Let me just get this one thing out there first: I have never been on an EMI team that I did not love. Every single team has been filled with terrific, edifying, and just plain lovely people. So I am not playing favorites here. I can't. Besides, I have the Input strength theme and you just cannot ever ask an Input person for their favorite anything. You'll get, "How about I give you my short (long) list."
What made this team a standout is that half of the group is South African. Right from the get-go I knew we were dealing with some stout individuals because we were short on indoor sleeping quarters and they all volunteered to pitch tents and sleep in the yard.
And on the second eve, God didst open the heavens and the rains didst poureth down upon our dear mates. And they didst appear most soggy and cold upon the porch and in the kitchen, but not one of them didst utter a complaint. Nay, they didst give thanks to the Almighty for the rains.
I'm not kidding. South Africa has been dry as a bone for too long and on our second day a little cumulous cloud appeared on the horizon near sunset. By nightfall we could hear thunder and in the middle of the night I awaked to a very loud downpour. I thought, "The poor guys in the tents....I hope they're dry...yeah, those looked like solid tents and good rain flies. They're fi--honk shooooooooo. " But at some point later I awoke again to flashlights whipping about outside my window then voices in the living room as they sought shelter from the deluge that flooded them out.
So on that note, I introduce Brian, our civil engineer. He's your classic quiet engineer and did not say much, but when he did he often made us laugh. As I emerged from the warm, dry cocoon of my bed I saw him trot through the living room wrapped in a towel and muttering, "I took on water."
Next up is Don. He's an electrical engineer as you might have guessed from the photo, but you would not guess it from his personality (the stereotype of the EE is that they are even quieter than other engineers). Having Don around was like spending the week with a cross between a comedian and C.S. Lewis. Everything he said either cracked us up or had us thinking deep thoughts.
Tim was one of our architects. When I had to sit to work I plunked down at his table. It's because he talked about his family and his life early enough that I could tell if we lived in Cape Town we'd probably all hang out together a lot. They camp and bike and like wildlife parks. Also, his was the Unofficial Table of Mac Users, he played U2, and when I cracked a movie quote he nearly always got the reference.
Neil is an electrician and a storyteller. When he had the floor for any group discussion he always began with a story, and it was always a good one. He has worked in vocational ministry nearly his entire adult life and has been a real champion for EMI in southern Africa. He also can cook up a mean braai (South African grilled dinner) and fed us like kings on our final night together.
Gerhard was our master planner and is the Director of our new South Africa office in Cape Town. He patiently, carefully, and very thoughtfully answered all of our questions about the history and culture of his homeland. His heart for the country's youth was evident and his openness and vulnerability was a blessing to us all week. He challenged my faith in new ways. He is the perfect person to lead this new office. I can't wait to see what is in store here.
Fulu is the Director of Beulah Centre. The client ministry is responsible for feeding, housing, and transporting our project team in country. This is a huge task in any case, but Fulu is recovering from back surgery so that certainly made it more difficult, as he had to delegate a lot of work. His wife, Sheila, cooked delicious foods for us all week and made sure we had hot showers, tea, warm beds, and in general just made us feel at home. She is not big on attention, but came into discussions often as we sought her opinions and thought. Fulu and Sheila's sons pitched in on transportation too. Fulu was there everyday for many hours to talk through options as new information came to light (which seemed to happen daily). His flexibility and faith was a thing to witness. I don't change courses that easily when it comes to big things like this, but here is a man who acknowledges that this dream is God's and the way it goes is in His hands. I found that inspiring.
Tomorrow I will introduce you to the American half of our team. Our accents are not nearly as cool, but you can't hear those anyway.
From the Keiters:
Here is where we share our daily experiences of how God is using our life in the US and abroad with EMI to draw us closer and to make Himself known.