“Okay, I want you to clap your hands on the count of three.”
One. Many of the children pondered over the foreign, pink object in their hands. It was solid, and yet it needed the protection of clasped hands to keep it from being carried away by the sometimes gusty wind.
Two. Eyes begin to lift upwards, awaiting the final second. The hands, once clasped closed for safekeeping, now began to open in preparation for the big finale.
Three! Amongst the now thunderous applause, pink snow showers everything. Mixes of laugher and shouts now ring out over the school yard as the kids run after the floating pink that now covers them like a canopy.
Though I’d seen this same event take place two times prior to the one just described, this third time easily surpassed the others. I’d never seen such a crowd of kids so happy in such an instant. If I could have captured the laughter and huge grins I would have, but it was one of those moments that was meant to be enjoyed and not witnessed from behind a lens. This Rejoice Project camp brings our Journey team half-way through the camps that will be hosted during their travel in East Africa. This is just another example of the significance of such camps and I can only anticipate all that God has for the final three camps. We are all just asking for more: more joy, more children discovering their uniqueness in Christ, and more of Jesus’ name being made great throughout rural communities in East Africa.
Today is a special day for our Journey team, a day we all get to celebrate our fathers from abroad. Much like the school children holding the pink object in their hands, fathers, you, too, have sheltered us from the winds of life that could so easily carry us away. You’ve carried us close to you and your constant encouragement, advice, and basketball-going, little-league coaching self has set each of us up for the best of lives. In true Father-like character, you’ve sacrificed more so that we could have the best this world had to offer. And then, as the time came, you carefully opened your hands, releasing us into the world. As we navigated the long-stretching roads of life, you were our coach again, giving us the advise we needed for the way, building us up for the time when we, too, would fly in a glorious display of all your dedication to our success in everything. You’ve done nothing less than illustrate the love of our Heavenly Father in living, breathing, there-for-you fashion - an exemplary servant of the Most High.
For such a day as this, there is no better way to honor our fathers than giving thanks and continuing the good work prepared for us in East Africa. We’ve already taken care of the work God had for us today, so now it is time for thanks:
Anna Bailey - Daddy!!!! I wish with all my heart that I could call you and hear your voice. I miss you so much!!! Tell Mom that I miss her so much too!! I can barely write this without crying tears of sadness as well as tears of joy. You are such an amazing father who is a wonderful example of a man after God’s heart. You are patient, kind, loving, an awesome listener, goofy, a provider, talented, and my best friend. I look up to you and you have truly set an amazing example of what I want my husband to be like. Jesus radiates through you and that is the most beautiful quality you possess. Thank you for supporting my dreams!!!! I’m praying for you daily. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!
Anna Matheny - Hey sweet daddy!!!! I wish I could hear your voice today, but at least I get to write to you! The fact that I get to write to you on Father’s Day is just proof that my Journey leaders are caring for us and loving us well. Thank you for being my main man. Thank you for always wanting the best for me and loving me more than any other man on earth ever could. You have been and still are my biggest fan, my best coach, my voice of reason and wisdom, my perfect example of a Godly leader. You have been patient with me and only loved me more and more through life. I can’t tell you how much I love you and miss you. Africa is filling me with so much joy as always, so I hope you are filled with joy today knowing that I’m doing great and God is drawing me closer to His heart every day :) xoxoxoxo
Antonio Gayton - Dad!!! You are awesome! I thank you for everything that you have done for me in my life; for taking me in as your son, not as your step son. You are all I know to be a father to me. Africa is great and I can’t wait to tell you and mom all about it. I just want to remind you of Gods saving Grace that he has placed upon us. One of the best days of my life was when you got saved on new years eve, thank you for allowing me to experience that with you. I will see you soon love Tony, Happy Fathers Day!! ( :
Camie Stevens - DAD! Don’t worry I haven’t gotten eaten by a lion, yet. I am so thankful for your support and love on everything in my life. I love the way we joke around. I love the way I can talk to you about anything. The Lord has given me the most amazing earthly father. I can’t wait to see you so soon and celebrate your birthday and make up for lost time, I love you dad!!! Happy dad’s day, you receive the best dad award.
Hannah House - Billy boy. Happy Father’s Day!!! Unfortunately I cannot rap you a cool rhyme today, but just know if I could I would. I am missing you so much and am especially missing you today! I wanted to thank you for showing me what a true man of God looks like and for always supporting me no matter what. I’m sad that I cannot be there today, but I know you guys will still have the funnest day regardless. I am so thankful for you and wanted you to know that I am thinking and praying for you all daily. I love you so so so much and cannot wait to see you! Stay cool.
Hannah Illges - DAD!!!! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! I wish so badly i could be with you and the rest of the family. I wanted to say how thankful I am for having a father that daily and even hourly walks with the Lord. You love mom, lucy and I so well, and you are the glue that holds our family together. I This has set such an example of what I want my future husband to look like. I love you so much and I wish you were here with me. Thanks for loving me unconditionally! Miss you SO SO much but I already cant wait to see you!!! Love you and enjoy your day!!!
Jared Roach - Dad, Happy Father’s Day! I’m missing you so much today, more than you even know. It’s such a blessing to have a father that honors The Lord in everything he does. Thanks for modeling how a TRUE man of God should be, and for teaching me everything I know. I’m so sad I can’t be there with you, but I know your day will be fantastic. I love you so much, and I can’t wait to see you!
Jay Brantley - Happy Father’s Day! Dad, I truly could not ask for a better earthly father. You are the best role model and I thank you for everything you have done for me. I still remember that letter you wrote me in like fifth grade about my faith. You have done a fantastic job of raising me in the faith and I would not be the person I am in Christ if it was not for your leadership and your dependence on the Lord. Thank you for the letters and the prayers. I hope y’all are doing great and are drawing closer to the Lord each and everyday. I cannot wait to see y’all and hear about everything that has happened in y’all’s lives. I love you so much and these words that I’m typing do not do justice to how much I appreciate you as a father. P.S. - Sumter, I love you!
Jordan Morris - Man, there aren’t enough words in the english dictionary to describe how much I love you and what an incredible man you are, let alone a few sentences. Daddy-o, you are the strongest man I have ever met; you face opposition daily, but continue to stay positive, knowing God has purpose in every moment. You inspire me more than you will ever know. I miss you so much, especially today. I pray for you everyday and have learned a supernatural trust, allowing my heavenly father to care for my earthly father while i’m gone. Here’s to you, the man who taught me how to dream. The man who has loved me at my worst, and at my best. The one who held my hand when I was afraid, and gave me a piggy back ride when I was tired. The man who taught me right from wrong. The man who believes in me more than anyone else on this earth. I have no idea where I would be without you. You are the strongest, most talented, humble man I have ever met. I love you Daddy. You are my hero. My rock. My best friend. Here’s to you; Happy Father’s Day!
Jordan Simpson- Daddy! Where to even begin? For starters I miss you so incredibly much. I’m so happy and content knowing I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be; I just wish I could have you and momma watching or at least be able to let you know personally what’s been going on. Wishing I could be with you on this Father’s Day, but I know you are being loved and served well because you so deserve it Dad. Thank you for being a constant encourager, confidant, and friend. You make me laugh so hard, serve me unconditionally, and just set the bar so high on what a father is suppose to be like. Love you so much, miss everyone, and can’t wait for a big hug from you when I get back. Eat crab legs for me!! (if the beach has passed- whoops, hope it was fun!)
Kate McMordie - Daddio! HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! Thank you for just being the best. I am really really thankful for a dad like you that is so after God’s own heart and want that more than anything for me too. I CANNOT wait to see you guys soon and tell you all about Africa. I promise I will get you the coolest belated Father’s Day gift from the Massai market (so I know it’ll be cooler than anything Reid or Bennett get you or ‘make for you from the heart’). Love you so so much - see you soon!!
Sam Byrnes- Daddddddyyyyy!!! Happy Father’s Day and Happy Birthday in a few days!!! How are you?!? I miss you so much and wish that I could be with you today. Just know that I have been thinking about you a lot and been praying for you and Mom. Make sure to write down all the God moments you have experienced because I have been doing the same. I can’t wait to see you and discuss all that God did this summer in both of our lives. I know more than anything, this is a summer of healing for our family. Jesus has been changing and shaping my heart and I know that I will leave this trip a changed person. I am continually seeking to feel the Holy Spirit in my life and I pray that you feel Him as well. Love you soo much and thank you for your constant love, encouragement, and prayers!! Tell Mama I love her too!
Simon Dobbins - Dad, to the greatest role model a son could ask for, I cannot thank you enough for all of the support and opportunity you have blessed me with throughout my life. Hope all is well and you had a great day, love and miss you happy Father’s Day -Ol’ Man
William Schmid - Dear Dad Schmid, HAPPY FATHERS DAY!! They only gave me two sentences but I love you so much I’ll go over and everyone else is doing it… I love you and I miss you so much! I can’t put into words how thankful I am that you were/are so supportive about Africa and everything! I'm so blessed. Send everyone my love! I cannot wait to see you guys again but until then I'm praying for you guys like crazy. Also Sarah I love you ;)
Ben Pertl - Dad. You rock. You might have more hair on your upper lip than the top of your head, but it’s the heart that makes a man, not the placement of his hair. Lucky you. Seriously, I wouldn’t be who I am if not for you, and I’m thankful every day for your guidance and wisdom. Have a great Father’s Day, we’ll have a steak when I get back. Love you.
Brantley Bell - My favorite man in the world!! Thanks so much for all that you have done and continue to do for me. I hope that this Fathers Day is the best one in a long time. Papa Danny would want you to enjoy it! Enjoy your day off, and tell Mom I said that you deserve to go wherever you want for dinner and to have a great night with the woman of your dreams! I love you and could not have even dreamed of a better Dad!!!!
Margot Osborne - Daaaad. Happy Fathers Day! I hope you’re enjoying a day full of cheese blinces with blueberry sauce. Know that I’m thinking of and praying for you! I am so grateful for everything you do for us.
Shirley Speckerman - Hi Did! I started taking my malaria medicine today, just for you! Happy Father’s Day! I’m thinking of you today, and I know you’re thinking of me too. I’ll see you soon. I miss you lots and lots!
Trey Hayman - Dad! Where to start? First off, I’m incredibly excited to sport our Hawaiian shirts together at the end of the summer. But, in all seriousness, thanks for being such an incredible representation of our heavenly Father and modeling for me what it means to be a man after God’s own heart. I look up to you so much more than you know, and I admire your wisdom and perspective. Thanks for being such an incredible role model for me. I love you so much, and I hope this Father’s Day is peaceful and relaxing for you. Miss you!
Cody Goshert - Dad, you’re the best example I have of a man devotedly following after his Heavenly Father. Though I have been known to say that I am vastly different from my father, I am proud to say that as each year passes I become more like you. Thank you for giving me your best, showing me God’s best, and for giving me the best footsteps to follow in. I couldn’t be more proud to be a Goshert!