Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Closing out a year but starting anew

I am very happy to be writing this from my own living room in my house in America.

I have made it safely back to America and my internship is officially over.

While my travels were long they were safe and (besides a little turbulence) very uneventful. Thank you for your prayers everyone.

This will be the last entry of my blog. I feel like I need to sum things up and I'm not sure how. I would recommend taking a glance of previous entries. They highlight different events, activities, and thoughts that were in my head during my year away.

I guess I'll sum it up like this: I have always wanted to go to Africa and God gave me the opportunity to go there for a whole year. He allowed me to hear about a great ministry called Thrive Africa and gave me the motivation to apply for the internship. He gave me classes, teaching and friends I'll never forget over there. South Africa is a beautiful country with beautiful people and I won't soon forget it. Thrive is doing great things and I look forward to staying in touch with the people I met there long into the future.

Here is the most significant thing that happened this year to me. God gave me clarity on what I probably want to do with the rest of my life. I think it'll involve teaching and atheists which has led me to my next immediate step in the land of the Czechs. But long term there are atheists everywhere and you can teach anywhere. But I want to be very clear about this: without my intern year in South Africa I would be at best an ineffective missionary and at worse, not a missionary at all. This year was exactly what I needed and God had it all figured out. He is truly a good and faithful king.

With the idea of starting the rest of my life I would love to have any and all my blog readers partner with me in my journey to the Czech Republic. If you have facebook I started a group, join it for the latest updates and ways to help. Also if you are confused why I am going to Europe go to my brand new blog dedicated to my next year. You can find it at

Thank you all again for reading this. Stay Blessed.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last Entry From Inside Africa

I hop on a plane in less than 24 hours to go back home. My year-long internship with Thrive is at a close. It's hard to believe that my 10 months here are at a close. It's been an amazing year and I am so thankful I've had the opportunity to come and learn and grow and especially to get clarity on what I am doing next. While it'll be weird I'm happy to return to the states and enjoy some "home culture" for the next months.

I'll write a final entry when I arrive home safely in a couple days to officially close out this blog and point you in the direction of my new one (stay tuned).

South Africa is a beautiful country with incredible landscapes and people. It was a blessing every time I ran on our base and every time I got to meet a new person. While I am not returning to Africa for long-term work (at least at the moment) I will never forget it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cape Town-Touristy Things

Here is a brief recap of some of the many touristy things I did while in Cape Town

1) Saw Robben Island. Very cool and historical but was done too quickly and was not able to explore at all myself. Saw Mandela's cell and very glad I went.

2) Went to Ratanga Junction, South Africa's amusement park. It was tons of fun with a couple decent roller coasters and fun rides.

3) Went to Cape point the unofficial southern-most point of the African Continent. It was beautiful. I hiked a bit and saw baboons. It was very very cool.

4) We got to hang out and shop and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront which is tourist central in Cape Town. Right on the water with tons of shops, a huge mall and plenty of entertainment. Pretty cool.

It was a really good trip and a great way to end the year. Stay tuned for my last entry in South Africa tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I'll get back to Cape Town tomorrow but I wanted to highlight yesterday a bit.

I think this was my first thanksgiving without any immediate family members. A little different but it was very nice. We had over 20 people, including staff, interns, Neil and Alece's friends (two families with 5 kids-aged 6 months to 5 years-between them), and Neil's mom. It was quite fun. We had good food including turkey and mashed potatoes but also with a dish you can only get in Africa, Lechwe (it was tasty by the way).
One highlight was Alece had a thanks wall where you could take a sticky note and write what you were thankful for. At one point it got a little out of hand and the wall was covered with sticky notes but it was fun. Neil's were pretty funny but also delightfully inappropriate so if you want to know what he said you have to ask.

I wanted to write about the holiday because I really only have a couple days left in Africa and after a year of many big get-togethers this is going to be the last one. It's a little weird too because 7 (yes SEVEN) of my fellow interns are coming back and they realize that while they are done being interns they will be back within 2-6 months. I won't be. I know I would not enjoy or be effective as staff here but its still weird with all the returnees.
In the end, It was great getting to know everyone here and having the community I did. I will certainly miss it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cape Town Continued

We left for Cape Town at 5am and arrived in Cape Town around 8pm that evening. A lovely 13 hour trip in the car. The only thing to say about the journey is how remarkably empty the country seemed to be. We drove pass miles of mostly empty countryside with little more than grass, bushes and mountains in the distance. Very pretty but not very exciting.

Once in Cape Town we drove down the peninsula a bit until we were just outside Simon's Town, the South African Navy Headquarters. We stayed in a very nice rental house that was on a hillside above the ocean. This is where we had sessions and had some of our meals. It was beautiful. Running during the week was awesome. Not only did I see a new environment, I was running at sea level which left my lungs feeling very good.

One of the first big touristy things we did was take the cable car up Table mountain which is right in the middle of Cape Town. It was amazingly beautiful on top. I got to hike a little bit and see great views of Robben Island and the city below. The cable car itself is a very quick ride but very cool. It has a rotating bottom so you can see all the different views from it. Very cool.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back from Cape Town

I made it back from Cape Town safely. Now it's really the homestretch only a few days to hangout, do thanksgiving,pack, and head to the airport on Monday.

Our trip, while visiting many tourist highlights in Cape Town, was done under the guise of a debriefing trip. We had a number of sessions where we got advice and tips from Neil and Alece about transitioning back home and making wise choices in the future. We also got to ask them any questions we had about the ministry and life and anything else you can imagine.

This was a really awesome way to end the year. It certainly brought a measure of closure to the experience, a fact that will need to really sink in once I get home.

Over the next few days stay tuned to more blog entries as I continue to write about all the stuff I did in Cape Town and finally end my blog when I arrive safely home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Czeching" in.

So I have a lot I could blog about but I'm going to Cape Town for debriefing for the next week. Pray for safety. When I return hopefully I'll be able to put some final entries in that sufficiently conclude this blog and this year.

In any case I wanted to tell any and all that I will be home in America from December until Julyish. I will then be going to the Czech Republic to teach for a year with the agency I'm really excited about living there and going on to the next thing God has for me. If you have any questions please email me about it or otherwise stay tuned for more news and information.

I'll be back online November 25th. Be Blessed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last Week

Our internet was out for 4+ days. Sorry for the delay. Stay tuned for another entry before I leave for Cape Town on Monday!

Last week we had six South Africans visit us on the base. They were part of their own ministry and were here to learn and be trained in what Leadership Summit was about. They were busy in classes most of the time but we did get to eat meals with them and they said two things I want to highlight.
First they said to just about everyone they saw that they could tell the ministry here was run with excellence which is uncommon in Africa. This was a big deal because while excellence is one of the core values at Thrive it’s not that often you hear it recognized by people who actually live here.
Second one guy made the point that if we tried teaching our curriculum by ourselves that is, without Basotho coaches the students simply wouldn’t get it. I had not thought of that in the 9 previous months I’ve been here but it rang true. The curriculum Thrive makes and teaches is just so radical for these kids that if someone from their own culture doesn’t explain it, it won’t sink in.
A lot of ministries that seek to build up nationals into leadership are overly hesitant in letting the nationals actually take those positions. They wait so long for the nationals to be “ready” that it just doesn’t happen. Thrive is being bold in utilizing coaches and having Basothos be on their staff when their ministry is still so young. But their vision is to build up leaders and while Thrive may not be huge just yet it is accomplishing just that exact vision. It’s not always easy to put so much faith and training in nationals so quick and Thrive I’m sure has had (and will continue to have) its up and downs with training Basothos but they are being effective and doing God’s work and that is the ultimate goal.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

LaunchPad Graduations Term 2

We had a second term of LaunchPad come to an end yesterday with a very festive graduation celebration. It was really fun and a more than suitable way to say goodbye to Qwa Qwa for the year.

Arriving early, we found a lot of our students dancing with a boom-box in the classroom. It never ceases to amaze me how African youth can dance and sing so easily and so well. It was a lot of fun to watch them do their thing.
Once the ceremony started it just got better. We sang and prayed, listened to some awesome testimonies about stuff the students learned (being in relationship with God and him being by our side was a common theme), and than handed out certificates. We then took pictures and had some soda and snacks.
Since it was a less formal schedule this week we got to take lots of pictures with the students and talk with them a bit. It was great to see how excited they were and to just spend time with them.
To sum it up when we left most of the students came up and gave us all a hug. It didn't matter how much we had talked to them or not, we were their teachers and they truly appreciated us.

I will never forget how kind the Basotho people are. It was a great graduation.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fun with Thabang

This last friday we had our third to last visit to Hope House. It's weird to think that I'm not going to see these kiddies again (for a very long time at least). In any case just because the year is almost over doesn't mean I can't keep learning new things about the kiddies. For instance, this week I learned that Thabang LOVES to hit me with a fake plastic cricket bat. Can you see how happy he is? Fun times.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Back home soon...

On this day next month I will be in America. That is all...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What its all about.

I taught the last class of my LaunchPad term yesterday. It's hard to believe only graduation is left but I wanted to share what happened yesterday because it was awesome.

I have taught the course Ordinary Day with Jesus with my fellow interns Kaylen and Katie and a staff member here, Cassie. The course teaches students how to live in Jesus' name and to experience God in every moment of their days and lives.
A few weeks ago I realized that after learning all this it would not be effective if the students did not have a chance to accept Christ. How can you live in Jesus' name if your not a christian? I asked Cassie and the others if it would be OK if after the last lesson we could share the gospel and give them an opportunity to live their life for Jesus. Of course, they agreed and as we decided roles for the lesson I was given the role to share the gospel.

For the week before the lesson I was excited but very nervous. I had shared the gospel and talked about Christianity a decent amount in my life but never in a class setting and I had never done a real "alter call" talk before. I prayed a crazy amount about it.
During the class while I waited for the girls to go through their teaching I appeared so agitated Kaylen asked "are you mad at me?" When I said no she asked asked, "Are you mad at someone?" It was kind of funny because I can't really express how I felt but I knew I couldn't go up with a scowl on my face. So I took a deep breath and went and let the truth speak.

I shared the Gospel and when I gave the kids a chance to choose to follow Christ around 10 kids raised their hands (I didn't take an exact count but there were about 20 kids total there that day.) I led them in a prayer and that was what happened.

It often is easy for me to be cynical about things like group salvations but with this situation I have no doubt about the student's sincerity. I have been able to teach these kids for 10 weeks and to see them excited to soak in everything we have been teaching. The kids who raised their hands were ready and understood what they were doing.

Reflecting on the whole situation I realize that this is what its all about. It's not about me growing, or learning, or even enjoying myself. It is about God being glorified by bringing people to himself. I had nothing to do with this term of LaunchPad, it was all God. I was just blessed to experience and see it as it happened.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Staying Sharp

God has a funny sense of humor.

For example, in my experience whenever I start thinking that the task is done or the hard work is behind me, a new challenge or task pops up.
I remember when I was a counselor at my summer camp in the summer of 2004. It was my first summer as a head counselor and by the last week I was ready to go into cruise control to finish up. The last week I had a camper with ADD, glasses and hearing aids. Needless to say my last week was as busy and challenging as the rest.

In regards to this year I have done a lot. Specifically I have helped bind and collate thousands of curriculum for ministry programs. I will admit entering the last few months it has been tempting to look past all that is left to do and think about the end of this year. Its not as if I am homesick or I think it will be easy to return home from here but the thoughts and conversations come up. And then God enters the picture.

Last week we learned that the printer who did our Summit Curriculum for this year in America would not be doing it for 2009. Therefore we have to print everything on the base and collate and bind them ourselves. 5,000 copies, 74 pages.
We started this week and it should go quicker since all the interns are taking part. While it was a bit of a surprise I don't begrudge it. I'm still an intern and there is still really important things to do here.

In any case this task is a nice reminder that God, not myself, is in control.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Discovering Podcasts

Before coming to South Africa and meeting the interns I had no idea what podcasts really were. Sure I had heard the term but had never bothered to look into them or what they were. When I get here I find out that many of my fellow interns uses podcasts to download sermons and many other things. Moreover, ALL podcasts are FREE.

I had no idea that such a great source of information on Itunes was free. I was mildly interested but my laptop was busted and the idea of downloading other church's services seemed a bit strange to me. Isn't one sermon a week enough? Why go searching for others?

My laptop returned fixed this month and than in a class I have here I learned that past interns here have used podcasts to download and listen to their own church's sermons every week. That idea intrigued me but I forgot about it until the evening. I was on my laptop about to look at podcasts when it hit me. I can get my own church's sermons!

A quick search confirmed they were there and I quickly subscribed and downloaded the most recent sermon. My church is doing a series on the fruit of the spirit. Not only was the sermon good but it was just great to hear my own pastor's voice again.
I'm headed home soon but it is very comforting to know that no matter where I am I can stay in touch with my home church in the future.