"A GOOD FRIEND" @ 16 Jan 2009
This week has been both a great week and a tough week all at the same time. It is kind of like a farmer...who works hard all week tilling and planting...but at the end can see a field full of seeds and promise. <br /><br />I have tilled and planted this week into the lives of 2 pastors who make up the entire new class of LBBI-Turkana. I can look back and see the seeds of promise in their lives and ministry. All the hours of study and teaching as well as the money invested will be worth it in 2 years when (hopefully) these men will stand not only to receive their diplomas but as testimonies for God!<br /><br />We finished a bit early today...tomorrow is test day! Pastor Michael asked me if had anything planned for the afternoon. (I kind of hoped to go home and rest from this long week!) But I said no, I had nothing planned. He asked me if I would go with him to see his fiance Maggie (I do not know if I spelled fiance right...the girl he hopes to marry.). She lives a couple of hours down the road and does not get to Lodwar very often. When she does, she sends word to Michael and he tries to see her. She stays with her cousins in town.<br /><br />Michael and I drove over to their house and all 3 of them were home...the 2 cousins and Maggie. I was asked to pray for them all (a typical Turkana custom anytime you enter someone's home or boma). Afterwards, introductions were made. Now let me pause here to explain something. I have tried in every way I know to remove the barriers that exist between a white American living and working among the very black Turkana people. There are many things I have done (drank blood, eaten donkey, earned a Turkana name (Ekiru) that I use above my family-given name (Eddie). But when I am introduced, I am always the missionary. Sometimes that is what I am called as if it is my name. (I answer to just about anything!) <br /><br />Anyway, today, when introductions were being made, Michael simply said he wanted to bring his good friend Ekiru to meet Maggie and her family!...HIS GOOD FRIEND EKIRU!!! I have never been called that by a Turkana before. It is something I was not sure I would ever hear. To understand that, you have to understand the culture here. I am an outsider, an odd-ball, and in the very true sense...not a Turkana. According to the culture...I could never be a good friend. But today, I was called just that...Michael's good friend. And he said it to his future wife's family. Him bringing me there is just not done unless I am his brother....his good friend...his brother!<br /><br />As I write this even now, tears are flowing down my face when I think of all that God has done...both in their hearts and in mine! <br /><br />Yesterday, some kids were walking past our church (where we also have our Bible school) on their way home for lunch. We (the students, Michael, and me) were outside eating our lunch. They stopped and said to each other...look at the white man eating food like a Turkana. (I was using my hands to eat the greens and "cornbread??"...aka ugali... just like everyone else.) My guys told them I eat food like they do because I am Turkana. They said I could not be Turkana because I am white. My guys said that was not true because even though I was white, I was Turkana and I had a Turkana soul!<br /><br />3 years ago, I almost left the Turkana district because I was such an outsider and not received by anyone. But God gave me His grace and strength and I stayed. Now we have 5 churches, 1 Bible study, a Bible institute for our pastors and preachers...and I am a white Turkana...no longer an outsider...no longer an odd-ball...but a brother to my men, and a good friend to Michael!<br /><br />Much love,<br />Ekiru
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