We keep getting up when it is stil dark, and leaving in the dark. I hate that only because the view from The Team House is so stunning in the daylight.
The drive to and from our workshops venue is over Table Mountain, so that view even in the early hours of the morning is sensational.
We started our morning today with breakfast at 6:45am and we arrived back at The Team House at 11:00pm.
As best I can, here is a capsule of our long day:
Avril drove us today to give Gordon (or G-Dog or G-Boy as our team has affectionately named him) a break from driving. On our way to our venue, Doug Sarrett asked Avril what most South Africans think of Americans? Her answered stunned every member of our team. Without hesitation, she responded with “they think Americans are right up there next to God”. In other words, they hold us up in extremely high esteem. It was sobering, humbling, and just another wake-up call to remind us of why it is so important that we come to this place and offer ourselves as servants, teachers, and missionaries. (Please don't read into my last comment any hint of arrogance or "they really need us over here" mentality.)
Just after Avril answered that question, we stopped in a township called Capricorn - another area of living conditions that are just not anything that any human being should have to live in. At Capricorn, we picked up 4 kids who have the most amazing story. All of them have become a part of a music outreach program called Mobile Music Academy where a small team of volunteer music teachers go into communities like Capricorn and teach kids music, positive self-esteem, and most of all, that Jesus loves them and He can give them hope even in the most hopeless of situations. This truly incredible program was the brain-child of a Belmont Student named Chris Dorsey who spent his summer working with Avril and team at Living Hope and developed this ministry on wheels.
When they got in the van with us, Avril had us all introduce ourselves to get to know one another, and immediately the kids began to sing songs they have learned. Avril told me privately that they didn’t know any of those songs before MMA came to them this summer. All the kids have also become Christians this summer. Only one of the kids lives with their biological mother. Avril wanted these kids to experience the workshops today as well as have them sing in tonight’s concert. (more on that later)
Our day was full of workshops and critique sessions. Boggs worked his butt off leading worship, then two guitar seminars, followed by two songwriting sessions, then he and Shane “hosted/m-ceed” the concert this evening.
Doug D (or double D), Sarrett, Shane, and myself split into two separate teams and between us listened to (36) different people sing/play in a room while we “critiqued” them. I can’t begin to write adequately about this experience, but know this - these people are immensely talented, fearful, and very discouraged. We did everything within our power to build them up, encourage them, and push them to keep doing what they are doing and not give up. These people don’t want record deals - they want hope. They want someone to believe in them - to believe they might have something to offer to God with their talent.
Near the end of our critique sessions, Mauritia walked into mine and double D’s room - she walked directly up to our table (most stood as far away from our table as possible), and proceeded to say the following:
“I don’t know why I am in here because my singing sucks. I just really need your help. Will you help me?”
How’s that for an introduction? She proceeded to open her mouth and sing acappella an old song called “In Him I Move”. I had never heard this song, but the song stunned me, and her sweet, innocent, lovely, and engaging voice filled our church classroom. It took all I had to keep it together as she ministered deeply to my soul.
When this beautiful 11th grade girl finished, she stood there, and we were all silent for a minute until I broke that silence with a question......“Why do you think your voice sucks?”, I asked. She replied, “because my friends tell me so.” My heart broke even more. I told her to get new friends - honest, I did. Double D and I proceeded to lavish every possible word of encouragement we could. She then proceeded to ask a series of vocal technique questions - she was SO hungry to learn. I pray we planted seeds of perserverance and encouragement in this young girl. She was and is so deserving.
These are the kinds of stories that take place when we bring music teams to South Africa.
Tonight’s concert was (according to Avril) one of the best she has ever been a part of. We had (12) local artists perform, including the kids from Capricorn - the people loved every moment of it. Boggs and Shane were great hosts, and it was a fitting conclusion to our weekend of workshops.
Our drive home was over-the-top silly.........during our past few days, G-Dog has been teaching us phrases in Afrikans. One of those is how to say, thank you. It sounds like “buy a donkey” - honest.
So, tonight as we were approaching a road-block where every car was being checked for either DUI, drugs, and/or if the vehicle was stolen (that should tell you about the neighborhood we spent our weekend in), the guys suggested several different phrases that G-Dog should say to the officer as he checked his license, etc.. I suggested he say “buy a monkey”. I was so tired, I did not even realize what I said - I thought G-Dog was going to pee in his pants. He could not stop laughing even as he pulled to the officer.
The rest of the way home, we exchanged lines and phrases and utter sillyness - mission trips bring this out in every team, but most especially with this group of guys - my goodness, I have never laughed so hard....