Saturday, October 16, 2010
Dada Be and the Flashlight
The wizened old man, hunched over with age, crouches beside me to eat the scrumptious meal of rice and beans. The beans were a treat – we brought them from town. It’s not the season for them up in the mountains. “Dada be likes the beans!” His daughter announces happily. Dada be is the general term for grandfather. I am caught up in a conversation with her until movement on my right catches my eye.
It’s Dada be. He has discovered my flashlight, but can’t for the life of him figure out how to turn it on! I lean towards him and show him the trick. Suddenly beams of light off and on, off and on, illuminate his daughters face. *chuckle* Turning to talk with him, his daughter informs me that he is nearly deaf. We have somewhat of a conversation with me repeating things multiple times until I am loud enough, but always he returns my efforts with an infectious, nearly-toothless grin. :D
His sweet daughter cooked for us last time we came to this village, to assess it. This time we ate at their home again in order to continue the relationship. After our meal, on the way back to the tent, I tell Heather, “I really like Dada be – he’s adorable!”
The next morning we sit in front of the fire eating the cassava prepared for us. Hanging over the pot is a piece of zebu fat. Others have told us that they keep it there to season their rice with, but Dada be has another reason. “He uses it to heal broken bones,” his daughter informs us. “Dada be knows ahead of time when people are on their way for healing. He gets a fever, has to stay in bed, and sees them coming.” Answering my query about how he heals them when they get there, “He puts saliva and zebu fat on the area and then holds it over the fire and prays to God and the ancestors. He got this tradition from his father, and he will pass it to another before he dies. The power of the healer is passed down by prayer.”
In another village, a man stops me before I have finished the first part of my teaching. “You say that some things can harm the baby in utero (such as the mother drinking alcohol), but the father can harm the baby, too.” How so, I ask him. “You see, if a man with a pregnant wife is in the field and his hoe gets split down the middle and he continues to use it, his child will be born with a hairlip. And if he has certain things in his pockets and he puts his hands down in them, the baby will have twelve fingers.”
These mountains are filled with superstitions, taboos, and belief in the ancestors’ power in daily activities. Their eyes have been blinded to the truth. And they are hungry for spiritual teaching. A couple days ago a chief asked us to please always teach spiritual lessons with our medical ones, as we have been doing, for that is what they need. We pray that God will open their eyes to discern the Truth of God’s Word. We pray that as they learn about Who God is, they will accept Him and worship Him alone!