We began the day with church! Travis started with some announcements. Josie and a team of girls helped to lead worship. Lisa lead a prayer time for the kids. And then I had the opportunity to bring a message to them. I used everyone from our team in the lesson. I began by focusing on Romans 1:16 were Paul talks about the gospel being the power of God. So I then had the teens explain when they have been in the presence of something very powerful. One of the girls talked about the windstorm we had in Loveland about 3 years ago. And then the rest of my entire team said, “She took mine.” Lucky for me I usually think with options of where I want to go so I then proceeded to have the teens come up one at a time as I asked them questions about why they train in their sport and how they practice to be more powerful than their opponent. Tyler of course came up and I asked him a bunch of questions about football training. I asked him to explain his position. I then ask him to show the kids what he typically does. So he and I squared off and someone said hike. Wouldn’t you know that Tyler saw an opportunity to flatten me HARD on a concrete floor in front of all of the kids. The kids loved it. But I assure you that Tyler has awoken the devious side of me now and it is totally focusing on him and his soon demise. The rest of my lesson focused on Jesus’ talk to his disciples in John 14. Jesus explains that they will have the power of the Holy Spirit within them and they will be able to do the same things that he has been doing and even greater things than that.
After the church service, our teens took out the kids who are under 12 years old to play with them in the afternoon sun. Lisa and I got to sit in a group discussion with the older kids. The two college girls who are serving at the Cheshire House which is for disabled kids, gave an abstinence talk to the teens. It was very good and interactive. It was definitely a talk that needed to be made as it is so obvious that the “children” are growing up fast. So many of the kids are growing into being young men and young women. At the end of the talk, Uncle Lenard and Aunt Jenny both strongly affirmed all that the girls were talking about. This gave a powerful punch to the whole presentation. Auntie Jenny talked about how this information has the power to save lives. That previous generations did not have this knowledge so they made poor decisions that lead to death. But now they have the information that can give them a full life. I couldn’t help but to reflect on our American culture in which we have had this knowledge for a long time now but yet so many still choose to make poor decisions.
After sitting for such a long time, I got a bunch of our teens and the COZV teens together for another hike. We hiked for a while and then made our way to the sand dunes. These dunes have a lot of small pockets of water everywhere that are still receding from the rainy season. We started out by throwing clods of sand into the water. Then people began to become targets. And then some of the boys decided to dig out a trench along one of the sand hills and found great joy in picking out an innocent bystander and proceed to grab them, throw them in the makeshift trench, and then bury them. The COZV teens focused on some of their own the first few rounds. Then they set their sights on Noah. And then Olivia. And then Natalie. At this point I thought it wise to start heading back to the village but I could tell their sights were focused on my movements. I got part way down the road until I heard the stampede of footsteps coming my way. Sure enough, I got picked up, thrown into the trench, and then buried in about 10 seconds. Not a problem other than I know Tyler is instigating so much of this! The rock throwing and the sand graves! So I told the teens to go after Tyler now but they said almost in a whisper, “Nooooo, he’s too big!” This made me mad because I definitely did not hear them say that about me! Well, 3 of the teens finally decided to try and go after Tyler. All they really needed to do was hold him from running until I got there. Then I threw him in a headlock / crossface combination where he really couldn’t fight back. We buried him quickly and I made sure that large handfuls of sand made it down his shirt.
Some other observation about our teens:
1) Tyler has become the brother that Natalie and Josie have never asked for.
2) Natalie and Josie have become the sister that Tyler has never asked for.
3) If I make a glowing comment about how wonderful Max is, that gets Olivia rolling her eyes and saying, “If I hear one more thing about Max why I oughta . . .”. I have found much pleasure in this.
4) There was a time when I thought Noah was just shy but that is clearly NOT the case.
5) I cannot tell who has more sass: either Natalie or Josie. It might be a tie.
We then headed back to the village and had a big game time. We introduced the games Apples to Apples and Mad Gab to a group of the kids. They loved it. We had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. In fact Lisa jumped into the middle of Mad Gab and totally got into it. Get ready Timmy because I think this will become the new family game!
Later in the evening we had dinner over at the Curry’s. Lorna and Travis cooked a big pot of beef stew that was amazing. Our debriefing went well also. We needed to address a few things with our teens just to pull back the reins on them a little. This normally happens on an extended mission trip like this. As the teens get comfortable with their surroundings they tend to get lazy on the rules. So we reflected on Paul’s challenge to Timothy to always set an example to the believers in faith, life, love, speech and purity. Travis also added that we need to watch our language with a few key phrases because what might be casual in American culture can be offensive here, so no more telling one another “shut up” and no more use of the word “crap”.
Monday we woke up and headed off to our morning duties. Lisa went to go help teach a class and the rest of us went to the staff devotions. We prayed, sang songs and then I did a talk on understanding that we are responsible for planting the seeds of faith in children but it is up to the Holy Spirit to make those seeds grow. And we must learn to trust that the Holy Spirit will do his work in the lives of the children in His timing.
When we headed back to our cabins we unlocked our door (a big padlock) when all of a sudden Noah jumped up and said that we locked him in the house and he couldn’t get out. It turns out that Tyler left the cabin while Noah was taking a shower and put the padlock on the door without noticing that he was not the last one out. When Noah tried to leave, the door would not open and then he realized he was trapped. We all had a pretty good laugh about that.
After that, we all grabbed our stuff and headed down the Mafuta Feeding Center. Everything about this area was quite impressive since the last time I was there. When we pulled in we were greeted by about 15 very happy and excited pre-school children. We began to get to know the kids and play games with them. We played their version of “Duck, Duck, Goose” and a chasing game. Then we took the kids into the main building on the property while the main lady in charge lead us in a “Sing-Off” of sorts. She would have the kids sing us one of their songs. And then she would look at the teens and expect them to now sing a song. It worked for about 2 rounds until the teens began to panic trying to remember songs we could just sing. I began racking my brain for all of the old-school camp and VBS songs I grew up on. We did a few of those until it was time for lunch. We went out and the children were lined up getting ready to get their lunch. Their lunch pretty much consisted of a corn or rice based paste that they ate with a plastic knife. Once they were done eating the older kids went back to their school while the young ones went back to their pre-school and had class. We got to sit in and observe their class as they reviewed their numbers, colors, and vowels. It was a lot of fun.
After that, we spent some time cleaning up the property. There was some general garbage that got collected along the fence that surrounds the property. But there was also a whole lot of broken beer bottle glass covering a large section of the property that never gets used by the kids for fear that they would cut their feet on glass. So we attempted to clean up any glass we could find. The problem was that before this was a feeding center, it used to be a bottling company. And for whatever reason, it seems that they just disposed of their bottles by burying them or smashing them on the ground. The more you began to move the dirt around you began to realize that this is near impossible to clear all of this in order for it to be safe for barefoot children. But we managed to collect three large wheelbarrows of glass and dispose of it in their trash pile. Also, at a particular moment in the middle of all of this, I needed to find a bathroom. There is a school right next to the feeding center so I went over there. I was able to casually observe this school as I walked by their classroom to find a bathroom. I was very impressed with what I saw.
Once we left we headed into town to exchange some of our American money for the Namibian equivalent. It took quite a while for each one of us to get through. After that we stopped at a couple of stores downtown before we headed back to the village.
When we arrived back, 3 of the teens needed to be taken to a basketball practice downtown. So Jimmy, Tyler and I took them to the Sports Complex. When we arrived it seemed that no one was there to run anything. After standing around for about 30 minutes, the coach finally arrived in a taxicab. He began his practice and it seemed very confusing to the kids as the coach was trying to get them to run some basic drills. Some of the teens seemed to understand what was going on while others did not. It was a little hard to watch because Tyler, Jimmy and I wanted to jump out of the van and run the drills ourselves so the teens would see what it was supposed to look like. But after about 40 minutes we started up the van to let the COZV teens know that we are going. The coach wasn’t thrilled that they were being pulled out of practice but we needed to get back for dinner anyhow. Timing and scheduling seem to be concepts that not only do kids and teens wrestle with, but also many adults her in Namibia.
When we arrived back we went down to the meeting house when the kids were having their dinner and we presented them with a letter that Trent sent with us and a whole lot of colorful bandana’s that he got for them. They loved it! Then we had dinner at the Curry’s house. The only issue was that Travis was not feeling well and could not join us for dinner. Natalie starting to get pretty sick as well. Now Lena, who is one of the college students who has been here for a several months, made a German style dinner for all of us. It was basically noodles with potatoes and chopped up hot dogs. All things considering, it was delicious!
With Travis not feeling well we decided to push off our debriefing for later tonight at the boy’s cabin. So we went down to see the kids until it was time for them to go to bed. We hung out and goofed around for a while until that magical time that the kids wait with anticipation each night during the school days. Once it is 8PM all things must stop immediately as the lights are turned off and the TV is turned on. THE show is on and all must watch! It is called “India Love Story”. I forced myself to watch one episode with them. It was basically a soap opera from India with voice dub-overs. The acting was cheesy. IT kind of reminded me of an Indian version of “Dallas”. But since it was from the culture of India it was not sleazy like a lot of what passes for American television. It was very tame, and with the overacting, it was humorous at times. But one, and only one, episode is all I could take. No more India Love Story for me. But I did like how whenever a character was frustrated or perplexed he would yell out “Ali Baba!” That has become my new catch phrase with the kids here.
So we go back to the boys cabin for debrief. The team all grabbed the chairs that we had here so there was no place for me to sit. So there was this little plastic kid table that I pulled up to our main dining table to sit on. We had a great discussion and I closed with a reflection on the person of Barnabus. In every situation we find him in the Bible he is always sticking up for the outsider or outcast. In fact his name literally means “Son of Encouragement”. So as I am wrapping up my point drawing the day to a conclusion, the table I am sitting on completely shatters and the next thing I know, I am looking up at the ceiling. At that point I don’t think they remembered anything I said about Barnabus as they all laughed hysterically at me. So then we called it a night!
Continue to pray for Travis and Natalie as they are both feeling really, really sick. Also please pray that our last piece of luggage gets delivered. We are afraid that it might not make it here and that bag had almost all of the soccer jerseys and quite a few CD’s and DVD’s that we bought to go with their new projector. We really hope that that bag in particular does not end up lost in the system somewhere. Also, pray that the paint arrives for the Epiphany House. We are really, really wanting to paint the outside of the house but the paint needed to be special ordered and it is taking a long time to arrive. We check the hardware stores every day but it has not come in yet. We are going to begin to work on the outside of the Epiphany House with landscaping and painting. We would like to have all of this completed for our dedication of the house on Sunday. And speaking of the Epiphany House, now that I have been here for about a week, I really do see the importance of this house and how necessary it is. There is a wave of teens here at COZV who are coming of age and all look like young men and young women now. They are no longer kids or teens. But yet, for them just to be asked to leave cold turkey would be extremely hard on them. This house will be a critical step to help them find their purpose in life as a young adult and then go out and make a difference when they are ready to go. It will be amazing when COZV will have their first generation sent out into the community as adults making a difference for Christ. Then to have them come visit the village to talk, share or sing with the next generation of kids will be so cool. The teens I got to know just 2 years ago, now all look so much older and mature. Mature physically that is. They are still very goofy and animated in their personalities. The Epiphany House is a very critical piece that I think will add significantly to the success of this program for our kids. I am very proud of our church for taking the initiative on this project. You have no idea how this is so necessary right now.