The second half of our trip was just as great as the first but it still seemed to go by so quickly. All of the praise and the glory goes to God for helping me and our MOAM group teach these kids a little bit more about the sports we all love to play. When we first arrived all of the kids hardly knew much about basketball. They actually only had one basketball to share amongst all of them. At first it was tough trying to explain all of the basics to kids that had never played before. I prayed every night that God would give me the patience and endurance to teach these kids, and that what we taught them would stick with them. By the end of our last week, the middle group and the older kids were all able to play a game of 5 on 5. It was so amazing to see how much they had all improved in just three short weeks. So, our MOAM group organized a tournament for the kids consisting of field games, volleyball, basketball, soccer, and American football. The amount of excitement that all of the kids had was unreal. The look of joy on their faces while they got to play was priceless.
Our last few nights at the Rafiki Village, I really took time to reflect on a lot of things. During one of my 1 on 1 meetings one of the older girls, Mary had some doubts and questions about God and she opened up to me that she really didn’t believe in Him because she thought that He didn’t help her get through the hard times in her life. Right away my heart started racing, because no one had ever came to me with questions like this before. I shared a little bit of my testimony with her, and I explained that everyone has doubts sometimes in their lives. I asked her if she knew what it meant to be saved and to have God living in her heart. She told me that she didn’t understand much about what it meant to be saved. I then explained the God sent His only son to die for our sins so that we could have eternal life in Heaven. I told her that being saved means repenting of her sins and fully accepting God into her heart and trusting that He will lead, guide and direct her through any struggle that comes in her life. She seemed to be really thinking the next few moments of silence and then I asked her if she wanted to be saved. She then replied with a yes! In my mind I was praising and thanking God. I then prayed with her and after I explained that God was the one that saved her, not me. She immediately had a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She reached out and gave me a hug. That moment will forever stick with me, and I thank God for giving me the right words to say.
During this trip I realized that a lot of people in Africa have nothing, but they still lift up their hands and praise God for giving them life. I have realized that I don’t praise God enough for all that He has done in my life. I have also realized that God can pull me up out of my darkest moments, dust me off, and make me whole again.
Leaving the kids was definitely the hardest thing I have ever had to do. During our last day at the village we got to sit in on a choir practice. God has given them beautiful voices and it gave me goose bumps every time they sang. After the practice most of the kids had written us letters. I have now read all of them and I can honestly say that all of the kids have hearts of gold. I will keep the letters forever and cherish what they gave me forever. I wanted to share something that one of the older girls wrote to me. “God has 4 gifts. A key for every problem. A light for every shadow. A plan for every tomorrow. And A joy for every sorrow.” Being home for a week now has given me a lot of time to think about many things. My relationship has grown so much with God and I will be forever thankful that He gave me this wonderful opportunity to go on this trip. One of my favorite verses is from Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not into your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths straight.” I have learned to really apply this to my life, and I encourage anyone reading this to apply it to your life. This trip was life changing for me and the kids really did impact my life more than I ever imagined. I think about them and miss them every day and they, along with the other MOAM missionaries, will always have a special place in my heart.
-Mariah Jackson, Marshall Women's Basketball
To God Be The Glory!