Wednesday, August 16, 2017

July News Letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to our monthly News Letter about what has been going on in the month of July in Operation RefugeeJ

Adopt-a-refugee news:

This past month has been a little quiet as we have been waiting for finalization of our three refugees and their release to do the DTS (Discipleship Training School) at YWAM in Blantyre, Malawi in November. Today it is my great privilege to announce that the funds are in place and their 
applications have been approved and therefore – they are definitely off to take part in the DTS!

Operation Refugee would like to give a great big Hallelujah and thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for opening the way for these three candidates and for providing ALL their funds for the DTS!!! We also thank the sponsors who have been obedient to the prompting of the Spirit and so generously given the funds. We know that your seed into the kingdom will be blessed and greatly multiplied!

We can now humbly say that in this year we have released 7 refugees out of the refugee camp to take part in the spiritual and emotional healing and growth process which a DTS program offers, and into a life of freedom! This is something which may have seemed impossible, yet with God – ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
Tresor and Falone celebrating little Wendy’s fourth birthday on the 2nd of August!                      

Beautiful Nathalie who dreams of starting a school for less-privileged children and orphans.

Our Team Leader – Steven:
Steven travelled to his home country DRC to spend some time with his family and to minister there as well. We give all the glory to God for keeping him safe on his journey and also for the provision to get there. He has been spending a most precious time with his family and as he also has a very special place in his heart for the little children, has been enjoying loving on all the little ones in the village.

Steven will be joining Johannes Wessels on a trip to Burundi at the end of this month to help him with all the dealings at the coffee farms as we will be pursuing the export of coffee beans to the USA – which will also be a means of generating funds for Operation Refugee and in turn, providing income to the local community in Burundi.

Please pray for safety for the guys’ trip and for finances for them to get there and back again.

Tresor is going places:

Tresor has taken an enormous step of faith and after seriously praying about it, made the decision to do a degree at the Blantyre International University in Counseling Psychology. We are supporting him in the belief that having a degree in this field will just empower him for his future in missions and working with people for the kingdom of God. We are very proud of this ambitious and brave young man.

His expenses are about R 2500 (130,000 MWK or 178 USD) per month – this includes his tuition fees as well as living costs. The Lord has been providing his every need thus far but we would like to reach out and suggest that if there is anyone who may feel that they would like to contribute towards Tresor’s studies, to please make contact with us in order to give you the details.

Tresor has proven that even though at this stage he is unable to leave the borders of Malawi with refugee status, he has chosen to do what he CAN in his situation and make something of his life. 

Going for it against all odds! The DTS really changed this young man’s heart and he is determined to live a life serving God to the fullest. His faith is truly amazing.

Want to make a difference?

We have two methods of sponsorship:

“Adopt a Refugee” – this is where you may select a specific refugee and choose to sponsor him/her until the point where they become self-sufficient.

“Partner” – You may decide to give a monthly contribution towards the mission which supports our guys who are already in the field, such as Steven and Tresor. (You are not obligated to a regular monthly contribution and may also choose to just do a once-off donation.)

Much blessings!

South African Bank details:
Operation Refugee Africa NPC
First National Bank
Cheque Account
Acc: 62626450720
Branch Code: 240438
Ref: Operation R - Mich

Monday, July 3, 2017

News Letter for June 2017

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to our monthly News Letter about what happened in the month of June in Operation RefugeeJ

Mozambique Outreach June 2017:

Our Potch YWAM base-leader Wikus, along with a few other YWAM-mers and a few people from the USA have just returned from an outreach to Mozambique. What a blessed trip it was!
Part of the trip was to find out if we could possibly get another base set up, close to Malawi, to enable more refugees to do the DTS (Discipleship Training School). Thus far we’ve had three refugees very successfully complete their DTS at the Blantyre base in Malawi, but they are only able to accommodate about three or four at a time. We have many viable applicants and therefore we would like to try and establish more bases in order to accommodate them.

We are currently in discussions to start another base in Mozambique and will keep you updated once things have been finalized.

There are some extremely exciting developments from the outreach, having gone with a few American citizens it was established that we will start a business in Burundi exporting coffee! Our team leader Steven is currently on his way to Burundi to start with this business. The basic idea for the business is to get the refugees who have completed the DTS to work in this business by picking the coffee beans and exporting them to the USA. This will be one of many business opportunities for the refugees to become self-sufficient. Steven is going there to see for himself if this is going to be a feasible business.

(Please pray fervently for Steven! The conditions and circumstances for traveling through Africa are extremely risky as there are many dangers and challenges. Funds are always needed for our African missionaries so if you feel the Holy Spirit move you to donate any amount towards Steven’s trip, please use the info below.)

African Missionaries News:

Apart from Steven, we have two other missionaries (refugees) who have done the DTS, Tresor and Jimmy. Jimmy has been staffing at the Blantyre YWAM base since he completed the DTS but Tresor has been waiting back in the refugee camp for direction as to his future. Not having his proper travel documents, he has been forced to remain in the refugee camp. He was planning on returning to his home country to get his passport but the conditions there are simply too dangerous at this stage, so he has found another option to get passes to be able to work at Blantyre as well. He will need some funding for this to realize but he is busy with the application process and we are very excited to see him finally become free of the refugee camp. He has an amazing heart for our Father and His children. We know that he will serve a great purpose in the ministry as he has been a faithful servant during his time in the refugee camp, proving to have much patience.

Our vision for our refugees:

There are various opportunities for refugees to get work after DTS. We want to run these businesses to provide work and to plough money back into refugees being released from the refugee camp. In the meantime we are doing research into getting a base where the refugee leaders can run DTS’s for the newly released refugees.

Adopt-A-Refugee News:

We are very excited to see our next three refugees begin their DTS program in November! We have been so blessed to have received full sponsorship for these three amazing people. Blantyre have agreed to take only three for this DTS and therefore we hope to mobilize another base as the Father wills, which will enable us to send more than three people to do the DTS per year.

Want to make a difference?

We have two methods of sponsorship:

“Adopt a Refugee” – this is where you may select a specific refugee and choose to sponsor him/her until the point where they become self-sufficient.
“Partner” – You may decide to give a monthly contribution towards the mission which supports our guys who are already in the field, such as Steven and Tresor. (You are not obligated to a regular monthly contribution and may also choose to just do a once-off donation.)

Much blessings!

South African Bank details:
Operation Refugee Africa NPC
First National Bank
Cheque Account
Acc: 62626450720
Branch Code: 240438
Ref: Operation R - Mich

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Refugees Making a Difference - Alain Bitijula

During my time in Malawi, the thing that most moved me, was meeting so many people who had this amazing attitude - regardless of the fact that they actually have little hope for a future!

This video clip is about a friend of mine at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi - Alain Bitijula, director of the Dzaleka Youth Congress. This is a man, who regardless of his circumstances, is doing a great act of kindness by creating projects among the youth.

His vision is to keep them busy (away from all the usual dangers and temptations that the youth of today face - such as theft, alcoholism, drug abuse etc.) and to also equip them in becoming independent and self-sustainable.

In the video you will see that he talks about fashion shows and also hairdressing. The fashion shows are intended to boost their self-esteem as so many of them have experienced extreme trauma and need a lot of spiritual and emotional healing. The barber and hairdressing training is to teach them a skill which they can use to generate their own income and not to continue relying on their parents.

Alain does all of this with absolutely no funding whatsoever and also for no income for himself. With funding he can really get these projects off the ground to make a difference in these young people's lives.

The youngsters in this clip have made most of their outfits to look as good as possible for their show. I spoke to their trainer who told me that they practice faithfully every day and prove to be very dedicated to their project.

Most of the refugees have no hope of ever leaving the refugee camp, yet, so may of them are making the best of what they have. I was also quite surprised to see that there are so many extremely beautiful and talented models, who could possibly become something great, if given the opportunity.

My plea is for you to partner with Operation Refugee so that we can help people like Alain, who is dedicating his life to the betterment of the youth in the refugee camp.

To become a partner please send me an email and I will provide all the details and any other info you would like about Operation refugee.
Michelle van Zyl - +27 74 404 9931

Friday, April 28, 2017

Kano's Story

During our outreach at the beginning of April, our team leader, Wikus did a TPM (Transformation Prayer Ministry) session with this young man, Kano. 

Kano lives in the furthest part of the refugee camp. Wikus was delighted to find a garden in the courtyard, with the most beautiful flowers and plants. He realized that this is the only garden that he has seen so far in the refugee camp. 
During the counseling session, it came out that when Kano was only 14 years old, he saw how the Mai Mai (community-based militia group in DRC) killed both of his parents, and then fled to the refugee camp. He is now 24 and has thus been in the camp for ten years already!
Every time a bus would come to the camp with new refugees, he would go to see if there was someone he knew, a family member or perhaps a friend, as he was alone when he arrived at the camp. Then one day, nine years from when he first arrived - there was his sister! 
What a joyful day that was for him - to be re-united with his sister!
From chatting to Kano Wikus could see that this is a young man with great potential, but unless he gets an opportunity, he would be stuck in this place forever...
Kano is one of many refugees. Dzaleka Refugee camp is also one of many refugee camps (and it is one of the smaller ones). But we need to start somewhere. We have chosen to start here at Dzaleka, one refugee at a time. 
You can help to make a difference in these young people's lives by sponsoring a refugee for only 700 USD to obtain an education AND freedom, or you can make a monthly contribution towards Operation Refugee which we will use to mobilize these people. 
Banking details:
Operation Refugee Africa NPC,
FNB, cheque acc
Acc nr: 62626450720
Branch code: 240438
Ref: Refugee Ops - Mich

How you can help too:-)

Dear friends,

Today I write with a request for you to consider making a contribution towards our cause: Operation Refugee.

Our vision for Operation Refugee is to extract refugees from the camps, enable them to do the Discipleship Training School (DTS) through YWAM which will in turn bring them emotional and spiritual healing and equip them to have a future in the ministry if they wish to do so. They can also choose to further their studies through the University of the Nations (where they can do one of seven degrees) or at the Nasor College in Ottosdal (N-level short courses) who have agreed to give a 50% discount to the refugees who apply.

They will also have the opportunity to go back to Lilongwe where they will be assisted in having their own small business, empowering them to make a life for themselves.

We go on regular outreaches to the refugee camp and through doing revival meetings, we connect with various churches and pastors. We then open the applications for refugees to join the DTS. In the short time we have spent at the Dzaleka camp, we have received over 50 applications already!

We have the resources to educate and mobilize these people who have unquestionable potential to become great, however, they need sponsors!

For 700 USD (R10,000) one refugee can leave the refugee camp and do the DTS (a five month training program). This amount will cover their food, accommodation, travel expenses and also their visas and passports as well as pay for the DTS program in full.

We have already had three young men do the DTS through sponsorship and they are all on their way to serving in the ministry in Malawi, Congo and South Africa.

As I have mentioned in my blog - these people are people with great potential and ambition - but they are stuck in what seems to be a human dustbin. With funding we can mobilize these people to have a future, and to let Africa heal itself by sending these people back into Africa once they are able to assist in healing and growth.

You can either donate a once-off amount or make a pledge to make a monthly contribution towards Operation Refugee. Every little bit helps a lot!

If you would like to see our full presentation then please email me and I will send it to you. Here are all of our details:

Facebook page: Operation Refugee - YWAM Potch

Banking details: 

South Africa:
Banking details:
Operation Refugee Africa NPC,
FNB, cheque acc
Acc nr: 62626450720
Branch code: 240438
Ref: Steven - Mich


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dzaleka Refugee Camp - Malawi

The YWAM team spent four days ministering in the refugee camp. The DTS students had already done quite a bit of preaching the previous week so they were well informed and used to the very unique and interesting ways of the Africans. 

For me, it was a first time experience! 

"Mosungu" - I keep hearing the small children calling out this word. They tell me that it means "white person". If you respond to them then they will eagerly say "How are you?" and giggle a lot if you tell them you're fine thanks. 

The church service is about five hours long, with a very long and intense praise and worship session of about two hours straight. They have a "choir" of children of all ages and young women - all looking very beautiful in their Sunday best traditional coloured head wraps and dresses. African worship is nothing like our worship - here they all sing very loudly and every song is accompanied by a massive home made drum that is beaten with a large stick. They jump and sing and clap and bang on the drum and it's crazy but the presence of God cannot be missed. He is there with us - making a joyful noise!

Our team leader, Wikus eventually gets his turn to preach and he does a short teaching about provision and trusting God. Whenever we talk to the people there is a translator as all the people speak either Swahili or French. Very few are able to speak and understand English. 

On the Monday straight after our church service for the morning I decide to take the young women who sang and danced so beautifully during the service for a worship dance session. I teach them my very Western way of dance and then I also dance for them to their drum beating. They join me very enthusiastically and once we are done I ask if they would do me the honour of wrapping one of their colourful head scarves around my head. They laugh as they give me a few "styles" but their eyes sparkle to realize that they are teaching me something. Humbling. I wished that they could see the beauty that I saw in them that day... 

For the first few days I am unable to write anything - I just have to observe and take in everything that's happening around me. It's a culture shock but it doesn't shock me. I expected to wash out of a bucket and not to have electricity. I expected to be met with a people living in poverty. I expected dust and traumatized people. What shocks me is something I did not at all expect... 

As we spend time with the people I quickly learn that I am quite safe walking around our village (Dowa) as well as in the refugee camp. There is peace. I don't have to clutch my handbag like I do when I walk around in a city in South Africa. I also learn that the children and teenagers are all exceptionally clever and talented. We hosted an art workshop with the smaller kids and older youth and we were all rather surprised at how well-disciplined and intelligent the children are. The older youth showed a great sense of ambition and hope for their futures (even though they are pretty much stuck in the refugee camp indefinitely). Some of them want to be lawyers, others want to preach the gospel in all of Africa and others want to be evangelists. Big dreams!

I taught the middle group of children some worship dance and they all followed me with ease, giggling a little as the soft and graceful movements were very foreign to them. I took along a few "veils" which is a large sheet of chiffon to dance with. To my amazement, the girls and the boys enjoyed dancing with them!


 We met a man called Henry - he is a tall, twenty-something-year-old Congolese man who used to be a performing arts teacher in the Congo. He has taken it upon himself to manage a recreational center for children aged 3 to 18 and also young women who are widows, orphans and single mothers. He has about five young men helping him as volunteers. At the center he takes the children in groups, according to their age, teaching them art, poetry, dance and English. For the ladies he gives them a bit of wool to start off with so they can learn how to embroider and crochet. He tells me that this keeps them busy during the day, then when they get home they are tired and then he gives them some homework to do as well. This keeps them away from sexual endeavors which are not good for them. 

Henry with one of his volunteers

I ask Henry what he gets paid to do this every single day... I get tears in my eyes as he tells me with a chuckle - as if I'm a little stupid for even asking such a question - that what he and his team do is voluntary. He does this for the love of it. And he has just about nothing with which to do all these activities... a little paper, a few pencils. I immediately wonder how I can try to get a whole container with art supplies duped in front of his door. 

As we are saying our goodbyes I ask Henry if he always dresses so smartly or if it is only because we came to visit today. With a twinkle in his eye he says: "I do not only teach the children art and poetry, to stand before them each day I teach them about life." Just. Wow. 

There is another man we meet who is doing an amazing service within the refugee camp - Alain, also from the Congo. He is the director of the Dzaleka Youth Congress. On Wednesday we are guests of honour at the Dzaleka's Got Talent show. With front row seats we are entertained with very well trained youngsters who do a few dance numbers and also a beauty pageant. I can see that the young ladies are very self-conscious and even though they try to express some confidence, in their eyes there is brokenness. The entire show is very well choreographed with music and outfits. I am impressed. Indeed, Dzaleka has got talent. But where will it ever go? Who will ever get too see it?

The youth's "Trainer" - a very strict
but also very proud French-speaking
Congolese man.

Dance and fashion show youth with Alain on the far right. 

After the show I chat briefly to Alain and he tells me he will send me his project proposal for the Miss Dowa and hair salon. A week later I am reading these proposals and I am deeply moved. His intention for doing the beauty pageant is to give the young women motivation to become something as arranged marriages is a big problem in the culture. The young girls drop out of school and later have nothing to offer for the development of the community. The hairdressing school's purpose is to give young men and women a skill which can be used to earn some money within the refugee camp, teach them responsibility and develop who they are. 

The girls of the fashion show.

I stare at my laptop screen as tears roll down my cheeks - because I see a plan, a hope, an attitude of want and desire to build - but there is no funding for these hopes and dreams. 

I decide that I want to help these people in some way - any way. On our second day in the refugee camp I start to write as much info as I can about the life here. 

These are some of the facts I collected during my visit: 
  • The camp is about 5 kilometers squared in size. 
  • At the moment there are about 28,000 refugees in the Dzaleka Refugee camp. 
  • There are people mostly from DRC (Congo), Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and Ethiopia. 
  • Once a month each person gets rations as follows:  
  1. 12 kg's of maize
  2. 3 kg's of beans
  3. 1 kg porridge flour
  4. 0.5 liter of oil
  5. One cup of Sugar
  6. Half a cup of salt
  7. 1 cake of soap
  • Only Malawians are allowed to have jobs within the refugee camp. 
  • Refugees may work for a donation on a voluntary basis - there are not many of these "jobs" and therefore very few actually have "jobs".
  • Some of the them have small businesses such as restaurants or hair salons or selling their rations in the market place. 
  • Malawian people are allowed to sell fresh vegetables and meat like chicken, beef and goat meat in the camp. 
  • There are 64 churches in the camp - from all denominations.
  • Upon arrival at the camp, you are on your own and have to find your own way. Some churches make provision for accommodation until you are able to buy your own house or build. 
  • Refugees are given land for free but housing and electricity must be paid for. 
  • Most refugees depend on the money that gets sent to them by their families who have been lucky enough to be "resettled". 
  • Families may apply to get "resettled" but this is only granted to very few of the people. There is an application process to be followed and not all applicants always get chosen for resettlement. 
  • Due to the lack of facilities, teachers and the various languages spoken, less than half of the children are able to go to school.
There is a small part of me that feels a little ashamed and sad for my own people. I feel like we are so spoiled - we have so much - and yet we love to complain. Oh how we love to complain about the little we don't have! Last year the university students burned down their own universities, with a demand for free education. Children throw tantrums when they cannot have the latest cellphone or tablet. We complain when our steaks are slightly overdone. 

I notice that the children ALWAYS wore shoes, no matter what condition they are in!

Suddenly I feel ashamed. I am just as guilty of being spoiled and ungrateful. We spent Wednesday afternoon with another group of youngsters, just playing games with them. I notice that the guys playing soccer are using some kind of plastic bag filled with something as a ball. They don't even have proper soccer balls, but they are not complaining. They are playing soccer, with what they have. And they are laughing and smiling. 

Playing "Vrot-eier" with the kids and youth.

It is not so much their state of poverty and brokenness that touches me. It is the attitude of these people. Regardless of their poverty and brokenness, they appreciate, they have respect, they have discipline, they have big dreams, they have ambition, they are positive, they are busy doing something! 

Overall my trip to Dzaleka Refugee Camp and Malawi changes me a little. I have now seen another side of life. It is a life I slightly envy - a life of simplicity and appreciation. The people whom I met who serve the Almighty God serve Him with wild abandon, without shame or inhibition. They hunger for more of Him and they are eager to learn more and more. They are humble. They have taught me so much!

Returning home, I also feel thankful. I am thankful for the life that I have. I am thankful that in my country war has not yet broken out and I am not forced to flee. I am thankful that I have the privilege to have a steak and go to dance classes and sleep in a very warm bed and take long, hot baths. But whatever did these people do to deserve the hand they have been dealt? I struggle to make sense of this.  

Riette doing an art project with the little children - "Fruit of the Spirit"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Welcome to Malawi!

The day finally arrived for the team to board our flight to Lilongwe, Malawi!

Without really knowing what to expect, I had a great sense of excitement and expectation within me. One thing that I was certain of, was that I would return blessed and a little changed.

Before our departure we were briefed on what to pack. The women may only wear skirts and tops that covered our shoulders in the refugee camp, we had to take torches as there wasn't always electricity and we were to be prepared to bath in a bucket as there was also not always running water. Sounded like fun!

Our team consisted of Wikus, the YWAM Potch leader, Andrea, his daughter, Riette, a pre-school teacher and Steven, a Congolese man who had lived inside the refugee camp for 6 years. Steven had done his Discipleship Training through YWAM Potch and he was now a free man, with a vision to minister to refugees and assist in getting them to be free as well. He was also to be our guide and translator inside the camp.

Our team was to meet up with a DTS group who were on their final week of their DTS outreach phase - in Malawi. They'd already been there for a week when we joined them. The group consisted of five amazing young people who's eyes shone with the love of Jesus. As I got to know each of them during that week I felt a bit jealous that I had made such abysmal life-choices instead of living a life fully committed to serving our King.

Before going to our "guesthouse" we were taken to the Dzaleka Refugee camp just to greet our correspondent there. Tresor, a young man - also from the Congo, and who had also done the DTS program in Malawi - came to meet us on his bicycle. Tresor was excited to meet us and we were shown around the camp with much enthusiasm and a very warm welcome. We took a short rest at a Somalian "restaurant" to have a cold drink. The restaurant was simply a small building with a few plastic chairs and a few tables set out on the concrete floor. It offered a choice of soft drinks, tea or coffee and a few basic meals, such as rice or "pap" with chicken or beef in sauce. What caught my attention is that even though it was very basic and very "township-like", it was extremely neat and clean. The Somalian owner could speak to us in English and served us with great warmth.

Once our drinks were done we headed back to our car and continued to our guest house which was situated in the small village of Dowa, about a 15 minute drive from Dzaleka.

The vegetation in Malawi is beautiful, very green and lush - a lot like the Eastern Transvaal in South Africa. Entering Dowa we drove through the main street which is a broken tar road with a market place on either side of the road. There the local people sell whatever they can - some of them sell goods which are delivered by truck such as plastic shoes, plastic containers and other odds and ends. Some of them sell fresh produce which they can grow in their own backyards like tomatoes, bananas, avos, onions, beans and guavas. To my surprise they also had plenty of plastic containers with samoosa's and "vetkoek" for sale - something which I didn't expect to find anywhere but home. Maize grows in abundance in Malawi so there are also mats with maize for sale. There are also some stands where they make fried potato chips which they drown in salt when you buy a packet - my kind of snack!

As it was already late afternoon we stopped at the market to have some dinner. Again we went to a "restaurant" which offered pretty much the same as in the refugee camp. I ordered a chicken and rice dish which was not bad but a little dodgy as there were a lot bits which felt like glass as I chewed. When mentioning this one of the students explained that seeing as the people don't have the correct tools to slaughter the animals they make use of whatever they have - like a machete - to chop the animals up and the bones often shatter, which explains the bits in the food. I had to make the decision to not let that put me off and tried my best to enjoy the meal.

Walking through the market-place I was extremely fascinated at how neat and beautifully arranged every stall was - tomatoes are stacked in little formations and beans and maize are placed in baskets. It appeared that these people took great pride in what they do. I also noticed that were no ugly smells, only aromatic smells of food and wood fire.

From the main street we turned right to go down a small dirt road towards our guesthouse. On the corner of the street there is signboard which indicates that under the trees is the local taxi service center. The taxi's are old motorbikes which are used to transport people around the village and to the airport etc. I actually spotted one or two with up to three people and a bag of luggage on it! Some of the bikes are so old that they looked as though they are held together with duct tape.

The moment eventually arrived when we parked at our guesthouse - Dowa Inn, owned by an elderly, pitch black Malawian man with a snow white smile called Elisha. Again we were extremely warmly welcomed and shown around our home for the week. There is a building with single rooms along a long passage - the rooms are big enough for a single bed and a small space beside the bed to put your bag and feet when stepping out of the room:-)  At the end of the long passage there is a communal "bathroom". This is an open-air room with a few toilets (real toilets that can flush, in their own cubicle thank goodness!) and a few large drums filled with water. Seeing as the running water only works at random times, they fill the drums so that there is always water available to wash with. In the mornings Elisha's managers make a fire and cook a massive pot of water so that we can ad some warm water to our bucket bath. There is also a shower but then you'd have to be ok with taking a cool shower as the running taps don't ever have hot water.

Andrea and then decided to opt for sharing a double room. These were much bigger with their own bathroom on-suite. Elisha was gracious enough to let us pay what we would have paid for the single room. 
That first night we didn't have electricity, but the DTS team were already so used to the African ways of life that they quickly whipped up some coffee with their gas stove. So the day wound down as we all sat around on the stairs in the dark with a nice hot cup of coffee, chatting about the days' events. 

I went to sleep that night feeling exhausted, content and excited about our week of ministry ahead.