Friday, June 11, 2010

Face the Nation Part 2

I flew to Gaborone on 8 June to join the last day of the Face the Nation (FTN) training and to attend the commissioning service for the volunteers on the evening of 9 June.

This year there were 160 volunteers involved, from 60 different churches. As well as Botswana and our guys from Namibia, volunteers from Zambia are attending for the third year (and FTN has now been started in Zambia).

Lazarus and Colly are really appreciating and enthusiastic about the training and say they have learned a lot. They have not only covered the curriculum they will be teaching but also topics such as: counselling, apologetics, ethics, other religions (traditional African religions, new age and humanism), spiritual warfare, an overview of the Old and New Testaments, and relationships and marriage.

FTN is an HIV prevention program that teaches abstinence and shares the Gospel. But through the training, as you can see from the topics covered, the volunteers are really grown and encouraged as believers and equipped with valuable life skills.
...and making new friends

Everyone at FTN was very welcoming and mentioned that Lazarus and Colly have been an asset to the program.

Face the Nation
I arrived in time for lunch on Tuesday (great timing!) and that was followed by “group time”. The volunteers divided into groups according to the regions where the schools they’re assigned to are located. They worked on a final discussion about the curriculum and the last instructions from the regional facilitators. At the same time the Rally teams were practising and I watched their puppet and drama rehearsals. (The two Rally teams will visit all the schools and reinforce the message of the curriculum through dance, drama, puppetry and singing.)
Puppet rehearsal

I then headed home with Gail Wingreen, the Training Coordinator, who had generously invited me to stay with her and her family. We had dinner that night with Lazarus and Colly, as well as Pastor Modise Mokgwathise, FTN Director, and his wife. We were able to talk about Lazarus’s and Colly’s impressions of the training and their ideas, as well as getting to know the Wingreens and Mokgwathises better. But it did seem that Lazarus and Colly were more interested in discussing with Moruti (Pastor) Modise the topic he had been presenting, God’s Design for Marriage!

The next morning I overslept – forgot that I’d left my cellphone on Namibia time, so my alarm went off an hour later than it should have (Botswana is currently an hour ahead of Namibia). Miraculously though, I was all ready to go in half an hour – still don’t know how that happened! I sat in on the last morning of training, enjoying the energetic praise and worship time, and Moruti Modise even roped me in to answer some of the questions. At lunch time one of the girls in Colly’s group was celebrating her birthday and in addition to the hearty lunch, served us with cake, soft drinks and snacks.
Colly's group
Then everyone was busy cleaning and setting up for the evening’s service. I met up with a Australian volunteer who had just come over to work with Flying Mission and we went out for coffee and a chat. Afterwards there was time for a quick change before heading back to the Open Baptist Church for the commissioning service.

Honoured Guests
The service was a great send-off to the volunteers – it marks the half-way point of their time with FTN. After 5 weeks of training comes the practical part where the volunteers are placed at senior secondary schools for 5 weeks to teach the curriculum. FTN has placed teams of volunteers at all 29 Government senior secondary schools across Botswana. Through the guidance and counselling lessons they will teach every student in those schools about HIV-AIDS, STIs, abstinence and God’s plan for their lives. They will also link with Scripture Union and abstinence clubs at the schools and build relationships with the students.

The patron of FTN is His Excellency Sir Ketumile Masire, a former President of Botswana and Chancellor of the University of Botswana. It was an honour to have him attend the service and address the volunteers in a humorous way that challenged all of us to do what we can in the fight against HIV and AIDS. (For me it was also a bit intimidating to be introduced directly after him when they were welcoming the special guests to the service!) Sir Masire expressed his pleasure that people from Namibia were involved in this year’s training and his desire that this program would spread to Namibia and the Southern African region.

Lazarus singing in the choir for the service

It was a late evening as, after a tea for the ‘dignitaries’ (ha ha, me included!), I made some plans with Lazarus and Colly for the next day and then helped with the clean-up.

Future Plans

On Thursday morning Gail showed me around the FTN premises and then Lazarus, Colly and I went out for breakfast and talked more about how we could use the FTN program in Namibia.

Lazarus' group

After that, it was time for Lazarus and Colly to pack up and get ready to travel to their schools – Lazarus has been placed in a town called Molepolole and Colly in Good Hope. Colly has especially asked for prayer because there is a lot of witchcraft in the community in which he will work.

Lazarus, Gail and Colly

On the way to the airport Gail stopped by the church, which was the base for the training, and tried to make sure that all the last minute details were taken care of. We also visited friends at the Flying Mission and talked to them about their visit to Windhoek in September. Then it was off to the airport – from Gaborone I flew to Johannesburg and from there to Windhoek. This was the evening before the World Cup started, so you can imagine how crazy Joburg airport was!

Sorry that this post is quite long, but a few people have asked for the details of my trip – so I thought I’d share them with all of you!

FTN is now looking at expanding their program to neighbouring countries. Because of our participation this year, they are very interested in hearing about the possibilities of using the program here in Namibia. Please pray for us as we discuss this.

1 comment:

Kathieunder100 said...

Good one Jules, so much easier to understand when you write it all out - what a great experience. You are so blessed to be involved in this ministry and the ministry is so blessed to have you. Keep up the good work.