Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Carousels-Mewithoutyou

"Funny, it was me... it was me who let you down"
It was the shyest attempt I'd ever seen at conversation

If I didn't have You as my guide I'd still wander lost in Sinai,
Counting the plates of cars from out-of-state,
(how I could jump in their path as they hurry along!)
You surround me, you're pretty but you're all I can see,
like a thick fog -

If there was no way into God, I would never have laid in this grave of a body for so long.

Day 3+4

I decided to make chili today with ryan and gina. Rough idea. For someone who is working on fasting, and keeping my mind off of food, filling a crock pot full of delicious meat and spices and letting it simmer for hours was an awful idea. HA. My whole apartment smelled DELICIOUS! Once 630 came around and the sun was setting i began an all out disgusting binge of shoveling food in my mouth... too graphic? I could go into more detail if ya like.

That was yesterday. Today was all about choking down Subway in the middle of my Paul class at 630 on the dot. Professor Willetts loved it i'm sure. Shoveling down a footie in approximately 3 minutes i almost exploded after that binge.

Now trying to relate all that with what God's doing in my life is a bit challenging soo i'm just going to go bluntly into this one with a few questions.

What's the big deal about fasting?
Why does it matter in my life currently?
Is it taking effect in anything i'm doing?

Here's the thing. Fasting for me is a declaration of submitting and surrender. TWO things i am awful at doing. Maybe i have a hard time laying my pride down, or maybe i'm just stubborn. But allowing my mind to have a goal of surrender during the day has been a cleansing trip. Surrendering my wants to a God who above all desires a relationship with me, desires an action in my life to seek him out daily. Why is this so hard? I think maybe the American-ness of life here has something to do with it. Anything and eeeerthing in my life draws me away from spending quiet time and worship with our creator. Things and stuff here take all my attention away, creating something simple to keep my mind amused when God intends us to dwell in him for our joy! I'm learning to do this.

prayer request.

SURRENDER. i need to surrender myself, to seek God fully. I would love to look back on this time and realize that God became bigger and I became less in my life.

Mathew 16: 24-27

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."


To live simply, so that others may simply live.




Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Your Love is Strong- Jon Foreman

Heavenly Father, you always amaze me
Let your Kingdom come, in my world and in my life
Give me the food i need
To live through today

And forgive me as i forgive the people who wrong me
Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me, from the evil one

Day 2: Not much to say for today. Should i be expecting a mind blowing day each and everyday during this experience. I am not sure. What i know is that even though i may be hungry physically drained the Lord renewed my mind and spirit often throughout the day.

So why should i worry?
Why do i freak out?
God knows what i need.
Your love is, so STRONG!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Master & a Hound- Gregory Alan Isakov

Can you shake it up
Just once for me
Your little globe just so we can see
The snow blowing round your hands


Being back from Africa starting my last year of school has been quite the trip. I can't even express the feelings behind coming back into an American lifestyle experiencing what life is like here but enjoying the memories behind the style of living back at home (Nairobi). This month i've decided to travel. I'm traveling on a different road than i've normally been on. It's traveling not by plane, not state to state, or by country. I've decided to travel within myself on a different level than i could ever imagine. I welcome yall to read and experience it with me.

I'm making the commitment to Ramadan. (30 day fasting while the sun is up)

I'm making this commitment to explore the surrender and trust building aspect of a self-less faith in which your belief becomes a higher priority than your own wants. In my case my faith in Jesus Christ becomes a radically realistic part of my life in which i need to rely on Christ not just for my own personal wants, but on my everyday needs.

I am prepared to document this journey to all interested. Beginning today, the day of reflection and commitment.

Today i spent about 5 hours alone in my apartment. I can't really say i have been able to do this since moving back to Chicago. Feeling the pains of hunger and boredom my eyes were opened to a realization that self satisfaction in entertainment and food have dominated my life unnecessarily. My focus has been on supplying for the wants of my humanness more than sacrificing my life for what really matters, building God's Kingdom. It's easy for me to get wrapped up in this world with the struggles of course work and the dramas of college life. I battle with a life where i merely try and fit God into my plans, rather than having satisfaction living in communion with God in this life.

Psalm 25

"To you O Lord, I lift up my soul
Oh my God in you i trust
let me not be put to shame
let not my enemies exult over me"

Indeed none who wait for you shall be put to shame
[..] make me to know your ways O lord.

I'm still exploring what living a life of faith looks like. I'm exploring a life where "the focus" is not in this world but in THE KINGDOM!

I look forward to seeing where this journey will take my heart and mind. I long too see Christ daily. I long to hear his voice and experience his presence.

And the wing-nut turned
The song that we both know
Sent us flying round the carnival
You can throw all your lucky coins on me





Thursday, July 22, 2010

Road to Durban!

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000167 EndHTML:0000004521 StartFragment:0000000457 EndFragment:0000004505

Durban| 7-22-10


Road trip to Durban...

We spent the last week of our time with our new friends and Swazi Family. Chad and I taught at Cornerstone for the last and final time on Friday. I am in awe of how much God has been changing us both, preparing us for future ministry: future opportunity to seek his Kingdom. Whether this takes me back to Swaziland, Kenya, South Africa or any part of the world, this summer has been a practical classroom of what life looks like relying on Faith in Christ and an example of committing my trust not in Chad or my abilities but trusting the God who created this world. Its been wild leaving all my prior knowledge of biblical truths, mission trips and all my fundamental life skills having grown up in the church and asking God to wipe me clean and show me where to go and what to do. This feeling is indescribable and I look forward to sharing about each and every experience when I arrive home.


Speaking of...


We have made it to Durban. We encountered yet another Angel on our trip. This one found us the night before we left. We were planning to take a kombi (Public van) across country line from Swazi into Durban, SA, thinking this would be the best option for us to escape on our own for yet another adventure. God had other plans. Here's the story:


We had budgeted just enough money the last week to eat, throw a braii (bbq) for all our friends at the hot springs and get ourselves to Durban. Yet again our budget seemed to find itself running low and we were concerned how to finish the trip off right. By faith Chad and I made a few decisions, spending some of our needed money for transport on ensuring that we left Swaziland on a good note and hoping to send blessing to the friends we have grown to love. We were now left with about 100 rand ( roughly 15 dollars). This was expected to get us to Durban, I think not haha! Each Kombi cost 180 Rand a piece not including transport for accommodation...


When life gives you hassle: Trust in the Lord Faithfully... He protects his children just as any father would.


At the Braii: last day before traveling. One of our friends tells us she has a friend going into Durban leaving early in the morning and would love to help us out. We were relieved and so excited. She came to pick us up, had food and drink ready and we shared a great drive into SA. I once again was amazed that we had found a way. But really it wasn't us at all, God had paved this path for us.


DURBAN!


We made it to Durban and have been hanging out. It's beautiful to relax knowing that we head home shortly. We are staying at Ansteys Backpackers lodge. Probably the coolest public lodging I have ever stayed at. We are roughly 30 seconds walk from a private beach next to the famous Cave Rock surfing beach. We have kept ourselves busy ha: had a couple braii's on the beach, surfed cave rock and done our fair share of napping. Its a paradise here.


This is the last blog, we fly into the States Saturday. CRAZY! Thanks all for reading and keeping us in your prayers. If you are reading this pray for safe travels, we made tons of friends at the backpackers lodge we ar staying in and one has offered us a ride to Joburg. Pray the car makes it safely, (we had to push start her yesterday) haha. Love all you!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Life's Short: Live it

7-5-10


Week of Independence right? It's been interesting here missing the festivities, but who would have guessed that July 4th 2010 would be so full of friends, food and good times, this season in life Chad and I are sharing much more than a sweet fire display... the past week has been a roller coaster as always here in Swazi, emotionally and spiritually but through the blessings the Lord has provided for us we have the opportunity of sharing in a beautiful community here. A community that continually reminds me of what the body of Christ should and used to look like back in the days of the old church. A body that is governed by the head of Christ yet the whole body receives love, care and responsibility with acknowledgement of equality.


Things have changed: at times constrained and contained: only Christ sustains


The world is a small place i've come to realize. The past few years with breaks in between i've been regularly attending Cornerstone Festival. A huge Christian music festival in southern Illinois. The past couple years its been a place to let go, freestyle...burn some chairs and eat crap food all day while jammin to constant metal shows with Critt. Its been legit! I would not change it for anything. Yet this year God brought me all the way to Swaziland, just to see myself involved in yet another Cornerstone. This time not a music festival, but a school for the rejected located in a remote spot outside of Manzini.


Cornerstone Help Centre: Chad and I have been teaching here in the mornings. I am in charge of the 4th and 5th grade classrooms teaching English, Math and Social Studies while Chad takes the 6th and 7th teaching similar subjects at a higher level. This school is a huge blessing and huge ministry to the community in which it serves. Here in Swaziland, if you are mentally handicapped in anyway you are immediately outcasted in society. In most cases kids are found locked away in houses without neighbors even knowing of their existence. Children like these cast a burden of shame to the families that birth them. Its a terrible reality. Cornerstone Help Centre is the only functioning school in the entire country of Swaziland that readily reaches out to these kids. It's been an honor to help out with this ministry.


Thank yall for praying for us! Time here in Africa has been soo wild and we will be coming back with so many stories. We have an updated plan of attack for yall to read. Here's what our schedule is looking like these days.


Wednesday: 7-7

7am-10am: Speak at a school, film Faith Journey

12-3 pm: Hope house ( a home for the terminally sick, aids, TB, we go and pray with them)

3pm- ?: Filming opportunity, spend time with Cornerstone faculty and pastor Jim


Thursday: 7-8

7am-2:30pm: Cornerstone Help Centre

3pm-? Downtown Manzini


Friday: 7-9

7am-10am: Speak at a school

2pm-5: Work at a feeding centre, lead a bible study


Saturday: 7-10

9:30am-1pm Church

1pm-? All day Braai, attend a autism clinic with Cornerstone


Sunday: 7-11

9am-10:30am: Preach at a boarding school

11am-2pm: Attend Church, Present with AGF in front of church


7-12-7-16

We will be working at Cornerstone most days, and we anticipate speaking in several different schools encouraging them in the word as well. Yet this week is not fully planned and of course plans change frequently here, its useless to plan farther than a week in advance.


Friday: 7-16

All day Braii at the Swazi Hot Springs with all the friends and new family we have met here in Swaziland as a farewell or see you later for Chad and I.


Saturday: 7-17

Leave for Durban

WORD!


7-17-7-22

DURBAN!


7-23

FLY HOME!


This is a basic schedule we got going here. I love yall and miss you! We will both be back soon.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

AGF

We launched AGF today in Joy Mission Church. AGF (Acquire God's Fire) is a youth program that offers encouragement, relationships, a daily walk in the word and a chance to be involved in a common goal of raising funds and awareness to help the kids at the fortress.

It was interesting to say the least! But very successful. Success in two:
1. We were able to launch with a big excitement and are continuing to spread into Manzini and Mbabane on the following sundays.
2. Chad and I broke every comfort zone we every had, by preaching, speaking, dancing and performing an acapella duet to “I Love You Lord” in front of a couple hundred people. HA wow.

A couple of our friends taught us a traditional male dance today. We performed it in front of the ladies which to say the least created much laughter. The dance is very expressive, and can only be accompanied or followed by the traditional female dance. I wanna say the dance is called Sinboyata, this is at least how it is sort of pronounced. We have recorded this on video don't worry.
The night was ended with a traditional Swaziland Braii. It was delicious. A Braii is a South African/ Swazi bbq. They laid a huge slate of metal on the ground, built a raging bonfire, post a massive grate on top of a couple cinder blocks each and filled as much meat as humanly possible on the grill! We feasted as Kings tonight. Currently I am posted up on the couch, thinking of all the vos (sasuage) and various other meats I have consumed tonight. I am starting to feel like we are living in a Kingdom.

I am learning how to love, and further the kingdom here OnEarth
Faithfully I am being mentored by the body of Christ here in this Kingdom
Swaziland: In God I Trust!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Prayer of Faith- Zama

Psalm 25
To you, O Lord, I “lift my soul”
O my God, in you I trust;
Let me not be put to shame;

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
Teach me your paths
Lead me in your truth and teach me
For you are the God of my salvation
for you I wait all the day long

Chad and I have just completed the first round of filming for our documentary: Faith Journey. We are exploring what life looks like in complete reliance not of ourselves but of our Heavenly Father. This blog is coming at a point of brokenness as Chad and I are beginning to experience and live out a life that requires only a Trust and Faith our Lord can provide to those willing. We ask that you take a moment and join in with us as I share with you a very sad and difficult matter that is happening in the lives of Chad and I here in Swaziland.

We woke up abruptly this morning by a loud pounding and yelling on our windows and doors.

Time: 6:15 am. The kids had rushed over to where Chad and I stay and began thrashing our homestead in effort to wake both of us up. We sprung awake confused but curious as to why nearly all the orphans had decided Saturday morning was a good morning to wake us up so early to play. Chad went to the door, the kids met him quickly....

“Auntie needs your help, we need you to drive her to the hospital now, please come quick”

At the sound of this both Chad and I threw our clothes on and rubbed our eyes awake. Chad went to make sure Ol' Bessy was in running shape as I went to grab the keys and see what was happening with Auntie inside.

As I got in, I immediately noticed Auntie was fine, but Zama was laying unconscious on the couch in the main room. His eyes had rolled back and his breathing was best described as a heaving, coughing struggle. But I was thankful that he was at least breathing and maintaining signs of life, although very little.

Prayers for Zama poured out in my heart. I was remembering the stories Tabby had told Chad and I of Zama's past; how he had been neglected by his own family, locked in a back room and forced to eat his own waste as a source for food until a pastor in the local area broke him free and took him to the fortress. My heart hurt! I can't fully grasp why such hardship comes in the lives of the innocent..


As I grabbed Zama's hand, and eventually his body i carried him to the car where Chad had Ol Bessy running... everything in my body became weak and I cried out to God to sustain Zama's strength. Desperately I asked God to heal his body, wishing only that I was able to take his pain away and cast it onto my own. The Lord sustained him, Zama began slipping in and out of consciousness for the next 5 hours as Chad and I stayed with Auntie in the hospital.

Currently Zama has been admitted into Raleigh Fitkin hospital after a 12 hour stand, nearly 6-8 hours of this were without the help of oxygen or any medication. Praise be to God for sustaining this child, it is only by The Lord's doing Zama is still with us right now!

Those reading this we ask you to team with us and pour out prayers of faith for Zama. Prayers of healing and power. God calls us to pray boldly, with faith and full trust that The LORD is more powerful than sickness, The LORD is more powerful then modern medicine and The LORD is FOR SURE more powerful than the devil who only dreams of using this situation to take our focus away from the faithful God who continually provides for us!

James 5:15
The prayer of Faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I ate Chapati with Ol’ Bessy and the angels on the MR3 in New Zealand!

Unjani (oon Ja Ni), How are you in Siswati!

This update is going to be pretty long but i’m hoping yall enjoy and feel apart of some of the amazing experiences happening in Africa this summer. I miss all of you!

Chad and I have been camped out here in Swaziland for a little over two weeks now, and are just beginning to feel more at home. It’s amazing to adapt into a new way of living that is in total opposition of my perceived normality at home. The week from the 14th to the 21st has been a week for the record books. Its become a definition, a stable example of pushing our human limit, relying on our heavenly father and receiving blessings from the least expected. I prepare to document it for all of you the best way i know how.

To live faithfully: I am learning

Woke up Monday, not sure what the day will look like. It appears that our attempt at forming a structured ministry schedule has fallen through the cracks yet again. Fail. We had hoped to remain busy visiting schools, food camps, HIV centers and being with the orphans all in hope to grab a better grasp of what life is like living in Swaziland and how we can document it. I guess we are on our own today the kids are off to school and the fortress is empty, except for Chad and I.
Breakfast menu: Chapati, Cheese and multiple cups of tea!

New Schedule; Monday

We have decided to spend our afternoon cooking chapati. It nearly took us an hour to light a fire under our sweet stove. Which happens to be a series of rocks stacked together, wire that we have found around the fortress and a bunch of wood thats just laying there. Chapati is a delicious fried bread, similar to a tortilla but with more sugar. I learned how to cook this in Kenya and currently Chad and I have made this our stable food, consumed at nearly every meal. Amazingly enough we have been able to keep occupied for the remainder of the day, filming shots for the documentary around and continually cooking chapati after chapati after chapati. The kids arrived back at home: its 2!

This is always a funny time because we love talking and playing with the kids but our siswati and their english only goes so far. So there is a lot of hand signals and sounds that we use to communicate. Helping them with their homework is the funniest part. Lets see tonight’s homework assignment was read, translate and write about 20 siswati words. Of course i am of no help in this situation and i begin to search for someone, anyone who is working on a universal language like Math. After a slight success, Chad and I head out to meet our new friend Viyuni (we call hime V) because we can’t pronounce his name well. V lives right across from the street from the church we attend on sundays. He is a Pastor’s Kid, and professional footie player. He plays for the Mbabane Highlanders and the Swaziland National Team.

The night and day blend, all i can see now is the orange horizon in the distance and remember hours of footie (soccer). I’m relaxing outdoors on our bunkbed hammock system we have rigged up. I’m excited to see the stars tonight. The moon is out, the milky way is in full view... i can see the hands of God carrying Chad and I through this summer.

Tuesday: ................?

Some how Chad and I have eaten about 3 hours worth of Chapati making from yesterdays cook off. This is okay, because flour, sugar, salt and water are accessible.. no worries.

We talked with the lady who operates the fortress today and she assured us that if we are to remain busy with filming this week, the following week will be busy with schools and orphanage work. In hearing this Chad and I began to become excited but a little confused. At this Tabby has basically told us there was no plan for this entire week of scheduled ministry. I am confused and thought maybe she didn’t understand we are only here for a short time. But as these thoughts entered i remembered something i learned in Kenya. TIA, and africa time. “This is Africa”, when i begin to control things with my American perception i loose the beauty of a lifestyle and culture that God has created.

I will continue to trust in a Father who has brought me here to Swazi,
I will understand that through his allowance i have been given this opportunity
I will remember that his work is done in his timing.

The mid week went by quickly. We got some great film.. and climbed Mount Fortress ( see Chad’s blog) africaonearth.wordpress.com

Thursday; Does Milwane even exist?

Thursday we had planned out, in fact this was the only day this week we had formed a legit plan of what the day might look like. Since again we had no set schedule and the kids weren’t expected back till 2 we had set out to go visit one of Swaziland’s famous Game/ Nature reserves. Milwane! We got up extra early this morning and waited for Tabby to arrive so we could get directions to where we were going. At this point we had not fully grasped how ridiculous of an idea getting directions here is. Since there are few street signs, the main source of direction includes petrol, circles and robots. Translation (gas station and traffic lights). This mornings directions. Drive, take a left, drive past manzini, when you see Coca Cola and a bridge turn left to the old road, take a left at the circle and look for the Milwane sign. This of course was our best attempt at getting directions as these directions were quickly affirmed by Tabby’s friend who was sitting nearby. I was skeptical to say the least.

But i couldn’t complain Ol’ Bessy ( our 17 passenger van) that we are delighted to drive around was up and running and we headed out the garage after a quick goodbye. We were on the road. To me, each and everyday that Ol’ Bessy manages turning over her engine is a miracle. She has over 245,000 K’s on her and requires a series of buttons and security checks before she will allow us to start. We made it and in no time we were completely lost. Our directions have proved to be insufficient, leading us down dirt roads coming to a complete stop at a large white tent that looked as if it could house my entire block in Chicago. This was a clear sign that things were not going our way this morning. We got back on the MR3 and drove to where we thought we saw some Coca Cola signs and what may have possibly been a bridge. These directions were hilarious, i secretly had admitted in my mind already that there was almost surely no chance of us making it to the game park anytime soon. But to our amazement we found something glorious! The Kingdom of Swaziland is completely surrounded by a huge mountain range. More beautiful than i have ever seen in my life. At the near moment of panic and failure Chad and I both gazed in awe, to the right of us stood a Huge Mountain: our hiking dream was at our finger tips. We barely had to say a thing to each other. Ol’ Bessy swerved off the road, parked by a nearby hut village and Chad and I began the journey up.

It took about two hours to travel up this beast and about the same traveling down. It was amazing the amount of different eco systems we encountered just on this journey alone. To my knowledge, at the summit we were in view of the whole Kingdom of Swaziland. I couldn’t imagine a greater beauty then what my eyes were seeing at that moment. It was as if on that day God showed a piece of himself to me, an experience i can’t forget. My eyes were opened to one of the most beautiful Kingdoms on earth (Swaziland), as a parallel glimpse into the Kingdom of Heaven that our Lord is preparing for us.

Ol’ Bessy remained stationed where we dropped her off, and we began the drive home after loading about 15 kids into the back and dropping them closer to home after their day at school.

We were back on the MR3. As we pulled out. We both started laughing... no way was this true. No way was this happening. We had turned the wrong direction and were forced to drive no more than 5 minutes down the MR3. We spotted 3 signs for Milwane. It was only 8 km away. If only the directions said stay on the one road (MR3) and look for the sign we would have made it. But then again... would i have wanted my plan to work out?? Naw, I think i’ll settle for the day God had prepared for us.
The sun fell, all became orange...
God i thank you for teaching
Even if i don’t want to be taught at times

Saturday came around so quick, as Friday was spent collecting firewood with several Swazis. Only God knows how this took so long, yet after the collection our stove has been much more efficient these days.

6/19.. We had planned to play footie with the youth from Joy church. In fact this had been planned since the previous Sunday and was even announced in the church. We had failed to communicate during the week on the time or the place so we have resorted to making sure all was ready for the departure to Nelspruit that night. We were leaving early to cross the border into South Africa and get to Nelspruit a night before the game. This was the idea, but as usual our plans haven’t gone as we intend.

L came to our house around 10:30. I call him L, mainly because his first name is so wildly different than anything i have ever heard but i am fairly confident of the first letter and he doesn’t seem to mind this gesture. He was our main man for finding information on this footie match, it turns out that the game is on and we have roughly 5 min to prepare our things and go play. We assured L that we were excited to play but had to be back home by 3 at the latest because we had intended to exit from the nearest gate which was due to close around 6 and we still had to pack Ol’ Bessy with our things and make sure all was good. L agreed and gave us a confident assurance. HA

We made it to the side of the road at Joy Mission. We were eagerly met by about 15 other guys all around my age or a little older. This was our team. We were set out to go battle another neighborhood church. I couldn’t be more excited. We hoped in the back of a pick-up and drove off. That’s right... there were 12 of us in the back and 3 up front! TIA. L scrambled some english and said what we believed to be the field is not too far away.

We left at 11. Arrival time 12:30. Ha the truck broke down around 6 times. When this occurs everyone jumps out the back stretches, pees on the side of the road and someone grabs a jug of water and dumps it on the engine. With my little knowledge about trucks i came to the conclusion that this truck was on the brink of exploding roughly every 5 kms, so a must needed shower was occuring quite often for her engine. The game didn’t start until around 1:30. I already knew by this time that we were not going to make it home. There was no way we would make it by 3 or even 4.

But hey, the experience of a true African footie match was ridiculous. It was so cool to be so involved and make friends with the youth of our church. At this moment there was nothing in the world that mattered, except this match and being apart of our team. Footie is a great communication tool worldwide!

We left the field at 4 haha! Chad and I now had to discuss what we were going to do that night. Our jenk directions to the closest gate were all we had, yet by the time we got home packed and left the gate would be closed. We had to travel to the 24 hr gate. That was the only option. But first we had to get home... this proved to be quite a large effort. It was freezing outside and once again we were all slammed in the back of the truck stopping almost every 10- 15 minutes. Chad and I exchanged glances. TIA was still spinning around our heads. At one point we stopped in the middle of the road and half our truck jumped out and we kept moving.Since Siswati was the only language being spoken, we had absolutely no idea what was going on. Shortly after we were stopped by a female police officer and told to continue on our way. We stopped about 1 km down the road, jumped out the car and flipped a U turn to grab the rest of our group. They hopped in the back and came to grab us quite easily... we had some how just beaten the Swaziland Road enforcement system, very sloppily.. i am still unsure how the police officer did not notice this plan. Once again the 15 of us were headed home. We made it.... it is now 6:30pm!
There is not much point in rushing now since we were headed to a 24 hour gate. We cooked up some jungle oats and had ourselves a couple battle axes of peanut butter, packed up our food (chapati, rice, beans), clothes, camera equipment, double checked our tickets and got some AWESOME directions to the gate. It was once again Me, Chad and Ol’ Bessy hitting the road.

This time we assumed bad directions. We had forgotten all our maps, our directions were as follows: go on the MR3, go past Mbabane, turn left at the gas station and the robot, take the road straight to the gate. Yet again we found ourselves failing to figure out this African way of guidance. We located what could be the gas station he was talking about and met with an angel. We both were saying silent prayers for the Lord’s guidance, right as we pulled into the gas station we stumbled upon a man who spoke brilliant English and happened to work at the gate we were trying to get to. He ended up driving down that way and allowing us to follow him the whole time. He called himself Brian, i know that can’t be his real name... but it was great to be able to pronounce something again. He gave us sound advice regarding Nelspruit and traveling safely at this time. I thank God for sending us this gas station angel to direct us out of Swaziland.

Everyone here always tells us “ oh Nelspruit, thats close, no worries.. its about 2 1/2 hours away”. This is not true. In fact it is much further than that. Its around 250-300 K’s away from Manzini and i guess maybe if traveling at 100- 120 K, knowing precisely the correct turns you may get there around this time, Chad and I could not manage to do this. In fact Ol’ Bessy tops out around 80 unless she is cruising down a paved mountain in which her top speed is limitless.

Speaking of limits, we were pushing Ol’ Bessy’s gas limit a little too close for comfort. We had figured like America, Africa should have gas stations nearly every 20 k’ s or so. This is not the case. In fact, we drove nearly 100 K’s without the site of petrol at all. Ol’ Bessy had managed to guzzle down the rest of the tank in a matter of 150 K’s. We had began the battle with the E. We were forced to engage homemade cruise control ( leave in neutral as long as possible) until speeds slowed to nearly 30 K’s. We were cruising past a small town called Badplaas, Chad and I decided that this was our last chance for petrol. If we could not find it here, we would sleep in Ol’ Bessy in town, and search for gas in the morning when it was more likely for a small town to have an open petrol station. For some reason our priorities got mixed up and plan B was to resort to prayer, asking God for direction. I find it annoying when i realize time and again that continually i try to control situations myself instead of allowing God to do what he does best! I said my prayers and just as Chad’s voice rang out “ I think this is the decision point, we might want to look for somewhere to crash”, a huge Total gas station appeared around the corner, with a working ATM for us to take rand out to purchase the fuel we needed. Its as if God had known the whole time that this would happen, in coming to this junction he wanted us to feel the need for him and faithfully rely on the God we claim we have come out this way to serve. DUH!

Worries slipped away, Ol’ Bessy received her first of many battery boosts by a strange South African man, who was barely able to handle his own vehicle. Slowly but surely we managed to re juice her to health and head the last 90 K’s or so to Nelspruit.

Since we had arrived to Nelspruit so late really our only mission was to find a place to crash. I had been to this area before on the way to Kruger, and this was the location of the poosher junking out in the middle of the road. We felt fairly confident about the area we were now driving in.

We found it. “The Town Lodge.” We were going to crash here for the night, we pulled in, slipped by a guard and went and parked Ol’ Bessy in the back between two huge busses. We had no intention of finding a room, or a bed. Our night would be spent in Ol’ Bessy with our sleeping bags,15 extra seats, a stove, rice, beans and of course Chapati. I slept fairly well that night, numbed to the huge lights flashing in the windows and the sound of sirens i felt at peace. I had arrived safely to Nelspruit and Chad and I were going to see a World Cup match the following day. It was a like a dream, i had to continually convince myself this all was actually happening.

Chad woke first, as I laid there convincing myself to attempt to sleep longer. As i opened my eyes i was pleasantly surprised to see the sun out, it appeared Ol’ Bessy had managed through the night okay. We ate Chapati and peanut butter celebrating a successful night of car camping. Today nothing could go wrong. We were going to the World Cup!

8:30 am: Chapati
9:00: Picked Chad’s debit card up at the Fifa office which had been previously left there. This to my shock was given back to Chad with ease. Realizing that we had just received a debit card that had gone missing for nearly 2 1/2 weeks in Africa we stopped and thanked God for his work.
9:30: explored the riverside mall where we would park our car and ride to the stadium, then went to an early morning movie to kill some time. “the Killers” Weird movie ha

We parked our car around 12, ate more chapati and beans then headed out to the stadium. i could barely contain my excitement and neither could Chad. Both of us were laughing and amazed at this once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a match in South Africa for the first time.

New Zealand Vs. Italy

The crowd is ridiculous. Hard to describe the passion here, or the noise.. but we have captured a lot in pictures and film. Chad and I pretended to be hard core New Zealand fans and they put on a great game. Tying 1-1, with Italy scoring a weak sauce PK that was only given by a bad referee call.

6:30pm: The game is over and we decide to head to fan fest. No idea what this is, but the name is compelling. We imagine a whole load of people will be there. We smash ourselves into a way overcrowded bus and head that way. The crowd even on the bus still remains fired up about the game.

8pm: Fan fest was kinda a dive, but we were able to munch some African food and jam to some African music for a while. Our plan for tonight was to remain in Nelspruit and wait til morning to head to Swaziland. The last thing we wanted was to be crammed at a border gate for hours while Ol’ Bessy sucked down more petrol. We tried driving to the “Funky Monkey” which is a back packers lodge that we stayed at the last time we were in Nelspruit. We felt comfortable and knew the bartender who assured us of a good time if we were to stop by, plus this was the best bet for a safe place to park Ol’ Bessy for the night. We never made it there tho, yet again we became lost and some how found ourselves at a New Zealand Street Festival that seemed to have just sprung up in the middle of a block downtown Nelspruit. There was a bonfire, a live dj and tons of people. It was surreal. We made friends with some people from New Zealand who had sat near us in the stadium.. they all seemed to be having a great time..their laughter was contagious, the atmosphere was indescribable! We left early, it was a long day.... Ol’ Bessy lead us to a 24hr Gym, we made camp for the night and slept as best as we could.

Monday: Its now a day after the game, Ol’ Bessy’s battery has died roughly 10 times and we are stuck at the border gate to Swaziland. We woke up early this morning after a rough night sleep, but decided to munch some Chapati and hit the road early. After loosing our way several times we were now stalled out about to enter into Swazi. Ol’ Bessy refused to start, we ate Chapati and peanut butter again... She finally started and we had picked up a passenger along the way. The border police asked us to take this old man to Mbabane which was on our way so we agreed. He did not speak any english, i almost forgot he was still in the car after a while driving. I was more concerned about the road that lay ahead of us.

The border police had told us this road was a gravel road for a while, then evened out to a paved road going towards Mbabane then Manzini. We were okay with this, we had no other option at the time we had already crossed the border. Little did we know the road was loaded with tree stumps, boulders and grand canyons... the road was barely driveable. Ol’ Bessy chugged along, amazingly passing a couple stalled out cars, including a car loaded with some of the New Zealand people we were with last night. We exchanged greetings and kept on our way. The road seemed as if it would never end. Some how once again Chad and I have discovered what seems to be the longest route from Nelspruit to Manzini. But who cares, the ride was beautiful and the experience was even better.

3pm: The journey had finally come to an end and we were pulling through Manzini. Chad and I were both exhausted but had managed to keep good spirits as we celebrated by taking a mountain dew each. We were amazed at all the obstacles we faced just on this short journey across Swaziland to Nelspruit.

Psalm 16:11
You made known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forever more

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Swazi Cribs meets World Cup 2010

Hey all! Its Saturday again so I am posting a new update. We are still here in Manzini, Swaziland and its been rad so far. I have got to say this place is possibly one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. We are surrounded by mountains, trees, rivers and wildlife. So one might ask what exactly we are doing here in Swaziland? Thats a very good question.. I can answer. Chad and I came here without expectations, we had prayed all year and felt God calling us to an extreme form of ministry. One that would require a complete trust and faith in God for provision, protection and understanding. As a result we have ended up in Swaziland. We have met with community leaders and principles and have started speaking in schools around the area as well as observing classrooms to get a better view of the education process in Swaziland. The whole speaking part was a littler nerve wracking at first but Chad and I agreed that our first attempt at speaking to a crowd of several hundred children went over way smoother than we had anticipated. We have also been involved with the Fortress and are working towards forming sustainability with the orphanage/ half-way home they are operating. Beginning very shortly we will be traveling around Swaziland to spread awareness about the Fortress to other church bodies. What this will look like is forming a youth group where we sing, dance, teach, share testimonies and spread the story. Chad and I are both excited about this opportunity.
Our biggest project here in Swaziland has been filming. We have brought with us the most professional filming equipment we could afford and have started filming a documentary for the Fortress, Kenya, and a story for us to share with everyone at home. We recorded a sweet version of Swazi Cribs on Chad’s laptop earlier in the week so check it out if your interested. It’s posted on our facebooks and our blogs.
The World Cup has started and I am in shock that I am within a couple hours of a stadium. Chad and I will be heading to Nelspruit to see Italy vs. New Zealand on the 20th of June. We are crazy excited about this. I am hoping that the US has already beat England by the time you are reading this.

To anyone reading this, i wanted to quick give a heads up at the idea behind our documentary. We had set out to film a documentary about water but have strayed from this idea and feel God pulling us in a new direction. What we are experiencing now has been at the hand of God and we intend to capture it. For our own film we will film a personal experience, first hand documentary where we capture faith, and the journey it requires...

You are all loved,

Mark


Phil 4:11
I am learning to be contempt in every situation

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Pooshbag met BB King and a Lion in the Fortress!

I apologize greatly for not posting, but in review of most of my posts they usually start out with some sort of ridiculous apology for my laziness. Whoops. I guess its only expected now. But i would love all you readers to know how Africa has been and what God has been doing. I am skipping over Kenya right now and moving straight to South Africa, but i will explain Kenya to all those interested another time. Lets begin as i tell you the long awaited story of how a Pooshbag met BB King and a Lion in a Fortress. Its pretty crazzzy.

Chad and I were in Joburg around 3:30, had just man hugged it for awhile after both of us had been waiting for the moment we could start chilling again. We gathered our stuff and started heading to our car. We rented the cheapest car you could possibly get at Avis (this could have been our first mistake). This thing came with some hard knocks. We quickly named it the Pooshbag, it was a Volkswagen Chico with a HUUUGE clutch problem. So not only were we driving on the opposite side of the road, on the right side of the car in a standard vehicle, but roughly gears 1-3 were not operating at full potential. “The car was a piece.”

Praise God we made it to Nelspruit. This is the town in South Africa where the June 20th World Cup Match we have reserved is being played. As we were climbing a hill in the Poosh heading to the “Funky Monkey Backpackers Lodge” the Poosher just decided to completely blow out the clutch and accelerating was no longer possible. HA we had a lovely encounter with a police officer who told us we were basically an annoyance in the road and we should probably fix it, so we just pushed the car into the nearest parking lot.

Avis responded quick, picked us up and drove us to the “Funky Monkey” quick. The lady even gave us a six pack of Amstel Lager for the trouble and we said our good nights! Chad and I were anxious at this point to get a new car and experience Kruger National Park for the first time.

Bright and Shiny the next morning the blue bullet (BB KING) had arrived. A Kia Picanto, kinda a chic car yet in our state we did not car at all. This car was so much better than the pooshbag and climbing hills became easy.

The first experience of Kruger was epic and unbelievable. Anyone who doubts these next few sentences i will show you the video. We moved into Skukuza restcamp around 11am and began to check out the camp site, within minutes we wondered over to the edge of camp and spotted around 10 elephant crossing a river. Chad and I were freaking out as full grown and baby elephant were everywhere. We decided we had to go for a drive that day and see more. We left around 2 and the next 3 1/2 hours was the craziest in my life.

In review we saw elephant, hippo, impala, buffalo, giraffe... everything.. but the next two episodes were bone chilling. We were on our way home, the gate closes at 5:30 at our restcamp and as usual both Chad and I were pushing our luck and had found ourselves about 30 K’s from camp at around 4:45. This was a drive from Lower Sabie to Skukuza that i will never forget.

As we were on the road, we spotted what we thought were about 20 monkeys on the road. We were very excited cause we hadn’t seen monkeys that day. As we got closer and closer the monkeys got bigger and bigger and bigger... until while we were right next to them we realized that they were not monkeys at all but it was actually a pride of 13 lions walking in the middle of the street. We freaked out and started going very slow trailing these lions footstep by footstep. Some of these lioness were staring me down, and seemed at the time as large as my car. We took tons of pictures and video and sped along our way shaking and trying to stop our hearts from beating so fast. We were now racing the clock, it was about 5:10 and we had still well over 15 to 20 K’s to drive to our gate. As we just took a corner and thought all was clear we looked straight ahead and a Rhino was using the road as a footpath creating yet again another road block... haha this Rhino was HUUGE, not like anything i have ever seen in a zoo or anything. and it was pacing side to side taking up the entire street. We couldn’t do anything but wait... right as the Rhino became distracted with its face in the grass we gassed it and sped past on the road racing the sun and the clock.

We arrived at the gate around 5:25 within minutes of missing the gate time of our first night spent in this crazy park. Ha we felt as if we were living out Jurassic Park for REAL. We had managed to see almost the entire big 5 in 3 hours of driving around the park.

Currently we are in Swaziland now. After driving and picking up our WC tickets we crossed the border into Swaziland. We are staying at an Orphanage/ Half way home called “The Fortress” hahah. Its unbelievably beautiful here and God has provided us with a safe and reliable place to stay. Thank you all for praying for us as we live here this summer. The next two months will be spent in Swaziland filming and helping with the AIDS crisis that has hit this nation so hard.

I miss you all very much, keep me in your prayers.

Contact number:+ 268 26225853
Email: mmccoy51188@comcast.net

email is hard to reach, being as though we are at the FORTRESS haha.

Love you all

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Lorax- Dr. Suess


I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees,
Which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please;
But I also speak for the brown Barbaloots,
Who frolicked and played in their Barbaloot suits,
Happily eating Truffula fruits.
Now, since you've chopped the trees to the ground
There's not enough Truffula fruit to go 'round!
And my poor Barbaloots are all feeling the crummies
Because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies.
_________________________________________________________________________

My family loves traditions. In fact, we will make a tradition out of almost anything as long as it produces laughter and a good time. I turned 22 today, and naturally my sister has purchased once again a great Dr. Seuss book in which she feels sums up apart of my life at the current place i am in. Let me tell you a bit about the previous selections before we dive into this current seasons endeavor.

Last year my sister had given me the Dr. Seuss title "Oh, the places you'll go" it came at a time when i had just returned from Kenya, dropped out of UIC and was now leaving within days to Arkansas to work at a camp i had never attended. I was very excited YES. But i was also at a very vulnerable stage in my life where i had no control at all. I had been away from home for long enough where i was out of my friends lives for the period, i had changed so dramatically through my trip yet the ones who knew me were not around and i was blazing a trail for a new road, and new direction from the past several years but was unsure of the outcome. The response according to Dr. Seuss for a time like this was of course:

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!


Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!


It's funny how even words in a children's book can handle soo much meaning.

This year marks a very interesting point in the journey. I will be leaving for Kenya, South Africa and Swaziland tomorrow. I am bursting with excitement and ready for whatever God has in store this trip.

The Lorax at this time, is a symbolism of where i have come and where i desire to be. In this story the Lorax plays a similar role as God does in our lives. He is continually knocking at the door, warning us of wrongs, continually pleading for us to not hurt ourselves in this life just as the Lorax warns that the making of thneeds will not produce good. Yet continually we refuse to learn that lesson until its nearly too late. And at the same time paralleling this story is one of scripture where the Lorax has found the one thing that is needed for growth, and happiness, " the truffula trees".
Luke 10:42
.... only one thing is needed......

I am being molded.

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.

Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It's a Truffula Seed.
It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back."

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It Was Written- Damian Marley




And it was written up in the book of life
That man shall endure forever more
Well, did you know the pen is stronger than the knife
They can kill you once but they can't kill you twice
Did you know destruction of the flesh is not the ending to life?
Fear not of the anti-Christ
___________________________________________
Your body is just a vehicle transporting your soul
It's what's inside of people is beauty to behold
Fear not of evil, every day them flesh it grow old
Changes of the times take a toll
___________________________________________

There are two ways to be rich: by how much you have, or by how little you want

This is the story of a little boy who by just living the life he was created for, blessed and changed ME forever.. I taught English and Math at a preschool in Kenya, which has been recently named "Miracle Victory Feeding Center". MVFC is located in the heart of Kibera and serves not only as a Preschool, but a feeding center and shelter for nearly 60 children. We would arrive at school around 9am and stay until lunch around 12am. From the first time we arrived till the end, each and everyday these kids would come rushing to the door, with smiles and laughter ready to sing and dance with the 6 crazy mizungus who had just entered. Speaking of smiles and laughter this brings me back to the boy; Pastor Teddy was his name. We called him Pastor, not because he wore a suit and tie, stood on the pulpit or baptized people. He was Pastor Teddy because even in his 3 year old body he had a voice and heart that blessed anyone that was around him.

1 John 7-12 (ESV)

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."

Teddy showed the heart of God in everything he did. I look back now to a morning where Teddy came in MVFC with a a single slice of bread, a luxury for him to have. Instead of eating the whole slice to himself he began going up to each child that had been crying (most likely due to hunger pains), ripping corner by corner and handing it out to each kid, before taking the last little bite to himself. I almost began crying, watching how with even what little Pastor Teddy had, he cared more about loving the people and community he was around, more than satisfying his own self interest. On that day, God chose to use a small boy like Teddy to reveal how great and AWESOME God's love is. I will always remember Pastor Teddy. Can you imagine a life where people cared more about loving others rather than pleasing themselves? What would that look like? With Teddy as an example lets pursue furthering the kingdom together!



R.I.P Pastor Teddy We Love You!
(Teddy passed away while we were in Kenya due to a stomach ulcer from eating out of the garbage)

video

This summer i will be going back to Kenya to visit the Children in MVFC. Please keep thoughts and prayers towards these children. Please post comments if you would like to know of ways to assist in helping these children. Much love!

Fear is in the eye of the beholder
Love is in the presence of the love maker
Life is in the words of the comforter
Endure much longer, live much longer
___________________________________
A wester on his chest and Rastafari is his name
A gift of everlasting life for all us to sustain
Blessing that you all be got
Lessons taught you all forgot

And it was written up in the book of life
That man shall endure forever more

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Cave- Mumford & Sons

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans
through my tears
I know my call
despite my faults
And
despite my growing fears
..........................................................................
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will
change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
..........................................................................
But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
______________________________

Welcome to the Lazarus Generation:

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (ESV)

Faith: i try, i commit
Time and again life conflicts
Within this world that contradicts
bad luck, old news, bankrupt millionaires
........Good Morning...........

Hope: In a generation
empty words; transformed to action
i dream for a new satisfaction
Crazy, radical, gospel
........revolution.........

Reality: an oxymoron itself
Do what your told?
Learn from the old?
Why not embrace
Christs rebirth; new creation
From this comes life
......The lazarus Generation.......

Good Morning Revolution, The Lazarus Generation.

You ever ask who created this reality or so called normality that we call our life? Who made all the rules, social norms, deciphered between an okay action and something crazy. Where is the line? I've come to realize that the lifestyle i am living no longer meets the expectations of "normality" within society. I have no ambition to acquire this "american dream" nor do i have the desires to become great within myself. In a world that covets self worth i understand the inability to grasp a life in which only one thing matters.

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

This is the story of Martha and Mary as they have just allowed Jesus into their home and our preparing a meal for him while he begins teaching. When Jesus entered Mary had chose to "sit at the Lord's feet and liten to his teaching." At this time Martha was in the kitchen completely distracted worrying over the meal which she was preparing. "She came up to Him (Jesus) and said, " Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Tell her to help me."
Jesus responded "Martha, Martha you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing matters, mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her.

My eyes were opened to this story by a brother i met and travelled with last spring. I feel this passage represents the human desire to rely on ourselves, pursuing what we think is best, pursuing a normality which we were raised to consider as "the right" way to live. But in reality......
only one things matters


So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand
........................................................
Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be
........................................................
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again
.............................................