Five Weeks With The Mara People (Part 3)

By Nigel Lindsay

I know I said there would be a part one and two and did not mention part three, but there is a bit more to tell. I was honoured to be treated to some traditional Mara dancing, by a local group that carried on this tradition, Lachhura gave a running commentary of a dance that they would do when they came back from head hunting, other tribes. They now call themselves heart hunters for Jesus rather than head hunters from the past when they worshiped trees and objects. They showed a dance for young men when they were too embarrassed to ask out the girl of their dreams and even got me to take part in it, (I was not too sure if this was hinting at their desire to got me matched up with someone).I took part in the stick dancing dance and was looking forward to the fly dance, but was not asked. (All of these I can show on DVD)I do look a bit out of places towering above my Mara fellow dancers and was pleased as you would be not to be dresses in their traditional costume

Water was an issue in all the places I stayed, even in the city sometimes they would have no running water and many of the poorer families would have to go to a local stand pipe all the time. Some would make a business of going round selling water delivered to the door to save people getting it themselves. In Bymari village they had to go down a long way to the river to get water and had some amazingly inventive ways of getting rainwater into a tank, with gutters leading to bamboo trunks reaching across the road in to a tank, good there were o high vehicles to knock them out of place. In Srkohur (this is not spelt right sorry) they had piped water but when the local government did some work on the roads about a year ago they cut the water supply and now they have to travel by truck to pick quantities for washing, toilet flushing and cleaning and have to walk up and down a hill 2- 3 time a day to get drinking water. I went twice to get the cleaning water and once to get drinking water with the woman and children and it was a long way. The concern is that in late January the water source was beginning to dry up and with the weather getting hotter for this time of year, will the water last out till the rains come again between June and October?

Food was good and Lachhua was good to me with a lot of choice at each meal so I did not feel I had to eat some things I would not normally. They tend to eat every part of the animal and see the bits we tend not to eat as special reserved for special guest like me. Two meals a day one about 9.30- 10am and then again about 5-6pm and always includes rice even when they have fried potatoes. They called it curry, but not curry as I know it and was quite bland mostly, but maybe that was to keep me well. Many times they served the boiled vegetable water with it. I had bananas, oranges, pomali (a big grapefruit thing) and many vegetable. I kept well until 20th January when I moved between diarrhoea and constipation and think it rice twice a day for 4 weeks did not help. I used bottled water for drinking, was careful not to eat washed cold foods and had what seemed like thousands of cups of tea, small cups, with a lot of sugar. Sometimes I got black sugarless tea, which was felt to be strange and for poor people who could not afford Milk and sugar.

If any group would like to support any of the youth programme or projects in Maraland do speak to me, I said I would pass on their requests, but promised nothing. Development of music for the churches is important to them and they have a number of ongoing projects which they need to prioritise before deciding how to go ahead.

I was disappointed I did not get to stay the whole time at the youth Conference or do any training, but was privileged to preach at so many services and have chance for informal conversations with many about different ways of doing things. Staying in Aizawl for two nights on our way back was good, but I was not permitted to go to church as it would be Presbyterian or at one stage could have been a combined Congregational Church and Evangelical Church of Maraland? I moved on to stay with a friend I had shared a room with who is not a minister in the Church of North India in Nagpur right in the centre of India. He we good to me and took me to see lots including a Buddhist temple and a Hindu temple. He was concerned as a political party was in town who were opposed to Christians and where campaigning for the next national elections. There has been a lot of persecution of Christians in Orissa and a peace organisation suggested it was because of the increase in status for the lowest cast as they become Christian and now numbers are becoming a threat.

I had the chance to reach at the Hospital Chapel once and lead a bible study with a youth group at the church. The weather here was a lot hotter and the curries were too. Sunil has connections with a hospital which is trying to provide extra support to those marginalised in society and they try to provide an after care service and some community clinics. At the back of where he stays there is a project working with street children and those in trouble by providing a work training programme and getting them set up on completion. They have a night shelter and do lots of work with those who pick litter from the streets and use what they can find , helping them with more hygienic ways of benefiting from this project. They are keen to have a social impact on their community and had a large fund raising event whilst I was there. (I have more details if you would like to know.)

If would like me to come and tell your group about me experience let me know. I can make it as interactive as you would like and tailor it for your needs. I do have a few items to show. I can also talk about my time in Nigeria and Fiji. Thanks again for all your prayers as I complete my final term at college on 4th July 2009