Traveling and the village of Lesotho

3/7/11 Monday

9:15pm SA
1:15pm AL

Up at 4:50am this morning and on the road by 6:10am.

Unbeknownst to us, Charlotte and Asher were sick this morning as we left.  I feel so bad for them.

We took Zacky back to his school in Parro.  It is very nice private school that caters to rugby players.

Then we were on the road again.  The terrain turned into very mountainous as we left Parro .  It was truly stunning to see the sun rise thru the misty morning over those mountains.  Then we got thru the main mountain pass we had LOTS of sheep fields, cow fields, ostrich fields and cornfields.  Whew.  It was a LONG day but we switched up seats often and took a few bathroom stops (as Peter would allow)

We had been on the road for quite some time (our entertainment was reduced to blowing the horn at the sparrows on the electrical lines and watching them fly away) when we stopped at Hogby (or something like that).  WE were looking for a restroom but found it hard to find one.  We saw a small sign in front of a home that said “coffee” so we stopped there. It really was just a home with one of the rooms featuring a few garage sale items strewn across the room.  Peter asked for coffee so they ran to the kitchen to brew some (10 rand for them to fill his travel mug…that is about 11 cents)  We asked to use their restroom which was down the hall and just a home bathroom. It was clean and there were even a few towels hung to dry our hands. (A cloth towel, rather than paper towels, are a common find in a lot of private businesses….not something I could get use to.)

As we left there we found that we had to stop (once again) for road construction.  They finally flagged us on, and we assumed that that meant the one free lane was clear of cars.  AS we were turning onto the free lane, a black man approached the car.  IT was normal to see hitchhikers but he was approaching the car in a rather assertive way.  Peter lowered his window and the man spoke a language none of us understood, so Peter just waved him away, At that same time, a truck came into the supposed free lane that we were suppose to be turning on.  We all thanked God for His Divine intervention.  As I turned around to look for the man, he was no longer there.

Then we came to customs.  (It was about 6:40pm and had just gotten dark.) We stopped to in the South African customs to get permission to leave and then crossed the border into Lesotho.  WE stopped in customs and had our passports stamps.  A cursory nod was our inspection.

I did not expect what I experienced which was the change in the atmosphere, spiritually speaking.  It grew very dark and oppressed.  We were to meet some team members at KFC (Peter’s church has a youth team here for a  week.) We drove around for a while looking for it.  It felt like we were around Day Street in downtown Montgomery.  Streetlights were, for the most part, not working.  People were meandering about.  When we found the KFC (it was part of the storefronts on the main drag) we pulled into the parking lot.  There was a large fire burning in the back of the lot.  The smell around town was of burning wood.  Lots of candles were lit in roadside stands and that fire smell permeated the place.

Two of the team members (Ernest and Tersia) pulled in the parking lot so we all walked in together to get a bite to eat. YES, it was a rather tentative place to be even tho the car was only a few yards from the front door.  (The chicken, by the way, was delicious.)

Ernest and Tersia went on to tell us that they camp meetings that they were holding at night had been having some demonic manifestations when they were praying over people. This area is steeped in animalism (carrying around things that were like good look charms, etc.)…Anyway, they gave more details then I have time to write about.  BUT, we had prayed as soon as we crossed the border so no fear was/is there.

We opted not to go to the meeting (By this time it was 8:15ish) but were taken to the leader’s home where we are staying.

It is a large brick home, surrounded by a fence and gate.  This USE to be their church meeting place (now they meet in a tent outside of the gate.)  A beautiful Lesotho woman and her son met us at the gate.  Mabaquana is her name (she is letting me call her Maba) and her 13 year old son: Tsepbogn (he is letting me call him Seps)  Whew.  The dad, Ntai, is at the meeting.

WE chatted a while and then they showed us our rooms.  I am overwhelmed that they led us back to the back bedroom.  It was very large and modestly furnished.  It took me a few minutes to realize that Maba and Ntai have given up THEIR room for Tim and I.  Very sobering.

Tim is trying to sleep (he had a headache on the trip) so I am signing off.  Long day tomorrow.

Not-your-normal-prayer-room and UGANDA comes to us

3/6/11  Sunday

2:40pm SA

6:40am AL

By the pool again!  I just overheard Peter ask Tim, “So, is there something you would like to do today….?”  (Tim and I figured out that Peter is USING Tim and I to get out from behind his desk and do all of the ‘ministry’ things that he has been dying to do!) So be it!

HOPEFULLY, we will be right here for the rest of the day.  Charlotte is cooking lunch (I ‘weakly’ asked if I could help….), Peter and Tim are watching cricket (or rugby, or maybe soccer…?) and I am by the POOL.  I am one happy camper.

I keep having to drink water and put cream on my face several times each day simply because I keep crying.  I am glad to know that God is keeping each of my tears in his bottle, as I feel like they are the only offering that I am able to give back to him after all that HE is allowing he to experience and savor.  Whew, today was no exception!

I had set my alarm, but obviously failed to turn it on, as when I looked at the clock it was 7:30!  YIKES, we had to be out of the door by 8:10am!  We put it in gear and packed into the car and were soon at the church.

Tim had been to the prayer room LAST week and wanted me to go experience it this week so we headed there first.  It was an upper room with pews lining the walls and a few chairs facing the pews.  They had already begun to pray.  Some people were seated either on the pews or chairs.  Some people were standing along the walls with arms outstretched (like praising God, outstretched).  Some were simply walking around literally talking to God out loud.  The room was noisy with prayer: some in tongues, some proclaiming scriptures and some voicing their heart cries.  ALL ages and colors were represented.  The sweetest visual was of an older woman (who had been loudly proclaiming scripture) holding hands with a young black man (about college age) sporting dread-locks, who was nodding in agreement.  It wa a sight to behold.

Since I was not use to this I took a seat on the pew but could not help but get caught up in the passion of these simple church people.  There were about 20-25 folks in the room, a number that I considered a good percentage of this very large church.  I spent most of my time praying for Pike Road, but managed a few prayers for the Lighthouse…since I was their  guest, of course!

After a few minutes we circled up and an older black man led us in prayer for the church and the nation and the continent.  Pretty heavy duty stuff.  Peter and Charlotte came into the room ad everyone gathered around them to pray for them as leadership.  Wow, what a heavy mantle: leadership.  This church obviously loves them and blesses them. (It made me happy to be a part of Pike Road where we are loved and blessed and prayed for! J )

Then we went into the church for service.  The church is a former theater and is very large.  Most of the chairs on the lower level were filled…about 75-80% if not more.  All of the art that was done yesterday was hanging on a line that they had strewn across the front of the platform.

Peter and Charlotte both helped lead worship today (they have different teams to do this each week.)  It was wonderful to worship with others, but it did make me miss my church!  Before worship they presented about 10 people who would be baptized that day…then they were ushered off.  This was curious to me but not for long.  They baptized them and it was broadcast on the large screens via the airwaves.  This caught my eye so I took a pic of the screen while someone was being baptized.  Dancers were dancing during worship so the Lord allowed me to snap at just the right moment to get the Picture of the day!  (I will upload it on fb soon….)

Then a woman gave a word about people in the church that might be coming discouraged in “the marketplace”.  It was just affirming that God planted them there.  Then she felt like some people needed to be prayed over for knee pain/issues.  About 8 or so folks came up but were taken over to the side for some other people to pray for them.

Then they had a baby dedication, asking all the family members to come up and join the families that they were members of.  After Peter prayed, these families were encouraged to pray together.

THEN (there was a lot going on today) they introduced the Watutu were introduced.  This is a group of school-aged children that had been rescued from the streets of Uganda and were now traveling and singing.

WOW…what a feast for the spirit and the soul!!

First of all, they wore their native dress/clothing, which was stunning.  Then they had some remarkable music with the African flavor.  Then they featured video stories of several of the kids and where they had come from, some similar to the stories of the kids we work with in Honduras. It was stirring.  All of it.  But the most stirring was to watch the faces of the kids as THEY worshipped.  They KNEW who they were AND to WHOM they belonged.  They GOT IT!

One line from one of the songs was: I am not alone, I am NOT forgotten: HE KNOWS MY NAME!…then they ministered that same truth to us in the audience.  WOW.

Tim was sitting next to Julius, a 30 year old pastor from Uganda who was traveling with them.  He beamed (note pics on fb coming soon!)  We told him where were were from and he encouraged us in our longevity.  It was very humbling!

Then we were able to visit after the service.  They are much like Pike Road in they LOVE connecting with each other….it was very sweet, very encouraging and uplifting.

The place is smelling like home-made enchiladas…I guess I should offer to help Charlotte…but maybe I will upload pics instead (don’t tell her!)

Oh, I miss my boys.  If any of the 7 of you in blog-land think of Ty, Jonathan, and/or Hamilton, please pray for them.  I want God’s hands to be on them firmly.

Happy Hamilton, Art Worship, and a baked potato!

3/5/11  Saturday. Happy 20th birthday, Hamilton!

8:35pm SA

12:25pm AL

Up early today (any time I have to set the alarm clock, I am “up early”.  Peter drove us to the art shop to purchase supplies for the Art Worship Workshop and then back to the house to do some last minute “things”.

We chatted with ham bright an early (it was about midnight in Tuscaloosa) and he told us that he chose to open his presents that Lisa Burke mailed to him from us since it was “already his birthday.  Makes sense.  I am so proud of my Happy Hamilton.  He brings us great joy.  Just wish I could have hugged him on his 20th birthday!

But life in South Africa marches on!

We got to the church about 45 minutes before the workshop so we could help finish setting up (Annalyse and Suzy had done most of the work) and by 2:00 people started arriving.  Young and old and ALL different colors (!).  We had, I guess, about 50 people attend. How fun.

I did my prepared spiel about how my art worship workshops started and before you know it people were drawing and painting and writing.  It was a beautiful experience during it…but then FOLLOWING it was nothing short of amazing.

One middle aged man had painted, but he had WRITTEN as well.  He wrote a story of “the Absentee Gardner”  It was a prose about how seeds are planted, sometimes in wombs, and then abandoned.  He had been abandoned by his father, and felt that the gardener had been absent.  But then realized that his REAL father, the REAL gardner WAS there and had been there the whole time, guarding and growing that seed (him.)  It was quite beautiful.

During our small group share time there was a sweet girl (college age) who had worked very diligently on a large paper.  She had used black pastels and then worked backwards, erasing the white into the pic.  It was of a world and the heavenly light coming down and Jesus on the cross shedding his blood (the only red).  The pic is on Facebook.

Anyhow, she had a hard time sharing, as she was obviously not comfortable in the group.  At all.  She broke down so I just asked what the others “saw” in the picture.  MANY things were seen by the others and then our session was over.  I asked her about it again with just the two of us.  She said, “I have just  finished listening to a audio of a guy named…uh, I can’t pronounce it, uh…Louie Gigilio”

I smiled, “ah, Louie Giglio!  He is a friend of ours.  He was in our wedding!”  She went onto say that he had talked about taking everything to the cross.  That the cross is where the freedom was and that she had so much to sort out and that she was learning to take things to the cross…and that was what the picture was for.  Small world, eh?

There four women there from another church who couldn’t wait to get back to their church to start ART WORSHIP!!

Then, there was a lady named Annette who is about my age.  She is on a year sabbatical from being a missionary in Mozambique.  She is white but expressed that she feels more comfortable in the Mozambique culture where she has served for about 30 years.  She came not knowing what to expect but was invigorated to have this experience.  She shared that she had been giving paper to the children to draw pictures…but that NOW she is going to teach them how to worship God through art (more tears!)

Annette has a Mozambique name (which, of course, I cannot pronounce) but it means “fair daughter of God”.  She was named that because they were so amazed that a young white woman would come into their culture to tell them about God.  Oh, God, give the church MORE like Annette!

Tim and I will meet with Annette when we get back from our 10 day road trip.  She is in the process of writing a book called, The deep secrets of Africa.  Her heart is that the roots of the stronghold MUST be dealt with in order for a place  (or a person) to experience deliverance.  SHE is a jewel and I feel honored just to be around her.  Really.  She has a grasp on some things that I want to glean from.

There are more jewels from that day but not enough space to write it all  (I know that I will regret that!)

We left there and came back to find Asher and a few of his friends celebrating his 18thbirthday.  Now that phase, “celebrating his 18th birthday”, would breed fear in most Americans, especially with the lack of a chaperone in the vicinity.  HOWEVER, these young people are not ruled by alcohol and truly just were having a celebration!  It was sweet to watch and be a part of for just a little while.

Then we left as ‘yours truly’ was craving a baked potato so we went to a local steakhouse.  It was marvelous, as was the crème brulee that chased the meal.  On that subject, one of the things that I have noticed is that the waitresses are nice and kind but they disappear for LONG periods of time.  Therefore you are seated and wait. She takes our drink order and then we wait.  Then we get our drinks and then we wait.  Then she takes our order, then we REALLY wait. Then we eat and she appears and by then we are parched as they don’t’ drink a lot here with their meals (we finally have learned to ask for a “jug”—a pitcher—when we order our drinks…much easier and we don’t have to …WAIT!)

I think that this is more of a commentary on my/our hurriedness rather than on their slowness.  Hmmmm.  Anyway, the Baked Potato piled HIGH with sour cream HIT THE SPOT!! mmmmm

We were zonked when we came home so I only did pics.  I will upload THIS blog  and then write the one for today…and Today (SUNDAY) was a wow!!!