Adventures in Africa, Part 2

I want to introduce you all to a beautiful young woman named, Famata. I actually just received a phone call from her. Famata is a university student in Liberia, working towards her nursing degree. She is also the niece of Owen and Viola Dunbar, our host family for the week. Famata leads worship at her church and has a powerful voice to praise God. Although intimidating at first, once you get to know her, she is filled with kindness and generosity. During our time in Gbarnga and Zorzor, Famata helped us minister to the kids and cook for us. I am so blessed to call her friend.

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L to R: Marisela, Kaitlin, Famata, myself, Summer

November 26, 2013

Whew! It’s been a short but energy-packed day. We arrived at the local government building at 2:15 to be greeted by 500 kids, teens, and adults. Overwhelming? Absolutely. After 15-20 minutes of looking for the pastor (and waiting), we got started. Things did not go as planned. It took a long time to settle the kids and send out the adults, who were supposed to be attending a parents conference with Pastor Steve. Then the sound system could not reach the back of the room. Our intended groups of 25 became 35, and even more kids were standing around the chairs. We did not have enough crafts for everyone. I was heartbroken as I had to tell kids that we didn’t have enough. I gave one girl my bracelet to compensate. All the kids were able to participate in the memory verse and dance. All of the girls on our team said their favorite part was “Hello My Name Is”. I agree! Dance is a wonderful way to communicate the message of God’s love in a relatable way. What a blessing to look out and see hundreds of kids dancing along!

The dancers from last night also danced again. One of the songs said, “God is in Africa,” which made my heart fill with joy. After they danced, we were waiting for the food to be prepared to feed the crowd, so I suggested they teach us some African moves on stage to entertain the crowd. That was a blast! A little embarrassing, yes, but we were able to get the kids laughing.

After the session, we went outside to blow bubbles with the kids. The joy on their faces was astounding. Little do we realize how special bubbles are to kids who have never seen them. The most heartbreaking part was when we left. The kids grabbed on to the bubble wand and begged me for it. About 10 or 15 girls and boys surrounded me and pulled at my clothes and arms as I tried to make my way to the car. The desperation in their faces and voices was evident. I almost started crying as I pushed them off in order to open the door and climb in.

In the heat and exhaustion I’ve had a few moments where I’ve thought, “What am I doing here? What is God doing?” There are so many desperate people and we can only reach a few. Plus our plans have changed so much. Today we even heard a rumor that the Liberian president was dead and that we might not be able to go to Zorzor. (Thankfully, after calling the US Embassy, it was determined to be just that – a rumor.) But I think the physical discomfort is worth it. Today we were able to bring a little hope and joy to the people of Gbarnga. I am looking forward to seeing what God does next!

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Looking out on all the children in the room. By the end of the session, the room was even more full.

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