Category Archives: Daveyton Township

Cultures Coming Together?

Lately I have been pondering differences in cultures – African vs. Western – concerning money and faith. Marriage is actually a third that is still rolling around in my mind.

Money. I was at the settlement this past week and noticed M had some earphones like the ones I use with my IPod. I asked her about them and she showed me her new cell phone. She can listen to the radio through it! I was amazed and wondered if I could listen to the radio through mine. She checked and said, “no, but for R50 I could get one like hers.”

R50 is the equivalent to $7.50-$8.00. This does not sound like much until you remember that a good day’s wage for her is R100. Just the week before, I had taken M some food and after looking it over, she asked if I could give her ~R20 for taxi fare to the clinic to pick up her medication. How can someone buy an expensive cell phone knowing that there might not be food to eat or money for necessities? It just boggles my mind.

Why does the African spend all he has today and not save for tomorrow? The Bible teaches a balance between giving and saving/providing for your own needs and sharing with others in need. My parents never bought anything they could not pay for in cash. They did have a mortgage on their home, but I have a childhood memory of when it was paid off. Even with cars, they saved and paid cash. Three children were put through college without debt, by a combination of saving and living on a tight budget.

In some ways our culture in America is changing to be more like the African – living for today. People are content if they can pay their mortgage, with no thought to ever paying it off. When there is extra money, bigger houses are bought. Why pay off your charge card when you can just pay the minimum balance.  What has caused this change in thinking? Is it just a simple case of materialism? I would love to hear your thoughts on this! It does have spiritual implications.

Just a Thought

One thing I  look forward to on Monday morning is hearing how church went in the settlement on Sunday.  I usually ask with some “fear and trembling” if the women I study with were there.  I got the news last Monday that neither Margaret nor Pala were there.  I was so disappointed.  As I thought about their absence I wondered if they realized what they missed.  When I was around their age I really did not consider my attendance at church all that important.  I know now how foolish I was.

Parts of the body must work together.  When I wake up during the night with my toes each trying to go in different directions I know first hand how important that principle is!  But I digress :)

Ok – I also need to tell you that Sunday was “one of those days” for me.  I was already feeling burdened down.  Then I went to Sunday school class and was given homework – not just a paper to fill out, but something requiring prayer, thought, reflection.  I became an Israelite in the desert – grumble, grumble . . . I have a BSF lesson, I am reading through the Bible in a year (and of course trying to beat Doug to the finish line), I have to prepare a lesson for Thursday morning, I’m at work all day and now I have something else to do!  As God tends to work things out – the Sunday school lesson was just what I needed to get everything else in perspective.

I realized that I was trying to do things in my own way and in my own strength. I confessed my sin and took a good look at what I had to do.  Simple solution . . . teach on Thursday what I have been studying all week and hear a lecture over on Wednesday mornings at BSF.  And I could always mix in what I am learning at church (we’ve been studying the “why and how” of church) . . . So I decided I would talk to my women at the settlement about just how big God is and why church is so important. 

Thursday morning Margaret told me about how she had gone to a former employer (on Tuesday) and apologized (though she was innocent of what the woman had accused her of doing).  She said she knew the woman had forgiven her because she had given her a glass of water and then money for taxi fare back to the township.  (When she first knocked on her former employer’s door, the woman had threatened to call the police.)  She said she had missed church because she was sick.  Margaret then shared with me that she was so burdened for a childhood friend of hers.  This girl was very pretty and her parents had encouraged her to become a prostitute.  Margaret had heard she was very sick and near the point of death.  Margaret is so fearful that she will die before she talks with Jesus.  Pray that Margaret will be able to call her or that God will send a Christian to talk with her.  This friend lives several hours away.

The morning at Pala’s house was nothing sort of amazing.  A “problem” that Pala had – one that I had wanted to talk to her about the previous week, but had decided to just pray with her about – God made sure it was addressed!  Let’s just say it had to do with that “s” word we like to avoid – (submission).  Pray for Pala that God will use her obedience to Him to draw her husband to Himself.  It was such a hard subject – one I find easier to teach than demonstrate – but one that I can see God already using to get Pala to really walk with Him.  Pray also that God will give her joy as she takes steps of faith and begins to move forward on her journey.

And pray for me that I will use my time wisely and that my goal for studying will be to know Christ and be changed – instead of to check something off a list.

My Early Christmas Gift

December 22, 2010

This week we decided to go to the township on Wednesday instead of Thursday.  I really did not expect to see any of my friends there since many had said they would be traveling to their home villages to see family during Christmas.  Doug had a meeting on Wednesday, so he planned to go with Larry on our usual day.

Four women (plus Larry who decided to spend the morning prayer walking) headed out around 9:15.  We made our way to our usual spot where we leave the car – on the “football field” in front of Gladys’ house.  We were surprised to find someone home at Sunday’s house.  Angelina and her friend were there waiting for Denise to come and study the Bible with them.   We were very saddened to hear that Sunday, who had traveled with her family to her village, was in the hospital.  Her incision had become infected.  We pray that she will recover from all she has suffered in the last few months.

I greeted Gladys next door and was told that Sunday’s husband’s little sister had drunk “paraffin” (probably kerosene) on Tuesday (at Gladys’ house) and was in the hospital.  Gladys got a call that the little girl was being sent home while we were still visiting this morning.

Palissa was finishing her laundry, so I decided to go visit Minky.  You might remember that Minky is the Sangoma.  I had not visited her in quite some time since it was apparent she was not really interested in studying the Bible.  A friend had seen her earlier in the week and she had asked where I was, so I thought it would be a good time to catch up with her.  I walked down the dirt path between the rows of tin shacks trying to remember which one was hers.  She called out my name when she saw me.  Godwill was sitting outside her house and invited me in.

Minky surprised me by asking what we were going to study!  I had prepared John 12 for Palissa, so that’s what I went with.  As has become the norm, a young woman, Margaret came in and joined us after awhile.  She sat across from me and seemed to listen closely.  When I finished the lesson, I asked her if she was a Christian (not sure exactly how I said it now).  She looked at me and said she was thinking that she needed a change; she wanted to live a different life.  We prayed together and God gave me a new sister in Christ!  What better gift to receive at Christmas.

 I told her about the group of women who are meeting to study with us and that I’d like for her to meet them.  As we walked across the football field I asked if she had a Bible and what language she reads.  She needed an English Bible and I just happened to have one to give her!  Last week I had found paperback ESV Bibles for R40 – ~$5.50 and had bought a couple.

Then later at Palissa’s, her brother Charles joined our study and Palissa left!  (Her little boy, Gift was getting fussy so she took him outside.  Gift is albino and had blisters on his neck from the sun.)  Long story short, Charles is not a Christian but he is very interested in studying the Bible. 

Larry and Doug went to the township this morning.  They met Charles who is very eager to study with them and he also mentioned gathering some friends to come as well.  They saw Margaret when they checked in on Godwill (who Doug and Larry know as Skumbuza).   She was reading her Bible and seemed very excited about our studying together next week.  

PS – I just love that the two people I met this week were Charles and Margaret – Doug’s Mom and Dad (who now reside in Heaven) are Charles and Margaret!

Life Death New life No Death

I spent the week working on my lesson – John 11 – the familiar story of Lazarus.  I am always amazed at how little details seem to jump out that I do not remember having noticed.  Maybe it was the wording in the ESV which says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” (vs 5-6)  Because Jesus loved them so much, He stayed where He was for two more days!  Amazing thought that because Jesus loves us, He makes us wait and trust in His perfect timing.   And that was MY lesson for the week!

Planning a story about death, then getting a call the night before I was to teach it, that Sunday (the woman at whose house I was to teach!) was in intensive care at the public hospital.  She had given birth by c-section because of high blood pressure and the complications that follow.   There was no information on how the baby was doing.  I thought maybe I should just go and pray with the women who would be gathered at her house the following morning and save the story for another time. 

I sent out a prayer request to several people (my internet service informed me that I was “expired” so I had to hit send quickly).   As “prayer warriors” interceded, God reminded me of His perfect timing!  I knew it was a story that must be told.

Thursday morning, I found Sunday’s sister and two friends at the house along with many children.  I got to meet Sunday’s school age daughter, Eunice and her little boy. I do not think that the women have listened more intently than they did that morning.  I could see their joy as they heard about the compassion of Jesus and of His power.   These women know what it is to suffer death.  They know what it is to suffer period.  But they are learning that though suffering is a part of life on this earth, they do not suffer alone.  They are believing God and seeing joy in the midst of trials.  Two of the three women had such peaceful expressions.  The third – pray for her that she will decide to follow Jesus.

November 18th Visit Counting the Cost

We have been having rain everyday this week along with cool temps.  I threw in an extra pair of shoes this morning just in case I got mired in mud.  We did have to make careful decisions about the path we chose.  Only Denise and I were able to make the trip today.  She drove along the edge of the muddy road hoping to avoid the deeper ruts.  We parked in front of Pala’s house, finding the soccer field surprisingly without mud.

Pala was waiting and invited me in.  I was happy to have some time alone with her because I wanted to really see how she was doing.  I asked a few questions and got a few answers.  We talked about rain and then she began to tell me about her mother.  She had met her mother in 2002.  Her father’s mother had raised her until then.  (I think she would have been around 15 years old.)  She is planning a trip to see her again at Christmas.  Her husband has agreed to go along and to ask forgiveness of her family for leaving her. 

Sunday’s sister came to the door – I was happy to get to meet her.  She left, then the young girl (age 14, I think) who had joined us last week came and sat down.  She was living with her grandmother, but she died so she is living with a neighbor.  She no longer goes to school.  Sunday’s sister returned and found a seat on a small bench, so while the group was gathered I started!  We were looking at John 9; the story of the man born blind.  I told them the story and then related how the blind man and his parents had each “counted the cost” of following Christ.  We talked about how some churches say that following Jesus means health and wealth; but that the Bible teaches that there is instead a cost.  Sunday’s sister commented that sometimes people say “Jesus is no longer with me because this bad thing has happened.”  But she knew that Jesus does not leave you.  We talked about how the blessings of following Jesus far outweigh the hardships.

The young woman asked for prayer that she would find her mother.  She does not know where she is – she left the family to look for a job and never returned.  Pray that God will show Pala how to love her husband and that he will find God’s love and forgiveness.  Sunday’s sister asked for prayer that her son’s father would provide him with clothes for Christmas.

Sunday was in bed asleep when I stopped by her house.  She is 8 months pregnant and has high blood pressure.  Angelina was not visiting (probably because Sunday was not feeling well) so I did not get to share the Bible story with her.  Thank you for praying for these dear women that their love may abound more and more with knowledge and depth of discernment so that they may approve what is excellent and so be pure and blameless for  the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.  (Phil 1:9-11)

Doug’s Visit to the Township

Simone (pronounced “See Mone”) is the same age as I am and has become a good friend in the township we visit.  He is from Thembisa township which is located between Johannesburg and Pretoria; several miles from Daveyton / Zen Zella.  Simone’s younger brother died a few months ago and Simone travels to Daveyton /  Zen Zella weekly to run the kiosk his brother ran there.  At this kiosk, residents can buy basic food staples for everyday living.

Simon is interested in reading and hearing about God’s Word.  I gave him a copy of the book of John, asked him to read it and suggested when I come to visit on Thursdays, we could discuss what he had read.  He has been reading John and even some of Acts and seems to enjoy very much the Word.  He comes from a works based salvation perspective and through the Word he is seeing that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone.  Pray for Simon that God would penetrate his heart with the truth and that he would put his trust in Christ and not in his own works for salvation.

October 28 Visit to the Township

Last night “the rains” finally started.  We had thunder and lightning and rain starting around 7:30 and ending this morning around 7:30.  We wondered for awhile if we would get to make our usual Thursday morning trip to Zen Zella (found out that it is 2 words) settlement.  We were amazed that the clouds held their moisture as we made the drive and were breaking up as we made our return to the office.

My first stop was to see Pala. (I decided to change names after googling something and seeing my blog show up in the results!  I thought it would be good to protect the identity of our friends.)  I was disappointed to see a chain and lock on her door.  Gladys was home but was headed out the door.  It seems that every week I hear those words, “next week . . .”

I ventured down the somewhat muddy path to find Denise.  Her two friends were ready to continue their study.  Denise ended earlier than usual because one of the young women was not feeling well.  We decided to walk back to see if Pala might be home.  She was outside laughing and playing with her little boy.

As we went inside to share our lesson on John 6, Pala began to tell me that she had just returned from a trip.  Her in-laws had requested that her husband come and bring his family.  They made the journey.  Her husband was told that he must return home!  Pray for Pala to be able to love her husband through Christ and that she will also be able trust her husband – and that he would prove to be trustworthy.  He is not a believer, so pray that he will see his greatest need. 

Pray for me that God would give me wisdom in how to teach the Bible to this woman.  I go away wondering what I should have done differently or what I should have said.  It is such a privilege to go to meet with Pala.

September 9th Visit

As usual our visit to Daveyton was unique!  This week was much calmer – after three weeks the teacher’s strike was settled – so the school age children were gone.  The few patches of grass are turning green, which is amazing considering we have had no rain since April.

Thank you so much for your prayers for Palissa and Phinehas.  Palissa was much calmer today.  Phinehas was there when we arrived, dropping off a bag of food.  He had come home on Sunday, not to sleep there, just to bring food.  Palissa was very sad that he had not returned to stay, but was grateful for the food.  Her brother had come to visit her and help out as well.  Her face glowed when he reached for Gift (her son – age 1 yr 3 mos).  As we were preparing for our Bible study a young girl arrived with a small container of food for Palissa.  God has blessed her with good neighbors and she was thankful.  Pray that Phinehas will admit his need of a relationship with Jesus.

Palissa, Gladys, and Sunday are studying the book of John.  Today we looked at John 1:19-51.  Gladys was not able to come since she was washing blankets.  They had not been washed since her mother died a few weeks ago.  A friend on the other side of the township was letting her wash them at her house.  She promised to join us next Thursday.  Hopefully Sunday will come next week as well.  (I asked about Sunday, but it was just too confusing.  Gladys’ English is not the best, so when I said Sunday she thought I was coming back on Sunday.  I said I would see her on Thursday and decided to inquire about Sunday then!)  Pray that Gladys and Sunday will join in the study next week.  Gladys seems to always say, “next week.”

This week Dianne was back from her three week trip to Zambia.  I went with her to find the Portuguese speaking women.  One household had moved back to Mozambique since they were not able to find jobs.  The others were not home.  Dianne had an interesting conversation with a woman who spoke no English (native language Zulu), but could speak a little Portuguese.  It’s always interesting to try to find a combination of people speaking various languages – sort of like the game “gossip” where you hope what you said to the first person gets translated down the chain to the person the message was intended!

We then went to the other side of the settlement to visit Margaret and Nellie.  We had a group of four young women – reading the Bible in English, Zulu and Tsonga.  Denise has them doing a topical study to encourage them to pray, read the Word, and apply what they learn.  I filled in for Denise and took them through the study.  Having them look up the scriptures from Isaiah to Philippians was very time consuming – but I’m sure worth every minute.  These young women are praying that they will find jobs.  We pray that if God provides jobs, they will still be able to study the Word with us.  They are very excited about going to the church on Sunday.  Please pray that a location near the settlement can be found for the church to meet.  Dianne has suggested they have church at Margaret or Nellie’s house.  That would be a great solution.

Larry (Dianne’s husband) was back and went with Doug on visits to the men.  When we arrived at the township Larry locked his keys in the car.  He couldn’t leave the car since the keys were visible and someone could easily break the window and steal the car.  Margaret’s neighbor came over and showed Larry how to remove the rubber in the door and open it!  He didn’t ask how the man learned such a skill or how often he used it!

September 2nd Visit to Township

Today, I think for the first time, the poverty and hopelessness of Daveyton really struck me.  We arrived at Margaret’s house around 10:00, prayed together began walking to the settlement.  (We have been told that though the township is called Daveyton Township, the area we have been visiting is actually a “settlement” – a place where people have constructed shelters out of whatever they can find.  Many are illegal immigrants or South Africans who do not have Identification Cards.)   Doug walked ahead to find his men. 

When we arrived at the dirt field, we noticed two boys fighting.  They were probably around 10 or 12 years old.  An older boy and a mother were trying to break up the fight.  Margaret began shouting at them to stop, but they didn’t listen.  By the time they were separated one boy had blood pouring from a cut in his head.  He then chased the other boy, threw a broken brick at him, and then headed to the settlement on the other side of the field.  Denise (a nurse) dug in her purse for Kleenex for the boy to hold against the cut (instead of the dirty shirt he was using).  I admit I was very afraid Denise would touch the blood that was flowing.  (Hopefully she will start carrying some rubber gloves in her purse!)

Then Margaret set off to meet with Margaret!  Denise walked with me to Pala’s* and then went on to meet Nellie and (you guessed it) Margaret!  I love it when the women have names I can pronounce and it’s even better when they have the same name – fewer to have to learn!!

Pala came out the door and I asked where her Bible was.  We were supposed to walk next door to meet with Ana* and Sunday.  She said she didn’t feel well.  I asked what was wrong and her eyes began to tear up.  She ran back inside and I could hear her sobbing behind the curtain that divided the kitchen from the bedroom.  I talked to her baby who had crawled out the door and waited, hoping she would come back out.  She returned and sat down on an upside down bucket.  I pulled up a chair, sat down and asked if there was a problem with Phas (her husband).  She then told me that he had not been home for 4 or 5 days and she did not know where he was.  She had no money to buy milk for the baby and was giving him juice instead.  I hugged her, prayed for her, and then told her I would return after going to see Gladys.

Gladys’ door had a lock and chain on it.  Her neighbor said she was not home, but would return Monday or Tuesday.  I guess she was still at the funeral of her husband’s grandmother.  Funerals last as long as the family stays!  They can become very expensive for the family, especially if the relatives decided to stay for weeks!

I tried calling Doug to tell him about Pala’s plight, but he didn’t answer.  I really believed that we should provide her with some milk.  It’s hard to know what to do.  We want to point people to Jesus as their ultimate Provider, not put the focus on us.  We want them to depend on Him not on us.  We can’t meet their needs, but He can.  As I was walking across the field to see if MInky was available, Doug returned my call.  He agreed that we should get some milk.

There are rows of houses on each side of the field.  Minky’s section has houses that are closest together.  All the women from that side have to get water from one faucet at the beginning of the path.  Little children were playing in the water that had filled a ditch (from people running water to wash clothes).  The path is maybe five feet wide in some places, but has a little ditch going down the middle.  I caught a glimpse of someone who looked a lot like MInky in her house and called out to her.  A little boy came out and said she wasn’t home.  I told him to tell her that I had come to visit, and then headed to the other side of the settlement to find Denise.

Denise was sitting with a group of four girls (probably between 18-20 years old).  She would give them a scripture to find, and then one would read it in English, one in Zulu and one in Tsonga.  Then they would discuss the verse.  It was so encouraging to see those girls reading out of their own Bibles and discussing the Scriptures.  Pray that those Words will take deep root in their lives and grow and flourish.

Eventually I saw Margaret coming up the dirt road toward Margaret’s house.  (Don’t you just love that – it’s like Mary, Mary and Mary in the Bible.)  I got up and met her at the gate to ask her about getting the milk.  Margaret lives in the township so she knows where to shop and what would be appropriate to help Palissa.  When we walked back to Palissa’s house Margaret was able to talk with her in her own language and encourage her.

We were standing outside Pala’s house waiting on Doug when we noticed a group forming across the field.  The fight was about to resume only this time it wasn’t going to be between just two boys.  The instigator took off running across the field.  As he entered a section of the settlement a woman stepped out and kept the crowd from following.  Thankfully the fight was diffused for the time being!  Teachers have been on strike for at least three weeks now, so the kids are getting bored and are looking for trouble.  Pray that the strikes with end soon!

We took Margaret with us to the grocery store so she could show us what to buy; then dropped the milk off at Palissa’s house.  She accepted it with tears in her eyes, a hug, and a quiet “thank you”.  It seemed to be such a small thing and I get overwhelmed by the physical needs in the settlement.  Yet I know in my heart that all the money in the world will not fix their ultimate problem.  They desperately need Jesus.  Pray that the gospel will be preached in Daveyton Township and throughout the settlement and that hearts will be receptive.

*Names changed.

August 26th Visit to Daveyton

It was a good morning in Daveyton!  It is extra windy here (a good thing – it means “the rains” are on the way and after that comes warm weather!!), so lots of dust and a little coolness in the air.  It was nice to be inside Gladys’ house with the wood stove!  I was sitting where I couldn’t see if the mice were there or not (happy day!!).  Pala came out of her house when I got there, carrying a big, fat, old leather Bible!  Next week I need to spend some time showing her how to use the tabs (actually indentions) in it.  We walked next door to Gladys’ and found Sunday there waiting!!  (I had prayed that Gladys would still be there – she is leaving tonight for another funeral.)  I think the study went pretty well.  Pala is very quiet so it’s hard to know what she’s thinking.  Gladys didn’t join us – she was in the middle of laundry since she’s leaving tonight – but she listened when she was inside scrubbing clothes.
 
Pray for Gladys.  When she fell a few weeks ago she injured her eye.  She says the doctor says it will heal, but she mentioned that now she sees white.  I’m not sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound good to me.  The poor woman has burn scars all over her face, arms and abdomen.  Now has a scar under her eye – she needs her vision restored!
 
The two young girls who became Christians a couple of weeks ago studied with Denise.  (We decided to split up to save time and hopefully be more effective.)   They have started going to church!!  Doug’s 2 main guys were working today so he didn’t get to meet with them.  (The men seem to get jobs when they can, just day jobs.)  Doug is thinking maybe he and Larry need to start going on Saturdays.  He did get to spend some time and pray with with a couple of men that he recently met. 
 
I find it interesting that I am able to walk alone through the township without fear.  Most people are friendly.  The women and children are busy carrying water and doing laundry in tubs.  The men are sitting and talking or playing games (maybe a little gambling?).  I saw a little boy pushing a large bucket of water in a little wheelbarrow and he had a baby tied onto his back!  I can tell the children are learning English in school.  One group of little boys passed me and said (it was so sweet!!), “Hello my friend.  How are you?”  He sounded like a perfect Englishman!
Teachers have been on strike along with nurses and hospital workers; now the police are starting to join in.  Interesting times!!
*Names changed.
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