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Mermaids and Bootcamp

I often feel that this 6 month DTS (Discipleship Training School' is a mixture of Boot Camp and Big Brother. It seems like the daily challenges increase the level of intensity of our Boot camp physically, emotionally and spiritually...

Physically is probably the easiest part to deal with, such as the more simple African diet and our 60 day intense exercise programme 'Insanity'... (which our American colleague, Christian introduced us to, hence his new nick name, 'Christiansanity'...)

Living and studying cross -culturally in an unfamiliar place was always going to bring challenges, as well as richness, diversity and colour. Like on Big Brother, when the housemates are given various tasks, and their different characters and backgrounds provide (questionable) entertainment, there are a number of different personalities and nationalities here on the base (including a team of American photographers from the Hawaii base who arrived this week- cue decent pics of amelie I hope) which can provide entertainment (and immense frustration...)
Like last week when we enjoyed a heavy rainstorm, which brought thousands of large flying ants, (a local delicacy), to the night light on the base. All of our African coursemates went crazy, clutching buckets and large basins and grabbing handful of the insects to fry and eat the following day.


Unfortunately, our coursemates were not the only ones who consider flying ants a tasty treat, and before long armies of pinching ants came to our dormitory demanding their fill as well, biting anyone who got in their way. Another American coursemate, Katie, was concerned that the pinching ants would come into our bedrooms so insisted on switching off the light, causing much annoyance and frustration to the others. A compromise was found by finding another light away from our rooms with plenty of ants flying around to enjoy...1DSC_0024.jpg

The training course intends to provide formal learning in the classroom, informal learning through our community responsibilities (like slashing grass and shelling thousands of g-nuts to make a sauce) and unformal (I know, it doesn't quite fit?) learning through living together.

David slashing

David slashing

Our classroom experience this week has been eye-opening and has challenged us spiritually, which is maybe the hardest of the aspects so far of Boot camp.

The topic this week has been about 'Spritual Warfare' which is a controversial and heavy subject at the best of times. Our teacher has shared many crazy, terrifiying stories this week about witchcraft, curses, totems, ancestral worship, witchdoctors, demonic powers, child sacrifices, body parts and worse. It highlights our ignorance when it comes to understanding local cultural beliefs, (and maybe our narrow mindedness when it comes to things in the spiritual realm.) Some of the things we have been taught have not rung true with our own experiences, like the common belief that water is more easily possessed, that mermaids are real, and that a dream about an owl or snake equals death.

I find it fascinating that an event can occur, for example multiple car accidents at the same spot on a roundabout, and one person may interpret the event as a demonic curse and hunt to find an umbilical cord buried and cursed by satan worshipers on a nearby hill, (true story) whilst someone else may look at the environmental factors of the situation like blind spots, the type of road etc. If I'm honest, in many of the stories we heard, I could feel my small brain whirring to think of logical, rational explanations: medicine, mental health, genetics, environment etc, which I guess highlights my need to understand and explain events rather than simply believe that so much goes on that is completely out of my comfort zone...

We have both found it hard (and tiring) to understand and grapple with the 'truth', and i guess it boils down to the simple fact that some things we just don't know. It has been enlightening to learn what our coursemates think and believe, and how they would interpret various bible verses. Needless- to- say, I would rather never, ever experience any of the things mentioned in the stories, and it makes us a bit nervous about the outreach stage of this boot camp...

Posted by africraigs 10:25

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Hang in there, my friends. I know it feels like your brain is going to explode but God is in control. Love you! Denise

by Denise

Thanks for the honest and open sharing of your struggles. A Western anthropologist talked of the 'excluded middle' of Western worldview- ie we separate the material and spiritual with little or no overlap. In the African worldview, the material and spiritual are much more inter-related, which in the traditional culture is of course 'animism'- belief that the spirits inhabit material objects. As Christians we retain much of our basic cultural worldview, which explains the differences you are experiencing. What is needed is to move towards the Biblical worldview, which separates the material and spiritual, but which leaves room much more for the supernatural element (good and evil) rather then tending to exclude or deny them. Anyway, as Denise said- hang on in there= the Lord is with you, and will continue to watch over and protect you. Love from Dad and Mum

by Douglas

Totally challenging x overwhelming!!!! Such a learning curve!!! Yet although you are faced with many hurdles you will overcome ever encounter because of your natuarl ability to care and appreciate the opportuinty you have been given. Thinking of you always mel xx

by mel taylor-hanks

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