My 27 hour retreat out at Ciyanjano was an encouraging success. I had hoped for some great conversations, good teaching and some refreshing of the souls of the pastors. It was that and so much more . The goal of this time was to help continue to prepare these pastors in all things, spiritual, life-skills and being leaders of their churches and communities. The teaching that Rob Murphy brought to the group with his Zambian partner, Harrison have the potential to be truly life-changing. The goal of Farming God's Way and Growing God's way is to help Zambians learn how to rise above the culture from poverty and dependence upon others unto a prosperity that helps others into independence, especially the church. It was really insightful listening to the pastors share about how much this material was helping them. Harrison and Rob shared much great truth about farming and how the cultural norms that Zambians have been using for centuries are actually preventing plentiful harvests and ongoing sustainability.
As it now, most Zambian are kept dependant on seeds and fertilizer which actually works against the independence that they are seeking. Anyway, having been with these guys for a year and a half, three days a week, I know them pretty well. And so, it was fascinating watching how much both the teaching from the Word and the teaching about farming excited our pastors. They were very vocal and engaged and very enthusiastic. There really were some innovative methods to this farming that came with some really good reasons, background and statistics to back up the method. But, it is very different than what the rest of their fellow Zambians farmers are doing. Harrison shared of many examples of famers who were trying this method of being haggled and ridiculed by people in their villages only to have them come back after harvest to ask how they did it. It is also routine for farmers when their harvest is so much better and/or the only crop the survived the drought/flooding rains to produce to be accused of using witchcraft to get a good crop. The farming methods made sense that it gave them hope that they could be independent and have courage to be able to step out of the downward spiral of poverty that has been a part of their life for many generations. It really does take more than just two weeks to help people out of the influences of their cultures. I continue to see how pastors need time to learn and absorb. It confirms that what we are doing is both necessary and helpful. Patson was sharing today with me how much he appreciated this teaching and the Bible School in general because he said, I have known and done some of the principles of farming before, but I never knew why I should and shouldn't do them. A lot of things I am learning the why behind doing it." At the end of our time, our pastors went out and planted some maize (corn). It was exactly what I was hoping for, in that the pastors could continue to be equipped in all things to be able to be all things to their community and their churches. This kind of teaching usually takes 5 days, but Rob and Harrison condensed a lot into 27 hours.
So the teachings were great. But we also tried new things. They all roasted and ate their first hot dogs over the campfire! And they loved the S'mores. It was so fun watching them roast their marshmallows and bite into the cracker bursting with chocolate marshmallow goodness. Many ate Oatmeal for the first time as well and at their first peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
We also watched Brazil beat North Korea on TV for the world cup. I never knew people could talk so much and so fast during a game, and all of it in Nyanga. As one pastor said afterward, "It was really fun watching a game with all my friends. I never get to do that." They were yelling and hooting and hollering all game long. They were like little kids
I shared with the pastors, "We really want to serve you. You spend so much time serving others, we just wanted you to feel encouraged." It really helped me understand the importance of continuing to bless and support them as they serve their brothers. So, thank you for your prayers. The only regret they all had was that it was so short. They said they want to continue to do this on a regular basis. I think they are getting the vision for the importance of retreats and a conference center like Ciyanjano.