It has been a little while since I posted an update…..it is amazing how life gets in the way of things. I need to be more focused on finding the time to post.
Over the course of the last 10 days I have had an opportunity to share about my trip with several people, some at work, some at church, some with my friends/family and our family hosted some friends on Friday night as well.
It has been fun to talk about the trip, to share what we saw, what we did, how it was done and to show people some photos as well. I wanted to share with you three of the experiences from this past week and how they went.
The first opportunity I had to share was with one of my co-workers, Kris, over lunch – Ted also joined us. Kris and I have known each other for 13 years we started at our employer 2 months apart back in 1999. Right from the beginning Kris and I hit it off; he has many of the same interests I do and he is a Christian so we have a connection there as well. As we were talking about the trip and missions in general Kris asked me how I was going to take what I learned and experienced during my time in Africa and apply here. When he said “here” he was being specific to our employer but I didn’t hear it that way, I heard it as how was I going to use my experience in Africa and apply it to here (meaning MN) and I answered him that I wasn’t sure exactly what God had in store but I know he has a plan. I shared with him that while I was in Africa my faith had changed; when we were there everyone knew you were Christian or assumed you were because you were white and were hanging out in a tan truck labeled Mission Evangelique Lutherienne en Guinee or just because you obviously were not from Guinea. That experience was very freeing, you couldn’t put on a masks, you couldn’t escape the assumptions, so you just lived your faith. Everything you did was to the Glory of God because there was not any impedance. So how does that answer his question? I am trying to live that way here, in America, in Bloomington, at Work and at home. Am I being successful? Sometimes (we will save that for another post). Ted, our other lunch companion did tell me he has seen a difference in how I approach my faith at work so there has been some strides on that front. I have never hidden the fact that I am Christian from anyone but I have also not always been frontal about it; meaning it has not always colored my view of things, or my approach on things, now that is a focus of mine. I have to praise God for whatever has changed and will continue to pray for more changes and more strength to live as I did in Guinea.
The second opportunity to talk about the trip was at our church during part of our confirmation large group session. I was joined by two members of the mission team as well, Taryn and Carole. Each of us took turns talking about various parts of the trip and answering questions. We were allocated 25-30 minutes to do so but ended up taking about 40 minutes and even then would have taken more time if we could have done it. This was a fun opportunity to hear Taryn and Carole’s perspectives since we have returned from the trip. While we were on the trip the team spoke and debriefed every night but we have only been together once since the trip but that was mostly to talk about our plans for presenting to the church as a whole.
Taryn did a great job of explaining to the audience who Jack and Cathy were, why we went, and shared several examples and stories about what we saw and experienced at the clinics. She answered questions about some of the conditions and how they were treated. The great thing is she mentioned that we were not able to solve or cure everyone but we were able to share God’s love with all of those we came in contact with there. The purpose of this trip was to go and help people where we could but overall it was to plant seeds…..
….speaking of planting seeds…..Carole spoke about a couple of people that have been written about here in the blogs. She wanted to share how things touched her in Africa and what has happened since. Just as she was starting to speak a question came up asking if anyone was saved while we were there, the answer is we don’t know for sure but since we have left we have seen some growth from the seeds that were planted. I wrote about Moussa in one of the posts – he is the 14 year old boy who was very ill with multiple issues. Since we left he has been doing much better and has become healthier, he is not fully healed but he is greatly improved. We planted seeds by helping him physically and praying for him both while we were there and since we have left. As I mentioned a week or so back in the blog, he has started to come to church every week and his mom has said she wants him to be a Christian. Many times you plant seeds and water them for years and never know what has happened with what you have done, and here we still do not know the end results but God is gracious and has shown us some growth after we have returned, what a great gift.
Since Carole and Tayrn did a great job of talking about what God did while we were there and what he has been doing since I shared a couple of my favorite stories from the trip and then we all answered questions as they arose. Overall it was a wonderful experience and a great opportunity to live your faith to teenagers looking for a reason to live theirs.
The last opportunity to share the trip with with some friends who came over on Friday night for dinner, the aforementioned Ted and his wife Phyliss and kids Stella, and Dylan. My wife, Bren, and I made a traditional Guinean meal for them; Peanut Sauce with Rice as well as fried plantains. There was some trepidation on my part as I have only TASTED this meal before but have never prepared it. I also had a ton to live up to because Jack and Cathy’s cook, Fanta, is spectacular. I found the recipe on-line and headed off to Whole Foods to do my shopping; they had everything required including the requisite natural peanut butter and plantains.
I had talked quite a bit with my family about making the food and how much I enjoyed it but they had some trepidation about it; their concerns became exacerbated when they saw the ingredient list.
- Water – who doesn’t like H2O?
- Onions – no issue here
- Garlic – again no issue
- Oregano – good
- Bay leaves – seems good, but do they stay whole??
- Maggi cubes – who and what are those? Do they bring gifts? I hope one of them isn’t frankincense….or myrrh
- Lemon juice…what does lemon juice have to do with peanut sauce?
- Cayenne pepper – this isn’t going to be too spicy is it?
- Diced tomato – what???
- Tomato paste – hold it, I thought this was going to be peanut sauce, this seems more like some Italian recipe with garlic, onion, bay leaves, oregano, diced tomato
- Natural Peanut Butter without sugar – okay….what is going on here we is this a real recipe or are you making this up? Tomatoes, and peanut butter…umm….ahhh….
- Skirt steak cut into small pieces – that cut’s it, who would think of putting tomatoes, peanut butter and MEAT together? I mean, would you make a PB, tomato and roast beef sandwich?? I didn’t think so, I’m not sure I want to try this anymore….mom….can we order out and have dad and his friends eat this stuff?
- Habenero peppers – sure not only do you have cayenne pepper but now you are adding these on top of everything else..I feeling the heartburn coming already…I have dialed 9 of the 10 digits to the pizza place, what do you want on your pizza mom?
Despite the misgivings the kids (and some adults had) about the food they were all troopers and tried it, and guess what…..they liked it! I had tried a bit of the sauce ahead of time to make sure things tasted good and felt we were in for a good meal. As we were dishing up the food you could see everyone was being cautious (and MN nice) about things but after the first spoonful they said “this is actually pretty good”. Which is the exact compliment ANY chef wants on their food “I wasn’t sure about this ahead of time but it isn’t awful and instead it is not only edible but I like it” I am certain Bobby Flay would love to have that endorsement on his menu!
After we eat we spent some time talking about the trip, sharing stories and having a nice evening. It was another opportunity to share what God had done in Guinea and in my life with this trip.
I will leave you with this…..
I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.