Thank you for following along and graciously encouraging us is our mission to serve, encourage, and bless the people of South Africa. You’ve already had a chance to hear about the trip from Matthew and John’s perspectives, but there are 8 other people that you sent out who have experienced this trip in their own unique way. Here is a chance for you to hear about our trip from some different angles. Enjoy!
(But first, confession time. I broke John’s screen)
Now for the serious part:
From the Licatas: It has been an amazing trip. I have to admit that I did a lot more manual labor than I expected, but in the end we had a dedication for the building we were working on and it reminded me how it was all for God’s glory. It also reminded me the reason we came here. I held a lot more babies than I had in a long time – not just for the baby home but for events that freed up some people to attend the activities that the church was putting on. We even went on the campus of the University of Pretoria to witness to the students, which I found got easier the more I did it. However, the thing that will probably stay with me the most is the people I got to know, which is very easy here because everyone was so friendly. The Living Hope Church is a model of what being one in Christ is all about, as there were people from different races, different countries, and different economic classes and yet you would never know it by the way they easily fellowshipped with one another. It was a blessing to be able to go on this trip.
From Bryan Bush: We had a fantastic trip! We spent the week in worship with new and old friends in South Africa, we had fellowship that was a foretaste of heaven, and we worked hard and worked together with members of Living Hope Church. The families of Living Hope Church have become very dear to me as this has now been the third time I have been blessed with the privilege of going to South Africa. I throughly enjoyed having Sarah accompany us on this trip, and I was thrilled to be with good friends as we served our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but for me, the highlight of the trip was observing how the rest of the team interacted with the team in South Africa. We quickly became one team serving and worshipping our one Lord Jesus. I have been privileged and filled with joy to serve alone side this team from Grace Church. Thank you all for your support for us, as we were able to represent the fellowship at Grace Church of Orange to our brothers and sisters at Living Hope Church in South Africa.
From Sarah Bush: Looking back over this trip, I can’t help but notice how God has changed my heart. The first time I traveled to South Africa on a missions trip in 2013, I did not want to go at all! Since then, I have been a part of 2 more teams that have had the opportunity to minister to the team in South Africa. At the start of this trip, I was not sure what role I would play. Most of the trip consisted of manual labor, baby holding, and sports playing, none of which I particularly enjoy. God does not call us to do what we enjoy and are comfortable with, but what brings HIM glory. Although I was called upon to do some things I did not enjoy, I did love forming and continuing to build relationships with the ladies of Living Hope Church. One of the highlights of the trip for me was, spending time with the Clark’s and seeing how they live out the gospel in their everyday lives!
From Rachel Weber: This trip was very different and yet very similar to the last trip that I made with the team going to South Africa two years ago. When I came last time, our team was quite large (17 people to be exact). This, although not a bad thing, made it difficult to be in the same places at the same time and made it difficult to find time to talk with the people of South Africa one-on-one. This time we had a smaller team which I felt helped in connecting us all with the people here. Having a smaller group also helped us in working closer as a team. When I met people last time, the relationships felt surface rather than deep due to limited one-on-one time. This time however, felt like visiting close relatives/family.This is what impacted me the most. The bond we share as believers was evident on this trip. From outreaches at the University, holding babies, performing manual labor, or making house calls to pray with people, everything was cohesive—a oneness about it. Their likemindedness and passion for the gospel was truly an encouragement to me as I am sure it was for the rest of the SA team. I can only hope our SA family feels the same! Just as a family would do, the team as well as our SA family worked through schedule changes, weather delays, and other frustrations, knowing that all these “trials” would work together for God’s purposes. It truly was an amazing trip and the perfect team to go. Thank you all for your prayers and your support!
From Rick Weber:
The trip to South Africa was awesome on so many levels. Our team, although small accomplished much. We cleaned and painted the Muphamuzi Baby Home, helped build a car port, cleaned out yard debris, laid brick, poured cement, put up drywall, planted flowers and shrubs, and resod a lawn. This was hard menial work, but was very fulfilling and helped unify our team. We all felt good about this because it not only helped our Christian brothers and sisters, but we truly did all for the glory of God. I was blessed to get to know our team on a more personal level. It was also a blessing to get to know more personally the Clarks, Macks and de Wits. One of my highlights of the trip was traveling to Solvekop and meeting the people of that neighborhood. They were all so hospitable! They invited us into their homes and we shared testimonies, sang worship songs and prayed—what a blessing! What was interesting to me was how similar their lives were to us. Their testimonies of how they accepted Christ into their hearts were very similar to testimonies you might hear at home. Their day-to-day life struggles (finding a job, supporting their families, etc.) were very similar to what we deal with at home. We could encourage each other to lay all our burdens at Jesus feet. What I found to be such an awesome is that we can travel halfway across the world and find like minded Bible believing Christians who love the Lord so much, that we can worship and sing and although we are in a completely different cultural setting we are all one in Christ!
From Doris Weber:
As our team is returning from our trip to South Africa, I can tell you we have felt your prayers. Thank you for all your support in sending us. As I reflect on the many things learned, and there were MANY, I would like to focus on just one: food. As we have traveled it has been a great opportunity to “taste” the culture of South Africa. Our hosts treated us to many varieties of their foods, but as I observed, the food they were most satisfied with was the food of God’s Word. They were seriously hungry for God’s truth. Pastor Josh Mack challenged them to KNOW the word of God so they would not follow false teaching. This got me to thinking about “spiritual nutrition”. It has become “the thing” to read labels to make sure what we place in our bodies are “healthy” for us; glutton free, lactose free, free range, organic. How many of us think about the spiritual food we feed ourselves? It is so easy to be “fed” spiritually, but what type of “food” are you putting in your spiritual body? Are you just getting the “milk” of the word or are you developing to receive the “meat” of the word, or maybe you are just starving from lack of food. I think many of us believers have a true eating disorder when it comes to spiritual food. When it comes to digging into God’s word or even reading daily from the Bible we are too busy or just plain forget. Do we settle for “empty calorie” foods that appear in positive thinking? I may forget one meal, but be sure I will not forget two in a day let alone skip a whole day without eating, and yet how many times will a day or two go by without feeding my spirit with the Word of God. I observed my South African brother’s and sister’s put a priority on their spiritual food. They were willing to do the hard work of studying God’s word, prioritizing it in their daily lives, encouraging each other to live what they learned, and they were excited to share the good news of Jesus Christ. When I have eaten something amazingly tasty I love to share it with someone so they can enjoy the flavor as well. Shouldn’t we be doing that with the gospel? How marvelous and amazing is our salvation, do I share this with anyone? The first Saturday we were in SA we were able to help with a conference in sharing the gospel. We were also privileged to learn alongside. We were given an amazing tool, a book Josh Mack had written, “The Best Story Ever”. This little booklet put the gospel into very easy to understand terms and it was a short read as well. We were given the opportunity to put into practice what we learned by going to the University in Pretoria. We went out in groups and shared the gospel and gave people the book. The two people my group talked to were surprisingly open. It made me realize there are probably more people open to hearing but I need to use opportunities that come. I need to be more intentional with sharing the gospel (the delectable food) God has allowed me to taste. What a blessing this mission trip has been.
From Alyssa Celano:
First of all, thank you so much for all of your support and prayers throughout this time we had in South Africa. What an amazing place to have the opportunity to minister to. From evangelism at a local university, to working more than I ever knew I could (pick axes are heavy!), there were so many ways we were stretched and used as a team. However, more importantly, I was surprised at how much God works through our relationships with others, even 10,000 miles away. There were so many different sorts of people I met: ones with crazy testimonies, and others similar to a lot of us in that we grew up in the church. Yet, all these people loved the Lord in a visible, tangible way. A lot of South Africa is pretty well developed, and quite frankly looks like California. But there are parts that are exactly like we hear: “poor.” But we fail to hear the details about the joy that even the mother and her 4 children who are living in a single bedroom have because of Christ. Their church is so joyful. The Clarks, Macks, and De Wits are so joyful. Everyone in Christ there, seem to always have joyful hearts. In the same topic of joy, I learned a pretty valuable lesson from the little ones. I spent quite a lot of time with the babies of the Muphamuzi baby home, and each child seemed to smile and get excited about me as if I was their mother. While I was holding a boy I grew very fond of, I realized that he looks at me the way he would look at his mama if she was around. The way babies look at their parents is something so special to see. And the babies at the baby home don’t have that safe parent to look to and feel that way with, so they see people that give them the love and attention they need and look at them in that very same way. So I’m holding this little boy who can’t speak, crawl, or even sit up on his own, however I see the joy he has when he sees me and the other caregivers. This is the joy we should feel when we look to our Father in heaven, a joy that is incomprehensible, because we have a Father who loves and cares for us more than we could ever know. There are so many little ways that God revealed himself to me there, and so many ways He showed the beauty of all the nations. But what I most desire as we depart is to find complete and unconditional joy in Jesus, all. the. time. (Would you please pray for me as I am feeling led to intern at the baby home, as well as serve in South Africa indefinitely? Thank you!)
Our flight back to LAX is boarding at this very moment. Thank you for coming along with us on this incredible journey. See you soon, family.