a bit late by the time we got there and the crowd was huge. They began chanting out a song for the occasion as we were carried away by the throng to the front. People were dancing and singing and celebrating wonderfully.
There was special singing and preaching and then the first box of Ndruna New Testaments was brought up to be dedicated. All the pastors prayed over them and then the first box was opened with great ceremony. People groups were called forward to receive a copy; a representative of the women, the youth, the police, politicians and so on, and they went away celebrating. After these presentations different people would read a portion of scripture and, with great excitement, hear the words in their heart language. It was a fine moment to be a part of.
It doesn’t take much time under plastic tarps before one is way too hot! I could feel myself becoming dehydrated so I slipped out for a bit and went to our vehicle where I had some water in a cooler box. Dr. Warren and Emmanuel followed with the idea of getting Emmanuel a bit of rest. But that was out of the question with 100’s of kids crowding around the car to see the little blonde boy who was unafraid and willing to jump into the pile of them.
There was also a group beside the car with traditional drums, animal horn bugles, spears and sticks. Most were the elders of the community. One of the SIL people had told us to bring our dancing shoes as the WanGiti love to dance. And dance they did, all wanting their picture taken. I had thought this was to be part of the dedication, but it was not. I love African drums and their dancing reminded me of the Tonga people along the lake shore of Kariba in Zimbabwe.
A huge swirling mass of people stomping up dust as they chant with their spears and sticks in the air. I imagine in the old days it would have all been spears and very intimidating warriors instead of the elders. But it was still a bit spooky to watch the old women come at me with their sticks held like spears aimed at my chest and them back away into the crowd to be followed by another group coming up with spears poised to puncture me. The present day “warriors” were still in the hills around us and we had to get home through their area before dark.
We had a nice meal and, as we all know, “Everything takes longer than it takes,” so the UN convoy vehicles were late and we started out without them, passing them on the road about 15 minutes outside of the village. We told them to go there to get the bus that was still loading up and we carried on in the Land Cruiser. As we got back over the hills to Bogoro it was as if we could breathe freely again, being safely out of the most dangerous area. We made it back home before dark having thoroughly enjoyed the day.
It was great to remember that MAF had been a part of this 20+ year project from its very beginning and right through the hard times of the fighting. MAF men before us had started and we got to be part of the finishing. In many ways it did not seem fair for us to get to be at the very satisfying and enjoyable end instead of them. But it was a good reminder that we don’t always get to see the end result of the role we play in God’s plans. There is a bigger picture and we might get to write a few lines in the story, doing our job as best we can with maybe the end not even in sight, knowing that we may hand the baton on to another who gets to cross the finish line. That is enough. None of this is for our glory anyway. Every one of us wanted to turn it back onto God. But, I would love to make him smile.