THE CONVERSATION CONTINUES
Yesterday, I started interviewing my daughter concerning her recent trip to Swaziland. Today that conversation continues.
Indie, you said that you expected to not get along or like most of the people on your team. I remember you sharing in front of our church before you left that your number 1 prayer request was that you would be okay with being around that many teenagers 24/7 because in your own description, you just "don't like people". In reality, what happened with your team and your reaction toward them?
Well...things started out kind of interesting at training camp. On the first day, I think I only talked to one person, Ray, on my own...oh, and of course, Megan. In fact, on the first day, I expected there to be a clique that I would very much not be a part of and thought the other guy Chris would be a total snob. I started making connections a lot sooner than I thought I would. I think on the 2nd day there, we did the obstacle course and I decided that maybe if I wasn't going to be best friends with everyone, I was okay with everyone. The obstacle course is one of those things that you have to come out of your shell, at least in part. And I really bonded with some people because of all the physically hard stuff we had to do which I really enjoyed.
A lot of people reached out to me at training camp which touched me. They made an effort to know me. The structure AIM set up was really good for building teams and it worked perfectly with ours.
Yes, I remember how happy you sounded at the airport when you called just before leaving Atlanta for Africa. You told me you loved your team. In fact, I think you said you loved everybody. It was such an answer to prayer.
Yeah, I did. And by the end of the first week in Swaziland, I knew everyone well, too.
What was it like traveling over to Africa and arriving as a 2nd time visitor? How was it like your trip last year and how were your impressions and reactions different?
The plane ride was a lot better than last time because I had a really good time getting to know Allie, one of my seatmates and teammates; arguing with Chris; watching The Dark Knight three times; and actually getting to sleep. Because I'd "been there, done that", I slept all the way from South Africa to Swaziland. Every time someone would wake me up to show me something cool, I would growl at them and tell them I'd already seen it. And going thru passport checking was absolutely no big deal to me this time. It was kind of exciting last time. This time is was kind of "blah...just let me get back on the van and sleep".
How did Swaziland seem this time compared to how you remembered it?
A more fully realized country. Last time it was almost like a movie kind of place. This time it was realer. Last time, I also only saw the extremes...poverty and then I stayed in luxury. This time I saw more of the in between ground and got to know Swaziland as a people better.
What did you do your first few days there?
The first three days were mostly relaxing days, decompressing, etc. Though on Saturday we did do a scavenger hunt in Manzini. The purpose of that was to get to know Manzini better and be able to find our way around it. And on Sunday, our team split in half. Half of our group went to the Dabas church and the other half, the group I was in, went to Timbutini. Our service was 4 and a half hours long. But I swear, I thought it was 2 and a half maybe.
Why did it go by so fast?
I guess we were really enjoying it. And didn't have a million "better" things to do once we got out of church to look forward to.
So you were able to really live in the moment and put aside the American "hurry up and do it" list?
I so knew you were going to bring that up because that was something our trip was kind of centered around. For example, we never knew what we were going to eat until it was in front of us. Our activities were kept to a need-to-know basis, meaning we only needed to know them "that morning".
Was this hard for you and your team?
At first it was really hard for me because I like to know my schedule. But, as the trip progressed, I didn't care really. It was a lot harder on some of my teammates.
Why do you think it was a good thing for your team leaders to adopt this "live in the moment" policy while y'all were in Swaziland?
Because we never got disappointed if something that was planned fell through since we didn't know about it in the first place. And, we could relax and chill a lot more since we weren't all focused on the next day or a couple of days ahead.
Yeah, I can see why that would take some getting used to since Americans are so driven by their schedules and lists.
It's weird, but now I hate to plan things.
So once the first weekend was over, what sort of ministry activities did y'all get involved with?
We went to the Manzini carepoint, if not every day, almost every day of the first week.
What did y'all do there?
Everything. One day we helped serve food. Well, some of us helped serve food. The rest of us just played with the kids, loved on them. Camille became such good friends with the junior high and high school kids there that on the last day, they came up with a whole, really long dance routine in her honor because she was always dancing. One time I got roped into teaching a whole Bible club class. Lesson learned, don't volunteer to help in a Bible club class unless you have a Bible story planned in your head. Otherwise, you will blank out and not remember a single one.
You mean they didn't have lesson to give you?
No. I asked the teacher if I could do anything to help thinking I could hand out crayons, etc. And he said, "yeah, you can teach the class. You need to tell them a Bible story. Ask them questions and then do a song".
Wow! That really was putting the responsibility on you to think fast on your feet, huh?
I blanked out on every Bible story I knew except for Noah's Ark and David & Goliath. But then I forgot how many animals went on Noah's Ark so I told David & Goliath....a butchered version of it. But at least I knew Siya Hamba to sing.
For those who don't know about Siya Hamba, can you tell what it is and why you know it?
Siya Hamba is a siSwati song that says in English, "we are walking in the light of God". I know it because Mother Dearest has had me singing it since I can remember.
And aren't you glad now?
Yeah, kind of.
Such gratitude. Hmph.
I'm sorry, I feel sick. Stupid infections from Africa.
And on that pleasant note, we will bid adieu for today.
NO MORE TALKING IN FRENCH!
I rarely talk in French.
Chris talked in French on the trip and it bugged me. He did it just to annoy me.
So as I was saying, on these pleasant noteS, we will close the conversation for today. Hope you'll come back tomorrow for more.
As the Swazis would say, sala kahle! Stay well!