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HIV Africa2010: Cheryl Wood

What was your role on the trip?
I helped hand out items, played with kids, and did whatever else I was told or what needed to be done.

Have you been to Africa before? If so, how many times?
This was my first trip to Africa.
What was the most difficult part of the journey?
Getting used to not having the simple luxuries that we have at home such as drinking water from the tap or having a restrooms with a toilet.

What was the most fulfilling part of the journey?
Getting to play with the children and seeing the love for God that a lot of the people had. The faith, joy, and love that is a result of people depending solely on Him for their needs is something that I was blown away by. I admired their strength in Him and the sincerity in their worship. In addition to this,  I was surprised that it was so easy to communicate with the people despite the language barrier. Now that I am back home, I find myself telling stories to family and friends while saying things like, “and then the boy/girl said…” and then I realize that my story is misleading. My friends and family assume that the person was speaking English when they weren’t. The feeling that it can be so easy to communicate with people who do not speak the same language as you is something that is hard to convey.
Were there any experiences that happened you didn’t expect?
I didn’t expect the change that I feel happened inside of me. I went on this trip expecting, of course, to help others and to be influenced by the experience. But I did not expect to be so profoundly changed. It is amazing how God works in us who were there to serve him and serve others. Instead, I feel that they served me. Everything was so breathtaking and the people were amazing. It leaves me speechless. God is so good.

Did you connect with any of the locals? What was their name and story?
Not really. I didn’t connect with any single one person, although one girl told me that when I came home to America I had to tell all of my friends here that I now have a friend in Africa and her name is Resty.

What would you say to someone who may be considering going next year to HIV Africa2011?
Going to Africa is a life changing experience. If you feel that God has put it on your heart to go then go for it and don’t look back. He will provide a way for you.

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