Friday, May 30, 2014

Africa for Real, Africa Forever

When we finally finished our accommodations for short-term teams last year, we had dreams. We dreamt that this property would be used to change lives, that there would be individuals who would come to Zambia and get wrecked like we did on a similar short-term trip to Kenya in 1995. So, when this team from Love Africa Mission finally arrived, it really felt like a fulfillment of some of those dreams.

As the week went by it was awesome watching these young men and women process all that God was showing them. Below is a blog written by one of the students. Take a minute and just listen how Jesus used Zambia and her time here with our ministry to open her eyes to more of Himself.

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I'm currently recovering from jet lag, and missing the sweet bush of Africa.

I'm currently missing my sweet team who only entered my life a short two weeks ago.

My heart is currently aching from the longing of wanting to be back in Zambia.

But let's rewind to two weeks ago.


My alarm goes off and I am wide awake. I know what today is. Everything is a blur as I grab my bag and my backpack and head downstairs. Today is the day I leave for Africa. I've been waiting forever for this moment and here it is. Mom, dad, and myself head to the airport and my stomach is in knots the whole way. I'm praying for God to show Himself in new ways and to do amazing things on this trip. Am I going to remember what my team looks like? That's a negative. I finally see a girl with a Love Africa sticker on her bag. I know that's my team. I walk over with a shy smile and am greeted with warm hugs and smiles. This is going to be good. "Hi, I'm Janie!" a girl says. It's instantly followed with a Madison, Kaylee, Nate, PH, Kaylyn, Taylor, TJ, and Mallory. Bye parents. See you soon. My stomach is back in knots. I haven't been on a plane in a while. What will I think of it? I am seated with Nate who is instantly warming with his fun personality and I relax just a little. Who are these people? What are their backgrounds? We land in D.C. Now we meet Devin who bursts with independence and looks fit from head to toe. 5 hour layovers feel like years. We all act friendly, but the awkwardness is still lingering due to us all being strangers. We begin #TeamSelfies which I find super entertaining. Now we are in line getting boarding passes. This time I'm with Mallory and TJ for 16 hours. Perfect bonding time. I'm extra scared for this flight. My stomach is twisting. I'm praying. My head hurts. 16 hours is going to feel forever. But we make it. We get to Africa. We are here. I feel relieved. This is real. This is happening. And I am so excited.

Now we are getting on a Mazabuka Girls High School bus with our driver Daddi....did he say his name was daddy? HAHA he did. The roads are bouncy and my bum feels a little bruised. We laugh with excitement until we reach our first hotel. The Chapa. We watch our first sunset in Africa in which words can't explain. Then we go to a little restaurant where I decide to order crocodile. I learn to salsa with Gracyn who is one of the missionaries little girls. We have an instant bond. I really like her laugh. I wake up excited and ready to see Victoria Falls....one of the seven wonders! Brent (one of the missionaries) says we will need a rain jacket. He's right. We instantly get soaking wet.

Guys this waterfall is amazing. You can hear the power of the water rushing over the side and it is unreal. And God created that. A picture can't do it justice. I am so thankful I got to marvel in God's creation with my team.

Safari time! I am super excited. Today we see a baby giraffe, a few zebra, and one baby elephant. I am amazed at these creatures that exist. They are beautiful.

Our next safari is a boat ride where hippos are everywhere. They lay on top of each other and they are super fat. I'm relaxed. I sit down with Taylor who I have yet to speak many words too. "My brother died right before this trip." I feel my heart drop. It aches. I've only known this girl for three days. I feel my tears well up. "Why did this happen? Why am I here?" Questions only our God can answer. We talk for a while about Jesus and the Bible and His perfect timing. I want to carry this burden with her. I'm sure of it. After our boat ride, we go on another safari where we see TONS of elephants. There's one, and another, and another, and another! They are beautiful. They are huge and majestic.
Tonight is our last night at the hotel. I'm ready to head to the farm. What is it going to be like?
We pack up on the Mazabuka bus with Daddi who at this point has become part of the family. 5 hours later and we are finally at the farm.

This is where the two missionary families live. The Roberts have 5 kids and the Whitfields have 6! They are all waiting eagerly for us to arrive. They immediately begin to love on us and drag us all over the farm. I'm excited and full of energy. So many names pouring into my head and their love immediately pouring into my heart. We put our bags in a storage container with bunk beds...it's awesome. Now what about food? I'm nervous we will hardly eat. Until the first night we have fajitas and lemon bars. I guess we won't starve? Oops. The fire pit is huge! We sit and sing and talk about Jesus. My heart is slowly growing for my team. We go to bed early so we can be refreshed for the village.

I wake up nervous. How will these kids be at the school? What if I we can't communicate?
We can't communicate. There is a language barrier. But love really is the one language everyone knows. We sing everyday with these beautiful African children. We sing with one another. I hug and squeeze every child I can possibly get too. My heart swells with much love everyday. My heart swells with so much love that on Friday when we leave the village for the last time my heart breaks and the tears come. All I can think is how those children will be waiting for us and how we will not be back. I want to go back. I need to see their smiles and hear their laughs. The time passed by and I didn't even realize. Sunday is our final night on the farm. We throw Gracyn a surprise birthday party. I love her. My heart aches with the thought of leaving her. We wash the feet of the Roberts and the Whitfields and I can't speak. All I feel are tears. Tears of happiness, tears of joy, tears of leaving, tears of sadness. They flood my face and I can't stop. I reach Daddi's feet and can't breathe. I can not thank him enough for driving us around and for impacting our lives in unbelievable ways. I do not want to leave him. I know he doesn't want us to leave as well. My heart is aching. How did I get so close to these people in such a short amount of time.

God completely wrecked my heart. What a humbling experience. To see people with absolutely nothing, be the happiest people I've ever seen is incredible. It's unreal. When I said goodbye to my team, I felt my heart break.

So now I'm here. I didn't even cover half of my trip but that's just because it's impossible too.

I'm recovering from jet lag & my heart hurts from being apart from my team.

but

my heart is satisfied with Jesus. I really learned the meaning of that the past two weeks.

Take the world, but give me Jesus.

Africa For Real, Africa Forever.

Jesus for eternity.

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