Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dancing In The Aisles

Khethani Christian FellowshipThis morning our team visited Khethanni Christian Fellowship - a Zulu church just outside Winterton.  The service was VERY upbeat, loud, and exciting.  The worship music was similar to gospel music from the States and the service reminded us of the church portrayed in the movie The Blues Brothers with people singing and dancing in the aisles.

The pastor gave a great message out of James 5 about sickness and healing.  He preached in both Zulu and English.  It was a typical African service in that it lasted for 3 hours.  Thankfully the weather was cool so it was comfortable in the church.  We brought 40 in our group including our team from California, a DTS team from Durban South Africa, and group of high school girls from South Africa who are serving with us for 2 weeks as part of a program exposing them to mission work.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fieldwork

Today our team was invited to a Christian school to do a morning program for the students.  It opened with the school choir performing a few songs for us.  Our team then stepped in and taught the students several new songs.  We then did a couple of short drama presentations followed by a brief time of teaching explaining what the dramas represented.  Afterwards, we took them outside for some outdoor games, face painting, and other activities.  We were introduced to a new game called Netball.  Although it was new to us, the Kiwis on our team were familiar with it and helped in running the game.  It’s similar to basketball, however there are no backboards on the hoops.  Also, the players can only move one step at a time before having to pass the ball to one of their teammates.

South Africa is currently in the final days before their summer vacation starts and the teachers were very appreciative of us being there to give them a break.  In all there were about 75 students in first through eighth grades.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Garden Party

Thembalethu Garden ProjectToday we began our first outreach ministry project.  We went out to a ministry called Thembalethu in a village about 45 minutes away from the YWAM Drakensburg base.  We went to help install shade cloth on a community garden project.  The shade cloth will help protect the garden plants from the heat of the sun, bugs, and hailstorms – which can be heavy this time of year. 

Thembalethu means “Our Hope”.  It is a ministry that was set up in 1999 in response to the AIDS epidemic in the Nkomazi Region, Mpumalanga of South Africa. It operates in 22 villages with an approximate outreach of 250,000 people. There are also outreach programs in the neighboring countries of Swaziland and Mozambique.

In the region of Nkomazi, in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, the HIV/AIDS situation is bleak. Medical practitioners report that the incidence of HIV infection is as high as 50% placing Nkomazi among the highest infected communities in South Africa. In addition, local government hospitals estimate that 90% of their beds are used for AIDS-related illnesses. After two years only 1000 patients are on antiretroviral treatment (ARV) from government hospitals in Nkomazi, with an unknown number under treatment from private doctors. Poverty levels are high with 65% of the community unemployed.

The purpose of Thembalethu is to teach and equip people to care for dying AIDS patients, counsel traumatized families, take care of orphans, engage youth in life changing programs to combat HIV infection and to empower the local community to become self-sufficient.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Long And Winding Road

Drakensburg RhinoAfter four days of travel, we’ve reached YWAM Drakensburg – our first destination in South Africa.  Our first day of travel took us to San Francisco, California where we stayed overnight at the YWAM base in the Tenderloin district – one of the toughest areas in San Francisco.  Sunday took us from San Francisco to Atlanta.  We then traveled overnight from Atlanta to Johannesburg arriving tired and exhausted on Monday night.  We stayed overnight in Johannesburg before traveling 6 hours by road to YWAM just outside the town of Winterton.  Although the trip was long and tiring, we did arrive without incident.  Everything went very smoothly and everyone on our team traveled well – especially the 7 kids that were traveling with us.  Thank you for your prayers.

We knew we had finally arrived in Africa when, about 2 miles from our destination, we passed a rhino by the side of the road.  It was pretty exciting.

We’ll be saying and ministering at YWAM Drakensburg until the the middle of December.  We look forward to updating you about the progress of the trip and our various ministry opportunities.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Saying GoodbyeToday we left for our trip to South Africa – but without Cole.  This is the first time we have gone on a missions trip without him.  It was very difficult to leave him behind, but we remain confident he is prepared to begin life on his own.

Tonight we’re staying at YWAM in San Francisco and leaving first thing in the morning for the airport.  We will be flying from San Francisco to Atlanta and then on to Johannesburg.  We will arrive at 7:00pm on Monday night.  We’ll be staying 1 night in Johannesburg and then moving on to Winterton for extended ministry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Back In The Saddle Again

201_3272We started our blog eight years ago when we took our first YWAM missions trip to Guatemala.  Now we’re getting ready to lead an outreach team to South Africa for an 8 week mission trip.  This seems like a good point to restart our blog and keep you up-to-date on our current ministry.

We’re leaving for South Africa on Saturday, November 22nd.  Our team consists of us (John & Julie) 4 single ladies, 1 single man, and 2 families with 7 kids between them ages 1 to 12.  We arrive in Johannesburg on Monday the 24th.  We will then travel to Drakensburg for 3 weeks of ministry.  After that we move on to a large orphanage in Durban where we will celebrate the Holidays with the kids and their house mothers.  Then in January, we’ll spend our final week in Durban along the southeast coast of South Africa.

Cole will not be joining us on this trip as he will be starting life on his own.  It’s going to be a challenge for us to be separated, so please be keeping us in prayer.