Excitement. Uncertainty. Eagerness. Joy. Fear. Experiencing a tumultuous mixture of emotions, the 47 members of the Global Awakening team arrived in Pemba, Mozambique on Saturday, May 29th, 2010. Stepping off the plane and into a new and unknown world, we quickly made it through Customs, were loaded onto two camions, and headed to our new abode. Exhausted and eager to reach our beds, the men and women split up for the night, heading for separate bunkhouses at the Visitor’s Center. After a brief orientation by Iris Hospitality staff, the team was off to bed.
Sunday morning saw us through a second orientation. We learned our limits - the things that would and wouldn’t be considered acceptable behavior during our stay – and listened as the staff gave us a rundown of the Iris Center operations in Pemba. The orientation also afforded us the opportunity to learn about the various ministry opportunities each team member could volunteer for, and many were excited to see how God would use them in the coming weeks.
The church experience that followed was unlike anything most of the team had seen before. The church was alive with singing and dancing, the people of Iris Pemba overflowing with joy as the worshipped their God. The service lasted for hours, with Heidi Baker’s message being shared in English, Portuguese, and Macua. As if orientation hadn’t been enough to, the team’s encounter with the church service heightened everyone’s awareness of just how different Mozambique was from the countries represented by the team members, and each experienced culture shock in their own way. Still, most adjusted quickly leaving their questions, confusions, and concerns behind to jump wholeheartedly into ministry.
Team members participated in a myriad of ministries during their two-week stay in Pemba, including prison outreaches, playing with children in the baby house, feeding village children, and reaching out to a neighboring village named Mieze. Other team members were able to help paint Heidi Baker’s new office, while others painted a missionary’s bathroom or spent time with the Iris children. One morning, the entire team decided to spend an hour picking up trash around the base. With 47 eager participants, armed with bags and gloves, the team had the base cleaned up in no time. Everyone felt a sense of accomplishment as they dug into their work and got their hands serving, and any lingering questions vanished as the team began to witness the effects of their serving. The smiles on the children’s faces brought reward, holding a baby in love brought blessing, and feeding hungry children reminded people why they came in the first place.
Our team had participated in a total of three nights of outreach – a two-night stay in one area and an evening visit to another. Spending two nights in the bush with latrines and tents was stretching for many on the team, but the reaping was worth the sowing. The villagers watched the “Jesus” movie each night, and afterwards were given a chance to respond and receive their salvation in Christ. From there, the team was encouraged to pray for those who needed healing – deaf ears were opened, pain disappeared, and sickness left!
While on our two-night outreach in the bush, the two doctors from the team were able to host a medical clinic within the village church. The sick received medical attention and antibiotics for their illnesses, and hope permeated the church and the hearts within it. As the patients were leaving, a group of team members were able to pray for them with accuracy due to the doctors’ diagnoses. The medical and the spiritual became one in their fight against the works of the enemy and many were healed.
The team was also able to sew back into Iris financially. Before the trip had come to a close, we took up an offering to help bless Iris Pemba. Those who had money to give placed it in a large basket. We then prayed for the Lord to multiply our offering. Two members from the team had counted the money and reported that the total reached over $6,000! Needless to say, the team was more than pleased with this amount. We know that this money will be put to good use.
The trip’s final blessing developed over the two weeks the team spent living, eating, and serving together, and many of the members admitted that it was one of their favorite parts of the trip. Truly, one of the greatest blessings was the bonding of the team. By the end of the trip the team had become a family – a family of 47 people with 47 different experiences, perspectives, and memories, but one focus: loving God and loving others.