Thursday evening we concluded the night with our question of the day that we must all answer: Where did you see Christ today? This is a very simple yet profound question that is a good way for all of us to end the day with, but it also helps us to start looking at our world with a spiritual mindset throughout the day. We concluded our evening with a devotional on the Rich Young Ruler who was not willing to step out of his comfort zone in order to follow Jesus. Also we addressed the issue that God’s love demands first place. Jesus is not (or better yet should not) be considered as just an accessory to our lives. God’s love is a jealous love that will never take a backseat to anything.
On Friday we were able to sleep in. It felt good to get caught up from all the sporadic and infrequent sleep that we dealt with on our journey here. Once we got moving Jimmy and I took the girls on a manure run that lasted a few hours. On our trip out to the brush we encountered villages, adults and kids waving to the girls, and 3 little boys who came out to watch the girls shovel manure. They were entertained. The girls and I had a lot of great conversation as we worked to fill up the pick-up truck. They told me that they thought they heard strange animal noises last night until they realized it was Pastor Lisa snoring! That got a belly laugh out of me. During the same time we were on that trip, Tyler and Noah were helping with building a mud house. They managed to get about half of the posts in the ground. Noah also went off to help Lisa with the kids in their school classes.
Early in the afternoon the teachers let us know that they were going to let the kids out of school early today. So we got ready for our first real opportunity to play with the kids and teens. I approached the boys of COZV and told them that I wanted to teach them a new game I thought they might like called basketball! Of course when we all got on the court, I was the one who was taken to school. We had a very intense and fun game of basketball. The one thing that disturbed me greatly was that the one older boy, Malinga, who cannot speak, seemed to be making jesters at me that appeared to be making fun of my basketball playing. I got the impression that he was trash talking me as I think he was trying to mimic my style, all while he laughed. Oooooh that boy! I did notice that Tyler played the game more like a football player than a basketball player. Jimmy and I progressively got worse at cheating as the game went on. I think they call that a “handicap” in golf so it was all good.
After that game many of our teens and the COZV bunch went and played soccer. I saw Lisa leading a fun “youth group” type game that involved sitting so I went over and joined in. We all had a lot of fun that afternoon as we really got to spend some quality time with all of the kids.
It was also amazing to see how many of these teens are growing up. Simasiku’s voice was cracking like crazy 2 years ago. Now he has a manly voice and looks all grown up. I suspect that Davis is eating all the leftovers because of all the kids here, he has grown the most. I think he may be taller than me now. Many of them are coming of age.
That evening we were treated to a Namibian-style meatloaf at the Curry’s house. It was delicious! After that we had our “Where did you see God today?” roundtable discussion. Our devotion also focused on Peter and the one time that he actually did take a few steps out of his comfort zone only to start falling into the water after walking towards Jesus. When he kept his eyes focused on Jesus he was able to do the impossible, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Him, he began sinking. We wrestled with how sometimes this seems to be the pattern of a mission trip. We see Jesus throughout the entire trip, but once we get home we get caught up in the stress and worries of life and we begin to sink.
Once we were done with our Debrief, we headed over to the meeting hall and had fun with the kids. The one profound lesson that we all learned during this time is that Olivia can’t dance. But her attempts at dance are very entertaining. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Olivia is becoming the “Queen of Comedy” on this trip.
As we were heading back to our cabins, we boys detected some noises on the other side of the fence that goes around the property. We stood up against the fence shining our flashlights into the darkness. All of a sudden, we heard it! It was a hippo! We must have spent at least 30 minutes scanning the bushes and the Zambezi River for the source of the noise. About 3 times whatever it really was would belt out a noise that sounded deep, loud and ominous. Lisa came out, heard it once and went back to the safety and security of her cabin. Of course we had to consider every possible scenario if the hippo came charging at us through the fence. Chances are the actual animal was on the other side of the river and the water made its voice sound like it was closer than it really was. But it was still fun to get ourselves all worked up. We even had one of the guards come over and use his spotlight, but we actually never really saw anything.
On Saturday morning, Lisa had a very, very unique opportunity to go see a Namibian funeral. According to her, it was amazing in how personal the whole process was and the rituals that were done in their service. Very different than what we are used to. I am sure she will want the pleasure of sharing this experience herself so I will stop here from giving away anything.
Saturday was a really fun day for all of us. Once we woke up we all got outside and played with the kids. Some of us got a basketball game going again, others played with the young kids, while others made crafts in the meeting hall. It was a beautiful day. When lunch time came, I decided to go hang out in the meeting hall and sit with the students. I observed the lunch crew that prepared the meal and let’s just say it was fish, but not like I have ever had it. They fried the fish whole. It was gutted but it still had the rest of its body – tail, fins, scales and head. I was curious to see how they would eat this. So I joined them for lunch. The only problem was that as I was sitting with the kids, a plate of food was placed in front of me. I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I just went for it. I learned how to pull apart the fish and eat it like they do. It was decent. And my stomach handled the test all day long!
At 3:00 we had a group come over from a mission that cares for disabled children. They came so that we could put on a talent show. It was awesome! There was singing and dancing, and silly skits and a clown who filled in as the moderator. Our teens participated in two skits. We did the “Death on the Tennis Court” skit and the “Getting ready for the Day” skit. Both were classic! The finale of the show was when the clown went over to Travis and Lorna and got them to dance. Then they invited everyone else to come and dance. To see COZV kids, adults, and disabled kids (some in wheel chairs) all dancing to a song praising Jesus was in many ways electrifying. This was one of those moments that you felt like you were brushing close to the edge of heaven. The presence of God’s Spirit and the sense of his pleasure permeated that place.
At the end of the program I got to talk with the 2 college students who came over with the disabled kids. Their stories were fascinating as they gave up their whole Summer to come over and serve at this mission. I was amazed at their courage and boldness to be doing what they are doing. Here at COZV we also have 2 girls and Jimmy who have been serving here for an extended period of time. I have been in awe of these college students who choose to serve is such a powerful way as an act of faith.
After the talent show we ate dinner at the Curry’s. We had a chicken pot pie dinner that was great. We shared our God moments and many people were impacted by the talent show and, more specifically, the dancing at the end. Then we rushed off to the meeting hall to play games. We played one big giant game of Bible trivia. They loved it. Then after that we broke up into several different games. Some played Uno, others Jenga, and others just danced away and hung out. It was a great day!
Tomorrow we will be doing the church service for the kids. Also Lisa and I will be joining the girls from the disabled children mission as they are coming over here to do an abstinence talk with the teens here at COZV. I am really looking forward to the whole day.
Continue to pray for our team. Everyone is getting along really well. And the bonding that is taking place between our kids and the COZV kids has been quick. It is exciting to see some of the networking with other missions in the area too. Our teens are fully throwing themselves head first into loving on the kids and helping and assisting however they can here at the mission. All of you parents should be mighty proud.