So, for those of you that have been expecting an update on my missions trips, I bet you thought I completely forgot about you. And that’s completely understandable. However, I’ve had a lot on my plate the past few weeks, and I hadn’t had much update-worthy stuff going on before that. So I just found a spot to breathe, and so I’m now writing this to you all.
First let me give you an update on what all’s happening this summer. Obviously if you’re on this list, you know that I’m going to South Africa on July 11 to preach the gospel to the natives (along with a few dozen other people) and help train the current Christian natives in discipling new converts.
Also on my plate for the summer, which I briefly mentioned in my fundraising letter but didn’t elucidate too heavily on was my participation in Joni and Friends Family Retreat, and my second trip to Africa, this time to Burkina Faso. I’ll start off with Joni and Friends.
Joni and Friends, if you aren’t familiar with the organization, is dedicated to aiding individuals affected by disability, whether it be physical or mental. You can look at their website here: http://www.joniandfriends.org. Their Family Retreats have the same goal in mind, except it’s a tad different than what you might expect. When someone has a disability, it’s not just their life that is completely different. The family containing the child or parent with the disability is also drastically affected, because the the disabled person needs so much special care. The siblings often tend to get neglected (not intentionally) simply the disabled person needs more attention. And the parents have so much more responsibility than before, which is a big drain on their energy and marriage. There’s a reason that marriages affected by disability have such a high failure rate. So it’s not just the disabled person whose life is completely different. It’s the whole family.
Joni and Friends Family Retreat’s goal is to give the entire family a week of respite and recharging. People like myself come in as Short Term Missionaries (STMs) and are assigned to someone who has a disability (and sometimes other children in the family), and pretty hang out with them for the week. It’s really challenging sometimes, but it’s SO GOOD. The reward of seeing everybody be able to emotionally and physically unwind for the week is so amazing that it’s really quite hard to describe. There are a lot of families that live the entire year with the goal of Joni and Friends in view, and it’s simply an amazing time.
So that’s the summary of what JAF Family Retreat is. I’m currently doing that for two weeks, starting June 19.
After that, I’ll be home for the week of 4th of July, and then I’ll leave for South Africa on July 11. I have one more major meeting for that, which I’m going to have to Skype in on from Spruce Lake Retreat during JAF, so that’ll be interesting to coordinate, but the people running the camp are really understanding and are working with me on that. So also in preparation for the S. Africa trip, I’ve been working on memorizing my testimony and several important Bible verses used when talking about the Gospel, verses confirming the deity of Christ, the truth of the resurrection, the fact that we’re sinners, etc. So that’s a little challenging, considering the incredible lack of Bible memorization I’ve done in the past few years. But it’s going well, and I think I’ll be adequately prepared by the time I leave.
The other thing we will be using in evangelizing to the people in S. Africa is called the EvangiCube. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s actually pretty cool. It’s a cube with a bunch of pictures on it that narrate the gospel message, and you sort of flip through it to get to each picture. It’s really, really hard to explain without actually showing it to you in person, but you can probably look it up online and see what I mean. But anyway, we flip through it, while explaining what each picture represents. We will each, of course, also have a translator to translate what we’re saying. That will be a challenge to get used to. But I’m sure it will all work out.
Okay, so that’s South Africa! Now, to Burkina Faso.
My church, Grace Point Church, has missionaries currently living/working in Burkina Faso, and a team from my church is going over to help them out with general upgrades to their electrical/plumbing system, and basically whatever else they want us to do. So, once I get back to the States from S. Africa on the 21st, I’m going to be home for three days until I head out on the 24th. It’s gonna be a bit crazy, but fortunately my dad is also going on the trip to Burkina Faso, so hopefully he’ll be my brains for when I can’t think when I get back. :)
By the way, for those of you who are wondering why I’m not just staying over in Africa between trips, lemme ‘splain. I thought of the idea as well, and thought it was a good one. Then I remembered I’ve never flown or been overseas before, let alone by myself, and I think that after S. Africa, my brain is simply going to be too fried to try to get where I need to be by myself. So I’m not going to attempt it. So there.
So anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, well, that’s pretty much the update on my summer so far. Helping us prepare by praying with us is always a huge need and is very much appreciated. Pray for the trip to go smoothly and safely, and that everything will get packed that needs to be packed. If you feel a desire to give monetarily, I would be very much appreciative of that, as well. I am actually all paid up for all of the trips, but I had to put forward most of that money myself (which I was quite happy to do, but my account was not). :) And there are also other expenses like luggage, extra batteries for my electronics so hopefully I can take lots of pictures and update from Africa without needing frequent power sources, sunscreen, bug spray, emergency meds, shots, and other miscellaneous stuff. All of which don’t cost much by themselves, but all together, they tend to add up pretty quickly. So if you feel led to give in that way, feel free to mail me money. :) Unfortunately, it will not be tax-deductible, but I would give you a big hug, if you wish!
So that’s that for right now. I’ll try to keep in touch about this as much as I can, we’ll see how it works out! :)