"Ntate, the Bible says that God resists the proud. But I am so proud that you are here! Is God going to resist me?"
- Ntate Ntsimane to us during our first week in Mokhotlong
Our New Home
After many months of transition, we have finally settled into our new home in Mokhotlong, Lesotho! (pictured above) It is a beautiful little town high in the mountains (9, 842 ft. above sea level) overlooking the Senqu River, which is not very impressive at the moment. We have been without rain since April and the whole country has begun rationing water. One of our prayer requests in this letter is for rain - "Wots and Wots of Wain fow Wesootoo," as Kyle prays before every meal and bedtime.
In my recent seminary classes...
...I was studying hermeneutics and theology of global engagement. Interestingly, they happened to correspond very closely. A main focus of hermeneutics was to emphasize the importance of recognizing the preconceptions and preunderstandings we bring to the biblical text, lest they subtly color our interpretation. Global theology's main focus was to examine how one's culture shapes his worldview and affects what he sees even in his reading of the Scriptures. Our current lack of rain has allowed me to see a living example of this. Every Basotho pastor with whom I've spent any time has mentioned praying for "the latter rain," a phrase I usually brush right past. Even now I'm only vaguely familiar with it and think of it as just a downpour of refreshment.
For the First Time In My Life...
...I've really seen the necessity of rain and how dramatically it affects people's livelihood. Certainly our farmer friends in Illinois have had a greater appreciation for rain than I have had. Here in Lesotho, we live in a highly pastoral and agrarian society. This drought is far beyond our inconvenience of taking fewer showers or washing our clothes less; it causes the Basotho's livestock to starve and their crops to wither and die. People's whole livelihood here is tied to the land and the weather. Because of our differing cultures, then, the Basotho believers see God more fully as Provider, Sustainer, and Life-Giver than I do. Please join us in prayer to the Lord of the Harvest for "the latter rain."
Ntate Ntsimane Motsoang...
...and his family have become our adopted family. He is the pastor of Harvesters Bible Church here in Mokhotlong and has laid the groundwork for the TEE program. His wife 'Me Matsolo is the assistant principal at a local high school. They have several children and all have made us feel very welcome - even renting us their house for our time here. We don't know much about their children for, as is typical with Africans, "family" is much larger than "nuclear family." Some are theirs, others are of relatives who have died, and a few others they have taken in to feed and care for. We have already grown to love this family so much! They are our dearest friends here and I can't wait to get to know them better.
TEE is set to begin...
...the week of January 19-25. We will be having an official launch on January 11th, where Ntate Mpakanyane and the other TEE leaders will come to Mokhotlong for a weekend conference with our first students. I'm so excited about the potential for this program! Many of the leaders at Harvesters have been asking about the program and are eager to sign up. Please be praying that members of other churches in town will also join our studies. The need for theological education is enormous here and our desire is to train up leaders across denominations. Over the next months, I am visiting all of the different churches in town and looking for opportunities to share TEE with the pastors. My goal is to make TEE a deeply significant training program and trust that God will bring in the leaders that He wants.
...is loving life in Africa. While I'm busy finishing my semesters of school, Abby is busy painting and setting up our new house. Kyle is busy playing around the house and yard, meeting the Basotho children, and chattering all day. Ellee is busy sleeping, eating, and rolling around. I'm amazed how Kyle picks up languages. He'll probably be speaking Sesotho better than we before long.
The Lord has also been providing for our support. Thank you all for your faithfulness in giving to and praying for our ministry here. Our support level had gone down a bit from people being out of work, but God has moved others to give - both in monthly support and one-time gifts - and they have more than made up for the difference! He is always faithful and we are grateful for His provision and your care. We are already looking forward to seeing many of you next March for missions conferences in SC and IL. Kyle is counting down the days until his birthday, when he can go on an airplane and see all his family again. We love you!
- Jonathan, Abby, Kyle & Ellee