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Journals: Travel | First Impressions | AIDS Orphanage | Leaving Kenya | Zimbabwe | Leaving


8/04- 05
Wendy Driver writes:

We arrived safely in Harare Monday night. As we were being escorted to our hotel we were told about the economic hardship and food shortage that Zimbabwe is facing right now.

It's been very evident so far in the fact that meals are nearly $20 U.S. dollars each, and we seem to be eating chicken and rice for the majority of our meals.

The economic disaster was also evident when we left for the airport Tuesday morning and we saw people lined up around the block outside of banks, waiting to get cash. Later that day, we were standing in awe of God's beautiful creation at Victoria Falls. It's hard to describe in words the scene that we saw and welcomed with open arms. The waterfall was so powerful that it created amist that soaked us, yet formed the most beautiful rainbows, visible wherever you were standing.

Wednesday was a relaxing day enjoyed by all and filled with swimming in the pool and sleeping in the sun. It was a good time to gather our thoughts and prepare for World Conference.

Wednesday night, we were on a train all night, for fifteen hours, to get from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo, about a 300 mile trip. Six people were crammed into each small sleeping cabin, along with all their luggage. It was tight, to say the least, but we made it and are ready to praise God in Bulawayo with other Christians from around the world.

Ryan Schrock writes:

The next thing on our agenda is the Global Youth Summit (GYS)--a gathering of youth from around the world before Mennonite World Conference. I consider myself lucky to have this experience. I also think I can speak for the group when I say that this is one of the highlights of our time in Africa. We've experienced worship services lead by youth from Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America. These services have been the best part of GYS for me. Energetic is a good word to describe the worship services at GYS. It is amazing to see complete strangers breaking through strong barriers such as differences in culture and language.

My personal favorite was the Latin American service. The singing not only gave an accurate representation of that part of the world and its people, but also brought back fond memories of Fridays in Ray Horst's Spanish classes. The energy that was shown is something that I would like to see back home more often.

It's been a blessing to see that energy in many different worship services, such as at GYS, Olepolos, and Mathare in Kenya. I like hymns and four-part harmony, but when I get home, I think I will experience a little culture shock due to differences in worship style.

On the other hand, we are also seeing reminders of home here in Bulawayo. Our time in Bulawayo has not been just spent at GYS meetings. We have "snuck out" with our leaders to a local market, a pizza place, and an ice cream shop. After a mini service project at an orphanage, we stopped at an ice cream shop to celebrate Doreen Shirk's 20th birthday. We also went out for pizza one night for some bonding time.

Hearing the radio and eating pizza felt good. For me, a little Buffalo Springfield, pizza, and "getting lost in the rock and roll and drifting away" really hit the spot. Going to these places has also given us a chance to experience more of Bulwayo than just our compound where our dorms are located and where we'll be living for the next week.

Seeing and talking to people who live here is something that I've really valued. Seeing the people struggle to get food and gas at $8 U.S. per gallon has really hit me and some of the others in the group pretty hard. Experiencing this has made me think about things just as much as the worship services have. Rich and poor, poverty and wealth, have been central themes throughout our trip, and it continues in Bulawayo.

To sum things up, seeing 300-450 youth from around the world worshiping together is an awesome experience that I am VERY thankful for having. It looks as if GYS will continue on for a long time and I, for one, want to see it happen. It is important to the youth to have this event.

The delegates and participants both did a good job of speaking their minds. Many say that youth are the leaders of tomorrow's Mennonite church, but GYS has shown me that youth can also join in as leaders for today.

Photo galleries:
(most to least recent)

Victoria Falls
and GYS

AIDS orphanage

Gallery 2
First impressions

Gallery 1
Travel and arrival