Our family has been able to participate in a variety of unexpected activities and we thought we’d share our top 10 (in no particular order) favorite out-of-the-ordinary ways we’ve been blessed to have been able to do to spread the Good New of the Kingdom of God. In the irregularities of the work we see God Moments when we see His hand working in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
1. After School Teachers? Club
Sonya and Crissie Wright run an after school club at local primary school in Clermont to a group of orphans. We teach them the same Bible lesson we teach on Sundays at the meetings. We bring them food donated from Christadelphian Meal-A-Day. The food is prepared for the children during our lesson by the school kitchen ladies. What a happy surprise to see that our lessons are interesting to more than the children! The kitchen ladies lean one ear into the outdoor classroom as they cook and clean in the kitchen. When they’re not busy they’ll sit through our lessons and participate and will always expect us to hand a worksheet out to them too.
2. Hiking Trip
In middle December, Rick and Cam Beeler took 5 teens on a hiking trip in the stunning Drakensberg Mountains. This overnight hiking trip is part of the requirements for a school Presidents award which encourages youth to experience and face difficult and new things. This experience also strengthened the bonds and relationship between the youth and the men. For these boys, this was the first time sleeping outside either a township or Bible School environment.
3. Building the Great Wall
One Saturday in November, we were visiting the township of Mariannhill when a flash flood struck. Heavy streams of water rushed around the Good News Center we were in and started pouring through the roof into the hall. We were stranded there. There was no way our little black car could maneuver through the flooded road and the visibility was nil through the floods and hail surging down. It was getting dark and all we could do was pray while we mopped up the huge puddles inside. After some time, the storm receded but the always-precarious road to the churh was now strewn with large rocks — and was potholed and pitted. Moments after we started getting used to the idea of sleeping in a township overnight, two neighbors appeared with shovels in their hands and started repairing the road. We watched the generous neighbors clear the road with amazement of how people in this community take care of each other. Then we heard the terrible news from another Sister who ran out of breath into the hall. The retaining wall that a brother and sister had just built to keep their house — the same house that just moments before 10 children, including ours, had been in watching a movie — from falling down had fallen down and just barely missing the house of another Sister.
Rick’s heart went out to our Brother and Sister; he sent an appeal out to the brotherhood worldwide for help to repair the wall and to save their house. The response was overwhelming. He collected not just the amount needed to rebuild the wall but double! He put the extra funds into a disaster relief fund. The wall is now complete. The project employed 10 people, including 2 Brothers, and spanned 12 weeks. The new walls (one above their house and one below) used almost 2,000 bricks and 4 tons of cement and took 12 weeks to complete — making the project very, very great. Rick became the general overseer of the 12-week job and has been able to make relationships and share the story of a strong & supportive worldwide community of Brothers & Sisters with the workers and also the building suppliers.
4. Fire Victims
Only a few days into the new year and we heard some sad news. A fire swept through the neighborhood across the street from the Lamontville Good News Center and killed two children — kids that attended our Sunday School, and left 40 people homeless. The fieldworkers rallied together, made up food parcels using the disaster relief funds and cooked those people a warm meal. We interviewed each of the now-homeless people and asked them: what was the one thing they lost that is most important to them. Nearly all of the mothers said school uniforms for their children was their greatest need. In response, the fieldworkers purchased uniforms, school supplies and more food for them as further support in their very trying time. It was such a nice feeling to know that God has given us a gift of time and access to generous gifts, to use to take care of people in need.
5. Painting Murals
There’s nothing like a blank wall to get one’s creative juices flowing. After the Lamontville Good News Center got a upgrade and a fresh coat of paint, we approached it with a rainbow of colors of paint, brushes and our creative juices. On one wall we painted the Zulu words for Love is Patient, Love is Kind and on another wall we painted the fruits of the spirit in English. It is nice to think that people for years to come who use the Center will see messages from God’s word surrounding them.
6. Field Trips
We helped organize an end-of-the-year field trip for all the preschool kids in the Durban area, to a little zoo. We got to help the teachers chaperone the kids. Crissie and I made up little prize bags for the kiddies to take home — each bag had fun toys like bouncy balls, toy cars and candy. It was a pleasant trip. We loved that we could play and run around with the kids out of their usual environment and expose them to animals that they don’t see in their neighborhood. We got quite a kick out of seeing raccoons and squirrels in the cages of the zoo while monkeys ran wild (as pests) of the zoo!
Another day, we helped Glenn and Crissie take the Margate kids on their field trip to a reptile zoo. Not only were the kids fascinated to see all the snakes and crocodiles but so were the Szabos. It was a plain old fun day for all.
7. Fixing up
One of the more rewarding projects that we’d like to do more, is upgrading a daycare. There are many informal preschools here in South Africa that get started by simply there being a need for someone to look after young children while the parents go to work. Often a kind heart is the only furnishing the daycare has. Sometimes we get donated-money to upgrade a daycare: give it supplies and equipment to help the young children be developed and prepared for school. As a group, the Durban fieldworkers planned and prepared for an upgrade that the attendees at the Family Bible Conference executed. The best part of this project was the reaction of the teachers when we revealed our work to them at the end of the day. After their initial reaction of shock (pictured below) the workers sang songs, danced in circles, picked up the new toys and chanted words of praise and thanksgiving to God for caring for their school and for the children.
8. Westville Holiday Club
Schools close down in the first week of December, so many of our regularly-scheduled projects close down too. We decided to put some attention into the kids that don’t live in the townships and hold a holiday club at the Westville hall. We advertised in the local schools and had a large number of visitors attend which we are very thankful to God for bringing to us. Our theme was “Building Up” and we used building blocks as the inspiration for Bible teaching and songs. Each day, the kids learned a different Bible verse and made fun snacks & crafts in the theme. I think everyone enjoyed this little bonus project, the Szabo kids included, and it enriched the local community in many ways.
Rick and Sonya were invited to help run and teach at the annual Durban Youth Week. The topic for the week was the tabernacle — which meant the kids got to make models of the tabernacle and we all learned inspiring lessons about God’s plan for us as demonstrated in the tabernacle. We enjoyed getting to know the local kids and adults better at the Youth Week.
10. School Photographer
Hobbies are not something we have much time to pursue here. But we try to mix the things we’re interested in with the projects we’re doing. At the end of the year, Sonya practiced her photography skills with all the preschool kids in the Good News Centers by offering to be their school photographer. Probably for many families, a printed photo is a rare possession. It was a challenge getting the kids to understand her version of the Zulu word for “smile” (it has a funny tongue click in it) and then getting a proper smile because, as she learned, the Zulu culture does not typically smile for photos the way we do in our culture. Challenges aside, the project was great way to practice her skills and give a gift to the kids we love.