Things have continued at a steady busy pace over the last couple of months, still not many of us, but we have got into a routine and it has even been possible to increase our activities.
The Clermont Zulu Bible reading group we started in January has grown and is an exciting thing to be part of. We regularly have all seats filled (30) with some children sitting on rugs on the floor. The older Sunday school children still attend and we have had people bringing friends and neighbours. We get the best attendance at Clermont for this class – and although we chiefly provide transport, it gives us an opportunity to get to know the community better.
I have spent most Sundays at Clermont teaching Sunday School and helping out with the Sunday service. It is still new and takes a lot of commitment, but we are getting there! 2 couples (Beelers and Strachans) have joined and 2 local Zulu brothers – we have shared a couple of communal meals and planning sessions and attendance seems to have settled down with 2-3 visitors each week. Sunday school numbers have dropped slightly, but we have split into 2 classes now to encourage the older children to return with lessons and activities aimed at them specifically, so they are not working at the same level as the young children. This seems to be going well, and we regularly have 35-40 attendees across the whole Sunday school each week.
Clermont Afterschool Club is still going well, we found it difficult at first and soon worked out that you need as many volunteers to help out as you can … 2 is the minimum! We mainly play games and do craft activities, and encourage those who come to also attend reading group and Sunday school.
Outside of Clermont I have spent my time teaching English classes for children in Mariannhill and Lamontville, continuing with the soup and coffee mornings at the Kwa DaBeka clinic, Gogo’s coffee mornings at Mariannhill, teaching youth classes at Lamontville and Happy’s each week and helping out with any other projects. The youth that come to Youth group and English classes at Lamontville are really amazing – they have asked to start their own project helping the needy in their community … even though some of them live in shacks. So we have had some planning meetings and will start fundraising soon. They have identified a homeless guy who needs food and some new clothes. If this is successful, I have suggested they also do some fundraising for themselves to be able to attend the next youth camp that is run here. They are still young, but I really feel that if we can keep working with them and helping them to get to know God, by God’s grace we could have 15-20 new members for Lamontville in a few years and it could be a really vibrant church. They have recently asked to start attending Siphiwe’s bible classes in Reunion, so each week we pick them up and take them with us. It’s only happened a couple of times so far, but now that the holidays are over we hope this will be a regular occurrence.
In March the food delivery truck could not get into the drive at Westville hall, and so I quickly had to learn to reverse with a trailer! We loaded up the trailer then drove to the top of the car park, unloaded and repeated at least 3 times! But we could not have carried 2 tons of food that far, even shaving 20 yards off the distance makes a difference! I am pleased to have a new skill!
Food parcel distribution was slightly different in March as we had tried a new method of giving out name tags and ticking people off a list as they received their package … to make sure we gave them to those who were registered on the scheme. It went well but there is still room for improvement! We still have too many names on the list as we can only currently provide 200 parcels a month. Several people were amazing and agreed to share bags with friends and neighbours, so that the last 15 bags were shared amongst about 47 people. I was so touched, and glad we didn’t have to send 32 people away with nothing.
This month we also had the new signs that Barry had had made – really eye-catching! We always put leaflets in the packets with a bible quote in Zulu and the details of the Clermont church. During April some of the ladies who had received packages started attending our bible reading group.
Maggie organised a fun day at Happy’s, and involved Ann and Neville Blewett and Stuart Strachan from Westville. It was a fantastic day – Stuart did a short talk about miracles and why they were different to magic – then Neville blew us away with his amazing magic show. See Lindo’s face on the picture below! It was lovely to spend some time with them, as the students don’t have much to do on weekends.
I ended up going home for most of April … I was supposed to go for 2 weeks, but my sister decided to get married just after my planned return date so I extended my trip. It meant I was missing P2P which was disappointing in a way, but obviously I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the wedding and had a lovely time catching up with friends and family. Whilst there I spent a week with the Palmers who had been volunteers here for most of last year and it was great to see them. We also held ‘Kitty and Jude and Liberty and Oscar’s Fundraising Party’, which was something we had planned to do in SA last year but had never managed to find a free weekend. The purpose was to raise money for COPT, and to have a lot of fun whilst doing so.
Kitty was the main brains behind it – but without the work, planning and support of Emma Palmer, Mark and Paula Buckler and Ashby ecclesia it wouldn’t have happened! Basically you paid to get in, paid to leave, paid to lie down (?), paid if you lost a game, paid less if you won, paid to bob for apples or stick your face in flour … and the highlight … paid to throw jelly or wet sponges at Simon Palmer or Phil Ashcroft! So many people were really generous with their time, money and possessions – and we raised about £500. Chris and Geoff Ashcroft couldn’t come, but donated a week in one of their holiday sites in France for auction!
Ashby sisters did face-painting. Dan Bullock set up a professional photography studio and sold the pics to raise funds. The youth from Sutton – organised by Deb Harrison – came and made non-alcoholic cocktails, styled our hair and played music. It was a good day!
We went onto the streets of Ashby and invited people in, did some Zulu singing and Emma had arranged pictures and literature to show what work is going on in Africa.
Before I left SA in early April I spent a lot of time planning for the P2P team who visited for the last 2 weeks. I managed to be back in SA for their last night and it seemed like they had had an amazing time and got a lot done in just 2 weeks!
The trip to Ndwedwe seemed to be a highlight and Vincent and Jabu were thrilled! I have helped the local brothers and sisters with the planning of the 4 P2P applied Touch and Teach trips over the last 18 months and have really enjoyed being part of it – from emailing the team in advance with information they need, to co-ordinating transport, sleeping arrangements and activities, I love it.
I’m going to hope I can still be involved with the P2P UK programme when I get home.