Thursday, March 10, 2011
Three Acres and Two Containers
Harry and Sylvia Armoogan are about to do it again. Leaving Waterloo for western Kenya and a small village where they have ministered to the people and encouraged local pastors.
The land is very fertile and right beside both the major highway and the village watering spring. Everyone comes by their property and curiously examines their pre-fab cottage and the most unusual church structure.
Two forty foot containers were shipped from Ontario full of very practical supplies and helps. These containers are placed parallel to each other with a roof super-structure mounted in between. It is here that the people worship.
For months before the spring of 2010 these missionaries had been collecting food, building materials, a vehicle, tools, a brand new portable sawmill, sewing machines and other helps for the containers. Plans for use of these items are very practical and workable. Perhaps even a sewing school for women.
Harry is ordained with the Open Bible Church (a founding member from Trinidad and Tobago) and has been going to Africa for the last 18 years, usually staying in a small motel. But now with the land, cottage and containers things are much different. Sylvia has accompanied him only the last couple of years. It is evident that she enjoys the people and is coping with rudimentary conditions, the awesome windstorms, the almost daily rainfall and the puzzling social traditions which vary from tribe to tribe. There are 42 tribes!
The westerner who comes to Kenya will think that he has gained some understanding of the people and place, only to come to realize that he has been looking at a fractional tribal portion of the whole. National identity is almost a fiction. Corruption and graft are around every corner. But the people remain lovable, and consistently overcome poverty with a solid work ethic, admirable economy and true community.
Harry says that the local churches deal with the daily reality of polygamy and witchcraft. But he suggests that western churches have their own dark reality...apostasy.
Their last visit was over 11 months in duration. It is likely that this couple in their senior years will stay for longer stretches. The work is largely self-supported with the help of a couple of business people in the trades. There is no formal affiliation with any denomination which results in funding. A garden and small plot of maize are grown. A few cattle roam free and tend their grass (a beautiful green on very orange soil). Locals chip in with woodlot culling and construction projects.
At a visit the other night, Hilary and I were told repeatedly "that it is not enough to come with a cup of cold water. One must also deliver the message of exciting prospects with Jesus through a solid Biblical base."
Next month the Armoogans will depart again. Their venture of vision, energy, perseverance, Gospel truth and love is inspiring. It also makes the Master smile.