I refuse to believe that it has been 2 months since the end of December. Time simply cannot pass this quickly. When I arrived in November, I mistakenly believed that I was experiencing the general hectic pace of Gauteng life. It turns out I was wrong. November and December were actually the winding-down of the year. January and February have been the gearing-up. Egad.
Bigger and Better
Many of the same activities have carried on, but on a bigger scale. The Aphiwe Sunday school has approximately doubled in regular attendees.
The Tswelopele Bible club has also seen a significant increase in numbers, and the last “little class” of 6-and-unders had a record 16 attendees (I left Landi and Michael to deal with the 40-odd-student older group. Very strategic of me). We looked at the story of Joash, who was conveniently 6 years old when he was crowned king, which makes it a very exciting tale for that age group. The execution of Athaliah was a high point in the re-enactments. (They wanted to act it out about 16 times so that everyone got a chance to drag her away while she shouted about treason).
These kids are a good time.
One of the regular, but often overlooked tasks that take place around casa Scheepers is the well-oiled machine of “the distribution channel.” This basically means that someone calls, usually out of the blue, and informs us that they have some sort of donation that they’d like us to pick up. Last year, one of the notable hauls was the 10 boxes of stationary (we’ve managed to distribute about 7 boxes’ worth so far). This year’s most impressive donation so far has been a literal bus-full of old school uniforms. Usually after a sojourn in the sorting room (aka the lounge), the stuff gets taken to Aphiwe, and sold at a jumble sale, the proceeds of which go to subsidize students at study weekends and the annual Bible School. Recently jumble sales have become a double-whammy, because the BEC has moved to Aphiwe, and so it gets extra traffic on sale days as well.
Needless to say, the bus gets a lot of use. (That’s uniforms, not garbage).
Sunday School Teaching Workshop
One new initiative for this year is the Sunday School Teacher’s Workshop. This was a curriculum I put together to meet a need that has been expressed in the local community—many of the women teach Sunday school, or teach Bible lessons at their crèches, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it. We also have a couple new brothers who have expressed interest in teaching Sunday school, but haven’t had the experience of growing up in a structured Sunday school that we often take for granted. The workshop consists of four two-hour sessions which are spread over four weeks. We look at how to engage young children, how to choose what to teach, how to present lessons creatively, and how to devise and use various reinforcement activities to support a lesson. We had about 20 students this time through, and one of the young brothers is now teaching the primary class at the (rapidly expanding) Aphiwe Sunday school.
Putting this workshop together was a really good learning opportunity for me, because the audience is so different than I am accustomed to from presentations at school and work. Initially I included a lot of theory, and planned on moving through masses of abstract material at a rapid pace, because there was just so much to cover. I quickly learned that in Tembisa, the practical is king, and the students are much more engaged by hands-on activities and realistic demonstrations. So recently we’ve been doing a lot more crafts and re-enactments, and I’ve been doing a lot less talking. The plan is that this course will also be presented in Durban, Margate, and PE, so it will be interesting to see just how much it evolves by the end of my stint here.
The crèche course at Aphiwe is well-established, and Leona and Lilandi are assisted by Audrey, a volunteer from the community. With Otilia effortlessly managing registration, sign-in, and all the background tasks, I was freed up to have some adventures. During the 3-hour block each Thursdays, I was dropped off at a local crèche, and got to teach a couple Bible lessons and hang out with the kids, getting some additional insights on how the crèches here operate.
This is the part where I stack my report with pictures of adorable children, and you pretend not to notice that my report is 80% pictures, because they are so darn cute.
Learning to See
I’ve noticed a shift in my thinking lately, which has been exciting. When I first arrived, the masses of children I met were overwhelming. And I sorted them into categories in my head—that child is a refugee. That child is from a really poor family. That child is from the crisis foster care center. That child was abandoned. But the longer I’ve been here, and the more children I’ve gotten to know, I’ve learned that there is actually only one category that matters—suddenly, all I see is beautiful children of God.
Child of God.
Child of God.
Child of God.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! (1 John 3:1)