This is the latest posting in my 2005 Namibia trip report. You can locate earlier postings thru the archives menu. This is the third part of the section entitled "Hallelujahs" having to do with the dance portion of our team's in-country itinerary.
Hallelujahs (pt. 3)
Your song goes out to all the earth...
Partnering with Hope’s Promise Orphan Ministries put the dance part of our team on the road for a few days right in the middle of the trip.
Our first stop was the town of Rehoboth. Hope’s Promise had planned an evening fund-raising event that would feature our girls dancing and a number of local musicians sharing their talents. Tickets were sold and more than N$8000 was raised. The girls were scheduled to run almost every dance they had prepared. This was our first opportunity to see a tap number that was worked up on the eve of the trip that included Sandi, the dance teacher. The crowd so appreciated the dancers that they were called back for encores. When we finally thought they were done, one more specific encore was requested – a repeat of the tap number. Our friends at Hope’s Promise were overjoyed at the results, not only was it a tremendous financial success, but more, HPOM had provided this community with a fun filled night and an artistic program that brought the community together.
Our down time in Rehoboth afforded us a visit to the Reho Spa, a hot spring swimming area. A few of our team members who had been here in 2004 were able to reconnect with some of the children they had met a year earlier. As we were on a schedule to travel to HPOM’s other ministry area in Arandis on Sunday, we began Sunday morning with our own makeshift worship service on the lawn near the spa. HPOM’s Sylvia Buekes shared a heart-felt message with us.
In Arandis the girls were scheduled to perform an evening community-wide performance and also to visit a secondary school the following morning. We checked into a guesthouse right across the street from the community stage. The accommodations were different than we expected. The guesthouse had several small rooms that would house 2 people each and community bathrooms. It didn’t help that no one on the property seemed to speak any English and we were without a translator. My team leaders and I strategized about how we could use buddy systems and lookouts to cover bathroom and shower visits. I’ll sum it up in one word – stress.
As we worked to set up the sound system and get the girls ready to dance the outdoor stage was surrounded by local residents curious to see what we were going to do. Mike and Dave added in some music to fill the time and provide the girls an occasional breather between numbers. Since Dave was playing music my job at this stop was to oversee the sound board while I prayed.
The girls’ performance was being well received. We were racing with nightfall. Though there were lights on the property, there didn’t appear to be any way to turn them on. A few local folks attempted to erect some flood lights but the power breakers couldn’t handle the draw. It finally got dark enough that we needed to bring a close to the program. Again, young people gathered around the dancers to meet and greet them. Our leaders were once again concerned to see that everyone was together and safe. After a little while of meeting and greeting we decided to leave. The problem was that only one of our vehicles was there at the venue, the others were parked at our hotel across the street. My concern was that if the crowd determined where we were staying we might have visitors later that evening. As such, I didn’t want to parade the girls across the street and directly to the hotel.
The Knight family was staying in Arandis serving with HPOM for the entire summer. They had a home nearby and had invited us over for supper and a little down time after the performance. We told the dancers to pile into the one van we had – that’s 15 dancers and me driving in one 8 passenger vehicle. As we piled in the van and hurried away it felt like we were rock-stars leaving a concert venue, adoring fans tailing us as we left. The rest of our team pulled down the gear and walked several blocks to the Knight’s home. Once everyone was there we all were able to relax.
The next morning would dawn early. We had to be at the school ready to perform at 7AM, so I was to knock on dorm doors at 5:45AM. This performance would be another first for us in that we would have to be responsible for the sexual purity message this time. At each of our prior engagements we had one of our partners with us to speak. This time it was going to be all us… or should I say, all me. Since the beginning of the trip I had asked the dancers to consider if they would ever like to speak on the topic of sexual purity. One of our dancers, Samantha had hinted that she might be willing to speak. As I headed to bed I stopped by Samantha’s room. I asked, “Are you up for it?”
At Kolin Foundation Secondary School the student body was assembled in a patio of sorts. Once again, a concrete stage would be the dance floor. To make things a bit more interesting, there were a number of concrete pillars on this patio, so the girls would need to altar their dances as if they were dancing on an obstacle course. As they performed my role again was prayer, and all the while I was preparing to greet this crowd and speak about sexual purity. As usual, the dancers wowed the crowd. When it was my turn I took the mic and stepped out to be as frank and as honest as I could be. I understand that I was so frank that I made members of my team, especially my daughters Amanda and Katie blush. I finished my comments by offering that I am a lot older than the students, but that I had one of their peers who would speak to them. I handed the microphone to Sam and she stepped before the crowd that had grown completely silent.
The first thing that I had noticed was that Sam had culturally adapted her language. She shared that she had just graduated from ‘secondary school’ in the U.S. She continued that she was going to ‘university’ when she returned home. She spoke of the decision that she had made to use her body in healthy ways, like dancing, studying and serving others and not to use it in sexual ways until she was married. You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke. Tears poured down my cheeks as she spoke. I was overwhelmed. She closed her comments by suggesting that one person making a right decision can change the world. Everyone heard her loud and clear. That day Sam and our G.O. Team dancers changed the world.