Tomorrow marks a week since we arrived in Weenen and it’s already flying past, yet at the same time it feels as if we’ve been here for weeks – always a strange juxtaposition. The community has welcomed us with open arms, hearts, and minds. Our host families have been amazing – though if mine keeps giving me so much food I will come back the size of a house! Unfortunately, it’s very rude to turn down food so finding tactful ways to say no is proving difficult!Most of this week has been spent doing more training (on top of last week’s intensive days), and, though it is interesting and helpful, we’re all anxious to get going with the projects. Mike and Jenni Clarke lead us in our work and their enthusiasm and passion for the community is contagious. I had heard amazing things before we arrived and, having now met them, I can say that they’re all true. They’re making a great effort to get to know us as a team, and as individuals. They helped us celebrate my birthday with afternoon tea in their beautiful garden, and invited us to a worship and prayer evening at the church. They’re looking after us physically, emotionally, and spiritually, which is proving to be a great support. We’ve also met Abbie, a Peace Corps volunteer, who is so loving and generous, I can’t wait to see what we can achieve by her side, I really believe she will be a great friend to us over the coming weeks. And we have two adopted team members in Khaya and Quawe, Khaya was part of the previous team and felt the desire to stay on and volunteer in Weenen, and Quawe has been here for three years now; they’re both so great and we can visibly see God working in both their lives.
Weenen as a town is a strange place, it was originally an Afrikaans settlement, with others arriving gradually. There’s a fairly large Zulu culture here but a mixture of refugees can be found amongst the crowds. Segregation is still a bit of an issue here which is upsetting to a couple of the team but are yet to come across it personally, so far we have received nothing but love.
Next week we start our projects properly, mainly teaching English to grades 2 and 3, and then homework clubs (including youth empowerment/life skills) and helping wherever needed. We’re all a bit restless now so keen to get stuck in as much as possible!
That we can survive the heat – in the sun today it got up to 40 degrees, and our water has been shut off, hopefully it’s just for a few hours but it could last a couple of days! And generally the heat is very difficult to work in, especially for us Brits who have come from the depths of winter!
That we continue to bond as a team, there’s a bit of a divide between the UK guys and the SA guys which we need to fix!
And please pray for capabilities and strength as we head out onto projects – that we’ll be confident in what we’re doing and have an effect on the lives we encounter.