It was slow at first, but more and more people showed up to help: setting up tables and chairs, laying out the letters, prayer cards, candles, donation baskets, etc., cutting up fruit, preparing the coffee station, blending up the mago lassis, picking up the African food, sound checking, fixing the powerpoint, rehearsing the music... it was busy busy busy!
Guests began arriving at 7 and we got the show rolling at about 7:30. We had four musical groups - a group of friends of mine from dancing, a teacher from my school who did some First Nations songs and drumming, a Christmas-themed performance from a friend of mine from church, and a "What white guys think about when they think of African music" set by another group of friends from church. I did a presentatino about how I came to decided to do this, and what I was going to be doing in Africa, and another friend did the financial pitch for me, which was nice, so I didn't have to stand up there and ask on my own behalf. At the end, we had a commissioning service for me and the whole room prayed for me as I preare to leave in less than a month's time. (AAAAAAH!)
My dad counted 74 people, and that was before a few people arrived, and not counting one of the groups who were warming up in the lobby, so I figure we had between 75 and 80 people turn out. I had family, friends from chuch, friends from dancing, friends At one point early in the night, my mom pulled me aside and whispered, "See all these people? They're ALL here for YOU because they love you, and are interested in what you are doing!" There was no need to tell me. I was already feeling overwhelmed with the turnout and the interest in and support of my trip. So overwhelemed, in fact, that when I stopped to think of it a few times during the evening, I actually had to catch my breath or struggle to keep myself from tears.
And then I went home and counted the gifts people gave in support of my trip. Cash, cheques, pledges... and the grand total from gifts received that night and gifts people told me about in lieu of being able to attend?
Six. Thousand. Seven. Hundred. Dollars. (even!)
That's 59% of my budget. In one night. $6700!!!! Oh. My. Word.
It was an amazing night on all accounts. I can not thank the people who were involved - helpers, attendees, contributors - enough. There really are no words. I hope my dropped jaw and bugged out eyes (with little wells of tears) and my feeble little thank-you's communicate more than I feel they do. You are amazing.
I will have some photos available in a few days once people upload them and I can make a set, bot for now, here are two videos from the night: one of the "White Guys in Africa" set and one of an impromptu, pressured-into-it "African" dance demonstration. Again with the white guys theme. I'm pretty sure Africans would be looking at these guys with the same cocked eyebrow (and uproarious laughter) we all did on Saturday! Hysterical! :)
Here are the videos! Enjoy!