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.
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,