Friday, February 10, 2012

Cape Town, South Africa: Day 6

We're alive! We're alive!

First, I need to grovel, apple-polish, beg for mercy, bootlick, cowtow, truckle, and make it all up to you. This disclaimer is intended to solicit your forgiveness for my lack of a blog post yesterday.

Apparently, we had some readers who were waiting with bated breath as I skipped my late-night writing session to melt into the sheets after a long, hard day of work.

Actually, we've been leading people to Jesus, so maybe you'll accept that excuse. If not, then hopefully the following will make up for it.

Today, we spent the morning in the Masiphumelele township at the Baptist church started by Living Hope in that area.

After shutting down at 12:30 p.m., we went to Living Care to fit several patients for glasses and pray for others. Our Brentwood Baptist missionary, Amy Helms, is a nurse there (or "Sister Amy," as everyone calls her, which is derived from the Catholic days when only nuns were nurses). She gave us a world-class tour of the health center.

While we were there, our sweet Julie fitted a precious 88-year-old soul named Mary for glasses. It was a had-to-be-there moment. She'd previously been telling the nurses she couldn't read her Bible anymore and wished she could afford a pair of glasses. In only a way that God could do, we showed up at the right time.

Finally, when Julie found the right fit and prescription for Mary, she opened her Afrikaans Bible to the 23rd Psalm and began weeping as she read aloud. Then, as could only be expected, the three of us from the team who were gathered around her bed joined her.

After a quick lunch and change of clothes, our team went to visit the Cape of Good Hope. And I'm so glad we did. If you're ever looking for a place to stand, slack-jawed, in complete astonishment at the wonder of who God is and how big He is, this is your place.

And after a week of wishing and hoping along the way, we finally caught sight of a harmless ostrich and our first set of baboons—with all the windows closed and the doors locked (especially after what happened last year). NOTE: See George West for the retelling of that story.

Stick a fork in it. We're done for the week.

We saw 614 patients, gave away 613 pairs of glasses and sunglasses, washed 337 sets of feet (or 674 individuals foots), and did 100 glucose testings.

Tomorrow is sight-seeing and then we head home. Thank you for your prayers this week. They carried us through.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cape Town, South Africa: Day 5

Today, we went to Ocean View, a township of 30-40,000 people living within three square miles near the fishing village of Kommetjie. We offered the eye clinic at their local multipurpose building and gobs of people showed up.

Here's your Ocean View history lesson for the day.

Most of the coloured Afrikaan residents we met were forcibly removed to this area from their homes in Simon's Town in 1968 under Apartheid. You're probably cringing right now because I just called them "coloured" (especially if you're in the American South). But, in truth, they'd be offended if I called them any other thing. They're an extremely proud of their ancestry and heritage.

You would't believe it was a township if you drove through. The houses are much nicer and more developed than most of the other townships. However, it's riddled with crime. It holds the highest drug use per person in all of South Africa (especially known for "tik," the South African term for methamphetamine). That, in turn, brings about gangs, prostitution, sex trafficking, and violence.

They've got a big sin problem on their hands. Huge. Gigantic. But Living Hope has noticed a strong Christian presence growing in their community. And here's the kicker: Afrikaans are passionate by nature, so when they become believers and go all in, they're ALL in. That's GREAT news!

Sharon brought this blanket home from the States, fell in love with this baby (who's with his grandpa in this picture), and gave it away to him.

Look who showed up to help! Our Brentwood Baptist missionaries and Living Hope reps.

Once we left Ocean View, we literally drove out of the area and across the street to a beautiful restaurant at Imhoff Farms. That's what blows my mind. Poverty and wealth can literally be separated by a piece of pavement. Chew on that for a minute. It's definitely been hard for us to wrap our heads around.

After lunch, the team went to Living Way to shop and browse through the local business and entrepreneurial initiatives. We were able to support some of the program's finest.

Then, we broke for some to go to Joey and Courtney Lankford's house while others of us went to visit the Kids Club in Masiphumelele at Masi Baptist Church.
After we got back to The Team House, we planned a large family-style dinner with our team and the missionaries.

Whew. Productive day. The end.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cape Town, South Africa: Day 4

Bottom's up. It's time to drink in more of the beauty we're seeing here.

Gulp, gulp, gulp...

Gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp...

Gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp...

Gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Good, huh?

Today, our team is exhausted beyond measure. For that reason, we're taking a half-day off.

This morning, we went to Living Grace, the ministry of Living Hope for the helpless, homeless, and addicted. We stepped one foot inside their building and were greeted by those in the recovery program, the ministry leaders, and a few early morning patients.

Before we even started unpacking blood pressure cuffs and eye glasses, we sat down to worship with the group. Then, we got an extra special treat as our very own Michael took on a new name: The Right Reverend Russell.

He delivered a short message to the crowd based on Jesus' words in Acts 8:7-9: "'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him."

The Rev explained that it's much easier to go to a foreign country and tell people about Jesus than to do it right where you live, work, and play. He's right. We're realizing that more and more on this trip. And he pointed out that Jesus didn't suggest that we do this, but said we will do it if we want to follow Him.

Overall, he challenged those native South Africans in the room to take Jesus' words to heart, embracing the uncomfortable task of reaching people in their own community with the gospel through relationships, love, and service.

Let's just say he hit a home run. I almost passed the offering plate and stood to give an invitation. I've already suggested he may need to reconsider his calling in life and move from the court of law to the pulpit.

The program at Living Grace offers a feeding program and recovery/rehab program for those who are trapped in addiction. Ashley Lovell, a Brentwood Baptist missionary, serves as a rehab counselor in this program. (Stay tuned for a story on Brentwood Baptist's website about her ministry and what she's doing.)

After the clinic, we took the afternoon to rest and see the area. Some took naps. Some spent time with our missionaries. Some walked the beach. And some of us went to Boulders Beach near Simon's Town to take in the Penguins Colony. Want to guess what I did?

Tonight, we enjoyed a delicious meal together, prepared by Nadine, our spectacular cook in The Team House. She surprised Troy with a birthday cake since he's celebrating his 23rd year of life this week (apparently for the fourth year in a row). It was decadent, mouthwatering, mesmerizing.

If you come to South Africa for any reason, it must be for these things (in this order): Jesus, the people, Living Hope, the beauty, and Nadine's cooking. Can I get an amen? Amen. We're all going to need to go on strict diets after this trip. She's amazing and talented.

Having said that, check out what we experienced last night. We were challenged by Nadine to figure out a way to get into and drain an ostrich egg for tomorrow morning's breakfast. Guess what? Mission accomplished. Ahhh...the many talents of our team and Brentwood Baptist missionaries.

Needless to say, most of us only had toast and juice this morning.

Leia Mais…