We have been in South Africa for 2 months now. We spent the first week in Durban getting to know the projects there, which was amazing, each day going to a new place each with different work to be done but all filled with children happy for attention and love. Some places were easier to get straight into and involved, especially the crèches, where, as the kids hung from every part of your body, you had little choice but to interact with them. 🙂 Other places like ‘Happy’s’ however, were a little harder to throw yourself into with not only the language barrier but the mental barrier.
Glenn and myself have come to live in South Africa for a year with our 3 sons. Ollie (7) Max (5) and Hudson (3). We had always wanted to do something like mission work for ourselves, and our children, to see a different side to life and how God’s work can be done. But actually being here, the reality has set in and for the children at least, it’s not as easy as we would have hoped.
We have been in Margate for the main part of the last 2 months. At first it was really hard coming to a place so new to you and before you can even settle in, those in need are asking you for help; as rewarding as the feeling is to “be needed”, it can also be very overwhelming when you don’t necessarily now how to help them and when.
There were main projects being run in Margate the previous couple of years, but for us with 3 small children, we had to really think about what we could physically do. We decided to focus on the main projects of the Ecclesia with its Bible class and Sunday school. The Kingdom Youth is a main project that has many teenagers attending as well as off that comes the Kingdom Youth Choir and the Football team. We were asked to start up some Bible study groups, teach Sunday school at some crèches and help out at a school, which we chose to teach Woodwork and Gardening (as well as a couple of Bible Kids clubs on a Saturday afternoon).
At first, it was like a whirlwind of running here there and there and everywhere, never a spare moment. If we’re not actually running a project, we’re at home searching, organizing or printing ideas. Then there’s the upkeep of the paperwork for receipts and invoices. The first month just felt like a blur. We were told many times (before and since we’ve been here) that we “must not take on too much”; we were told to “enjoy Africa” and in that first month, I was thinking “HOW???” We were also told it would take 3 months to get settled and into a routine, but being the people we are, that seemed like far too long a time; with 3 small children, we needed a routine yesterday! 🙂 The children also showed signs of being tired and “over it”, as they were dragged to several places each day.
We started to question whether we had done the right thing by the children: did they understand what mission work was all about? It’s easy for us to see the poverty and the need here. Knowing that in most countries, if we drove around with a “Kingdom of God” sticker on our car, we might be shunned; but instead, here we are waved to, stopped and asked, who we are, what we believe and how can they possibly find out more! We can walk into any creche and offer to teach the children a Bible story and often the teacher is more than happy for us to do so. (This one always amazes me; I’m sure many mothers with children would know you can never just “walk into” a child center, Kindergarten etc., let alone talk to the children about God.) It is truly a blessing to be here with these opportunies.
We believe that all the events that surrounded us coming to South Africa were clearly part of God’s plan for us. By the end of the first month, we needed to remind ourselves to ‘let go and let God’. We felt a lot of pressure to keep all the projects running and be everywhere at all times; but with 3 children, it just wasn’t going to work. So we took a step back and made some changes. (In the meantime Glenn had started renovations on the Ecclesial Hall). We focused on our “day off” being exactly that.
Certain projects Glenn would do alone so I could be home to give the kids dinner (instead of making them wait till 7:30 at night before they would eat). We also decided Glenn would do his building work on a Thursday which would give the kids an extra day off during the week to enjoy the beaches and sunshine. Other days, Glenn would head home with the kids so I could spend a day in the crèche helping out and getting things organized. On Fridays, a young Sister often comes home with us and will help me walk to the shops and get some groceries; in turn, I help teach her to cook, which allows me to be home with the children while still helping others.
We have also recently been on a holiday. We headed to the Thula Thula Game reserve and Hluhluwe, where we were able too see some of God’s amazing creation in the African land and the animals. There is nothing quite like seeing an elephant walk within a meter of you in, its own habitat.
The only downside to having a holiday is that (as discussed earlier), many people would comment on how busy we were and we honestly didn’t feel THAT busy. However, after having a whole week of just us as a family, coming home to the week ahead of us made us realize just how busy we are. Which is actually a good feeling, because when you’re sitting on a beach in Africa with the warm sun on your back, you can feel a little guilty that God chose you to come to come to this amazing place and do His work. Having that moment where you also realize how hard you work, can put it all into perspective.
The fact that we’ve been given this opportunity, is constantly on our minds. We feel truly blessed that we can be here in this amazing place, full of opportunities to do God’s work and spread His word.
– Crissie and Glenn Wright