105 days and counting. We have just passed the one hundred day mark and it already feels like we have been here for a very long time. We are on a wonderful adventure.
As you probably have heard Franklin and I recently spent about a week at one of the orphanages here, called Nyame Dua (Nah-may Dwa). If you prayed for us while we were there, we both greatly appreciate your willingness to do that. The trip actually went smoother than I expected. We painted three verses at various places around the home, simply proclaiming that the Lord has dominion over the people there, and no physical or spiritual being can do anything about this fact. I could feel the spiritual attacks during our stay. The home is right next to a Muslim home that plays an extremely loud prayer call every night and every morning. The prayer call is so evil sounding that Franklin and I called it the ‘hell song.’ It woke us up each morning at 4:30 am, and that was when I could really feel the demons attacking unceasingly. I fought back with the only weapon I had, prayer. When I started praying I actually felt peace, knowing that the victory was already won.
I would not describe our stay at the orphanage as fun, but rather exciting. I enjoyed my stay because I was forced to live like one of the children there. My body and mind had to adapt. Each night we had to shower before it got dark if we wanted to have light while we bathed. Nyame Dua had not received water for over a week so to shower we had to fill up buckets with water the children had walked (about a mile round trip) to retrieve. They used this water for everything; cooking, bathing, washing clothes, and drinking - fetching water was a daily ordeal.
One day while we were there, a thief who had stolen some items from another house was caught two doors down from Nyame Dua. The thief was looking for a place to hide. The whole community must have been out there to ridicule the thief. They beat him with the flat of a cutlass (machete) before they took him to the police station. One night while Franklin and I were in our room, the one light bulb that illuminated our quarters exploded over our heads. When we were preparing to paint one of the verses, we found that the top line would be just out of our reach. There was no stool, and they had no ladder. We had to use scraps of wood to build a sort of stool that we could use to reach the top line. While we saw all of these things as inconveniences, the children there see it as life. Actually, the children are probably better off at Nyame Dua than in the places where they were previously. When I got home, I don’t think I had ever been so happy to take a warm shower.
I loved this short trip. This is why we came to Africa. My skills and gifts were used. Almost every night, Franklin and I played Dutch Blitz with two of the older boys. They loved it. The younger boys loved playing football (soccer) and played on the jungle gym with us. I was able to see the fruit of my God-given gifts, and I believe it is the most fulfilling feeling I have ever experienced.
About a week ago we did two outreaches. The first one we did in a village called Deti. We arrived in Deti a little before noon, had a small service and dedicated a well which Feeding The Orphans provided the money for. This ended a little after lunch. We were staying in Deti the rest of the day because we were showing the Jesus Film that night, and we couldn’t start it until there was darkness. All that to say, we had a lot of time on our hands where we weren’t doing much of anything.
Many of the people in Deti do not know English so communication was a bit challenging. Even with the language barrier, I was able to play with the kids of the village. I don’t remember how it was started, but for a long time I had kids chasing me, and I was chasing kids. I saw joy on many of their faces from just running with them. I don’t think I have ever run so much in flip-flops. When I was just too tired to run anymore, I looked down at myself. My shirt was decorated with many streaks of dirt. Dirt was embedded in the skin on my leg, and my feet were absolutely filthy. (My mom would call these Beautiful Feet.)
A short while after I had finished running I was thinking about how amazing it was that I was able to just start playing with these impoverished children. I had nothing to use to play with them, but they seemed to be completely happy with the way it was. This was the Lord working in me. I could have never done something like that on my own. The Lord has given me a gift with children, and I feel like here, I am being able to use that gift to its full potential. I am giving of myself to children, young men, and young women who really need my attention. I am constantly able to show orphaned children that it is not only me who loves them, but God loves them. Wow! The Lord is so good. I feel totally unworthy for a duty in his kingdom this amazing. I can’t even explain what it is like to watch children go from hopeless, broken, or indifferent to joyful, whole, and smiling.
The Lord has granted me a wonderful opportunity; an opportunity to use the gifts that He gave me to the best of my ability. I was able to use my God-given gifts in America, but the depth and excitement were not the same. If I was not living in Africa right now, I can almost guarantee you that I would only be using a portion of the gifts I have been given. How many people get to use some of the best years of their lives ministering for the Lord? While it is sometimes hard to do what the Lord calls us to do, the blessings always outweigh the hardships. Honestly, what am I missing in America? Two years of high school, football, time with friends, ease of life, a job, a driver’s license, etc. Are these all things that I will only be able to do in this short two year period of my life? What about all the things I will be able to accomplish since I am living in Africa, rather than the “normal” life in America. I will see souls won for Christ, love on hurting and broken orphans, encourage struggling believers, learn a new culture, paint Bible verses in spiritually oppressed places, etc. It seems to me that my life here is of much more value than it would be in the U.S.
The Lord has given me a battle; I will fight it. The Lord has given me a mission; I will complete it. The Lord has given me his blessing; I will treasure it. And best of all, the Lord has given me His Spirit; I will seek it.
The adventure continues.