As soon as the first tones of my alarm sound, I grab the eye mask from my head to turn off my alarm. 6.30 am, the first rays of sunlight shine brightly in my face, what a wonderful day! And what a privilege to wake up outside on the wooden veranda! Sticky with sweat, I grab my Bible and notebook for my daily quality time with my Heavenly Father. After 20 minutes I put in my shawl to cover my knees (culturally required), after which I walk to the well under the enthusiastic chatter of the kids. After filling the shower bucket with bucket and rope, I enjoy the cool water that I let flow over me in the 'shower cubicle' (4 stretched sails) with a cut plastic bottle. What a wonderful start of the day! When I walk back, I am pleasantly surprised when the wonderful scent of freshly baked coconut bread penetrates my nostrils! Wow, what a delicious variation on the daily bush biscuits!
It is now 7.30 am, we start the day with the team. Half an hour later the pastors of various churches from the village arrive with a number of young people and kids. We split into 4 teams, ready to move into the village.
We arrive at the first hut, where a woman is hanging the laundry. After the pastor introduces us, we are warmly welcomed. The other family members come curious to see what is going on. We quickly divide among family members to have one-on-one conversations. The woman who introduces herself as Kiela quickly dares to open up and tells how her husband has been married before and how difficult it is to support her large family without a good income, but she also testifies to her trust in God and her hope for the future. When I pray with her, tears flow down her cheeks. Gratefully she gives me a big hug, unable to speak. I give her a card with an encouraging Bible text before we move on to the next family.
The team with which we make the home visits includes Caroline and Bella, 2 lovely girls aged 14 and 15. Because we have been working together for a number of days now, they too dare to open up more and more. When we are back from the home visits, the three of us sit and chat while enjoying a fresh coconut. "Our fathers are both dead," says Bella. "I was 8 when my father died and Caroline was 12." “Oh, how terrible! Were they ill? ” I ask. "Bella's father was ill, he died after several months, but my father was killed," Caroline continues. "He went to the village next door, climbed a tree to pick nuts, but when he got down, the owners killed him." What a terrible reality that children have to deal with at such a young age. And unfortunately this is not the first story I hear about murdered loved ones. "And our best friend died 1.5 years ago, she had problems with her heart." Bella continues. The hard truth about inequality in this world strikes me. In the Netherlands, countless hospital visits, admissions, tests, medicines, etc. will be used to do everything possible to save lives, but here it is almost impossible for most to reach the nearest hospital. What strong girls. So young and at the same time so mature.
After lunch, consisting of fried banana, sego and rice, we start with the preparations for the evening program. As usual, we take time to pray and ask God how we will complete the evening program. Some believe they receive the theme 'spiritual battle', others 'authority' and 'perseverance'. We form groups with those who have the same topics and individually take the time to pray for more specific interpretation. When we get back together after an hour, we put together a great program of singing, dancing, testimonials, drama, and teaching from the Bible. Wonderful to see how the Holy Spirit uses everyone to be part of a larger whole and empower us to connect with what the public needs.
Around 7 pm we walk with the wireless speaker to the platform where we will run the program. The music attracts countless children and young people who enthusiastically join us. After an hour of waiting (which we now take for granted), more than 400 people have arrived with their own clothes. After a successful program, we close the evening by praying for people and having good conversations.
We will be home around 11 pm. After a short team evaluation and a baby-wipe freshening up, I crawl under my mosquito net where I fall asleep, tired but satisfied.
(A teammate has data SIM card that I can connect from time to time, if the network connection allows)