Our once bimonthly reports are becoming more infrequent – not because of lack of work but because of lack of time to sit down and write about it all! Praise to our heavenly Father, the work in Margate just keeps increasing – a situation that is exciting to be part of. And in His mercy we were sent some extra hands in the form of bro and sister Joshua & Josie Smith from Christchurch, who joined us full-time for 3 months, and brother Themba Mkitika from Durban, who is working part-time with us on COP Trust activities. Being able to recruit our sister Fezekile to help Caz with CUDDLE work one day a week has added to the support and so we have had a really strong Margate team in the last couple of months. Josh and Josie just hit the ground running and have put in so much in their time here. This has of course allowed us to implement many of the things we had on ‘standby’, as well as being able to make full use of the increase in preaching contacts we had have since April.
Josh and Josie and their extra vehicle were also very helpful during the sad time we had in early July when our friend Freda, who had been ill for a while became very sick; her and her family needed quite a bit of support, with transport but also emotionally. Freda died and her family asked us to hold a small memorial service for her in our hall. She leaves behind her elderly mother who is now looking after her 12 year old son, Andries (a hearing impaired boy at Lorraine school who Ben helped to obtain hearing aids) and so the family will continue to need our support. Freda attended our Sunday services for all of last year and Andries the Sunday School. We pray that God’s love shines through our small actions and speaks to them deeply.
Josie and Josh have also been invaluable in picking up pastoral care in the ecclesia, such as visiting brother Eddie at home and arranging visits to sister Amy Main and sister Sue Boothway.
We have also had little Snqobile (who celebrated her 4th birthday with us in July) to stay for a couple of weeks while sister Fezy attended study modules in another town and the tragic death of Nelson’s eldest daughter, Audrey (not a Christadelphian) – she leaves a husband and four children behind; the youngest aged 3 is likely to be living with Nelson and Cecilia. So as usual never a quiet moment in Margate!
However Josie and Josh are leaving early in August and we are still planning to go home at the end of the year for personal reasons, although that decision is continually hard to call as we have built such lovely relationships with the brothers & sisters in our church, as well as the many people we have regular contact with and those whom we continue to meet, who search for God’s truth.
How apt are Christ’s words in John chapter 4: “Look, I tell you, life up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” No feeling for us that “No one wants to hear the gospel these days”, as we can frequently hear people saying back home. We can testify to his statement: “Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.” As many mission workers have said before us, the personal benefit of full-time preaching work is immeasurable and probably far greater than any impact we may have on those around us. Our Lord is good in His many blessings on those who serve Him. If you are reading this and are considering doing mission work, please think about Margate which will sorely need workers in the New Year. You will not regret it.
Josie and Josh catching fish with bro Alastair on a rare day off
Another hard day at the office for Josie…
Snqobile blowing out her candles
Numbers to Sunday School have been slowly increasing in the younger classes, mainly children from Lorraine school and a boost after a successful 3 day holiday club, assisted by Themba, Josie, Josh and sister Catherine Brooker from Australia. We have just started a link with Bournemouth Sunday School in the UK, exchanging video messages, which we hope will encourage both schools to feel part of a global Christadelphian community.
Sunday School getting recognition on graduation day
Infant class show and tell
Letter from a Bournemouth Sunday Schooler
Margate SS reps sending a video message back to Bournemouth
We installed a new youth committee to replace the previous one, with some of the group really finding their feet by being given responsibility. They have independently formed a choir to lead our opening worship and they performed at our graduation day recently.
Kingdom Youth has been the domain of Josie and Josh for the past 3 months – with us finding it hard to come up with new ideas we have been grateful for their fresh input – learning the Haka was a highlight for all involved! We have also been running some classes which are more life-skills-based (having goals and values, making choices etc) to try and protect the group from the pressures of their peer group and the advance of HIV infection (which is currently at an all-time high of 41% prevalence in our district).
There is still no youth club in Gamalakhe at this time; however our friend Zama has plans to renovate an old building so it is still possible there may be a venue available soon. Ben has been keeping contact with many of the group through the PASS course (see below).
Saturday Bible Club has now moved to a schoolroom right next to our original hall, thanks to one of the grandmas in the area – a much more suitable venue which has allowed us to restart crafts and colouring (African children never seem to tire of colouring, even teenagers!). The kids have stuck with us through the recent venue changes and we see new faces almost every week. Josie and Themba have been running most of the classes, both of them a bit nervous at first but it’s been great to see them develop as a team. One week, where Josie had spent hours preparing the craft activity, we arrived at the school to find the gates locked and the security man nowhere to be found. Suddenly it was improvisation time: how can we do this great lesson on the piece of waste ground in front of us with people passing all the time? They did an admirable job culminating in a treasure hunt for sweets (‘the Kingdom of heaven is better than treasure!’) around the rubbish and fencing.
The 3 day winter Kids Club on the theme ‘Timelines’ got the children putting themselves on the timeline before thinking about the first few books of the Bible. As biscuit decorating had proved so popular in the past we had decorating Joseph’s coat, as well as collage craft, sports and indoor games.
The new Kingdom Youth committee
Josh and Josie introducing some NZ culture to Kingdom Youth
Josie teaching the cup rap
Themba translating enthusiastically at Saturday Bible Club
Saturday Bible Clubbers with their 12 disciples courtesy of Josie
SBC in the rubbish dump – still fun!
Face painting always a good icebreaker at Kids Club
Certainly a coat of many colours hey?
Werner, our disabled friend is still coming to Bible classes regularly. He always had more things to ask than we had time to answer so Josh started a home visit once a week which has been allowing him to tackle things that were on his mind more readily. He appears to be retaining his loyalty to the SDA church however.
Our Tuesday night Bible study class (based on ‘How to Study the Bible’ course) was down to 2 regulars so we started one-on-one classes with them and readvertised a new course. This has had 5-10 visitors every week and is now on its 8th week. One of my crèche teacher contacts and her husband started attending after hearing about it at our graduation day, plus Moira who we mentioned in our last report. Moira has been away for a couple of months visiting family but is back and as keen as ever to learn more – very exciting.
Our 2 contacts from the original course are Akhona, a schoolgirl who is now doing one-to-one classes with Caz & Josie – she comes with deep questions, is obviously puzzled about our assertions that we are not going to heaven, and on one occasion brought a printout of an answer from one of her Anglican church friends about life after death. Her 2 cousins and their mum have also attended the Tuesday study class and taken correspondence courses. The other is a man called William from Zimbabwe, who has attended the computer course and is also a regular Sunday morning visitor now too. We recently found out he had done CBM correspondence courses about 5 years ago in Zim! Josh has done a couple of one-on-one classes with him. Themba has been making a real effort to befriend him and he accompanied us on one of our crèche upgrades recently too.
Another regular visitor, Mthy, having attended Bible class and one-on-one classes with Josh for several months is now pretty convinced of all our doctrines as far as we can tell. He very much wants his church (of which he is an elder) to learn all the things he has, so has asked us to start a seminar class there. We pray that if and when his congregation don’t all follow him he is able to stick with his newly-found convictions, as we suspect he is delaying baptism to more easily convince his church.
We had our second ‘special effort’ on a Saturday afternoon, a presentation by Josh on ‘Where are you going when you die’. It had good numbers, largely thanks to our friend Matthews Ngidi who brought two taxis full from Nzimakwe, many of whom signed up for courses afterwards.
We had a full hall again for the recent graduation Sunday service, with brother Eddie Sampson from Durban a bit overawed by the diversity of his audience as he got to his feet, but his talk about how we can please God was very appropriate and well received.
Josh and Josie take Werner shopping
Great discussion at the Tuesday Bible class
Full hall on Graduation Day
Computer Learning Centre
At last we are live with wireless internet after much to-ing and fro-ing by Ben to get a landline installed and then dealing with incorrect billing etc. The router wasn’t working properly initially but thankfully Josh had the necessary expertise to sort things out. It has given a new lease of life to the Lorraine school pupils who were pretty competent at Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. after a year of regular classes. The internet is of course mindblowing to them and watching them discover their road on Google Streetview (yes it does cover Margate!) is delightful! We have also been able to invite back many previous computer students and we hope to resurrect After School Club as more of a research/library-style venue after our UK break.
Themba has been trained to update and maintain the computers by Josh and Ben and is helping teach the classes every week. This is one aspect of our work which has the potential to be a sustainable community service even once we leave.
Lorraine Development & Skills Centre
Josie joined Ben for the regular morning teaching slot allowing them to take a year group each, instead of the balancing act Ben usually has to perform.
Ben heard from the Rotary (who are still trying to help Lorraine school become registered and obtain land) that free spectacles would be available on a certain date for any children who needed them, so Ben & Themba spent a morning testing every child in the school and identified 20 children who needed glasses. They then booked a taxi to take them to nearby Shelly Beach the following week, only to find on arrival it was a clinic for pensioners only! That was a disappointing day but just another reminder of how unreliable the schemes of man are. All of these children are individually eligible for free spectacles but their families often don’t have the knowledge or wherewithal to take them to an optometrist. We hope to help them out in small groups some time soon.
Themba assesses the eyesight of the kids at Lorraine school
The impact of January’s advertising was still felt with a full June/July crèche teacher course. Fezekile taught one session on her own – reluctantly, as the notion of standing up and telling her elders what to do is do very foreign to her culture. However she did very well and Caz is hoping she will do a couple more sessions in the next course of the year. She has also done a couple of crèche assessments and Caz is training her to do more database management. She is still very busy juggling motherhood, her crèche work and her studies.
We had a series of teacher workshops in July, including a very popular Numicon training session by Ben and a guest teacher from ‘Gymbo-Kidz’ – a peripatetic group who run physical activity classes in the local ‘wealthy’ kindergartens. The teachers had a lot of fun on the obstacle course and the variations in strength and physical development of our own children in Good News Crèche was openly demonstrated, and links made with their intellectual development too.
Themba, Fezy, Josie Josh and Caz were all involved in 3 separate trips to upgrade the outdoor play equipment at Mathulini crèche, almost an hour north ofMargate. Our friend Matthews Ngidi has also asked for help to upgrade a very romantic-looking abandoned church to get a crèche going using a crèche course graduate friend of his – we have met with the owners of the church to get permission but are encouraging Matthews to seek sources of ongoing funding to run the crèche before we commit any further.
Latest creche course graduates
Fezekile doing some CUDDLE database work
Creche teachers learning physical games at the Gymbo Kidz workshop
Getting started on the outdoor play at Mathulini creche
Job well done!
The potential creche Matthews has asked us to help with
Good News Crèche
The extra hands allowed us to take the crèche on two trips in the last couple of months – one just to the local park (15 mins walk away, a good opportunity to practice the road safety they had been learning) and also to the beach. One of the local lifeguards gave us an hour of his time to show the kids the lifeboat, lifesaving aids and demonstrate the rescue and resuscitation of one of his colleagues. The kids had a great time, some of them obviously terrified as they met with the sea for the first time, despite only living a couple of kilometres away.
Simple pleasures in the park
Riding in the lifeboat
The lifeguards stage a rescue operation
Looking at the waves with delight (these were the brave ones!)
Indumiso CB Group
Since Zama left her busy job, we have met up with her once or twice and this led to the start of a small women’s Bible study class at her house, led by Caz. Caz has really enjoyed this opportunity and is going through first principle subjects in a more roundabout way than traditional ‘preparing for baptism’-type classes – the attendees (sometimes only 3 or 4) have a short concentration span and so she is constantly thinking of ‘activities’ for the class, spider diagrams, puzzles and tables to fill in – it is more like a youth group class really. However with this and Akhona’s class Caz is doing more direct Bible teaching than ever before which she is relishing.
We did not pursue the land purchase mentioned in the last report for various reasons, but Zama got a grant from a national bank and used that to renovate a farmhouse on the edge of Gamalakhe – hopefully when it is finished we can move the women’s class there and possibly restart a youth club.
Josie, Zama, her friend Thobile and Caz after a Bible class
Zama’s youth renovating their farmhouse
This is Ben’s newest venture in educational outreach, following his decision to stop private tuition classes. It is primarily a way to keep in touch with the youth of Gamalakhe. Positive Attitudes to Successful Study came out of the few classes we had with the original Social Club group, where we realised that despite being under so much pressure to perform in their final exams, most pupils knew only to read and reread their textbooks until the early hours of the morning in the weeks before a test.
The six week study skills course he devised includes PowerPoint and video clips teaching memory aids, note taking and summarising skills, healthy eating and revision routines and planning a revision timetable – most things us in the West picked up but were never formally taught in school. It has run in 2 Gamalakhe high schools with much success, with the teachers asking them to run it for lower grades in the future.
We hope to roll it out to other schools in Gamalakhe and the Margate Middle School where many of our Kingdom Youth come from.
A typical PASS class
Caz continues to work at the SPCA and Margateveterinary hospital as before, providing our main local source of ongoing funding.
Josie kindly spent many hours compiling a stunning portfolio of our projects to take around local businesses for fundraising awareness. Josh has done a couple of preliminary visits and we plan to keep this going once they are gone. This is an example of one of our priority ‘when we have time’ projects that Josh and Josie have been able to take on for us.
To close… (from Ben)
It has been brilliant to have Josh and Josie Smith to visit for three months. Margate had been a huge blessing for the whole 2 years, but we think the last 3 months have been the most rewarding, as Josie and Josh changed the dynamic in so many positive ways. Instead of just me and Caz doing our planning meeting ‘plan and pray’, it turned into a real team effort, with Nelson, Themba, Fezy, Josh, Josie, Caz and Ben. It really felt like a team (a bit like P2P) but knowing that it was a long term project, with long term relationships and goals, made it all the more special.
Josh and Josie had very specific skills, showing a great love and maturity in their work. Josh started to lead Bible class, and we all loved them so much we let him do every week for 3 months! – this gave Ben and Alastair much needed rest. They worked with contacts, youth and particular progress was gained as they worked with the ecclesial members, phoning and visiting them to help everyone feel more committed to the various projects.
They helped us see Margate with fresh eyes, and watching them work helped us to realise what an amazing opportunity Margate is.
We heartily recommend Josh and Josie, and pray that they may have the opportunity to work for WCF sometime in the future.
We feel that doing volunteer work for 2 years is a good period of time (for us and our contacts), and the possibility of starting a family (with all the different considerations that brings) has brought us to the decision to go home in December, God willing. This feels very soon and we are actively encouraging people to come and fill the space as we leave in a few short months.
Fezekile invited the ecclesial members for lunch at her place (her landlord’s garage)
Ecclesial bring and share lunch