Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Three baptisms on one day - blessings abound

Llewellyn, Sylvester, and Amos and welcome to the family of God! God sent his blessing down in the rain, spoke to us through the thunder right before your baptisms, and then sent his sun to shine down as you took the steps into the water. I do believe there is singing in heaven today!

Meeting in the Park

“O God our help in ages past; our hope in times to come . . .”. 
The choir sang the hymn beautifully; they were even accompanied by some drums and a trumpet. The hymn washed over us from the church across the road as we held our meeting in the park.  And the words were so apt – especially now.

In the recent months it has become increasingly more unpleasant to hold the memorial meeting in the lounge we were renting of a fourth floor apartment.  Firstly they subdivided the lounge – so that a bedroom now took up half the space we were renting and we had no natural light from a window on our side; then there was no longer a working electrical light in the lounge – only a faint glimmer from the kitchenette side; and finally the other occupants of the apartment started becoming more and more rowdy.  Where previously they left the flat for the 2 hours or so during which we would have our memorial meeting – they now sat talking in their rooms – competing with the noise coming from the soccer being shown on the TV.  Definitely not a very quiet and conducive atmosphere in which to remember our Lord.

So now – we meet in the park.  With the first month of winter upon us, the sun sets just before 6 – and yet even long after the sun has set – a warm red glow wraps around us – enabling us to read that last passage – or finish the Bible study.  It is quieter here – amazingly so – as there are many little groups of people all sitting around the park; and with God’s natural light we manage to have a Bible study far later than in the flat.  Sure – it gets cold sitting on the grass but then you just make sure that you sit carefully and not move off the spot you warm up, or just huddle a little closer to keep the cool evening breeze at bay.  And the legs cramp now and again, but Brother Patrick thoughtfully brought four chairs from a friends home (carried them for 3 city blocks) so that the older members did not have the discomfort of sitting on the ground.

No-one is complaining.  Sure – it is not ideal – but it has not stopped the core group from still meeting together every Sunday afternoon.  Some of the students have dropped away – but we believe that if their hearts are right they will meet with us wherever and whatever the situation.  We have been looking for another apartment – but safe and affordable accommodation is not easy to come by – and that is why that hymn brought such comfort as we sat in the park – remembering our Lord.

It was very dark by the time we started our trip homewards – first dropping off all the Brethren before making our own way home.  The light coming from the tramps campfire in the corner bade us a warm farewell – a fire very similar of the one burning in our own hearts – of the hope we have of Jesus returning to establish His Kingdom and do away with all the poverty, hunger and injustice in this world.

Johannesburg Snippets

We were blessed to spend some time in Johannesburg and help out with activities happening there.  We thought to share some of the highlights of our trip.
There were so many things happening as the new Adieu centre was being completed and we had to get the rooms and all ready for the first group of volunteers who were arriving a couple of weeks later. There was building, moving, cleaning and lots of planning done to make sure everything was done on time. The centre is completed and looks amazing and will be a great help to host volunteers in the future.

We got to help make food parcels once again and also go and do food shopping for the parcels. Lilandi and I (Liezl) got the job to buy the food and love doing so. We go and buy the food on two different days as there is not enough stock on the shelves for us to buy our complete order on 1 day. As you can see below, Lilandi had to climb on some canned foods to reach the last of the soy packs. There is always something new to do when buying food.

Lilandi climbing on tins of food to reach more soy boxes
As always giving out the food parcels is one of my favorite jobs. To see the smiles on the faces of those getting food just makes my heart burn to do more and be able to help more and more people!We give the children each an orange and an apple to eat on the walk back home.

Food parcels given out at Aphiwe

Other distribution we were also involved with was that of the creche equipment. A company gives funds which enables us to buy creche equipment for 5 creches. Hendri and I got to distribute the equipment to some of these creches. Packing the car was "fun", trying to fit all the things in without popping blown up balls or breaking white boards or tearing open packs of stationary with the sharp edges of the tables and chairs. Hendri got it all in and off we went.

Fully packed car

Unpacking at each creche
When we arrived at the creches the children and teachers would smile and sing and be so happy to receive all these new things. Hendri's favorite part would be to go to a class room where the children are all sitting very quietly and doing some work, he would then open this black bag and throw and kick the balls into the middle of them all, not even 2 seconds and the entire class room is now screaming, running and playing with these new balls, as soon as the chaos has been stirred up he would leave and we would find the next creche to have some fun.

Playing with their new Hoola Hoops

After a ball was thrown in the room

Happy and excited with new toys and equipment
We had a lady call and inform us she had some blankets to donate. Lauren and I (Liezl) were the ones who had to go and pickup the donation. As we got to the gate of the house we see these signs warning about a dog, we both have a look around the yard from behind the fence and see no sign of any dogs. We pulled up to the garage where there was another sign saying "beware of the dog", both of us now are a bit scared to leave the car, but as we could not see any dogs we got out anyway. We met the lady and started packing the blankets from her lounge to the car, still no sign of ANY dogs we thought that she must have been lying and it is only used to scare people away, BUT then just as we went in for the last bag of blankets a dog appears from the back room, it was a poodle, haha we were now not as afraid of this very scary dog, we give this big sigh of relief and start turning to leave the house, but to our surprise another dog appears, this time a much much bigger dog, a German shepherd with about 5 others following !!! We froze as we weren't going to try race this dog back to the car, we waited for the owner to show us some kind of sign that all was going to be okay, after sniffing and almost bumping me over the German shepherd was satisfied that we came in peace and he let us go.
It was a large donation too! We were glad only two of us went to pick up the blankets as there was absolutely no space anywhere in the car on the way back home.

back seat of the Isuzu packed with blankets

Back of the Isuzu also packed with blankets

The GrR (Grade R) courses and extra classes we got to experience first hand. Lilandi and I went to a few preschools where she demonstrated and taught me how to do the lessons. These courses and extra classes we will be starting in Port Elizabeth.

Throwing bean bags to one another

Throwing bean bags through hoop

Colour and shapes game
Lauren and I then also got a chance to do the lessons with two different school groups. They were brought to the Aphiwe Good news centre. We do activities with them outside, they then have a snack and then we do more indoor activities. All the activities are worked out to help them be more school ready.

Having their snacks in the sun

Balancing on 1 leg and catching a bean bag

One of my favorite moments was when we got to give Sunday school lessons again at the Aphiwe Good News centre. There were so many more children than when we left. Hendri had a group of 9 youth, I had close to 20 and Otilia had about 8 or so youngsters. As I was teaching my class I looked out the window to see how Otilia was teaching her children in the nature God had created, the children sitting on the green grass, in the warm sun with a cool breeze blowing the small tree above them. I thought this just the perfect picture on how we can teach children about God!

Sunday School out in the warm Sun



The morning that the creche course started , we arrived at the school and found a big empty room. No chairs, no tables, no people and no power for the laptop and projector to work.  Fun times lay ahead for us: "Are we too early?", "Where are the people?", "Where are the people going to sit, IF they do arrive?", "How can we get power for the electronics?", "How on earth is this course going to be a success?" … all these questions were racing through our minds as we stood in this empty room, feeling very lost and not quite sure what to do.
A few minutes later, a lady walked in and got some children to carry chairs from a different room to our room.  We got an extension cable running from the main house to the room for electricity.  A few minutes later, there were a few more ladies walking in the door. When the course finally started, we had a total of 15 students in the room.

The ladies always eager to listen and learn
The course is usually run over a period of 6 weeks (where the student comes 1 day a week for 2 hours).  Since we did not have Sis. Leona with us for 6 weeks, we needed to have a crash course, and it was done in 4 days flat !  That meant having to double up on the hours, i.e.,  we would be busy for 5 hours each day teaching and learning. The ladies were all very attentive and enjoyed the course, as evident in the photos below.

Leona teaching the "Today is" chart

Craft time.. making a spider

Joyce with a beautiful sun flower made of polystyrene
Even though the course was squeezed into 4 days (done super quick), the ladies still managed to do their homework and present it to the class.

Julia showing her Bee she made

Ntombisa made a doll out of old rags

Zameka showing cat she made
It works well to  let the ladies do the actions to songs, play the games themselves and do everything we want them to do with the children. This way, the ones who can't understand or speak English can at least see what we do and they also remember it so much better.

Singing songs

Memory games

Musical chairs

Balancing tins

Playing games to teach concepts

The students made  crafts;  some were just to see how to make things out of waste; others were specifically for puting on their wall at the creche to teach their children.

Making weather charts
All in all, the crash course turned out to be a very successful,  We also got to build many great relationships.

Lovely group photo for our first course
Because we had  a relatively small number attend, we got to know the ladies very well. The township in which they work is also much smaller than Tembisa in Kempton Park. The day after the course ended, we (Leona, Hendri, Liezl and Sheriden) went to drop off the ladies certificates at their creches. We could also then see what kind of facilities they had.
We didn't have a clue where the creches were;  so we would drop off one certificate and get the teacher of that creche to drive with us to the next creche, and so it went on until we got to the last one.   Bro. Sheriden who came with us was able to donate a cot to one of the teachers who had almost no place for her children to sleep.

First creche we visited, where we could help out with a cot

Leona singing a song with the children

Children LOVE you from the first time they see you

Children excited to see Bro. Sheriden

Very popular activity

Nap time in car chairs

Pre School with 7 children

Well behaved children...

Zameka receiving her certificate
With these relationships that have now been established, we can move on to running more courses such as brain gym, cooking courses, homework clubs, Sunday school, Bible classes and correspondence courses.