Tuesday, January 19th - 9:05 am: "Elementary School: 1,147 students...amazing discipline...their eyes are full of hope and joy." We arrived at this school thinking we'd be singing a song or two, hand out a few cd's, share a story, then be on our way...what we walked away with was far more than that. Quite a few of these kids were from the squatter camp just blocks away, yet there was no social distinctions or judgement for the other kids...all got along...all viewed each other as equal. What a beautiful thing to witness...especially by children of such a young age. Kids from 1st to 7th grade all interacting and enjoying each other...their love and acceptance for each other was great....indoor plumbing or not. These children; all 1,147 of them could teach the world a few things about tolerance, joy and love.
Tuesday, January 19th - 10:20 am: "35 men in social captivity living in spiritual freedom." Our second visit to the Joburg Prison was even more fantastic that the first. We were leading a worship service for an entire group of inmates, along with a baptism ceremony. We sang songs, prayed, spoke the Gospel, and over 20 men accepted Christ into their lives. In addition to this, 35 inmates were baptized...each one washed away their sins and displayed publicly in front of all their fellow inmates their outward sign of their new life. Men exited that blue inflatable pool in tears...forever grateful for the change that God had done in their life since commiting the crimes that placed them within those walls to begin with. It was an amazing picture of the redeeming power of Christ. These men walked over to their fellow inmates and hugged each other in this joyous moment. I couldn't help but follow suit and wrap my arms around these men; my brothers; as well.
Tuesday, January 19th - 4:35 pm: "Bruma Open Air Market - These men will haggle you to death." We spent the afternoon at a market doing a little shopping for souveniers for ourselves and our loved ones back home. Very much the same as a Flea Market here...random shops, odd collectibles, no set prices, and shop owners who will tell you anything to make a sale. I tried on a soccer jersey that might have fit tight on a 12 year old...what did the shop owner tell me? "It fits perfectly...it will stretch out a little...you're suppose to wear jersey's tight." Really? Pretty sure the seams would have ripped completely out had I done as little as sneezed. After an hour and a half I think we had all had our fill of the pushy salesman routine, so were are out of there...but not before I found a soccer jersey that fit just right.
Tuesday, January 19th - 8:35 pm: "The freedom of our story." For the past few days I could tell that something was bugging Kellie a bit. Everytime we talked about sharing our testimony to others, she got nervous...there is an anxiety that comes with being vulnerable, open and honest for the world to see. She was wrestling with what she was going to say. Finally, after our nightly devotional, Kellie asked if she could share her story with us. What followed was a joyous freedom that only comes when we allow ourselves to be fully revealed. The words and stories flowed from her heart and were met with our loving ears...and a weight was lifted off her shoulders. There truly is a freedom in Christ...and I think we all saw just that lived out that night.
Tuesday, January 19th - 9:3o pm: "Displayed 'cupping' method." After 2 days of intense curiousity, the 6 guys on the trip finally revealed the meaning behind the term "cupping". The women of the house were at a complete loss everytime one of us metioned this word. They didn't know if it was some sort of sleeping position, bathroom apparatus or simply an inside joke amongst immature men...all I knew is that they were tired of us asking each other "who's cupping next?" The quick story is this: there was not a shower in the downstairs bathroom for the 6 guys..only a bathtub that was a bit too dirty to even contemplate sitting and bathing in. So, to compromise, all us guys decided to simply 'cup' our hands under the bath tub faucet(s), fill them with water, and rinse ourselves clean that way. Thus, the "I haven't showered in 10 days" facebook status update upon my return home. It wasn't a lie...I didn't shower, I 'cupped'. Don't worry, we captured a mock demonstration from the women on video, so hopefully this clip will be on YouTube within the next few days...I'll keep everyone posted. Happy Cupping!
I lazily attempted to keep a running diary of my daily events during our trip to South Africa. What follows below is that lazy attempt. The words in quotes are the actual things I wrote in my journal, followed by a brief description (if necessary) to describe the words I wrote and the significance behind them. Whenever possible, I tried to document the time (local time depending on what time zone I was in) at which these events occurred. Hope that makes at least some sense…enjoy.
Monday, January 18th – 9:15 am: “Men of God in orange jump suits.” Our first full day of ministry took us first to the Johannesburg Correctional Centre. We were to worship with and talk to men serving life sentences in the Maximum Security area of the Joburg Prison. These 50 or so men in this room blew me away…their ability to cry out to God and worship Him in spite of their circumstances was definitely the first of many humbling moments on this trip. Their voices sang out for 35 minutes straight, all singing in unison, harmony and praise to God. Our attempt to follow them with a guitar and 12 voices was near humorous. On top of this, I got to share my story with these men. I wasn’t sure how my journey would be able to reach them and impact them in their current living situation, but God gave me the words to speak to them, and these words had them intrigued. It was a very freeing moment to open up and share all that God has done in my life, in spite of how I fought him for so long. Was able to speak to several of them individually afterward…their faith in God is amazingly strong.
Monday, January 18th – 10:40 am: “Pastor Willie might just be the greatest man I’ve ever met.” Simply stated, this man never stops speaking Jesus and seeking all. I don’t think he knows what ‘uncomfortable’ means. He truly understands his call too seek ALL people, not just those that are convenient. Seeing this lived out on a daily basis challenges me to distance me from my comfort zone as well.
Monday, January 18th – 3:10 pm: “Joe Slovo Squatter Camp – Amazing.” I can’t believe people have to pay to live here. If I ever complain again about silly things, someone needs to punch me in the face. On top of these living conditions that simply have to be seen to fully understand (photos come no where near comprehending), these children blow me away…they find joy even in the worst of conditions. Smiles abound even without things we take for granted (indoor plumbing, air conditioning, heating, bedrooms, beds…)
Monday, January 18th – 6:50 pm: “Dinner at News Cafe – “Jalapeño Cheese Burger w/ a side of tears.” We all sat a nice restaurant eating delicious and satisfying food, all the while everyone’s faces were heavy…thoughts were stirring in our heads. Through the occasional jokes and laughter, we all were in process of the things we had witnessed so far that day…the men who loved God more than life, even though they would never see freedom again, the children who were able to smile at us in spite of their living conditions and empty bellies, and Beauty. As Stefani told us the amazing story that is their (now our) friend Beauty’s life, tears ran down our faces. Joke as we may that it was dusty in the room or that our food was very spicy, we all knew the real reason for the tears…we were all witnesses of a woman’s love in spite of the obstacles she has to face on a daily basis.
Monday, January 18th – 7:15 pm: “First offer to use internet – Immediately declined the offer.” I was loving the disconnect. I didn’t know who won the NFL playoff games, who had sent me emails or Facebook messages, and I was greatly enjoying the disconnect. I really enjoyed not knowing the happenings in the world for 10 days. Funny how insignificant pop culture can be…and how until recently I never would have thought that would be true.
Monday, January 18th – 9:20 pm: “Broken, inspired, responsible people are ready to charge on for God.” Kyle has always said that once you’ve witnessed something, you’re responsible. We were all starting to understand that concept by night one. Perhaps the quote of the day goes to Jonathan for saying “Kids dancing barefoot on broken glass next to a pile of burning garbage.” Let those words sink in for a moment. We all witnessed that on Monday, and we are all now responsible.
I lazily attempted to keep a running diary of my daily events during our trip to South Africa. What follows below is that lazy attempt. The words in quotes are the actual things I wrote in my journal, followed by a brief description (if necessary) to describe the words I wrote and the significance behind them. Whenever possible, I tried to document the time (local time depending on what time zone I was in) at which these events occurred. This Running Diary will be broken up into parts, with a couple days documented on each entry. Hope that makes at least some sense…enjoy.
Friday, January 15th – 10:01 am: “Man just tried to bring a gun thru security at the airport…amazing!” We had just passed through security and were grabbing our bags and shoes off the conveyor belt when someone noticed that there was an object that looked just like a handgun in a man’s bag as it passed through the x-ray screen. He tried to tell the officers that the gun was a collectors item and didn’t want it getting lost in the checked luggage, but needless to say, he was arrested. But I think the worst part of the entire experience was the look on his wife’s face. Something tells me he’s safer in jail than back in the house with her…yikes!
Friday, January 15th – 11:46 am: “Leaving on a jet plane.” Boarding our plane to Washington DC…needless to say, we were all very excited to be finally leaving after all these months of planning. In a few hours, we would be boarding another plane heading to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Saturday, January 16th – Sometime over the Atlantic Ocean: “Juno and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” Watched some quality movies on our 18 hour flight. What did people do before personal entertainment systems built into each seat?
Saturday, January 16th – 9:34 pm: “It is well with my soul.” All 12 of us were gathered around having a nightly devotional when this song ran through my head…not sure why exactly, but it’s an amazing song…and an incredible story surrounding it’s meaning. Click here for video of song.
Saturday, January 16th – Bed Time: “Ryan + Kevin = Snoring.” These two guys could snore. Ryan was quite proud of his abilities, and even brought earplugs for all of us, as all 6 of us guys were sharing one room. Kevin on the other hand was in some sort of snoring denial all week. We attempted 3 separate times to document his snoring on film, but all three times were unsuccessful. It’s legend ranks right up there with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot.
“Lights Off = Wide Awake.” My mind raced pretty much all night about what our trip would reveal to me, what we would see, how messed up my internal clock was, etc. I think I slept a total of 2 hours that night. The fact that my mattress transformed into a mathematical parabola (thanks Jonathan) as soon as I laid on it didn’t help either. PM medication was party of my nightly sleeping routine every night after that.
“Sinus headache still exists.” I had a sinus headache that started an entire week prior to this night, and every day it got gradually worse. Medicine was no match for this one…even my jaw was in pain. Luckily, I think the change of climate fixed all that the next day, and It’s been gone every since.
Sunday, January 17th – 9:54 am: “It’s later than it’s ever been before.” This was a great line spoken by the one and only Pastor Willie Dengler Sunday morning at church. Willie was saying that if Jesus returned tomorrow, would you be ready? People often try to makes deals with God, or say that they’ll follow him ‘someday’, after their finished having their fun. He was speaking directly to those people, asking about their urgency…if Jesus returned tomorrow, or if they never work up the following day, where would that leave then. Great message.
Sunday, January 17th – Evening worship service: “I could sing of your love forever.” One of the songs that was sung that night…and it was just a beautiful moment…don’t even know how to describe.
“How will I use this time here back home?” This was the first time that I thought about being home, and what the next several days would do to me, how they would change how I live back on my side of the world. I’m still wrestling through a lot of those things, as I’m sure everyone else on the trip is to. Excited to see how my time spent in Africa will impact me and many others here at home.
Part II to follow soon...