Cross-Country Biking

Suzy & Fidel Baldwin-Noutehou September 10 2000, 8:23 pm

“We have found a language helper for you guys,” Linden told us. “She is Ditammari, speaks French, and can read and write Ditammari.” Just the person Uli and I were looking for! We threw our bikes in the back of Linden’s truck and off we went to meet this lady and see what we could learn.

When we got there, Linden pointed us in the correct direction. We pushed our bikes up a narrow, red dirt path toward this lady’s house. It was very quiet. All around us were dark, rich fields, which had been tilled by hand and mounded in anticipation of the rains. Next to a very large tata (house) was a big mango tree with some pigs tied to its roots.

At the door of the house, a lady with a very tiny baby strapped to her back greeted us. An old grandma was also there with two more little children. The grandma came out with a small basket cage and let a hen and her 10 little fluffy chicks out to forage.

The lady with the baby invited us to sit on a mat under another big tree. We chatted with her for a little while, trying to explain what we needed while she tried to find out how much Ditammari we already knew. After a couple of hours of study and chatting, we said our good-byes, pushed our bikes out to the red sandy road, and took off on the 25 kilometer ride back home.

We have done this trip twice now by bike. The countryside is beautiful this time of the year. It is rainy season and everything is green. The fields are all growing up nicely, and the birds sing their way from treetop to treetop. Our teacher’s village is in the Atacora mountains so the roads are very hilly. The trip home seems to be more up than down.

On our second trip, we stopped at a little waterfall which Linden had pointed out on our way there that morning. We hauled our bikes into the bush and “bushwhacked” our way toward the sound of the waterfall. When we got there, we saw a beautiful little waterfall splashing into a pool with an island in the middle—just the place to eat lunch. (Thanks, Adam Kis, for finding it.) It was a nice place to rest after an intense three hours of Ditammari study and to catch our breath for another hour and a half more of uphill biking. (Mind you, these bikes only have one gear!)

It is a blessing to be out in the countryside after being in the city most of the time. To just stop, listen, and hear silence instead of people talking, yelling, and children crying. To hear the wind blowing through the tall grass and see the trees and to hear the birds. To look out over the valley and see the countryside covered with green trees and grass with an occasional tata here and there surrounded by small fields of maïs or ingnam. We ride past an occasional village along the road and wave at the children who are weeding the fields. I thank God for the opportunity of finding someone who lives in such a beautiful setting to help us with language learning and answer our questions.

Most of these villages have yet to hear the name of Jesus, the One who came to save them. Imagine, with me, a church in each village where groups meet to praise the Maker of heaven and earth. Imagine healthy villagers with correct nutrition and the knowledge to help themselves stay well. Imagine a people with the peace of God written on their faces. But where are the reapers? Jesus said in Luke 10:2 “…Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

I ask that you not cease to pray for God to send workers to be trained and to carry his gospel to these villages and others. Also pray for us as we plan and study how to best reach each village with information that will improve the people’s health. Lastly, pray for us as we continue to learn their language. I want to thank each one of you for your support financially, in prayer, and for your letters. Your prayers determine whether God’s work goes forward or not. Satan will do all he can to discourage new believers and distract them from what is important.