Greetings from Cape Town.
We have gone from one busy week into another. Steve maintains a schedule that would probably sink most missionaries and has a constant stream of people wanting his time and services. Churches of every kind, both old and new, want him to teach Cape Bible Seminary classes and provide Bibles and teaching materials. I have learned the most valuable thing we can provide is picture Bibles. Next, is the study Bible, particularly Thompson’s Chain Reference. Thus far in my trip here, I have been with Xhosa, Afrikaans speakers (white and colored) and people who speak very British English. Steve and Pat both seem to handle the language situation very well.
Going back to Monday of last week, Steve and I went grocery shopping. They have modernized the supermarkets considerably since I was here 15 years ago. Many American brands appear on the shelves along with European and local brands. They have a much better variety of canned and packaged goods. They use scanners in the check out stations and the clerks sit while they work. Later in the day, we had a Chinese lunch. It seems that Cashew Chicken is as good here as in our favorite restaurants in the states. In the evening, we had a Bible study at the home of Andre Brandt, with white Afrikaaners. They were a most delightful group who participated well in the discussion.
THE BIG NEWS! The container from Michigan arrived at the warehouse. The coordinator was asked to provide a half day notice in order to obtain some help with the boxes. Steve received a call at 8:00 am that the container had been sitting at the warehouse since 7:00 am. That sort of news creates a flurry of phone calls and hurried preparation for a trip to Elsies River to pick up the Swahili speaking Congolese and Thompson Ntobie in Bishop Lavis Township. (By the way, Thompson’s name comes from a mistake on his birth certificate. His name should have been: Thompson N Tobie, with the “N” for Nathaniel.) We all finally arrived on the scene along with the warehouse manager and got the unloading process under way. A Christian man from a warehouse across the street, named Colin, arrived with a fork lift and some pallets. He really helped in the process. With the material from Colorado, the contents of the just-arrived material from Michigan and some furniture already stored there, the warehouse was so full that you could hardly get the door closed. Steve gave Colin and the Congolese each a Bible and paid the Congolese for their very hard work. In the evening, Steve, Pat and I had dinner in the dark. That wasn’t intentional, but the roving power failure caught up with us just after our meal was served in a very nice restaurant. For the first time in my life, I had Springbok (a small Antelope) and it was good.
On Wednesday, I spent a great amount of time talking with Thompson about matters of the Bible, the churches to whom he ministers, the mission, his needs, etc. The more time I spend with him, the more I am impressed with his talents, his energy and his sense of calling and urgency. In the evening, we had a Bible study at the home of Abe Hickley. Mattie and I first met him and his family as he ministered to the Polo Road church. He remembered us and what I preached that Sunday. I’m impressed and astounded!
Thursday found us meeting with Danny Peterson and his wife. He is a professional African drum player with an impressive ministry. He is planning a trip to the US sometime in the near future. After our meeting, we shopped for a microwave to replace one that the Zimmermans had for many years and finally gave up the ghost just after I arrived. We had doubts that the old one could be fixed but took it into a repair shop anyway. Lo and behold – it could be and was repaired and now resides at the Bavumeleni Children’s Centre where it now heats things for children once again. In the evening, we had a Bible study at the home of Reinaldo and Lorna Rutter. He is from Brazil, where his father is a missionary and she is an Afrikaaner. It seems that everyone feels that I need to be like the fatted calf and try to impress with too much food with too many calories. I’m afraid I may be terminal if they decide to butcher.
Danny Peterson made a drum presentation at Anatoth on Friday morning. Everyone got a drum and he demonstrated (hands on) how it is played. His audience was the group from Colorado with whom I am traveling. That was the highlight of the day. In the evening Steve hosted a gathering of colored Africans (not tribal) at his home. They were a church group of 20 people led by John Abrams and Joe Sebastian, the pastor. Again, a very large meal which they brought. Steve and Pat have a very good home for entertaining and they use it well for the Lord.
On Saturday, there was a large gathering at the home of Pastor Sam Jacobs. The gathering included the Colorado group, some of the Swahili speakers from Elsies River, and some others besides Sam’s family. There was singing, testimony and precious fellowship. I was impressed – no, overwhelmed by the gospel singing of an African-American who is part of the Colorado group. What a voice and what a presentation!
Steve and I picked up Thompson Ntobie and Simon Peter Maines Sunday morning and drove to Swollendam – more than 2 hours to the East of Cape Town. Like Thompson, Simon Peter is an interpreter and a translator. We met with a church of Afrikaans speaking colored Africans and were warmly greeted. I preached a sermon on faith and faithfulness which was interpreted by Simon Peter and after which Thompson discussed and confirmed what I had said. That’s reassuring! The minister of the congregation said he remembered me from the South African Christian Conference in 1991 and he stated that he still remembered what I preached. I don’t. After the worship service, they fed us a feast. We had all kinds of vegetables and they had a sheep slaughtered which was a great honor. It’s a long drive up there and a long drive back, but it was worth it to see in their eyes how much they appreciated our coming.
Yesterday we went to the warehouse and rearranged some of the boxes to let the Colorado group find some of their material. We once again had some of the Swahili Christians to help us. Some of the Bibles and some of the teaching materials were relocated for easier access. After we took the helpers back to their center, we went to an office equipment store where we purchased a printer for Thompson. The one we sent from America just didn’t work on the local power and was too old to obtain parts (called spares here). I intend to spend some time with him tomorrow and hope to deliver the copier at the same time.
Today, we met with a school principal in one of the local townships and in a separate meeting, we met with a lady supervising the use of a school building being used for the elderly during the day. In both places, there will be a good chance they will receive a library with books donated by people in the United States. Tonight, we will have another Bible study with Abe Hickley and family.
What a blessing it has been to be able to see and meet and visit with the local people that Steve has been working with. How great the need that they have! How great the opportunity that we have!
Traveling for Christ – david