Wednesday, October 12, 2005

we're back from Africa

Whew, we had a fabulous trip to Zimbabwe, Africa.

Here was our trip in a nutshell:

September 26 - WE drove to Chicago to catch a flight to London. We visited Carrie's dad along the way. And we dropped our car off at her uncle's place in a nearby suburb. His graciousness was a life-savior.

September 27 - We had a very long layover in London. We slept, read, prepared for some of our work in Zimbabwe, and visited different shops and restaurants.

September 28 - We arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe at like 7AM. One of our bags was lost :( We were warmly welcomed by our friends Ron and MaryAnn at the airport. We went to the University of Zimbabwe campus to pass out some fliers concerning our next day discussion on dating and courting. We met the 4 full-time Navigator Staff who are national Zimbabweans. We ate out at a beautiful outdoor restaurant. We stayed up till 8PM (barely).

September 29 - We slept a wonderful 12 hours till 8AM. We awoke to have wonderful quiet times and a tasty breakfast. We went to the University campus to give our presentation. WE had about 50 university students come and hear out talk. Several stayed around afterward to ask some questions. Another American arrived, named Heidi Meehan. She was a firecracker, even with no sleep. That night I went to campus with Edgar (a Zimbabwean) to have a bible study with 4 first year students. We studied John 4, I shared the Bridge Illustration (a simple illustration showing that Jesus is the only way we can be brought from death to life) and my story on how I became a Christian.

September 30 - We spent the morning visiting Dinai (the shona word for love one another) childrens' orphanage. We spent the day doing conference prep, and then that night I went and played tennis and basketball with several Zimbabwean students.

October 1 - We went to a National Game Park. We saw giraffe, kudus, zebras, ostriches and so much more. We also had a fun night at the Shimkus' flat that night. Several students from the univeristy came and ate dinner and played games. Zimbabaweans love to laugh. The country as a whole is falling apart economically so laughter is great medicine to these countrymen.

October 2 - We went to church, a beautiful service. A very multi-cultural church. The pastor gave a powerful message on suffering, very timely for the struggling Zimbabwe. In the afternoon I listened to Edgar and Tichara's seminars for the conference. They had worked very hard. That night I was on campus with some of the fellas doing recruiting for our conference.

October 3 - We spent about 7 hours working at the Dinai children's orphanage. This orphanage was very amazing. The orphanage caretaker was Francesca. She was a delightful Christian lady. They have 12 children. Most of them came off the street, lost at least one parent to AIDS, and did not know love until coming to Dinai. Some have been sexually abused, and some have HIV. May God pour his mercy on these small children.

October 4 - More conference prep and recruiting. Also, God provided an exchange of money within 20 minutes of the need to pay for the conference site. WOW!!

October 5 - Conference prep, passed on fliers for our second dating discussion, and enjoyed some time with the Navstaff. Also some late night recruiting and a very neat bible study led by one of the university students. Jonathan is an amazing man of God.

October 6 - My wife and I spent the morning finishing our conference seminar on reading the bible. We also had our dating discussion #2 - 50 Zim students. It was way fun. We ran more errands on Thursday night for the conference. Then we had a very refreshing dinner with the country leader and family for TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission). We ate antelope :)

October 7 - The Americans and and a few nationals headed out to the conference site early to set up. The camp in Chinoyi, Zimbabwe was beatiful. Several thatched roof facilities and loads of character. Over 80 students from 3 different countries showede up that night (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya). We had about 100 folks at the conference. One of the speakers was Jim Downing, a 92 year old Pearl Harbor survivor, and lifelong Navigator. He rocks. My wife and I stayed in a little electricity-free hut with Heidi on a comfortable cement floor.

October 8 - The conference continued with great bible teaching, worship, and fun. Carrie and I gave our seminar on bible reading, we helped with afternoon games, i struggled through the obstacle course, and got beat thoroughly in chess twice. That night we had to head back to harare (8 hours earlier than planned) due to car troubles.

October 9 - We ate a wonderful and refreshing breakfast at the airport and took one flight to Johannesburg and then another to London.

October 10 - We flew from London to Chicago and then made a grueling car ride back home to Boone, IA.

October 11 - Back to work

October 12 - first youth group starts again in 4 hours . . . praise the Lord!!