Getting my clothes ready is always a challenge for Africa as the expectations are very different than here in America. The dress code for a visiting woman minister includes ALL dresses (no pants) of a very modest length and style. I don't wear anything immodest even when in the USA however standards there are much more conservative. We are only allowed to wear pants when we will not be around anyone from the conference, or the church. (Of course that is the majority of our time. We will even stick to the dress code while in the slums as it will be expected.) Everything we wear there will be a dress or skirt WELL below the knee, and no sleeveless dresses or tops. I do have things in my closet that fit this expectation, of course, however wearing them practically 24/7 for a week presents a little challenge especially if I wear more than one outfit a day which I sometimes do there especially if I preach one time and then become a sweaty mess, go shower and put something else on to do another service. I do have quite a number of African outfits I'll be wearing from my last few trips, espeically the ones the ladies there have given me as special gifts. They love it when they see me wear "their clothes."
We came home and I did some straightening up around the house and more packing for Africa, and made a pan of homemade apple dumplings. It's summertime and very hot, but for some reason I was in the mood for them and so I made them.
Today is my last service at Celebration before leaving on the trip. I'm hoping to get a few more things donated this morning to take with me for the people in Africa. I take as many gifts as I can, in fact two suitcases full of them. It's always a joy for me to see their faces when they receive something. I try to videotape some of that to bring back home so the people can see how much happiness they brought to the folks there. Last year we gave out a lot of candy like "Smarties" to the kids in the slums. A funny yet heartbreaking thing was that many of the kids just popped it in their mouth, wrapper and all and started eating it. They never had candy before so they didn't know not to eat the wrapper and we had to keep telling them. It is mind blowing that some kids in the world have never so much as had a piece of candy. Our children in the USA are so blessed. I am taking the kids a ton of candy this year as well as "silly bands" which are so popular right now in the USA. Many people might wonder why I'm taking candy and silly bands instead of real food or whatever. Well, what can you fit in two suitcases? Not much. I would not be able to fit whole meals or shelter. (And we can help those efforts by just giving financially.) When I go, I try to just bring them a bit of joy -- some little fun item that they have not had before -- not a "necessity" - but just a little something for fun. Those little silly bands might be the only little personal play thing or toy some of them receive...ever. People have donated hundreds of brand new silly bands for me to take but one little girl at our church, Nicole Faux, felt led by God to give the African children her collection of silly bands, which was very precious to her. In addition I will take gifts for the ladies like scarves and jewelry and pretty things that convey how special and beautiful they are.
I get a real treat this morning that I never expected, at church...I have this Sunday and quite a few more after that with Jordan back on the drums! Everyone was VERY excited and surprised to see him there Wednesday night. He is not as upset as he was initially about having to wait and quite frankly, I couldn't be happier than we have more time...as a family of 5. I realize for so many reasons how blessed I am. Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me.