Saturday, August 04, 2007

South Africa!

Okay, so this is a long post, but if it wasn’t, the post about my South Africa trip would be boring and nondescript. So here it is! :0) There are pictures for any of you who don’t like reading. Although I can’t take credit for most of them. I borrowed a lot. (Mainly thanks to Kim and Wes.)

Well, (I feel like I start off every blog with “well”) anyway, I think it is about time I write about the missions trip to South Africa that I went on. It was definitely the best mission’s trip I have ever been on. It was a combination of many things really.

For one thing, our team got along so well, which was funny because we were a pretty diverse group. We had Jeremy, my cousin, a man’s man kind of guy I guess you could say. Very outdoorsy, works with his hands, competitive.
Then there was Patty. One of the most godly, encouraging people I have ever met. In Galatians, where it tells us to let the Word richly dwell within us so that we sing songs, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in our hearts to God….that describes her. She has a ton of Scripture memorized and she is always thanking God for something and she tells almost everyone she meets about Jesus.
There was Justin…one of the guys from UCLA. He is just funny. Jolly is the right word actually. He has a million different laughs. I think if anyone was feeling down on the trip at any point, they could have just gone to Justin and he could have cheered them up.

We also had Wesley…or Wes. I used both…depended on what he was doing. He knew when to be serious and when to have fun and liked to keep peace on the team. He also goes to UCLA and studies molecular biology…he could tell us all about deadly viruses…he and Justin together cracked me up.
There was Chandra. She just graduated from UCLA as an art major. Chandra I think, can do just about anything…rock climbing, painting, sports, you name it. She also was just faithful to serve anyone in whatever way she could.

There was bubbly Michelle, who was also faithful to serve anyone in anyway, very cheerfully. She just sees what needs to be done and does it…and she can be friends with anyone.

We had Ben…as we described him…corny weird…but seriously…he was great at leading us all in worship with his guitar. He’s just a very sincere guy and very informative about South Africa, since he had been living there a few months before.

Then there was our fearless leader Chris. He really did seem fearless…nothing seemed to faze him…even when he knocked out one of the other guys on our team in a wrestling match. :0) He’s only 24, and it was his first missions trip to lead, and he did a very good job…preaching on the fly, not complaining, and reminding us faithfully of our purpose in being there.

Then of course there was Emily. What can I say about my sister? She went with a broken ankle and was amazing. She never complained that I heard of, and yet she wasn’t able to do the stuff she loves…hiking, sports. But she was able to do the important things like encourage the people she met with her words.

Then of course there was Jesse Johnson. He was only able to be there for the beginning of our trip…which I think was fine with him, since his wife, Deidre, wasn’t able to go. But he taught at the retreat for Cornerstone…the young adult group from the church. Very convicting and encouraging sermons. God really used him to make me think about what I have been living for at home. He reminded us of the fact that if we are not living for Christ, than whatever else we are pursuing is worthless. We were sad to see him leave!

Wow, well I wasn’t planning on writing that much about the team, but I couldn’t help it. One of the saddest things about coming home was the fact that we had to all split up. Anyway, another reason why I loved our trip was because of the people in Cornerstone. They were all so friendly and open with us. It helped having the retreat at the beginning because we were able to get to know each other. Near the end, one of the girls in the group, Jen, and I were talking about how we both felt like our team was a part of the church. We all just loved hanging out together and were able to have so many great conversations. This also made it really hard to leave at the end of the two and a half weeks.

Yeah, so first we went to the retreat for three days. It was kind of in the mountains, kind of the wilderness. This was where I saw trees that really made me realize that I was in Africa! They were like the trees you see in The Lion King! We wanted to make the retreat be like a mini Resolved. So Jesse opened up each message with a little bit about Jonathan Edwards. I liked the podium Jesse used. A laundry basket on top of a chair.
Most of the group is saved and just as encouraging to me as I could have been to them, but the main Christian friends they have are at their church. While we were on retreat we got to go on a beautiful, three and a half hour hike, past croc infested waters and by a waterfall. I really love that kind of hiking for some reason…up rocks and through the woods…not serious rock climbing, but fun hiking.

It was so cold at night there! Remember, South African winter. We were in a stone wall cabin with no heating, obviously…and there were these hole/window things along the top of the walls with little flaps that covered them in the night. I have a really lame sleeping bag and the zipper broke. I was wearing multiple layers but I only had one pair of pajama pants…so my bum (as the South Africans would say) was freezing more than anything else. It was really weird…I had to wrap my towel around my waist to keep it warm. Haha. We didn’t sleep too well the first night, but thankfully it got warmer the last two nights.
The Cornerstone group taught us this game called one clap. It’s a little bit like Pig in basketball. You stand in a circle and toss a rugby ball back and forth. You have to anticipate whether or not a person is going to throw the ball at you and you can fake once. You have to clap before you catch the ball or you get a P. But, if you clap and the person wasn’t throwing the ball to you than you get a P. You’re obviously out once you spell PIG. It was so much fun…we played it so much during retreat.

When retreat was over we all went back to Hillcrest (the real city we were in…about a half hour to 45 minutes from Durban). Some nights we just spent time with our host families…some nights we hung out at the Archer’s with Clint and Kim and Noah! And sometimes the Cornerstone group too! We had a couple of Mafia nights which were pretty fun with so many people. The night we got back to Hillcrest we went to this giant three story mall and played Putt-Putt. There is a really cool girl named Liz from Australia who moved to South Africa not too long ago and she had us all over to her place for a braii (a South African barbecue) and they taught us how to play cricket! So fun.

It was just great to see how everything is going so well at Hillcrest Baptist Church….that the people love the Archer’s and that they have such a fun young adult group. It was so fun seeing Kerry Drew too!
Near the middle/end of the trip our team went to a place called Hope Valley. It was only an hour away from the Archer’s but it felt like hours away because it looked so different. Nothing but sugar cane fields everywhere you looked. It was beautiful…especially during sunset. We watched the sunset one night from a little hill at the place we were staying. We sat there for about an hour…not even talking really. Just watching.
The Zulu people live there in the valley and there was a little school where a lot of the kids go. Two Christian couples live at the place we were staying at. There are cabins and it is often used to host retreats. There is a church there and the pastor and his wife are Zulu. At night they have choir practice and a Bible study. The first night we got there we went up to the little church (very little…a small little room) and we heard people singing on the way. When we came inside we sat down on some chairs and the choir was right in front of us. They were singing really loud, it was amazing! No instruments but they had perfect pitch…they were harmonizing…it just sounded beautiful! They were all barefoot with short hair…as I was sitting there I was just thinking how different their way of life is than mine. And here they were, all the way in South Africa, singing hymns to the same, amazing God that I sing too. He cares about us all. It reminded me of a couple of verses in Revelation. It’s Revelation 7:9-12. After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Anyway, I am really looking forward to that. I think it will be so cool, and it was exciting to experience of a bit of that right now.

We wound up doing a kind of Vacation Bible School with the kids at the school. We gave a little message in the morning or a skit and then split the kids up into two groups. One did games and the other did crafts and then they switched. We couldn’t understand each other (thankfully we had a translator for stuff like the skit and message) but we still had so much fun with the kids. Some of the older kids did actually speak a little English. That was in the mornings. In the afternoon, when school ended…a bunch of the kids ran up to where we were staying and hung out with us.

At nights we made a fire and hung out with the teenagers. Most of them could speak some English and we taught them the one clap game.

The last day we were with the kids they and their teachers showed us how they dance. We all got in a large circle and they sang and beat this drum and people took turns going in the circle and dancing. They even had some of us go in. It lasted for about an hour! It was so much fun! I just loved our time there!

So I could go on and on forever with this post, but no one would read it I’m sure. Like I said, really the rest of the time there we just spent time with the church, especially the Cornerstone group and the Archers. The last night was especially fun. We held an American pancake dinner at the Archer’s and invited the whole church. We made a ton of pancakes and had so much fun chatting with all the people.

The Cornerstone group stayed the latest and said their good-byes. That is when we realized how close we had all become. I feel like I am sounding so corny right now, but it was true!

The next day we were very sad as we left for our very long flight home, but very thankful that God had blessed us with such a wonderful trip!

! It seemed like the theme of the trip for me was that life is about God’s glory and not about me. I just feel that not working this summer I have just been very complacent and self-focused and I am grateful that God got me out of here for awhile and taught me new things about Him!

1 comment:

tandnpickard said...

It is so good to hear about your trip and how God used you and worked in you. I have been so blessed to see how God has grown you over the years. I can't wait to talk to you and catch up more.


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