Y.E.S. was a success!

No matter how much I teach, I always learn more.

The first big event our campaign team took part in was the Y.E.S. rally in Venda, South Africa. Y.E.S. stands for Youth Exalting the Son, and it is a youth rally created for teenagers who are serious about their faith. Partners4Africa’s goal is to spark a flame of enthusiasm and excitement in the leaders of youth, so those leaders can take the excitement back home and spread it among their friends. Y.E.S. challenges the youth to begin service projects in their community, such as visiting widows or feeding orphans. The youth are to continue those service projects throughout the year and report the good works they have been doing to other Y.E.S. chapters in southern Africa.

We hosted fifty students from at least seven different communities at the Copa-Copa Lodge in Venda. Now, please keep in mind, our campaign team travelled from Nashville, to Newark, to London (11-hour layover), to Johannesburg and then on to Venda with just one night’s sleep under our belt. We were…tired. But every single one of the team was a trooper and came through with a smile and a great attitude.

Dorian Flynn and Shak Arrington taught the main sessions, while Blake and I taught the break-out sessions. Hayley Farmer was my ever-ready assistant, and Cheri Flynn was the never-failing organizational guru.

I had three sessions to teach under the theme “Champions for Christ.” I taught about purpose, passion and purity using Esther, Mary of Bethany and Mary, mother of Jesus, as examples. Suffice it to say, I was a little nervous about talking to 25 African teenagers when I knew nothing of their individual backgrounds or where they were spiritually. I distinctly remember telling Blake that I was nervous I would say the wrong things. He just looked at me and said, “Janet, just tell them what the Bible says.”

Those girls were different from me, in so many ways. Yet I needed to relate, to stress to these impressionable minds the importance of Jesus Christ and living life for him. I found that, therein, lies our commonality. Christ. We all came from God, and if we are faithful, we are all going back to God. In reality, we have everything in the world…in common.

I cannot say enough about the wonderful young women I was able to get to know. They were respectful, ambitious, encouraging and loving. They taught me more than I taught them.

And this was only day number one.

Better Later than Never

While we were in Africa, I anticipated that we would have more access to the Internet. The trip was so “chocked full” of events, that we rarely had even a half-hour to spare for an Internet cafe.

However, I still want to share with you the events that took place, since so many of you play such a vital part in the work being done. I will be regularly uploading pictures and stories from the things we saw, smelled, enjoyed and took part in. Every year we go hoping to help others. Every year we receive blessings beyond belief. Every year we grow more in love with our brothers and sisters from afar. I hope you join me in my pursuit to tell the story, and may we all be inspired to tell the ultimate story of Jesus Christ.

So far, so fast

We have been doing a whirlwind of travelling since we left the states! Once we finally arrived in Johannesburg, we immediately hopped into a rented van and travelled five more hours to Venda. We slept very, very well that night! Saturday we held an all-day Y.E.S. rally in Venda. Fifty kids attended, and they were wonderful. I’m sure they  encouraged me more than I did them! I was able to teach three sessions to the girls about purpose, passion, and purity and conduct the games for the day. Haha, yes, I am Nancy Orgain’s daughter.

After the rally we headed to our next motel, named “Graceland: where the royals stay.” We all got a pretty big kick out of that. Today we worshipped with a church in Venda, and it was truly uplifting. Blake taught the teens, Shak led the adults, and Dorian led the Lord’s Supper. All did fantastic jobs. A young man was baptized after the service as the women of the congregation sang hymns in their native language.

And again, we loaded up and drove another five to six hours back to Johannesburg. Tomorrow we leave for Zimbabwe. I am completely excited to visit this place that I have heard so much about. I’m sure my eyes will be opened to many ways of living I’ve never seen before. Please keep praying for the work being done by Partners4Africa. 🙂

The Joys of Travel

“It’s just part of mission work.” – Dorian Flynn

Well, we managed to miss our connecting flight to Johannesburg in London by about ten minutes, so we are becoming quite acquainted with the Heathrow-London Airport in our ten-hour layover. But the people watching has kept it interesting. Our new arrival time is set for early Friday morning, where we will get off the plane, rent a car and drive five hours to Venda. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to travel.

It’s About Time

Finally. I’m finally packing my bags. I’m finally getting excited. It’s finally becoming a reality. Well…it’s about time.  Don’t get me wrong: I have thoroughly enjoyed my hometown summertime.  I’ve loved being with my family. I’ve enjoyed the perpetual presence of watermelon in the fridge, the hotdog and burger cookouts, working at church camps  and even the humid, scorching temperatures.  But I’m ready, once again, to feel the cool breeze of the south African winter.  I’m ready to meet and sing with and encourage and serve our God with Christians in a culture not my own. I’m ready to stretch and grow. It’s about time.

Due to the soccer world cup, we’ve had to push back and shorten our trip this year. Our main goals are to put on  youth rallies in Venda, South Africa, and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.  I will hopefully be updating this blog regularly to share with you the work that is being done, since so many of you had a big hand in making it happen. We depart Wednesday and will arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa, sometime on Thursday, Lord willing.  Please keep praying that our work will glorify God and will bring people closer to Him.