Monday, April 24, 2006

Iguana hunting

Iguana hunting isn’t the most common way to build a youth group, but down here, you never know what will bring people together. Last week as I was working at home, I heard a crowd of guys in front of our house. I went out to see who it was and recognized a couple of them kids I knew from town. I asked them what they were up to and they told me that they were hunting iguanas (illegal but a traditional source of food in the Afro-Caribbean diet). The showed me what they were hunting them with…sling-shots made from tree branches and rubber straps. These guys had pretty good aim, too. They had already bagged one and were on the hunt for a second one. We figured that all the hunting would give them quite an appetite so Amy suggested that I invite them back to the house when they were done to help us finish off a giant pot of soup (iguana free) that she had cooked the night before. I followed them down the road towards the river and gave them the invitation to come eat lunch whenever they finished hunting. Teenagers are teenagers no matter the culture or the part of the world, so they all accepted, decided they were done hunting and came to the house right away. We spent the next two hours hanging out with five, then six teenagers as they downed every bit of soup, bread and cookies that came their way. We had a blast getting to know them a little better and they really seemed to enjoy hanging with the gringos.

These kinds of times are essential to what we’re trying to do down here. One thing that I have come to understand is how much effort and time it takes to gain the trust of these guys. I think that many of the people in the Afro-Caribbean culture, while seeming to be very outgoing and at times, “in your face”, are actually pretty shy when it comes to interactions that are outside of their control. For example, some of the guys can be pretty boisterous and rowdy out in the water or wandering around town in a pack, but get them in a different situation, say in front of a visiting mission group, and they will either run (literally) or try to fade into the background. I think they feel like they’re on display…like a curio in a museum. I can’t say I blame them for wanting to get out of situations that are uncomfortable…I often want to do the same. I just hope that as we do small things, like feed the troops while they’re hunting iguana, we gain their trust and friendship as individuals and eventually as a team. I know these guys are going to be spending quite a bit of time at the skate-park but for now, these small times are what builds relationships and gives us opportunities to tell them about Jesus and show the that he cares about them. You won’t find it mentioned in “The Purpose Driven Youth Group”, but iguana hunting may just be the world’s most over-looked strategy for getting a group of teenagers together.


Geppapa said...

iguanas are nasty, dude. hope all is well there in cr!!

Bryon Mondok said...

Next time I'm down, I want some iguana!

MZelov said...

Hey Barret...Just found this weblog stuff you got going on..Great opportunity to minister to the 'hunters'. Sounds like youve got some momentum in getting in with the locals...Blessings only..Z