There’s something about South Africa. I can’t really explain it. Every time I go and then leave, I’m changed, and this time was no different.
But if I’m honest, as I think back on the two weeks that we were in South Africa, it all seems like a bit of blur.
Leaving San Diego on the 6th of July and landing in Johannesburg on Wednesday the 8th. Picking up Doug and Kathy Williams.
Catching up from jetlag and making final preparations before Urban Saints and Saint Simon and Jude arrived.
Making airport runs.
Church services, a day in Soweto, and re-learning a bit of the history of South Africa.
5-days of house building, many conversations, and dumping a few buckets of water on “unsuspecting” victims.
A morning in Soweto and at Ikageng Itireleng AIDS Ministry, and 30 hours of travel back to San Diego then being picked up by my wife on the 20th.
But as I really think about the trip, I think of the people that we got to spend time with and the moments we shared:
I think of Doug and Kathy Williams who simply asked if there was anything that they could do to help Amor out, and so they came to Botleng, Delmas to be a part of our 4 person Amor team. I think of their willingness to simply serve and do whatever it takes to get the job done, and more than anything from this trip, I think of the “late” night we had, playing a game I currently don’t remember the name of and their giving of new names to Steve and me, Steel and Jared. No doubt they stuck the whole week.
I think of Joe, a local businessman in Delmas, who, like Doug and Kathy, does whatever it takes to get the job done. I think of all of the work that he did before, during, and after the two weeks that we were with him. I see him flying around Delmas and Botleng in his white truck picking up and dropping off materials, and doing it all with a smile on his face, and more than anything, I think about his desire to complete the houses during the weeks that we were there and having men that work for him ensure that this was a reality.
I think of Daniel and Gloria and their two children, and all of the women and men that work on Ebenezer Farm. I think of their hospitality as they welcomed around 130 of us onto their farm with delicious food, warm showers and beds, and loving hearts. I specifically think of the evening that Daniel and Gloria had Steve, Doug, Kathy, and me in their home to celebrate Doug’s birthday with a delicious cake, yummy drinks, group pictures, and good conversation.
I think of Pastors Norman, Gabriel and Isabel, William, Marius and Mari-Lise, Wouter and Dot, Evert and Ranelda, and all of their families. I think of the hopes and desires and passion for the country of South Africa, and I thank Pastor Gabriel (a white pastor) for his humble response to my question about things he believed the black churches in South Africa could be doing, “I don’t feel like I can answer that question,” and the wisdom in this simple answer.
I think of everyone that came from the United Kingdom and Arizona with Urban Saints and Saint Simon and Jude. I think of every person’s desire to serve and work, keep families together, and be transformed. Most of all, I think of conversations about justice and faith and divisions within the church of Jesus Christ (Catholic and Protestant) and wealth and poverty and just life in general, and the good fun we had dumping buckets full of water on each other.
I think of Betty and Mpoh and their families. I think of their hope and wishes for their families, and I think of their faces and their shock when the groups of young people first arrived at their homes and the great joy they showed through smiles and tears on Friday when the keys to their homes were given to them.
Maybe this is it. Arguably more than anywhere else, South Africa has been a place where people remain at the forefront. The mission is great. The work that is finished is good. But the time we spend together is what it’s all about.