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YL Africa

May 14, 2011

So, when Jen and I first decided to go on this trip and purchased our tickets back in January, we had a very tentative schedule laid out.  Lauren, one of my co-workers at DRC noticed on that schedule that we were planning to make it to Tanzania.  Coincidently, she knew a girl in the country that was teaching at a local school and also serving YoungLife (the ministry that Jen and I are involved with back in Texas).  Knowing that we were really involved too, Lauren introduced us through Facebook.  For this, we are really thankful to her because we got to meet our new friend Erin.

The day we arrived in Dar es Salaam also just so happened to be the same day that they were holding Wyldlife Club, which only occurs once a month, awesome.  Erin asked if we wanted to come and naturally we said yes.  Even luckier for us, we were staying literally two doors down from the house where it took place (actually it probably wasn’t that much luck because we also used Erin’s recommendation on where to stay).  This beautiful house is situated across the street from Mbezi beach in Northern Dar es Salaam and pretty much serves as the African headquarters for YoungLife.  There is a wonderful husband and wife who, along with their kids, live in the house and welcome in leaders from all over the continent for training.  They are also the same couple that started YoungLife Africa over eleven years ago when they were living in Ethiopia.  Now, over 100,000 kids have been reached in 16 different countries.

When we got to the house, it seemed pretty empty and like not much was going on, but then after waiting at the gate for a little while a bus full of kids and leaders pulled up followed by more cars with kids.  Then, just like Wyldlife in Dallas at Lake Highlands, all the boys ran around for an hour or so playing soccer, volleyball, or jumping on the trampoline and the girls formed circles and talked with one another.  Popcorn and snacks were served and eventually boxes of pizzas were handed out for dinner (we weren’t exactly expecting pizza in Tanzania).

It was funny sitting there watching all of the kids interact with one another and run around like crazy. After a while Jen and I would start picking up glimpses of their personalities and we would sit back, point, and say, “that one reminds me of Seth…  She is like Claudia… He is like Tyler… They are like Maggie and Kate” and so on.  Which just goes to show you that kids, even half way around the world, are just kids.  They play, laugh, gossip, eat, and everything, the same way.  Obviously it made us miss our kids even more and reminded us of some great stories and memories.

Soon enough, club got underway.  Just like back in the US, club in Tanzania follows the same pattern.  They started off with a few games such as musical ladders.  The kids got in a big circle and had to walk around passing under two ladders.  If the music stopped and you were under the ladder, you got a cup full of water on your head.  Next was the eight-legged race.  Obviously pretty much everyone fell down at some point.  After that was, my favorite, who can eat the Nutella covered apple the fastest – yes, normally it is with caramel, but that is a little harder to come by in Dar.  This game might not sound that fun but when you sabotage two of the apples and replace them with onions, everyone has fun.  Everyone except for the two that took big bites of onion that is (try to guess who they are in the picture below).

Following games was a skit put on by the student leaders.  It was pretty funny and, just like in Dallas, it is great to see the older kids pour into the younger ones and come to club.  After the skit was a testimony given by one of the female student leaders that was immensely moving, and you could tell it really meant a lot to her to be up there giving it.  Then it was time for a couple of songs and finally came “the talk” which was beautifully given by Ben, one of the staff leaders.  He spoke a lot about his days backpacking, which related to us quite a bit, and was great in communicating the message very effectively and in a short amount of time.

Once that was over, some kids started a spontaneous dance party, while others ran around the yard more.  Slowly a carpool line formed and almost everyone was picked up, but just like back home again, there were several with no rides that had to be figured out.  After that, the leaders had a quick meeting and it was all over for the night.  Erin and her roommate, Laura, both went to dinner with Jen and I where we got a chance to learn even more about Tanzania, their lives in Africa, the culture, the language, and much more.

One of the things we did get to talk about was YoungLife camp in Africa and what all that involves.  Anyone who has even been involved with YL knows that camp is a big deal.  At Lake Highlands, over 100 junior high kids go each summer and in fact, they will be there in not too long from now.  That’s just 8th and 9th graders from one school.  In Africa, there are even more kids that want to go (around 12,000 this year) and what is even better is that in Africa it only cost $60 to send one child to camp!  However, the bad thing is that it is Africa, and there is not much money to go around.  So HERE is a link, and if you feel so inclined to send a kid to camp for a week, please click on it.  You could even send only half or a quarter of a kid if you want.  Go ahead, make a difference in a kid’s life…  you could even just pray for them.

Steven

P.S.  This year will be the first time for them to have a camp in Zanzibar – a place that is 99% muslim.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Traner permalink
    June 13, 2011 14:13

    My favorite posting so far!

  2. June 23, 2011 10:41

    I love this article! I’m sooo glad i finally found y’alls blog!

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