This week…

Father’s Day was a different experience for me this year. Mainly because my father wasn’t here. But also because for Sunday lunch we went to what they call a “Braai,” which is basically a barbeque. As we were cooking the mutton, a “drunkie” came to me and started confessing his sins to me.
The people here go all out for their braais; for lunch, we had mutton, various salads, lamb kabobs, chicken kabobs, chicken legs, boerwors (which means farmers’ sausage; it’s good), and ostrich neck stew. The latter was not my favorite. It was cooked in a pot filled with vegetables and a gravy with chopped up parts of ostrich neck. It was different for me to pull out a lump of meat, and to recognize the neck bone, spinal cord, and a sliver of meat around it. It was a lot of work to get the meat and not the bone. If you’ve seen an ostrich, you know their necks aren’t the meatiest part of their bodies. We washed all that down with some ice cream and Pepsi.

After lunch, we honored the dads in the group. Their kids presented them with gifts and showed them how much they have meant to them. It was pretty cool.

Tonight, we went to a cottage meeting (small group) for the first time and that was a cool experience. They didn’t know that there were going to be extra people there tonight, so we kind of surprised them because there wasn’t enough room for us all. I had to sit on a table. We talked about loving other people. They’re just now getting hooked up with World Bible School tracts that they’ve been handing out, so they handed out more of those tonight.

The ladies that are in charge of taking us to the soup kitchen were there and we found out that we’re going to go to the hospital tomorrow. This may be pretty interesting because the whole country has been in a huge strike for three weeks. The public service people are holding out for more money. This includes teachers, police, and people like garbage collectors. Schools have been closed for about 2 weeks and some hospitals are closing now. We tried to go to the hospital before to help out, but they told us it would be too dangerous. So we’ll see what happens.

Also, please keep our team in your prayers because it’s my turn to help cooking this week.

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Love you guys.


Soup Kitchen

Today, we went to a soup kitchen out side town at the Missionvale Clinic. It was really an eye-opener to see how much these people just needed a couple slices of bread and a cup of soup. For some of the people who came, this would be their only meal for the day.

One of the encouraging things about the whole deal was that all the bread and soup was provided by 3 or 4 little ladies from our congregation. We stopped at their houses and picked them up on our way and put their paint-buckets full of soup into the back of our Condor.

On our way, we drove through the really poor part of town. We had to drive through groups of children playing soccer in the streets because the schools have been closed for 2 weeks due to a huge national strike. We waved at people as they gathered at the water pump by the road to pull out their water for the day.

As we drove up to the gate, I though we’d be in a little trouble because of the mass of people that had gathered at the entrance. We pulled into the gate, set up our soup buckets, and distributed the bread-bags to the AIMers with the warning to not let them have the bags after we were done because they use them to sniff glue.

They only let small groups into the gate at certain times so things wouldn’t get out of hand. We prayed for the meal and started handing out the bread. While everyone was getting their food, Judy reminded me of a fact that I hadn’t really thought about in a while. She reminded me that 1 out of about 3 that were there was HIV positive. It drove home the fact that, not only they didn’t have food, they didn’t have Jesus and they don’t have much time left.

I did make a couple of friends. The boy in the bottom picture is the cutest boy I have seen in a while. I took a picture of him and he just stared at me, so I made a goofy face and waved at him and he turned into the happiest boy I have ever seen. He started giggling and hiding from me. He’d peek out and I’d take his picture. He actually got so occupied with me taking his picture, he tripped on his shoe and fell. He hit his head on a bench, started crying and ran inside.

I think we’re going to make this soup kitchen a weekly stop. The plan now is to go there every Wednesday morning. So hopefully I can update you on the work that goes on there, too. I hope to start talking with the people more, and I really want to see my little friend again.

If you want to see all the pictures of today and some random pictures of South Africa, go to the right side of the page and click on my pictures.

First Impressions…

Well, I came to South Africa with basically no expectations. I came that way mostly so I wouldn’t be disappointed but also because I didn’t know what to expect. Before landing in Johannesburg, I started getting a little nervous about customs because I had to claim anything that I had that was worth over 3000 Rand ($500-ish). I was bringing a laptop, a really nice video camera, and a really nice digital camera in my carry-on and I had an xbox in my check-in luggage.
When we arrived, Brittney and I didn’t arrive with our luggage. So we gave them our information and they said they’d deliver it to the house (It’s Wednesday). Customs was easy, I had to go through the “red” line because I had things to claim, but they didn’t even ask about them. So I walked right through. We were greeted by about 50 people in uniforms who wanted to help us with our bags, but you have to tip them, so I told them no. They’re very tenacious; I ended up having to follow someone they were helping and pretend I was with him. Joey went up by himself to our next departure terminal, so I took Brittney and Liz to the domestic depatures- which is a long walk- that that was our first introduction into the culture.
When we were flying over Port Elizabeth, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. I couldn’t believe I would be living here.
That night, we went to the Gospel Chariot Meeting, which is a truck that drives around southern Africa and hosts week long campaigns. All of the colored people from the area came so we got to be immersed into the culture our first night.
My next point–
Basically, there are 3 “races” here: The White “Afrikaaners” which are for the most part very rude and rigid and unfriendly toward Americans, there are the Blacks, but within them they are still divided up by different tribes, and then there are the colored- the muts- they’re the ones that don’t fit into a category. Lots of Indians, but mostly people who are both Black and White, I guess. Some colored people are whiter than I am, and some are pretty much pure black, but the way you know that they’re colored is by the way they act. They are the friendliest people I’ve ever met. And they’re very loud. They’re very touchy- it’s common for the guys to kiss the girls (on the lips) as a greeting- which is cool.
So, we got here on a Wednesday, one of Brittney’s bags came on Friday, and I had to live out of 2 pairs of clothes for 91 hours. I got my luggage on Sunday. Brittney’s other bag came a couple of days later.
Hooray for world traveling.

Yesterday, we went to one of the parliament buildings in Bhisho and had a LONG meeting about what we’ll be doing. We basically were creating a partnership with the government to build credibility when we go into a new school and at the same time, we were getting permission to go into schools. In our province, there are about 6000 schools, and we can go into vertually all of them.
What we offer the schools is a character building curriculum for 1st-6th grade. We teach them values and morals using the bible. The curriculum is not mandatory, but it is available for the teachers to use. We will be going into 3 pilot schools soon to teach them how to use the curriculum. It’s not just the curriculum that will change this kids, so what we encourage the schools and communities to do is to have after school programs and show them how to practice concepts of “sharing” and “loving”-concepts that we take for granted, really, because we assume everyone knows them- by being examples.
There’s a school here that has already implemented the curriculum, and now (probably not directly because of the curriculum) is a internationally recognized school. The principle is in Canada right now receiving an award for his school.