South Africa – 14 (Journal Day 9)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Today is our last day in Cape Town. I will say that Cape Town has been my favorite place to visit and I love the culture and the Coloured people. They are so precious. We fly back to Johannesburg this afternoon to minister at another Dutch Reform Church there. Then we have to be at the airport late Tuesday afternoon for our 17 hour flight home with arrival in Atlanta on Wednesday, August 26th at 7:15 a.m. In some ways I feel as if we have been here a month, and in other ways it doesn’t even seem like 9 days…

This picture is of Claudia and Errol Wesson, native Cape Townians and the most delightful people I met my entire trip. That is Brother John Kubia in the middle with them.

John has been in South Africa for over a month, and will be headed back home with us. He was here with the group from our church that ministered in Zimbabwe last month, and then he stayed over for our trip to South Africa.

This morning we went to Simonstown, a very old and wonderful community on the Cape. I bought some gifts for my family from the outside vendors. As we were walking, Rev. Wesson told me that these were whale bones in the front garden of this home.  From their home in Fish Hoek, he and Mrs. Claudia can hear the whales in the bay!

Then we went to see the penguins! Yes, there are penguins in South Africa. They are very loud – they honk like donkeys. I had no idea. Look how cute they are. What a sight. I wish my son Jonathan could have been here to see the penguins. I think he would have enjoyed them most of all!
We went back to the Wellwood Lodge to get our things ready to go back to airport in Lanseria. The Wellwood was a nice place to stay, but I never got over the face that we were behind 4 locked doors. First, there was a locked gate at the fence surrounding the lodge, then an iron door in front of the lodge door, then the door to the lodge, then our actual room door. That was really unsettling to me. I did not dwell on it – I am very claustrophobic. There were also bars on the all the windows. We were reminded often to make sure everything was locked.  The owners assured us there was not a lot of violent crime, but a lot of thievery and petty crime.  Here is a picture of our home away from home the past 4 days. That white square panel on the wall to the right of the curtain is the HEAT. There is no central heat air. None.

The flight to Lanseria was uneventful; however, there is an excitement bubbling in my soul that I am going home!  I’m so ready to see my little grandson Zeke, our sons and their wives, my family, and my church family. I have seen so much and learned so much, but I’m telling you, I miss my family…and 9,000 miles across an ocean is a long way when you are a small-town home girl like me.

When we got back to Johannesburg and arrived at the Golden Crest Lodge, fatigue began to creep in. (Here there were only 2 locked doors, but the entire area was surrounded by a high concrete fence and electric razor wire.)  My husband insisted I stay at the Lodge while he went to the church with Brother John Kubia. He asked me to repack and organize our luggage, so that is exactly what I did tonight. I got a lot accomplished that will help us for tomorrow, so I’m glad that my sweet husband insisted that I stay “home.”  He said that the church tonight was not as receptive as the churches in Cape Town had been, but I believe it is the formality of the Dutch Reform Church. That is exactly what we experienced in the Northwest Territory as well. The people on the Cape were the friendliest of all!

South Africa – 13 (Journal Day 8)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today’s weather was so picturesque that the Wessons could not get over it! They kept going on and on about the unusually beautiful weather. I told them that I had been praying God’s Word with Psalm 90:17 “May the favor of our Lord God rest upon us, and establish the work of our hands, yes establish the work of our hands.” What an awesome verse – asking for God’s favor in what we do…as unto Him!

Today is Sunday and I missed my church family back home! I love them so much. They are good people. My husband has served on staff here for over 21 years, and we will forever be grateful for the privilege to have raised our boys there. Priceless gift.
Gary and I are went our separate ways to minister today, and I’ll be honest about the fact that I was a wee bit anxious about that. I mean I have no phone or way to contact him if I needed him. But I know that the work of our hands was established by the Lord for this entire mission! I was going to be with the Wessons in Somerset West on the Western Cape, and Gary was going to minister in the Coloured community with Johnny Cyster.

The Wessons picked me up very early for our ministry to a church in a very nice community called Somerset West. The route was along the Indian Ocean…let me type that again…we drove along the Indian Ocean…the Indian Ocean. I have never seen such beautiful scenery in my life. It was so wonderful.
I have also never seen so many white calla lilies in my life, thousands of them, just naturalized growing along the roadside. White calla lilies. I kept leaning up to the Wessons in the front seat and saying, “do you have any idea how much a bouquet of these white calla lilies would cost back in the US of A, do you, do you, do you?” I was beside myself in that back seat – about to burst from the pure joy of it all!

We also drove past another sight that was the antithesis of the white lilies…the largest shanty town ever. I honestly believe there were as many shanty homes as there were calla lilies. As far as my eyes could see was row upon row upon row of these metal, wood, make-shift shanty houses. Women were outside washing clothes in pots, and children were playing and running around.
Then we entered a community that seemed very modern and upscale compared to any I’ve seen since my arrival. After a few miles we arrived at Somerset West Baptist Church. I felt more “at home” here than anywhere during my entire stay in South Africa. If I closed my eyes I almost thought I was back in Georgia! Except for the lovely accents…the music was similar, the ladies were planning a Fall Retreat (just like we were back home), and even the announcements were familiar. Then a thought struck me about God’s Forever Family. All around the globe today, the true Church of the living God has worshiped Him. One day we will all be gathered around His throne – every tribe, every tongue and nation. It was a great thought to ponder.

The Wessons enjoyed catching up with old friends and I enjoyed observing that “people are the same” everywhere. We had a great worship service. I especially enjoyed their music and praise team.

I sang and the people were so gracious to me. Rev. Errol Wesson preached. After church we went to have lunch with the Associate Pastor and his wife and their two boys. Greg and Kelly Blair. Kelly’s parents Dave and Kathy were also there for lunch and they are longtime friends of the Wessons. I in no way felt like an outsider. They had a “braai” which is the Africaans word for cookout or barbeque. It was very delicious. Grilled chicken, sirloin strips, and sausages. We also had a fruit salad, a potato salad, and the most delicious pudding ever. These South Africans love pudding desserts and I love that they love them, because I love them too!

My favorite part of this day was my fellowship with the Blair boys – Shane who is 6 years old, and Ryan, 3 years old.  Shane had a tire swing and he was showing me all about how it worked! Delightful. Boys are boys and I raised two, so I was quite at home, although I was 9,000 miles away from home. Shane got all his military toys out to show me, and he was quite impressed with my knowledge of tanks and gunners. (My youngest son Jonathan was enamored with GI Joe and all things military when he was little, so I had an advantage.) I enjoyed some great conversation with the boys’ mother, and encouraged her in the joys of boys! They are a delightful family, and I will never forget spending that time with them.
We went back to the Wellwood Lodge and literally only had 15 minutes to freshen up before leaving for our next church service in Cape Town. I was so happy to see Gary and hear about his morning. (Although Gary would not tell me, Bro. Johnny Cyster told me that they loved Gary to pieces and were up on their feet shouting in praise before he even finished ministering through song.) I was so proud of my sweet man. He has a big heart to go with that big voice of his. I know the Lord used him to encourage these precious people.

Tonight we were able to go to church together and I’m telling you – I have never-ever-never-ever experienced such unconditional love as I did tonight. This was also in a Coloured community and we worshipped with the people of the Blomvlei Baptist Church. When we entered the church they were singing and I mean they were singing! The atmosphere was electric! There was a group of people in a long line going around and around the pews singing “Sing for Joy, Oh Africa.”

Gary leaned down and whispered to me, “And we are going to sing here? I say we just join in with them, they are having church!”

We made our way to the front of the church and sat down. The pews were all wooden and very old with high backs. We sang some more with the congregation and then Bro. Wesson preached and Gary sang and I sang. We were so at home and so welcomed by the Blomvlei Church. Pastor Salwyn and his beautiful wife Sheena were so gracious to us. (That is Sheena on the far left below, she was on the Praise Team.)

What happened next may be the highlight of our entire trip to South Africa. At the end of the service Pastor Salwyn said he felt led of the Holy Spirit to take an offering for “the Americans, Gary and Jan.” They wanted us to go visit Table Mountain and have a coke on them, and be blessed. We were already so blessed we were beside ourselves, but nothing would do but for him to take that offering.

So he asked us to stand at the back of the church and every single person walked by and hugged us or shook hands with us as they were singing “We love you with the love of the Lord.” Now mind you, this was not a rich church, but a poor church. They gave out of their need. We were so humbled by this and tried to give the offering back to the Pastor. What they gave us equaled about $100 in American money. On our way to the car, Gary and I were able to whisper together and decided to give the money to Pastor Errol and his wife Claudia, who had been such good hosts to us while we were in Cape Town. We knew they needed some repair work done on their car. When we were in the car we told them that we were overwhelmed by the offering and the love, but that we just didn’t feel right about the Blomvlei Church doing that for us.

I’ll never forget what Pastor Errol told us. He said, “sometimes you just have to learn how to receive because others need to give.” Well…we said back to him, you are exactly right! So we gave him the offering that we had been given. (It was in Rand, South African money – so that was even better.) He protested and so then WE said, “sometimes you just have to learn how to receive because others need to give.”  What a great night – thank you Jesus for my new friends the Wessons and all our friends in Cape Town.

We are less than 48 hours from leaving to go home, and we are ready. But our hearts have been touched, stretched, blessed, convicted, and warmed. I will never forget this trip and the people we have seen.  “Sing for Joy, O Africa, the Lord your God is risen upon you.”  Indeed.


South Africa – 12 (Journal Day 7)

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Our wonderful new friends, Rev. Errol Wesson and his precious wife Claudia of Multi Ministries are delightful! They live in Cape Town, actually in “Fish Hoek.” They say that God has given us great favor with the weather.
It is still Winter in South Africa, but Spring is giving a gorgeous preview! The rain is gone and the warm temperatures and flowers are glorious! I have never in all my life seen such beauty – the ocean and the mountains are unbelievable. Ever since I found out I was coming to South Africa I have dreamed of seeing Cape Point! But before I saw Cape Point this afternoon, there were some amazing ministry opportunities that I want to share.
This beautiful Saturday morning Gary and I were set to minister at Gleemoor Baptist Church. This church was hosting a meeting for all the churches in the area. They were meeting to plan for 2010 and outreach surrounding the World Cup Soccer games in South Africa. Rev. Wesson and Bro. Johnny Cyster came to pick us up and drive us to the church. The drive was so nice and I was so excited to finally be in Cape Town. When we pulled up to the church and parked, three precious little girls were playing outside. The Gleemoor church is part of the Cape Town Coloured community. I told them that I was so thankful to be at their church, and the little one on the far right said, “And I am thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ!” So delightful.  I will never forget these little girls.

Once inside we saw how packed the church was, so we made our way to the front. Rev. Errol Wesson introduced us to the people. Gary sang “Statement of Faith,” and I sang “Jesus the One and Only.” The people were so responsive and they especially loved my sweet husband. (Actually everywhere we’ve been, he has been the favorite!) I believe it is his commanding voice and the compassion with which he speaks. He shared with everyone that it is most important that they KNOW what they believe because our beliefs dictate our behavior! He exhorted the people to hold fast to the authority and the Word of God. Another thing he did that I especially loved is he would say, “we are not here to sing TO you, but WITH you.” They LOVED my man and I was so blessed because of the joy he was bringing!

Something MOST unbelievable happened this morning after the service. There was a couple there serving as missionaries through the IMB (International Mission Board). They were introduced (Jeff and Lynne) and then afterward she came up to me and told me she was born in Macon, Georgia. WOW! Someone from America! We had an immediate bond and I was so glad to talk to someone from home. Then she proceeded to tell me that her grandmother was the organist at 1st Baptist of Warner Robins and that she attended Second Baptist Church when she was a child! OUR HOME CHURCH!!! The world suddenly became very small as I thought about the investment my church had made in the life of a little girl half a century ago, and now she was serving as a foreign missionary halfway around the world and we got to meet both her and her husband!

Baptists are Baptists no matter the Continent, so there had to be a fellowship – and in South Africa it was a “tea.” Check out the beautiful aprons these ladies were wearing. I thanked them for their hospitality and they loved having their picture taken.
After the tea, we headed back to the Wellwood Lodge where we are staying. On the way, we stopped at a drugstore to pick up a few items we needed. I wanted to buy some Advil. Something very unusual occurred. You cannot just walk in and buy Advil or Tylenol – you have to talk to a pharmacist! He wanted to know what was going on and why I needed an anti inflammatory! A little scary to me – but I got the medicine and am very grateful.

After we got back to the Lodge we changed clothes and got ready for our trip to see Cape Point. My excitement was just about “over the top!” I was finally going to see the sight I had viewed on my computer desktop for many months. Here are some pictures of the day:

The difference in these two oceans was amazing!
 The beautiful blue Indian Ocean:  
The darker gray Atlantic Ocean:

After we saw Cape Point from every single angle – including the wonderful MERGE of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, we headed back down and then shock of all shocks, we heard someone calling our names…”Gary, Jan, Gary Jan!” That was so crazy – we didn’t know a SOUL in South Africa. Guess who it was? Ty and his wife – the couple that we flew to South Africa with on the same flight over from Atlanta, a week ago, and we were 1,000 miles from where we landed in Johannesburg! Another awesome occurrence – to see someone you “know!”

As we were driving down the mountain and out of Cape Point Park, we saw a pair of ostriches and their chicks on the side of the road. A few of the chicks and one of the “big birds” ran away, but this one was intent on staying for the picture.

Tonight we wrapped up a most wonderful day by having dinner in the Wesson’s home. They have a view of the ocean bay that you can only dream of. The Wesson’s are responsible for starting many churches in Cape Town and the surrounding communities. They are associated with Multi Ministries and are the sweetest people ever.
I will never forget the joy of this day.  Visiting the church, ministering to the people, meeting the missionary 10,000 miles from my home church who attended there as a little girl, seeing the GLORIOUS beauty of Cape Point, then sharing a meal with our new partners in ministry, the Wessons.  It has been a great day.  I am so thankful, emotional, blessed.

South Africa – 11 (Journal Day 6)

Friday, August 21, 2009

This morning we were all packed and ready to roll by 8:00 a.m. John Kubia and Rodney Grobler, the Multi Ministries assistant, picked us up and we went back to the lodge dining room for breakfast. It was nice and I took a picture of the employees. They were so kind to us. This brings me to something I’ve noticed here in South Africa…everyone loves having their pictures taken – so unlike home. We cover our faces, or put our hands up to try and hide from the camera. Not these beautiful smiling South Africans!

Since we didn’t have to be at the airport to fly to Cape Town until this afternoon, Rodney said we had time for another drive-through of the animal reserve. (I was so excited, but managed to keep myself together so as not to scare the animals.) Although it is still winter here in South Africa, today spring is giving a preview with glorious weather. This is the first year I’ve ever experienced two spring seasons on two different continents. That was fun to ponder! Today we had more sightings of animals than yesterday. We saw a herd of elephants and lots of zebras and rhinos. It was wonderful. God is such a magnificent Creator!

We left the Pilanesberg Park close to noon and drove to the airport near Johannesburg so that we could fly to Cape Town for our weekend in ministry there. We flew Kokuku Airlines out of the airport in Lanseria. The airport was beautiful, but the name Kokuku did not bless me. I like the sound of Delta, American, or Northwest Airlines. Kokuku? The flight attendant was so sassy and inappropriate. She used crass language and suggestive comments in her little speech as the plane was preparing to depart. This confirmed my initial reaction to this airline. Our flight left around 5:30 in the afternoon and we landed in Cape Town that evening around 7:20. It was absolutely beautiful to fly into the city at night and see all the lights.

Another Multi Ministries assistant met us at the airport, Mr. Johnny Cyster. Johnny was very tall with beautiful white hair and beautiful brown skin. He is of the Coloured Race in Cape Town. (Although offensive in the USA, it is acceptable to say coloured people in South Africa.) The coloured people is the official South African term for the country’s mixed descent inhabitants. My limited experience leads me to say they are precious and warm and loving, and made us feel so welcomed. Actually, the Cape Town coloured people were my absolute favorite of all! They are a mixed race of people and their ancestry is from Europe, Indonesia, India, and Southern Africa. I discovered through a little research on my own that genetic studies suggest the coloured race in Cape Town has the highest levels of mixed ancestry in the world. One amazing thing – they are 87% Christian! The missionaries told us that for many years (and probably even now) they felt displaced because they were not black enough to be African, or white enough to be white, and have suffered prejudice over their long history. Maybe that is why there are so many Christians among them! They know they are accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ and are part of the Family of God!

Mr. Johnny took us to the Wellwood Lodge where we will stay the next three nights during our visit to beautiful Cape Town. However, right now I’m wondering if I will be able to sleep! We had a little scare on the way from the airport and came very close to being in a car accident. Between that and driving along the edge of mountainous roads with the ocean far below, my nerves are frayed…but beautiful Cape Point awaits. I have anticipated seeing this view for many months.


South Africa – 10 (Journal Day 5) ANIMALS!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This morning we were scheduled to leave for the game reserve, so breakfast was very early. I chose to sleep in a bit and did not go to the dining area. (Perhaps my bragging about not having any jet lag is catching up with me.) Mr. Kubia was kind enough to bring me a scrambled egg sandwich, and I ate that as we were leaving. I just cannot eat a big breakfast so early in the morning. Oh I miss my coffee pot! The simple things are what I miss, namely coffee and cream. It is hard to find freshly brewed coffee here. If you want coffee, you get hot water and instant coffee. Tea is much preferred here, namely hot tea. I only drink hot tea on cold wet winter days when I am chilled to the bone. But coffee? I love it morning, noon and night – spring, summer, autumn, winter. One more simple luxury. Did I mention that there are no shower curtains at this B&B? It is crazy. There is a shower but no shower curtain. So I aimed the shower head toward the shower wall and leaned in to keep water from going everywhere. It just makes no sense to me, but “when in South Africa….” you know the rest! These are not complaints, just observations. I am not going to whine! Lord, help me remember not to whine.  Here is a picture of where we stayed:

Rodney Grobler of Multi Ministries picked us up early, and we said goodbye to Melvill. It was a nice place, but did I mention there was no shower curtain?  So today we have a break in our schedule. The staff at Multi Ministries told us they have learned over the years to offer sight-seeing diversions or off-days to the various teams that come in for ministry. If they don’t do this, a sense of being overwhelmed will sometimes set in. I totally get that. In fact, I feel that way myself. We are blessed (some say spoiled) Americans, and our hearts and minds can only take in so much. We process all we can emotionally, and then the fatigue sets in. A visit to the game park couldn’t come at a better time!

We headed about 3 hours northwest to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. The countryside was just wide open and beautiful and we passed lots of farms and also more shanty towns. They are everywhere. There is no government subsidized housing here – so the poor live in these huge villages together with houses made of makeshift tin, cardboard, or wood (actually whatever they find).

When we arrived in Pilanesberg, we checked into our lodge room. It was very rustic, but very nice. It reminded me of a sort of camp place, like Rock Eagle 4H Camp here in Georgia. The first picture is right outside the back door of our room, and then the one below shows the thatched hut type ceiling.


We unpacked and then decided to meet in the dining hall for lunch. The guys had hamburgers and I had a tomato/cheese sandwich. The tomato/cheese sandwich is on every menu I have seen, and chicken salad is called “chicken mayonnaise.” Peculiar.

While we were eating, a little monkey ran into the dining room and jumped on top of a table near us and started grabbing packets of sugar and then scurried back outside as the waitress chased him with a broom. It was hilarious. This picture shows him plotting his next attempt…

After lunch our adventure began, and I was so excited that Rodney actually told me that I was going to have to settle down. Imagine that!!! (He just could not appreciate my pure joy, but I tried hard to “pipe down” as my favorite TV character Barney Fife says.) Almighty Creater Elohim showed His majesty today!!! We saw zebras, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, kudu, gazelles, rhinos, hippos, and all sorts of birds I had never seen before. Everything was so beautiful and the weather was just perfect, almost as if God ordered it just for me! I believe He did as I have prayed Psalm 90:17 over this entire trip.

When we returned to the Lodge late that afternoon, it was getting dark. We had supper and went straight to bed. As I attempt to record this journal, my mind is racing with everything I have seen today, and sometimes at night like this, I get a little homesick. It’s an unusual feeling because my husband and best friend for life is right here with me! It is more of a longing for things of home and familiarity…my children and little grandson Zeke, my parents and sisters, my church family, my home and garden. (My coffee pot and my shower curtain were missed too, have I mentioned that?)

Today was wonderful and quite a diversion from the shanty town and ministry there. But you know, if I had to choose which meant more to me, I would have to say being with those little children and going to the Tent Church and the Aids Hospice in Boikhutsu.

Seeing the animals today in their natural surroundings was pure delight to my soul, but the other memories went to a deeper place in my heart.

Oh to Grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be…


South Africa – 9 (Journal Day 4)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Today we had a very early start because we had a lot of ground to cover on our ministry schedule. Not only was breakfast early, it was unusual. Since I am more of a “nightowl,” I am not a real breakfast eater unless I am on vacation and can eat around 10:00 in the morning! Just give me coffee and lots of cream, and I’m good to go! After I’m awake a bit, I’ll eat some fruit and yogurt – that’s how I roll at home. So when I walked into the breakfast area today and saw all that meat and smelled that fish, I just got really queasy. There was ham and bacon, sausages and some fish. I knew I needed to just get some coffee and excuse myself, so I walked around a bit and enjoyed the sounds of the morning…namely this HUGE bird cage above filled with parakeets!  They sounded so delightful!
After a little while, Pastor David from the Boikhutsu Shanty Town was coming to pick us up. We were scheduled to visit an aids hospice and a public health clinic.  As I reflect back now over my day, deep down I wonder if I was just a little anxious about visiting the clinic and the hospice, and my queasy stomach was not the strange breakfast after all…

On our way back to the shanty village, Pastor David (he is originally from Botswana and spoke “Swana”) told us we would need to wait in the car until he got permission for us to visit the people at the clinic. We waited for about 30 minutes and he came back and told us we could not sing, but we could share. My husband Gary gave a gloriously simple presentation of the Good News of Jesus Christ! Gary would say a sentence or two, then Pastor David would interpret – and back and forth they would go. After Gary finished he turned to me and asked me to share. I could hardly wait, I was not nervous at all.  Since my husband had shared with the people that the most important decision they would ever make is to accept Christ’s death on the cross as payment for their sins, I just picked right up there and told them, “I made that decision! I decided to follow Jesus!”  I told them they were beautiful, and they smiled and clapped! I told them I loved them, and they smiled and clapped! Then I told them Jesus loved them so much He gave His very life, and they were so excited. I told them about my sister Jean that died in a car accident when she was only 25 years old. I told them that I still miss her very much all these years later. Then I asked them, “But do you know what? I WILL see her again one day because she made that DECISION too!” They really seemed to understand – I pray with all my heart they did. It was simple and real and personal – and that’s what I wanted to be to them – simple, real, and personal. I loved having the interpreter translate my English into their native language.

After we left the public health clinic, we drove about one-half mile down the road to an aids hospice. We walked into an old cinder block building surrounded by razor barbed wire. We entered right into a little makeshift kitchen with a little wooden table in the center. Two young African women were working at a sink cutting up spinach, potatoes, and cabbage to cook. They never said a word to us, they just kept preparing those vegetables. There were seven patients sitting around the table, some in wheelchairs, and some just sitting in old chairs. Pastor David asked me to sing a song. I sang three verses of Amazing Grace a cappella. Pastor David interpreted for our friend, John Kubia – who shared from John 14. After Mr. Kubia finished, he asked if anyone wanted to go to that place that Jesus had prepared for them, and three feeble hands were raised. I was so overcome I could hardly stand up. On my way out, I looked up in time to see a young girl lying in a bed that was in a room right off that little kitchen. She must have been too sick to get up, but she had been listening from her bed. Our eyes met and I looked at her and smiled and waved. She gave a weak smile and then turned her head back to the wall. I went outside and bawled like a baby.
As we were leaving the clinic, two African men approached. They wanted to know what we were doing, so we told them. They laughed, but something did not seem right about them. It was hollow laughter. They were wearing badges on their shirts that were purple with big stars and the letters ZCC on them. I asked the local pastor what the badges meant. He explained that it is a cult called the Zion Christian Church, a mixture of ancestral tribal worship, cultic practices, and a wee bit of “truth.” He said it came out of the lack of discipleship after the early missionaries would come through and evangelize the Africans. The evangelism was great, but then they would leave and no biblical training would occur, so the people would revert back to what they knew and mix it up with some of what they had learned. He said the ZCC had a church in the Shanty Town too – and they were growing rapidly.  The battle is ever constant…
We left the clinic and went back to our room to rest and get ready to attend the services at the Lichtenburg Dutch Reform Church tonight. After our very early start this morning, it felt good to rest a while. We have adjusted well to the six-hour time difference!
This picture below is of two pews in the very back of the church with little signs that translate to “Mothers with Children.”  This is where the mothers and small children had to sit! This was the precursor to our present-day nursery. Mothers and children sat in the back and close to the door for quick exits in case they disturbed the congregation or preaching! What a thought…
The Dutch Reform Church was different. This one in Lichtenburg  was a beautiful old building from 1885, and still even had a belfry. The banner over the pulpit area “God is Teenwoordig” means “God is Present” in the Afrikaans language.
I enjoyed walking around and looking at everything while Gary was talking to the pastor and sound man. During the worship time the congregation sang in the Afrikaans language, and if we recognized the melody of the song, we sang in English. That was so neat to me. I thought of the reference in scripture to every tribe and tongue! During the actual service, Gary and I both sang. The people were receptive, but I’m not quite sure they knew what to make of us! These crazy Americans… It was almost like we were too loud or something, or that our joy in worship was something they were not familiar with. Dr. Harold Peasley of Multi Ministries preached an awesome message on the Second Coming of Christ and then gave a gospel invitation – something they do NOT have in their church. He did a wonderful job explaining the importance of a public profession, and three adult men came forward – nothing short of a miracle of God!  When we left it was so very cold outside, but my spirit was so refreshed to see these men appear to hear and grasp the Gospel of Christ for the very first time!
I can’t wait until tomorrow because we are going to have some free time and will be going to the animal reserve in Pileansburg Park. I am praying that God will not disappoint and that I will see lots of African animals!
It was a very emotional day…seeing the aids hospice and people dying from disease, then to go to the church and see grown adults being saved from another sickness…”sin sickness!”  Amen? Amen!
Love to all,

South Africa – 8 (Journal Day 3)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Today was the longest day of my life and filled with the most varied experiences I’ve ever had in my life to this point. I am very serious! Pastor John from Multi Ministries was due to pick us up around 10:00 this morning. We were going to go to the Multi Ministries offices for our briefing of the upcoming week concerning the mission points and all we have scheduled to do.

Before he arrived, we had a very nice breakfast at the Golden Crest. Dolly served us. She is South African and is of Zulu descent. She works for Chris and Francine, who own and manage the lodge. She loved my husband immediately and sort of “catered” to him. I talked way too fast for her, and most of the time she just looked at me with a puzzled expression. Gary had to remind me to slow down while talking to her. My excitement prevailed, I just don’t know much about slowing down – whether here in South Africa or at home.

The breakfast was amazing – we had eggs, ham, toast, fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, and something else – grilled tomatoes that accompanied the eggs. Gary loved that, and I feel sure I will be bringing that South African tradition home with us. My favorite thing was a fruit called granadilla. It is very tropical and very delicious. They told me that ‘granadilla’ is the South African word for passion fruit. I don’t know if that is true, but it is wonderful. It was divine, and I also had granadilla juice. I know that we have a lot ahead of us, but right now I do not feel like we are on a “mission trip.” The accommodations are not fancy by any means, but they are nice, and we’ve had food to eat.

We enjoyed seeing the Multi Ministries offices and meeting all the staff. Dr. Peasley and his wife Antoinette were so kind. I had gifts for Antoinette and the administrative assistant, Barbara. I took them women’s ministry tote bags from my church filled with books and goodies. We just happened to be there when one of the volunteers was having a birthday, so they all stopped for “tea.” Tea is everything there – not coffee! I felt right at home there and realized that birthdays are celebrated the same way everywhere – with food and friends!

It is late winter in South Africa, and cold! It actually felt good to us after leaving the heat and humidity of middle Georgia, but they insisted we have jackets. So after our meeting we went to a sort of department store and found a fleece jacket for me. It was almost 45 Rand, which equaled about $5.00 in our money. Unbelievable!

After our meeting we set out with Dr. Peasley for crusades in the Northwest Territory, one of the provinces of South Africa. We were going to Lichtenburg, which was about 3 hours away. We saw the wide open farmland and countryside of South Africa. Even though brown and barren, it was beautiful.

We stopped to visit with the Pastor and some people from a Dutch Reform Church there in Lichtenburg. We had hot tea, Rooibos Tea to be exact, a red tea grown only in South Africa. (I have seen it at Publix and Kroger before, had no idea it is ONLY grown in South Africa.) We met another associate of Dr. Peasley, his name is Pastor Errol Wesson, and he is from Capetown, South Africa. He was there to help with the crusades in the Northwest Territories. The old church was beautiful, but was having some difficulty as a result of having two pastors. Gary and I were going to be singing in the services there, and I am wondering how we will be received.

After our visit with the people from the Dutch Reform Church, we were taken to another B&B, this one called Melvill. It had a strong Dutch influence and was quite old. There are 13 official languages and Afrikaans is the one spoken by many of the people we see. It sounds Dutch or German. It is a mixture of both the Dutch and Portuguese influences mingled with the African tribes migrating south. Most everyone is bilingual.

We settled in our room and then John Kubia from our home church came by! He was so glad to see us and we were glad to see him! (He had stayed over after another group from our church went to Kariba, Zimbabwe back in July.)

John told us about the plans to minister in a tent church in a shanty town called Boikhutsu tonight, and that is just what we did. I have no doubts at all that we are on a mission trip after tonight. I have never seen such in my life. A local pastor from the shanty town, Pastor John, picked us up. We walked door to door among the shanty shacks and invited the people to come to the tent for church tonight. There were children everywhere – they were filthy with snotty noses and rotten teeth. Most had no shoes on and it was very cold. Women were rummaging through huge trash heaps for scraps of food. I was OVERWHELMED at what I saw. Old dogs and chickens were running around – women were outside cooking in pots over fires.

This picture above touched the gardener in me. Look at this attempt to have flowers and a sense of life in such bleak surroundings.  Oh, I just wept and prayed for the gardener here. 
These little boys were full of joy.  The one on the left had a plastic bread bag on his head for warmth.  That old soccer ball he was clutching for dear life was flat and dented.  They followed me the entire time we visited and ministered in their shanty village.
This little girl was so sad.  She attempted a little smile, but she had an awareness about her as if she knew her plight more than the others.  She was a prisoner of poverty, and much more than that little bamboo fence was holding her hostage…

The children were so precious – they LOVED having their pictures taken and would just squeal in delight at their own reflection on the little screen. They followed me around like I was the Pied Piper.

The tent church was the most unique time of worship I have ever experienced. When we entered the tent with only one light bulb hanging in the center – the people were singing as loudly as they could and dancing and clapping so happily. This went on for about an hour, and then I sang “Jesus the One and Only.” My husband sang the old hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Brother John shared a message about Jesus walking the water and about keeping our eyes on Him in the storms of life. Storms? These people never come out of a storm – they are hungry and cold and pitiful – but they didn’t seem to know all that.

They just sang and worshipped and at least 7 indicated that they had received Christ during the time of prayer at the end of the service. I thought about them walking back to those shanty shacks in the cold dark night.

During the service, one of the pastors that was attending the tent church sang a song. Try to grasp these words:

“When I think of all the Lord has done, I will never complain again.
No, no, no, no, I will never complain again.

Oh my soul above – never complain again? May it be true of me Lord, for I have complained about some mighty insignificant things. But after what I saw today, I know with all my heart that I have nothing to ever complain about again – for as long as I live.

I’d Rather Have Jesus,