Sunday, 18 March 2012
Madness and mayhem
Just to clarify, the title is not a description of the Village of Hope! It's more to give a flavour of the busyness and variety of the week. Last weekend the six of us 'youngsters' (as we are now called) went shark diving. The phrase wasn't one that inspired me with hope to be honest, and I was probably the most dubious about going. I think the correct phrase is 'shark-cage diving', which I wish was the original phrase I'd heard! It was an amazing experience. We had to be there at 8am (can't remember the name of the coastal place), and after a quick breakfast and introduction we boarded the boat and set out to sea. After anchoring about a mile out, we changed into wetsuits and eye masks, and then took it in turns to climb into a specially fitted cage half immersed in the water and attached to the boat, whilst the guides hung shark bait out the side. When they shouted 'Go!' we ducked under the water of the cage and watched the sharks swim past. It was really cool to see them up close, although I still can't say that I really like sharks, what with their massive teeth and the fact that they eat people. But when you're in a cage it's fascinating.
So after an interesting weekend, this week has been a busy one both in the unit and in the sports outreach project. The arrival of first one and then another baby boy added to the unit's numbers, and then towards the end of the week another two boys arrived, although because there isn't enough beds they sleep elsewhere and come to the Village during the day. So that brings the total number of children up to twelve. Adding to that, there's still twenty seven germans scuttling around, feverishly trying to finish the house they're building by next Friday, as well as eight volunteers, the house mums, the dutch sports students and the usual Village team.
On Saturday the Village organised a 'Sports Saturday' for all the children in the townships who regularly attend the sports sessions every afternoon. A lot of the volunteers were busy organising the day with the two sports students for the second half of the week, drawing up scoreboards for the teams who'd be playing, assigning roles, collecting resources and trying to ensure the day would run as smoothly as possible. Which it did! It was held at the country club, and the kids had a great day. There is a sense of tribalism which is tangible between the children of the different squatter camps, as people identify themselves closely with their own territory and there are divisons between the different places in the townships according to race and language. Saying that, I don't believe there was a hostile atmosphere, only healthy rivalry. The girls teams played a netball tournament, whilst the boys played football matches. The upside was that after a day of rain on Friday, it remained mostly dry on Saturday. The downside was that we all got a bit burnt, as none of us expected too much sun.
Another interesting event this week was a fundraising fancy hat tea party for Graceland pre-school, another of Thembalithsa's projects. It was held in a lovely hotel in a beautiful, lush valley, just up the road from the pre-school, and purely from an onlooker's perspective you could easily imagine it to be another priviledged hotel function of South Africa's wealthy, with everybody wearing summer dresses and ornate hats, drinking tea and eating fine food! However, it's cause was to raise money and awareness of Graceland's project, and the hotel had hosted the fundraising event for free! We didn't have a chance to buy any fancy hats, so we made our own fascinator thingies. I got a bit carried away with mine as in the excitement of ribbons and tissue paper and glitter I forgot that I would have to wear it the next day, lol!
Some of the thoughts that have been running through my mind recently are about the immensity of God. Almost daily I think of the verse 'I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.' Grabouw is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and when I feel heavy with the sight of people living in discomfort and dirt, and when instead of the stirrings of compassion my heart feels small, guilty and selfish, I look to the mountains and remember that God is mighty and it's His mighty heart that will change lives and instill hope, not my little one. He is so much bigger than we can ever imagine! I've come to one, relatively small part of South Africa where I'm seeing Him work in a totally new environment, but it's amazing to think that God is working in thousands, millions of communities, villages, towns, and valleys all around the world, and in the hearts of billions of people. And yet although the towering mountains raise my eyes up to the sheer size of God, at the same time Jesus points to the unbreakable intimacy which God has created between us and Himself. He came to earth and lived in dirt and dust like the poor of Grabouw, and in fellowship with other people...just like us.