South Africa Team – Practical Work

Hello

We have already written a short post about what we got up to in the morning in our time in South Africa. However we also had the opportunity we had to serve practically in the afternoons. Our time was split over two places, Southernwood, a social housing area and Greensleeves, a place of safety for children.

Our first trip out into the community, where Steven had already built good relationships, was to Southernwood. This social housing complex contains 249 units and many of the children who lived there were already signed up to come to Holiday Bible Club. We were asked if we could paint a mural on one side of the perimeter wall. While the youth spent an afternoon with their host families on the first weekend Steven, Courtney and the leaders went to do the base coat and turn the grey wall white ready to paint on. As you can see on the right we had to do a good job because we were being kept in check by one of the local children who wouldn’t hesitate to tell you if you missed a spot!

The next time we visited Southernwood was on Wednesday afternoon. We had split into two groups with Matthew, Peter and Steven taking a group to continue on working in Greensleeves and Courtney and Hannah returning with a group to Southernwood. We did a second coat of white paint and thanks to the warm weather by the time we got to one end the other had dried and we were able to start putting the local children’s handprints on the bottom three panels as they had been asking all week at holiday club when they would get a chance to paint the wall. When we announced they could get in a line to get their hands painted they were all so enthusiastic that we had to quickly split as a team into hand painting, wall watch, the wash bucket and hand drying stations to try and keep as many clothes paint free as possible!

On Thursday we split again in the afternoon, and as Courtney’s visit to East London had ended, Pete and Hannah took some of the team back to Southernwood to start painting on the remaining panels of the wall. Despite no one really classifying themselves as an artist, Anna, Lucy Rachel, Rebecca and Amy and Pete did a great job of painting trees, rainbows a sun the moon and stars on the wall. Hannah made an attempt at painting designs but found her forte was better keeping far away from the wall, mixing the red green and blue paint we had to get the rest of the colours for the rainbow. Of course while all of this was going on we were entertaining the kids as well who were always ready to play. In the end both the kids and local adults seemed really happy with the results of our work, well that or they are all just really polite.

 

The other area we had the privilege of spending time in was Greensleeves place of safety for children. Steven had recently made a connection with Di and had identified two areas that we could help out with. One area was the large vegetable tunnel that was overgrown with weeds that needed cut down and removed. The other job was an out building that needed the wooden walls knocked down cleared out and rebuilt.

The first day (Monday) we split into three groups. One group tackled cutting down all the weeds in the tunnel. Another group was to knock out the wooden panels on the out building remove the nails and clear out the wood left in the middle of the structure. The final group was in charge of playing with the children, some of whom we had met for the first time at Holiday Club that morning, and keeping them out of the way of any tools or equipment because, although they were eager to help, we didn’t want them getting in harms way. The second day we also split into a groups to continue clearing out the weeds in the tunnel and removing the rest of the wood from the old out building structure to another pile out of the way. On the days that we split between Southernwood and Greensleeves, the boys (Joh, Jack, Andrew and Ben) led by Steven and Matthew were putting up some wooden panels to create the new walls for the building and Morgan and Charlotte were helping to put the primer onto them.

We were not at Greensleeves on the Friday afternoon as it was the last day of Holiday Club one of the South African young people volunteering had invited us round to their house for a Braai so we spent the afternoon there singing along to musical tracks and throwing each other in the pool, despite us all being fully clothed and it was raining. However, some people had seen it coming and managed to get their shoe’s and jacket off in time.

However on the Saturday morning we returned to Greensleeves, thankful for the rain the night before. Not something us from Northern Ireland often say, but it meant that the ground had softened enough in the vegetable tunnel for us to be able to turn it over ready for planting. So while Matthew and Steven (who had also sourced the materials for the build along with one of the church elders) took a group to continue painting the new walls and installing some windows. Peter and Hannah took a group down to the tunnel armed with forks and spades to turnover the ground which thanks to the softer ground we were able to do in a couple of hours and leave it ready for planting. The out building is also nearly complete, all that needs done is a roof fitted which Steven and a couple of members from Stirling Presby hope to finish in the near future.

Our last day at Greensleeves was on our last Monday in South Africa, we didn’t do any work but took some time to say bye to the kids and buy some of the jewellery and woodcraft that they paint. It was an emotional affair for many of the young people for many reasons. We felt that we had connected with the children and ultimately would just miss seeing them the way we had done for 10 days. However we are very thankful that through Steven we will be able to keep up to date with them.

Once again we would just like to thanks everyone who invested in our team prayerfully, financially and with words of support and encouragement. We fully appreciate the support of everyone at home and from the kind families in Stirling who hosted us.

South Africa Team – Stirling Holiday Bible Club

Hello Everyone,

We have just finished a fun-filled and hectic week at Stirling Holiday Bible Club in East London. On Monday the holiday club began and over 90 children arrived from the ages 5-13 and the club itself ran every morning from 8am-1pm with some children being collected in buses and others being dropped off by parents.

At holiday club the Wellington team, the youth helping from Stirling Presbyterian and Courtney and Steven all arrive at the church for 7am, which was definitely the earliest that some of us had been up since school ended. Each day we begin our mornings as a team with some breakfast and a meeting to discuss the format of the day and pray for what’s about to happen. Then we head outside for the kids arriving and spend some time playing games and chatting to them; the kids are always so energetic when they arrive and some of us have given more piggy backs and danced more this week than we have in our entire lives.

 

Once everyone has arrived, and hopefully burnt a bit of energy, we head into the church to begin our program which generally follows the format of an introduction, some worship and a talk following the theme of the week which was Superheros. The first Day Ben spoke on “what makes us a superhero” , on Tuesday Jack spoke about prayer, on Wednesday Rebecca explained how Jesus is the light of the world, Peter covered the Armour of God on Thursday and today Steven did the “Gospel in Colour” telling the children the story of the Gospel. They all listen very intently to the talk and when we teach them the memory verse of the week “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4 v 13”. The kids have been really keen to show off how well they know the memory verse to the leaders all week which is really encouraging to see.

 

 

After this, the kids get a snack and we split into our four zones for the kids. These zones are games, craft (put together by Courtney), face painting/bouncy castle and small groups. The small groups gave us a chance to answer any questions that the kids had about God or the story and an opportunity to pray with them individually. We finish with some worship and they taught us a song called Bambalela.

After lunch (which was donated by members of Stirling Presbyterian) the kids go home and we have lunch ourselves and reflect on the day by discussing the positives and negatives as well as praying as a group.

All of the team have loved this experience so much and it has been so encouraging to see how much the kids have engaged with not just the fun and games but the worship talks and small groups too. So many of the kids have offered to pray which has been really filling us with joy. We are also so thankful  to Stirling Presbyterian for their hospitality for the opportunity to serve here.  We would also like to say thank you to everyone at home who has been continually praying for us as the week has run smoothly and we pray that God has used us and blessed our time this week.

 

South Africa Team – Days 1, 2 & 3

Hi everyone! We have arrived safely in East London after a 33 hour journey.  We flew from Dublin to Paris.  We took a 10 hour flight to Johannesburg and then an internal flight to East London.  We had a welcoming braii served by Stirling Presbyterian Church and we got to meet the host families we will be staying with for the next 12 days.

On Saturday morning we planned for holiday Bible, played a few team games and in the afternoon we headed to another family called Bev and Allan who served us a braii and we went down to Kayser’s beach which was amazing! We swam in the sea, played touch rugby and did a lot of sunbathing! 

After all that hard work at the beach, we all had a nap in the car on the way back to the church, so we were energised and ready for our games night.  After a few games of big Bucky, my chair and wink murder we headed back to our host families for a good nights rest – it is well needed when you need to be up for 6am.

On Sunday morning we set off for the first church service which started at 7:30am (we’re certainly not used to that at Wellington!). We attended the 2nd church service and we were introduced to the congregation by an elder.  They prayed for us as a church and we were excused to spend time as a team.  In our team time John Boyd read Ephesians 2 and we spent some time in prayer for each other. 

On Sunday afternoon each group went off to spend time with their host families.  Some of us went to a fish market, others to a safari park buffet and an African style restaurant.  Our families were so kind in to treating us to a lovely lunch.  After this we returned to church to set up for holiday club and had some time of worship to prepare our hearts for the week ahead.  Over 100 children have signed up to come to our holiday club and we would really appreciate your prayers for these children to hear the gospel.