26 April 2011

AfriCom team offers training in Maputo

AfriCom in Maputo from YWAM AfriCom on Vimeo.

Several of the AfriCom team recently traveled from Cape Town to Maputo in Mozambique to offer a week-long Effective Communication Workshop. This workshop is designed to enable volunteer missionaries to communicate more effectively with missions partners and with other agencies, in this way rendering their work more sustainable.

This clip summarises the workshop and the response of the participants. As you watch it, you'll become very aware of one of our primary challenges as a communication team for Africa: multiple languages!

With many thanks to those whose generous donations made this field trip possible.

12 April 2011

Venturing into the unknown

Recently two members of the AfriCom team, Bernine Stewart and Lydia Smit travelled up with Bryan and Adelson – some friends from the YWAM Muizenberg base – into Uganda and Sudan. Bernine reflects on the journey and her experience travelling into remote Africa...

The idea of doing good things in the world, living a better story and making the world a better place is a bold and courageous goal, a goal in which those who are not satisfied with the norm dream of making a difference. But what happens when the realistic requirements of these dreams hit you in the face like a hailstorm? Details. Petty details to mountainous details. Visas, boarder crossings, raising support, accommodation, sickness, culture shock, rejection, cultural differences, new foods, war, death, and treacherous travel.

After having slept on the Johannesburg airport floor for the first night, Lydia and I then met up with Bryan and Adelson and proceeded to Kampala in Uganda. We stayed there for a night and then started our journey to South Sudan. We took an 8 hour bus ride to Kit Gum where we met up with Bosco, one of the guys from the Arua base pioneering the work into Sudan. We dropped off all of our stuff other than what we would need up in the mountains. After that we took a taxi truck which
the guys had to sit in the back with all our stuff. This section of the trip was only about 3 or 4 hours but the last part the road was terrible. Back home this road would be considered impassable but somehow this truck managed. As we were driving the sun went down, the road got worse and my mind started racing. I kept thinking “What am I doing?! Where am I going?! I can't handle this!”. Remembering the words I once said about wanting to go to dangerous places, wanting to live a life that would mean something, wanting to love the unlovable and my response to that was yeah, “in theory that sounds so noble and yet in reality, this is crap!”

I was heading into a dark and unknown place, watching as rats ran through the grass in front of the truck. I would glance out the window up to the stars and internally cry out “Where are You taking me!?”

As we reached the unofficial Ugandan border a man wrote our names and information in a notebook and then we were allowed through the branch gate. Then we arrived at the Sudan border and as we drove up they started yelling at us and told us to turn off the truck and then a man with an AK47 walks up and we told him our names and information and were allowed to pass through another branch gate. Continuing on for quite some time we finally pull into Lobone and find the hut where we would be staying. Thoughts of dread continued until I got out of the truck and one of the first people to greet me was a 22 year old, 5 foot nothing (1.5m tall), cute little brunette who happened to be from Pinocha, Alberta (about a 30 minute drive from my home town Airdrie). In that moment I felt God say If she can be here, so can you. Ashley and her husband, Carl, welcomed us into their hut and allowed Lydia and I to stay there because they had just recently managed to kill all
the rats. Thank you, Jesus.

So, I found myself sleeping on a mat under a mosquito net in a hut in a remote village in South Sudan wondering how on earth I got there. As I had mentioned in my last post it used to take me an hour to work up the courage to pee in a port-a-potty – here I had no choice. I used to be a picky eater – here I had no choice (hence eating bush rat which is the equivalent of a massive gopher). I used to be afraid of the dark – here there was no electricity. I used to take drinking water for granted – here I saw its irreplaceable value.

Two days later we packed up our few belongings and started our 7 hour trek up to the even more remote villages. It was hot. Extremely hot. I really had wished I had maybe gone to morning workouts in Harpenden (UK) or maybe taken it a little easier on the biscuits. And yet, I loved it! Something in me rose up and I didn't even really struggle. This had to have been God.

When we finally reached the top we met the people who have always lived in this village. The same village which the SPLA would hide out in during the war. The Issore people spend most of their time brewing alcohol and getting drunk. They wore an expression of hopelessness. Here we prayed for the sick, prayed for the spiritually oppressed and then had a dance party with the whole village. It was such a surreal moment for me. Looking back it was one of those moments where I was standing in the middle of it all, my thoughts racing and yet everything else moving in slow motion. As though it had to slow down for me just to take in all the vibrant colors, foreign and exotic sounds, pure unpolluted smells, and the undeniable presence of God.

Chief Olwen Omona said “It looks like God is opening a light to my people because this has never happened. Even our own government has rejected us. For you to come is proof to me that God is beginning to see us. I welcome you with all my hands. If you come, I am sure the people will learn from you. They want to know of God but there is no one who will teach them. Thank you...may you open our eyes.” That made it all worth it.

After our time in Lobone and Issore we started our journey on to YWAM Arua (unaware at the time that it would take us 24 hours to complete) and having arrived in Arua it felt like we were in a 5 star resort. After the long day of travel I saw my designated foam mattress bunk bed and in my eyes it looked like a king size memory foam mattress with down filled duvet.

God is good.