After our time at the leprosy village, we travelled to another remote hillside village. The Yi ethnic minority live in this village and they had never had foreign visitors before. The Yi are one of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, who speak a language very similar to Burmese. But to explain why it was such an exciting visit for us, we have to go back to February in York.
Basically, one February day our leader Jennifer said we were going to ask God to speak to us about a people group we could pray for. Now, I believe God still speaks today (maybe more so through thoughts, nature or events, than in a booming James Earl Jones voice), but I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. I mean, there are 100s of countries in the world, and probably 1000s of people groups! But after some silence, we all shared what had come to our minds. A few people got the word “China” or images of Asians. Others got pictures of terraced fields or random words. After some research, everything people had heard came together with the Yi people group! So, for almost 8 months we’d be learning and praying for these people halfway across the world. And now we were going to actually meet some!
Some of the villagers invited us into their traditional courtyard house for lunch. They’d cooked enough to feed the entire village and then some! There was pig feet, fermented tofu, fermented beans (definitively an acquired taste!), exotic vegetables, chicken feet, something like french fries, enormous buckets of rice and much, much more. Then, after the meal, a beautiful older Yi woman kept giving us handful upon handful of sunflower seeds. When we began to refuse her she switched tactics and began trying to covertly fill our pockets.
After lunch we waddled over to the village church. Even though the majority of Yi are animist, many of these villagers follow Christ. We had planned a little service, including a scripture reading, a drama and then a talk by Dave. Angharad read the scripture in English, then our translator read it in Chinese, and then we realized most of the villagers didn’t even speak Chinese! So the pastor invited an elderly man to come up and read the passage from the Yi Bible. This dear old man, bless him, seem to have only become literate in his 70s and read at a painfully slow pace. The Yi are beautiful people but I have to say their language sounded like a wounded cow. At every pause we would think, “At last, he’s done!” but then he would start up again. I don’t think he stopped reading until he reached the book of Obadiah! Nevertheless, it was a memorable visit and our prayers for the Yi are easier now that we’ve met some!