Hi! Happy New Year to you, dear reader.
Tony and I have now been in South Africa for two months. While it’s been very cold in Canada, it’s been hot and dry in the Western Cape – with severe water restrictions in Cape Town. Fortunately, Worcester’s water comes from a reservoir in a higher rainfall area, but the lack of rain is a huge concern to all the local farmers – our own Johan and Marie Fourie (of Iris Western Cape base) included. Please keep them in your prayers.
Tony and I have been settling into our new home in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa. Many New Year’s Days symbolize new beginnings – in our case, that was our moving day into a new neighbourhood of Hooggelegen retirement village in the Langerug neighbourhood of Worcester. It is a community on a hill – so I nickname it the “City on a Hill” – that Jesus mentions in Matthew 4:14: “You are the salt of the earth. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” I was led to book both of our guesthouses in Worcester, as well as our new 2 bedroom home, which we rent for approx. $800 Cdn a month. We can do a lot of ministry and meetings in this home (we pre-pay electricity as needed and needed to furnish the home simply, including a fridge and second-hand furniture).
Our first guesthouse was up in the foothills north of the town, and we gained valuable knowledge from the hosts Ruan and Angelique, as well as buying our car (a 14 year old Mercedes) from Angelique’s aunt. Cars last a long time here in South Africa, so old cars aren’t ‘rust buckets’. All cars are very expensive here, but are also an absolute necessity. Tony is still working through the ownership details with the traffic department – kind of like the local ministry of transportation/police. We are at the roadworthy test stage – which is something the new owner does, rather than the seller, with a private purchase.
Here is a drawing that I did of that unusual thatched-roof guesthouse:
Our second guesthouse (which included a kitchenette) was our base of operations over the Christmas season. We met our hosts well before we moved in. We have connected with a local church that we like (one that is missions focused, and they have simultaneous translation from Afrikaans into English). We met a lot of outreach people where we sit in “translation row,” and were invited to a home group – led by the hosts that would welcome us in central Worcester. This was one of the many confirmations about this local church. Nik and Gisela have become friends and encouragers into our lives, and both are very knowledgeable about South African living, including history and government.
I found our rental home online, while we stayed at the first guesthouse. I tried in vain to find a storefront place where we could both minister and live in. One of the other Iris Western Cape couples lives and ministers in a store front with an apartment – they run a bakery and drop in centre, while they and their children live in the back – but this works for Robertson, not for larger Worcester. I was strongly led towards this little home in a gated retirement village, and thought, this is perfect for us, but how does it work with a ministry to children? We’re still working that out. Meanwhile, we have connected to quite a few ministries that work in several townships, as well as the local Boland hospice, where we go in weekly.
Tony goes into Avian Park on Friday nights with a Nigerian missionary who works with the local children three nights a week – see http://bit.ly/2lZThXW. I am to join him in time. We are also involved with another Avian Park ministry called My Father’s House Worcester, which is connected with the local YWAM and headed up by our friend Jan Buchanan. I am to help them establish a web-presence as soon as we get reliable internet (we are currently using a mobile hotspot with our cellphones and mobile data). They also have an amazing couple called Marco and Rens – Marco used to be a gangster and now reaches out to the local gang JCYs, cares for teens and loves on the neighbourhood through street evangelism ‘Disciple the Streets’ and pastoral care. We are fond of this couple and intend to nurture them as leaders.
We are also waiting on becoming prison volunteers in a large prison outside of town, and have been in contact with the chaplain. Our new church also does prison ministry there, so we may connect with what they have as well – particularly since we are learning Afrikaans and may need additional support due to language issues.
Another ministry we’re connecting to is MasterPeace Academy, led by an American missionary Mella Davis. This is a private school for gifted township children (by scholarship basis). Tony will teach science daily (with a curriculum) and music once a week. I am interested in social studies/geography, but have been advised by my Iris leaders that that’s not a good fit for me at the moment, but that I should stick with art. This school uses a curriculum called “Meet the Masters,” which is completely different from how I was taught art. Please keep us in prayer as we journey through this new venture.
Mella also runs a drop-in the Chip Ross Centre for children/teens, in another neighbourhood called Riverview. This runs on Wednesdays and we may be involved.
The ministry that I feel the strongest pull towards (other than to help our Iris Western Cape family with children, admin and website work), is called Kibbutz El-Shammah. It is like an oasis in the Roodewal township. It was founded in 1993, but has roots that began in the 1980s with local Christian social worker Erena Van De Venter. Erena is like a South African Jackie Pullinger, working with gang members, rehabilitating drug addicts and micro-enterprise in the township. We visited the crèche, environmental programme, sewing centre and the screen printing shop, Boa Boa. I am considering helping with the screen printing shop with spreadsheets, and possibly more. They also run a programme for the young men called Change Makers. Tony and I met them as they were deepening their faith and learning how to be strong, compassionate men of integrity. Here is a picture of us with the current Change Makers group:
The second time we were in the Kibbutz, I was inspired by the place and had a prophetic art impression of the ministry as an oasis in the desert (the region is semi-desert and we are in drought). The Father was impacting the oasis with his deep love, and streams of living water were flowing out of the oasis into the surrounding township. Children were playing in the water and being revived. So I drew what I saw and gave the drawing to Erena. She was greatly encouraged, and showed me the logo of the ministry – it had a very similar theme! I had no idea! I include the drawing, so you can see it for yourself. I plan to do similar drawings with the other ministries as God leads. Here is the drawing that I did for them:
There are more ministries we are learning about – there are three others that we’re finding in our little retirement community – one couple we have met, the others we are still to meet. We feel like we are connecting all the nets of the town together to catch those who would normally fall through the nets. Tony has set up a web page which lists ministries as we encounter them – see http://bit.ly/2lf2Wug. We are finding our own expectations are different from what is unfolding – part of this is sometimes what God brings you to is different from what you imagine. The other part is that we need to be careful to be pulled this way and that by current needs only. We need to do what God has sent us to do. Please keep us in prayer that we will always stay on the right path.
So what we’ve been learning is humility, teachability, being open to constant surprises from God, and to keep our hearts full of love. We can only do that by spending lots of time with Him – for He gives us the compassion, direction, and endless grace that we’ve been experiencing. We’ve also been learning Afrikaans from an amazing disabled couple – Andre is blind (from birth) and deaf (since age 16). He has intricate hearing equipment, so he can hear us. His wife Janey is a trained teacher, and she is deaf without her hearing aids. Together, they help us navigate Afrikaans vocabulary that we need, and we are beginning to learn sentences (prayer help, please!). Prepositions are a challenge to remember and sentence structure is definitely not like English, or even French. But we will learn. They have become very dear friends.
Of note is how we spent Christmas. It was very different having Christmas in the summer, with it’s low key “festive” emphasis. Instead of turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings, we had delicious home-made cold meats of tongue, corned beef and ham, salads, and trifle. South Africans often spend Christmas season on the beach and at the braai (barbeque). We travelled to Cape Town for Hillsong South Africa’s Christmas “Spectacular” – a wonderful Christmas theatre presentation. Christmas eve brought us low-key acoustic Christmas carols and a guest preacher in our regular church.
For the evening, we travelled to Robertson (not far from the Iris base) to worship in a train, called The Gospel Express. The church’s priest is Lionel, an 87-year old Anglican, who is an amazing story-teller and gives the gospel in every message. To my surprise and delight, the liturgy was so similar to our own, that sometimes I strayed from the book. When I did, I was caught by a slightly different response – but it was okay. We had missed liturgy and the eucharist, so this was a wonderful treat for us. We plan to visit again as we can.
You are welcome to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or our ministry email email@example.com. Our website is Coppleswesterncape.ca and we are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Isaiah 43:19 “Look, I am about to do something new, even now it is coming, do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
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May you also be blessed in 2018 – this year of breakthrough…
Blessings to you all, Laurie-Ann Copple
Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa
(WaystoGrowinGod.org and CopplesWesternCape.ca)