Africa – South Africa

“It wasn’t what I expected, but it’s what He intended.” That’s my trip summed up in one very short sentence. It was challenging, undoing, heart-breaking, heart-warming, and full of His grace at every turn!

Here is a small glimpse into the trip…South Africa

George is a beautiful, tourist-filled, coastal city in South Africa. With mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, it’s truly hemmed in by incredible beauty. Somehow tucked in all of this beauty is incredible hunger and poverty, exacerbated by prostitution, drug abuse, and alcoholism. That’s where LIFE comes in. LIFE is the name of the ministry that God raised up to help the children that would otherwise be locked into these deadly cycles. They do this by feeding them both spiritually and physically. Four times a week approximately 2000 children go to one of the 10 LIFE ministry centers located in the poorest areas of George. There, they’re taught about the Bible as well as life lessons, including how to garden and grow food. They also receive a bowl of nutritious soup – full of fresh vegetables and grains.

On Wednesday, I went to one of the centers and got to help feed the children. The soup is made in the main kitchen, then transported in large coolers to the centers. The children bring their own spoon and bowl, known as a “buckey.” They lined up and I dipped out one ladel-full of soup. They ate it as fast as they could, then would get in line for seconds. I would give them half a ladel-full to make it go as far as possible. There were still children in line when we finished dipping out the last of the soup. I had to walk away as tears flowed down my face, knowing that they were still hungry, but there was none left. I was glad that had some “sweeties” with us (candy,) so we gave them a treat. They were grateful and we had a great time playing!

Part of my time in South Africa was spent painting a very large playground unit. It was worth every moment when I saw the children playing on it at the end of the week. (see the “pictures and videos” page) The guys on our team worked hard to rebuild one of the shelters and did a great job with it!

On Tuesday, we got to enjoy some sight-seeing. We enjoyed seeing the Indian Ocean in Knysna. You’ll see in the pictures that we were pretty bundled up. It was actually their winter season and in the 50’s and low 60’s most of the time.

One of my favorite days of the whole trip was Thursday. We spent time in the morning with the women staff members, then in the afternoon I was able to spend time working with the children’s choir. Many of the children don’t know their fathers, let alone have their father living in their home. Knowing this, I taught them the song called, “He Knows My Name” by Tommy Walker. Verse one begins with these words, “I have a Father, He calls me His own.” I wish you could’ve been there to hear the children sing this truth, then to see them lifting their hands in worship! It was incredible! (Actually, you can see them on one of the videos.) It was difficult at times for me to keep from crying as I heard them singing words like, “He sees each tear that falls, and He hears me when I call.” It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip!

The day was topped off by attending a ballet recital. The founders of the ministry told us the story of how one day the children were asked what their “dream” was. The children didn’t know how to answer because they didn’t even know what a dream was. The teacher expounded the idea of “dream” to the children. The next week, they came full of “dreams.” One girl’s dream was to be a dancer. Recognizing this dream, as well as the potential that she demonstrated, the leaders of the ministry approached a ballet school in George. They took Michelle to audition and the school took her on a scholarship. One of the LIFE workers makes sure that she gets to every rehearsal. She danced beautifully in her recital and it was an incredible thing to see her dream in action! That’s what LIFE is all about!