Its snowing outside and the fire here keeps me warm. Things are so much different this time after returning from Bulembu. I have tried for days to begin to describe my experience and make sense of what happened. But, I am starting to realize that just might not be possible. Pictures, videos, stories – none of them would do justice to recapture in its entirety the Swazi 1000 event. I have had so many people ask me to tell them about it and I just respond saying “It was the experience of a lifetime, something that was a pivot point in changing my life.” Maybe not changes that are immediately visible to everyone, but deep changes within.

It has been years since I have felt and experienced the spirit of the Lord like I did with the 400 South African volunteers. Each night worship filled the air and the passion in the voices was invigorating. There is something so powerful to be unified with so many brothers and sisters who came for nothing more than to serve a community and give everything they had. Their selflessness created an environment which was ripe for the Lord to move in. There were healings among us, miracles right before our eyes and lives forever changed. I know it sounds like your typical summer camp experience, but something was different about this. There was a unifying purpose in the group where everyone became part of a cause and was committed to carrying it forward.

For me, this experience was everything I needed. God knew my heart, He knew where I was at and that I needed an intervention. The months prior to leaving, I had been becoming more and more depressed, lacking passion and motivation. I started to succumb to the hopelessness I saw in the world. Working for Bulembu had reached a point where the fulfillment I once had, was fleeting as it had been nearly 2 years since I saw first hand the difference that is being made. The constant weight on my shoulders trying to seek the Lord’s will whether I should be in Kansas City or Vancouver was wearing me and left me living in a transition. I was exhausted….. of it all.

So I left with high expectations. Expectations that no matter what happened, it was going to be better than what I was living for at the moment. The cry of my heart is that God would interrupt my life and bring me back to the essence of what I feel my calling was all about. I felt I had lost track of it in a lot of ways. It was a painful year for me with unmet hopes, loss and confusion. I felt like I had been spun around, dizzied up and was walking without all my senses and not quite sure where I was going. It was a good place to be in, if I let God enter in.

For me, I sit here gracious beyond comprehension. God interrupted my life in a big way. It had been years since I really had a responsibility of leadership or since I had a team I worked with. As many of you know, the last 2-3 years have been a time of deconstructing and rebuilding for me. Learning a lot about myself in the process. The time was ripe.

One of the last nights there, when all the work projects were finished, I just cried from true joy. I was simply blown away at how the impossible came true. The teams had painted “my community which I love.” They gave their everything for people they hadn’t even met. Bulembu as a community has been through so much. So many broken promises, rejection, failure and they have overcome. But the community is still vulnerable and not trusting. For this many students to give up their time and money to transform lives – it was priceless. When I gave my introduction speech to the team of volunteers I asked them to fall in love with the Bulembu community and relentlessly serve. They did and it touched my heart more than anything has in a long time. On that last night, the thank you never ended. They were so grateful for my leadership, commitment and involvement. But, this was backwards. I was the one who should have been thankful. They showed me again that there is hope and that OUR generation can make a difference.

Today, back here, life seems like nothing has changed. Everything is all still the same and I have all this inside of me – not quite sure what to do with. In the past, I would come back from Bulembu, Swaziland and Africa dangerously passionate to change others. Now, I just keep it inside me and have learned if you haven’t seen it or experienced it – you wouldn’t understand. And that is the way it should be. But there is a reinvigorated passion inside of me that is alive and well. It is a passion to adamantly serve the Lord at all costs. This has always been true in my life, but through pain and hurt can become dormant.

So I enter 2009 with new eyes. I will forever tell the story of when an army of 400 students painted “my town.” But few will know how their strokes of passion changed my life.

A mentor of mine once said “To say God is good, is the most humble statement you can make.” I can say today that God is good, with all conviction of how much he loves each one of us and gives us what we need.