Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cape Town - Day 1

I so wish I could upload photos, but our internet connection is limited, and we have been asked to not upload photos - I may have to break that rule in the next few days simply because words don't tell the whole story.

This was a good day for our first full day in Cape Town simply because it was relaxed comparatively speaking related to what our next (4) days will be.

We moved into the Team House today and met Jakes (Jenny Cate). She is a delightful young woman who manages the Team House. I think she may have thoroughly enjoyed being the only woman among our "band of all male misfits". Not to mention that the lethal (humorously speaking) combination of Michael Boggs, Shane McConnell, and Doug Sarrett - well, the poor girl just doesn't have a chance! Maybe the personality balance of the more reserved Doug Diamond and whatever there is to describe my personality combination gives Jakes a fighting chance against this particular team.

Our driver while we are here is Gordon Jacobs. Gordon grew up in Cape Town and knows his way around this entire metropolitan area of more than 4 million people in astounding ways. He has already realized that he is trapped in a combi for too many hours each day with this small in number, but relentless in non-stop humor group.

We visited a large music store today to borrow a synth keyboard for our recording sessions on Monday - well, actually, we have to prepare the tracks on Sunday evening. Doug S. of course had to have a t-shirt, but they could not find one, so they promised him one when we return the keyboard on Tuesday.

After the music store, we went to Logos Assembly of God Church in Belhar - a rather poor community of about 15,000 in the heart of Cape Town. This church is the site for our weekend music workshops that we will be leading. The small church staff and a few volunteers from the host radio station were so excited to have us and help us prepare for tomorrow.

On the way to the church, we passed a the oldest township in Cape Town - called Langa - where more than 45,000 people live in conditions that no human being should ever have to live in.

Tonight, we were treated to a beautiful and relaxing evening at the home of John & Avril Thomas - our gracious hosts and the visionaries for so much of what is going on down here and why our church has made the decision to partner with them in their on-going fight against poverty and HIV-AIDS, and their efforts to do whatever is necessary to bring true Hope to people of all ages. Tonight was a vivid reminder of why more and more people need to make the trip here to help these saints in their efforts.

John & Avril had invited many of their worship team members from their church to be there, as well as BBC missionaries here at Living Hope - Mike & Pam Talley and Danielle Schneider. It was an incredible evening of food, fun, getting to know new folks, re-uniting with friends I had met from past trips here, and probably the highlight of the evening was hearing Avril tell everyone there about our entire itinerary while we are here - no notes - she had the whole thing memorized down to every single detail - astonishing.....then, we prayed together. It was powerful, and I can't wait to see what God will do these next few days.

Thank you for praying - it makes all the difference......

Oh, and I have to remember to blog about my visit tonight with John Thomas as he elaborated on his recent visit to not only the White House, but his 25 minute visit with President Bush in the Oval Office. Know this - God used that visit in ways that are already beginning to be made known, and John talked about some additional things that are in motion as a result of that that made me almost break down in front of him - honestly, I just sat there with my mouth open.....

(Here's just a taste of "some" of those things - President Bush's Press Secretary, Dana Perino is coming to Cape Town to do volunteer work at Living Hope for a brief period of time beginning February 13 of next year - how's that for God working in people's lives? There is SO much more!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Arrival In Cape Town

Our team arrived here in Cape Town around 5:30pm local time this evening. (That's 10:30am Nashville time). We were supposed to arrive around 4:00pm, but we were delayed out of New York's JFK Airport for two hours.

I like the travel itinerary of JFK to Dakar (for re-fueling) to Cape Town. I did not like the Delta jet that we were on. Anyone who has traveled even one time internationally knows about those small, but important amenities that make a 16-20 hour flight more bearable. Two of those are in-seat screens with on-demand viewing of tons of movies and TV series and multiple meals. Delta offered neither.

Now I realize that being a mission trip, one should not complain about such things, so consider this an observation more than a complaint. I am told Delta is upgrading all of their international jets to accommodate the in-seat screens.

Regardless, the trip was rather uneventful except for a flight attendant who wanted to know if I was from Kiawah Island (my hat) because she was from Charleston, SC. Go figure.....

We walked off the plane here in Cape Town to 58 degree weather, cloudy and windy.

Customs was a breeze, and Gordon, our combi driver greeted us along with two members of a current large team here from California. We loaded our stuff in the small trailer and headed to this lovely place called Sundollar where we are staying for this one night until The Team House is vacated tomorrow morning.

Our dinner this evening consisted of cauliflower soup and some kind of egg dish - interesting meal after being on a plane for 18 hours. Shane and I chose to compliment our tasty meal with a Yum-Yum sandwich - (that's South Africa version of peanut butter)

I then left the other members of the team here at the Sundollar while I went to the Team House to meet with a few members of the California team as they told me all about what they had been doing these past two weeks. I will elaborate on that in a separate post.

I forgot how much I love The Team House - it will be great to move there tomorrrow. In addition to that being on our Thursday agenda, we will set-up for our workshops at Belhar, and then have dinner at John & Avril Thomas' home tomorrow evening.

Thanks for praying for us - getting here is a fairly big deal, and getting here in good spirits is even a biggger deal.

For now, I need some sleep, so more blogging tomorrow......

Sunday, July 27, 2008

5 Guys To Cape Town

This Tuesday, this ragged excuse for a music mission team of guys will be leaving for one of my favorite locations in the world - Cape Town, South Africa.

This will be my fourth trip to this beautiful city. When I think about how this whole music mission partnership/relationship came about, I continue to marvel at how God works to bring together people from literally all over the globe to accomplish His work.

I hope to make the time to blog periodically during my time there. We would appreciate your prayers as we go to lead music workshops with some of the most talented, but completely under-resourced people we will ever meet.

I know I speak for Doug Sarrett, Doug Diamond, myself, Shane McConnell, and Michael Boggs when I say "thank you" for praying - we know how desperately we need it!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Miss My Sabbatical

Yes, I admit it openly - I really do miss my sabbatical. Who wouldn't?

Here is what I wrote in my journal this morning:

Lord, it's hard coming back from sabbatical.

the pace
the volume of work
the tension of balancing what's important with what's not
the fear and anxiety of not being able to keep up
the frustration that seeps into my personality as a result of all of the above

it's so much easier to be quiet and still when I am not working
i'm a much nicer person to be around when all of the above is not consuming me
I am convinced as I was writing this, God led me back to a chapter from one of the books I read when I was "not working" to remind me of the following:

"without a rich theology of labor, we'll have an impoverished theology of rest"
"before we understand God's rest, we must understand the Lord's work"
(The Rest Of God - Restoring Your Soul By Restoring Sabbath - by Mark Buchanan)

God reminded me this morning of my calling, and while much has changed in "how" I do what I do each day, the "why" I do it has not.

There is alot more to this than what I have written this morning......

I must keep pondering this, but for now - well, I have to get to work!

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July

It's fun to look back through the years to see how we have celebrated Independence Day.

Growing up, my parents always took me and my sister to the 4th of July Picnic at the tabernacle behind the Immanuel Baptist Church in Kyle, Texas. The church where my parents and grandparents worshiped. It wasn't the 4th of July unless we went to this picnic at this tabernacle.

Maybe that picnic influenced me more than I realized because years later, I would want to have a picnic of my own - in my own back yard - invite hundreds of my friends (that would be choir and orchestra members), and we would eat, play music, set-off fireworks and celebrate our freedom. We hosted that party/picnic for many years until we couldn't manage the crowd because we could not park all the cars!

July 4th of 1990 will always be memorable for me because we had just moved into our house here in this amazing neighborhood that celebrated the 4th with their own parade and bar-b-que. When we moved in, we were not aware of all of that, so I just remember watching the parade (at least 200 yards away) from our bedroom window as we painted the inside of our bedroom because we had so much work to be done on our new home.

All of this came back to me yesterday for some strange reason as I waited for my two youngest sons to pick out their fireworks to help us celebrate yet another Independence Day 2008!