While walking through a Namibian village with a dozen others on a mission trip, Mariette Tipton was greeted by the chief and a group of dancers.
After the village’s dancers performed their traditional techniques, the villagers invited Tipton’s group to perform their traditional dances.
“We’re Americans,” she said. “We don’t really have a traditional dance.”
As a lover of line dancing, Tipton suggested doing the Electric Slide, which the villagers enjoyed and attempted to imitate.
Tipton, who began her mission work with Sisters of Zambia, told her story as part of the Gainesville First Presbyterian Church’s World Mission Conference. The weekend event brought together missionaries from around the world.
Saturday, the missionaries had breakout sessions to teach them of their work in and out of the United States.
“I love the ways missions can open your heart and help you interact and see people are people all over the world. We’re so much more the same than we are different,” Tipton said.
Danny Dotson, director of Son Servants, instructed members of the congregation on the group’s construction projects, including church building or home repairs.
“Some of you may not be able to do some of those things, but I don’t see a person in this room that can’t go and play with kids, love kids, hold them on your lap, encourage them, read to them and help with their education,” Dotson said.
Son Servants will partner with people in the community, including church leaders and schools, to ensure the work continues after the mission trip ends.
The real purpose, Dotson said, is to help students and have them “consider their relationship with Christ.”
“We give them a jump-start on whatever it is they need done at their homes, and we give these students a jump-start on their faith walk,” he said.
The event continues at 8:30 a.m. today; school classes with the missionaries start at 10 a.m. The church is at 800 South Enota Drive, Gainesville.