Monday, May 18, 2009

Thank God and the FDA

We're in the Atlanta airport now, breathing a sigh of relief - Mason Hicks was detained by customs with a bag full of mass quantities of medication (mostly for diabetes). The authorities wanted to confiscate our supplies (which are needed for the next mission) and treat us as drug importers. Mason did the right thing and led them to me. I gave them my medical license and papers, but they weren't sure what to do. They said only drug manufacturers can import mass quantities of drugs.

Many prayers and phone calls later, an FDA agent called me from Washington and ordered them on my cell phone to release us and all of our supplies. God is faithful yet again!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Thank you everyone for all your prayers: we are at the airport now, and everyone made it through security just fine. We are shopping in the airport until we board in a few hours. Some amazing answered prayers? The entire team is well; hundreds of people accepted Christ; over a thousand patients received medical/spiritual/dental/surgical/vision care; and all of us are closer to God, with a broader perspective on this world.
This morning we had a glorious mountaintop Sunday service in front of the cliffs - Josh and Jason preached, and we heard testimonies from Jess, Katie, Kelly, Tamara, David, and Brittany.
On the bus, your comments on this blog were read aloud to the amusement and embarrassment of all (we now know who "Sissy" and "little Weesie" is).

A the last moment we took a group pic in front of the cross. Now, we covet your prayers for a safe flight, clearing customs with all our medicine intact, and most of all that we will be able to continue the mission by sharing our experiences with those at home. See you tomorrow!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

a lot to think about

It's a little past midnight here - tomorrow we'll debrief, prepare our supplies to donate to local ministries (one of the orphan girls, Delsile, received a laptop!), and bounce down the ridiculous dirt road toward the airport.
In my mind is a stream of indelible images of malnourished bloated-bellied children whom I held in my hands and loved with my heart. The world has forgotten them but I never will: chalky-dry smiles, sneakers rotting off their feet, a stoic affect as I tell them they have AIDS...
I close my eyes and imagine Haley suturing an elderly woman's shoulder; Chad shaking his head as another child reveals a story of abuse; Epps holding a girls hand as they pray;

I have a lot to think about on the flight home.
This morning came in the middle of the night! While Badplaas was sleeping, we boarded our bus at 3:00am in order to make it to Kruger National Park by 6:00. We jumped on the safari tour jeeps, bundled in blankets and every bit of clothing we brought, and set out with spotlights and eager eyes to find the "big five." Although we didn't get to see the big five, we saw 3 of them, including Rhino, elephants, and buffalo. We also saw impala, kudu, giraffes, wildebeasts, vervet monkeys and baboons, jackals, warthogs, hyena, hippos, crocodiles, and zebras. Today was a success, minus the invisible lions.

Tonight was one of the most powerful nights of the trip. Several people shared their testimonies and several team members shared their experiences here in Africa. We have grown tremendously as a team, and as we spoke tonight, we talked about how we can bring what we've learned back to our everyday lives in the states. This experience has changed the way we think and act. God has moved in us and in the people of Africa. Tomorrow will be bittersweet as we pack up to leave Prayer Mountain and the new friends we've made. The trip has made a major impact on the entire team and I think we will all return home with a renewed sense of God's power and love in our lives.

We can't wait to see everyone when we return to Charleston on Monday. We love you and can't wait to see you!

ngizonibona mangi fika (See you when we get there! -zulu)

(Brandi, Amber, and Amanda)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sniping, Smuggling, and Star Gazing

“I’ll tell you one thing….they’re a load better than the bloke’s!”

The day after the men protected South Africa from the overpopulation of blesbok, the women decided to try their inexperienced hands at hunting. Jamie “One-Shot” Rudisill, Jessica “Sniper” Casmer, Kimberly Jones, Susan Gray, and Meg Maddox took down four impala and one blesbok with just 7 bullets. –MEG

News break: Church team smuggles drugs across border.

Today we had an amazing opportunity to journey to Swaziland! We smuggled our medicine and all of our team members through customs and immigration without being searched. This was definitely an answer to our prayers! We partnered with Children’s Cup ( today to provide medical care to several communities in Swaziland. Children’s Cup was founded 18 years ago to help orphans in the community and now has 22 locations in Swaziland alone, along with over 100 in Zimbabwe. Healing Place Church of Baton Rouge, LA, a sister church to Seacoast, has a satellite campus in Swaziland that has partnered with Children’s Cup. They provide food, basic education, life skills training, and basic medical care for the orphans at their many “care points.” Forty-three percent of the population of Swaziland is HIV+, making it the highest rate in the world. This organization has reached out to the children orphaned by this epidemic. We had two different clinic sites where we saw over 350 patients, many of whom were orphans, and nearly 100 people gave their lives to the Lord. God has surely blessed our team with so much, and it was amazing to pour out our blessings on these communities.

Michael Overcash, our resident astrophysicist, enlightened us tonight with stellar knowledge (pun intended). We laid under the stars and gazed at Anteres, Saturn, Scorpio, Leo, Virgo, the Southern Cross, the Milky Way, black holes, and a few stellar shooting stars. We guarantee that we’ll never be able to point out these stellar stars to anybody again. Michael also brought a few light sabers for us to point out the stellar stars; clearly some people never grow up!

Today we saw our last African patients. It was definitely bittersweet. We feel like we’ve made a huge impact on the lives of the people here, but the blessings they have given us are far greater than we could have ever imagined.

Thanks to everybody who is praying for us. We can’t wait to share our stories when we return. Ya might wanna keep prayin…safari time tomorrow. And we hear the lions are hungry.

[Amber, Amanda, Brittany]

Our last day in Badplaas

This is actually the blog from yesterday (thursday), but South Africa is not too internet-friendly , so we're a bit slow in uploading. We're heading out now to go look at the Milky Way (no big deal), but we promise to write again tonight about our amazing trip to Swaziland today!

We’re too exhausted for creativity tonight, but Heaven has a few more Impala and Blesboak tonight. Girls hunted. Killed animals. Blood was shed.

Today was our last clinic in Badplaas today, so we saw every possible patient we could. When we showed up at 8am, there was already a line out the door. There were a lot of tough situations, but God’s face shined with each smile as people accepted Christ. It was amazing!

Pastors Josh Surratt and Jason Metcalf concluded their two day pastor’s workshop, where pastors were encouraged in their ministry. We were able to empathize with the struggles of our calling, pray with each other, and bless the South African pastors with encouragement for their ministry.

We’ve encountered some intense spiritual warfare each day in the clinic. There are many cults in the area that pose as churches, claiming to be Christians while worshiping other gods and people. We’ve had the opportunity to lead several members of these churches into the real truth of the Gospel and teach them about the one true God. Members of these cults wear bracelets to identify themselves as a part of that “church”. Today, we were able to literally “break those chains” as we cut off their bracelets after being led to the real Truth.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why are there so many people on our team?

We have a HUGE team. There are so many of us because we have so many areas to serve. We prepare patients for meeting with "The Great Physician," God. We minister to children and show them love and attention that they may not receive everyday. We have ministered to the pastors here by providing an opportunity to speak with other ministers in the community and from the United States. In the clinic, we have provided dentistry and optometry. We prescribe medicines in our "pharmacy," and do minor surgeries. There are so many roles in the clinic, that without a large team, we would never be able to accomplish the things that we do.~ Amber

Today, I had to tell my first patient that she is HIV positive. She was concerned about her baby because she is currently breastfeeding. The situation seemed hopeless but at the end of the day, she accepted Christ. Through an interpreter, we told her that her body may be sick but she now has eternity with God and is healed from her sickness in sin. I realized that we may have to tell our patients bad news but in the end, telling them about Jesus makes it all worthwhile.~ Brandi

Everyday in Badplass brings new challenges, new adventures, and new service projects to our team's ministry. In addition to our team's ministers sharing their leadership skills, the medical education team working with local health providers, several of our team members were asked by local wildlife managers to help in an unusual, but much needed service to Badplass. Over the years wildlife managers in the area have done such a great job preserving the natural beauty of their bush and wild game that they are overpopulated and threatening the "natural progression" of the species. Today, Pastor "slayer" Josh Surratt, Chad "steady hand" Robinson, and myself, Mason "Sniper"Hicks, had the AWESOME opportunity to cull an overpopulated herd of blesbok, a wild bush animal similar to an antelope. We were personally invited, by local game officials, to join them on a hunt in the African bush. Josh, Chad, and I each took one blesbok with a long rifle. After the hunt, we donated the meat (over 350 lbs.) to a local food shelter. It is estimated that these animals will feed over 100 hungry families in the local community. In addition to fulfilling a local wildlife need, we sucessfully completed one more mission for the village of Badplass. Not to mention, make our friends and family really jealous! Wish you all could see how beautiful this place is! God is truly working here; through nature, through us, and through the local people!