Another Update from Mike McCracken in Africa:
Tuesday, 02/10/09 part 2
Well, I was awakened between 4:00-4:30 am by sounds at the campfire. Apparently several Bible Institute students stayed the night, sleeping on benches, and keeping the fire going. I was sitting with them at 5:30. As the sun was rising, by 6:00 most of us were up. Breakfast included your choice of oatmeal, cookies, bread, coffee, and tea. Then we cleaned up, tore down and packed up our gear. Matt began leading us in worship around the fire, but we kept having opportunities to greet students as they arrived for school. At 7:15 AM we were invited to the Bible Institute’s morning chapel, where Matt and Doug provided (impromptu) special music and John shared from Luke 15. Pretty cool!! I am really proud of this team and how they are adjusting to the culture and interacting with the people. After chapel we were met by Pastor Elvis (yes, Elvis is in Bossangoa, and he rides a motorcycle). Elvis would be leading us to the places we needed to visit in Bossangoa. I rode on the back of Elvis’s bike to our first stop, the “Governor’s” office. Elvis wanted our visits official.
Matt rode with Elvis to our next stop, a Hand-in-Hand school connected with another Grace Brethren Church. We were able to observe this class and help Ginger distribute pencil cases.
Doug rode on the back of Elvis’s motorcycle to our partnerships at Senbegan, Bossangoa. There are two levels of classes here, both are at full capacity of 50 kids, and Grace Church supports both of them. Level 1 is taught by Sophia, Level 2 by Jean. The pastor of the church that helps support these schools is Jeorge. We visited Jean’s class first and were able to observe him teach. He is pursuing excellence as he teaches these orphans. The students were very excited to have us visit them. They prepared signs to welcome us which were attached to the mud brick walls inside their classroom. I asked the class if I could have them to take back to the Lititz Church. They are a precious gift. It was a special time watching these kids learn, sing, and pray.
Next we visited Sophia’s Level 1 class, which is next door. This class room was similar to Jean’s. Sophia also pursues excellence, and the children learn and sing with passion. Both teachers and the children are thankful beyond words for what Grace Church has given to provide for these children, and the huge expression of love the Church has shown them by sending this team to visit their schools.
The two classes combined outside, lined up, and did a special presentation of singing and dancing for our team. After their program our team presented them with our gifts of soccer balls and jump ropes. The excitement level intensified! After a brief time of jump rope instruction, the kids took over. When the soccer balls hit the ground, most of the boys gravitated to that area and were running and laughing all over the place.
After the brief recess, it was back into the class rooms where we gave pencil kits, crayons, and toothbrushes to each student.
Lunch was next. Despite Ginger’s earlier request of our team eating with the children, we went to a different location for lunch while the children ate in the class rooms. We ate at the office of the Association of Evangelical Christian Women, of which Elvis’s wife Clarisse is one of the leaders, and were joined by other pastors in the church, leaders in the church, Jean and Sophia, and the Minister of Social Affairs. It was a very big deal for our team to be hosted by this group. The Women’s Association prepared and served our meal of salad, fish, dried antelope, beef, rice and noodles. It is a big deal when three different meats are served. After dinner Pastor Jeorge, Elvis, and the Minister of Social Affairs spoke and expressed their deepest thanks for what Grace Church has provided for these orphans. I was able to share how God led Grace Church through the process of connecting with the church in Bossangoa. After dinner we made our way back to the schools and said our good- byes.
Four hours later we were pulling into Bangui, after picking up our chicken in Bougoudi, arriving at the Missionary Complex after dark a little tired, hungry and dirty. We unpacked, showered, and enjoyed a meal of taco soup with corn bread and homemade ice cream with hot chocolate sauce.
Before turning in we had a brief team time. Matt lead us in an uninterrupted song, and each of us prayed about something God touched our hearts with during the last two days.
Blessed in Bangui,
Mike for the team.
Mike for the team.