Thursday, August 27, 2015

Women at the Well ReTREAT August 2015

Ever wondered why it is called a women's reTREAT? I discovered the answer during our annual "Women at the Well" Weekend in the Drakensberg at the beginning of August! The weekend was attended by sisters from the Kempton Park, Soweto and Aphiwe ecclesias, a few unbaptized friends as well as visiting sisters Deb Lea, Judy MacKinnon & Jeanne Ploetz.
Jeanne, Judy and Deb
The venue itself is a treat both in terms of luxurious comfort and visual splendour; not to mention the plentiful and delicious homemade meals prepared by the owner herself.
The sisters of the organizing ecclesia's (this year it was the Gauteng ecclesia's) took it upon themselves to make or have made several small gifts which were distributed throughout the weekend, such as traditional edible treats, small cushions, tissue holders, bracelets, bath soaps, key rings and mugs. We also gifted each sister a copy of the DVD "Faith in the Face of Adversity". 
One of the gifts was a DIY beaded sugar spoon. 
All of the above pales in the face of the biggest TREAT of all though – which was the deeply meaningful and encouraging studies presented by our dearly loved sister Deb Lea. The theme of her studies was "God's Spirit in Me"; focusing especially on the characteristics Paul shares in Colossians 3. The sisters enjoyed the combination of "teacher-led" studies as well as small group discussions and feedback. The small group discussions also helped the sisters from various ecclesias, and even countries, get to know each other better. 

 On the Saturday afternoon we took most of the sisters on a short road trip into the heart of the Central Drakensberg. This was a huge treat as it was the first time many of them had seen this incredible sight. These magnificent peaks are truly a testament to the creative might of our Father, and one cannot help but remember David's psalms about "looking up to the mountains".
We were blessed with a "God-moment" during our journey to the venue, which I would like to again share and praise Him for. When we started out on Friday morning we were battling a vicious cross-wind, which literally seemed to yank the steering wheels out of our hands at times. Knowing that we had to traverse a very busy and dangerous mountain pass, the drivers were all silently praying for the wind to die down. We stopped at a petrol station/rest stop just before the pass for lunch, got back into our vehicles and immediately realized that we were no longer fighting to stay on the road! God had answered our prayers!
The sisters returned home physically tired (staying up chatting until 2am does that to a person) but emotionally and spiritually fulfilled and energized, already discussing plans for next year's reTREAT – which we will God Willing be advertising internationally. Looking forward to seeing everyone there – if not sooner in the Kingdom!
With love in Christ

Lilandi Furstenburg (on behalf of the Gauteng sisters)
Another treat was receiving the group photo during the weekend so that each sister could sign it to create a lovely keepsake of our time together. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Volunteers making a difference

One of the main contributing factors to the continued preaching pastoral and outreach activities we experience is the flow of volunteers that make their way to South Africa. Having the Adieu Center as an accommodation center is the major reason why we are able to be blessed with many volunteers coming to South Africa and give so selflessly of their time and talents.
Since January this year (2015) we were privileged to have the following volunteers visit us and help us in our work:
  1. Bro. Steve Pitt-Francis (UK)
  2. Sister Elouise Caudry (Australia)
  3. Bro. Kam Sandhu (UK)
  4. Sister Briony Kemp (UK)
  5. Bro Josh Bullock (UK)
  6. Phoebe Martin (Australia)
All the volunteers integrated well with our ecclesia preaching and outreach activities.
Bro. Steve Pitt Francis gave excellent exhortations at the Kempton Park - , Aphiwe and Congolese ecclesias. He was also very good in teaching the youth various skills and spiritual concepts and lessons through a very well prepared series of talks entitled "3D learning." We were blessed with him leaving us all his course materials for use in the future.



It was also great to have Steve's insight into matters pertaining to the youth as well as his help in having a preliminary  baptism interview with Keletso.
Sister Eloise did great work and was happy to help with whatever work we threw at her. She is very flexible and did a variety of work, some of which was out of her comfort zone but she did very well. Having to give a Sunday school class on a balcony at the Congolese ecclesia is not easy but we were very impressed with how well she handled it.

She was also very good with the Sunday school children at the Kempton Park ecclesia and continued supporting them when they attended the STACK (Skills Training Academy for Community Kids) project on Tuesday afternoons. It was great that Eloise joined us for a second 3 day visit on her way back to Australia after she was in Durban for a while. Eloise showed a lot of endurance on one particular day when she sorted out a huge load of knitted squares we received from brothers and sisters in the USA a while ago. The squares form part of the SNUGGLES project and are given to Gogos (grand mothers) in the Township who stich them together to make blankets for the needy.



Eloise and Steve organising the STACK kids to make up food parcels.

Eloise and Steve organising the STACK kids to make up food parcels.
 Bro Kam Chandu had a similar schedule in which he visited us for 4 weeks, then went to help in Durban and stayed with us again for a few days on his way back to the UK. Kam also did a lot of work with and for us. His DIY skills came in very handy at a time we needed it much. We remain in awe as to how God always send us the right people at the right time. Kam was instrumental (together with Bro Hendri Viljoen) in adding another toilet/shower room to the Adieu center. This was much needed because of the Kempton Park ecclesia Sunday School (which gathers at the Adieu center on Sundays) has doubled in numbers! The addition of the extra toilet/shower has brought a huge relief to the logistics on a Sunday and will be VERY useful in the future when we have bigger volunteers groups staying over.

Bro Kam helping with the Tuesday Feeding Scheme
Bro Kam helping with the Tuesday Feeding Scheme

Kam also did a LOT of much needed repair and maintenance work at the Aphiwe, Adieu and Tsweloppelo community centers as well as a Caravan. The Caravan was used to help a young couple in desperate need with accommodation at Adieu for one month. The couple attended our meeting and showed an interest in the Gospel message. Kam did some wonderful work in building a relationship with them giving them sound council on two lengthy conversations he had with them. They have since found a place to stay and we will see if their interest in the Gospel remains.



Sister Briony Kemp brought her own cheerful personality and skills to our projects and it was great to have her enthusiasm and positivity spill over onto the youth and Sunday School children. See did a great job with the youth at the Youth Bible Study weekend that was organized by Bro Michael and Sister Lilandi. She also did a lot of work with the preparation work for the Youth Weekend. The Sunday School kids also enjoyed interacting with her during the STACK afternoons she helped with.

briony 2

briony 1

Josh and Phoebe also made a huge impact with their visit. They help a great deal with the Youth Study week and were very good at building relationships with all the youth.


The youth camp was a huge success with Josh and Phoebe making the work loader much lighter and adding valuable input with the study sessions

The youth camp was a huge success with Josh and Phoebe making the work loader much lighter and adding valuable input with the study sessions 
Phoebe really connected with the young people very well.
Phoebe really connected with the young people very well.
 We have heard from both Bro. Kam and sister Briony that they plan to return to South Africa to do more volunteer work. It is very rewarding for us to find that many of the volunteers return for a second and sometimes even a third visit to continue to support the ongoing work and sometime even continue and develop work/projects that they started. It is a great privilege and pleasure to be a first "port" of entry for these brothers and sisters and mostly their "port" of exit as well.
Another highlight this year is that the Aphiwe Yout Group have started their own preaching initiative. Under the leadership of Brother Ronald Msomi a group of about seven of them dish out leaflets arounf the Aphiwe community Center area on Friday afternoons and invite passers by to join us for the Baptism classes we have on Friday afternoons. It is wonderful to see them going into the streets with such enthusiasm. Keletso (one of the group) has asked to be baptised and we are in the process of preparing him for an interview.




The Adieu center remains invaluable as a venue for Bible Study days, Youth programs, the STACK (Skills Training Academy for Community Kids) project, Kempton Park ecclesia and Sunday School meetings and various other preaching development initiatives. The meeting room at Adieu center was re-painted and it looks very nice with the verse painted on the wall.

meeting room

The growth in the Kempton Park ecclesia Sunday School has been wonderful. The numbers doubled since January and this is mainly because of the synergy between the Sunday School and the STACK (Skills Training Academy for Community Kids) that we run at the Adieu center every Tuesday afternoon.
Our meeting room is pretty full most Sundays
Our meeting room is pretty full most Sundays

Sunday School is brimming with lots of Joy singing and quality teaching.
Sunday School is brimming with lots of Joy singing and quality teaching.

Sunday School-002

It is an amazing blessing to serve as caretakers, meet so many brothers and sisters, be part of the organizing of so many events and experiencing the joy of so many that we manage to touch and teach through our outreach work.

There was great joy on the 22nd of February when Cathrine Nyamasoka was baptised and became a sister in Christ. Cathrine is a friend of Bro. Itayi (our Recording brother) and he had been teaching her the Gospel for about a year now.

baptism cathrine-003

God be praised for his wonderful grace and love towards us all.
Your brother and sister in Christ's service
Lucas and Leona