Sunday, July 27, 2008

Akpema (God-Honoring Edition)

The traditional Akpema dancing
This past Saturday we attended an Akpema ceremony in the village of Kaacaade. Akpema (Ahk-peh-mah) is a traditional Kabiye ceremony that signifies a young girl is passing into womanhood. You can read a short article about it here. Normally this ceremony involves sacrifices, nudity in front of wide-eyed young men and sitting on a rock in front of village elders. Once on the rock, it is said that if the young woman lies about her sexual history, a swarm of bees will be released. If she has had an abortion, a python will appear between her legs.We enjoyed a great meal of rice with hot sauce and sulum after the ceremony, Yum!

It is easy to see that this is not a healthy cultural tradition that should be carried on in it's traditional form. Our team has encouraged the Kabiye Christians to come up with spiritually healthy alternatives to these traditional rites and ceremonies, and on Saturday we experienced our first taste of what that can look like.

While still incorporating aspects of the traditional ceremony such as ritual dancing and singing (see video above), the Christian Akpema put on by this Christian family also included songs of praise, prayers, blessings on the young girl, and the taking of the Lord's Supper. Afterwards a huge meal was served, and a joyful, happy atmosphere was in the air.This little girl had the best time out of anyone in attendance. Her joy was evident!

What a blessing it was for our family to attend this ceremony! Not only was it a very interesting and thought provoking afternoon, but above all, God was honored within the Kabiye culture. We have not come here to change this culture or to make the people like us and adopt our cultural norms; we have come to preach the Word that testifies that Jesus is Lord, confident that God will work within this culture to advance His Kingdom. To see that happening makes our insides sweet!The team ladies with the young girl, now a woman!Corban loved the singing and especially the drums

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Elise' and Eli

A few weeks ago, a man named Assiki came into our lives. His wife, Lydia, was having an emergency birth at SOS, the crisis pregnancy clinic here in Kara, and he came to our house to ask if we could help them. We're not sure how he found our house (we haven't asked), but we're glad that he did. We had been praying that God would give us people to have relationships with in our neighborhood, and even though Assiki and his family live in a village about 10 minutes away, it was close enough :)Well, it turns out the birth was twin boys!!! They are named Elise' and Eli, and they were born 8 weeks premature; so far they are doing well. In the States they would undoubtedly still be in NICU or at least under pretty constant watch, but we are in Togo, and they were sent home just 3 weeks after they were born. We were able to visit them at their home recently, and we prayed for them and let them know that we are here to help whatever way we can. Assiki and Lydia are not yet Christians, and we are excited to see what develops in their relationships with God in the coming weeks and months. Please pray!!!We included this picture of Caden with the twins to give some perspective. Caden weighs about 25 pounds, and when this picture was taken, the twins weighed 1.6 and 1.8 kilos, respectively. That's about 3.5 pounds and 4 pounds! Please pray for their health, which is in God's hands...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Love Our Community of Believers

Sometimes they can be frustrating, but I must say that I love our Kabiye brothers and sisters so very much. Today one of the village church leaders rode his bike about 20 km all the way to my house just to let me know that his son has accepted Jesus and is going to be baptized next weekend. He asked me to come and to bring my whole family to celebrate with him. Praise God! I thank Him for sweet little joys amidst the hard work and struggles :)

UPDATE: Eyabene spoke to me in Kabiye, which I don't understand as well as French, and another teammate just informed me that 1) he was talking about his daughter, and 2) she's not getting baptized, but rather they are attempting to take a Christian approach to the female initiation ceremony. Ah, the joys of language learning! I'm actually impressed with myself that I understood as well as I did :)