Wednesday, April 6, 2011

God's Grace

Must tell this. The weekend before we left I broke a filling (I thought it was a tooth) Went to dentist on Monday and she fixed the filling but said it was possible the tooth was cracked and if I had problems to chew on the other side. Not exactly what you want to hear when going halfway round the world. Everything was fine. On Monday in Joburg, we went to visit with the pastor's family we knew and the tooth began to throb a bit. At the end of the evening, when we prayed, I mentioned my tooth and prayed that it would not be a problem while we were in Mautirius. The tooth never throbbed or gave me any other trouble! Praise the Lord!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Back in Johannesburg

We are now back in Johannesburg. It is rainy and cool!!! We had pizza yesterday for lunch! YUM!!! We will do some traveling to Kruger to see the wildlife and see some of the other sites around here and then head home Monday evening.

First Lay Renewal Weekend

Our first Lay Renewal was at the Baptist Church of the North (BCN) in Grand Bay. We were staying in Blue Bay at the south end of the island and Grand Bay is at the north end of the island. We dropped a team off at Curepipe (Curepeep) and a team off at Goodlands.
The weekend began on Friday night with a dinner. At BCN we ate standing up in the Courtyard. We were on a tropical island which interpreted means hot and humid or hotter and humid or hot and humider. You get the idea. Needless to say we sweat a LOT!
Friday night consisted of singing, testimony, teaching and small groups where the church people got a chance to share what they expected for the weekend, what the teaching meant to them and other questions intended to draw them out and make them think about their spiritual life. Ben and I, being newbies, were prayer partners to the ones leading the group session. The people were very good at sharing so we didn’t end up staring at one another.
Saturday morning we had coffees in the homes. The coffee group I was in shared very openly about their struggles, prayer requests, answered prayers, etc. Then it was back to the church for lunch. (When we had a break, I would tell people “’Til we eat again”) J After lunch the men and women broke into groups to share. The ladies’ group talked about women’s ministry and we were very surprised when several women spoke of their ministry (prison, after-school) that the other women were not aware of. Several women told others they would like to get involved. They need an organizer! At the closing prayer, I thanked God that these women had outreach ministry but I prayed that God would put it upon some hearts for “inreach” so the ladies could meet together to pray, talk, encourage and inspire one another.
Saturday night we had singing, testimonies, teaching and small groups. In these small groups, we asked people to share the time they first gave their hearts to Christ. We asked them to think about what they had heard in the teaching and about their commitment to Christ. We all then wrote a letter to Jesus. That was something new to me but was very meaningful. I think that is something we should do from time to time.
Sunday morning was the Sunday worship, teaching and a time of commitment. Many people came for prayer, recommitment, salvation.
After church we were to leave at 1:00 to reverse course, pick up the other teams and return to Blue Bay. However, one of our hosts wanted to have our team for lunch and they prevailed upon our leader to postpone our departure until 3:30. We had a lovely lunch in an outside dining area overlooking the ocean.
Let me just interject here that when I say we took a van and dropped off the teams, it was a 23-24 passenger van. We were a total of 20 people PLUS luggage. We were able to take one suitcase per couple with just the things we needed for the weekend. That luggage plus any small carry-ons went WITH us inside the van (Did I mention the van was un-air-conditioned?)
We Americans are so used to our creature comforts. We had no air-conditioning in rooms, churches,or vans.

Second Lay Renewal Weekend

BCN was an English speaking church. Most of the people were white. The church was very much like a church we are accustomed to.
Victory Baptist Church in Rose Belle was a local church meeting in a converted house. It was filled with locals who were black or Indian, spoke French and Creole, knew some English (understood it better than they spoke it) so there was interpretation both from English to French and French to English.
These people were the most loving, energetic, outgoing Christians. In BCN there was some of the double-cheek kissing the French are known for but these people did it all the time. Didn’t take long to get used to this. Women with women, men with women. Actually a nice custom.
We (they) sang in English, French and Creole. This church did have an air-conditioner (Praise the Lord) that kept the church at least comfortable. However, the chairs were MOST uncomfortable. Folding chairs with seats that were, pardon the expression, straight as a board, with straight backs as well.
Small groups were wonderful. The people were very gracious about having the interpretation done.
This weekend was a repeat of the first weekend but I LOVED being in this church. I am very thankful that I had my first Lay Renewal in the English speaking church so I could see how the Lay Renewal was done. But being in the local church gave such a rich flavor to the experience.
I know I was touched by these people and the Lord definitely had several things to say to me through them and through the teaching and we can only pray that their lives were touched as well.
It is impossible in a blog to relate all the wonderful interactions, testimonies, worship and sharing that we experienced in these weekends..

Blue Bay Accommodations

Our accommodations outside the Lay Renewal weekends (when we were housed by the church people) were in a complex of when we could call condos. We had three of these. #1 housed our leader and his wife and the two single men. This unit was also our meeting room and eating room. Unit #2 housed us, the Wise’s and the Westbrookes. Unit #3 housed two couples and six single women. The six women were all in ONE room with three double beds. I believe they were somewhat dismayed at the prospect but in the end had a joyous time and as you can imagine bonded!! We heard a lot of hilarity coming from their room!
Our unit had the bedrooms on the 2nd floor with a bath. You stepped through the shower to get to the toilet - interesting arrangement. Downstairs there was a separate toilet and shower (we mostly used that one) J With our windows open and the ceiling fan going full force, we were quite comfortable at night and slept well.
A local pastor, Kandan and his wife, Padmini did all the cooking for us while we were there.
Our plane was to arrive at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday but was delayed for almost two hours - then we had to do passport control which took f-o-r-e-v-e-r and Health control (to see if we had been anywhere where there was disease we might be bringing in), get our luggage, get in the van (they did have a van for the people and a van for the luggage) and get to the complex. Of course, they had dinner waiting for us… 11:00 at night.
Dinner was Briyani, apparently a favorite dish, because everywhere we went we had it, again and again. Chicken, rice, veggies and curry - plus they served you and piled the plates high *sigh* We got all the curry we wanted when we were in India but we got some more this weekend. We were able to get them to cut the portions down to a two-person size as opposed to a four-person size. J We were then assigned rooms and quickly fell into bed.
Wednesday was a day of rest. Thursday, we met to go over the plan for the weekend. There was some shopping at a market and supermarket. I never experienced the local bus ride but those who did had harrowing tales to tell. J
Then Friday we all left for our Lay Renewal weekends.
Sunday night we were all back at the complex for several days. This was a wonderful time as we ate together, had devotions together, shared testimonies, swam together, shopped together, laughed a lot together. It was a wonderful bonding time with people from all over South Africa, New Mexico, Arizona and of course Texas! J
We did swim in the Indian Ocean several times. Well, “swim” means we walked around in water chest high or so while we visited, talked, talked and visited. At many points we were “swimming with the fishes”.

Weekend Accommodations

Some didn’t have the luxurious accommodations we did. Our first weekend, we stayed with a couple that had a beautiful home right on the water. We were on the second story and had the most beautiful view. They also had an air conditioner in the room. We used it the first night and Ben had to turn it off in the middle of the night because we were cold. I was talking with a lady who was at another church and when I said we were cold, I got a withering look and said “Oh, I guess I shouldn’t have said that, should I?” J

Our second weekend, we were also on the second story. We stayed in the apartment of the son of the couple living downstairs. The son now lives in England. The apartment was very sparse on furniture but did have a bedroom, large kitchen and large bathroom that we didn’t have to share. J

Several people got various bug bites and while I had a few spots, none ever gave me any trouble and by sleeping under fans, the mosquitoes won’t land. There is no problem with malaria in Mauritius.