Learning from community experiences

For those of you who have been reading our updates for a while, you might know that July is USA Project month. We receive a team of American students and staff from CCC, and they come to help boost our ministry with manpower for a few weeks. The first 2 weeks involve community work and the second 2 weeks is campus outreach.

During their first week, the team hosted a holiday club at a church in a coloured community called Northpine. The second week of community outreach took place in Khayelitsha. The church we partner with needed us to break down an old toilet shack and build a new structure in its place. We had 4 days to do this job. It seemed quite daunting since there was no blueprint and all we had was a team of four students and two staff members including myself, all inexperienced in building and architecture, but we had the necessary materials so we tackled the challenge head-on!

We began by tearing down the old structure and leveling the area where the new structure would be erected. It’s always interesting to observe how the American students react to being in the community, they hardly complain and are willing to try almost anything. As a South African host, I have my own new adventures awaiting me too. For instance, on the first day, while taking the pastor’s kids home, the pastor’s teenage son was our guide on how to get there and we drove through a area where a riot took place earlier that day! Tires burning in the street, rocks and debris on the road, chaos everywhere – all in a day’s work of community outreach!

The original toilet structure

The original toilet structure

On the second day, the construction began – we started cutting wooden beams and planting them into the ground. Innovation was the name of the game, “Make a plan” as we South Africans like to say. The American students were fun to work with – David used an app on his cellphone for a building level, Luke constructed a make-shift chair out of a wooden beam to steady himself as he worked on the roof. A great idea at the time, but did lose his balance once to give himself and the rest of us a good scare.

My desire was to finish the building by day 4, but very little went according to plan.

Although we had lots of laughs, this was a tough job. We had manpower and materials, but no blueprint and were constantly unsure of what the next step was because the instructions we were receiving were changing all the time. Building on a sandy foundation made much our work unstable, making us wonder whether our hard work was going to last. I felt that the work we did was good quality, but the slow progress was the frustrating part.

In our job as missionaries I feel we have a similar experience. While making slow progress towards a goal, we sometimes reach a point where we or our leaders realize that our work is moving in the wrong direction, so the plan then changes to improve the outcome. I know that I am often guilty of not asking the Master builder for instructions before and during a project. I often go with a way that I think would work but later I realize that His way is better.

With that in mind, we need your prayers. From August until November Pravani and I will be raising up new ministry partners. The extra cost a child brings should not be surprising, but it is. In this season I will also be seeking God’s plan regarding Digital Strategy. There are so many directions to go and I need his wisdom for direction and implementation. Pray for Pravani as she finds the balance between motherhood and ministry.

Thank you for caring and praying for us. I trust that God is holding you close to Him and that you are obeying Him moment by moment. We love to hear from you.

In the love of Christ,

Nicholas

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