I’ve now been back in Durban for almost four weeks for my second year as a Fieldworker here in South Africa. I long ago stopped feeling like an outsider and now consider this home. When I was back in the USA at Christmastime, I visited the Baltimore, MD ecclesia and was asked to exhort. Before service started, the recording Brother (who also happens to be my brother) asked me what meeting did I want to be announced as being from. I thought about it for a few moments before telling him to announce me as being from the Mariannhill ecclesia, the local township ecclesia that I attend most Sundays.
So that now that I am back, it’s back to work. One of my favorite parts of the work here is that I don’t have a single area of focus. I get around to each of our Good News Centers (Mariannhill, Lamontville and Clermont) multiple times a week, as well as spending time at the Bible Education Center (BEC) in downtown Durban. The benefit of this is that I experience all aspects of the operations down here and have gotten to know as many people as possible — thereby expanding the relationships I’ve made (which has been the best part of my time here). One of the mottos down here is “changing lives is life changing.” This is 100% true; if you spend any significant time here and you are not changed by the experience, then you’re not trying.
As for actual work, for this report, I’d like to highlight my time at the creche, or daycare center, in Mariannhill. I go there once a week to deliver a quick Bible story (most of the kids are 3-4 years old with short attention spans), have them color a picture related to the story, play some games and help serve lunch. Prior to coming to South Africa, I never would have considered helping out with little kids; but this is definitely one of the highlights of my week. When I made my first trip there this year, all the kids saw me and immediately started yelling my name — including the kids who are new to the creche this year whose names I don’t know! After lunch, the kids all take a nap. But they are certainly not the only one needing a rest; a room full of 20 active 3-4 year olds does tire one out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Changing lives is life changing indeed!
Matt Bilello, Durban, SA 24 February 2014