5 days ago, we started our road trip to Joburg (Johannesburg). After being here for a year, we decided we needed to do this trip not only to see different Ecclesias in the area but to experience Joburg itself. Looking back ,we realise there are so many things we never achieved in the first year and we want to make sure we make the most of the blessing we’ve been given by getting to stay in this country for a second year. As well as all this, after meeting a bunch of the Soweto and Yeoville members at Bible school, they begged Glenn to come and speak at their classes. So with studies planned and car packed ,we headed off on Saturday 1st Feb.
We arrived Saturday afternoon at Paul and Leoni’s place where we were able to stay. Paul and Leoni have dedicated their time to the Soweto Ecclesia and are an inspiration to us “newbie” mission workers. On Sunday, we were able to join Soweto for their memorial meeting where Glenn did the exhort followed by morning tea and then an adult class. They had to swap the adult class and memorial meeting around as I found out, due to the fact their hall is in a school in one of the many class rooms. The other class rooms are used by other religions. So the brethren wisely begin the memorial meeting at 8:30 am, as by 9:30 Glenn’s exhort was competing with the many drums, singing and other sounds coming from the surrounding class rooms.
After the adult class, we joined the members in a game of soccer (I was asked to join in as it might help me get fit…. Clearly my outfit suggested I was more “large” than pregnant :). The kids played building blocks, tennis on the pavements and general running around before all sitting down to a yummy lunch of borevoirse in rolls. By the time we had packed up and dropped different members home and stopped to take photos of the amazingly painted power station, we finally got home at 6pm.
Monday. We had the opportunity to sightsee so decided to drive thru Joburg city. It’s quite the sight. It had been raining a lot. so all the rubbish that must generally pave the walkways was now floating over the walkways and along the road.
It looks a bit like a forgotten city. Smashed windows and work half done everywhere. Amazing bus stops but no buses. We certainly didn’t get out to wander around but enjoyed the sights nonetheless. We were more than glad when we reached the suburb of Sandton. Glenn and I both agreed we could be in Melbourne City: beautiful buildings, clean streets, cut grass and people walking around. Quite the contrast to the city 5kms away. We managed to find Nelson Mandela Square, a stunning shopping centre (reminding me of Chadstone) and outside an awesome statue of Nelson Mandela. There was also a water feature which the boys were very excited about. We spent the afternoon wandering thru the shops before heading to Nambrata’s house (a Sister who we had met at Bible school ). She has a little boy ‘Abishai’ who become firm friends with Max at Bible school. So we went over for catch up and let the kids burn off some energy.
Tuesday. The weather finally cleared and Glenn decided to head to the Apartheid museum; Lilandi had invited me to join them for a trip to a zoo. I took the boys and headed off with Lilandi, Michael (and their 2 little girls) and Hendri and Liezel (all locals in Joburg who have been working for COPT for the last 4 plus years). We went to Lory Park Zoo which is a rehabilitation zoo for big cats. Amazingly it is a very small zoo and we were blessed to be the only ones there. We had a front seat at all the enclosures … seeing everything from owls, iguana, monkeys and of course all the big cats. I was also surprised to see our little Aussie kookaburra in one enclosure :).
The bigs cats were amazing; they were all up walking around, maybe due to being rehabilitated. They were all quite happy to come as close to the fence as possible. A very exciting moment was getting up close to a baby tiger. In true South African fashion, there was just the trustworthy wire fence between us — which allowed the kids to get as close to the fence as possible. Hudson was fearless to prove the tiger couldn’t bite him and placed his back tight against the fence while the baby tiger licked and chewed his top, to which Huddy replied “see!?! He can’t bite me!” 🙂
Around the next corner, we saw an enclosure with 4 baby ocelots and a baby leopard with a sign giving the prices for the ability to interact with the cubs. Unfortunately, the top line next to the prices said “no pregnant women”. I was devastated. But in order to not miss out completely, I agreed to let Ollie have a turn by going in with Lilandi and Hendri. I was so jealous and yet so excited to see Ollie get the opportunity to play with these gorgeous creatures. Unfortunately it all came to a bit of a bitter ending when the crazy baby leopard playfully jumped at Ollie and scratched his face 🙁
That afternoon we headed off at 3:30 to head back to Soweto, picking members up along the way for the Bible class. It also turns out that God-willing, the Soweto brethren will be moving to a room further away from the other classes. However, it needs a lot of work. So Glenn took measurements with plans for us to come back and help when they get ownership of the room. Glenn then ran the Bible class again, much to the delight of the members. I can’t explain how different it is when you attend these ecclesias. It is a young Ecclesia (as far as baptised members go) yet it is so vibrant and so eager to learn. They are so welcoming and grateful to have us there; it’s truly amazing how you instantly feel at home, surrounded by this instant family.
Wednesday morning. Our last morning, was an early start and straight to the home of Leona and Lucas (Liezel’ and Lilandi’s parents) to join them all in their COPT work for the day. Glenn and Hendri and the kids headed off to a local disabled school to play sports while Liezl, Leona and myself headed to the Aphiwe hall to run the Cuddles course.
The Cuddles/Snuggles group is made up of local women who get together to do a Bible study and to make blankets. There is group of women in America who knit squares and send them here to Africa where these women sew the squares into blankets to donate to those in need. Truly inspirational and proves the method of many hands make light work. We then set the hall up for the following day’s crèche course before heading home while glen and Hendri mowed and cleaned the halls yard before joking us for lunch after which Liezl, Hendri and myself went out food parcel shopping. Always one of my favourite things to do. Never ceases to amaze me how such a little amount of money can by such a big amount of food and make such an impact in someone’s life.
We finished our day by heading home to Leoni and Paul’s to enjoy an early dinner and our last meal together before going our separate ways. Leoni graciously offered to babysit and bed my very tire boy so Glenn and I could enjoy the Yeoville Bible class child-free. Once again we were greeted with open arms and excited faces of those who we had met at Bible school. We also were able to meet many news faces and learn more about this amazing ecclesial that unbeknown to us, does a lot of mission work within their own eccleisa and outreach.
We left there feeling how we had felt leaving many of the places and people over the weekend…. Refreshed, inspired, motivated and spiritually uplifted. This will certainly not be our last trip to Joburg!