Friday, February 29, 2008

Goodbye for now

Early tomorrow morning (5:00 am to be exact) we'll be boarding the bus and heading out for our next adventure. We'll be heading to Mdumbi where we'll hopefully get to know ourselves better...literally since we're going to be doing part 2 of our Knowing Yourself module.

The reason that I'm writing this now (before we actually do it), is that for all parents and significant others who are used to hearing from your child or boyfriend or girlfriend (or whatever relationship you have with one of the students on Site on site 2) on a regular basis (and for all of those who wish you'd hear from your child more often), it might be good for you to know that we will not have internet or cell phone reception for the next week. Know that we still love you a lot.

The following photos are a preview of the write-up that will be coming about our time here in J-Bay.

Rachel looking beautiful on her horse

Mei-Lin and Simon

Mei-Lin, Jen, Sean, Gabe, Sabrina and Carla looking totally pro

Gabe picking up his board and heading out for another round

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The weekend at Bonnievale was a nice weekend of relaxation and activity; we did things like swim, swing off a rope swing into the water, canoe, a climbing wall, a high ropes course and just hang out and enjoy the wilderness. There were tents and tarps set out, but a lot of us chose to embrace the wilderness and sleep out under the stars. I have to say that there was something beautiful about spending the weekend sleeping outside, eating meals that were cooked over a fire and enjoying the nature that God created.

Another great thing about the weekend was that we were there with Site 3 and it was great to see them again and swap stories of all that we’ve experienced so far.

We left Bonnievale at 5:00 on Sunday morning…now you might be wondering why we had to leave so early…it was because we had a little stop to make along the way. After a five hour bus ride we made it to Bloukrans Bungy, which we were told, at 216 metres, is the highest bungy in the world…although there seems to be a bit of controversy surrounding that. Regardless, it was freakishly high. It’s funny though because although everything inside of you tells you it’s ridiculous to jump off of a bridge and you’re foolish for doing it (in fact, you may be reading this and fully agreeing with those thoughts), there is something beautiful about soaring through the air and seeing the beauty and hearing the silence that surrounds you.

Written by: Dave Toews and Sabrina Wiens

Dave going off the rope swing

Jodie and Joanne doing the high ropes course

Michelle walking the rope like a pro

Corey climbing the wall

The view that we had while sleeping's surprising how bright the moon can be


This write-up is written about the events that happened from February 17th – 20th

Hidden under piles of trash and behind the doors of the matchbox shacks lies the township of Kayamandi, simply waiting to rise out from underneath the burdens that have been covering up this township's glowing beauty. I had the opportunity to get to know this township and although it was only three short days that I had there, God revealed more to me than I ever could have imagined.

Our site was split up into groups of 3 or 4 and after spending a morning exploring the township, with guides who grew up in Kayamandi, each group was given a small budget in order to create its own service project. I truly believe that it was in discovering the community by walking the streets, holding a child’s hand and simply observing the day-to-day life in Kayamandi, that God revealed Himself to me in unexpected, yet clear ways.

We were advised to not only identify the needs that we saw in this township, but to look deeper and identify the assets of the people and the community as well. I was able to open my eyes and see not only the brokenness of the community, but also the beauty that was flourishing; I realized that I have so much to learn from their way of simplicity and especially from the emphasis on relationships. I was inspired by the amount of love and caring that was shown among neighbours. If someone was in need of a hand there was always a neighbour close by to help. For instance, one of our groups helped a 27 year old woman and her 4 year old son tear down and rebuild their shack because it had started to shift and as a result was crooked and not suitable for keeping the rain out. Amidst the three Outtatown students working on repairing the house was an abundance of neighbours joining in to help put this home together again.

The beauty of this relational attitude was made incredibly clear to me through my own group’s service project as well. We decided to build a fence for one of the many local crèches (nursery schools), because the children were constantly escaping through one of the many gaps in the existing fencing, however, we had absolutely no idea how to put up a fence. We walked into this project blindly, but when we started working and trying to figure it out, the neighbours, who had built many fences, came and showed us how to put it up. The fence would not have made it up, nor would it be stable without the help of the two men who picked up our mallet and drove those long poles into the ground for us. I am incredibly thankful for the help they gave us.

God was not only revealed to me through the hospitality and genuine care of the neighbours, but also through the way that our service project played out. As I’ve already mentioned, none of us knew how to put up a fence, or even what type of tools and supplies we’d need, so even going to the local hardware store was difficult. I really missed Canada and the friendly and helpful service that Home Depot offers since the local Builders Hardware was definitely lacking in that department! And yet, it all worked out brilliantly and plans seemed to fall into place. God revealed Himself to us in every step of our project.

Had we just driven by Kayamandi, like we have with so many other townships, I never would have discovered the beauty that it possesses. My judgment of the township probably would have stopped at the poverty, piles of trash and world that is in many ways opposite to the one I come from. However, I now see that God’s love is evident in all parts of this world and through all people. He was in our service. He was in the help that was offered to us by the community. He was in the children’s hands that we held. He was in the children at the crèche. It’s not hard to find God once we open our eyes and look past the trash that blocks our vision.

Written by: Jen Nickel

The following photos are of the house that one of the groups (Ben, Meagan, and Krystal) helped tear down and rebuild

Strandfontein – Homestay Take 2!

This write-up is written about the events that happened from February 10th – 15th

We just spent a week in the Cape Flats; a section of Cape Town that had been designated for the Black and Coloured people during the Apartheid years. We spent the week with Coloured host families, in the town of Strandfontein.

We enjoyed the hospitality and warmth of our host families the entire week as they instantly became our adopt-a-parents in just a few short days. They opened their homes and their hearts to us and it definitely helped the students who were feeling a bit homesick to cope and recharge for the last half of the semester.

We spent the week working in three different schools (one elementary school and two high schools) in a close by town called Steenberg, often answering questions the students had about Canada, but some of us also had the opportunity to teach a few lessons and help with homework.

Two of the groups were able to partake in their schools Track and Field days. Our very own Sean Hildebrandt even placed 2nd in the high jump competition. All in all, it was a great week to hang out with the kids and learn from them just as much as they learned about us.

We ended the week with a boat ride out to Robben Island, where we toured around and visited the prison that had been used during the Apartheid to isolate political prisoners, the most famous of which was Nelson Mandela. It was amazing to see how even seemingly small things, like mail censorship and solitary confinement were used to break the spirits of prisoners. Even more amazing was how the prisoners persevered and through teaching one another with the education that a few of them had, they created what has now become known as “The University of Robben Island”. This “university” nurtured and educated many of the leaders who came to power after the fall of the Apartheid. I’m sure we all enjoyed the time and even more so enjoyed the successful avoidance of seasickness.

The history, beauty, and love of South Africa was evident throughout our week. You’ll never experience a Valentine’s party until you have Rodney MC it…that’s all I have to say.

Written by: Stephen Foord

Sean and James with one of the host families...James looks super, I'm not sure what that face looks like...

One of the classes that we worked in...they're all wearing red because it was Valentines Day

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Simons Town

This write-up is written about the events that happened from February 4th – 8th

This past week we had a number of speakers come and talk to us about various methods and programs that are being used to help work towards a better future for South Africa. The main speaker of the week was a man named Rodney. Rodney’s expertise is in conflict resolution, a topic I was already interested in, but Rodney’s dramatic, interactive lecturing style led me to enjoy the subject that much more. He was able, through the way he approached the issue as well as with a few key activities, to show us how the ability to resolve conflict is not only necessary in large instances, such as the Apartheid, but also in our day-to day lives.

Outlining his ideas for us with large sheets of paper and marker, we learned about the basic types of conflict that we will encounter, as well as what the root causes for these conflicts may be. In one session we all paired up and practiced techniques for effective debating, learning how to get our point across to our opponent while still listening and responding to exactly what they said. But of all the activities, my favourite turned out to be a short test we were given, which was designed to show us what methods we regularly use when dealing with conflict.

Class was great, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so we also had a lot of fun playing in the ocean, planning Bible study for out small groups and playing more card games than can possibly be healthy for us. One evening our entertainment committee planned a brilliant indoors beach party, complete with massive amounts of fruit, palm branches and the limbo (which was won by our very own Jacob Droogh). One morning some o us crazy people even woke up at 4 am to hike up a nearby mountain and most of us reached the top just in time to witness a beautiful sunrise.

Written by: Gabriel Brunk

Simon and Carrie setting the mood for the luau by dropping some mean beats

Jacob, the king of the limbo, with some of the other students

Ben taking in the view

Some of the students enjoying the sunrise on their early morning hike

Can you say American Eagle...

A few of the African Penguins we shared the beach with

Godzilla...I mean, Amanda hanging out with the penguins

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Adventures in Cape Town

January 27th – February 2nd was a crazy week. To begin, we left Pretoria at 5:30 on Sunday to head out on our LONG drive all the way down to our new home here in Simon’s Town (30 minutes south of Cape Town). After 26 hours in transit, we made it and it was well worth the wait. This place is beautiful, and we’ve been living on the ocean with a public beach in view of where we’re staying. To the right of us is Boulders Beach; home to about 4000 African Penguins! These guys are ridiculous! Honesty there are so m any of them; they are the equivalent to squirrels at home. You look down the road and you’ll see 10 of them hanging out in the gutter, look up the road and you’ll see a pair just waddling up the center of the road. They’re so amusing!

Anyways, onto our past week, which we’ve suitably named “Adventure Week”. On Tuesday we ventured down to Cape of Good Hope; the Southern most point of Africa! It was beautiful. We didn’t see any of the baboons that we’d been warned about, but our whole group made our way down to a beach where we spent 2 hours in the waves and getting our first real sunburns.

On Wednesday we had an early start (5:30 am) and travelled for 2 hours to go shark diving at Danger Point. Sounds scary, but it was a blast! It started with a boat ride on the swelling ocean waves, where some of us had to fight off seasickness. It was all worth it though once we suited up in our wet suits and heard the guys who were leading the expedition telling us to get into the cage. The adrenalin was definitely rushing as we heard the guides calling, “Divers look right!” It was crazy to go under the water and see a shark swim right in front of you. It sort of felt like some sort of wildlife show. One group even got to experience the shark crash his body right up against the cage! This was a huge highlight for the group.

The next morning we were up early again and after a couple hours on the road we arrived on top of a small mountain overlooking the ocean and the lovely whale-watching town of Hermanus. Our paragliding pilots were ready and waiting and it wasn't long before several of us were harnessed up, attached to a pilot with a paraglider attached to him, and running down the face of the mountain only to be lifted high into the air by the warm air rising off the ocean. The views were awesome and the ride was smooth, although our pilots were usually willing to perform some pretty crazy "aerobatics" upon request! It was definitely a great way to see South Africa.

The following day we drove to Cape Town and hiked Table Mountain. It was a pretty intense trek; almost 2 hours up and an hour and a half down. There was a great view from the top and it was a fabulous adventure.

We then spent Saturday relaxing and doing whatever we wanted to in town. Most of us spent the day taking advantage of the ocean and playing in the sun and waves. All in all, it was an awesome week of adventure and catching up with the group.

Written by: Ben Pavey

Sean enjoying some fresh air on our 26 hour bus ride

The road we traveled

Students enjoying the fresh sea air

Some of the guys enjoying the sun

Group shot at Cape of Good Hope

Dave and Gabe trying not to get seasick for the big dive

Amanda, Deanna, and Marla getting ready to go into the cage

The shark circling the cage!!!

The cage

Lauren looking a bit nervous for her ride

Michelle getting ready to go

Amanda taking off

Sephen getting ready to go

Flying high

Amanda and Sean at the top of Table Mountain

Mei-Lin's Super Sweet, Can't Wait To Do, See And Experience Checklist For Pretoria

Mei-Lin’s Super Sweet, Can’t Wait To Do, See &Experience Checklist For Pretoria:
1. Attend a Sunday morning church service spoken entirely in Afrikaans
2. Visit Freedom Park, Voertrekkers Monument, The Tshwane Leadership Foundation, Burgers Park and the Pretoria Police Station
3. Take in lectures on South African History at the University of Pretoria
4. Find out whether or not I have any rhythm at an African drumming workshop
5. See how many rides I can go on at Gold Reef Amusement Park before motion sickness kicks in
6. Live with an Afrikaaner family for a week
7. Experience “sunny Pretoria”

Okay, so 6 out of 7 isn’t that bad! We had rain for pretty much our entire stay in Pretoria, but as you can probably see from my list of awesomeness, our time was jam-packed with stuff. Each morning our host families would drop us off at the church at 7:45 am, we’d spend the day with our group and then our families would greet us once again at 4:00.

My highlight this week was by far spending time with my host family. Carrie and I stayed with the Vorster’s (a family of 4) and there was never a dull moment…maybe a few awkward ones, but never a dull one. Their hospitality was amazing! I learned so much about life in Pretoria and some of the issues and challenges facing this city and this country. It was also really cool to have a host brother and sister close to our age. As they shared their lives with us we learned about music, entertainment, sports, education and other things that affect them, as young people. The family also took us to see some of the sights that Pretoria has to offer; a wildlife reserve, a shopping centre, a drumming circle where Carrie and I bought some drums and even to a concert!

This week really was a memorable one and I’m so thankful for the laughter, good conversation and new friends

What’s next? Who knows? T.I.A. (this is Africa)!

Written by: Mei-Lin Ing

Friday, February 1, 2008


It’s fascinating how three days of service work at an HIV/Aids care centre in South Africa can come with so many expectations. I’m glad that, in the end, the place we saw and the work we were asked to do were not at all what we expected.

Emthonjeni is a community HIV/Aids care centre a few kilometres south of Soweto. It provides home-based care, social services, micro-enterprise opportunities, and even job referrals for the surrounding communities. Based on what we were told before we arrived, many of us expected to be doing house visits, interacting with the community, or perhaps be helping the Aids-care workers. The reality of what we actually did was quite different from this and it taught me a valuable lesson about what it means to serve.

For the three days we were there, all we did was manual labour. We weeded and cleaned up the community garden that the centre runs – a garden that a previous Outttatown group helped Emthonjeni create. We also hauled wheel barrel after wheel barrel of bricks from one end of the property to the other. I honestly couldn’t complain. How could I; working outside, physical activity, fresh air, but to do this during a week when our group had hoped to see Aids first-hand? I have to admit that it was a bit of a disappointment, and that’s what got me thinking…

Is this supposed to be about my week of personal satisfaction? To do what I want to do regardless of what is actually needed by the organization? Do I really know the community I’m trying to serve and the needs they face, or did I just read a few emails and pamphlets and think I had something to offer?

I could go on, but the point was starting to become quite clear in my mind as I dumped yet another wheel barrel full of bricks. I serve God by serving others, NOT by suiting myself. Sometimes the community’s goals differ quite greatly from my “ideal” service week. So what? I can’t just throw in the towel, especially since I’m not a doctor or nurse, but am more than qualified to haul bricks.

These three days taught me a lot about what it means to know the world I am called to serve.

Written by: Dave Attama


I’ll be honest; the thing that I’ve been looking forward to, more than anything else this semester, is taking care of black babies. Last semester, Simon, my small group leader, was full of stories about his time in South Africa last year working at TLC. The Love of Christ Ministries is an orphanage outside of Jo’burg that takes care of babies and children and hearing Simon’s stories made our small group excited to throw ourselves into this ministry and the week did indeed involve a certain jump of faith.

The seven of us; Lauren, Jen, Gabriel, Ben, Joanne, Meagan and myself, were able to help out in a number of ways. TLC has approximately 27 volunteers, from all over the world, who work so hard to give the children the love that they need, so to help out we did jobs that the volunteers often cannot find the time to do, like scrubbing floors and organizing shelves. We were also able to spend a lot of quality time with the children. Some of us preferred the babies in the nursery while others hung out in the main house with the older kids. Of course we each developed our favourites and just loved getting to spend time playing with them.

I’ve learned that a part of being on Outtatown seems to be experiencing unexpected adventures and this week was no different; lightening storms, children in wigs invading our house, filthy clothes, and accidentally donating our breakfast food… I also tried to play my violin for the babies and I’m pretty sure that they liked it until they all started crying, although, in my opinion, their crying was completely unrelated to my playing.

One thing that we found really difficult was the sad reality that these beautiful children had no parents or family to go home to. We were the ones leaving at the end of the week, not them. TLC had it’s share of challenges, but we left knowing that the love and care shown at the orphanage was the best that could be given to these children and despite being exhausted and covered in baby spit-up, we all felt very much a part of the TLC family; even if it had been for only a few days.

Written by: Michelle Ball


What a great way to start of my three month journey in South Africa. I have just finished a week in Soweto working with SKY (Soweto Kliptown Youth) becoming familiar with the area and learning about the needs of the community, focusing primarily on the needs of the young people. Throughout the week, my small group learned about the impact that the performing arts can have in the lives of kids and how SKY uses the performing arts to meet some of the needs they see in the lives of the kids they work with. This included things like singing, acting, gumboot dancing, and djembe drumming.

One experience that sticks out in my mind is when Sean and I had the opportunity to visit the Paul-Mosaka Primary School for the afternoon. We joined the 600 students for an assembly that we ended up having to speak at and it was an incredible feeling to see their faces light up just because we came there and interacted with them.

In conclusion, this week has been a life-changing experience in and of it’s self and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here in South Africa will hold.

Written by: Jacob Droogh


Team Emergency, a.k.a. Anita’s small group, served at Refilwe for our small group service project. Refilwe means life for all and it is a busy place that really is full of life. It’s like no other organization I have ever encountered; they take in and raise vulnerable and orphaned children, and they run a high school, clinic, community centre, animal farm, and garden for the community.

Our days at Refilwe taught us the value of hard work. The girls had the job of taking giant logs from a large pile and stacking them (it was sort of like a huge game of pick-up sticks). This was some of the hardest physical labour we had ever done, but it was good to be challenged and stretched. The boys spent their days weed-wacking most of the grounds. We also planted some trees on the last day.

In the evenings we found hours of entertainment with the kitten that lived with us, named Stinky Winky. Stinky Winky was particularly fond of Corey and was able to bring out Corey’s more sensitive side.

Ironically, there was another group of Mennonites working at Refilwe as well and it was nice to have other people to spend the evenings with. One night we had a pizza party with them.

Team Emergency had a lot of good laughs through out the week, one of which was Sarah waking up with a million bug bites. After that, Sarah made sure to sleep under a mosquito net and became good friends with bug spray.

Our time serving at Refilwe was a really good experience. We got to see how they work in the community and meet the needs of the people.

Written by: Carrie Lehn