From Katie: I'm looking for Christians/missionaries around the globe, especially in Europe. Can you help me out? Thanks!
If you don't know Heather, you need to know she's a character. She was my roommate in Guatemala, and, in the market, she bartered with a Pop Tart. <>< Katie
Fuge summer camps sent out an email to all of their staffers saying this was an opportunity. Ten of us from the United States signed up and we worked with an organization called ACTS (African Christian Tours and Safaris) who provide guides who try to make the team as comfortable as they can be by filtering water, cooking, and handling things that went awry. Their job was to serve us, but we wanted to serve them too. It was fun to go back and forth trying to help them out as best we knew and a lot of times it didn’t work out but that’s ok. Each mission team has two guides (ours were Dax and Caitlin), but there were also seven guides in training who joined our team. So we went from a group of ten to a group of twelve to a group of nineteen before being a group of twenty-one once we got to Sanyati. Those last two, Matt and Randy, are older men who’ve been to Sanyati before with another group. They flew in a few days before us and got stuff prepared and then worked with us which was such a blessing. It was really cool to see how the Lord provides this craziness and the way He built our team.
All twenty-one of us celebrated our birthdays while we were there. It started because I was hoping I’d remember to take my malaria pill on Thursday, and we were talking about birthdays. I looked at Micah was like, “What’s on Thursday?” He didn’t know. I said, “It’s your birthday, Duh!” We even made a huge birthday sign out of a 2005 calendar where every day we’d cross of the names from yesterday’s birthday and write new ones.
After spending the first night in Harare (the capital), we drove five hours in Busta the Birthday Bus to Sanyati. It was Sunday and we learned they hadn’t had any power or water since Wednesday. That was one of the most interesting experiences because we had to filter water all day every day—water we used to clean dishes, water to drink obviously, water we cooked with, all water. They got it out of the new hundred-foot well that Auntie Patience’s husband said he dug himself and put it through a filtering system that purified it. I didn’t filter the water but I did take a turn getting it from the well. As the bucket got closer to the top, it got heavier. Then they pour it into a water barrel before it’s filtered.
We did some construction work that was mostly roofing. We were replacing the roof of the hospital because it was made of asbestos and cement. The sheets were really big and heavy. At the beginning of the day, two people could carry a sheet but as the day progressed more people were added on because our forearms were hurting so badly. I remember one piece there were five or six of us carrying it. It was really funny.
We were working at the Sanyati Baptist Hospital, and they don’t have any doctors, they only have nurses. They can only do minor medical things (including childbirth). Every day we walked about seven to ten minutes from the house where we were staying to the hospital along a dirt road where at any point you could see kids walking with no shoes, families running around, donkeys or cows carrying things, chickens everywhere, and boys cutting the grass with huge metal devices (It was intense. I was scared the not-machete was going to fly out of their hands and cut off my head but it didn’t). It was really fun walking.
One of the days we got to go on a tour of Sanyati Baptist High School. There were kids everywhere. They’re so pretty! They were super excited about taking photos! I put my camera on sports action shot because otherwise everything was blurry and just kept snapping photos. Some of them look like a flip-book when you go through them. Except then my camera died.
That afternoon we toured the hospital. It’s just not what we would assume a hospital would look like. We did a prayer walk and prayed over the people who were, I guess, admitted. We saw a girl who was 18, and she went to the high school but she was in the hospital and had to a have a surgery that they can’t do there. Basically she was lying in bed in pain day after day until they could figure out something to do for her. I got to pray over a woman named Emily. She was really pretty and it was hard to see her suffering. There were two men and you could literally see their bones and other things you’re not supposed to see through skin. For one of the men, it hurt to lie in the bed, so he was sleeping on the floor. Every bed in the hospital (what we would consider cots) had mosquito netting tied up around it. There was also one little baby and a couple of really cute little kids.
|Yup, that's a white Jesus in the stained glass window of the hospital's chapel. They have chapel every morning at 7:30, and they invited Micah to lead worship.|
Lessons I Learned
I learned a lot about sacrificial serving. The guides would have to get up around 3:30 or 4am to filter water and get breakfast ready. It was a continuous process. They would get up and literally serve us all day every day. As soon as they finished breakfast, they’d start on lunch. As soon as lunch was done, they’d start on dinner. Since we had nine guides instead of two, they paired up to cook and clean all day. Those who weren’t cooking were at the hospital with us working.
Since we were without water and power unless the generator was running, I really realized how selfish I am. It was the end of their summer so it was really hot. By the end of the week I had mortar in my hair, I was covered in bug spray, sun screen was everywhere, I had sweated a disgusting amount, and I had asbestos and cement on me. I was tired and hot and just not having a nice time for like twenty minutes. I wanted a shower, which were like super crazy trickles and cold which was glorious. All I could think about was how nobody would know if I took a seven-minute shower instead of a two-minute shower. But then I remembered all of the other people who hadn’t had showers yet. When I turned off the water I realized how selfish I was being and trying to be secretive about it, too.
I also learned materialistic things aren’t what matter in life. I can get rid of something and know that the Lord will provide. Things like how many pairs of shoes I have and how many tie-dye shirts I can make don’t matter. What really matters is relationships, being in community. When I first went, I knew nobody, and now I have twenty new friends. It was really cool to see how the Lord brought us together; it was a really big blessing. It was really, really hard to leave. We cried. That doesn’t happen by just hanging out together. That happens with hearts connecting and the Lord being there. Sure, we could have worked together, eaten, and had a good time, but the Lord was worshiped and glorified and therefore His redemption came. It was really cool to see the community he can build in a nine-day span. He doesn’t build His body lightly. There no way people from three different countries (United States, Zimbabwe, and South Africa) can come together in Sanyati and worship the Lord other than this is the way God wanted it to be. Every night we sang and danced and praised the Lord. Forty-five minutes would turn into an hour or more; we’d just lose track of time. It was really cool because you could feel the His presence. I kept thinking about how one kid was singing and praying in Shona and I had no idea what he was saying but my Father who created both of us knows. It was such a sweet time.
One night we ate with a family, and after we ate we did a time of songs, testimonies, and prayer. They invited us to sing three songs, but it was hard to figure out three songs every knew from three different countries. We sang “Waves of Mercy,” “Amazing Grace,” and I don’t remember the third one. I wish we had recorded “Waves of Mercy” because it was horrifically fantastic. We did the motions but at one point we were all half-singing, half-laughing (me more laughing that singing). I think we probably looked like a cult going around this circle sort of dancing and singing. It was such joyful worship. Then we did a few testimonies, and Shep translated what we were saying into Shona because not everybody knew English. We sang “How Great Thou Art” in Shona. (The video is me singing and Katie humming in the middle of the coffee shop).
Another thing I learned is how imperative water is. I've read about the 1000 Wells Project (Blood:Water Mission) where they try to build wells in different places, and I know all of that, but I’ve never experienced where it’s a possibility that I wouldn’t actually have water to drink. Not to shower, not to cook that’s fine but no water to drink, becoming dehydrated, and dying from something so simple. Really? That was an interesting eye-opener.
They think America is much smaller than it is. They thought we all knew each other before. They didn’t understand it would take a week to drive across America.
We can learn how to legitimately have joy in the midst of craziness. Each night there was singing and dancing of some sort. There was sharing of talents, if you will. Not in competition but in a matter of “what can I offer?” It was an awesome gift exchange.
Especially pray for those who claim Christ to be their Savior. Pray that they continue to build real relationships with people who don’t know the Lord because there are a lot of other beliefs there. It’s hard because on the way to Sanyati (on Sunday) we passed a lot, a lot of different groups just randomly in the fields all wearing white. They’re called Zionists, and they’re growing. It’s not a cult but really it is. Even though they claim to believe in Jesus, they don’t let people read the Bible.
|Auntie Patience with her grandkid. They do everything with their babies on their back—work in the field, sweep, wash the bathtub, etc.|
One night our team split into two groups and we were able to go to homes and eat a traditional meal with a family. The woman whose home we went to was Auntie Patience. The leaders took up the money so we they could go get the food. I asked what we were going to eat, and they said chicken. I didn’t understand how they were going to keep the chicken safe to eat without power. No. They were buying live chickens. In the morning they were alive and by the time we ate them, they were dead. I’ve always known that process but I’d never really thought about eating something I just saw that day.
We also ate Sadza which kind of looks like grits but doesn’t taste like it and your eat it with your hands. It starts out the consistency of grits and you keep adding to it and stirring it and it gets really thick. When it’s done, you eat the sadza with your hand. You grab a little bit, make it into a ball with your fingers, use your thumb to scoop up “vege” (I don’t know what that is but it was green cooked something), and then you pop it all in your mouth and eat it. It was like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. Shep helped me not look like a fool.
|Cooking by candle-light and using her sleeve as a hot pad.|
Our last night in Sanyati they made us what they called a four-course meal. One course consisted of Mopani worms. Yes, legit worms from Mopani trees. We also ate chicken, carrots, Jim squash, and potatoes.
Our very last night we had a Bree, a cookout/barbecue where they cooked for us, and it was great treat. Like little kids were played sardines for almost two hours. We ran around Africa barefoot hiding in corn fields, bushes, behind trees, in trees, everywhere. They made us steak, mashed Jim squash, green beans, potatoes, carrots, mushroom sauce, and in the Jim squash bowl they put corn covered in cheese. It was so good! For dessert there were half-peaches with this cookie with chocolate in the middle, and they had a special treat for us—ice cream!
They stopped on the side of the road and got us sugar cane. You have to peel it with your teeth because it’s so tough it could cut you—at least that’s what they were saying, I don’t know—and they gave it to us. You can only chew it because it would really give you the poops if you eat it.
After dinner every night we’d clean up, shower, and do a devotion/worship time. We just shared life. Sometimes that meant a dance party or photo shoot. Other times it was deep conversation. A lot of laughter, praising the Lord, and playing Uno.