Soweto, South Africa | Go South Africa
Recently, I traveled to South Africa with my church, Crossroads on a mission trip. Crossroads has been partnering with Grace Bible Church located in a township called Soweto, just outside of Johannesburg. Together, the churches hope to build a City Link center, to help the impoverished get out of poverity. In short, our trip was to lay ground work for that; Namely, building relationships with Grace Bible Church
To be completely honest, I have tried to start writing this blog probably twenty times. I just don’t know where to start. So many stories, emotions, and events come flooding to my mind, and I get overwhelmed with trying to decide which ones to share. I have decided that the easiest way to express to you the amazing time that I had is to just to relive the pictures, and tell you stories as they come to mind!
Pastor Gege, of Grace Bible Church, works closely with the Nkolhi Primary School. At this school, 50% of the children are orphans. In previous mission trips, Crossroads helped Grace Bible to build a garden to help them provide lunches for the students. This garden was maintained and earned them a grant for the government! She had some of the students meet us at the airport, where they greeted us with a really fun dance routine! We helped clean up the grounds of the school, (and played with the students during their recess!).
Side note: The kids that we met in Africa were absolute HAMS! They LOVE the camera, which was really hard for me to deal with ;). Seriously though, They were ALL about the posing (especially throwing up the dueces) and if you had a camera, you probably had a following of adorable children wanting to take a picture with you!
We got to attend Sunday service with Grace Bible two times. It was so fun to see the way people in a different part of the world worship.
South Africa is such a friendly place! People always waved and smiled, and these two little guys rushed up to the guardrail from the huts in the picture before hand, just to say hi to us!
Grace Bible Church really wanted us to understand them as a community, so they made sure to share with us things that have shaped their history. They took us to the Aparteid Museum. Wow. People from Grace went through it with us and detailed their own personal experience with the tragedies that took place. It was such a valuable lesson.
Grace Bible Church sponsors shoes for students who can’t afford them! We got to be apart of the process, and deliver shoes to these students.
Most of the people we met spoke upwards of 11 languages! They thought it was really humorous that most of us had trouble remembering any sounds that we weren’t familiar with (including names), so several people starting giving us “South African” names. I was given the name “Lerato” which means “Love”. A couple hours later, after laboring, a wonderfully energtic woman came driving her car over toward us, blairing music and insighted a full on RANDOM DANCE PARTY! (I said that in my iCarly voice, in my head 😉 ). I found out her name was Lerato, too! We joked the rest of the week that we were twins! Below is Lerato and I!
We went on a safari. I don’t know that I have ever felt so in touch with nature. On the way, we passed MILES of sunflowers. It was incredible! We found out later that it was a sunflower oil farm! That night, we ate at a restuaraunt called “The Carnivore”, where we got to try the CRAZIEST things! Antelope, Zebra, Impala, Crocodile, Kudu-To name a few of the things we tried. It was an adventure!
The next day, we went to the zoo with our friends from Grace. There, I got to pet a leopard and a jaguar!
This was a babysitter just outside of the church grounds. They were so excited to see us! We called them our little “jumping beans” because the sitter would sing to them and they would jump up in down. They were so joyful!
We had a prompt in our guides to the trip asking us to make a list of our gifts, and praying to ask God to use them for his glory. My friend, Leah, is a sign language interpreter. She prayed that God would reveal to her a new gift, since she didn’t think that could be used there. The next day, she met a woman who was deaf, who had never been able to communicate her name to her friend because of their language barrier. Through Leah, she was able to speak with not only her friend, but to all of us also. Her name is Petunia!
Crossroads does a food drive every year around Thanksgiving for South Africa. Those of us on the trip got to see our donations from us giving in the States, to actually delivering them to the one-room tin huts, where whole families live. What an eye opening experience. While we were there, we loaded, organized, and delievered the packages to the mining village of Marikana. This village is riddled with hurt. (You might remember hearing about the massacres there a couple years ago). We had people stop us on the streets and beg us to give them food. To the people that we could give food too, we were able to talk to them about Jesus.
I met so many incredible people that I am so grateful for! I had a wonderful roommate, who I thoroughly looked forward to reliving our day together as we wound down for the night. I made so many people in South Africa that made me really understand the quote “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place.” Most of all, it was incredible to unplug, and see God so visibly working. I am so grateful to the people who helped me get here. Gosh, now, can we just go back?!