My name is Aga (ah-gah). Greetings from Sichuan (sish-wahn) Province in southwest China. My people, the Nosu (noh-soo), live in small villages perched on the sides of lush, green mountains. Like most homes, mine has mud walls, a wooden door, and a tile roof. Our gardens are nearby and we have a chicken coop in our backyard. My best friend raises pigs instead of chickens.
My father and older brother go out to the pastures every morning with the sheep. Mother works alongside other women in the fields, carrying my baby sister on her back in a cloth sling. We grow corn, potatoes, and leafy plants called buckwheat. Mom is teaching me how to make buckwheat bread. First, we grind the buckwheat seeds into a powder similar to flour. Next we add water to form dough. After shaping the dough we cook the round cakes of bread over an open fire. Roasted potatoes and buckwheat bread make a tasty meal.
After a hard day’s work, we take time in the evening to sit, visit, and listen to legends of long ago. Wrapping his wool cape tightly around him, my grandfather puffs on his long pipe. In a steady voice, he begins … “A long time ago, a strong man from earth beat a strong man from heaven in a wrestling match. The man from heaven sent swarms of locusts to destroy all of our crops, but our people saved our fields by lighting torches to drive them all out!”
We have a yearly festival based on this legend. During the Torch Festival I love wearing my beautiful Nosu costume. My brother enjoys staying up late three nights in a row! After dark, we carry tall, flaming torches and join other families to march around the village. Some villagers place their torches in the corners of our fields to drive away evil spirits who could cause a bad harvest. On the last night of the Torch Festival, we sing and dance around huge bonfires.
Imagine you are joining Aga’s family for the Torch Festival. Wrap and secure red plastic wrap, cellophane, or tissue paper around the top of the flashlight. Attach flashlights to the end of long-handled items (broomsticks, mops, vacuum wands, baseball bats, golf clubs, etc.) with duct tape or string. After dark, turn off the lights in your house. March through all the rooms, carrying your tall torches. Sit in a circle and tell one of your favorite stories by “torchlight”.
- Most Nosu families have never heard about Jesus. They fear powerful spirits that they believe can cause sickness or destroy crops growing in their fields. Pray that Nosu families will learn about the true God who loves them and wants the best for them.
- Many Nosu families cannot read. Pray that global workers will come to their villages and share God’s word through storytelling.