Editor’s note: Jessica Witer, of Anna, left May 21 to spend the summer in Namibia, Africa, on a mission trip.
The 22-year-old, self-employed massage therapist is traveling with Experience Mission, of Fort Wayne, Indiana. As she is able and has access to the Internet, she will send tales of her experiences, which the Sidney Daily News will publish weekly.
OKAHANDJA, Namibia — Life in the city: In Okahandja, I start every day at 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. I have a hot shower and toast and tea for breakfast. Then, the half of my team that stays with Joy and Hardis and I will cram ourselves either into a car that can barely stay above the ground while carrying our combined weight or into the bed of a truck, and we head into town.
We’ve been spending time in various preschools, middle and high schools. With the younger kids, we sing and dance and lead activities or present Bible stories. With the older students, we give talks about drugs and alcohol or careers and goals, or we answer their questions about the U.S. and Christianity. Most classes will instantly pay more attention when we say where we’re from, and many will even start cheering.
They all have so many questions about what America is like, and most say it’s their dream to visit at some point in their lives.
Some classes are rowdier than others, some are quieter, some show more interest and participate, and some don’t care about the message and just want to know more about life back home. But one class we spoke to (eighth grade) asked so many questions about Christianity and the details of the faith that we truly couldn’t answer everything. They even sent someone to ask their teacher in their next class for permission to stay another 15 minutes with us, so we could continue to give expalnations about Heaven and Hell, Jesus, salvation and more.
It was sad to see how much they didn’t know but so exciting to see how hungry they were for more knowledge on such an important topic to us.
We also got to return to a nursing home we visited in our first week.
One woman said, “You came back! I love you!” They enjoy our visits so much. They hold our hands and listen to our testimonies, and a man with one leg will dance in his wheelchair when we sing. Often, they cry.
After these visits, we have free time to spend with our host families and nap or journal. Around 6 to 7 p.m., we all go to services, Bible studies or youth groups. Sometimes we sit and listen. Sometimes, we are expected to lead, and other times, they just want to talk to us, and we end up spending the whole hour playing games, making me feel like I’m in elementary school recess again.
It’s so much fun bonding with the guys and girls here, especially the ones around our age, just talking about life and struggles and ambitions, singing and teaching each other games we know.
One thing I suddenly noticed was that I wasn’t suffering from stage fright. My whole life, I’ve been incapable of having all eyes on me. When I’m here, talking about God and His impact on my life, in front of a whole room of strangers, I somehow have no trouble. The anxiety of getting up in front of dozens of people and giving a short speech or testimony is completely nonexistent here.
I didn’t even realize it until one month in. I don’t know if it’s because I’m somewhere foreign or because the topic is my religion or what, but I’ve been leading discussions, speaking at churches, talking for people of all ages, and it’s going so well.
I’m enjoying my time in Okahandja so much. There are places here that are exactly as I imagined: single parents, perpetually sick children, meals around a fire, huts made out of aluminum sheets and thin tree branches, and stray dogs. But this city is filled with students in uniforms attending private schools, with moderately wealthy families and ambitious dreams for their futures. I never realized how much more there was here or how hopeful we can be for the future of Africa.