Last Tuesday at the invitation of ‘John’, our home owner, we visited Gar, a village we had never before been to. Gar sits just outside our city and is only a few minutes away by car.
When we entered John’s family compound, we were welcomed by all and immediately given a platter of freshly roasted goat and sheep. I always pray that God will do two things when I find myself in situations like that: 1. That God will help me to swallow the food I eat, and not throw it back up and 2. That I won’t get Montezuma’s revenge from eating raw and undercooked foods.
After a short visit with John’s family, we were escorted to a large compound beside the mosque where all the men sat ready to share a meal. I asked where the women were, to which John replied, “This gathering is only for the men of the village.” A boy brought us two of the four available chairs on which to sit. I felt very uncomfortable and, taking the seat given to me, I pulled it back away from the men to indicate that I wanted to honor them by not joining their group. John told me I must sit and eat with them, and after trying to refuse several times, I accepted. I didn’t want to offend our host by refusing his hospitality.
Maffe tiga, a traditional dish of rice and peanut sauce was served. John, another man, David, and I sat on the ground around a common bowl and ate with our hands. John asked if we needed spoons since he knew we usually don’t eat with our hands. “We brought spoons with us,” we said as we held up our right hands, cupped like a spoon. Everyone laughed and settled down to dig in.
When we finished eating, the same boy who brought us chairs brought us soap and water to wash our hands. I sat back to watch the men. It seemed like a holiday gathering in the States. Everyone talked, laughed, reflected on who built a new home, who moved away, and who died. Some younger men snuck around to the side of the house to smoke cigarettes. We sat just in front of a large, new hut and John said we would stay there the next time we come to visit the village overnight. We agreed.
We waited for the men to cut up and parcel out the goat that was sacrificed that morning. I watched ladies carry water from the well on their heads, chickens ran here and there, a rooster crowed, and children gawked at the two white visitors. At one point an elderly lady tied up a bundle of food left over from what the men had eaten, put it on her head and walked out of the compound. She probably took it to ladies gathered in another home. I was sad that the elderly woman looked so tired and that the other ladies would only get the men’s leftovers.
After our meal, we returned to John’s family compound to eat a second serving of maffe tiga and fresh oranges. The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting John’s family, with a special trip to his mom’s house. We gifted her with what we call “the deluxe tea set;” a box of tea, a bag of sugar, and a can of milk.
We never had the chance to give out our New Testaments to the mosque leader or John’s family, although we were able to give John two copies, one for himself and one for his father.
Each home we visited gifted us with food, which I was able to share with our neighbors when we returned home. Our neighbors were friendly and accepted my gifts of food, although since my Pular is still lacking, one neighbor thought I worked for the electric company and couldn’t figure out what I was doing giving her food, and what she should do with it. The other thought I was asking her to make me dinner. I was able to get a third neighbor to understand and she went to the others and explained!
Pray that we’ll get back to the village and be able to share more. Praise God for helping us to get all the food down!