September 30, 2000 – Saturday – 11:03 a.m.

We are leaving the Breaks Interstate Park that sits on the border of Virginia and Kentucky. I’m in the van with Mark, Susan from Ireland, and Lisa. Mark agreed to let me play the Legend of the Fall soundtrack since it fits in perfectly with the fall colors that have begun creeping in on the mountain sides.

The past three days have been wonderful. Some many from the church came: Ron, John, Roger, Amy, Ginger, Holly, Kevin (my small group leader), and Kristen, who was in Dang!. Kevin asked Kristen to marry him at Breaks Interstate Park two nights ago.

At the Mountain Mission School, we painted, did yard work, some landscaping, etc. It was fun and rewarding work, and the kids were so thankful we were there. The best part though was simply getting to know everyone on our team.

I performed my velociraptor impression for the kids countless times, and the little 7-year-old girl named Vanessa became my little buddy. She cried when it was time for us to leave.

The past few days were full of endless laughter, and now I have this perfect drive through the mountains with one of the greatest soundtracks ever recorded.

I just realized it was the last day of the month. Wow, I loved this month of this year. I didn’t write much, for I was living life to the fullest. What a wonderful month of friends and filmmaking! Dan and Abigail were married, but that first weekend of the month was about so much more for me. I awoke on the first day of the month in Sharon’s house and got to have breakfast with a family that truly knows how to love each other. I also was able to spend a little time with Mason and Maresa. Then, Sarah and I shared a nice walk. I hugged a pregnant Jeni goodbye very close to the place we first kissed nearly six years ago.

After that beautiful Labor Day weekend, I quit my first ever salary job and started making videos every day for Forefront. That church is a gift from God. It helped bring me to this corner of Virginia, where I was able to bless many girls from Ethiopia.

It’s great to feel tired for the sake of others. I’m worn out, but I gave all that was in me. There is no greater joy.

Okay, I’m going to stop writing now. The world outside is too beautiful, the music is too good, the company is too sweet.

I let go of September of the year 2000. You were a perfect month. Welcome October.

February 18, 1999 – Thursday – 12:09 p.m.

Instead of just sitting and having hot chocolate, we drove to the beach and went for a walk.  We talked for about two hours.

She has a younger brother my age who is married.  He teaches at Greenbrier as well.  Their mother died about four years ago from cancer.  There are so many stories in her.

Amy amazes me.  She is so complete.  She’s such a beautiful girl with amazing eyes and lips.  I haven’t stopped thinking about her.  I want to learn all I can.  Every little detail.

Lauren said she blushed when she mentioned me to her at school.

I’ll see her tonight, for there is a missions meeting at Rob and Jesslyn’s.

Have your way oh God.

August 10, 1998 – Monday – 5:45 p.m.

I only have one week left to be 21.

Today was great!  I had some training at the bookstore and then all the employees there went to the beach for a cookout.  I had the best time.  It was myself, Matt, David, and new people I met today: Steven, Dawn, Sarah, Jenny, Channing, Donna, Katy, Aaron, and Amy.

Great people; not all of them go to Regent, but they all love the Lord!

David and I played in the waves and talked about South Africa and it made me miss the place even more.  Matt had really dug deep in to community while I was away.  He has been going to prayer meetings and such.  I’ve been invited to one tonight.

I found out my mom and family are not in Florida yet.  They are in Atlanta.  The RV broke down.  I haven’t talked to them yet.  I haven’t talked to anyone from my old world yet.  I’m afraid to I think.  I’m afraid it will seem like they are all in slow motion and that I’m moving forward so quickly that we’ll be out of reach of each other.

Thank you God for this job.  Thank you for this place.  You are so good to me.  I love living with you and for you.  You have always placed me in a family of believers, no matter where you have called me.  Please speak to me tonight at this meeting.

August 9, 1998 – Sunday – 7:20 a.m.

I’m now leaving the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.  Yesterday’s debriefing sessions were really nice.  I took a lot of notes and Dan and I got spent some cool time together out by the entrance of the campus near the huge fountain.  I’m so glad he is with Abigail.  They are a good thing.

I haven’t slept hardly any.  Maybe an hour or two.

Matt is supposed to pick me up in Norfolk.  It’ll be nice to be in my new place again.

This has been a very quick month.  I begin my new job tomorrow and Matt also told me when I called him on Friday that he got a job at the bookstore too.

I saw the sunrise over the flat Texas landscape this morning.  It was a beautiful sign that another chapter has ended.  My collection increased greatly; so many face; so many eyes.  This has really been a good thing.

There were 150,331 documented decisions made for Christ this summer.  Over 10,400 were from our South Africa team.

My birthday is coming up, but no one knows about it.  I feel so hidden now compared to when I was at Lees-McRae.  But I know new friends are around the corner and new challenges and accomplishments lie before me.  I’m excited about Regent and all God is going to do there.

Goodbye to all those amazing moments in South Africa and with Teen Mania ’98.

 

August 5, 1998 -Wednesday – 8:30 a.m.

Yesterday was our final day of ministry, and we went out with a bang.  Three of our four teams came together and did the drama simultaneously.  We led an entire township to the Lord.  Today we will do some debriefing and then go on a safari.  We head out to the airport tomorrow.

So much has happened during my few weeks here.  I have seen poverty unlike I ever have before.  I have so much to be thankful for, including my health.  I’ve dealt with my pride, and know with confidence that I do not want to return to Sarah.  This time was a great way for me to transition from college to graduate school.  Being here, I have realized how much my heart longs for the salvation of the American people.

So, after seeing some fantastic African animals in the wild, I will humbly return to America and serve my God.  I am nothing and the salvation of one more person is everything.

August 1, 1998 – Saturday – 10:00 a.m.

It’s August!  I think today was the day my parents were moving to Florida.

We are leaving Swaziland today.  I’ve really enjoyed it.  The mountains are huge, there are monkeys everywhere, and cows roam the streets like dogs.  I guess they don’t believe in the idea of fenced in pastures.

On Thursday, John and Paul and I went for a walk in the wilderness.  We found tons of waterfalls.  Yesterday, we went to a church service at a little hut with no electricity.  It was about half the size of this bus.  It made me appreciate so much.  I’ve been in huge churches with so much modern technology, but the praise and worship was in no way pleasing to the Lord.  But last night, these African Christians sang their heart out to God.  They had nothing, but they gave everything.

After the service, the guys went out to eat at a place called Spurs.  It was super yummy!  Our waitress’ name was Alice and as I sat there, I realized how strange it all was.  I was in Mbabane, Swaziland, eating with a West Virginian who plays drums for Acquire the Fire, an Alabaman who is related to Gomer Pyle, a college student from Arizona, a 13-year-old from Texas, an Italian from New Jersey, and a Michigan kid.  And each of them knew nothing about the previous 21 years of my life.  Yet, none of it mattered, for we had Jesus in common.

I have only five days left.

I wonder if I’ll ever come here again.

July 29, 1998 – Wednesday – 8:00 a.m.

The scenery we saw between Johannasburg and Piet Retief took my breath away.  When we arrived Jon and I played on a small playground before we went to pray for people at the hospital.

The hospital was very tragic.  I prayed for many men: men with tumors, men without arms, boys with the entire backs of their legs gone.  It was a sad sight.  The medical technology didn’t seem great.  We then went to visit the children.  The crying pierced my ears.  The children of the squatter camps seemed blessed compared to these children.  Oh Lord, I’m so sorry for taking my health for granted.  Forty minutes before we arrived, a woman had given birth to a dead baby.

Why has God given me so much?

Last night we played capture the flag, watched a beautiful sunset, and then, there above us, with no light pollution to spoil it, was a moonless sky.  It was the first time I was able to see the pure night sky from the Southern Hemisphere.  It was a different sky altogether.  The milky way was super bright, and several shooting stars flew past us.  I walked away from the group, laid on the ground, stared into the abyss, and faded away.

Why do I ever have a worry in the world, when I’m loved by a God who could make such sights?

July 28, 1998 – Tuesday – 8:30 a.m.

We went to a pretty awesome church service Sunday morning.  I sat with a girl named Amber there and back.  We had some cool talks.  That afternoon we had a cookout and visited with some missionaries from South Africa.

The Lord laid something on my heart that night and I called Sarah’s home in Winston-Salem.  She was at Lees-McRae though.  She went up there to see Starqueen and visit her friends.  So I called Ann-Marie’s room and she was there.  When we talked it was as if we were strangers and had nothing in common.  I told her that when I was with her I wasn’t a complete person and I’m sorry for any thing I did.

She just basically said “okay.”

We visited a lion park on Monday and I got the chance to play with some huge lion cubs.  One bit me on my bicep.  I have a scar.  It was awesome!  We then went shopping and I bought a bracelet similar to the one PK wears in The Power of One.

We had a funny little “Christmas in July” party last night.  Everyone thinks it is cold here, but it feels just like a Banner Elk summer.  But I guess July is the cold season in the Southern Hemisphere.

While in the lion park, I spent most of my time with Jessica.  She is the sweetest girl.  She’s 17 and from Georgia.  We shared some nice conversations and I thank God for her daily.

I’ve discovered that I have a lot of pride in my life.  It keeps me from listening and learning from other people.  Before I leave here I want to give all that pride away to God. I fear it keeps me from growing.

I love this mission thing.  Teen Mania functions in a way that I can’t relate to, but I have molded to its ways.

I’m looking forward to the world of film.  I want that to be my mission field.  I hope I can understand that world.  I just want to know my Jesus and understand him better and share him with those who haven’t heard of his love.

I am now on a bus and in just a minute or two we will be headed to Piet Retief in South Africa.  It is about a five or six hour bus ride.  Later on we will drive into Swaziland.  “It’s a whole other country,” to quote Forrest Gump.  I’m excited for the long bus ride!  I just want to stare out the window.  After our final ministry days, we will go on a full out African Safari!

Not much time is left.  Only about a week and a day.  I have many plane rides to look forward to and a new job waiting on my when I return.  But for now, I’m in Africa.  I don’t know when I’ll be back, so I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

Humble me God.  Melt my pride.  I just want you.  Thank you for these days.  You are so big and I am so small.

You are all I have.

You are all I need.

You are all I want.

July 25, 1998 – Saturday – 8:10 p.m.

I have so little time left here.  So little time left in Africa.  So little time around these people.  So little time left on this planet.

I read a quote today by Frank Lawbach, “I have this minute in my control.  It is all I really do have to work with.  It is as magnificent or drab or vile as the thoughts which fill it.  I fear our most common sin is empty minutes.”

Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to redeem the time, to set our time free from evil, to fill our life with good.  My life is full of empty minutes.  But I don’t want to live through another one ever again.  The other teams that went to Swaziland and Escourt came back today.  It was so great to see everyone.  I had been missing them and didn’t even know it.  I spent time talking with Jessica.  She has such a sweet spirit in her.  And then I talked with a girl named Emily here.  She is 15 and so smart.  She has such a Godly heart.  And while talking with her and hearing her passions, I realized that so many of the minutes I spent with Sarah were empty.  Many were filled with life, but many were not.  I was hurt by her.  Why do the ungodly ones always want me, but the Godly ones never do?

Well, last night, we went to a youth service, and I went up for prayer for God to help me give my past up to him.  I ended up on the floor and God definitely did some work in me.

And so, I am moving forward.  I will still keep in touch with Sarah, but I need to let her know that I need to be away from her to grow.

I think she already knows that though.

 

July 24, 1998 – Friday – 3:10 p.m.

Yesterday we went to minister in the malls in our normal street clothes without doing any drama.  Amanda was my partner; she reminds me so much of Emily.  We talked to many different people, and we bought lunch for some homeless guys.  It was nice to share the Lord with them.

Amanda, like Sarah, dreams of Broadway.  She is only 15, but her relationship with the Lord is strong.

A girl named Lauren and I had a great time putting on each other’s stage make up this morning.  She does not dream of Broadway, but of a simple life with a good husband and six kids.  And for a brief second, I dreamed I would be that good husband.  Hmmm.

It is nearly August.  I’ll be back in Virginia Beach in about 15 days.  We only have six days of ministry left here, but other days of worship, safaris, and traveling.  I hope to leave here with the mailing addresses of all my new American friends.  They spread all of the nation, so much so, I could travel America and never have to pay for a hotel room.

My parents are moving soon.  I will be a student again soon.  But all I want is to truly know my Jesus.  I lay my life before you Lord.  Please reveal yourself to me.  I just want to love you.