It’s easy with a mission trip to look at something you are preparing to do, a place you are preparing to go, and to be occupied with all the planning. But I don’t want to finish my trip with the mindset of dusting off my hands and saying “well there you go, I’m done with that” Really I think God’s showing me it’s more about continuing the things we do every day. The as you are going part. I love the fact that I got to spend 10 days in Africa, meeting people I have only read about (real live missionaries:)) and working with people in situations that are far different than my own. But reality is that I live here. I need to be using the feet God has given me, not wish for someone else’s. I guess it all goes back to 1 Corinthians 12 when Paul talks about not desiring to be a part of the Body of Christ that you aren’t.
“If the whole body were an eye where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body”
1 Corinthians 12:18-20 NIV
I hope God uses the experiences he gave me in Africa for His glory. I still have lots to say about it, but honestly it has taken a while to process the information. It helped that I spoke about it last week at De Soto Youth Ministry’s Thursday night group. It helped me put it in order in my head. Now I feel like I can give an understandable account of all that went on.
I know part of my feet walking here call is in the church in De Soto. I am still excited about all that God is calling us to do there. Before winter rolled in we were getting out in the community to actually do things, knocking on doors picking up trash, just things to serve others. I’m anxious for the weather to warm up so we can get back out and do some more! Actually I am just anxious for the weather to warm up! I thought it would be great to have those 12 days of warm weather right in the middle of my Kansas winter, but I think it made it worse to come back to a winter that was far from over.
And the beautiful little one is Nombuelo (I think) I have a list of names that go with faces. She is Gogo’s granddaughter, V’s daughter.
Where do I begin? I can hardly process the information myself let alone figure out how to share with you, but I will do my best.
Kids in South Africa are on summer break right now. So what I have been calling Holiday Bible Clubs are actually just Vacation Bible School for our American ears.
The Holiday Bible Clubs we did were in a community called Snake Park which is part of the bigger area of Soweto. Soweto is short for South West Township which was the area set aside for Black South Africans during Apartheid. This area of Snake Park originated as a Squatters camp and has grown into an area that has actual houses as well as the shacks that squatters put up for homes. A woman who I will call V lives in Snake Park with her mother and is using her home for a small church that Alan Locke is helping to start in this area. There are four adults that attend as well as their children. V is an inspiration in her faith as she works with the people of this area. I can’t begin to tell you how much I was touched by her call and dedication. Her life has certainly not been easy, but her purpose she told me was to help the people of her community. We used her yard to hold Bible Club all three days, and she translated for the younger children.
The first day I want to say we had about 70 kids. Honestly that part is kind of a blur, I know we had the most the first day went down the second and back up a bit the third…………… I think………
Anyway it was chaos. There was certainly a learning curve. I don’t think we could have planned much different, but we learned from what we did and didn’t do and did better the second day. Several of us went to the soccer field and played with the older kids. I use the term played very loosely as what I mostly did was watch as they kicked the ball between my legs. That and struggle to breathe. (I’m sure it was the elevation)….
The soccer field was obviously well used. Packed down and hard red dirt with broken glass scattered over much of it. Some of the kids played barefoot.
V worked very hard to get the kids there that she did. I know she wrote names down in a book to try and keep track of who was there and who wasn’t. We had Bible club the next two days much the same.
We did a lot of touring through the area looking at churches. (Again a term I will use loosely because not a lot of worshiping of Christ happened there) And I think we saw other white faces in Soweto only once at a tourist kind of area.
I didn’t take my camera on the first day. The Lockes had been robbed at gunpoint in this area so they were cautious about what we should and shouldn’t take in. I did take it every day after that. Most of the pictures I took of the area were from the car. I didn’t take my camera out as we prayer walked on the dirt paths through the shacks and I didn’t take any pictures inside peoples homes. It seemed to me to be very disrespectful to do so.
I did take lots of pictures after that. Can you imagine that? Me taking lots of pictures? I would love to post them, but I am having some trouble with my computer and I am afraid to download them from my camera just yet. We are heading out to get a new hard drive tonight, so my plan is to post some tomorrow.
I made it back! I know I sound surprised. There were moments I thought the flight would never end:) By the time we ended up at the airport in KC I had been traveling 25 hours. My suitcase didn’t arrive at the house until 10:30 pm. (Randy was a sweetheart and stayed up to get it.) Can you believe it made it to the US from South Africa but didn’t make it from Atlanta to home?
Last night was kind of a blur. A friend called at 8:15 after I had just gone to bed.(Maybe 10 minutes) and I only vaguely remembered that she called. Nothing about the conversation. I had to call her back and double check that I was even coherent! Today I am cleaning the house, doing laundry, and trying to get an article turned in before tomorrow’s deadline. I promise to write more later. Even later today if I get it done!
So today was my last day in Soweto. I will tell you now that it will take a few blogs before I am done talking about my experience here.
I leave tonight, 7:30 Joburg time. It’s 11:30 am here, 3:30 am at home. I can’t wait to see my family! I have missed them a lot the past 12 days as Randy pointed out. It was only ten days on the ground:) Two were spent in the air!
Let me just give you all a brief recap. I’ll hit the details later.
We came to the other side of Joburg last Wednesday. I was tired, I think I told you that! So Thursday we spent getting here an in the B & B. Friday we took a tour of Soweto and the area with a nice dinner out with Alan and Beth Locke. (They are the marvelous missionaries that drove us around endlessly and with whom we worked all week.) We had Holiday Bible Clubs Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning. Today we spent the morning visiting with Mamas in the area that might be interested in attending a women’s Bible study.
The poverty is overwhelming. What passes as acceptable homes in the squatters camps we visited wouldn’t house most people pets in our part of the world. We walked through alleyways to get to homes built of corrugated tin and whatever metal, vinyl, and plastic the people could scrounge together. Most houses are surrounded by a fence. Not an effective fence but a boundary of sorts. Alan and Beth have lived other places here in Africa, (Alan grew up in Nigeria) and he let me know that many people living in the areas we visited would be considered well off by those living in other parts of Africa. Joburg is an area that many people come looking for work.
Security is an issue. I never felt unsafe in Snake Park Perhaps because we were with people who knew what they were doing. But it was certainly an adventure. At this point I am still in possession of my camera and what little stuff I brought with me!
I’ll write more later and add pictures! I hope to see you soon!
Happy New Year! About the time you were celebrating, we were eating breakfast.
So today we check out of the hotel here in Boksburg and head west. I am not sure of the name of the area we will be staying. It’s still here in Joburg, all I know is west:) I don’t know the availability of Internet service where we will be staying, but I will update as I can.
Yesterday here was a beautiful one. Sunny and hot for me, though a couple of the mks wore sweatshirts to class. This is cold for them! Everyone was very tired, myself included, so the kids were subdued and wanted to just play in the morning. It’s remarkable watching these kids, most of whom have only known the mission field as home, and how they relate to each other. They played for an hour and a half in a room with no toys, a couple of tables and the miscellaneous supplies they had made projects out of. No fighting at all, just each other and their imaginations. We also had zero discipline problems. I put one in time out the last 15 minutes we had them! And their spiritual depth and perception is remarkable. When we asked for prayer requests from the kids (remember they are 5 and 6) one child asked that we pray for their family to learn the Portuguese language better so that they could help people more. It was humbling to serve people who give up so much every day to serve others. We had a great time doing it.
Many of these families have a long way to go home. I know some drove 5 days to get here. I spoke to one man who’s family flies home to their capitol city, then has to drive two days to get to their own town. Please pray for their safety both on their trip and in their homes.
I will be in Soweto tomorrow through Sunday. We have 4 scheduled Bible club’s per day for tomorrow and Saturday. We are expecting up to 100 kids per club. Sunday I am speaking for church. Please pray for the right words to share!