Monthly Archives: February 2010

Ashton…

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Hello again, everyone!
This is Hannah, with just a quick update about Ashton…
Ashton is an extremely rural farming community in the Winelands. The area is breathtakingly beautiful, with miles and miles of deep green vineyards only broken by the backdrop of the mountains. It was harvest season there, and our team actually got to spend a day working on a vineyard harvesting grapes (but I’ll let Jo tell you about that later.).
The contact we were working with, “Auntie Annum” (as she likes to be called) is the principle of the Wakkersroom-Wes Primary School, with students from pre-k through ninth grade. Many of the children are affected by a condition known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. With alcoholism being a huge problem in the vineyard workers, their children not only struggle in school because of FAS, but also because of violence and neglect at the home. Auntie Annum said that in a group of forty-two children, 38 tested positive for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
We conducted some monday-morning assemblies at Wakkerstroom with the children, and also got to do some practical work. Part of our team, Jo, Robin, Jinsun, David, Thomas, and Sarah built benches for the school, definitely the hottest and hardest job, considering we were experiencing very high temperatures (the hottest day, which we thankfully didn’t work outside in, was 46 degrees celcius!). Dortje, Jenean, and Nathan painted a new sign for the School, while the rest of the team (Jon, Elsa, Hannah, and Dan,) painted a learning wall depicting the four seasons, the months of the year, the colors, and a Bible Verse, which the whole team had designed together. We were able to finish the painting projects, but because of a lack of supplies the benches’ last touches will be done by other workers.
At the school we also conducted services on Sundays, Tuesdays, and youth meetings on Fridays. We were able to minister to many adults and youth, and saw many give their hearts to the Lord! Worshiping together in that little schoolroom, with just a guitar or two and maybe a drum, everyone dancing and clapping their hands, was such a beautiful experience. God is so amazing in that He is not at all limited to our culture or language, and that when we gather and worship Him, we can worship in complete unity!
It was hard to say goodbye to the friends we’d made in Ashton, the adults we’d prayed with and spoken with, the children who loved writing letters to us and practicing their english. You never know what kind of an impact just a hug, a small investment of time, a letter, a simple prayer, or even a smile can have on a person, and we pray that the impressions we made in Ashton are lasting!

Outreach: First Three Weeks

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Our first three weeks which we spent in the Capetown area at the YWAM Muizenberg base – are now over; it’s hard to believe one third of our outreach is already GONE! God has been doing such amazing things with us and taking us on such adventures! I think it’s fair to say that lecture phase was just the beginning of a constant learning experience. I’ll just give a quick recap of what kinds of ministry opportunities we have had since coming to SA.

Starting our time right, our first full day in Muizenberg we walked around the town for several hours, just praying and seeking God about our time there and trying to become more acquainted with the area. The next day we were introduced to Pastor Gersham, a fellow YWAM-er who would be working along-side of us in Muizenberg. We were told we’d be doing “train ministry,” and it was left up to our imagination to decide what that exactly meant. Most of us imagined that would mean talking to the people we were sat next to and witnessing/praying. We were quite surprised then, when we hopped on the train and Gersham began preaching at the top of his voice, saying “here are my friends from all around the world who are going to tell us all about what God has done for them!” So, rather than a “gentle” introduction to outreach, we found ourselves suddenly thrown into something which did some much needed damage to the boundaries of our comfort-zones. It was a great way to get us out of our sleepy English mindsets and into the mode of ministry in Africa, and a wonderful success as we prayed with many people every day and saw people healed and changed before our eyes.

When we are suddenly pushed out of the boundaries of what we think we can do, that’s when God shows Himself to be our only reliable strength, and we were forced to rely on this truth right at the start of outreach.

After a week of preaching on trains, we spent the next two weeks in Parkwood, a community near the base. Many people in the community are severely affected by problems such as unemployment, drug (meth) abuse, alcoholism, etc. As we drove into the community we passed massive piles of rubbish just sitting on street corners, and also by a children’s playground littered with trash and broken glass. When we asked if it’s ever cleaned up, we were told that around twice per year, the council will collect all of the rubbish, but that within one day there will be heaps of garbage again.

In Parkwood we worked alongside of The Spirit of Grace Church, with Gersham, Pastor Andre and his wife Julie, and Derek and Elize. We mostly walked along the streets meeting people and praying with them. Something else the team has been really been struck with is the powerful anointing God has blessed us with to see miraculous healings right in front of our eyes. A few specific examples comes to mind. First off there was one woman in the community who had weak legs and was not able to walk, she also had bad hearing so one of our team Nathan from France prayed for her legs and wonderfully her legs became strong again, it was incredible for him to see this with his own eyes, but he forgot to pray for her sight so when he remembered a short while later he prayed for her hearing and it returned. Another story that is a favourite of ours was having the pleasure to see a deaf man hear, another woman who could not walk now walk and we even had the pleasure of seeing a Muslim woman come to faith. Another favourite was Jon’s he and our guide Derek met a woman who had arthritis throughout her whole body so they prayed for her and wonderfully she was healed but she started to cry. At this point we new Jesus had done something wonderful in her they asked her about it and she replied that how she did not tell them about her bad back and as she saw Jon and Derek walking up to her front garden God had healed her back before we even reached her.

The Parkwood children so badly need attention and to feel special, loved, and accepted. Wherever we went, the children would follow us around, and every time they’d see us they would come running up to our group and ask us to play games with them, or to sing/dance with them. Another thing they loved was our interactive Bible Stories, where we would act out a story from the Bible such as Noah’s Ark or the Parable of the Lost Coin, and get them involved. Often they would just come to the Church when we were there eating lunch or waiting. The church also cooks a hot and nutritious meal every week for the kids, which was so amazing to be a part of.

As we spent more time in Parkwood, it sometimes got a little discouraging, as they started to get used to us and see if they could push their boundaries, by disobeying or being rude. We had one particularly hard day when the kids went entirely out of control, being especially disobedient, hitting us, totally tiring us out! We started to wonder if we were making any difference to them at all. That same day, though, God reminded us that we were making a difference to the kids. As we were trying to calm the kids down and maintain a sense of order, a woman from the community walked up to us and said,

“I want you to know that we see God working here, my children come play here, and before so many of these children did not feel accepted into a church, but now they do. They talk about you to us all the time! I can see that this is God. I just want to thank you for what you are doing.”

A few specific faces pop into my mind when I think of the kids in Parkwood. One of them is Nathan, a boy of about eight who at first was very violent and defensive. What our team realized was that he just needed love, especially when we saw one of his relatives (probably grandmother) simply walk up to him, take off her shoe, and beat him with it for no good reason at all. I’m sure this is only a small sample of the treatment he has received, especially considering his violent and defensive nature when we first got to know him. One day he sat with Dan and just wanted to be held, telling his friend that Dan was his dad. By the time we had to say our last goodbyes to the kids, there was a change in Nathan, he had found people who loved him whether he hit them or he was kind to them, so he let down his walls and hugged us/told us he loved us!

After growing so close to them, the hard thing was saying goodbye to our little friends. As old as the silly kids’ songs we sang with them were, and as tired of the story of Noah’s Ark we got, we were so heartbroken to drive away from them, as they all ran after the van shouting their goodbyes, running back to their lives that we were only able to be a part of for two weeks. Who knows what those two weeks did for them… Pray that they look back on our time together and remember that they are special to us, and even more special to God.

So that’s about all, at least for now. We are currently in Ashton, a small farming community in the Winelands, and we’ll be keeping you posted on the awesome things that God will be doing here! God bless!