Today was a lot busier than yesterday, but it was also filled with that much more memories and adventures.
After we woke up with only about 20 minutes to get ready for breakfast because we both forgot to set our alarms, we scrambled to get everything together and head over to the dining hall where everyone on the mission team meets. Once we finished our breakfast we packed in the van and drove ten minutes down the road to the “township”.
One of the key things Impact Africa heavily supports is creating relationships with everyone we talk to. Instead of asking if they know about Jesus and turn away if they say yes or lead them through the salvation prayer if they say no, we visit with them and ask them questions, learning more about them. We ask if we can help them with housework, like washing clothes, dishes, or sweeping. One of our team even helped a man paint his house! The priority is to show them God’s love. Especially since most of us are white and because so many of them work for the white man, they’re surprised when a white man comes to serve them. With aparthide only being illegal for 17 years or so, segregation is still common. Many times while a black man charges say, 200[R]and (1 rand is equivalent to 8 U.S. dollars) most people will not agree to his price and bargain him down. A white man can come in, however, and charge the same price and they’ll pay him for it.
We walked through the “squatter” camp and saw the different shops they had set up as well as the children playing in the creek (the contaminated water smells pretty bad), some even filling used syringes with water and squirting them at each other. Some of the kids emptied an old bean bag and Jacob (an employee of I.A.) pulled it above their heads and shook it, the closest these kids will probably ever get to seeing snow in South Africa.
When we begin to walk back to the children’s camp for lunch, Jacob tells us a little bit more about the squatter camps. The term “squatter camp” is actually not properly used for Kya Sands. The government owns the land they live on, they lease to several different people, who then sub-lease it to other people (in smaller portions), who then also sub-lease it (to the people who live there). This results in cramped quarters for those who live on the grounds and the rent for one of these shacks is 300R or more a month. It may seem cheap but for someone who does not have a steady flow of income and possibly even a family to support, this could eat more than half of what you earn that month. How do you buy enough to feed your family?
Once we get back to the streets after lunch, our group meets a sweet husband and wife enjoying a day off from work. We get to know them better and they tell us they are originally from Zimbabwe, with two children back at home. They are here for jobs to provide for their family back home, living in the squatter camps alone for two years. They’ve been married for ten years and go to a church next door. I ask them what their favorite Bible story is and they can’t tell me in detail. I decide to tell them about my personal favorite story, Job. Once we finish someone else mentions the story of Jonah. I ask them if they’ve ever heard of it and they shake their head. As I tell them the story, I remember watching Veggie Tales as a kid, and I begin to tell the story even more vividly. One of the interns with I.A. chimes in and tells of a moving story in Ezekiel 16. Babies are abandoned often in South Africa because the mothers cannot afford to take care of them; in another squatter camp a few weeks ago a woman wrapped her newborn in bags and left it in the middle of the street. Needless to say, a taxi car drove over it, killing the child. The woman tears up at the story Cory tells her and her walls come down. They want to be in a discipleship group and want to visit our church if we will visit theirs.
The last group we visit are a few men outside talking. They shout out to us, “Sawbona” (meaning, hello) and we ask them how they are, “Kunjani?” they smile and nod their heads. As we ask them about their plans for the day they just explain they are getting ready to go to the store but than can chat for a little while. Eventually, the conversation fades and we’re not sure where to go with it. We ask if there is anything we can pray with them for before we leave. One man wants us to pray for him, the other says no. When we question his answer, he replies, “I do not believe.” Cory turns in response, “May I ask why you do not believe?” He just shakes his head and explains he believes in ancestors, and prays to them.
[There are many different religions in South Africa. Some pray to their ancestors, believing they can change things for their favor and bless them. If they do not honor their ancestors, bad things will happen to them.]
As the conversation continues, Cory asks if he were an ancestor, what could he do to help others. He thinks, and says he would be a good one. She persists, “What would you do to help others?” He shrugs, unsure. She draws a circle in the dirt, explaining this is all the knowledge, everything about the world and space, etc. He nods, indicating he is following her. She then asks him to draw a circle inside the big one she just drew and show her how much he knows. He hesitates for a while but Cory urges him to, so he draws a small one inside of the circle. She begins to explain, if this is all that he knows, could there be a truth that he is missing? Cory draws a cross outside of the circle, pointing to it as she talks about the truth. She explains the hatred satan holds for God, how Adam and Eve were kicked out the garden, how Jesus died on the cross for him. He is compelled, the wheels are turning in his head. She gives him the gospel of John and encourages him to constantly read it. We talk for a little more and he then asks her how long she has been sharing “the good news” he calls it. Impressive for someone who half an hour ago didn’t know who satan was.
It was such an awesome day today. Tomorrow we are going to a church service in a township and we’ll end our day at the mall. A nice “relaxing” day. We are all definitely enjoying our time here!