Sunday, June 26, 2011

Post #2: The First Few Days (Friday-Saturday, June 24-25)

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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Post #1: Children of Zion Village - The Beginning (Monday-Thursday, June 20-23)

The Beginning

Sorry this took a while but we have been having internet connection problems!

Scott is a wimpy girl and can dish it out but can’t take it!


Prestige Worldwide a.k.a. “The Dream Team”

Lies, all lies. I can take on anything Natalie, Josie and Olivia want to dish out. They have now been named “The Queens of Sass” - Scott

I begin with an apology. I know that there are some parents and a wife and kids who have been anxiously checking the blog to see if we have arrived. Well after 2 very long days and 4 flights, we finally made it to the Children of Zion Village! The flights were relatively uneventful until we finally landed in Botswana. We made a b-line to the boarder as it was about to close at 6pm and we were less than an hour from that time! We quickly made it to the Batswana boarder and we got our passports stamped. Our driver finally came out with only minutes to spare. Once we got in the van we made it to the border crossing on the Namibia side. The gate was already closed with a very stern guard looking at us. But then after a moment passed, he was willing to unlock it and let us through. Then we made it into the office but the person responsible for letting us in already left. The other people in the office told us to just go on. Soooo we did. BUT, we woke up at 5AM the next morning and booked it to the border post to make sure we were legal first thing when they opened. There was some frustration and hesitation on the part of the person responsible for stamping our passports. I was deciding to take the angry papa-bear approach with this guy when all of a sudden Lisa jumped ahead with the sad grandma approach, feeling so bad last night with how hungry and tired her dear children were and in good faith we came right back first thing in the morning. Now it took some time and convincing, but we finally got back into the country.

It was exciting to see the teens and kids again for both Lisa and I. Many of them have grown so much and look more mature. Lisa was bummed when she learned that many of the animals are no longer here. But we learned quickly that the priority has been the children, especially in the transition they have been through and many of the changes were made for their best interests.

Our first full day was great. We started very early with trying to make things right with our border fiasco. On our way back from the border we had to drop off our driver, Elton, at his village. We were able to see a very large mud house that he just built for his wife and child. The teens were also able to visit and observe the village that Elton’s family was a part of.

Once we made it back to the village, we were off and running to all of the stores to buy food for our stay. We visited their open market and their 2 grocery stores. Of course we had to find all of the “Yum Yum” peanut butter in all of its glorious flavors! There was much rejoicing.

When we got back to the village we got all of our food situated in our living quarters. The boys are in the bungalow and all the girls are in the East cabin. Both of these cabins are right next to each other which is nice that we are for the most part all together and not spread out. As a side note, the boys had great conversation and then went to bed without any problems. I read for a while and then went to sleep peacefully. Lisa on the other hand said that the girls would not stop their giggling and loud bursts of laughter. I foresee a possible powder keg here. Will I see Pastor Lisa erupt like a volcano? Time will only tell. I just don’t understand how Lisa can’t control these teens. I never have any problems.

After we got settled down in our cabins, we split off into a variety of activities. The girls went and took a nap (which ensures even more giggling and burst of laughter tonight! And, I almost forgot this, but one of the girls left the little spicket water-thingy running by accident so they flooded their cabin.) So far, Lisa is doing really well but we are only on the first day! The boys on the other hand, shoveled manure all afternoon. We drove to the middle of nowhere for about half an hour and then found a plot of ground that was about 6 inches deep in dried out cow manure that has been there about a year. We loaded up the pickup truck and brought it back for fertilizer for the gardens. Tyler had the joy of riding in the back of the cab both ways. Without manure one way, and with a giant pile of manure the other way. I asked Tyler after it was all done what he thought. He said it was awesome! So if this chore ever comes up at home, remind him of the extreme amount of joy this job brought to him in Africa!

Lisa made Cincinnati Chili tonight for dinner and we are just about to get ready for our debriefing time. So with that, I will pick up on the rest of this story every day or two! All is well with all of our team. Jimmy has already been here for 2 weeks and has been doing great. He and I have had a lot of time to catch up (while shoveling manure) and here all his stories so far. There are also two very cool college age girls who are here. Lena from Germany and Kim from Texas. We have enjoyed getting to know them. And finally, Travis and Lorna have been great. I want to make absolutely sure that we are the best possible team ever in all that we do. We are their first mission team and I am very much wanting us to serve them with our best efforts, humbly follow their guidance and leadership, and be absolutely no burden whatsoever but a support and source of encouragement during our time here. Lisa and I have already had some great talks with them and are getting even more excited about the rest of our time here. We went through all of the gifts that we brought them. The only problem is that we are missing one of the bags that had a bunch of soccer jerseys, CD’s and DVD’s. We were told that that bag got left back in Washington D.C. and that they would ship it over to us right away. Just pray that it gets here safely.

Also, begin to pray that our team would start to feel pushed way out of their comfort zone so that their faith in Christ can begin to deepen in a powerful way. And begin to pray that you as parents and a church congregation can be used of the Holy Spirit to help these teens integrate all that they learn here back into the context of their families, communities and church! Be open to God’s leading in your teen’s life knowing that this may or may not lead them to what you may want for your teenager. But know that God’s plan will always be better than ours.

Till next time . . . .

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The most emotionally disturbing piece of Jesus junk I’ve ever seen | Jesus Needs New PR

Ooooooooooooh my! I want to buy one of these for our Children's director.

The most emotionally disturbing piece of Jesus junk I’ve ever seen | Jesus Needs New PR

Please Let This Film Just Be a Joke

And just when I was hoping "Blue Like Jazz" the movie will be a breakthrough for Christian films, we have to have one that throws it soundly back into the cheese factory. Ted Haggard = not funny / poor taste, very, very very poor taste.

Gymnos Aquatic Saints

And just when I thought I have seen about everything. Ecclesiastes was wrong when it said there is nothing new under the sun. This strikes me as the oddest Christian small group EVER!

Gymnos Aquatic Saints

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Blue Like Jazz the Movie - Official Teaser Trailer

I am really, really hoping that this is a great movie and it turns out to be a huge success for Steve Taylor as the director, and Donald Miller as the author. We are getting really close to a Christian film being a good film and not cheesy. This one just may have the potential to do that. We will see.

Proof that summer is here! | Jesus Needs New PR

I wish I could say that I saw this at Lakeside, but no. No sandman Jesus here.

Proof that summer is here! | Jesus Needs New PR

God's Politics? No Such Thing.

There are some very interesting thoughts in this article about a Christian's relation to American politics. I have seen when we put way to much emphasis on trying to influence politics but no where in Scripture are we told to make disciples by forcing our beliefs on them through politics. The way we are supposed to live our life is by letting the Holy Spirit work through us to impact those that we come in contact with. We need to allow our life to be a force that attracts people to what we believe rather than impose laws on people we don't know. This is not to say that Christians should not be involved in politics and the law. If that is your calling then you should certainly do that unto the Lord. But I have been around long enough to see Christians who have put way to much effort into thinking political efforts are more important than personal holiness. Too many politicians have waved the all-mighty carrot in front of the American faith community only to be used for their votes and then forgotten about. And way to many people use the pulpit to demonize people groups that they don't like rather than stepping out of their comfort zone and learning to love those they have a hard time loving. Anyhow, read the article connected to the link and tell me what you think.

God's Politics? No Such Thing.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Real Reason Jesus Did Not Return in May


The American Patriot Bible?!?!

I have found this Bible to be disturbing on many levels. To study Christianity and it's impact on American history is one thing. To wed nationalism with the Bible is another. But of course we are coming up on the 4th of July so we will see a lot of idolatry of our nation wrapped in Christian language shoveled out to sell to the masses at our local Christian bookstores.

Dangerous Minds | How Scientology started

Dangerous Minds | How Scientology started

Need help with picking up girls???