Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Little ones, Heidi Baker & Deaf ears

I wish I had a few pictures to share in this blog of the memories and sights of this past weekend. But this weekend I wanted to fully engage in the community life and I just didn't want to risk being separated behind a camera lens. I wanted to enter the village, humbly, not as a tourist snapping photos everywhere I went. After all, how strange would it be if someone showed up in my backyard in Canada and started snapping photos of me. That and the comic fact that my once waterproof camera decided to no longer be waterproof part way through my last swim in the Indian Ocean may also have been a contributing factor. Always an adventure and never a dull moment. So allow me to draw on your senses and imagination to invite you into our world...
We unload our vehicles after we arrive in this little northern village. Seconds later we are surrounded by dozens upon dozens of beautiful little faces approaching us with utter curiousity and inquisitive half-smiles wondering what we are doing here. A few brave little ones step forward and test the waters with these strangers. Soon they are laughing, dancing, singing and playing with us as they crawl all over us in the dirt. As I hold a precious little one in my arms, sweat drips down me in this HOT African country so close to the equator and so full of humidity. Suddenly my waist feels drenched and I fearfully wonder whether the warm liquid above my hips is pee streaming down the little one's leg whom I'm holding. Too poor to afford diapers--this is the risk you take when scooping up a beautiful little one in your arms here in the village. I briefly set her down to check. Phewf! No additional yellow stains on my already filthy shirt. It was just the wetness created by her hot little body pressed against mine. Their clothing is ripped, torn and a mere skeleton of fabric that once made up a pair of pants and shirt. I have never seen such poverty. The broken zipper on the back of her once beautiful little outfit has been stitched together in the centre to hold her dress together. The sequins have fallen off; its covered in stains. Yet despite her ripped and ragged clothing--I am overwhelmed by her beauty. As she stares into my eyes I see her royalty in the Kingdom of Heaven as I pray for her quietly without audible words. She is a princess in disguise, a child of God, the loving most High King.
I walk around with her and explore the village. The smell of smoke fills the air as a small bush is being burned a few hundred meters away. Dirt covers almost everything in sight and sweat from the hot heat fills the air. A true experience for your nose unlike anything I've experienced in North America.
I've only been here a few months and yet in that short time I've managed to scoop up so many lovely children into my arms. Somehow it never gets old...

...This particular bush bush outreach was made especially fun with a surprise guest. Our outreach team was so excited when we found out that Heidi Baker (the director and founder of the missions organisation to which we belong) would be joining us along with some amazing guest speakers from around the world we had heard this week at our missions training school. It was such a pleasant and unexpected surprise. I never dreamed I would get to do an outreach with Heidi Baker during Harvest School. As I write this I realize I may sound as though I am idolizing Heidi Baker and making her out to be some sort of Christian celebrity and that is not at all my intention. She is, however, an incredible role model and inspiration to both Evan and I. Since I first heard of Harvest School in Spring 2011, I've been captivated and amazed by what God has been doing in this ministry. I've read every book by Heidi I could get ahold of, I have dowloaded podcasts by her and watched all her videos. Her life is a living testimony of extravagant love, endless faith, the miraculous, and the power of God. I truly feel so honoured and privileged to be even in the same room as her. She is one of the heroes of the faith in my book.
And so, having our outreach team chosen to go on a bush bush outreach with her was beyond exciting. It was like being a part of one of Heidi's books (Compelled by Love, Always Enough, Birthing the Miraculous--all greats reads) when she describes village outreach. In a quick snapshot:
-We met children from the village
-We showed the Jesus film
-Heidi preached
-We had a prayer tunnel for the many who received salvation and those needing healing
-Evan saw deaf ears opened
-We ate together and slept in tents
-We honoured the village chief and Queen with capulanas (African attire)
-Heidi served Starbucks coffee to our team (much to Evan's delight) just like she describes in her books
-We went door to door praying for the sick and bringing healing and salvation through Jesus
-Then to top it all off, we got to be there to help celebrate the new drilling of a water well in the village. So cool!
It was truly amazing, thrilling and magnificent. And while all of this so clearly ressembled the stories and newsletters that I've read from Iris Global--more than anything it felt like we were getting to live out the gospel. What an incredible privilege. As I walked through the village I couldn't help but take a moment to wonder whether I was merely dreaming as I have for so many years about Africa and being a part of revival.
All in all--not bad for a weekend in the BUSH BUSH---cuddling beautiful little ones, meeting one of our greatest role models and inspirations in ministry and deaf ears opened.

(Picture from an African wedding this was Sunday! I got to do makeup for the bridal party--so fun!)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Village Revival Meetings

This past weekend we had the privilege of visiting a village just over an hour from where we are staying in South Africa on missions training. Our outreach team jumped into a shuttle and made our way through the beautiful hills and country side of Southern Africa. Passing wild animals on the side of the road and other small villages we explored the land.
When we arrived we were surrounded by a group of friendly children eager to meet the strangers from afar. The church we are partnering with has been hosting revival meetings in this small village all week. We arrived in time for the last two nights of these revival meetings hosted under two large tents attached together for the special occasion. It felt like something out of a book. For years I've read stories about tent revival meetings in the bush, but to finally be a part of one was exhilarating. The loud music, African dancing and manifest joy filled the air.

The following day we walked through the small village going door to door, praying for the sick and inviting the community to join us for the revival meetings. We saw healing and we saw hope and joy fill the lives of ones with whom we prayed.
That evening we made our way back to the tent for another revival meeting. At this time, I must admit that my humanity started getting the better of me. Suddenly tiredness began to overtake me, the length of this African service started to iritate my North American mind, and the very loud music and yelling of the preacher into the microphone that I had so loved the night before started bothering me. Needless to say, I was ready for bed all while trying to maintain good composure (alternatively, close friends back home know when I hit the "tired wall", I usually crash and melt into tears). The little girl I was holding had already fallen asleep in my arms and I was hoping to do the same.
Finally I looked to my left to see an elderly man from the village sitting beside me. His face bore a smile of joy and content. The blasting music, yelling in a microphone, and wild dancing didn't seem to phase him. He had the look of appreciation on his face, soaking in the moment and praising God for the revival brought to his village. Who knows how long it had been since his town had seen revival, who knows how long he had prayed for such an encounter. In Ottawa we are blessed by conference after conference, and revival meeting after revival meeting. Here I was encouraged by the uniqueness and privilege of the moment. I was reminded of Simeon in the Bible (Luke 2:22-32) who had faithfully waited for salvation who came through Jesus. This man reminded me of Simeon, waiting on The Lord and rejoicing in the revival God was bringing. 

Overall the experience was remarkable and such an honour to be a part of. I tried to capture a few of my favourite sights in the following picture collage: little ones playing in a wheel barrel, ladies preparing meals for us over open fires, another cow just waltzing down the road, and a precious little girl whose smile I just couldn't get enough of!