Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

6/19: Flying Home Today

Friends - Katie and I are spending the morning packing to come home. It's been an incredible trip with lots of adventures that we look forward to sharing.

As the leader of Forgotten Voices, I learned a TON of new things that will help us do what we do better. I also was challenged and humbled by the things that are going poorly, as well as the things that are going well here.

Highlights for me:
1) Traveling with Katie - she hears me ramble all the time about Africa and its been nice to have her along to see the work first hand - her social work skills have helped me see some things through a different lens. Plus, as she does in every aspect of my life, Katie brings life where most would see death. Katie brings an energy, passion, and joy to everything she does. Seeing what we've seen is hard sometimes and Katie approached every new day as an opportunity to love.
2) Getting Remmy started in Zambia; Remmy Hamapande has just joined our Forgotten Voices team, serving as our Project Director in Zambia. He's going to be an AWESOME addition and it was a joy to get him rolling. His coming on board will allow us to build our pipeline of new projects in Zambia created by local churches, as well as help us share more stories with you through Remmy's future blog posts and photos from the field.
3) Seeing the work of local churches doing AIDS orphan care in their local communities, most without any help from "the outside." I look forward to sharing more stories with you.
4) Meeting incredible people, both connected to Forgotten Voices and quite a few that weren't at all - just doing their best to make our world a better place to live, work, raise a family, and play. From Rene & Edith in Pietermaritzburg to Pastor Joe & Jabu in Port Shepstone to Dan, a pastor I met on the plane to Ndola to the guy that helped me rent a car in Joburg... I love meeting people and seeing how each person is experiencing life.
5) Coming to South Africa - we were supposed to go to Zimbabwe from 6-19 June, but instead had to divert our trip to South Africa because of violence where we were headed in Zim. This change 5 days before we left proved to be a gift from God. While we are sad to not be in Zim (see below), it was an awesome experience to see how God is moving through churches of all shapes, sizes, and color of skin. We wrote about those experiences throughout the blog posts and will surely write more when we get back.
6) Went with Katie to the Apartheid Museum yesterday - perhaps one of the most incredible, gut wrenching museums I have ever been through. It was highly educational and answered a lot of questions we both had about the past and present state of race/ethnic relations here. This experience at the museum will be tremendously helpful as I make decisions about how to engage with the local people from various walks of life here in South Africa, as well as helping me shed light on ethnic tensions around southern Africa that impact our work now.

1) Seeing that we are definitely losing the war against AIDS. We have a lot of work to do, but I do see ways forward where we should be digging deeper. I'm taking this afternoon and the flight home to begin writing up an action plan for how we need to change some of our responses as a Christian church (globally), nationally (USA), and individually. I'll share that on my blog in the next few days.
2) The death of the child on the N2 after the child was struck by a vehicle while trying to get a lift. Without question, seeing a child killed changed our trip. While we didn't see the accident happen, we saw right after and it was/is traumatic.
3) Not getting to Zimbabwe on this trip becuase of the pre-election violence. Zim is my 2nd home, without question. Traveling in Zulu country in South Africa was helpful to my longings to be in Zim, as Ndebele and the Zulu are related. My limited ndebele abilities came into play sometimes, as it helped me relate to people we met in the rural areas, as well as people working in the cities...but it wasn't the same. I REALLY miss Zimbabwe and hope to get back there soon.
4) The long flight home. It's 18 hrs back from Johannesburg to DC, with a stop for fuel in Dakaar, Senegal. We don't get off the plane. On the plus side, I DO get to meet lots of strangers and hear their relationships to and perceptions of Africa.... I especially like talking with high school students traveling back from missions trips so I can encourage them to not lose their emotions they will have coming back...the people they've met, etc.

There are surely lots of things I want to write about and share with you. However, they'll have to wait for another day. I need time to process some of these things and some questions that need answers still linger.

But in conclusion, I do want to say THANK YOU for reading, supporting Forgotten Voices, and praying for Katie & I as we have traveled. Please continue to do all three for the next couple days as we head home and recover. For you first time readers, I blog year round, sharing my travel stories from the states too, as well as news from the ground in Africa.

Please also consider giving to Forgotten Voices. I know you read that a lot, but seriously...consider it. After this trip, I deeply believe God has placed new burdens on my heart that fit within the mission of Forgotten Voices. I'll be sharing those stories with you about how we will respond after I take a couple more days to think about how this should play out.

But in the mean time, please consider giving. You can give at Whether a one-time gift or a monthly pledge, THANKS!

I often realize that I travel for you and others reading this. It is a great honor to come and see how we can join with local people in Africa to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of AIDS orphans in their communities. Thanks for joining us on this journey.

Ryan & Katie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just spoke of you this morning at a session at PAPA fest. I am so looking forward to talking when you catch your breath. My heart is wrenched but I know that God is God.
Just trying to be one of HIS people.
God bless you both...