Wednesday, 27 June 2012


It's coming to the end of my time here at the Village of Hope, with only two days to go until I fly home. The goodbyes have already begun, as last Friday was the last Rainbow Smiles club before the school holidays, and our last session with the children. We threw a party, decorating the room with lots of balloons, baking and icing a cake ( with a rainbow on it, ofcourse), playing pass the parcel, musical chairs, musical bumps, face painting, and making a handprint paint picture. Kat made a lovely picture slideshow to music of the children, and I made a photo collage of them. We also gave gifts to Rejioce, to say thankyou for letting us be part of helping run Rainbow Smiles. There were mixed emotions, as one of the oldest boys was emotional which was hard to see, and he said he'd miss us very much. It's hard leaving and not knowing who is going to help takeover the club with Rejioce, and thinking about the children and their futures. It's all out of my control but I know it's in God's hands, and that He has his hand over each of the children's lives, and Rejioce's.

On Sunday I went to church with Trulene, one of the house mums. I've never seen anything like it! Many of the men stood at the back of their church, in their smart suits and shiny shoes, holding their bibles, whilst the rest of the congregation sat on benches. But they didn't sit on benches for very long at all because once the worship started, a lot of people were up dancing, shimmying up and down the aisle and to the front. People would literally run to the front and dnace round in a big circle, singing and clapping. I was so overwhelmed by the way they worshipped that it was quite hard to worship God myself. I wasn't brave enough to go up and dance at the front! I had to leave a bit early (the service can go on for hours) and so Trulene signalled to the pastor that we were leaving, and then to my horror he asked me to come up to the front. It was a big joint service of all the local coloured churches, and I was the only white person! He asked me to introduce myself, and I sqeauked 'I'm Jess', feeling ridiculously English. It was amazing though. There are so many ways to worship God, and I believe He loves all of it, like a parent loves a picture their little child has drawn them. Except that I have to admit, African worship is a very well drawn, colourful beautiful picture!

scared children looking at monkey
Since it's now the school holidays, we took the children to Monkey Town on Monday. A family of six from Texas arrived at the weekend, so we had lots of pairs of hands to help out. Unfortunatey most of the children were traumatised by the monkeys, as we were walking through caged tunnels and they were very loud with sharp pointy teeth ( the monkeys, not the children, hehe) and the lady who was showing us round kept telling us about how they can bite your fingers off. Also, a chimp starting throwing rocks at us, and he had a very good aim. However, we then went to a restaurant overlooking the sea in Gordon's Bay, and the children enjoyed their chicken burgers and chips much more. It was fun just to spend time with them, and they had a little paddle in the sea which turned into a full on drenching. We had to bundle them all, sopping wet and half naked, back into the Combi and put the heater on full to dry them off!

On Tuesday morning, the four of us girls went out with Siphile Sonke, another organisation in Grabouw which hands out food parcels to households who don't currently receive any income and runs support groups, amongst other things. I went out with two ladies and we visited some homes to hand out food parcels and see what other needs people had that Sipile Sonke could meet. The food parcels include rice, sam, cooking oil, flour, Cuppa Soup, stock etc. The first house we visited was the worst that I've ever seen during my time here. It was a cement house, and the walls were black with damp, and within several minutes of standing in there I could feel the damp on my lungs. The sink was leaking so the floor was wet with mud, and the windows in the adjoining room were broken, letting in a cold wind. A couple live there with their children, and the man was ill, lying on the sofa underneath a blanket at the back of the room. It was a desperate situation and I could feel and see the despair in the lady's eyes as the Sipile Sonke ladies carried out their assessment. All I felt I could do, which would mean anything, was to pray with them, which I did.

The conditions which they have to live in are so awful, and the cold and damp breed sickness and depression.  It's easy for me to say that there is hope, when I'm returning to my comfortable life back home, where my room is size of someone's entire house. But it's not just me who says there is hope, it's Jesus. When I prayed in that place I felt the Spirit of God hovering there, and I felt hope. That's what The Village of Hope does- bring hope! It's what countless organisations do around the world, in whatever field of work and sphere of influence they are in. God is working in the economy, in business, in the arts, in music, in international development, in advocacy, in education, in healthcare, in the government, in universities, at bus stops, on football pitches, in theatres, restaurants, clubs, offices, villages, townships, wooden shacks, mansions, cities, in the most unlikely places and ways, and sometimes in the most unlikely people.

So it's time to say goodbye. I'm excited to be going home, because I really do love it, and there's no place like home, and I can't wait to see my family and friends. But I'm sad to leave the children, the house mums, the team, the friends I've made, because I might not see some of them ever again. Life at home is so different to life here, and it's going to feel very strange at first, trying to adjust back. Then there are all the memories of what I've seen, which I hope will always remain with me and shape my choices and decisions in the work that God leads me into, whatever it is.

I know that The Village of Hope will continue to grow, and that the future will bring hundreds of new people to it in years to come. I wonder what changes will take place, and what new direction and opportunities will open up? What will happen in the lives of the people in the community I've encountered? Only God knows! These are the thoughts that are running through my mind in the these last few days.

Goodbye to The Village of Hope, to Tim and Maz and the team, to the children and house mums, to Grabouw, to South Africa. I won't forget you.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Americans

Last Sunday saw the arrival of an American team from Augusta, Georgia, whose church runs short term mission trips twice a year. 8 of the team were staying in the volunteer's unit, whilst the other 6 stayed down the mountain in Somerset West. Their main job while they were here was painting the entire baby unit!- big job as they had to move all the furniture out, and likewise we had to move all the kids out during the day! They did such a great job, and the children were so excited just to have a clean coat of paint on their walls. Personally it was a hard week because I didn't get much sleep and lost the ability to function properly ( I few times I found that I'm been staring with a glazed look at a random object for 5 minutes), but what was really amazing about this team was their love for Jesus, and how He shone out of them in the morning meeting in prayer and worship, and just generally all the time. It's so uplifting when a group of believers come together and you catch glimpses of the Kingdom of God being built, brick by shining brick. It's invisible and yet so palpable,and real.

During the time the team was here, we had to find a way to keep the childrens' hands AWAY FROM THE WALLS! Quite a task as kids like to touch everything. Thankfully we had a few sunny days, but on one rainy day we took the kids to a Play Gymn in Somerset West which we've been to before. It's always a bit traumatic trying to squidge 10 children into carseats, especially as some of the car seats have fastenings that only a puzzle-master could work out. Anyway, after one wrong turning we finally got there and tumbled inside. As usual the children loved it, and the two head house Mums ( Mommy Nettie and Francis) also seemed to be having as much fun as the children!

Mommy Francis enjoying a ball pool fight!

So it was an eventful week , and the team left on Friday morning. On Thursday evening we all went out for a meal at a lovely winery/hotel place (I don't actually know what i was because it was dark outside). I'm sure that they'll be back soon, and who knows how God will use them next in their involvement with the The Village of Hope?...