Friday, December 18, 2009

West Africa 2007 - Part 2

To view images of this trip go here to visit Mission Field Images

Rachel: Then What, What???

Dale: Oh, the story. Where was I? Oh, now I remember...

The in country missionary that was to pick me up was delayed by all the construction for the Islamic Summit coming to Dakar in 08. As I’m trying to keep all my luggage secure, my wallet and passport in my pocket and in the midst of the onslaught, I prayed for guidance….yeah, who am I fooling, I was praying GET ME THE HECK OUT OF HERE!!! And then, in the middle of all this chaos, a circle began to open up. The circle grew to about 50 feet in diameter and when I saw the opening, I quickly moved into the center.

Once in the middle, the noise began to decrease and I began to feel an overwhelming sense of peace. Exhausted, disheveled and not knowing what was going to happen next, the lines from an old hymn began to creep into my conscience:

“Under His wings I am safely abiding;Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me;he has redeemed me, and I am His child.”

As soon as I started to hum this old tune, I realized what had just taken place. I knew God had sent me here for a reason and He wouldn’t abandon me now, so I just waited, I just waited in the center of His circle.

It may have been only a few minutes, I’m not quite sure, but soon I saw the other white guy walking around the airport parking lot, I thought…maybe he’s looking for me? So I hollered at him, he smiled and apologized for being late and we were on our way.

Over the next few days the missionaries were getting more and more frustrated in the fact that every village they had planned to take me into was one by one being closed. Having been through this just a few weeks prior, I explained to them to just relax, let God direct us to the villages he wants me in and do not give Satan the satisfaction of defeating our purpose. One of the friends of a missionary who had helped him a few years ago said that he would take us to his village and would allow me to photograph his family. We spent the better part of an afternoon with his family and came away with some pretty nice images, but I could tell that this was going to be a small part of the story.

The more I experience I get with these primitive cultures, one thing always remains the same, Satan’s playbook. From the SaterĂ©-Maue Indians of the Amazon, to the Tarahumara tribes in Mexico, to the Villages of Africa, the spirit world dominates their belief system. Spirits are in the trees, grass, rocks, animals and everything thing else good, evil or unexplainable is related to the spirit world.

Close to the end of my first week there, we went to a village about twelve hours away. We arrived around noon and immediately went to work. I shot until dark and then we went back into town to download my cards and stay the night. At first light we were back in the village, late in the afternoon the missionary asked me if there was anything else I need to capture before we left. I told him I just wanted to sit in the village center and just photograph people doing what they normally do as if I was not even there.

When we came to the center of the village some old men were about to start drinking a round of tea, a group of younger men were playing a card game. The kids were doing what kids do and the women were getting ready for the evening meal. The older men asked us to join them; I positioned myself as to have a great advantage to capture the whole environment from one position. Just a few minutes into the conversation of how the day was going, from behind me a group of people came running and crying as if they had just seen a ghost. The missionary having grown up in this village, turned white and fear filled his eyes. He told me to hide my cameras and just sit still. As I put my cameras in the case, the young men off to my right jumped up and ran out of the village screaming. Then out of my peripheral vision coming towards me I saw….

To be continued…

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