Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Suburban Safari

Think of camels and Cape Town isn’t the first place that comes to mind. It’s not exactly the Sahara Desert. But in the South Peninsula, where I live, there’s a little shopping and dining complex called Imhoff Farm Village that’s home to three camels. For months I’ve passed by them nearly every day and always thought it would be fun to ride one. A few weeks ago I finally did so. My mount’s name was “Lightning,” a wry reference to his leisurely pace.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Non-traditional Thanksgiving

Yesterday was a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget. First, my American friends and I celebrated the feast with our South African colleagues at Living Hope. Since they are unfamiliar with the tradition, we began the festivities with a play telling the story of the pilgrims’ first harvest celebration. Then we enjoyed the Thanksgiving staples of turkey and dressing, along with some uniquely South African creations such as breyani, a curried chicken dish with rice and lentils. With no NFL football to watch on TV afterward, we settled for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It was my also friend Danielle’s birthday, so to top it all off, we celebrated by going to dinner at a new Mexican restaurant in Cape Town.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Doctor Is In

In Cape Town, a prevailing southeast wind blows in spring and early summer. It originates way down in the Southern ocean and arrives at the Cape Peninsula at gale force strength. It’s known locally as the Cape Doctor because of its ability to purge the area of smog and otherwise foul air. That’s the good part. The down side is it’s extremely disruptive to everyday life. Walking becomes a struggle to stay upright. Dust and rubbish and sometimes even bigger objects get blown around. The noise is constant, even indoors. I can’t fully convey it here – it has to be experienced to be believed – but the photos below give an idea of its effect on sea and sky.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Last year I wrote about Totsi, a dog that hangs around during our afternoon kids programs at Red Hill. He’s a sweet dog. Fox, on the other hand, is possibly one of the most obnoxious canines to ever live.

“Foxy,” as the kids call her, lives next door to the Living Hope shelter and is naturally drawn to the excitement of children running around, laughing and playing. Some of the younger ones are terrified of her – she’s a pit bull mix – but thankfully she’s never shown any sign of aggression. She’s just a nuisance, always getting in the way, trying to steal food, wrestling with other dogs who wander by. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to kick her, but at the end of the day I try to live by the Golden Rule. Do unto others as  you would have them do unto you – even those who slobber on you.

Pictured below: Fox after a day of “helping” the LowCountry team with a painting project; and in a rare restful moment.  


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cape Creepy-Crawly

A handful of venomous snake species are common to the Western Cape of South Africa. When I lived here in 2008 I saw one of them, an ornery sort called the puff adder. (Click here to read that account.) I had really wanted to add a Cape cobra to my list of wildlife sightings. Last Wednesday I got my wish.

Like most people, I find snakes creepy, but I’m also sort of fascinated by them. The Cape cobra is perhaps not as well-known as certain other snakes, but it’s said to be one of the deadliest of the African cobras. I was with the LCC team on a sightseeing tour at the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwesterly point in Africa, when our driver spotted it crossing the road ahead of us. We stopped and got out for a better look. Not too close, of course – we gave it plenty of space to continue on its merry way through the dunes – but close enough to appreciate that this dangerous creature was at home in its natural habitat and we were merely visitors.a

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Face Time

It’s never a bad idea to remind kids of the importance of personal hygiene. On Wednesday we gave a short presentation on proper dental care and bathing. The day ended with some one-on-one time washing the kids’ faces.

Hands-On Ministry

The LCC ladies again had a great time of ministry in Red Hill this week. After focusing on discipleship and leadership last week, they began a three-day workshop on Monday to help the local women with sewing and jewelry making skills. One project was to make children’s dresses out of pillowcases. Lumka Malima, a Red Hill resident and Living Hope life skills educator, said afterward, “I never thought about taking such an ordinary thing and using it to make a beautiful dress.” Phillis Canda, a Living Hope support group facilitator, added: “The ladies are always coming to me and saying, ‘We want to sew.’ Now I can tell them, ‘Now you know how. You can do it.’”

The workshop was intended to lay a foundation for economic empowerment. With basic vocational skills, combined with instruction on how to market their products, they will have greater potential for income generation. This approach fits with Living Hope’s mission as a holistic ministry, addressing the spiritual, emotional, and physical/economic needs of its clients. Here are a few more scenes from the workshop on Wednesday, the final day of LCC’s visit to Red Hill:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For Such a Time as This

God again used the LCC team in just the right time and place today. We went to Living Grace, the ministry arm of Living Hope that serves the homeless and destitute. Cheryl shared her testimony about how God delivered her from alcohol abuse, a story that clearly resonated with a number of people in the room. Then she, Maggie and Tracy – along with Lauren and Tammy, two long-term volunteers – helped the clients do some beading and crafting projects. This team is quite “crafty,” and it’s been fun to watch them use their creative minds and hands to minister to people. Here are a few scenes from the morning’s work:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Signs and Wonders

This plaque is posted at the top of Table Mountain, near the cableway station where visitors arrive and depart. It’s an appropriate expression of awe that one feels on this mountain. It’s also refreshing to see God’s Word unashamedly displayed on a national park site. I have no idea if there’s anything similar in an American national park. I have a feeling if there is, we would know about it, because someone would have been “offended.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sheltered Environment

Peter, one of Living Hope’s support group clients in Red Hill, suffers from tuberculosis. His condition is not helped by the fact that he’s been living in a house that was about to fall down on top of him. Thanks to funding from Rolling Hills Community Church and LowCountry Community Church, Peter now has a stable home in which he can stay warm and dry. The job was done in one day using local labor. It may not look like much, but I promise you, it’s a mansion in Peter’s eyes.

Blessed Evening

Typically when a team visits a community in which Living Hope works, a community-wide outreach event is held, with the hope of connecting residents with each other and with God. Last year when LCC was in Red Hill, we were hindered by rain and had to move the outreach event indoors, into a church building. Unfortunately when that happened, a number of men walked away, apparently not comfortable entering a house of worship.

As we looked ahead to this week’s outreach with the LCC team, the forecast was not good. Torrential rains came late Wednesday night and a 60 percent chance of showers was predicted for throughout the following day. But when 6:00 p.m. rolled around, the skies were clear with just a slight spring chill in the air. Thanks be to God!

With the P.A. system blasting from the porch of the Red Hill health clinic – “bring the fire,” Mzo instructed me as I bumped the volume control up – people started to arrive in bunches. Others lingered by their homes or stood on the perimeter, but the great thing about such an open-air event is it offers people a “safe” environment to check things out.

At least 150 people heard vocal performances by the Red Hill Kids Club and the recently formed Red Hill Choir, a testimony by LCC’s Maggie Leef, and convicting Gospel preaching by Mzo and local pastor Victor Clayton. Though daylight was fading fast, the light of Jesus was shining brightly among this mountainside community. Here are a few more images from a blessed evening:

Bearing Fruit

It’s exciting to see how God works in raising up certain people for certain tasks. This week with the LCC team, Susie Van Aswegan led a three-day course for lay leaders in Red Hill, focusing on techniques for leading Bible studies and discipleship groups. Having grown up in Indonesia, where her parents did similar work with local leaders there, Susie has a passion for this sort of thing. Clearly God had a purpose in placing her on this team.

Likewise, Cheryl Tanner has a talent for art. In planning this week’s ministry, we decided a good use of her ability would be to paint some designs on the wall at Living Hope’s shelter in Red Hill. Cheryl came to me on Sunday and said she had prayed about what message to include. “What do you think about the fruit of the Spirit?” she asked. I immediately recognized God’s hand at work again, for current next lesson series with the children – which we began this very week – is from Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). To have this visual reminder in front of the kids every day will be a huge reinforcement of the lessons we are teaching.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus

The LCC mission team is doing some tremendous work in Red Hill. Here are a few scenes from today:

Tracy, Tristan and Susie helped paint the Living Hope shelter.

A few local helpers joined in as well.

Tracy and Cheryl did some babysitting at daycare.

Susie did a great job teaching a leadership course.

And Tristan had no problems making new South African friends.