Easter in Africa

Written by: The Bridge on Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Easter Greetings from the white brothers and sisters in Palmgrove!

We are up to 6 now, Eddie and Anna from Cascade arrived a little over two weeks ago. It’s nice to have more people like ourselves around. The black company, while entertaining and friendly does sometimes get a bit too much with their always wanting something.

Eddie and Anna are doing little jobs around the house while they try to adjust to the heat. But they assure us they like the heat very much, no problem; so that’s a good thing. I still find sleeping hard sometimes and spend most of the night trying to find cooler places on the bed; but I guess that’s Africa. Eddie has already repaired one door in our house. It needed planing and what not, because the termites had been chewing on it for a year.

He and Anna have fixed our stove, in which a rat decided was a safe place to have her babies. The first two times when Judy and I used the stove we couldn’t figure out what smelled like roasted flesh…ewww! Cooked baby rat anyone? That effectively got rid of the babies, but the mom was still around somewhere. Also, Eddie and Brian successfully assembled a wheelbarrow for the missionary house, since we seemed to be the only ‘family’ without one. When we needed one, we had to go borrow one from one of the other families.
Today is Good Friday, and we had “leer” in the morning, from 10 to 12 or so. Inno started and preached for an hour. Though sometimes lengthy, he is a very powerful speaker and can really captivate an audience; and he makes them participate. For instance he will ask questions and get the audience to answer them. And he will ask them to read certain verses that fit to his sermon; he sometimes calls them up to the pulpit to read them. He fits stories into his sermon and sometimes asks people if they are sleeping. He can really get a point across, in my opinion anyway. Problem is, I think it goes in one ear and out the other to some Palmgrovers. What struck me today was Inno’s question, “Why did the people choose Barnabas instead of Jesus?” Jesus never did anything bad to anyone, he did only good, and Barnabads was a killer, stealer and liar. To put it another way, “Why do we choose bad over good?” After Inno, Ed Vetter, CS, got up and challenged the Palmgrove people with a comparison: taking Palmgrove as an example, the way people work (or not), dress, play, is all done according to each person’s comfort. It is nice for the flesh and they like it that way; sometimes it seems they don’t care about communal living. Then Ed Vetter comes and says that they need to change. The girls need to dress more decent; they need to work to earn their living, not just expect overseas colonies to send money and they need to think about something other than football (soccer, to us) sometimes. But then the people will think, ‘when Ed Vetter leaves, we will be able to do what we like’. So isn’t that deliberately choosing bad over good, Barnabas over Jesus? Also, when we do the earthly things we like, instead of the good things we know we should, we too choose Barnabas instead of Jesus. In closing, Inno mentioned that there would be a short Brotherhood meeting at 4 in the afternoon, then we would have another church meeting at 7.

The Brotherhood meeting started approximately at 4, and it was to get ready for the Lord’s Supper. There were a few things that needed to get straightened out. Eddie Vetter from Cascade was impressed with the way people made problems “right” with each other. They were humble and admitted it when they were in the wrong, asking each other’s forgiveness. One issue was a dispute that had been going on for a long time. Both of the people involved had a fair chance to explain themselves and had many words of admonishment thrown in by Inno and Ed Vetter(s). Brian said that something that crossed his mind was: if two people argue, then both are in the wrong. This issue was eventually settled with both people asking for the others’ forgiveness and then shaking hands. It was very touching as you could see that people wanted to make things right. In the end, all the members in Palmgrove Community felt that they were ready for the Lord’s Supper. By the way, having a meeting in the middle of the day under the hot African sun inside a building with no air-conditioning can get very long. It was nice to have it over with.
Well, now that the meeting was over, it was time for Gebet, right? We waited and lo, the bell rang at 7, so we went to the kitchen for Church. And there were the dining room tables all set with gari, and people were coming in to eat supper. Well, what about church? Turns out, that the church had been cancelled and was scheduled for the next day and no-one had bothered to tell us! How typical! Just another example of how things are run here in Africa! So instead of spiritual bread, we had gari…..
The next day we had Gebet, church service, in the evening around 6. Inno preached first. He was talking about light and darkness, and how we should follow the light and he was just asking the question, “how many people would like it if it was dark?” And you’ll never guess- the lights went out!! NAPA chose that exact moment to go out! We all had to laugh, and Inno seized the moment to elaborate his point. We should follow the light, the good; in the dark we stumble and can’t see. The puem had to go start the generator and we had light again. It was a memorable lesson we learned, quite literal!
The next day, Sunday, was the Resurrection, and all the married women and girls got up at 5 in the morning to sing their way to the junction. The females symbolize that women were the first one s to go look for Jesus after he died, and they saw the Angels. No, I didn’t go along with them because I wasn’t feeling too well. I wonder if our young people at home in Crystal got up in the morning to sing like they do every year?? Anyway, there was a busy day planned; we had a baptism and the Lord’s Supper on our schedule.
Our baptism candidates were, Emman David, Udu Imu (Ifiok), and Sunday Johnson. Compared to at home, they had no preparation at all. They don’t ‘go round,’ like our young people. They really missed out; I love the Spruch that I learned, and the questions! Basically Inno decided who would get baptized in the above mentioned meeting, and that was that. During the baptism sermon Inno preached that, “we can baptize these three, but if they are not born again, it is in vain!” And Ed Vetter, CS, urged them to be serious about their baptism, to prepare themselves for tribulation. Eddie Vetter, Cascade, preached as well, going over some of the points in the Hutterite baptism booklet.

The three candidates sat and stood in the front of the church, and kneeled like we do to get baptized. They recited the Apostle’s Creed. All the brothers and sisters sat together on three benches so the new members could easily shake hands. We were to say “may God forever be with you,” when they came to shake hands; I know we three white sisters did, but I don’t know if the others caught on to that.
In the evening at 4 we had our Abend Mahl Leer, the Lord’s Supper. Due to the 3+ hour previous Leer, this one was shorter. Ed Vetter, CS held the sermon and we had red wine and white bread for communion. I’ll list the names of every one there for the interest of people at home who may know them.

Mary Idiong – Inno Idiong
Helen Brown – John Brown
Mary Etuk
Blessing Godwin – Godwin Major
Veronica Asuquo – Okon Asuquo
Arit Idiong
Aniebiet Sampson – Okon Sampson
Naomi Brown
Mirian Asuquo – Joseph Asuquo
Glory Jonah – Ita Jonah
Judy Kleinsasser – Edward Kleinsasser
Anna Waldner – Eddie Waldner

Leanne Waldner
Emman David
Udu Imo
Sunday Johnson
Brian Kleinsasser

As a young sister, this was my first Lord’s Supper. Being in a strange land, with black brothers and sisters, it made me ponder on who really are my brothers and sisters in Christ? Color of the skin matters not; it’s how you believe. Being a Christian is not always black and white, excuse the pun, but different circumstances make for different ways of doing things. Take the baptism for example. At home it would never, ever pass to get baptized without all the preparation we do. Here, they had none and we white people wonder how serious their commitment could be. Well, we will hope and pray they meant it from their hearts, but truth be told; even if they had our preparation here, it may or may not make a difference. Just like at home it seems all the ‘Frogn’ questions and ‘going around’ doesn’t make a difference to some people; the way they live after baptism shows that. We have to accept that the way they live as Christians here, is not the way we live as Christians at home sometimes. Different cultures, traditions, and the way they are brought up all make it impossible to parallel the Africans with the Hutterites completely. And do we really expect it to happen? Ed Vetter keeps on saying and preaching that when it comes to right and wrong, traditions and culture cannot be in the way or cannot be used as an excuse. This is more of a problem here than at home, often, or, most of the time, they use their culture as an excuse to do things we as a Hutterite Church would and should not tolerate. This makes it hard to not get discouraged from time to time.

Showing 4 comments

Thinking you u said:
On: 21st Apr, 2008 at 09:16

Interesting blog! really enjoyed hearing about how you went about doing the “obentmohl” and Easter lehd’n. I hope that the people in Palmgrove will follow examples you set when it comes to working and doing good, and will continue to do so even after you all leave. My God be with you all!

Anonymous said:
On: 21st Apr, 2008 at 10:28

Been wondering how they go about Easter and Passover in Palmgrove. It IS kinda different then we do it here. But if it works for them, and if they take it seriously then it can work. God be with them!

JH/Skyview said:
On: 23rd Apr, 2008 at 16:21

Well, we are supposed to influence people to be disciples of Jesus not simply converts to the way we believe and do things.

Very interesting updates; thanks for all the effort you put into your writings!

Eddie Waldner, missionary said:
On: 24th Apr, 2008 at 16:12

Dear leanne and Brian
Being safely back home now awaiting a call from my doctor, if and when operation will be performed, I took time to read your blog on the bridge. You compare our baptism and baptism preparation with that of our African Nigerian church, that will never jive. You used this line. = At home it would never, ever pass to get baptized without all the preparation we do, meaning our 45 questions and answer relating to faith, loyalty and biblical knowledge and the 16 lengthy verses of our spruch. One of our brothers even called it a spur of the moment baptism. Rev Inno was saddened at some of our comments, even referred to a few spur of the moment baptisms in the new testament, explained to us at length that the loyalty and faithfulness of our three applicants, to which I, Eddie Waldner had to agree, knowing them for 15 years now.

So I do agree with the way bloger JH/ Skyview, April 23 puts it