by Cammy Brantzeg
We arrived in the US this morning around 6:00 am in Newark, NJ. It is around 8:00 pm right now and I feel like I have been hit by a truck. I made the mistake of laying down to watch tv with Matt and Seth around 4:30 pm and of course I fell asleep. We will see if I can still go to sleep in a few hours. I am still tired so I hopefully won't have problems.
As I was flying home on the 16 hour flight, I reflected and journaled about our trip and I prayed for our group. I know it is not easy to return to your life in the US after a trip to South Africa. The experiences are hard to explain. You are changed but your friends and family are not.
I started making a photo book of our trip which helped me stay up this afternoon. After going to South Africa so many times, I like to make photo books to remind me what I did on my trip. I am a visual person so it gives me an easy way to remember what I did on each trip.
|Name Tags for Our Group|
I do my best to let God guide me on these trips. This trip I tried something new after following where God nudged me. If you know me, you know meeting with a group of kids is not my gift. I have never taught Sunday school or done anything similar so it was a surprise when meeting with a group of 10 Mosaic Paarl Valley teenagers was the highlight of my trip.
The group was formed because Yolande and DiPuo (Mosaic employees) talked to me when I was in South Africa in March. They said some of the Mosaic kids had questions about God that they did not always know how to answer. My first thought was to meet with kids when Pastor Vicki came to South Africa. Pastor Vicki came on this trip so I planned for our group to meet for three times with the same group of kids.
Our group met for the first time on Tuesday night. Originally we were going to meet with the Grade 11 and 12 kids but only two showed up that night so we expanded our group to include younger teens. We ended up with a group of 10 Mosaic students. We were going to meet two more times with the same group and the goal for me was to start building relationships with them.
At our first meeting we started having a conversation with them. I talked to the group about meeting with Yolande and DiPuo in March and explained how this group was formed. I gave them some ideas of what we could talk about and asked them what they wanted to talk about. I was surprised that many of them did not know that Tony and I owned a house in South Africa and they wanted to hear our story.
Later on we answered some of their questions about the US and shared our favorite candies from the US with them. (At one of our mission trip meetings I ask what everyone's favorite candy is and then I bring them along on the trip.) Amy's circus peanuts were a big hit along with Vicki's gummy worms. I felt like my caramels and Michele's peanut M&Ms were just ok with them.
We ended our first night with one of the girls asking us "How do you hear God's voice?" which we said we would talk about at our next meeting on Thursday night. Amy also suggested that we all think of 2 truths and 1 lie for our next meeting as a way for us to get to know each other better.
Our next meeting on Thursday was cold and rainy. The kids did not have much school work going on since Friday was their last day of school before a three week school holiday. I wasn't sure how many of the kids in our group would show up. I was pleasantly surprised when 9 out of the 10 kids showed up and they were just as engaged as the first night.
We started our second meeting with everyone telling 2 truths and 1 lie to get to know each other better. Our group of four had to guess which statement was the lie for the kids. The kids guessed which was our lie from our three statements. It was a lot of fun as we laughed and shared with each other. We then transitioned to talking about how we hear God's voice. As a part of this conversation, Amy and Michele were very honest with the kids and shared about the concerns they had coming on this trip. It was a very powerful moment for the kids to see that we were not always comfortable and confident.
On our third and final meeting, we met at our house. It was on a Friday afternoon. They were now on school holiday. I wondered once again how many would show up. We had 8 out of 10. One girl was going on a church retreat that weekend and was unable to come. Everyone else from Thursday showed up and was engaged in what we did.
We brought them to our house to talk to them about the labyrinth and share that experience with them. We divided them into two groups of four. Vicki and I took a group to the front of the house to walk the labyrinth and talk to them individually to get a list of prayer requests that we could pray for them after we returned to the US.
Michele and Amy kept the other group in the back of the house to play a game and talk with them. We all had a great time with the kids! They were engaged while walking the labyrinth which Vicki already wrote a blog about. Michele and Amy had a great time playing a jelly bean game where you spin and you eat a color of jelly bean that will either taste good or taste bad. It is called bean boozled in the US.
I have so many amazing memories from our trip but our time together with this group was the highlight of this trip for me. This was a leap of faith. I didn't know what I was doing when I gathered this group together. I just had to trust God that it would all work out and He did.
I truly felt that the kids that formed this group where Chosen by God. I felt like the group that God gathered for me to bring to South Africa was also Chosen. All of us were brought together to spend this time together and it was beyond special.