The year: 2004. I was living in eastern Washington off the Puget Sound (like, in the movie Twilight? Yes.) I had a friend who wanted to stop by Applebee's and wish some dude happy birthday. We get there and there's a long table of guys hanging out for said dude's birthday. I make my way to the end, where there was one seat left. I don't remember what we were talking about before, but this big guy named Ken mentions he's going to Africa on a missions trip. His comment caught my attention. Africa? I've always wanted to go there. There's just something about it. If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean. His group was still forming and he said "You should come to one of our meetings and check it out." Instantly, I remember thinking "I'm going to Africa."
Months go by and we are doing fundraiser after fundraiser. Sending out letters for donations. Getting word out that we were needing help getting there. Funny thing is, I remember going to these missions meetings hungover. Talk about a double. faced. life.
There were many ducks we had to get into a row before we could even leave the country. Passports, paperwork, proof of this that and the next. And many immunizations.
My story about the immunizations: I needed a typhoid fever vaccine. At that time, they were only available for one hour on Wednesday mornings. I waited until the last Wednesday before we left to get it. I needed a TB vaccine. They stick a needle in you and make a bump. Come back in three days and if they bump is gone, you pass! I had to take it twice because I forgot to go in to have the bump checked. Let's just say, the devil (lower cased on purpose thankyouverymuch) didn't want me on that plane. The blessing in it was, however, all of my immunizations were covered by my insurance. Wow.
I eventually get my act together and make it to Africa. It was completely life changing not only because "Oh wow, I've been to Africa and it so National Geographic" but because serving others changes a person. It's Africa, they wear flattened coke bottles with strings on their feet as flip-flops!
Enough of the hardcoreness (yes, it's a word), on with the cool pictures!
Bush pig hunt!
Some hunters went and shot a wild pig out in the middle of nowhere (as in, walked through a desert, a swamp with snakes, and a jungle to get to a wild pig that made Pumba look like a poodle) and I got to carry the gun and pick flowers. I'd never even touched a gun before until this moment. Was the safety on? Was it loaded? I have no idea. If it works for them, it works for me. Crazy!
This little guy tastes like chicken. They tied his tail around his neck then carried him on the back of a motorbike to get him to us. Chicken, people! Monkey tastes like chicken!
Our empty truck that we filled with fence posts.
Our filled truck. To the right, you can see the pile of fence posts we left behind after the truck was full.
One of our jobs was to dig holes to put up a fence. Here's how it's done:
1. It's a two man job.
2. "Lucky" gets to use a pick to dig up the dirt.
3. "Fool" lays on the ground and digs out said dirt using bare hands.
4. Communication is key.
5.You and your partner take turns being Lucky and Fool.
Once, when I was just about to put my hands down in the dirt, a village girl pulled my hand back and said something in a panicky voice. No bueno, ese. Whatever homegirl takes seriously, I most definitely will too. Turns out it was a centipede that proved to contain a nasty toxic bite.
Where's the Orkin man when you need him?
In the end, we were able to put up hundreds of fence posts and complete the project.
On our way to Africa, I told Ken I wanted to be Baptized sometime in the future. Maybe when we get back, or the next time our Pastor does a baptism. Ken said "Well, why not just get baptized in Africa? There's a river." (Upstream, there were piranhas. We are, thank the LORD, not upstream enough from the ocean and the water was too salty for them).
I had been baptized before when I was kid and received Christ into my heart and dedicated my life to the Lord. Since that moment I've rededicated my life about five or six times since! I'm glad this past time stuck. However, I wanted to tell the world "Hey! I'm a new creation! Out with the old in with the new!"
See the smile? I was so happy. That's the smile of gal who is washed clean. Almost like you just took a bath in Scope and you have that ahhhhhhhh feeling all over.
Reading the Bible to a village boy. He didn't speak English.
Crystal's FIRST EVER COMMUNION:
I had never understood what the big deal was with communion. What's with Jesus' last supper that we have redo it one Sunday a month? And why didn't Jesus have shrimp alfredo and Oriental Chicken Salad instead of a stale saltine and some watered down box wine? Or at least some chocolate?
Lord, how I appreciate communion now. Sacred is the tip of the iceberg.