Monday, May 18, 2009
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
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
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.
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!
Friday, May 15, 2009
The day after the men protected
News break: Church team smuggles drugs across border.
Today we had an amazing opportunity to journey to
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]
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
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!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
One year ago God started working on my heart and calling me to be a dentist. Today I pulled my first wisdom tooth, fixed a little boy with meseodents (an extra front tooth), pulled countless molars, and even worked my way through breaking my first, and fortunately only, tooth. I think God knew my limits and blessed the day with beautiful whole teeth coming out the rest of the time. I just wanted to share with you how God worked on my heart, and used this trip not only to bless the patients but also to change my entire future. I'm sure all of your loved ones are being shaped by God right now, and I can't wait to see the fruit of these changes.
One year ago I sat on a plywood bed on Prayer Mountain, desperately trying to make a cell phone work so I could call my brother, Matt, and congratulate him for graduating from dental school. I missed his graduation to go half way around the world and follow a call to serve God laid on my heart. I have zero medical training and feared I would not be much help, but I trusted God and boarded the plane anyway. After 17 dialing attempts the call miraculously went through. I talked in length with my brother that night about the desperate need for dental care in this community, and how much it broke my heart not to be able to give that to them. Of course I never had myself in mind, frankly I thought teeth were pretty boring. I thought God wanted me to talk him, or some other dentist into coming here. But God had very different plans.
I returned to the states with a broken heart and a clear vision of a need that needed to be filled, but remained blind to who would be filling that need. One week later I found myself in a dental office on a shadowing appointment my brother set up. He talked me into spending one day with a dentist just to rule out the possibility that it was me God was calling. I was nervous, knew nothing about dentistry and had no idea what to expect. But I guess God's will wouldn't be as exciting if we knew all His plans. After what turned out to be one of the best days I've ever spent with a professional; again God used my brother as a tool to keep me moving. Running an errand with him, we ran into a dentist who was leaving for a dental mission trip to Haiti in 10 days. Out of nowhere, having never met me before, he offered to pay my way if I would just show up at the airport. Doors were opening, so I shut my eyes, said "God, I'm trusting you." and started moving forward. It has been 365 days since God first started working on me, and today with the help of our amazing dentist Chris, I know without a shadow of doubt that I've found God's plan for my life. Nothing can replace the feeling of knowing you're doing what you were created to do. One year ago, I said yes to getting on a plane to South Africa and my future was rocked. This year 37 of us said yes to that same request, and I know God has big things in store for all of us. Here's to the next 365 days!
Today was our last full day of clinic with our dentist, Chris. He's pulled half the teeth of Africa in 2 days. He's a machine. We were so thankful to have him on our team, even for a short time. Please pray for his safety as he returns to the States tomorrow.
Our children's ministry is quickly learning exceptional crowd control skills as the number of children coming to the clinic multiplies by the second. Their corralling skills definitely surpass
the best cowboy, but you'd be hard pressed to find a child without a smile on their face. God's love is being poured out on these precious children.
(Amanda and Brittany)
Monday, May 11, 2009
We were so thankful to have a dentist with us today. Chris made it to South Africa on Saturday night. He saw patients non-stop today, and we anticipate the same for the rest of his stay. He filled and extracted teeth flawlessly in less than ideal conditions. From small children to grandparents, the "dentist office" stayed busy all day.
In addition to the clinic, we had team members assisting the construction crew that are building a daycare for many of the children here. They worked a hard and sweaty job, mixing dirt, sand, and water together to make the walls of the building. With God's help, the daycare will be finished by the end of this week.
We are so happy all of you are following our blog. We enjoy reading the comments and sharing your thoughts with the rest of the team...keep them coming!
(Mason, Brandi, and Amber)
Thank you everyone for all your encouraging comments - keep them coming. The team members say it's "like getting mail at camp", and quite appreciated. God Bless,
Sunday, May 10, 2009
We started our Sunday off at Pastor Selby's church in Badplass with dancing, singing, and congo lines! The spirit of the South Africans is second to none and definitely contagious, even for those of us with no rhythm. Josh, a Seacoast pastor and member of our team, had the honor of delivering the message and blessing the congregation with the same blessing that we hear every week at Seacoast. It was awesome to see God working through cultural and language barriers. We were in awe of their hospitality and immediately made to feel welcome and at home in their church.
Following church, we went to Adventura Resort where we had the option of riding horses or four wheelers ("quads") through the bush! We saw a plethora of wildlife...zebras, wildebeasts, elands, impala, and ant hills the size of a small child. It was breathtaking to be in the midst of God's creation. The tour guide's bandaged head made us a little leary, but we all survived with no major injuries.
We capped off the day with a hot meal with our new friends from the Cape...Cape Town and Cape Cod! Please pray for us tomorrow that we have the strength and endurance we need to make it through our first full clinic day.
Love and miss you!
(Amanda, Brittany, and Amber)
Saturday, May 9, 2009
This is what I pray for our team as they minister and serve the people. How awesome is our God! Amen.
Now we just finished our first clinic, which we set up in the church. We saw 70+ patients, with ailments such as diabetes, respiratory infections, skin diseases, AIDS, parasites, etc. We prayed with everyone, and networked with the local community. We made connections with the Bible College and are planning to do a prison outreach on Wednesday.
Praise God our dentist Chris Keenan arrived safely at prayer mountain about 1 hour ago. Tomorrow we will send Trevor to pick up Susan Gray from the airport.
Everyone on the team is well - please continue to pray for us - pray that we will bring lasting blessings from God to the people of Badplaas, and that we on the team will have hearts open to whatever God has in store for us.
<- Anthony and Annelise praying with patient via their interpreter
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Thank you SO much for your prayers! One of team members was sick yesterday with pneumonia and had to cancel her part in the mission... However, the churches all across America, and Erik Eskelund's Emoyeni group were asking for blessings and miracles - today Jamie is better, no fever, and she is with us! We are in Atlanta now, doing some more team training between flights. Josh Surratt just blessed us with an inspiring message, preparing us for journaling some great expectations for the Africans, God, and ourselves.
Last night Seacoast Church brought us all on stage during the First Wednesday service and prayed for our team. We are ready.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
In 36 hours we're gone! Today we are all asking our friends and family to subscribe to this blog, to join us by committing to pray for us every day May 7-18th. May God use our humble hands and resources to bring these wonderful people an immeasurable blessing of medical, surgical, and dental health; education and enlightenment; shelter for the wandering orphans; and relational and spiritual restoration. Thank you!!!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
We also finished packing 2,000 lbs of supplies we are bringing!