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!