Durban Homestay

By Katie Clements

In Durban we had a full schedule of fun cultural things to do. We went to uShaka Marine Park, so we got to go to an aquarium and a water park which was great because it was a really hot day and the waterslides really helped to cool off. We also went to a museum that was all about the history of the Indian culture in South Africa and how they came to live here because of indentured labour. We also were given a free day with our homestay over the period of time that we were with them. My homestay went ice skating and we were able to teach some of our “sisters” how to skate. We also watched a movie with them and I was able to connect with my homestay family through that. We had plenty of cultural foods, such as bunnychow and curry, which meant a lot of water for me! For most people the spice was not bad but for a few it was a hot weekend both for the food and the weather. I really enjoyed my time in Durban because the conversations were great, the time that we got to spend with the church and the community was well planned, and we had lots of fun. On Sunday we were invited to participate in the service, which meant that we led part of the worship, some students read scripture, and some of us talked to the congregation about things that they noticed about church in South Africa compared to church in Canada. So overall the long weekend in Durban was a great one!

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(photos by Alexa Nicolle

El Olam

By Bailey Cressman

Another week has come and gone, yet none has seemed to fly by as fast as our time at El Olam did. So much happened in the five days we stayed at this camp. I had such a fun time; from the crazy rides in the back of the bucky (a pickup truck), watching sugar cane fields being burned for harvest, to learning how to make Potjie (a popular South African stew in a cast iron pot), and putting on a skit for the local school. There are so many things that I could choose to talk about from that week.

I think something that we all considered special were our visits to the local elementary school, Hope Valley Farming School. This school was just a walk down the hill from the camp, and we went there twice during our stay. The ministry that is occurring there is amazing. I could really see the hand of God at work there. There were many comments of, “I’d love to be a teacher here,” from many of us as we walked away from the school both days. The first time, I was part of a group that went and read and played games with the third graders. What a sweet bunch, we had so much fun! I could not get over the amount of joy they got from just playing a game of “Duck-duck-goose” with us.

The second time we visited, we were in charge of leading an assembly for the school. We taught them some songs, and had them participate in a skit with us. This time, after the assembly, I went and hung out with the sixth graders, a class of only five. They had a whole list of questions for us, and were greatly amused when Naomi and I sang the entire Canadian anthem on request. It was yet again another lesson in joy when hanging out with these kids. It truly is the little things that can bring the most joy and mean so much to others. If I learned anything out of my week at El Olam, it is that I should strive to bring joy to others, and myself, in the small ways, for that’s what always seems to end up mattering the most.

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A Week on the Wild Coast

Written by: Hadiya Huijer    

After a long bus ride from J-Bay, we arrived in Mdumbi, where we stayed at a backpacker’s hostel for a week. Throughout the week, we took some time to relax and unwind from the craziness of the past few weeks. We were right on the ocean, and many of us spent our free time surfing, swimming, and enjoying the beach.

On the Sunday, two men from the village guided us on a hike along the coast from the hostel to Coffee Bay. Along the way, we got to walk along the beach, took a rowboat across the river, and explored some caves. At the end of the hike, we were treated to a much-appreciated lunch of pizza in Coffee Bay.

During the week, each of our leaders lead a Knowing Yourself session. We explored topics such as values, strengths, the Myers-Briggs personality test, and discerning the will of God. We also got to spend the week with Nathan Rieger, who led a few sessions that expanded on some of his lectures from last semester on idols. He took time to chat with many of us individually as well, and took time to get to know us as a community.

On Tuesday, we did a silent day similar to the one we had back in River’s Edge last semester. Starting after breakfast, we stayed silent until the evening. We used the time to listen for God, and enjoy the beauty of His creation.  After dinner, we broke our silence with worship, and got the opportunity to share how we’d seen God that day. During our silent day, we also did a 24-hour prayer, in which people could sign up for an hour-long slot, meaning our community was covered in prayer for a full twenty-four hours.

All in all, our week in Mdumbi was an amazing week filled with learning, exploring, and relaxing on the Wild Coast.

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Enjoying J-Bay!

Sand Boarding

During the week we spent in Jeffreys Bay, we had the opportunity to go sand boarding, horseback riding on the beach, or take surfing lessons. I chose to go sand boarding with about a dozen other people. The sand boards are similar to snowboards but also very different. They are shorter, and your feet are strapped in with velcro straps. At the top of the sandhill we waxed the board every time before riding it down, to allow us to go faster. As we were riding down we had a gorgeous view of the ocean. Near the bottom of the sand dunes there were a few natural jumps that you could do spins and grabs from. Afterwards, we cooled off in the ocean and then jumped in the bus to drive back.

-Eli Melsness

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Surfing

Surfing in Jay Bay was amazing. Naomi, Cole, Jess, Amani, Julien, and I all walked to the surf shop and rented our boards and wetsuits. It was a beautiful day to surf. Our surf instructor was cool. We went out on the waves and body surfed. Then we learned to stand up, and we struggled because it was a bit of a challenge. Our surf instructor then gave us the most inspirational speech ever, then made us go practice on the beach to remember the steps to stand up and surf. He said, “There’s no desire. No fire. You guys need self confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, then how do you ever expect to achieve anything? You need to have faith. You need to want it. You need to achieve this goal and be able to say you stood up on your own. You tried your best and gave it all you had. It’s just like in life; you need to seize the opportunity.” After that, we all surfed like pros. His inspiration made us glow and gave us strength. It was beautiful and I’ll never forget his speech. All you need is to believe in yourself and you can do pretty much anything.

-Reanne Regier

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Horseback Riding

Horsing around during our time in Jeffreys Bay was an incredible experience for all of us who mounted those crazy horses. We drove out to the ranch all dressed up in our long pants and shoes, despite the temperature reaching 35° and not a cloud in the sky. We all mounted our horses, and then we took off down the trail to the sand dunes. The sun and heat was relentless, as was the bouncing of our rear ends when the horses trotted, until we made it to a steep sand dune and hung on as the horses leaped up. We all stood on the top and admired the view of the endless sand and ocean, but the horses became impatient and either dumped riders (me) or started off down the dunes (also me). The horses started galloping when we hit the sand, and the feeling was incredible. We made it to the ocean, and after touching the water some of our horses took off galloping completely out of our control, and it took a lot of shouting “WOAH!” to stop them and return to the group. The feeling of riding the horses in the ocean breeze as they sprinted across the beach was one of the best feelings I’ve experienced but also one of the most terrified feelings I’ve had. We trotted, cantered, and galloped back along the beach to our starting point, barely keeping in control and roasting in the sun as we left the beach. We got back sweltering in our long pants only to learn that our bus did not have working air conditioning, a major disappointment. Luckily, we stopped at store and bought cold refreshments, and jumped in the showers as soon as we returned. Horse riding on the beach was a fantastic experience and I would easily do it again.

-Jonah Thiessen

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Homestay #2!

Hello again! I’m writing about a homestay again, but this week was spent in Strandfontein. We were split up into smaller groups and went to stay with a coloured family. What a week we’ve had! With several speakers, and activities on the schedule, we were quite busy during the six days we stayed in Strandfontein. I would have to say that the golden point in our hectic week for many of us would be our homestay families. I was in a homestay with three other girls. Our “moms” were two sisters, Joan and Katy. We had an incredible week with them. If we learned anything about coloured culture, it would be that they are very family-oriented, and extremely hospitable. Joan had her granddaughter at their house everyday, and someone – whether it be family or friend- would be visiting everyday. Joan and her sister Katy made us feel so welcome that pretty soon we felt just like family. There was so much that I could take away from our week in Strandfontein, but I know that I will forever remember the people that I met in my homestay.

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Our Week in Stellenbosch and Kayamandi

By Cole Stewart

The past two weeks we spent in the university town of Stellenbosch and the neighbouring township of Kayamandi. As a whole group, we were split into smaller groups of 5 or 6 and were given the task of planning and carrying out our own service project. Our partner, Johan, was clear that while our physical project was important, it was the real project of building relationship that was the priority. We made a point of including the community members and allowing them to be a part of whatever we were doing. Our time was filled with challenges and difficulties, but was ultimately blessed by God. Thanks to Beth for answering the following questions and telling us about her experience in Stellenbosch/Kayamandi.

How did you experience God during our time in Kayamandi?

We witnessed a healing. A man named Quanini drove 93 km to help us work on his sister’s house. Before we started he told us about his stiff neck and asked for prayer for healing. We laid hands on him and prayed. After our first prayer, it was a bit better but not much better. Our student leader encouraged us to keep praying. Someone else took a turn praying which helped a little more. We prayed probably four times and his neck was completely better after the final prayer.

Can you explain your service project?

On the second day of getting to know the community, we met a woman named Nompendulo. We heard her story and her situation. From what we gathered, she is a single mom with five children – four of which live at home. She also takes care of her 1 year old granddaughter. She lives off of R600 a month (approx. 60 CAD). She did work, but experienced something like a stroke while she was at work one day. Because this affected her legs, she has to use an umbrella as a cane in order to get around, so she usually just sits at home all day. She had tried multiple sources of healing, but she couldn’t afford the option of seeing a doctor. A major part of our project was paying for and getting her to a doctor. We also brought her to the hospital for treatment as the doctor had recommended. The other part of our project was repairing/replacing the roof of her house which had multiple holes in it. We were looking for an expert to help/show us how to fix a roof and this is where Nompendulo’s brother Quanini came in. He was such a blessing! The roofing project was completed and we are still awaiting answers regarding Nompendulo’s health.

What was difficult?

Planning the project was kind of hard, because the day that we were supposed to plan the project, we hadn’t talked to many people. We didn’t know the community very well, and we didn’t know if our projects would turn into multiple projects. We weren’t sure if community members could expect things in return for their help. Then there was one work day where 25 of us were sick. A lack of people put on added pressure to complete the projects on time.

How did you find Stellenbosch?

I thought it was good. In some ways it seems quite similar to home. It’s a university town, so there are a lot of people our age. It was really beautiful because of its many vineyards and mountains. We went to Shofar Church at Stellenbosch University which was very vibrant and charismatic. It was very much geared toward younger people. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was moving in powerful ways such as through altar calls.

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Views from the mountains near our camp in Stellenbosch

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Students walking through Kayamandi with some of the local children.

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Students walking to their service projects in Kayamandi.

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One of the many vineyards around Stellenbosch.

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Varsity rugby game at Stellenbosch University

Adventure in Simon’s Town

Written by Joey Speers

The week started off exciting as ever as we drove through the Karoo desert. We stayed the night at a retreat centre in the middle of who knows where. The Karoo is known for its beauty come night fall. Billions of stars were visible from the comfort of our porches throughout the night.

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The anticipation to get to the Cape region was building and it was incredibly hard to stay patient on the 17-hour bus ride. We arrived in Simon’s Town after two long days of driving.  The penguins that roam the shores of the Indian Ocean greeted us immediately.

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That was just the beginning though. The week consisted of a ton more firsts for us as a community. Throughout the week, we students got the opportunity to skydive and paraglide over Cape Town, swim, kayak, paddle board on the ocean, and take a trip to the Cape of Good Hope.

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As I said, this was a big week of firsts for many, so students grew in confidence by pushing their personal limits in terms of comfortability.  As the week went on, we continued to fall in love with the location we were so blessed to be living in. How can you not be in awe when you are surrounded by massive mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, right? We really got a taste of South Africa’s beauty when we took our trip to the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Point is the most South-Western tip of the continent. Personally, this was one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever laid my eyes on.  Mountains and the collide of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans really make Cape Point special.

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The week ended with all of us exhausted. We headed off up the coast to a surf town called Muizenberg for our free weekend.