Sunday, June 26, 2016

Two church services to participate in today, and the morning one starts at 9 am. Drop by the house a little after 8. No news on Beth’s bag yet. Typically missing bags get delivered the next day, unless they’ve gone on a flight to some far corner of the world, and we have no reason to think that’s happened here.

We drive the 20 minutes to Delft, where Tony Payne is planting the Eindhoven Baptist Bible Church. It meets at Eindhoven Primary School, along with one other church, a loud one. We meet out in one of the portable classrooms.

Eindhoven is a Coloured community, considered a relatively poor one. Houses are generally concrete block, sometimes stuccoed, with some kind of fence around the very small lot, made of scraps of wood or chain-link fence or, in the more secure ones, of concrete. Roofs are generally pieces of galvanized steel, sometimes held down by tires (tyres, here) or rocks or something else heavy enough to offset the wind. Yards are dirt; there’s no grass to speak of.

The service is bilingual, but the heart language is Afrikaans, a derivative of Dutch that was recognized as a distinct language only in the 20th century. The church doesn’t have a pianist, so they use CDs with tracks of piano accompaniment. The attendees are few, but they sing with joy and expression and heart. Jonathan and Lora sing a duet of “The Precious Blood of Jesus Christ,” and I preach on God as Bigger Than Anything. We finish a little before 10:30. There’s a children’s Sunday school class afterwards, but the adults generally go visiting in the community at that time. Tony graciously suggests that we might go back to the house and do whatever we need to do—rest, move in, generally get our feet under us. In general I like the team to do whatever ministry is going on at any given time, but I know that the conversations in the visits will take place in Afrikaans, and that we’ll be canvassing this same neighborhood tomorrow for VBS—and that we got 4 to 5 hours’ of sleep last night, with a 1-hour time zone change, and we have a busy week ahead. So I thank Tony for the grace, and we load up the van and head for Keurboom.

We get news that Beth’s baggage will arrive on a flight into CPT at 10.40 am and will be delivered sometime after that. Cheers, but tentative ones. Show me the baggage.

We haven’t had time yet to do any grocery shopping or the prerequisite meal planning. The Paynes had some muffins and cereal in the kitchen for us when we arrived, and those who eat breakfast have taken care of the muffins, so there’s little to eat in the house. I don’t want them to have to wait until after grocery shopping and meal prep to eat lunch, so I decide that it’s time to sample one of the local eateries. Zevenvacht Mall is just a couple of kilometers down Van Riebeeck, the main drag in Kuilsrivier, and there’s a good food court and a major grocery store there. Two birds, one stone.

There’s great seafood in Cape Town. The locals speak well of Ocean Basket, a fish & chips chain that focuses on fried shrimp, calamari, and whitefish (hake, basa, kingklip). It’s got good prices and large portions, and the food’s tasty; I remember it from last year. So off we go.

Not everybody on the team is a big fan of fish, but everybody gets some and appears to like it—even those whose prawns (shrimp) are served with the heads on. We also get dessert—I get a toffee chocolate milkshake, while Bethany gets Italian Kisses, 4 ice-cream lollipop sort of things. We’re all glad we came.

Over to the Super Spar to get groceries. We get a cart and a half full of stuff, ranging from produce to bread to pasta to electrical adapters (South Africa’s outlets are different from those in the rest of Africa; the latter are the flat prongs used in Great Britain), and it all adds up to just $100. Very nice. But we unaccountably don’t get any cheese. What were we thinking?

Back to the house about 2. No sign of Beth’s bag. Need to leave for Macassar, where we’re going to church this evening, about 4.

Macassar is south of us, toward The Strand, the beach at the north end of False Bay, which is formed by the Cape of Good Hope to the west. We visited the church there last year, but for just an hour on a weekday afternoon to help with a brief Bible club activity. This is a first Sunday visit here. We follow Tony over—I don’t remember myself how to get there, and I seem to remember some difficulty with the GPS last time. Pastor Cyril Adams, a national, grew up in the church and has pastored it for half its 30 years. He’s tall, distinguished, and professional; I’m sorry I’m going to hear myself preach rather than him.

The sanctuary is full for this evening service. The team sings “Complete in Thee,” with Rachael accompanying on the piano, and I preach a book sermon on Haggai. Afterwards we have tea and biscuits (cookies), and most of us hang around for some time, talking and enjoying meeting new friends who are also long-time brothers and sisters.

Back at the house, the bag has arrived, to great rejoicing. Hallelujah. Beth has clothes. That’ll simplify things. We fix spaghetti and meat sauce for supper. They don’t seem to sell prepared spaghetti sauce here, so we bought some canned tomatoes and tomato paste and minced (ground) beef this afternoon, and some combination of team members puts together some combination of spaghetti sauce that is really very good.

For team devotions I ask them for their immediate reactions to the Coloured culture here, to the differences and similarities between these churches and the others we’ve worked with. They see easily that just as Africa is a diverse place, so also its believers come with different cultures and emphases and corporate cultures. I know from experience that they will love these gracious and unassuming believers just as they have loved the more exuberant ones in other regions.

Tomorrow’s a planning day. The best preparation is a good night’s sleep.

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Dan Olinger

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

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