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|
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.