Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mini- Camp (Week 24 continued)

So, as mentioned before- so much to tell you in so little time.

-We had the opportunity to do another “mini-camp” at the youth center this week, and here is the story, in note-format:

-We did the camp at the youth center, and had 85-90 kids the first day, and between 135-140 the second day

-Jeff and Alfredo from Gospel Ministries to Children were here for our conference from Texas and Mexico, respectively, and were kind enough to lead the program

-We had some new volunteers from the community, which was a huge answer to prayer! For the first time ever, we actually had a parent volunteer!

-Although we advertised that kids in grades 1-7 were invited, we had pre-schoolers to high-school students- it wasn’t a problem at all, and everyone had fun

-On the second day, Josh and I drove around in the Bakkie (which we are able to borrow while Heidi is gone) in Block E, and picked up 2 loads of kids who had never been to the youth center before. We are hoping they might come back to the Wednesday youth program in the future.

-We were blessed to be able to use our new home to host Jeff and Alfredo. Kitty was able to come over for dinner 2 evenings, and we all had a great time.

-We found out the first day that two of our kids (siblings) had just lost there mom the night before. I am fairly certain no children in the U.S. would come to a youth program the day after their mom died. I will not identify them for confidentiality purposes, but they are both in at least one picture in this post. My point in telling you this is just to demonstrate how little evidence there is of their trauma. There is a completely different attitude here towards death. On the second day, both of them did get emotional, and just wanted to cling. I held and sang to them for almost an hour, and they seemed comforted, but I just felt so helpless. We gave them a ride home, and they both wanted to sit on my lap the whole way. Please pray for these two precious children.

AIM Namibia National Conference

Last week brought with it our AIM Namibia National Conference, and boy did we need it! The week before conference had been full of discouragement and frustration; we looked around, knowing we were almost at the halfway point in our time here, and felt like no impact had been made. I am so burdened for these kids; I just want them to know the hope of Jesus.

Conference was encouraging, thought-provoking, confusing, exciting, educational, and fun. It was like a family reunion, even though there were a couple of people we hadn’t met yet. The first night we just settled in, told funny stories, and got acquainted.

The “educational” part of the event began the next day, with talks given by Gordon Dalzell. I learned so much- he and his wife were so personable and loving and wise and humble. I felt as if he were talking with us rather than at us.

His wonderful wife, Helen, led a discussion with for the women of the group (Gordon led a discussion for the men, but I obviously wasn’t there, so I have nothing to report). It was a relief to see that so many others, even those who have been on the mission field for years, share some of the same struggles. When the need of those around us is so great, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. I was reminded of how much wisdom these women have, not just about missions but about life. I was humbled to learn from them, and God used them to impact my life in a very real way.

One highlight of the conference was that each team gave a presentation about their life and ministry. I hadn’t realized how little I knew about some of them and what they are doing!

Fun and games were also a significant part of our conference experience. There were about the same number of kids and adults, and a giant game of “Mission: Impossible” (kids vs. adults) was one of the highlights.

Overall, it was a great time of relaxation and re-energizing. There is so much more I could say, but I am way behind on blogging in general, so if you have any questions, you’ll just have to ask!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

J.G. Day

Last Tuesday I had the last-minute opportunity to do Hope's Promise- Namibia's first-ever Jonathan Green Day photo shoot. Jonathan Green is an African-American painter who's work is admired by many individuals involved in Hope's Promise, and they wanted to do a photo shoot to interpret his work and have a lot of fun. Here are some of my favorite shots:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Beat This...

We watched "The Lion King" in Africa. It was so sweet, I had to devote an entire post to the experience. If any of you come visit us, I promise you can watch it, too : ).

I have so many posts in progress right now, it's ridiculous. However, none are ready...not sure when that will happen.

Other random fact: Last night, a Preying Mantis fell on my arm while I sat in bed. Only in Africa...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jesus Loves the Little Children...

"Today the church is tempted…to do big miraculous things…but Jesus has called us to littleness and compares our revolution to the little mustard seed." -Shane Claiborne


As I walked down the stairs, poor lighting and an abundance of mirrors completely confused my internal GPS. I was only looking for the bathroom, but this could become quite the challenge. I saw the word “ladies” etched into the floor-to-ceiling mirrors (this was not terribly obvious in the dim lighting), and saw there was an overlap in the mirrors.

Then I found it: the most incredible bathroom I have ever been in.

As you walk in, there is a room with a square island in the center and floor-to-ceiling mirrors for walls. Each corner of the island has a above-counter sink, and everything is stainless steel and white porcelain. There is an arrangement of twigs and such that stretches to the ceiling in the center of the island. There are four doors around the room, and each of them leads to a small room with a toilet. Yes, a room, not a stall. Of course, it wasn’t huge or anything, but there was much more space and privacy than usual. There was a large mirror for changing clothes or check one’s hair. It felt…luxurious.

Of course, this effect may have been enhanced given the fact that, at the youth center, we have no running water. Relativity and all…

Bathrooms in foreign countries are an interesting experience. Sometimes there is an outhouse, and sometimes that outhouse has a door (I love those times!) Other varieties of lavatory facilities include ditches, holes in the ground, waterways, trenches, and “squatty-potties.” I am sure there are more, but these are just the ones I have personally experienced. There is also the variable of water usage and plumbing. I many places, you don’t flush every time you use the restroom, because the region is running low on water and you must conserve. Sometimes the plumbing is not able to withstand toilet paper, so it is thrown into a garbage can (an interesting experience in 110 degree heat).

Random fact: here in Namibia, all restrooms are referred to as “toilets.”

Incidentally, Josh had an interesting lavatory experience at N.I.C.E. as well, but if you want to hear about it, you’ll have to email or Facebook him.

Okay, back to the bathroom with rooms. It is located in the N.I.C.E. restaurant (Namibian Institute of Culinary Education, I think), which we visited for the occasion of Catherine’s and Heidi’s combined farewell dinner. It was an experience unlike any I have ever had (I don’t really get out much). The restaurant is located in a former home, so there are many rooms with 4 or 5 tables each. It’s all white linen and candles,; the food was alright, but the plating and atmosphere were wonderful. Let’s just say we were underdressed. [Whoa, have you ever realized how similarly the words “underdressed” and “undressed” are spelled? That could have been really bad.]

Here you go- you can see that we are both fully clothed. The pictures in the back are of their chefs out in the desert- they were great!

One funny experience from the night involved my dinner. Catherine and Kitty ordered the same dish as me, but asked for substitutions for the side dishes. When the food arrived, we realized that their orders were served complete, but mine (which I ordered directly off the menu) was missing the grilled cherry tomatoes meant to accompany it. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but the tomatoes were half the reason I ordered my food in the first place. After some confusion in communicating the issue, my long-awaited tomatoes arrived:

Yes. I am not kidding you. There were 2 halves. That’s what I get for eating at a fancy restaurant!
[FYI, my fingernail was not painted gunmetal- it was a lighting defect.]
When doing what we do, it is sometimes difficult to remember a culinary world beyond PB&J sandwiches with kids while sitting on the ground. N.I.C.E. was certainly a special experience for us, but in the end I don’t at all mind going back to the kids : )