This is part 15 of my overall Namibia 2005 Trip Summary, part 3 of the section entitled No Place To Lay My Head. The preceding parts of this document can be found in the right hand menu under the name ‘The Namibia 2005 Story’. It is through my own tears that I’ve composed this section tonight. I hope you enjoy it.
No Place To Lay My Head (pt. 3)
On a journey that’s just as He planned…
“I know. All of our parents are here. Right?” This was one of the many guesses at what lay in store for the dancers as the ministry part of the trip drew to its close and a special ‘debrief’ was being planned specifically for them. All our team leaders would tell them is that they had one more performance to give, and that for many of them it could prove to be the biggest performance of their lives, and for all of them it would be the largest audience for whom they had ever performed. Their imaginations ran wild.
There were dozens of covert glances and assuring nods from Dieter and Richard as the evening approached. Preparations had been underway for hours.
We gathered the dancers and told them that this last performance had a few strange conditions. First of all, only dancers and dancer support folks (sound man Dave, Mike and I) would be making the trip. This didn’t sit well, as the dancers quickly recognized that the rest of the CCA team members were free that evening. Why couldn’t they come? We also broke the news that there would be no cameras or video cameras allowed at this venue. This too was disappointing for the girls who had photographed every step of the trip to this point. Not even the CCA team cameras, the ones that produced all the website photos and videos, would be along on this journey. There would literally be no documentation of this last performance except in the memories of the dancers.
The ride to the venue was adventurous. Nearly an hour was spent winding around dirt roads through the bush to get there, bumps, dips, downed trees and all. When we arrived at the clearing, we asked the girls to sit in the combees until we made sure everything was in place. Far enough out from civilization, no light existed other than the magnificent light provided by the stars and moon overhead. To a girl, the dancers were nervous in the vans. What was this all about? Who was this special audience?
Through more brush and at the far end of a clearing a few hundred yards away, Dieter and Richard had spread a huge tarp to serve as a stage, and anchored the corners with heavy stones. Dave set the sound system up, just as he had at each performance, this time with the speakers aimed back at the ‘stage’. The generator was set as far away as wiring would allow; a baffle in place to all but silence it. When everything was set, we returned to get the girls.
As we led them to the clearing by flash light, the girls were silent. When we arrived, Dieter explained that the three chairs set before their ‘stage’ were reserved for Father, Son and Holy Ghost. A quick glance to the heavens would assure them of the Almighty’s applause. And the performance tonight would include every number the girls had prepared, solos and small groups to the numbers that included the whole company of dancers. Themselves hiding behind a barrier, Sandi and Dave sat silently out of view to manage the playlist. Through tears, Dieter thanked God for the girls, and their gift of dance, and the blessing their visit to Namibia had been. Then Dieter, Richard, Mike and I turned and walked out of sight.
There were a few giggles at first. Were we serious? Is this for real?
What happened next, I will never forget. Having settled under a tree a hundred yards or so from the girls, I sat and prayed. I strained to see through the darkness. As my eyes adjusted, I watched as silhouettes danced. With each number, I could sense the rising tide of emotion. Several songs in, Steph came out to dance her solo, ‘After the Rain’. As she finished I could hear a few of the girls crying. Not long after that Bonnie, Steph, Michelle and Adria came out and danced a number that they had choreographed, ‘Honest Questions’. I watched through tears as the girls collapsed into each others arms at the end of the song. With each dance the emotions escalated. I couldn’t remain so far away. I needed to be closer. I snuck forward into the shadows just a few yards away. It was at that point that the three High School Graduates, Sam, Diandre and Rebecca came out to dance their trio. The reality set in, this was likely the last time they would dance together. Emotions spilled over. As the last song ended, Sandi joined her dancers. I watched as the girls cried and embraced one another, collapsing on the tarp. We all sat in the silence of that setting for a half hour or so before anyone dared to move. Just as we had hoped, the girls had one experience on this trip that will only live on in the memories of the 18 people who were there.
The performance concluded, in the distance Dieter lit a bonfire he had prepared. A quick cell phone call to Richard, and he pulled into view with the other combees in tow. The rest of the team made their way through the brush bringing blankets and sleeping bags, and we all collapsed under the stars around a fire.
The G.O. 29 of 2005 now lay side by side around the fire, sharing blankets to stay warm and sharing memories into the early morning hours. What had we all just experienced together? What would the sum of these past two weeks be? These last six months?