Saturday, August 29, 2009

Africa - {Part 2}

Lets see, I think I left off at the end of the Pastor's Conference, which was a Friday. The next day, Saturday, was the first day of Open Air Meetings. I was nervous, very nervous. Megan and I were volunteered (or as my dad says, voluntold), to do the singing for our team, and to run the children's program also. The children's program is very important, because if there is a lot of children at the front of the truck than none of the men will come, they will think it is for children.

This is what the meeting looks like

My team consisted of 12 American members, and about 50 of the Pastor's and their wives. I loved my team! All of them, I got to know each one of them and it was amazing how each of us had our own strengths and talents that God brought together for His purpose.

Back to the meeting; when we got the village we unloaded and started setting up. Now over the course of the past week I thought I had gotten used to the poverty and dirt, but this village was a whole new level. And I have to admit that I was shocked and a little put-off at first, I'm ashamed of it now, but my first thought was about myself and whether I was safe, from disease and such. God quickly rebuked my spirit and I was able to focus on what was really important. We were supposed to have the children's program during the big meeting, but we had sooooo many village kids as we were setting up that we went ahead and started. We had at least 120 kids, we sang some songs, taught them 'Jesus Loves Me', and gave the salvation message. Most of the kids raised their hands and prayed the Sinners Prayer. It was amazing.

After Brent, our team leader, started calling people to come listen, Megan and I climbed up on the back of the pickup and sang. I have to tell you, I was really nervous......I had never sang in front of people like that before, complete strangers in a different country at that. But the Lord was gracious and we did a pretty good job, I think. We sang 3 songs; This is the Day, All in All, and the Zeal of God (in English and Swahili). The rest of the meeting went well, I don't remember exactly how many salvation's we had, but there were many.

The second day of open air meetings I will remember forever........It was the day that I was stretched, pulled, and pretty much thrown of my box by God. At the morning meeting I was not feeling well, but sang and helped Megan anyway.

That afternoon we set up for our second meeting at a public beach. When we pulled up I was like, 'Are you serious???? God, you don't really expect me to do this, do You???'

The beach

There were at least 3,000 people there, all different nationalities and religions. There were white people, Muslims, and so many black faces. The whole time we were setting up I was trying to think of reasons not to go up there and sing. Two of the African pastor's sang this amazing song, with harmonies, clapping, and dancing.......then, Brent says, "Now please welcome two ladies who have come all the way from America to sing for you."

That did it......if I was not completely terrified before, I certainly was then. I don't really remember climbing up the steps to the back of the truck, but suddenly was up there. I felt like was by my-self, completely vulnerable, with thousands of people staring at me.....waiting. Megan started singing, and I followed, my knees shaking and my voice breaking more than once. Than it was over, done, and Tate was up there giving his testimony like nothing happened. I was completely drained, but at the same time felt like I could do anything. I mean, what could be worse than what I just did?
We were able to get back to the resort earlier that day, and I remember just being on this high, like I could conquer the world, it was pretty awesome.
The third, and last day of open air meetings, was pretty relaxed. The Pastor's got to do everything, so we just watched :). That was so much fun! They did all the preaching, teaching, singing, and giving testimonies. And they did it just as good, or even better than we did. They have so much passion and really inspired me.
Monday night we all went back to the high school, where the conference was held, and gave all of the Pastor's and their wives a certificate saying they completed the conference, a RSI pin, and a set of tapes with the teachings from the conference, (the infamous tapes :P).
Than we had a worship/celebration service, it was amazing, incredible, awesome, inspiring, emotional....I'm running out of words, but you get the idea. If I could go back and relive just one experience from the trip it would probably be that night, probably.
Thats about it for now, more to come :).
be free

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Africa {part 1}

Where do I start?
It is not that I have forgotten anything, on the contrary, I have so many memories that I do not know where to begin.

I left on Thursday, July 30th, and met up with my other 35 team members. Some at the OKC airport, and others at Dulles, Washington DC. We traveled for two days, and it felt like it. Time did NOT fly, I got so bored on those planes. I did enjoy the actual traveling part; getting stamps in my passport, walking through the airports with purpose, and of course taking off :). We were delayed some along the way, so we did not arrive in Mombasa, Kenya until 2 a.m. local time, Saturday August 1st. At that point I was so exhausted that I didn't even really 'see' where I was, or notice my surroundings at all. Megan and I just got our room key and fell into bed. Were we in for a surprise the next morning........

I woke up to the sound of the waves breaking on the shore, and thought for sure that I was dreaming, and when I opened my curtains....I KNEW that I was dreaming. The ocean was right outside our door!!! And it was a beautiful ocean, different shades of gorgeous blue, white sands, puffy white clouds in the sky. It was perfect, I asked Megan if we were in the right place, if this was a mission trip?!?!?

My view :)

The next two days the team had meetings and organized things for the Pastor's conference, of course it wasn't all work :). Took some walks on the beach, swam in the AMAZING pool, and played some basketball. But before you all sign up for next year let me tell you that it was about to get REALLY intense........

Monday we started registering 250 pastors plus their wives. That was fun, I helped write out name tags, and really enjoyed meeting these men and women. They were so friendly, and just happy to be there. After they were registered we all gathered in the auditorium and had a worship service. And I mean WORSHIP!!! It was mind blowing, their singing, their faces, their joy, their prayers, everything......I could barely take it all in, well I couldn't take it all in. I remember sitting in the back of the bus on the way back, completely overwhelmed by all that I had just experienced. What I didn't know, was that it was just beginning.

That night Megan, Sarah and I stayed up pretty late writing out our testimonies for the next day. Three days of the conference the young people went to a different school and talked to the kids. Tuesday was the first day, which just happened to be my birthday, and I was sooooo nervous. I had a relatively easy thing to talk about, forgiveness, but I was scared. I think it was just fear of the unknown, here I was in a different country, on my bday, away from my family, with strangers, about to get up in front of 80 kids, having to talk through an interpreter, not knowing if they would 'get' what I was saying or not. God is good, and I survived. And I learned a lesson, its not all about me. It wasn't about me saying some profound, life-changing words. It is about those kids knowing the love of Jesus, and experiencing it in their lives.

On Thursday I didn't go out with everyone else, I stayed at the conference to help tape the teaching sessions, (and the whole taping/duplicating process is a WHOLE other story, ask me about it got pretty crazy lol). Anyway, I stayed, and had a blast playing with some of the Pastor's kids. They were SO much fun, and I was just struck by how kids from Africa are no different than kids from America.

This is Joseph, Mary, and Shalom

Friday was the last day of the conference, I really enjoyed seeing those Pastor's everyday, and don't tell them, but I had a few favorites :)

I'm going to save the rest for another post, so check back. I'll try to post at least every week until the whole 'story' is told.

be free