Tribals Coming Alive!

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“I want to see this work with tribals!”

So said my buddy Zhenya as he met me in Moscow airport before the recent Siberia “Reindeer” STS training.

From the very beginning, when I led my first “foreign” workshop in the Peruvian Amazon, it never occurred to me to doubt that God would raise up storytellers among tribal peoples in any less of a way than He would among literates and Westerners.

This was the Urarina of Peru, who told me that they had discovered (“at last!”) a way to share the Gospel and Bible message in a way that was ‘just like how we do it in our village’.

This is a people group of whom the missionaries, working among them for 25 years, said to me, “There is no way” they will learn how to show action and expression required in storytelling, and also lead discussion to help others find treasures in stories.

Those missionaries could not believe their eyes when I showed them the video ‘proof’ of Urarina storytellers in action!

The same was true in the Panamanian jungle, where missionaries could not believe that “these tribals” could “critically think”! An uneducated tribal woman later sure put paid to that mindset!

A couple of weeks ago Zhenya was ecstatic, as were others, to see Vitalik (pictured above) come alive in his Nenets region of the Arctic Circle and connect naturally with STS and storytelling ministry. And … Vitalik now prays publicly. Something he never did before.

“May the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you … May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.”
~ Psalm xlvii 4,5 & 7

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Land of Snow

Land of Snow from Bryan Thompson on Vimeo.

Happy New Year!

… and off on our travels again!

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It was lovely having the family together for a few days over the Christmas period. Ale is home from Australia for a while. Jess here too before she heads off to Holland. Vania, before she leaves for her internship and then study in Italy.

I will be the first to leave home though as I head out in a few hours to South America to lead a couple of training events there with Simply the Story (STS).

It is a ‘go-back’ event for me.

Ami and Jess were with me in Paraguay in the summer of 2014 and we led the first workshop there.

This weekend I expect to be back to advance-train the people who were at the previous event and then I hope they will lead a workshop the following week for newcomers (with little to no help from me if all goes to plan!).

I expect to begin audio-blogging on this site again as I head off, and so expect some activity here in the next while. Written, pictorial, audio … who knows! Stories of God at work in people’s lives and hopefully some fun adventures … the inside story!

Milan Meandering (Or Pressing Through to Blessing)

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Somewhat glad to leave the grey and rain of Ireland (pictured) yesterday morning on our 05:50 flight, and having spent most of the night awake – all of it in Vania’s case! – we were relieved by the welcome blast of heat and sun in Milan, when we finally reached Italy yesterday afternoon.

Arriving at the address, where we had rented a wee flat near the city centre, where Vania may be studying fashion design from September 2016, and, in the heat of the day, after a long walk from the nearest bus stop, we found our lodging (where the landlord had promised he would be waiting for us) all closed up and no one around.

A friendly old man we found on the street, who only spoke Italian, helped us by phoning a number (that received no answer), and, after some perseverance, we were soon in possession of some keys.

Meanwhile the landlord got in touch via text to say that the place wasn’t cleaned from previous tenants! <sigh>

Our dreams of collapsing on comfortable beds and sleeping for the rest of the day were quickly evaporating.

“When would the cleaners be here?”

“In 90 minutes. Sorry”

With Ami and Vania curled up and crashed on the only clean couch in the living room, I sat on a glorified foot stool and did email, waiting for the cleaners.

One hour past the 90 minute deadline, I texted the landlord saying cleaners still hadn’t arrived and really, he needed to act now!

Within a minute the cleaners actually arrived and were answering a phone call from an irate landlord.

Two hours later we were finally able to lay down on those comfortable beds!

Something about “striving to enter into that rest” (God has promised) took on a familiar meaning yesterday!

Here’s hoping the rest of this visit to Milan will be a little less demanding and stressful!

Snake bite & a story

Poisonous snake from Costa Rica taken by Christian Haugen on 21st May 2009 in CR. His page is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/christianhaugen/ and the creative commons license is here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Poisonous snake from Costa Rica taken by Christian Haugen on 21st May 2009 in CR. His page is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/christianhaugen/ and the creative commons license is here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It strikes me as almost comical sometimes the way the Lord seems to bring a story (His Word) into play when a miracle is needed!

We had an instance of this last week in Costa. There we were, minding our own business as a group preparing the story of the fiery snakes in Numbers 21 (4-9).

One of the tribal guys in our gathering got a phone call. His dad had been bitten by a poisonous snake and the guy was immediately and understandably distressed, fearing for his dad’s life.

The moment he told me what had happened, in tears, it dawned on me what story we were looking at … how God brought life and health to those bitten by snakes!

I called the whole group to pray for our tribal brother and buddy, and for his father. His dad was in a remote part of the country and getting him to the hospital looked out of the question. Meanwhile, he had the presence of mind to tightly bind his arm with some cloth, but his arm was now badly swollen with the poison.

We monitored our brother and his phone over the next 24 hours and, in answer to our prayers, we began to see the wonderful hand and grace of our Lord in action:

  1. He made it alive to a hospital
  2. He was safely transferred and made it alive to another specialised hospital in another city
  3. He was discharged from the hospital
  4. He made it home and is completely healed from the snake bite!

The Living God who answers prayer.

[Photo by Christian Haugen and used with permission. See more of his art here].

Can he do it?

11722407_692897850844887_5939641898805046190_oThat was the question the guys asked about Jairo!

He comes from a tribe in Costa Rica called the Chirripo tribe and he exemplified that deadpan and reserved expression I have seen so often among my friends among tribes in the Amazon, Panama, Nicaragua and now Costa Rica.

We were in Costa Rica last week doing an STS training and Jairo was in my small group (or tribe, as we like to call it, named  after the tribes of Israel). He was particularly gripped by one story in the Old Testament and I could see him responding to it like none of the others we had worked on during the workshop.

I was keen to give everyone a chance to try and do a story presentation, and Jairo was more than ready to go for it. He told me afterwards he wasn’t even nervous!

In the small group, where he went to present his story, one of his countrymen, seeing Jairo pause for a while to gather his bearings, offered to help him deliver his presentation! I told him that Jairo was fine and he would not need any help. And it was true! Jairo delivered such a wonderful story about Moses, and led us into such a good discussion on it that everyone applauded him at the end!

This was one of the many stories from my recent trip to Costa Rica with STS to lead a Spanish training there. More stories to follow …

Legacy

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One of the things that the Lord laid on our hearts for this time in Ireland was the documenting of a legacy. Digitally organising the story of our family and lives for future generations of our family and for those who would care to hear it told.

The “story” will come in many different facets. My Dad’s amazing Prisoner of War diary. Other documents and awards hanging round from bygone days.

Also my own diary (journal). I have kept a diary since I was six years old. Some of it is a bit of a mess and it all needs collating and organising. Another aspect is video interviews with my mother that I have been gathering and recording for the past ten years.

And then there are the photos.

Several years ago our girls, among other things, helped me by scanning loads of old photographs. Those photographs remain in piles in my office and there are digital folders all over the place with the electronic format of most of our family snaps, dating back from before my parents were born (in some cases).

The problem has been getting the time to sort through it all, and, up until Christmas, having a decently functioning computer that could handle the workload and space needed to organise and files.

Finally, the system on the Mac, using the cloud services, for filing everything and for photographic storage was both slow and inefficient.

Until recently.

Apple released Photos with its powerful ability to store things well in the cloud and also be easily searched, edited, organised and accessed from mobile devices as well as from a desktop.

Don McAllister (of http://www.screencastsonline.com) and David Sparks have produced some practical tutorials to work you through setting this all up and I spent the first part of today immersed in studying it all and planning my use of Photos. David Sparks’ helpful tutorial comes in the shape of a “video field guide” about Photos, an all-encompassing screencast available at http://macsparky.com/photos

So the work has finally begun and Photos, as I get the time, will slowly reflect the story I have been longing to get organised in a way that can be told visually and shared easily.

To be continued …