Mission Trip Report from Rachael
Hello Friends and Family;
Without a doubt, my entire trip to Africa was quite a rollercoaster ride. However amidst all of the ups, downs, and uncertainty came such an incredible experience. Sadly, after months of planning for this trip, things did not at all go the way we expected, but we could still see God working in and through it all. The day before we left we had received a message from the school in South Africa saying that they no longer wanted us to come because they too were scared of what was going on around the world with regards to Covid-19. However, we prayed about it as a team and decided to continue with our plans and leave the next day trusting that God would figure out the rest. Interestingly, later that day we received another message from the school saying that they had changed their minds and were still going to welcome us there.
There were so many things that happened where we could see God protecting and providing for us. For instance, the day after we flew out of Toronto world wide travel restrictions were going into effect, so it seems God provided a window for us to travel to South Africa. Everything about our travels to South Africa went smoothly and we arrived safely without any issues along the way. Once we had landed, we found out that during the 23 hour flight, the school had changed their minds yet again and no longer wanted us to come as they were worried about the situation in the world and that we may be bringing something into their school. Our team was so disappointed and worried about what we were going to do next, however after discussing and praying as a team, we decided to continue travelling to Limpopo trusting that God would show us what He wanted us to do next.
During the next few days, there was a lot of communication back and forth with families at home as many were worried that we would not make it home if airports closed or travel restrictions continued to increase. We were actually able to visit the school after school hours but were not able to see the children which was something I had been looking forward to for months. We spent those first few days driving around the town searching for somewhere else that we could serve. It was really difficult to find somewhere because many places were closing or were afraid to let us in. The one thing we were still able to do while in Limpopo was attend a South African church service which was an incredible experience. The worship music was amazing and the people there were so welcoming and invited us in despite what was going on. The Pastor's message that day was very encouraging especially in our situation, as he talked about having faith and trusting in God and his plan which is always greater than ours.
There was still communication back and forth as to whether or not we would be returning home early, after hours spent searching for another place to serve and a lot of group discussion and prayer, our team decided that we could not be of help in Limpopo due to the circumstances. Instead we decided to leave for Kruger National Park early in hopes of getting in a day or two there before we would have to return home. We actually ended up staying in South Africa for the planned time and spent the rest of our trip in Kruger. It was absolutely amazing to see God’s handiwork in the sunsets, starry nights, mountains and scenery, not to mention all of the animals we saw. Another reminder for us that God had his hand over our team during our time there as well. We arrived over a week early and the park was able to accomodate us until we departed for home. As a result of spending so much time in Kruger, we were able to get to know and build relationships with the staff there which was a great opportunity. They even prepared a traditional African dinner just for our team because they felt we as a group had made such an impact on them...we felt quite privileged.
Throughout this trip we definitely grew closer to God as we learned to rely on Him each and every day knowing that He’s always got a plan which sometimes can be quite different from ours. We also became very close as a team during our trip as we shared a lot during our devotions, encouraging one another as we learned first hand how to stretch our faith.The travel home also went very smoothly and was perfectly timed. The day after we flew out of Johannesburg South Africa (on the last scheduled flight), the country went into a 21 day lock down which is just another example of how God was with us and working to protect us on this trip. He created a perfect window both in and out. We arrived back in Toronto safely yet again with no problems and returned home to Quarantine for two weeks.
Our team has continued to stay in contact via Facetime and Zoom. God finished the work He had started as He protected all 26 members of our team as not one of us got sick. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to be a part of this team, the relationships we built and that my faith was strengthened and stretched. I am also thankful for all of your support and prayers during the preparation and duration of our trip. I have made memories that will last a lifetime and have seen God at work in ways that I will most certainly never forget!
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” ~Mark 4:40
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.” ~Matthew 28:19