Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Again we’re in plenty of time when we arrive at the primary school. This time we have access to the 2 classrooms we originally planned to use, so we send the older kids to one of them and the younger kids to the other. We do separate singing, Bible story, wordless book page, and memory verse presentations. There are relatively few in the older children’s room—a lot of those from yesterday haven’t returned, and Gershon notes that the ones who aren’t there were the worst troublemakers from yesterday—but the younger room is full, and the children seem incapable of listening, especially as the hour wears on. We’re going to need to cut the length of time we ask them to sit. Sarah tells the story of Jonah, and several of us stand around the outside of the room for crowd control. It’s a challenge.

Games go well. We move to the outdoor concrete area, about the size of a basketball court, and the acoustics problem goes away. There are relays—foot racing and sack races—and a spirited game of lions and goats (sharks and minnows) that works quite well. We’re helped a lot by the fact that the Paynes speak Afrikaans, and there are 2 young men from their church, Selvin and Jason, about the age of our team, who have volunteered to help. They relate to the children better than we can.

And so we’re reminded—again—that we can’t minister effectively here without the help of the local believers. But as we work together, we can accomplish quite a bit.

As the time wraps up, we see more things we can do next time to improve our effectiveness. Continuous improvement.

Back to the house for lunch—sandwiches and leftover casserole—and then on to the activity for the day. We have 2 long days this week, with an afternoon and an evening free. I want to use those for significant activities that will be memorable for the team. Today I had originally planned to go to Table Mountain, Cape Town’s most famous tourist attraction, and let any who want to do the very strenuous hike to the top. (I’m a cable-car kind of guy myself.) But both Tony and Selvin note that it has rained for several days, and the trail will likely be wet—not a good idea. If we wait 2 days until Thursday, it should be in much better shape.

OK, we’ll do the Silvermine hike instead. Eric Graham showed the 2013 team this one. It’s a relatively mild hike to an extraordinarily spectacular view of Hout Bay from a high ridge. Don’t want to miss this one.

So we change into hiking gear and jump in the van. 45 minutes to the nature preserve, up into the craggy mountain ridge at the head of the Cape of Good Hope. Just the drive is beautiful.

We arrive at the entrance to Silvermine, filled with anticipation, to find that it’s “closed for maintenance.” Nothing about that on the website. Bummer.

We can drive further, across to the western side of the Cape, and catch Chapman’s Peak Drive. It’s one of the most famous scenic drives in the world, right up there with the Pacific Coast Highway and that winding road down into Monaco. Let’s go.

Soon we make the right turn at Nordhoek and head north onto Chapman’s Peak Drive. You just can’t describe the beauty of this place. You’re winding along the cliffside, perhaps 500 or 1000 feet above the Atlantic, with a sheer drop down to the waves crashing on the rocks below. Eventually Jess decides she doesn’t want to ride shotgun anymore. She keeps saying, “We’re really high up ….”

We stop at a couple of pull-outs to enjoy the view. Gershon notices the beginnings of a path at one of them. I look around for any signage that indicates restrictions, and there are none.

Well. Let’s see how far down this thing goes. I start down tentatively, looking for trail, and keeping in mind that we have to get back up eventually. The trail is pretty clear, and the grade is doable, though there are places where you have to be careful. We inch our way forward—downward—and stop often to reassess.

To make a long story short, several call it a day along the way and head back up, but Gershon, Michaela, Charity, Emily, Sarah, and I make it all the way down to the water. It’s invigorating. And oddly enough, we’re not cold anymore; in fact, we’re taking off layers, and the very cold ocean spray feels very good.

Now to get back up. Since we’ve been attentive, there are no places that have us trapped, though the climb is quite strenuous, and I have to stop and rest more than the others. And there are plenty of places where we have to remind ourselves to Not Be Stupid. But in due course we all arrive back at the top, exhilarated and, in my case, exhausted.

That was really fun.

Along the rest of CPD and through Hout Bay. We have just enough time to go straight to Signal Hill and catch the sunset before getting some supper.

At the top of Signal Hill we find a coffee truck, and pretty much everybody gets some. At one point the service is slow enough that I’m concerned that we’ll be standing in line, backs to the sunset, when the sun goes down. But eventually we get our hot drinks and walk up the path to my favorite viewing spot, by an old tree trunk that you can climb and sit on top of.

And now it’s cold again. There’s a stiff breeze atop the hill, and I peeled off all those layers and left them in the van. We stay long enough to see the sun go down, and to enjoy the wide view of the city, the harbor, the soccer stadium from the World Cup in 2010, and of course Table Mountain, with the tablecloth of cloud hanging over the edge and slowly creeping down to the city below. Just beautiful.

Time to get back out to Kuilsrivier and get some supper. We’re planning to eat out tonight. I decide to go out to the mall where we ate lunch on Sunday and hit Spur, a steak/burger chain. Some have steak, some have burgers; Sarah has a lamb chop; and, ever wanting to try new things, I get a bacon and banana burger.

Seriously. It’s quite good.

And home. We’re tired again, mostly from our own foolishness. But what a hike it was.

We talk a little bit about cultural differences between what we’re seeing here and what we’ve seen in Ghana and Tanzania, spend some time in prayer, and head to bed.

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Dan Olinger

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

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