During April we’re focusing on being sensitive to God’s leading. Please click the Prayer tab above to read our strategic prayer request for this month.
By Todd Owen
The garamut drum is hewn from tropical hardwood. Most are four to six feet long and stand two to three feet tall. They are sounded by striking them with a staff hewn from the same tree as the drum. These amazing instruments can be found in most Somau Garia villages.
Though their origin precedes collective memory of the Somau Garia people, they are a common part of Garia life. For example, when someone dies, a leader will take the staff in hand and sound a certain pattern, calling the community together to grieve. At other times they are used to call people to traditional dances called sing sings. They are also used to convene village court. My favorite use is to call the community to worship. The echoes of these magnificent drums resonate through the mountain valleys for miles.
When we first moved to Uria Village there was no garamut. Some years earlier the craftsman who had made their garamut had moved and taken the drum with him. In our early years community leaders decided that one should be made for use by the Somau Garia Translation, Literacy, and Awareness Committee. Its main purpose would be to call the translation committee together to work—sometimes rough drafting, sometimes holding worship services for the villagers, sometimes to call folks to public readings of Scripture portions that had been worked on (for the purpose of comprehension checking).
Many of the translators come and go from Uria Village, and so the local church has stewardship of the committee’s garamut. It is located where the church meets. Those looking after the drum also look after those for whom it was made. They often host, feed, or assist the translation committee with various needs: fund-raising, hosting events like Easter Bible Camp or checking the clarity of the translated text with villagers who had not participated in the translation process. Church youth groups often help us (the missionaries) cut grass, clean the community area, or carry supplies in from the main road.
It can be quite exciting when the garamut is being sounded. The drum is more felt than heard. Each strike of the staff against the flank of the drum resonates in the body of anyone standing near. Likewise, each sound of the Good News in the Somau Garia language resonates in the soul of anyone with ears to hear. Please pray that each one hearing will be sensitive to the calling and wooing of the Holy Spirit . . . to come and commune with Jesus.
Todd and his family are currently serving in the US.