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.



  1. Sounds like an amazing time. So blessed to be able to enjoy it with your husband!

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