We are truly winding down here and preparing for our re-entry back to the United States. We said tearful goodbyes to our dear friends in Sumbe yesterday and drove to the capital city, Luanda where we will spend our last six days in Angola. It seemed like most of the church was there to see us off. Such incredibly warm, gracious people and it was difficult to say goodbye. Gloria was especially sad to say goodbye to all her musician friends. She left part of her heart in Sumbe.

We had a number of highlights last week that we want to tell you about. Mary organized a “kid’s day” and Tuesday afternoon we all piled onto the back of a truck and headed to a small village outside of Sumbe. We walked along the main path in the village and invited all the children to join us. They seemed to come from everywhere! Mary and Cleber told them the story of the Good Samaritan with the rest of the team providing the visual re-enactment of the story. Then we divided up the kids and while Malcolm, Cleber and Lori took half of them to run relay races, Riaan, Fipi and Christiane took the other half and entertained them with music and dance. Camila, Mary and Gloria were busy getting a snack ready. It was like VBS (vacation bible school) in America…only modified to fit Africa. Most of the time there was mass chaos but it was a good chaos. The kids loved it. There were so many kids that we were concerned we wouldn’t have enough food for everyone to have some; but we remembered that if Jesus can feed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, He should be able to handle a snack for a bunch of kids in Angola. So we prayed and we had plenty of crackers and juice to spare. Mary’s heart for the children of Africa really shone and it was wonderful to see God use her to bless these kids who have so little.

Another highlight this past week was Saturday’s baptism. Mary, Malcolm and Gloria all helped with teaching the final discipleship classes. It was especially rewarding for Riaan, Fipi and Lori who led the discipleship classes to see their students take such an important step on their journey with the Lord. One of the girls came up to the three after the baptism and told them “Because of your classes, I am happy now”. What an amazing change from the shy, downcast girl who started the first class. Another one of the girls in the class has a challenging situation with her family not being supportive of her involvement in the church. She has so many pressures from family and friends but is determined to grow in the Lord. Cleber suggested she go to complete a DTS (Discipleship Training School) at the YWAM base in Benguela. Through several generous donors who have paid her way and through Cleber and Christiane’s working out the details, she is off to Benguela on Friday to start her DTS. We are so excited to see her taking this next step in her walk with the Lord.

Camila spent each afternoon with the young adults in the church. She imparted to them many truths on hearing the voice of God. They took a lot of notes and asked a lot of good questions. They did some practical exercises and are already working on applying it to their own lives. Camila challenged them to begin now with applying the things they’ve learned in their own church with the tools God has already given them. They rose to the challenge and prepared a moving drama that they performed in the service on Sunday morning.

Mary and Evelyn led the team in another painting project. They put their creative genius to work and we painted the two gazebos behind the church. The school next door uses it for kids’ classes so we used lots of random shapes and bright colors. We got to visit the school one morning and see the kids in their classes.

Our farewell service in Sumbe was on Sunday morning. In true African fashion the service lasted over five hours. It was a great way to end our time there. The focus was on family and we asked all the families to sit together. Christiane and Malcolm started with a baby dedication. The whole team was on stage holding babies, complete with two tiny twins named Jacob and Esau. Camila prayed a beautiful prayer for a special needs child that had many of us in tears. Mary called all the children up and prayed a blessing over them. Her heart for the children of Africa was once again evident and there may have been tears shed then as well! Gloria led a prayer of blessing over the teenagers. Evelyn ministered to all those in the church who don’t have family with them for one reason or another. Camila prayed for the youth. Lori led a prayer for the ladies and Riaan ended it all with leading the fathers in praying a blessing over their families.

After the service the team stood in a line at the front of the church and said goodbye to every single person there. Lots and lots and lots…did we mention…LOTS of hugs, kisses and even some tears. Beautiful, beautiful people who gave so much more than we were able to repay. We can only pray that the Lord will take the little we were able to give and multiply it for them.

This will be our last update from Angola. We will try to post again when we arrive in America. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Please pray that our final days here would be good ones. We will be leading services in a church here in Luanda on Saturday and Sunday before flying to South Africa on Tuesday. We will be staying with Riaan’s aunt and uncle for one night before traveling on to America on Wednesday.