Dong! Dong! Dong!

Dong! Dong! Dong!

The sound of the big stone Mulenga is using as it hits the nails into the ground. With his strength, I know the tragedy of my tent flying away will not happen again. I am so glad that we brought this teenage disciple along on our trip to the village for an outreach. Apart from physical assistance, Mulenga was our translator, kids’ ministry coordinator (He was the only one with the energy to play with the children after a full programme under the hot sun) and our entertainer when we were bored (performing rap-like songs for us).

Mulenga is one of the young men in our school programme for young people who didn’t get an education when they were children. I still remember Mulenga trying to memorise A – Z with me when I had just joined the team two years ago. Now, he has passed his grade 7 exam. During our trip, he would wake up early to read his Bible. It was extra special for me to see his confidence grow so much that he could translate and add on extra points when we were sharing with the headman. 

Dong! Dong! Dong! 

The sound of that same boy pitching a tent three years ago when I came to Lake Tanganyika as part of an outreach team. We spent the first night in a village with no electricity and a few drops of rain, Mulenga, who was staying at the base, came to fix the tent for us. His English was not the best among the group, but he had the heart to help and learn. With his super strength of carrying up to six buckets at a time, he was our go-to person when we were too tired to get the water up the hill. 

The outreach was intense and involved going to many villages and Mulenga was part of it all. Going with the boat, he was always the one that threw and picked up the anchor. His jokes and mischievous behaviour broke through any language barriers and brought joy along the way. The last night at the Lake, he made up a story that ended with me coming back to serve—which is one of the reasons why I am here today.

Dong! Dong! Dong! 

The sound of my phone vibrating and I receive a photo of Mulenga as a young boy from the missionary that got him into the school programme. He is right next to me and laughs. When the photo was taken, he was one of the most faithful attendees of kids’ ministry in the village. He shared how the first missionary came to the village and people were just observing them, but he was already drawn to the gospel then. 

Dong! Dong! Dong!

The sound of stones hitting the backs of hippos. The village is known for hippos. The first OM missionary who stayed there asked Mulenga—then a young boy—to help him fish and started to invite him to the base, which was just bush at the time. When they started to uproot grass and clear the area, they had the most dangerous animal—hippos—visit them without invitation (Yes, hippos kill more people than lions. They are not innocent and chubby like they are often seen as cartoon characters!). Mulenga, with other boys, threw stones to scare them away. It was scary, but the boys still came to help whenever they could. 

Dong! Dong! Dong! 

The sound of a big thick tree being chopped was the morning alarm for the next missionary family who stayed in the village. By the sound, they knew Mulenga—who was the youngest and the strongest—had come to help. Clearing up and building the training centre at the base was a huge job. It would not finish without the help of the young men. They cut the trees limb-by-limb and placed the bricks one-by-one. 

Dong! Dong! Dong!

That is the sound I imagine of how the boy jumping around during kid’s ministry in the photo grew into a big strong man. He is still childish sometimes and his strength is still his most obvious talent. However, he has grown dramatically from an illiterate fisherman to a bible-reading student, from speaking no English to translating a sermon, from being influenced by witchcraft to sharing the truth with others. God was in every part of the process. In the life of Mulenga some planted the seed, some watered it, some nurtured the seedling and God was the one who made it grow. 

You never know what is happening in the lives you are touching right now, but God finds people to carry on all parts of His work. No missionary can claim to have done all the work themselves and everyone should rejoice together with the great work of God at the end. I am so glad to be part of the life of Mulenga and hope that in all the other young people’s lives I have touched, God will continue to let their spiritual bones grow to fullness in Christ. Dong! Dong! Dong!

Ivy, previously a city girl rushing into the Taipei metro every day, now enjoys walking around beautiful villages at Lake Tanganyika, Zambia. She likes to listen to people's stories and write newsletters (really a rare species). Her dream is to become the shortest giant in the world. 

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