July 9, 2008

Week 3 with team

In our sermon at church this Sunday we were asked a question. “Are you a human BEING or a human DOING?” The preacher went on to say, “The everyday love you show to people is what truly matters. This is the heart of Christ. The love of Christ you have received isn’t just for you, it is meant for you to give it away to others.” This summarizes perfectly what I have seen in the lives of Kristen and Ruth in the last three weeks.

Yesterday we took them to the airport to return home. We have really enjoyed our ministry with them and feel that together we were able to contribute to existing outreaches and to come alongside community leaders and pastors to help them have a deeper impact for Christ. Praise God!

Our Vaalwater ministry this last week was shorter and a little different than we had originally dreamed about doing, but God was definitely in it. We worked with the Africa Community Outreach ministry of Hamish and Terri Rodgers last Monday – Wednesday in a rural area that the locals call “the bush”.

In urban ministry, we have seen a lot of heartbreaking situations and have cried with many people here as they have shared their life stories with us. However, as we were working with the Rodgers in the bush, I found my heart breaking when I heard the stories of almost everyone that they introduced us to. Their ministry is an emergency response to the need they see all around them. They give out food parcels, they build homes for people, they give out baby formula, they purchase school uniforms so children can get an education, they do a feeding ministry which on an average week gives out 1200 meals, and they also work with farm schools to distribute food and supplies to the children.

The biggest need in this community is WATER. One reservoir is cracked and doesn’t hold any water, the other one has an open top to catch rain water which works, but it also catches rats and makes the water filled with disease from the decomposing critters. They have running water in some of the homes for one hour every second day. For the homes without running water, they share the 3 community taps with the other 10,000 people in their area. Can you imagine how much different your life would be without accessible water? No gardens for food, bathing is a luxury, everything is unsanitary since you don’t always have water to wash dishes or clothes, and you have to cook for several days on the days you do have water. While staying in their community, I thanked God every time I had running water.

I’ll share just one story with you: The patriarch of this family I met doesn’t have any legs and is in a wheelchair. Obviously it is impossible for him to find work. His 2 daughters 12 grandchildren live with him in a two room house pictured here (that Hamish and Terri built for them) and have one single bed – most sleep on the dirt floor. Terri told me that when she first met this family, the two smallest children were literally starving to death since they didn’t have any money for food. She pulled the little guys into her arms and said “these two are alive because of me.”

On Monday Dan and Ruth taught a first aid class to a group of 15 people. Most are either community leaders or are in ministry. They were so thankful for the training and said they learned a lot! You can see the first aid kits that were given to them in the picture.

On Tuesday we did a presentation at a farm school. Farm schools are a lot like what you would picture in America 100 years ago. It is a small one or two room building where grades 0-6 are taught at once by one teacher and grades 7-12 are all taught together in the other room. These classrooms are built on the farm property to educate the children of the workers.

Kristen shared her testimony and Ruth did a short hygiene presentation which brought tons of giggles as she used red paint to demonstrate how germs are spread. J We handed out sandwiches and boiled eggs and juice and then gave each of the kids a small toy. Since the children were on school break, they are not likely to get enough food at home so the sandwiches were a welcomed gift. (Kristen with some of the girls from the school)

Wednesday was “soup kitchen” day. We made hundreds of sandwiches to give away at 3 different locations throughout the day. The first one had around 200 kids, the second around 100, the 3rd around 300-400. There was a short gospel message, lots of singing and then food distribution time. I can’t tell you how much joy it gave us to know that at least the kids will go to bed with a satisfied belly that night. (Ruth is handing out milk)

Terri’s mother experienced a decline in her health while we were staying with them so they returned to Johannesburg to be with her and our ministry days with them were cut a little short. However, as several of us were recovering from flu bugs, a few more days of rest were just what we needed. Please continue to pray for “Mum” that she will experience God’s peace and that they will be able to meet her health needs in the coming days.

We have a few days to catch up on sleep and finalize some planning before our next team arrives on the 19th of July. Two guys are coming from North America to join a group of seven South Africans to do a work project in Swaziland. We are excited to be 1/3 of the way through our short term teams!
Miesha is a good little traveler and had a fan club everywhere we took her.

(pics coming soon!)

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