Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Creating Lasting Memories

While going to a fast food restaurant might not be that exciting to us or even a place we would want to avoid eating, it’s a rare privilege and major treat to a child living in third-world impoverished conditions. As Megan and I saw the end of our missionary trip approaching, we wanted to spend some fun time with the children we’ve grown attached to through teaching in the Tembisa township crèches every week and create for them a lasting memory.

We took all 11 of the children from Sara’s crèche that we work with through the C.U.D.D.L.E. project (Crèche Upgrades, Diligently Developing Little one’s Education) to McDonald’s playground and to eat on Monday, which was a school holiday. As we’ve grown accustomed to working with the children in the classroom setting each week, it was such a joy to be able to spend time with them in a fun playground setting and watch them play and have a good time.

They were quite adorable to watch on the car ride over to Birchley, where the McDonald’s is located nearby our Bible Education Center. Since most of their families don’t own vehicles, the car ride itself was a different experience for many of them. They sat quietly in the back of our pick-up truck’s enclosed camper bed intently watching the other cars on the road around them through the windows. When we pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot and they could see the brightly-colored playground equipment they would get to use, the truck started shaking up and down from all of the excited energy.

Once they had begun playing in the McDonald’s playground, they weren’t content to let Megan and I simply stay on ground level and watch them from a distance. We were lead/dragged by the hand up into the playground tunnels and towers with them and down the slides along with the children.

In many ways, the children’s day-to-day environmental conditions in Tembisa can be quite rough and harsh. It was such a blessing to be able to let the children leave that environment, even for a few hours, and just play and be kids having fun on a playground and eating Happy Meals. While we set out to create a lasting memory for the children themselves, as Megan and I find ourselves recollecting often about that day, it’s not only the children who will be remembering the experience for a long time.

Your brother in Christ's service,
Jonathan Sabo - Kempton Park, South Africa Ecclesia

Friday, March 19, 2010

Finishing Touches on Aphiwe Good News Centre

With less than a week to go until the launch date, the Kempton Park missionary team had another all-day workday at the Aphiwe Good News Centre in Tembisa. Sis. Megan Sabo     and Sis. Liezel Scheepers did a great job of painting a light brown section of the walls in the main room and bathrooms. Bro. Hendri Viljoen finished hanging more bathroom fixtures and completed his custom-built cabinets in the main classroom. Sis. Christy Beyers (visiting from Durban) and Llewellyn Scheepers painted a beautiful mural on the backyard wall behind the kitchen. Bro. Lucas Scheepers and I worked on the landscaping around the building removing leftover rubble, spreading gravel for the parking area, and cleaning the street which had inches of compacted dirt layered on it that had to be broken up and removed. Sis. Leona Scheepers was busy purchasing all the hundreds of items needed within the community center and also meeting with local community members to promote Aphiwe. The finishing touches are all falling into place for the launch next Thursday March 25th, God-willing!

Working outdoors around the building regularly puts us in contact with the thousands of people walking by on their way to and from the train station down the block, and it’s always enjoyable chatting with people throughout the day who want to know what the building is going to be used for. Today was one of the more unusual days in interacting with people, though. One car driving by was upset with the speed bump we had installed last week, and then, in contrast, a few minutes later another man walked up and thanked us for installing the speed bump (his 5-year-old daughter had been hit by a car on the same road last week and her leg was in a cast – the reason we installed the speed bump). I was asked to pose for a photo with one pedestrian (white people are a novelty in townships like Tembisa) and Lucas and I may have been proposed to by another lady (we’re still debating on exactly what she said). We regularly have people who ask us for work at the community centre and we politely explain that we’re all volunteers and that we don’t have any paid positions available. This explanation didn’t stop one young man from trying to take my shovel out of my hand to do my work for me and earn himself a job. We had an almost-comical, five-second tug-of-war match over the shovel. All of this while there was a chanting ritual going on in the house behind us offering sacrifices for their ancestors. It’s never boring spending a day in Tembisa!

The most exciting part is that we have a tremendous amount of interest from the feedback we’re receiving in starting bible classes there immediately once the Good News Centre is open. Out of all the various functions that will go on in the Good News Centre that are receiving positive interest from the community (life skills courses, crèche teachers' courses, etc.), it’s phenomenal to find that the bible classes are what people are the most excited about. It’s easy to envision an ecclesia forming in the new community centre in the future from all the positive response to bible teaching, God-willing.

Sis. Christy and Llewellyn in the beginning stages of painting a wall mural on the backyard fence.

Halfway through the painting process of Sis. Christy’s creative wall mural.

Sis. Liezl painting the main bathroom.

Sis. Megan painting a nice light brown border around the main classroom in the Aphiwe Good News Centre.

The main classroom at Aphiwe all finished with painting.

Bro. Hendri’s custom-built cabinets in the back of the main classroom.

Breaking up inches of compacted dirt with a pick on top of the street outside the Good News Centre.

Bro. Lucas raking the parking area across the street from the Aphiwe Good News Centre. Sweeping the streets just in front of the building alone became an all-day task in removing all of the compacted dirt and dust that is common in townships.

Recycled pavers from the construction site form a new entryway to the yard from the street.

Bro. Lucas and myself removing dirt from the street while children take the liberty of playing on Lucas’s trailer in the background.

In the glorious hope of Israel,
Bro. Jonathan Sabo - Kempton Park, South Africa Ecclesia

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Showing the Love to “God is Love”

The Kempton Park missionary team and visiting Durban P2P group spent a workday yesterday at the “God is Love” crèche in Delmore Gardens. We’ve held Saturday Morning Bible Club for teenagers at Gogo’s “God is Love” crèche for the past two months, so it was high time to incorporate her crèche into the C.U.D.D.L.E. project (Crèche Upgrades, Diligently Developing Little one’s Education). As we’ve been teaching at the Saturday Morning Bible Club, we’ve been eyeing repairs we’d like to make when time was available, and, with the visiting P2P group (comprised of Phil Ashcroft, Naomi Midgley, Mat Collard, Laura Iredale, and Christy Beyers), we had the manpower to get a lot of work done in a relatively short amount of time.

We scrubbed down the back wall along the playground fence with sugar soap and also an indoor wall, both of which were in bad condition and also contained a misspelled word (“Saterday”) that was supposed to be teaching the children days of the week. We gave both of the large walls a fresh coat of tan paint and then hand-painted in the proper spelling of the days of the week. Then, instead of random fruit shapes which were there, we painted the five main shapes to be used as teaching tools for the children to learn from. Indoors, the wall we painted was in really bad condition, but it looked as good as new once a fresh coat of paint was applied. Gogo’s old hand-drawn teaching posters were showing their age and were a little too small to be seen by a small child sitting on the floor, so she agreed that we could replace them with 9 new professional teaching posters educating the students on shapes, numbers, body parts, months, vehicles, animals, etc.

Gogo’s crèche had only a tiny sign out front that was barely visible from the road, so Christy and Laura hand-painted a large “God is Love” sign in an interesting, eye-catching font along with a heart shape on the front brick fence that is approximately eight feet wide by 3 feet high, so very visible for people walking or driving by to help promote Gogo’s crèche for new business. Gogo was very appreciative of all the help and we were able to spend some quality time with her crèche children after the work was over. By the end of the day, we were able to show our love of God to the “God is Love” crèche!

Laura and Christy just finishing hand-painting the new sign for the “God is Love” crèche in Delmore Gardens.

Mat setting up the paints for our workday as part of the C.U.D.D.L.E. project.

Megan painting on a square shape on the back fence wall to teach the children from.

BEFORE: The indoor wall of the “God is Love” crèche was in desperate need of help.

AFTER: Not only a fresh coat of paint to look brand new, but 9 quality teaching posters for the children to learn from.

Hendri hanging one of the new teaching posters donated to the “God is Love” crèche.

BEFORE: The back fence wall to the playground contained random fruit shapes and a misspelled word: “Saterday”.

AFTER: A clean coat of paint, properly spelled days of the week, and the five main shapes hand-painted on brighten and uplift the entire playground area.

Happy, energetic children at the “God is Love” crèche.

Liezl putting the finishing touches on the word “Square” on the back fence wall.

Doris "Gogo" Zwane on the left, owner of the "God is Love" creche.

Our P2P wrap-up dinner after 11 days of work with the preaching group in the Johannesburg area. From left: Hendri Viljoen (Guateng), Liezl Scheepers (Gauteng), Laura Iredale (England), Christy Beyers (Durban), Mat Collard (England), Phil Ashcroft (England), Naomi Midgley (England), Llewelyn Scheepers (Guateng), Megan Sabo (U.S.), Jonathan Sabo (U.S.), Lucas Scheepers (Guateng), Leona Scheepers (Guateng), Lilandi Scheepers (Guateng), and Michael Furstenburg (Guateng).

Your brother in Christ's service,
Bro. Jonathan Sabo - Kempton Park, South Africa Ecclesia

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Second Work Day at Aphiwe community Center

We had another fantastic work day at the Aphiwe community center. The center is really starting to look very neat and classy. We are well on schedule for the launch day (25 March) and give praise God and Jesus that has been with us every step of the way. Today (Tuesday 9 March) was another "hard labor" day as we leveled more ground near the front door, installed some cement slabs at the entrance, removed rubble, planted two trees, watered the lawn, installed bathroom accessories and painted a FANTASTIC mural on the one wall.
Phil designed the mural and all had great fun helping to get it painted on the wall. It turned out very very nice, awesome and creates just the right kind of "feeling" for the community center. Many of the people passing buy stopped to admire the work of art and we were glad about the interest it is creating as it gives us the opportunity to make them aware of the activities that will be going on at the center in the near future, God willing.
It was another rewarding day, at the end of which we thanked God for giving us the opportunity to be involved in this great project.
With abiding love
The P2P Aphiwe team and the 2010 Kempton Park ecclesia crowd.

Productive Workday at Aphiwe Good News Centre

We had a highly-productive day of physical labor at the new Aphiwe Good News Centre in Tembisa today. With four additional Christadelphian missionary P2P’ers from England (Mat Collard, Laura Iredale, Phil Ashcroft, and Naomi Midgley) and one Sister from Durban (Christy Beyers) visiting Kempton Park, we were able to get a lot of work done: planted two trees, built the front entryway, leveled the front yard, spread gravel in the parking area, hung bathroom fixtures, and painted a creative wall mural of Noah’s Ark (Phil’s ingenious creation).

The building remodeling is going very well and the construction crew will finish later this week, so we can continue with finishing touches to prepare for the launch in two weeks. The launch date is set for March 25.

The African township people are so amazingly friendly and inquisitive, which makes it such a joy to do work in Tembisa. We spoke with several dozen different people today as we were working in the front yard who wanted to inquire about what we were doing. They were very appreciative of people who live elsewhere and wanted to help their impoverished community. They were glad to know with several areas the community center will serve that there’s something available for virtually everyone: preschool for 5-6 year olds, free bible courses, and general education life skills classes.

We passed out several bible correspondence courses for God’s Master Plan to interested students and will have a large contingent ready to attend once bible courses begin in April. There is a lot of anticipation and positive support from the Tembisa community for the opening of the Aphiwe Good News Centre. They truly view it as a “gift” to their community, as the Aphiwe name means in Zulu.

With an ideal location in front of the busy Tembisa train station, thousands of people walk by the front of the Aphiwe Good News Centre every day. Many people wanted to stop and talk with us about what we were doing.

Leveling the front yard to prepare it for laying down more sod.

Planting the first of two trees.

The new tree looked great in the front corner of the Aphiwe Good News Centre property and already provided some immediate shade.

Sis. Megan Sabo hanging bathroom fixtures.

Bro. Hendri Viljoen drilling holes for bathroom fixtures.

BEFORE: The front door entry area, in need of a proper walkway.

Laying concrete steps with drainage in the entryway to the Aphiwe Good News Centre.

AFTER: The finished front entryway complete with proper drainage and concrete steps.

The inside of the community center is looking good and will be finished later this week in time for the launch date March 25th.

Lunchtime with sandwiches to eat.

Bro. Mat Collard and Sis. Christy Beyers painting the beginning stages of the Noah’s Ark wall mural in front of the community center in Tembisa.

Sis. Megan Sabo painting the border around a cloud on the wall mural.

We drew a crowd of interested onlookers all day who wanted to watch us work.

The finished wall mural in the front of the new Aphiwe Good News Centre in Tembisa: a rendition of Noah’s Ark.

Your brother in Christ’s service,
Bro. Jonathan Sabo – Kempton Park, South Africa Ecclesia