7:00 Wake up. My iPhone alarm shouts me out of bed… and, at that, the day’s similarities with Western/American life end.
7:30 Set up and prepare the prayer room. I unlock the storage closet and set up the Yamaha mixer and amp, hook up the many meters of mic cords and speaker cables, and prepare the prayer room for devotional and intercession sets. There is a small Yamaha keyboard to be used with the necessary African addition: drum sounds. Our team then has a short briefing on who is singing today and what our prayer topics for the day are.
8:00 Pastor Charles leads an intercession set. The dean of the missions and prayer school and his wife make a lovely duo. He plays the keys as they both sing a mix of Swahili and English praise songs. “Hakuna kama Wewe.” There is no One like You. “Ni Wewe Bwana.” You are Lord.
9:00 I do a devotional set. Using a computer program and a loop pedal to combine the sounds of guitar, bass, violins, and piano, I provide some ambient music for others who are praying and studying the Bible. I also sing songs about Jesus, the Beautiful Servant of all, the incomparable One. I put verses from Colossians 1 and 2 to music, declaring back to Jesus how He is the “Image of the Invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation.” I also engage the Lord by singing United Pursuit’s “Nothing I Hold Onto.” At the end, it looks like we need to change rooms to make room for a local pastor’s meeting, but the meeting itself is moved, so we are able to stay. Pastors from around the community meet elsewhere on campus to strategize how to reach the area for Christ.
10:00 Hannah does a devotional set. It’s been inspiring to see her grow as a musician and a worshipper. Classically trained to play the viola, she has the deepest musical background of us all, though growing in confidence with her voice has been a long road. I’ve been excited to see the book-loving introvert step out of her comfort zone and blossom into quite a worshipper. Hearing her sing “Revelation Song” and Bethel’s “To Our God” are always such a treat, and I know the Lord delights in these small steps of faith so much.
11:00 Paul, an experienced worship leader and pastor, leads us in another intercession set. We engage to pray for an upcoming outreach trip we are taking to a remote mountainous region of the country. After several worship songs on the keys, several of us pray apostolic prayers from the mic. One of the local pastors comes at the end to pray, at my invitation, and prays a rather long prayer. He finally ends, and the singers antiphonalize to form a chorus-prayer. As the room joins in, I have to listen from the kitchen as I help prepare lunch. Suddenly the power goes off … But the worship does not. From the kitchen, I hear an angelic chorus of a cappella worship begin.
12:15 I continue to help prepare lunch. There is much to be done, from slicing vegetables (in my hand, with no cutting board) to cooking over a jiko (“gee-co”), a small cinder that holds charcoal for cooking over the open flame.
1:30 Dishes. I get a momentary respite since it’s the girls’ day today to clean up after the meal.
2:00 Paint. During our designated outreach block, our small team uses our time to further God’s Kingdom by ministering to some hideous yellow walls. In just a few weeks, the prayer room will be open to the public, and the missions and prayer school will receive its first crop of students. The rooms we paint will serve as the dean’s quarters and the new kitchen. It’s tough going, though, as the uneven concrete walls and gritty cement-lined baseboards remind me why I’m not a professional painter. The wall looks about fifty different shades of “ugh.” The Lord smiles, though, even on my weak efforts.
3:00 Brooklyn, a team leader, tells me to expect an extra guest for dinner, one of the street children she is taking under her wing as she begins to minister to young boys in the city. I ask her what time she wants to change our check-up meeting to, since we were not able to have it earlier. She replies, “Actually it will be 5. Is that alright?” I confirm and continue with the work. While painting and speaking with another female teammate, it becomes clear to us that some of the conflict she is having with a different teammate (who was not there at the moment) is not making any progress toward resolution through their conversations. I note that we will need the female team leader or similar person to be a mediator and talk things through with them soon.
4:00 I check with Leah, the wife of Pastor Charles and matron of the upcoming school, who also happens to be our cooking supervisor, about dinner. Since there are so few people, she says, we will just reheat some leftovers. I rejoice that I have extra time to complete the difficult (can I say, “Desperate?”) painting job.
5:00 My team leader texts me back about the meeting, “Haha I mean five of us coming.” My eyes get as big as saucers. She didn’t mean we would meet at five; she meant five extra people were coming to dinner rather than two. I proceed to have a miniature freak-out and immediately rush the news to Leah. The two of us scramble to find extra food to prepare for the extra guests, and Leah, like a pro, works her magic to allow us to prepare enough for all the extra guests … Even if they have to wait an extra hour to eat it! I’m reminded of my sister’s wise words from years ago: “With great textings come great misunderstandings.”
6:30 Before eating, our team has to leave to have an important FaceTime meeting with our school’s stateside director. Before we even get to the scheduled agenda, he deftly sniffs out the disunity amongst our team and soon unearths the deep issues festering between the two of the members. He forgoes the normal agenda, talks them through the need for reconciliation, and instructs them to get some mediation immediately. After the call ends, David, our other team leader, gives a great pep talk on how conflict resolution is some of the hardest but most important work mission workers do.
8:30 The two team members go to the house of the local house of prayer director and his wife, and she helps them talk through their issues. They make great progress as both sides realize they have a great deal to change.
9:30 While those two get mediation, I return starving and exhausted to the ministry base. David and the other two of us teammates get a late supper, and we decide to go ahead and clean the kitchen and the many dishes while the rest of the team reconciles.
10:30 After about an hour of brandishing SOS pads and going to war with caked-on, scalded cornmeal, dishes are finally finished. The other teammates return, and from what they say, I can tell things are different. I begin winding down for the day.
11:30 I finally collapse into bed. Visions of Swahili phrases dance in my head while the mosquito net quietly watches over me … until another fresh day dawns.
… Okay, the paint job wasn’t that bad. Stay hungry, my friends!