Friday, June 28, 2013

Today’s what I would call a light-to-moderate workday. We’re scheduled to do some tract distribution at 11, so we can sleep in and take our time getting ready. I decide to do another Limnos run and get a sampling of the stuff I didn’t get yesterday. This selection is sweeter, really too sweet for breakfast, but awfully good looking. It will get eaten eventually. We get some wifi time over at the office before heading over to Bill’s at 11.

The folks from Eindhoven Baptist have been reaching out into their neighborhood to invite people to church, and they’ve asked us to help. We each take a handful of tracts and spread out through the neighborhood to the north and west of the school building where the church meets, in teams of 1 male with 2 females. Since we’ve been here for 3 days this week for VBSes, we expect to see a number of the kids we worked with, and we do.

As I’ve noted previously, Delft is a lower-income Coloured neighborhood. The main roads are paved, but many of the side streets are dirt. There’s a lot of litter around. The houses are mostly concrete block, a few similar to what you’d see in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in the States, but most quite small, with ramshackle fences around them and often a dog or two in the “yard” (all 20 square feet of it) for protection. I see some evidence of plumbing, and there’s electrical going to most of the houses as well.

The people we meet are friendly and courteous; pretty much all promise to come Sunday, but of course they won’t in most cases. We have a few longer conversations, but no strong interest in the gospel.

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We meet back in front of the school around noon, tracts exhausted, and head back to the houses to plan the afternoon. Several people would like to find a forex office to get rid of some Ghanaian, Cameroonian, and/or Tanzanian cash; and we need to get some groceries to cover our meals here. Several of the girls have put together a more thorough shopping list than the quick one I purchased the day we moved in. In addition, Bill has suggested that because the weather is so good today, we go to Signal Hill to watch the sunset tonight rather than next Monday night as scheduled. That means we’ll have to pack PBJ sandwiches for supper; and that in turn means that we can’t use up the bread with sandwiches at lunch, as I had originally planned. So we decide to kill three birds with one stone by going to the mall, finding a forex, hitting a grocery store, and getting lunch at the food court.

I decide on Tyger Valley Mall, which is reasonably close but also big enough to have a forex. TVM was the biggest thing in Cape Town when I first came here in 2000, but as I noted the other day, Century City has well surpassed it since. So up the R-300 to the N-1, and just a couple miles toward Cape Town to see the mall just to the north. With the help of Dan Elmer’s GPS, it ought to be a snap, but I still manage to make a couple of wrong turns that make the trip irritating. Sometimes I drive me crazy.

We set a time and place to meet and then head for the food court. There’s a surprising lack of maps and directories in this rambling 3-story mall, but eventually we find a McDonald’s and tie up a register for 15 minutes. The food order is correct, and the burgers and fries taste just like American ones.

I head for the Pick ‘n’ Pay and do a 30-minute blitz on the food list. Can’t find popcorn, and they’re out of celery, but I get pretty much everything else, and it’s well under $100. I love this country. I get out just about meeting time, so I run the cart through the mall and find the rest of the team. We load up and drop by the gas station in the parking lot; they’re out of unleaded. (Who’s ever out of unleaded? And why are they still selling leaded?) So we hit the highway back to Kuilsrivier and fill up on the way. Just in time to make sandwiches and head to Bill’s at 4.

Signal Hill is a hill (Yep! Stick with me and learn about the world!) right next to Table Mountain on the immediate south side of the city, that was once used for sending signals to ships. A road winds up to the top for an astonishing view of the city, the harbor, and the ocean west of the Cape. We find a place to park and then move to the north side of the hill, looking at this remarkable and beautiful city. Buildings, highways, mountains to the east and south, a harbor to the west. There’s the V & A Waterfront where we were the other night, complete with Ferris wheel and Lego-Man. Two container ships are heading in to port. In the bay is Robben Island, once a leper colony and more recently a prison, where Nelson Mandela spent a major portion of his life before being released with the end of apartheid and eventually being elected president of South Africa.

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I have no interest in being political here. But during my visits, for what it’s worth, I’ve asked Capetonians what they think of Mandela. Almost without exception, white South Africans say that they were scared at the end of apartheid—what would the repercussions be? How angry would Mandela be, and how miserable would he make their lives? They held their breath. And then, they say, Mandela did just fine. Despite their fears, he was a good man and a good president, and they have no complaints. As I write this, he lies near death in a South African hospital. It’s a testimony to the man that despite all the controversy throughout his life, here at what is perhaps the end, pretty much everyone wishes him well. Hatred and anger and distrust can be overcome.

Just before 6 pm the sun sets, and we watch as it leaves the clear blue sky behind the thinnest rim of clouds just at the horizon. Then we head for the vans, with just an hour to get to IBC in Eersterivier for a teen activity involving all 3 of the churches we’re working with. Thanks to the GPS, we get through the city streets and out to the N-2 with no problems, and then it’s a straight shot past the airport to the church.

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There are about as many teens in the 3 churches as there are kids on the team. We mix it up with some volleyball, then some circle games. (That’s what I call games with chairs in a circle.) The longest game of the night pits the girls against the boys (with Will pretending to be a girl so the sides will be even), and the girls win the first round and the boys the second. Sorry, folks; there isn’t time for a tiebreaker. After the games there’s a challenge from Jon and some food—hot dogs, crisps, and rusks (that’s chips and cookies to y’all). Then, on the spur of the moment, Jon and Will decide to do “The King and I,” and they’re funnier than they’ve ever been before. It’s so funny it hurts. Press the colon with your finger for the video:

Heh. Sorry. Not possible.

We arrive back at the houses around 10, then devotions and planning for the next few days. We’ve heard from Abbie in Joburg, and we all read about that, and from Beth at Tumaini, who sends a letter from one of the children. When I finish reading it, one of our girls says softly, “Can we go back right now?” No, but going back eventually is not at all out of the question.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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