I’m so excited about the new addition to our property, I just had to share it with you all. Look at my fantastic new insaka! What’s an insaka, you ask? This thing. I’ve never been able to figure out its official translation – gazebo-ish thing, short walled cooking shelter, small circular structure. Now that you've seen it, I'll let you describe it in your own words. Most people have insaka-s. They are primarily used for cooking as people prefer to keep their homes free of smoke, especially if they are using firewood. Entrenched in our American-ness when it comes to food prep, we have a room inside our house dedicated to food storage, supplies and cooking prep, and so a cooking insaka has never really been our thing.
But insaka-s can also be used as meeting spaces. I’ve had a dream in my heart ever since becoming pregnant with Bronwyn that I would like an insaka near our well in order to meet with women and provide mothering/friendly/spiritual support to them. After attending MOPS at our church in Ithaca while on maternity leave, I was all the more inspired – African MOPS, I wondered, could I possibly get that to translate to this place and these ladies? I talked about it a lot with Jeremy. He spurred more thinking. I picked out a name – tulelya bwino – we are eating well – and I solidified my idea of meeting regularly to learn one cooking tip and one Godly-parenting principle. The theme I wanted to weave throughout was – “Man does not live by nshima alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
I’ve been talking for months. Let’s make this happen, I’d say! So start, Jeremy would say! But the picture in my mind always had us gathering in a nice big insaka in our front yard, close to the well, in a relaxed, community based environment. For months I’ve been ragging on dear husband to put the insaka at the top of the project list and yet there was always something “more important” that took priority. And yes, we got in some fights about it. But because the man loves me and loves to see my visions come to pass, ALL OF A SUDDEN he organized the stuffs and the peoples and voila – look at the beaut.
|Steven and Mwaba requested specifically to be my models. Such studs.|
All of a sudden I was very excited... and very scared. This dream of mine just got real, and now I had to make it happen. A bazillion fears ran through my mind, “what if no one wants to come or what if I’m boring or too intellectual or not funny or, or, or.” And I kept coaching myself. Don’t punk out because you are scared Bethany. Remember angels in the outfield? Build it and they will come? Here’s your insaka. Just try. And try I did. I so badly, from the bottom of my gut, wanted this idea to take off and see mothers transformed and children thrive and communities renewed and, and, and. Still, I need to leave all the results based “stuff” in God’s hands and simply invite. Cook the soy beans, gather some paper and crayons, and do life with the mamas. Because that’s what the insaka culture is all about – this is where life happens – bodily nourishment and soul nourishment.
So two weeks ago, I jumped in feet first. I advertised, I made signs. I prepared a lesson and I watched my clock with in butterflies in my stomach, waiting for the thing to start.
As ladies arrived, we started with learning how to make roasted soy beans and soy flour. We talked about the nutritional benefits of soy and the benefits of snacking on soy beans and increasing protein content of nshima with the flour. And then after eating the food, we transitioned to eating the real food. We read scripture and talked about the good life and why every word from the mouth of God is necessary to be truly satisfied.
And because women's ministry seems to be synonymous with craftiness, we drew pictures. (as a side note - I do not understand WHAT. SO. EVER. why women's min and diy are one in the same. Maybe I'm missing a key feminine ingredient because I have zero interest in artsy anything... but, I can function outside my comfort zone, so we were artsy anyhow.***see endnote***) We drew pictures to help ourselves remember what we had learned and to help us pass those truths on to little ones in our households.
And you know what - it was fun. It was special and beautiful and everyone is excited to do it again soon. And - my heart is happy. You see, I get really nervous when it comes to starting things. Jeremy is the initiator in the family - he will try anything and start anything and just go for it without fear of failure. Its a part of his wiring, and honestly, it sometimes drives me nuts how good he is at it. I on the other hand prefer to be the sustainer. Once the hard work of starting is already complete, I rock at coming along side the slow moving ball and helping it gain momentum until it thrives on its own. This is one of the few things that I have taken ownership of since its inception. My borders are enlarging and I feel outside of my realm of expertise and I'm in that uncomfortable space where personal growth happens.
My one prayer is, may this gig last as long as the Lord desires it to, and for however long that is, may the ladies who gather know Jesus better as a result of having come.
And now for my end note. *** Because I am missing the crafty/DIY/women's min gene, I'm asking for help from my sisters out there. If anyone has ideas or suggestions for creative ways to link simple Bible stories or simple Bible principles with super-low-resource-craftyness, PLEASE TEACH ME YOUR WAYS. Or, to broaden it even more, if you are a MOPS mom or a women's min guru and have figured out ways to speak to women's heart's via this craftycraft avenue, again, PLEASE SHARE YOUR WISDOM. I'm willing to learn. And my neighbor ladies deserve the best - and I have a feeling, some of ya'll truly are the best! So don't me shy, TALK TO ME! I have hunch we can't just color pictures of nshima and crosses forever.