We were blessed to have some time with Sis Michaela Rowan from our Handsworth ecclesia back in the UK, plus a last minute visit from Bro Daniel Bullock and Sis Suzi Ali. They all supplied us with spiritual and mental refreshing: fresh ideas as well as helping hands! Our new Gamalakhe venue is thriving, but we now feel we are reaching a limit in terms of the workload we have built up.
As always, our God is keeping us on our toes with new developments at every turn! We know his thoughts are far above our own so we can only pray he will use us and guide us in the path He has determined.
Our Margate Sunday School continues much as before. It is apparent that we are in competition with the many other churches in our area – some of whom, we were told this week, serve popcorn! This may always mean a limit to our numbers as, but we pray that God brings us those children whom He wants, through Sunday School or other means. A holiday Kids Club usually brings a boost in numbers but we were unable to do one this holiday as we were on the Family Bible Conference in the Drakensberg Mountains – a much-needed and appreciated break for both us, but also Nelson, Cecilia, & Fezekile.
We have just this week started a Second Sunday School in the Gamalakhe venue (more on that under ‘youth’) on a Saturday, naming it Saturday Bible Club after the popular Club run by Lilandi and Michael! We had 11 children but Zama was away and apparently she had at least ten more lined up to come, so we’re excited to see where that will lead.
The first ever Saturday Bible Club!
Sunday Schoolers enjoying our monthly bring-and-share lunch
The committee helped us to do some advertising around the traffic junctions last month & since then an exciting development has occurred in Kingdom Youth. Ben was approached by Eliezer, bro Nelson’s youngest son, to start a football team. There is no level ground in our suburb for him & his friends to play. (Eliezer is ten years old and as such was too young for KY). Ben told him if he could get 11 boys together for a meeting he would discuss it with them. The following week 15 boys turned up, actually a ready-formed team with a very disciplined 14 year old captain, and they already played informal matches with other local boys. Ben knew that Steve Roberts, (the man we had met on our first plane journey and our neighbour) was coaching some youth on a Wednesday at a nearby sports ground. A deal was struck, whereby if all team members attended Kingdom Youth they would be ‘eligible’ for transport to training. We sought permission from their parents and it has worked very well. The “Kingdom Youth Football team” are getting free transport and coaching at a proper football field, and Kingdom Youth attendance has doubled! (Eliezer has been allowed to attend due to his membership of the team). Word has spread and other soccer-keen boys have come along, but we have made no promises!!! Brother Dan was able to use his soccer coaching skills at their training session. The taxi ride round trip is R200 and the boys play barefoot – it would be lovely to find some soccer teams in Western countries to sponsor them.
We were a bit concerned about attendance at KY and we never would have guessed our Father would bring the solution through soccer!
The committee and friends go fly billing for Kingdom Youth
Line dancing was a hit!
The Kingdom Youth U15s team
I mentioned a new community venue in Gamalakhe township in our last report, which Zama had been granted sole use of, and had invited us to participate in how it was used. We sent flyers around announcing a new club and invited community members to come to a meeting to give us their ideas. Only one young lady came along who was not part of Indumiso, but we had an exciting planning meeting where we talked about the many uses we could put the hall to, in serving the community and bringing people to God. Ben & I are part of a committee which includes 3 Indumiso members and that young lady who came to our first planning meeting. Currently Ben & I have committed to two evenings a week and it is attracting the same audience both times – many high school students from the local area are attending and numbers have been up to 34. There is the potential to run Bible seminars, womens’ classes, life skills, after school – everything we could do in Margate Good News Centre – with more manpower. For the moment it has become a youth club with the catchy name ‘Gamalakhe Youth in Mission Club’ – a committee decision! Of course with Indumiso involvement it is not totally under our control, but for the moment we feel it has a good atmosphere of Bible study mixed with good clean fun, and we can only pray that our relationships with those who attend will grow and in time this will lead to them seeking real Bible truth.
Michaela, Suzi & Dan all ran Bible studies and activities for our 3 youth classes during their stay, it was lovely to sit back and let them run things!
The planning meeting for the new Club in Gamalakhe
Balloon fun at the new club!
Ben teaching the parable of the new and old cloth
Computer lessons, crèche teacher workshops and bro Alastair’s teacher training have brought new course correspondents in the last two months. Two ladies in our neighbourhood attended our Bible class series on Revelation for a few weeks, but they have since stopped coming. We are trying to bring in new ways of keeping contact with people who complete a course. God willing we will repeat our first ‘graduation’ service (see last report) a couple of times a year, and we are asking bro Nelson to call or write to everyone who completes a course and offer a home visit to discuss Bible topics.
Zama has expressed interest in starting more adult Bible classes in Gamalakhe so we are currently trying to find a space for that! We hoping to start a new seminar series with a group of youth in Margate in the coming weeks.
Ben & Nelson spoke at the Zionist church of Mr Nakana again one Saturday morning, by invitation. They have been asked to speak there on a Sunday morning when more of the congregation will be present, so we are hoping to arrange a day when they will not be missed at Margate. Three of Mr Nakana’s children have been attending the Gamalakhe youth club and they are very keen Bible students. They also come to Margate for computer classes when they can afford the taxi.
We have continued to visit Sister Fezekile’s cousin, Sisa. He seems very happy with our explanations of every Bible topic we have discussed up to now. On our last visit we could visibly see things ‘clicking into place’ for him. He still maintains a kind of social isolation so he has not visited our meeting yet.
After School Klub/Computer Learning Centre
A second group of young people brought in by Matthews Ngidi from Nzimakwe township completed their course in September. (Four of them were midway through God’s Master Plan course by then too!)
Tuesday afternoon classes have been very variable – we turned six people away one day, yet sometimes there are just a handful! We are currently thinking about ‘the next step’ in terms of how we use the computers to build relationships. Tuesdays have always been drop-in classes but we might advertise courses of specified length and see if that brings more regular attendance.
We have also had enquiries from a new local high school about providing classes for their learners, and we are definitely known in the area for our computers.
Lorraine Development & Skills Centre
Our relationship with this school continues to blossom; Ben took Suzi, Dan and Michaela there where they were able to teach Bible stories, and his regular classes continue. His poster project has brought the kids much joy, and he was able to contact a company about sourcing Lap Desks (www.lapdesk.co.za) for the children who have no surface to work on. The Rotary Club has also been helping Lorraine and they have supplied the funds to buy the desks!
The Friday morning computer class attendance had started to drop and when Ben asked Lorraine about it, she said it was because pupils were struggling to afford the R10 taxi fare. We waited a few more weeks to see if things would improve but after a while we offered to pay the R190 round trip and now attendance is back to the full 22. The grade 9 class had been coming for a whole term and so now the school is sending the grade 8 class.
Caz has been helping the older kids to get their vegetable garden going using the sustainable techniques we have taught elsewhere, and we were able to pass on a donation of milk from a dairy company.
Lorraine students in the vegetable garden
A series of crèche workshops were held in September; these are a way of keeping in contact with teachers who have already completed the 6 week course, and Caz asked some teachers who were using great ideas in their own crèches to share them with others. So we learnt how to make robust furniture from cardboard and paper, plus stimulating toys for babies from crisp packets and empty Coke bottles, and Michaela gave a workshop on how to provide healthy food for preschoolers.
Caz, Nelson and Fezekile upgraded a stinky toilet block in one crèche.
The next 6 week crèche course – the 3rd this year – will start this coming week God willing. Caz has had a lot of interest and six people pay up front which is a first!
Teachers teaching teachers how to make furniture from waste
Michaela teaching a workshop on nutrition
The toilet block post upgrade
New handwashing facility at the crèche
Good News Crèche
Caz has begun teaching one day a week in the Good News Crèche, and the three teachers now meet weekly to plan the following week’s lessons. This has resulted in much more cohesive learning for the children; we have instigated a ‘Theme Table’ and a ‘Colour of the Week’ and had our first ever day trip to an animal farm to coincide with the Theme of farming.
A local lifeguard talking to the kids during ‘Beach week’
Day trip to Granny Goose Animal Farm
Indumiso CB Group
Our involvement with this group is now based around the new youth club. The young people on the youth club committee are much more independent than at our own KY and have already run some activities on their own.
There is a disabled girl that Indumiso care for intermittently, whom they were concerned about. The family have had no advice how to care for the girl, who is about 13 years old and sits in a room all day with no stimulation. She has no language but a lovely smile! When we visited she was sitting backwards in a poorly fitting wheelchair and quite wary of us. Apparently if she is forward in the wheelchair she moves around and when she brought the cupboard crashing down they decided it was safer if she didn’t move! It was a blessing to use Suzi’s occupational therapy skills, she visited and made some recommendations for how to stimulate and occupy her in a safe way. It was lovely to see her response to some of our donated toys (a kind of frenzied squeaking noise and a big smile!) We were able to also give the family a Bible message of encouragement at each visit. At Westville, there just ‘happened’ to be a much better wheelchair not being used, so we hope to be able to pass it on soon. Caz is making a tray with her new-found furniture-making skills to allow her to keep toys on her lap.
Michaela offering spiritual comfort for Slindile’s family
Suzi & Dan playing with Slindile
Ben is now regularly teaching one morning a week at the Learning Difficulties Centre and through this contact has trained over 40 teachers on using the Numicon maths resource – one course in the Good News Centre and one in a school. His contacts for Numicon keep growing and he is using donations from this training to fund bringing Numicon to the poorer schools in the area.
Brother Alastair also ran two teacher training days on using microscopes at the Good News Centre. The Natural Science teachers are supposed to be able to teach microscopic technique to their pupils but most of them don’t know how to do it themselves, nor do most high schools have a functional microscope!
Caz was able to attend a rural rabies clinic with the SPCA which she thoroughly enjoyed. Turning up to a waiting crowd of over 100 animals and vaccinating a significant proportion of local cats and dogs in under 2 hours – some of the smaller animals brought in flour sacks!- felt very satisfying, as human rabies cases still occur too regularly in this province.
Bro Alastair’s teaching training day
The rabies clinic
We are now one year into our 2 year stay and this has given us the opportunity to review where we are and where we are heading.
We love Margate, and we are in a good routine teaching many people in a variety of ways, being careful to keep a focus on the Bible teaching. We feel consistency is very important for the people we are reaching out to: often numbers are very good, however it can dip suddenly or just be different people coming each week. This can be tiring and makes it hard to move people forward spiritually. It has been great to have brothers and sisters in Durban to rely on and share joys and frustrations with.
We can see that 2 years in Margate is a relatively short time and realistically the projects that we have started are still in their infancy; although we are aiming to develop projects that are self-sustaining, we don’t feel any of them are at this stage currently. Inevitably we are thinking forward to where we should live in the future; we both feel reluctant to leave Margate without someone else to take up the baton.
Praise the Lord for what He has achieved through us so far!