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ELLENDALE, N.D. - The 12 youth and adults from the Church of the Nazarene in Ellendale, N.D., didn't exactly get what they expected on a recent trip to South Africa and Swaziland.
"We were ready for huts and dirt floors," said 19-year-old Cole Adema, of Barnard. "But it wasn't really like that."
The group went on the 10-day trip to Richards Bay, South Africa and Manzini-Swaziland in July. In South Africa, the group ministered to a church, and in Swaziland, they worked with children at a school. They sang, delivered messages of hope and faith and learned lessons along the way.
While the countries' development surprised the group, what was learned on the trip didn't.
"My hopes for the trip was that the kids would be exposed to something much bigger than they are," said Youth Pastor Jeremy Johnston. "And they were."
The group was made up of five adults - Johnston, the Rev. Tim Brown, Rick and Laura Adema and Renae Martin - and seven youth - 17-year-old Krista Martin, 15-year-old Levi Adema, Cole Adema, 17-year-old Annie Kee, 15-year-old Erika Ketterling, 19-year-old Rebecca Dalstein and 16-year-old John Dalstein.
Johnston said he approached the youth group about going over to serve about two years ago. But the planning began extensively about a year ago. More than $30,000 was needed for the group to go, and each person was responsible for his or her share.
Money was raised through donations, fundraisers and even baby-sitting jobs, Brown said. The group also took extra money to give to the church they ministered at in South Africa and to the school in Swaziland.
While in South Africa, they stayed with host families, and in Swaziland, they stayed at hotels. The church they served at was the same one the Ellendale church helped in 1994. That year, a group went to South Africa to put a roof on the church. Brown was part of the original group.
"It's really cool to go back and see how they've grown," he said. "Once you build a church there, it fills up in six months."
The church is now 150 to 200 people strong, and they're hoping to expand, Brown said.
He said he was proud of the youth who went on the trip. They prepared lessons well in advance, played and sang music and ministered to the people of South Africa and Swaziland.
While Cole Adema said the entire trip was life-changing, he said it's the people of the countries that he'll remember the most.
"It's like we knew them all of our lives," he said. "It makes you realize that the body of Christ isn't just here; it's everywhere."
Levi Adema, Cole's brother, said the people were also his favorite part of the trip.
"I learned that I have another family out there that I didn't even know I had," he said. "Africans have pretty much close to the best hospitality I've ever seen."
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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Posted by Andra Lauren at 7:50 AM