Monday, August 20, 2012

250 and growing

It's hard to know where to begin on this one... Thursday and Friday were fabulous, unbelievable, chaotic, insane, and miserable all at the same time. We had our usual youth conference for this term's holiday. I had been thinking yet again it would be 200+ while honestly being ok if it was smaller because I don't know if I ever really recovered from the last conference. But as the days approached, the number kept climbing and 200 was passed. It was going to be another doozy, but then again, PRAISE GOD!

Now, it would have been one thing if I could have approached the event with 100% of my strength and gone for it, but as God would have it, Davis and I were out shopping for supplies on Wednesday and after a few days of random little symptoms I finally just felt so bad that I asked him to take me to the clinic because I had a feeling I had Malaria. After buying everything we stopped by my "usual" malaria testing clinic and as he came back with the results his exact words were "Eh! It is much this time!" It was then that I began really understanding that God wanted to do something big... not Kelli to do something big. So I went home took my meds and continued checking things off the to-do list and by 9 I was asleep.

Early the next morning (6 to be exact) Davis and I were out setting up benches and getting everything good to go. By 7:30 the rest of the leaders arrived, we had our coffee and chapattis and it was time to start day 1. Registration began and although the conference wasn't supposed to begin until 8:30, about 50 students were already handing around even before 8.
(oh, I forgot to add that 125 of them were street kids... so ummm... yeah...)

We began with worship, then Ricky teaching the theme of Be Disciples and then small group time. We then did a game where the volunteers had to be blindfolded and manage their way through an obstacle course in order to follow the example of their leaders.

Then it was time for Steven to teach on being focused and then it was lunch time. To feed 250+ people was definitely an interesting task but our ladies were AMAZING and did it all and we had just enough food for all the students (the leaders got samosas for lunch that day). We then had more worship and Jess taught on being humble. Talk about a tough subject but I pray the students were able to learn and be changed specifically in that area.

It was then game time. I can tell I wasn't feeling my best because the games were pretty tame this time but we still had fun. To demonstrate how we needed to be focused, we did a balance beam (basically a 2x6' balanced on 2 benches).
And then to teach about humbling ourselves and being willing to be uncomfortable, we had a game where one person had a half a water bottle they were to hold on their head while catching the water balloons their team threw at them. We had some more just chill time and then it was time for dinner.

At the dawn of day 2... all the students came back and then some and it was go time yet again. We had our tea and Mandazis and then quiet times where the kids were reading from 1 Peter. It never fails that my most favorite part of the conference is looking around and seeing all the students reading their Bibles. We also had the kids who couldn't read in small groups with leaders giving them small devotions.

We had worship, and then Rogers taught of being content... another doozy of a subject. And during small group time then we gave one student chocolate cookies and soda while the others got plain sugar cookies and water to test their level of contentment. You know... "I've learned to be content in all situations, chocolate, no chocolate... with coke or with water..." There was also a game where Jess got random things together for them to build houses with and use everything to make it into the best thing they could... teaching basically make the most of what God gives us.

Ryan taught about being joyful and then we had lunch... again... the meals... it was madness!

And then boy oh boy... we had presentations where several boys showed of their mad crazy dancing skills and all the kids were shoving to try and get a better view. If only that were the extent of the excitement that afternoon. As the presentations came to a close, the storm clouds slowly came in and during worship the rain came, and then came some more, and then some more and then the wind came seriously making the rain fall horizontally.
All the students were packed into the church (a building that normally doesn't get more than 120 people in it at a go) and our poor tent outside was beat into submission. And joy of joys, it was my turn to teach on being prayerful. I must say the storm gave for awesome illustrations tying together all the conference topics though. It was between my malaria and the storm that I knew God wanted to do something big and as chaotic as it was, and how many students (who many don't normally have the best behaviour), God kept their attention and they heard about how He cares for them, how we're to lay down our worries at His feet but more than anything we are know Him.

All in all, the students were fed the Word, loved on by leaders, had fellowship with one another, ate tons of food, and heard the Gospel in full force. You can't ask for much more than that?

I must say by dinner of the first day I was so done, the Malaria definitely gave me its best shot by then but praise Him that His grace is sufficient and that in His amazing grace He also blessed me with an awesome boyfriend. Davis was such a HUGE GIGANTIC WORDS CAN'T DESCRIBE IT blessing. He had it all taken care of for me. Before the conference and even before the Malaria he told me to tell him everything that needed to get done with the conference and he'd make sure it happened so I wouldn't have to be so stressed out. Even one of my students told me that I wasn't nearly as stressed this time as I've been in the past. I really would have been in the hospital on drip if it wasn't for him (well, you know, God working through him). So anyway, just have to give him props because he totally deserves it!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A night to remember

You know those moments where you couldn't imagine it being any more perfect and all you want to do is savor it and remember every detail? That was last night for me. At one point I was just sitting next to our bonfire as the girls were roasting marshmallows and making so many s'mores their stomachs hurt, laughing, talking, and sharing stories, with worship music in the background as sparks floated up into the starry night sky and thinking "this is what life's all about". Yesterday I was blessed to see one thing God's been laying on my heart for some time now finally come into fruition - a girl's night. Every last detail God was in... it blew and still does blow my mind to think about.

We had about 15 girls show up, all between the ages of 10-17. They come from all sorts of backgrounds but one thing was constant with all of them, they all need to hear and hear again just who they are to their heavenly Father. I'll be honest, sometimes I buck against the cliche themes for girls/women's events (don't hate me) but this time I knew God really wanted them to hear those "cliche" things because just because everyone hears about them doesn't mean they remember them or live them. I wanted them to leave knowing they are precious to God and that God's purpose for them is more than just living for a boy or to please their friends. I also had five women who don't just talk the talk, but they walk the walk in order to encourage my younger girls to stay strong and to see Ugandan women (some in their twenties, some older) who truly live passionately for Christ.

The day began after many of them finished with the Inductive Bible Study class Jess is teaching to the youth. We began with having chalk numbers written on the ground and then a di was rolled and the number it landed on was the number that the girl standing on that number had to answer a question from the game "Loaded Questions". It was fun and very telling and I may or may not have been the subject of some of the answers as they gave me a hard time about my current relationship status :). We did that for about an hour and then it was time for dinner and then for the bon fire.

Let me just say that it was an awesome bonfire! (and I'm not just saying it because Davis made it). Then the girls were instructed in the way of s'mores. I wasn't sure if they would enjoy them but boy howdy did they! It was hilarious! Even the "Big girls" partook in the marshmallowy goodness. Then Mary shared some of what was on her heart about God's timing and not rushing into doing things just because your friends say that you should. The other women also shared a little bit. We asked questions, and discussed issues and then it was time to go in.

My friend Anne brought the idea of spin the nail polish bottle... now before you judge, this is how it works: you take turns with each girl picking a color and then they spin the nail polish bottle and whoever it points to is the one you paint one finger the color you choose. It was hilarious and we definitely disrupted the rest of the building with our laughter.

We ate cookies, watched Princess Bride, and then finally by 1am everyone had a place to sleep as we packed into the girls dorm... I was EXHAUSTED!

By 5 I was awake again to work on a couple of things and also just to breathe and compose myself before the girls woke up. Davis helped make the tea so I could finish making the notes I made for each girl. We had tea, chapattis, and then I shared with them about what type of character we should have using examples of women in Scripture. We then just painted nails again - that's what nail polish remover is for - and tried to do our own version of American Idol (not so successfully though) and then it was time to go home.

I'm so blown away by how it went. Thank you for all of you who prayed for this event! Your prayers were answered in HUGE ways!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One Scary Afternoon

We live in a fallen world and I can't help but echo the psalm and Romans where "there is no one who is good... not even one." Sin and evil are everywhere, but praise God that He too is everywhere and promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

Yesterday afternoon, I had what was most definitely the scariest experience of my life. I had just gotten back from town and was getting to work on some projects when I heard Bev scream, at first I thought she was just yelling at some kids but then I could hear her yelling "Jesse!" and I knew something was wrong. I ran out screaming for Jess as well and had no idea that I would find what I did, I thought maybe it was an accident or something but when Steven, Jess and I got out of our gate I found Bev in her car and a car that was blocking her path and she point at it and said "Thief!" Steven tried to reach in and pull the guy out of the car but he sped off, as we were distracted with the car we didn't realize that the guy on the other side of Bev's car were two other thieves, and he was holding what I've been told was an AK-47. We thought that maybe he had just been a security guy who had come to help but then as he was shouting for the money and Jess started to yell for Bev to get out of the car, we were about to run and the guy shot out Bev's window. Just as she was getting out. Us girls ran to my veranda while Steven ran after the guy and Jess got in the truck to head him off the other way. Then Davis ran out to go and help them.

It didn't take long for the mob justice to form as the area around the corner came to help out. Literally hundreds of people came and as Steven had caught who we believe was the shooter at a local school, the group came and began beating and stoning the thief with every intention of killing him then and there (that's just how it's normally done here as not a lot of stock is taken in our police). But our guys protected the man and even Davis and Joseph got hurt in the process because the people were just so upset. Our guys dragged the guy to the church and brought him in the gate and I was the lucky one who had to keep everyone out and only open it for police and the others who were really a part of the situation. All of our guys did unbelievably between chasing the guy down, protecting him in order to save his life and be sure he was around to give the names of his friends, and trying to recover what had been stolen. Afterwards, the police came and fingerprinted the car and Jess, Bev, and Steven have had to be at police for hours giving their statements and so far the guy they caught has given up some information. Along with the mob justice, another way they deal with people here is they fill a jerrycan of petrol and begin burning the person who was caught in order to make them talk... I'm still kind of in shock about that one.

We were the subject of several tv and radio interviews and so many people were just so upset that these thieves would rob from us, and specifically Bev because God has used this ministry to help so so many people. We all are still kind of reeling from the whole ordeal and we're all praising God for his protection because Bev, Jess, Steven, myself, Davis, Joseph, Rogers or any of the others could have easily been shot. Now we're just praying that 1) thieves have gotten the memo don't mess with us 2) the crowd was able to see God's mercy in how we dealt with the thief and 3) that the thieves would be caught so they wouldn't do this to someone else and potentially with a much worse outcome.


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