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!
It’s Tuesday afternoon here about 1:25pm my time. I have exactly 20 minutes before I have to run back to my classroom for our afternoon session. I’m sorry for the short update. Hopefully I will get more time tomorrow.
This morning I had my 5 and 6 year olds for 4 and 1/2 hours on 1 and 1/2 hours worth of curriculum. We spent a lot of time outside:) They are really excited to be in class and seeing friends they only get to see a couple of times a year. The missionaries are very appreciative of our willingness to be here. Someone told me that this time for them is so important because they get to worship with others like them in their own native tongue. It’s one thing to participate with others that you lead in their language and another to worship in your own. I have this kids for another 4 hours this afternoon we have swimming on the list of things to do, so that will help fill some of the time. Dinner is at 6pm and then we have babysitting for those families who would like it. They were so excited that we were willing to babysit tonight. I don’t think it happens often for some of them.
Seeing as I haven’t quite adjusted to Africa time (I was up at 4:30 here wide awake!) I am tired, so please pray for my stamina. There is a lot of day left!
and on top of all this Randy e-mailed and told me we have someone interested in our house. They are making a decision between us and two others. Please pray for that too. They will want to move quickly I’ve been told, so we would have to move fast if they chose our house.
I am missing everyone there, but enjoying the sunshine. I knew it was supposed to rain all this week from weather.com, but apparently it’s a lot like Florida where it can rain every day and still be beautiful for most of it. I am already sunburned from a mere 30 minutes yesterday out and about!!
Thanks for your prayers. I am praying for you too!
This Christmas season has been a full one. We have had a lot on our plate as a family and it has not always been easy. I have been making lists like crazy and even writing things down I’ve already done just to be able to cross something off my list. Then I lose the list and have to start another one which includes things I missed on the first list but leaves other things off. Then of course I find the first list and lose the second. And then I find myself looking at three separate lists to make sure I have covered everything on all three! did I confuse you? Now you know how I feel. So about the time that I think everything is under control and I start feeling smug about all I have accomplished. I walk downstairs with a suitcase in my hand to have Randy say, oh by the way we are showing the house at 10am tomorrow. At that point after I pick myself up off the floor I have to laugh. It’s all just too funny!
So it’s now time for me to go. I am sitting in front of the computer with bags packed. I still need to finish putting together my carry on bag and my very large”purse” Randy is the best packer ever! With a 50lb limit per bag he managed to get 48lbs in each bag! I have two suitcases full of markers, glue sticks, paper, puzzles, books and every good thing imaginable. All of my friends and family have been absolutely amazing to provide so much stuff to take. On my own I could never have provided all the good things they got for the kids in Africa. Thank You Thank you Thank you to all. You know who you are! I will send more specific thank yous and pictures when I get back.
I know many of you reading this will be checking up on me while I travel. I think I will have a computer available the first four days, but after that I really don’t know. Those will be the days that I am in Soweto and probably the days I will need the most prayer. From what we have been told the area we are heading is not a good one. But people there need so much of what God has to offer.
The hardest part of this putting feet to my faith across an ocean and so far away is knowing that my family is here without me. I want to be safe and come home soon, but I also know that whatever God has called me to do is the best possible result. I want to be willing to do whatever He wants. Not my version of what is good, but His. So with that in mind I am stepping out in faith to walk where He has called me to walk. I am sure it’s going to be hard work at times, but I am equally sure the blessings will far outweigh the hardship. So please pray for God to be glorified in everything that we do this week. That our presence will be a testament to Him. That our mouths will speak as if we speak His very words and that our lives be a reflection of His love. It’s not about me, it never is.
Funny, Obviously I’ve “been away” for a while. I got so worried about what to say I didn’t say anything and I think that’s the anti blog thought. So new leaf same concept.
I’ve got a new place to point my feet toward. I am heading to South Africa in a few weeks. I’m going with a group on a mission trip to the city of Johannesburg. Yikes! Big step for my little feet, or my little faith whichever fits. I’ve still got money to raise and things to do to get ready. It really doesn’t seem possible that I’m going. It feels like its someone else I’m talking about! But it’s an adventure in faith for me.
To add a little excitement to those preparations we have decided to put our house on the market. I think that idea is actually worthy of a whole lot of comments on it’s own. Bad time to do it market wise, time of year is bad, but when God says do, we do. So today I am busy painting, cleaning and re-arranging, hoping I get called in to work to escape all I have to do and leave it in my dear and darling husbands lap, and hoping I don’t get called in to work in order to actually try to bring order to our chaos!
Anybody want a house?