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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pictures with a Mission

As I come home to the country I once so-adored, I sit here and reflect on the past few weeks with a broad understanding of what reality truly is. Its much clearer now how this trip has changed my life, how its changed the Swazi's life, and how others that I may not even know may have been effected. I have been given a unique opportunity to share this experience with the world, so take it as you may. These pictures say a thousand words, but you must understand one thing. People will never completely grasp the seriousness of a country in trouble until they've breathed it; until they've seen it with their own eyes. I am a new person, with a COMPLETELY different outlook on life. I will do my best to help you understand what its like to be humbled by the face of a dying culture.

Here are a few pictures through the eyes of my camera:

B.T.W. ~ The last picture is for comic-relief.

On a seriouse note, I have to appologize for something thats weighing heavily on my mind. I wanted to say sorry for the "emotional whiplash" that I may have displayed on this blogsite. I tryed to keep this site focused on just the mission's trip alone. However, while I took some time (post-mission's work) to spend in reflectance, I published some pictures of the experience I was having in Cape Town, South Africa. I was blessed to spend time in a "different Africa." However, there isn't a moment that's gone by that hasn't brought a heavy burden on my back. I remember the children, the sick Orphans in the hospital and the HIV positive woman who could no longer care for her children. While I spent time endulging in a rich lifestyle, I found myself feeling empty in so many ways. I have seen the extremes that this life can bring. It really is a difficult thing to cope with coming back to this "pop-culture America."

We have it so good here in the States, you have no idea. I will never look at a drinking fountain with fresh water pouring from it, in the same way. Nor will I ever take the simple things in life for granted. I could sit here all day and preach about how good we have it...but the truth of the matter is, we are truly empty. We live a lifestyle of consumerism and material possesions. Self-worth is no longer judged by our character or our morales, but by how many TV's we have in our house. We cannot continue as a society like this.

Please, I beg everyone reading this blog; Make a commitment today to live your life of privaledge, with steps of caution. Realize through these pictures, that there is a struggling Continent that is in the need of our help. TOGETHER, WE CAN MAKE A CHANGE!

I will post more pictures in segments, to try and avoid the "emotional whiplash" previously mentioned. I hope you understand. Anyone interested in speaking to me personally about these experiences and the endless stories behind each picture, may contact me at anytime.


Derek Van Dam


  1. Praise God for how He is working in you...and how He will work through you. What a privilege to have been your team-mate on this trip. God bless & keep sharing the message!

    Sue R.

  2. One comment about the last picture....

    I serious may have nightmares about that...and all I did was see a picture!!!!!!

    Remind me to tell you my theory about "s-words" and how Satan uses them as a physical way to spiritually attack me!


  3. Anonymous6:30 AM

    Welcome Home Derek, So glad you are safely home and hopefully you had a little time to catch your breath before homegrown reality begins. Anxious to hear your stories and see your pics. I can't help but think of how Jesus choose His disiciples of all kinds while on earth and continues to gather more to complete His work and further His Kingdom. Love you~
    A. Debi

  4. Anonymous2:18 PM

    Derek: Some very touching reflections....and frankly, comments I needed to hear from you. We'll speak I won't go on and on. You've had a conversion my friend! I know such a conversion experience having spent time in Kenya, Tanzania....Martinique etc....and I believe (with you)that our society who consumes so much must realize that the way we live is not the way most live; and because we live this way, others go with out. Yet....the people you spent your days with were so at peace...and for all we we know such peace? We need the grace to recognize that God will fill us with what we need.....your pictures say it all. Such a gift you brought to the people of Swaziland...and now you bring it all back to us. Spread your message...and joie de vivre Derek! Prayers! Bob

  5. Anonymous4:38 AM

    Hi Derek,

    Welcome Home!!! Reflecting on your latest entry, one quote in particular comes to mind and it's from a famous architect Mies Vanderroe...and that quote is: "Less is More!"

    Those three simple words really apply exceptionally well to just about every area of our lives, including over consumption, and it really makes sense in many many ways. Thought I'd share that tidbit with you...since it is so relevant. I believe the good people of Swaziland live by that quote, and because of it, they live very rich and meaningful lives.

    God Bless You and all that Your Team has Accomplished...

    Bill Pavlov

  6. Anonymous6:52 AM

    How grateful to God that you made this trip to Africa. When I see the pictures, and the love that you show for those people, I now realize the purpose. Those are the signals, the heartening affirmations, the unexpected proofs that was the result of this trip. You were meant to be at that time and place, not only for yourself, but for other people. You were meant to make this particular contribution to the world. And you did it well - with faith and patience, with all your strength and passion; and in doing so you discovered who you really are. And now as you look to the future, these are little stepping stones to whatever lies ahead. We are so proud of you. Love you forever, Mom

  7. Anonymous7:13 AM

    Hello Derek,
    It is me again Jennifer. I just have to say that I know what you are talking about. When I was in high school I went to spain as an exchange student. I know that I didn't do missionary work like you, but I have seen people that don't have things like we have here in the U.S. While I was in Spain we took a trip to Portugal and to Marraco,Africa. I saw more things that touched my life while I spent the day in Africa. Our tour guide wanted us to get the real feel for Africa so he should us what they call "The Real" Africa. That was the first time that I saw people liveing in a way that broke my heart. When I came back I looked at things different like you do now. I have never taken things for granted. I never had a lot of things to begin with and I still don't have a lot, but what I do have is family and friends. What I learned the most while over there is you can have a lot of things but you are never truely happy. You can have nothing and be truely very happy. Hope we can talk other then about the book drive that I am holding for the orphanage in Africa. I would really like to get to know the real Derek, not just the cute weather guy on tv. Take care and may God continue to bless you each and everyday.

    Jennifer Schultz


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