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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Several people have asked about the recipe for Bobotie (pronounced Bo-bert-tee) which we enjoyed when we were at Ekukhanyeni Christian Retreat Centre (and on the flight from Joburg to London).

If anyone wanted to have a go at cooking it we've found a recipe on the BBC Good Food Website which looks pretty good: - what it doesn't mention is that it can be served with salad, chutney, fresh apple or banana...


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Final Blog Entry

The team arrived back in the UK very early this morning, after an unproblematic journey from Siyabuswa to the airport in Jo'burg and then a smooth flight from Jo'burg to London Heathrow. Though all weary from the travelling, the saying goodbye to everyone which signalled the very end of our Church Community Project was not easy!

Looking back through all the blog posts we've written as a team, going back as far as November 2011, it's clear just how much of a journey we have been on together. During our time in South Africa, the team had the opportunity to reach out to many, many people, sometimes putting in to place carefully planned programmes and sometimes simply reacting to the needs of those we met as we went along. It's also incredibly humbling to see that the blog has been viewed from the UK, South Africa but also Russia, the United States, France, Spain and Germany - we are so grateful for your interest, thoughts and prayers.

And yet whilst this has been an incredible three weeks of both mission and experiencing the South African culture, I am reminded of both the Great Commission and the idea that there are many expressions of mission, as articulated by David Bosch. I am reminded of them because as Christians we believe we are all called to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. 22 people responded to the call they received to Siyabuswa - yet travelling many thousands of miles is just one expression of mission and God's call extends to everyone into some form of mission. As both the physical and mental unpacking begins, I close by praying that all the mission that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ calls you to may be almightily blessed.

Thanks again, and hopefully you'll enjoy the photos that are now starting to appear on our Flickr page!


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sunday 12th August
by Dan and Ali

“Of Man’s first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree
whose mortal taste bought death into the world, and loss of Eden”

                                                                        John Milton – Paradise Lost

After days of peaceful reflection
at Ekukhanyeni, a place of light
whose scenery was nothing short of perfection,
Back to Siyabuswa, before our flight,
Peace and rest, this was not for us
We travelled to church in a minibus!
                                                                        Dan and Ali – Poem Unpublished

Today – Andrew Weston’s birthday – was a relatively laid back day, all things considered. We had a rare lie in, getting up at about 9.00, before the group split. While a few decided to have a third visit to Hope Church, most of the group tried a new church 50 kilometres west of Siyabuswa. Despite following the wrong bus initially (turned out to be a miscommunication) and then managing to miss the church the first time (we drove past it), we made it safely and were rewarded with an energetic – and ear drum shattering-experience. What this church lacked in congregation size it made up for in sheer volume with the drummer managing to actually break his high-hat with a single mighty strike. Hendrick’s sermon – whilst confusing with its many tangents – was an engaging and arousing one, nicely bringing the service into its final powerful, uplifting (and not to mention near-deafening worship) session.

After church, the two groups were reunited for lunch and a final bumper briefing delivered by none other than our very own Andrew ‘List Man’ Weston. Logistics came first and thanks to Tony’s effective book balancing decisions, had to be made regarding both the distribution of both the leftover mission fund and the money left over from the general living fund made up of the money paid by us. This meant every member of our 22 strong team had one hundred pounds to either take home or donate to Grace School or the Bible College. After these decisions were made, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of tuna pasta whilst the Weston Brothers and Tony crunched the numbers.

Dinner was polished off, washing up was done and then back together we came to hear the outcome of the money distribution. £600 will be spent on 240 bibles for Hope For Africa Mission (to be bought by Dr Hendrick), £869.66 to be spent on improving the local church plants and a further £700 will be donated to Grace Christian School for a range of resources.

From briefing into devotions lead by Robert including: group prayer, Nelson’s touching encouragement for the future and our theme song: ‘Jesus, all for Jesus’. After all this was done it was time for Andrew and Steph’s surprise certificate ceremony. The rewards and recipients are as follows:

Best Quotes – Jack
Best church dancer – Rose
Moral Baseline – Alistair
Parkour Prince – Cameron
Resident Stuntman – Toby
Extreme Photographer – Jocey
Most likely to have a child/animal in their luggage - Daniel
Executive Chef – Abby
Group Troublemaker - Amy
Fashionista – Hannah
List Man – Andrew
Stuck in the ‘80s – Robert
Olympics Expert – Carrie
Best English Accent - Rod
Siyabuswa’s Most Wanted Driver – Tim
Monkey Lover – Frances
Hippo Lover – Steph
Sweet Potato – Laura
Stubborn Steamroller – Eva
Can Sleep Anywhere – Tony
Biblical Scholar – Helen
Lion Whisperer – Suzy

Your prayers for tomorrow will be necessary and gratefully received. Thank you for your continued support and see you soon! (Doubt if we'll be able to add anything further to the blog until we are back in the UK)
Saturday 11th August
by Toby and Cameron

At 6 o’clock three very tired bodies appeared outside the house at Ekukanyeni to partake in a dawn walk. Two hours later after the sun had fully risen over the mountains, they returned to find the rest of the team emerging from their beds to the smell of a cooked breakfast lovingly prepared by our hosts Stephanie and Iain.  After most of the team had eaten their way through a four course breakfast, they returned to their rooms to finish packing their belongings into their respective suitcases, they said farewell to their hosts and set of down the mountains. 

On their way back to Siyabuswa (over rivers, mountains, through forests and grasslands, over tarmac and dust roads) they stopped of at the nearby town of Groblersdal (which was still 2 hours drive from their destination) for lunch.  After an hour and a half lunch stop, they set off, again. After two hours of further travelling they arrived at Siyabuswa to find that two more visitors from Reading had arrived a few days after we had left for Kruger. The other visitors were a drama teacher from Highdown School, Katy, and her husband, Tom. (Which was quite a shock for Cameron as the visiting drama teacher was his old drama teacher). 

They proceeded to unpack and have a few hours of rest before the big celebration!  The celebration commenced with granny, and a few other of the ladies from Siyabuswa, singing and worshipping.  After that Pastor Jack (who looks a bit like Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout) began with a few opening words.  The main body of the celebration commenced with the group receiving gifts from the people of Siyabuswa and the collage.  Immediately after that the team presented gifts to some of the people of Siyabuswa.
One of the main things presented was two communion sets presented to Dr Hendrick and the Alathea Bible College.  Both sets were crafted by an English craftsman from British clay. Dr Hendrick and the guys at the college were delighted with the gifts. Following the presentation of gifts there was the most important part of the celebration: the food!  The food was amazing.  The food consisted of BBQ beef and sausages with pap and chakalaka (which is like vegetables in a chilli sauce).  As a side dish, there was BBQ Siyabuswa chicken. After the celebration, all of the team went their separate ways and the rest of the day was used up with Uno. Time to finish for another day! 

Bye bye, from Toby and me  J

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Friday 10th August
by Carrie

Another fabulous day chez South Africa!
The day started at 8am with a huge breakfast – fruit salad, yogurt, cereal, cooked breakfast and toast with homemade jam and marmalade! Our hosts, Stephanie and Ian, served us – they are wonderful, caring people and they help cook all our meals and serve them to us.

After breakfast we all headed off for the journey to the head of the Blyde River Canyon – the deepest green canyon in the world (and third largest canyon in the world). It was hard to comprehend seeing such amazing and staggering landscape beauty after seeing incredible animal sights in Kruger. But our God is good and he rewarded our hard work with sharing His glory with us. We spent time at the head of the canyon just breathing in the beauty and also shopping – there were lots of market stalls where we could buy souvenirs and presents at knock down prices. Carvings and fabrics, jewellery and pictures, so much stunning African art that it was hard to resist!

We journeyed on down the canyon stopping at more viewing points to take in the incredible, unbelievable scenery and, of course, doing more shopping! Lunch was in the Silver Spoon CafĂ© in Graskop – the pancake capital of South Africa. All our meals out have been superb quality but the speed of service? Suffice it to say we shall not be missing that!

Then it was back in the buses to the retreat and an afternoon of reflection on our three weeks in South Africa. It is amazing that we all felt we had had such positive experiences here, and many of us are keen to return!

6.30pm saw another wonderful meal served in the candle lit dining room – roast chicken! The evening ended with devotions round the fire and playing games before we fell into bed exhausted and happy!
Thank you God for another superb day. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Thursday 9th August 2012
by Eva Maria

Today it was our last day at Kruger Park so we decided to get up very early (5.30am) to see the sunrise. We went to our ‘viewing point’ and while we waited all we could see was the most amazing vast amount of land. The sun rose very quickly, in a straight line. It was so cold (about 6 degrees C) when we got up that some of us took our sleeping bags. On the way back to camp we saw 3 wild dogs by the road which was very special as there are only 330 in the entire park.

As we were leaving the park we saw different wild life such as giraffe but it still amazes us to see them so close to the cars. But, the most fascinating thing was that we saw the catch of a leopard up a tree. Some of us saw the leopard eating the impala. We stopped at a watering hole to have some lunch and spotted our last hippos. As we left the national park reality hit us, as rubbish was everywhere along the side of the road and we saw the contrast of the different conditions people live in. This wasn’t new for us (as we had seen this before in Siyabuswa) but during our time in Kruger we didn’t see it. As we drove south towards Nelspruit, we saw a humongous plantation of bananas protected by bags. The bright colours of the purple bougainvillea flowers contrasted with the darkness of the avocado trees.

After a few comfort breaks we reached our final destination. a Christian Retreat Centre called Ekukhanyeni, the most amazing place in the middle of nowhere surrounded by thickly wooded mountains. After a well deserved rest after hours of travelling, we had a traditional South Africa meal (Bobotie) which was delicious. After worship and a briefing we are enjoying the warmth of an open wood fire.  
Wednesday 8th August 2012
by Hannah

Again, the writing of this blog post is taking place in the Selati Train Museum restaurant, complete with delicious food and delightful company. The menu has such delicacies as Kudu salad and Crocodile and Biltong pizza – all far removed from standard English fare.

Today, our second day at Skukuza, has also been eventful. The first drive took place in the early morning, at quarter to six, consisting of one mini bus filled with a few brave souls determined to see the sunrise. Having been on the early drive the previous morning, I was still in bed, feigning sleep in order to avoid an unexpected cleaning lady. According to my sources, (a distracted Jack and Toby) the drive produced sightings of a mother and baby rhino, countless impala, a giraffe and a magnificent sunrise. After a breakfast of pancakes cooked by Abby, Steph and Amy, the main expedition of the day left at 10 o’clock. The idea was to drive north as far as we could, before needing to return, in order to get a change of scenery and find the savannah. We didn’t entirely find the open plains but we did leave the dense shrubbery that characterises the south of the park. In terms of wildlife, we didn’t see anything similar to the big cats again but that was more than made up for by the close encounters we had with other animals. I shall run through the more impressive and unusual creatures spotted along the way; a majestically antlered Kudu stag; at the other end of the spectrum, a dainty Steenbok; Vervet Monkeys; some Hippos; a Crocodile; a small herd of Waterbuck that were rather hard to identify; a few fantastically bright Southern Ground Hornbills; a herd of elephants pottering around a dry riverbed; and some Zebra.

Among some of the more large scale sightings, was the huge herd of buffalo. The majority of them were seated, nestled beneath the bushes, languidly dozing in the sun. We couldn’t see their full extent due to the foliage, but the glimpses we caught through gaps in the thicket betrayed the enormity of their number. Every space we saw through, for a hundred yards or so, was occupied by masses of horned shadows.

After having a respite stop for lunch surrounded by Glossy Blue Starlings and Hornbills, (or Zazu birds as we call them) we headed back to Skakuza. Rob inevitably decided to do a spontaneous detour that ended up in the most amazing sighting of the day. As we rounded a bend in an incredibly bumpy track we noticed a couple of Elephants amongst the trees. We looked further, and, like ants emerging from cracks in the paving, more and more became apparent. Soon we found ourselves in the middle of a large herd, with several babies, all milling around the cars. We stayed for ages, taking pictures and admiring those graceful giants. As we finally pulled away, we were confronted by two giraffe right in our path. We stayed there a while also before eventually driving back.

The rest of the afternoon was spent idling around the camp and swimming in the freezing pool. All in all, a fabulous day on safari, with many new animals spotted and many new perspectives gained.

P.S Suzy forgot to mention this yesterday, but a couple of miles on after we saw the Lions, we also saw a Leopard! A famously elusive animal, it was just sauntering along the side of the road, partially concealed by the waving grasses, before it turned and crossed the road just behind our vans. The Big 5 has been completed!