Last week we had a rather significant meeting taking place at out place. In order to get the official documents for the property where we live, and also the Falconers, we had to have a community meeting to get the official tick of approval.
I’m not sure what would have happened if it went pear shaped, but considering how other things have gone over the years we’ve been here we weren’t prepared to find out. So, we sat down and discussed the situation with some locals and they recommended who should be there… in the end we had about 22 people there, but the key people were the chiefs of various levels. We are on good terms with our local village chief but it was recommended that we also invite the big chief who has responsibility for a number of villages in the area (theres one other above him in the district).
We went to find this guy and invite him to the meeting and let him know who we are – up until this point Scott nor I had properly met him… we had met him and funerals and the like but not to sit down and chat on invitation at our place. And he let us know! He played the big chief card and gave us a hard time about not inviting him to our house and him not knowing who we are… We didn’t really know it was the done thing!
We left that small meeting thinking that we had a difficult person on our hands and we didn’t really know what he was going to say in front of everybody. Was he going to be in favour or stir up trouble to be seen as the big man with the power… not out of the question.
After more discussions we decided it would be wise to find him two days later and give him some money as a retainer for attending in official capacity the following day. We eventually found him at his second wifes home in our home village… with a very sick motorbike. Scott and myself exchanged sideways glances and suggested that he bring it to our place and we can try and fixit together as we have tools etc…
We ended working together all afternoon and then Scott and myself until 10pm that night trying to fix the flimsiest of Chinese motorbikes… not really having much of a clue.
The next day we had the big meeting that, for many other side reasons, was a bit of a roller coster ride. But the moment that was the big surprise was when the big chief was asked for his opinion, really the only one that mattered as no one would really disagree with him. He went on to give a glowing report of who we are and the activities we are involved in – essentially saying everything we had told him the day of our first meeting when he was tersely grilling us!
After the meeting we continued to fix his motorbike and eventually got it running that afternoon – as well as doing some welding and small repairs on other motorbikes for other men who had attended the meeting. We had about 5 motorbikes and a whole bunch of blokes all hanging our and working together into the late afternoon. It was pretty much a cross cultural mens shed! Our big chief rode off in a cloud of white smoke, (still needs a new piston and rings :-)) absolutely stoked.
We’ve come across him a few times since and it seems we have a new best mate, plus others who we hung out with and worked along side with that day have become better friends and contacts. There has been a steady stream of blokes needing help with their motorbikes or even welding up leaf springs for a truck! Whether its Australia or Mozambique these nothing like working alongside other blokes to form and strengthen relationships
Great blog, Cam! I loved the very relational way you all are engaging with people around you. As someone noted to me recently, it is ‘friendship first’ and then allow God to work in the situation.
On yer Cam… all part of the faith journey I reckon… we continue to pray for you all
Drew & Kay