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.

 

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 22, 1998 – Wednesday – 8:30 a.m.

The past few days of ministry have been amazing.  So many people have come to know the Lord. We’ve ministered both on the streets of Joburg and in the squatter camps. What an honor!  We went shopping on one day and I hated it; it felt like a wasted day.

These days are really nice.  I am constantly surrounded by different people and all of them are amazing.  I have such a peace in my life right now.  All of my focus is on others, that is the only way to live.

It’s been eight months and I still miss Sarah, but I needed to get away.  I want to live this life the right way!

July 18, 1998 – Saturday – 9:00 p.m.

I have some free time to myself now.  I just called my mom and she said she had a mammogram and they found something.  She is going in on Tuesday to get it taken care of.  I trust God will take care of her.

Today we went into some other Joburg places.  I led a young boy named Isaac to the Lord and talked to many young South African children who were already Christians.  Everyone here dreams of America and they ask us if we personally know movie stars.  They all want to live there.  It’s crazy!

I ate dinner with Dawn, Jessica, Rebecca, and Amy; they’re such beautiful girls.  Jessica looks like Jewel.  Anyway, Amy began telling me how much she misses me since we are not on a team together.  She was at the MA camp with me.  She said that I was a person who meant the world to her simply for being myself.  Then all the girls started talking about how neat and unique I was.  Finally Jessica, with whom I’ve shared some nice conversations and longing stares, laid her head on my arm and said, “I’m very glad that I met you.”

These are some of the most amazing girls I’ve ever come across.  I feel so far away from that chapter of my life that was obsessed with Sarah now.  It’s as though I’ve opened up a beautiful new book.  I’m in Africa for crying out loud!

I left the table after talking to Amy for a while and hung outside with Brandy and Krista, two homesick girls.  I told them some jokes and they both said the next time they feel down, they are coming to me since I made them feel so much better.

There were two girls, Alana and Liz, at dinner who yelled out “J-Dog!” and startled me so much I fell out of my chair.  Oh, this place is so much fun!  I want to take all these people with me into my future so I can be with them forever.  But forever will have to wait until Heaven.  Until then, I can be with them now.  I must be fully alive and aware that this moment is passing.  I don’t want to fully live in the moment I have.

I spent some good quality time talking with Shawn, my Team Leader, on the bus this evening.  His leadership style has confused some missionaries, so I talked with him about it.  He’s 26 and runs us like an Army platoon, which is fine, but some aren’t used to that.

I’m thankful I can blend so well with the younger ones as well as the older ones. Oh God, you are so good to me.  Everyday you amaze me.  The eyes and smiles of those I shared the gospel with yesterday are firmly planted in my mind.  Thank you for the gift of memory.  I can’t wait until Heaven!

July 18, 1998 – Saturday – 10:45 a.m.

I’ve just been going and going with hardly any time to write.  I’m on the bus now, on my way to a township.

Thursday was more drama training and judging; we passed the judging.  Yesterday, we went to the poor, or rich to some, township around Johannesburg.  We performed the drama four times.  I led about seven adults and 100 kids to the Lord.  And that was just me.

On two ministry sites, I took all the boys over to one side to talk to them.  They began chanting and shouting my name as we walked.  I told them about Jesus.  They were so excited with the largest smiles.  “Tell me about Jesus!” they shouted!

They all accepted the Lord as their savior.  I gave them little booklets to read and one kid started reading it out loud to everyone else.  They were all quiet and listened intently.  That happened twice at two different places.

Afterwards, an older guy came up to me and said, “I’m glad you are here.  My life is only about drinking and drugs, and it is getting me no where.  I don’t want to do that anymore.”

He is a Christian now.  His name is Sylvester.

I cried and cried on the bus ride home.  All those little boys hugged me and kissed my cheeks.  I found myself wanting to move here, just so I can teach them the ways of the Lord?  Who is going to be there for them in the future?

Oh God!

You are great, you do miracles so great, there is no one like you Lord.

July 15, 1998 – Wednesday – 10:30 p.m.

Tomorrow is the birthday of two girls on my team: Angela and Sarah.  One will turn 15, the other 19.  Angela has an amazing heart in her and I see a fire in Sarah’s eyes that I never saw in my own Sarah.  And I’m jealous because she is so bright at just 15.

I’ve had some unique food so far, but it has all been pretty good.

Today was dedicated to rehearsal our street drama and we’ve got it down pretty well.

This morning during my quiet time, God showed me how important each of the people here are to him and how happy he makes him to see us sharing our life for this brief time.  Already I feel haunted by their eyes.  The girls here seem so pure.  I like how righteous they carry themselves and how they are saving themselves for their husbands.

And I am doing the same, though my two previous girlfriends so desperately wanted me to touch them.  But even that is too far, for a girl here said a guy should treat a girl like fine china, “no fingerprints.”

Hmmm.

Well, God protected me, and seeing all these pure eyes and pure spirits has given me so much hope that I will marry a woman who loves God as much as the girls around me do.

And I think they see the same in me.  One girl told me this morning that I was such an amazing guy.

Paul just entered.  He is 15, but in no way looks like it.  He is 6’3″ and from Maryland.

John is my other roommate.  He is 19 and from Arizona.

They are both here now.  Time to chat with them.

July 14, 1998 – Tuesday – 10:05 p.m.

I am here.  I have seen the sunset in Africa.

We are staying at a place on top of a hill here in Johannesburg.  The view outside my window is gorgeous.  I’m an official Mission Advisor now.  Paul and a different John than the one on my travel group is with me as well.  My team leaders are Shawn and Barbie.  Shawn is a drummer for Acquire The Fire.  The other MA’s are Joey, Andrea, Angela, and Kita.  The other team members are John, Amanda, Rebecca, Lauren, Julie, Brandy, Anne, Laura, Joel, John, Trista, Sarah, Paul, Krystal, and Chris.  I think that’s all of them.  And our project directors are Rich and Michelle.  There are many others in other teams, about 75 all together, and I’ve already made friends with many of them like Bekah, Jamie, Audrey, Jessica, Amy, Corey, and Brock.  I will still see them, just not as much as my own team.

The land is amazing, but I only saw what I could from a short bus ride.  Now it’s time to sleep.

 

July 9, 1998 – Thursday – 10:05 p.m.

I’m in Texas!  Dan is here.  He’s going to Alaska and I’m going to South Africa.  We’ll try to hang out a bit each night.

The girls going to South Africa with me are so beautiful, but even more amazing is their deep relationship with Jesus.

It is so warm here.  The moon is full and orange as it sits on the horizon.  I never saw the moon so close when I was in the mountains.

Our South African team is easily the most verbally excited group here.  We’ve made up our own chant and everything.

We will fly out on either Sunday or Monday

May 19, 1998 – Tuesday – 6:00 p.m.

I mowed the grass yesterday and then visited Sarah last night.  We had a wonderful time together.  It is unbelievable how comfortable we are with each other.  We talked about the craziest things.  We are so in love.

I’m not exactly sure what I will be doing until July 1st.  McDonald’s has a new owner and he never called me back.  I really need to make some money, but God is good and he will take care of me.

I have mailed off 41 Teen Mania letters to help raise support for my missions trip.  I also need to learn the basics of Zulu and work of the story of my personal testimony.

Sarah works 12 hours a day at the YMCA starting Monday.  I miss her so much right now.

My parents have made nearly $600 doing yard sales.  The house is getting emptier and emptier.

I have so much time on my hands right now.  Please God, help me spend it wisely.

April 4, 1998 – Saturday – 3:00 p.m.

This has been a very different day so far.  I have never met any of these 60 other people before, but each one, in one way or another, resembles someone I have come across before.  It makes me wonder how many others out there are very similar to me.

I am learning though.  I’m learning how to be a better leader.  If I do lead a team this summer, it’ll be a great learning experience and easily help me in other areas of life.

Life.  Crazy.  It will change so much as it continues on.  There are so many people on this planet.  We can’t all be that different.  I am just one of them.

I read something today that really opened my eyes:  Romans 14.

Who am I to pass judgement on another one of my Lord’s servants?  He has given them different duties and a very different way of handling matters than He has given me.  I must be responsible for what I know, and focus less on what others don’t know.  I simply have to do my work for Him, for no one else can do what I must do.

Sure, I am special, important, and unique, but the real truth is that everyone else around me is as well.  And I should focus my efforts making them feel that way, and less time on proclaiming myself as such.

We all want to belong, yet we also want others to see us as unique.

We are all alike.  We are all different.