The heat really began to take its toll on us during the second day. Tired from the hectic traveling then straight into the conference early on Thursday.
Realising that the stuff we sent over has really made the conference a smooth ride overall – the vehicle we sent is getting a lot of good use as the journey to the church is a long way through packed, dirty streets & unpredictable traffic. The buses btw are hilarious – what should be 9 seaters are crowded with 20 or more, while trucks pass by with young kids hanging on the back.
Women here carry immense loads on their heads – one we spotted today had items nearly her own height carefully balanced on top. Kids love to say hello and often touch your skin or hair when you’re not looking – “Aporto” is the name for white man or “ghost” but until now we’ve only been called Chinese, so obviously their influence here is increasing.
Desmond & Mick both laid some strong messages down on day 2 of the conference – tackling issues like serving the poor, laying down our lives as a foundation for the church and the importance of heart fellowship. Iain led a challenging interactive workshop on discipleship, trust and fathering – all new stuff for them really.
Myself and Joe got stuck in with the young guys in the praise team and picked up several numbers and Facebook details. Great guys, coming from difficult situations, unemployment etc but fighting to make something of their lives.
This is what stands out here the most I feel – the fact that there is need everywhere but yet they just get on with life – there is not a rights culture. Driving through town it seems the economy is simply fighting to keep everyone going until the next day – young lads desperate to sell their quota of bread, matches, toiletries or whatever. Such a need for long term vision and input.
The final day of the conference brought more lively kingdom action and fresh perspective – Iain bravely sent us all out into the busy streets of Calaba town to bring the gospel. A short but insightful time – a couple of lads led me out thrusting me into the open houses, then into a small shop where we ended up praying and blessing several guys. Joe got dropped in the deep end when he was led to pray for a blind man.
Bread & wine was another powerful time – a sense that the word of the brotherhood church was really soaking in and making its mark. I just hope that leaders have courage to make changes where the temptation is to stay with comfortable traditions.
In between the conferences we’ve managed to visit the project locations in both Grafton & the Peninsula where the animal husbandry will be set up. Pastor Alex has an amazing heart for the province of Grafton – selflessly serving through running a school, evangelising and looking after several churches nearby. We looked at the proposed building for the sewing school which is large, secure and has good facilities though we need to secure the rent on it in the next week or so. Alex has already got several candidates lined up for the sewing school including half a dozen polio victims from the nearby camp.
Before the conference this morning we had the privilege of dropping by Lumley beach where the amputee football team was training. All of them with just one leg giving their all, full of joy and energy – not a whiff of self-pity or despair about them as they gave us their motivational chant and dance, thrusting the crutches in the air jubilantly. A truly humbling experience to meet these guys.
We’ve certainly appreciated the built-in rest times during the afternoons at a friend’s house nearby as it’s been pretty full on since we got here. This is where Joe has picked up some young admirers who literally cling to him on the way out the door.
Trying to get a gauge on the projects ahead of us now as new challenges arise but there are some good guys on the ground here and God has provided so far so we press on.
Keep following the progress with us. We may have a few breaks in communication as internet is really quite sporadic here at the best of times.
A seriously loud house party is cracking off next door which could go on until 4 or 5 am we are told… So looks like sleep will continue to be in short supply 😦