8.18.2011

One Year Later: Memories From Africa - Part 2

If you would like to catch up click here for part 1 of the story.

I'd like to reintroduce you to the "B-Team". This is the wonderful group of people that traveled with us to Swaziland to minister to the children at the Bheveni Carepoint near Manzini.

We all met for the first time in the ATL terminal. Okay not exactly the first time, but it was the first time that we all were together in one place, and the first time Danielle or I had met any of the team in person!

From right to left we have Erica, Jim, Anna, Elysa, Danielle, Kelly, & I. Our band of seven, stepping into adventure together!

Prior to the airport gathering we had held a couple of conference calls, shared some email and Facebook connections, and generally trusted that God had brought us together so everyone would simply get along and minister together. For the most part that was just exactly the way it turned out!

Upon arrival at Johannesburg International Airport we had the dubious pleasure of locating and collecting all of our luggage.

28 checked bags, plus carryon items!

The personnel at the airport kept wondering where the rest of our group was, but we assured them it was just the 7 of us...and that all of these bags were ours!

After seventeen hours in the air we had made it to Africa. We were through South African customs, with stamped passports in hand and every piece of luggage we'd brought. It felt like a small miracle that nothing had been lost through everyone's connections in Atlanta and onto the Johannesburg flight.

We were tired, but really excited too!

Though some of the stories from the days to come were challenging to go through, we had such a tremendous trip. I truly believe God's favor shone upon us in many ways. The greatest example of that was really through the members of our inaugural team. Let me explain...

Elysa is Jim's wife and Anna's mom. Elysa has an unquenchable passion for the people and country of Swaziland. This trip was a bit of an introduction of Swaziland for Jim. Their family was strongly considering the possibility of moving to Swaziland for an extended mission in the next few years. Since Jim had never been to Swaziland, they figured it was good for them to go together and check things out. With Elysa, Anna, & Jim we had the joy of serving with three people passionate about sharing Jesus, willing to step up in any way needed, and excited to be in the country they believed God was ultimately calling them to serve.

I'm still a little fuzzy on the details of how Erica joined us, but I was incredibly thankful to have her along. She was low-maintenance, filled with wisdom, and willing to adjust and support wherever we needed throughout the trip. I was, and am, so grateful for her participation in last year's trip.

Kelly is a long time friend of Elysa. Through their connection and some divine intervention, Kelly stepped out of her world and into a grand adventure with us too! The story of Kelly's challenges along the way is hers to tell. But I've been encouraged often by her, both during and since our trip together. Kelly was the last to join our merry band and I'm so happy she made it.

With three of our seven member team being intimately aware of life in Swaziland, I felt like it was very easy to have all of us band together and get the job done for each day in our journey.

I was so thankful to have people along who understood that this trip was not about any one of us, but rather about sharing Jesus' love with boys and girls in need. We all chose to step into the unknown together and put ourselves out there further than we thought we could. I believe that our trip was successful beyond expectation due to everyone's service to one another and the greater mission in Swaziland.

I'm genuinely excited about this next journey in September too! This year is a brand new team, filled with new faces from new places. We each have something to share, and we're looking forward to serving together.

Please continue to pray for this next mission trip. There is still a fair amount of finances needed for several on the team (ourselves included). Pray for health for each of us... body, mind, & spirit. Pray for open doors in the practical details and in the realm of ministry too. Pray for the Children's HopeChest & Adventures In Missions staff who will be supporting this effort. We all have a role to play.

In the days to come I'll be sharing more stories about our times of ministry. The hardships we were exposed to seemed overwhelming at the time. I can honestly say it's taken until now for me to even feel able to write and share those stories. I hope that you'll join in through whatever means you're able. Pray, Give, or Go! It all makes a difference...just please don't be indifferent, the stakes are too high.

Bless ya today and everyday!