Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Part Five: The Bakkie

I spent the first three hours of the trip in the back of the bakkie (truck) with three other people. Cierra, Cat, Jerome, and I squished ourselves into a camper shell, on top of the mattresses we would be sleeping on for the next month. I was glad that it wasn't hot; I couldn't imagine sitting back there in the summer heat. We played cards. Jerome talked us into trying biltong, which is Namibian beef jerky. We told Jerome that we wanted to be Namibian. He told us that we would be on probation for the next three days, and that we needed to learn the national anthem.

By the time we stopped for lunch, we were grumpy from hunger and queasy from riding sideways down bumpy roads. We ate fried egg sandwiches that we'd brought along, and bought french fries and drinks from the grocery store.

The drive was long, and I had ample time to think about my expectations for the trip. Here is what I wrote in my journal that night:
"I want to listen more and speak less. I want to care more about what others are saying and to daydream less. I want to live with a deeper understanding and a greater concern for what life looks like, and how people around the world live. I want to focus less on words that hurt me and more on blessing others with what I choose to say. I want to speak scripture as everyday language."

Part Four: Hodygos Training Centre

We saw zebras from the airplane. And springbok. We stepped off the plane, and I was in AFRICA!!! It was surreal. Lacey, Jameson, Merrilee, and I were finally reconnected with the rest of our non-Namibian team. They were waiting for us, and for their luggage, about half of which made it to the airport in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. We loaded our bags into the bus and drove the hour from Windhoek to Okahandja. I don't remember much from the drive, because I was exhausted. However, I DO remember that we saw baboons on the side of the road and that was the highlight of our drive.

Hodygos Training Centre is located in Okahandja, and it is "home base" for Youth for Christ of Namibia. It's your typical bible camp/weekend retreat/ministry training campus. There were cabins with bunkbeds, and a dining hall, and a worship center. YFC has a program called Short Term Missionary Training (STMT), which is a year-long Bible study program. The STMT students live on Hodygos during their training, and their focus is the outreach on which we would be going. YFC of Namibia also has a team called Generation21 (G21), which is a dance and drama team that goes into Namibia schools to preach the gospel and talk about abstinence.

The first night, we barely had enough energy to make it through dinner. We sang, ate, and headed off to bed. We also took our first shower since we'd left the States. I was so tired that I almost forgot to wash the shampoo out of my hair.

Our first few days at Hodygos were pivotal for team bonding. We went into Okahandja to exchange money and to see the town. The girls in my cabin, the girls who would be going to Oshakati, stayed up late, talking and giggling, getting to know each other. Our group would be going to Oshakati with the G21 team, which was significantly smaller than the STMT team. We saw the G21 team dance during our time on Hodygos, and we were very impressed. They were AMAZING. They taught us a few of the dramas, and we spent time before meals trying to pick up some of the African dances. We were awful, but willing to learn.

My biggest worry in the first few days was the food. I hadn't eaten beef for about seven years. It sounds silly, but I spent most of the first week praying for stomach, praying that I wouldn't get sick.

After a few days of rest in Okahandja, we packed up the trucks to make our way to Oshakati. Our trip was delayed two, three, four hours, because one of trucks was in the shop. We spent time getting to know each other better. Playing music. Chasing dogs. Chasing babies. Making lunches. This was our introduction to "Namibian time", which is nothing at all like American time. When the truck was back from the shop, we packed it up, and left on a 9-hour drive north to Oshakati.