Sunday, August 5, 2012


From the city of Livingstone to Johannesburg and the township of Ennerdale in South Africa. Even though it was rather traumatic affair trying to make the British Air flight to OR Tambo Intn'l Airport, we arrived safely, greeted by our mission partners John Witherow and Karl and Jenny Teichert. All our luggage arrived safely, we loaded it in a small covered trailer and headed for a beautiful garden surrounded lodge called Ferndale Lodge in the Randburg suburb. We are safely ensconsed in cozy, cabin like cottages that surround a beautiful swimming pool. (It's winter here so there won't be any swimming). Once we settled in to our rooms we hopped back in the rented van with John at the wheel and headed to the Witherow's for a meal of good old "take away" pizza and a helpful orientation on what we will expect while here. Most helpful...and just a little unnerving as we realized we would soon be plunged into a new culture, a new set of needs and new challenges. Sunday morning dawned under another glorious sunlit African morning. Ferndale Lodge serves the traditional "english breakfst" but this one was more extensive and more beautifully laid out than any we had experienced in Lusaka,. We discovered the woman who cooked it preferred to be called "nono" but it was yes, yes as far as the food was concerned. Sunday morning we worshiped with the some 800 members of the Uniting Reformed Church of Ennerdale. We decided this church was as close to Presbyterian as we might have ever imagined. Yet it also had a distinctive African flair. Once again we were honored to be seated in the front rows. Judy prayed, Cindy and Swampy were honored to participate in a foot washing ceremony. I preached and performed 6 infant baptisms. Cherie, Cate, Cindy and Judy all spoke fervantly about the people and the work God did in Lusaka to help illustrate the sermon point that we are all "living stones" in the church God is building throughout the world. The real highlight for most was to go to the homes of different church members where we were hosted at dinner. Ennerdale Township is considered a "colored" area. We felt that term to be derogatory as it would be in our country. Here, it is not. It is a carryover from the days of apartheid when different racial groups were divided into three castes or stratas of society: white (having roots going back to Dutch settlement and colonization); colored - the term referring to those who are mixed race and Indian; and non-white meaning the black Africans. Although Apartheid has ended, these groupings remain segregated in their communities. Our hosts - Jason and Kathy are a mixed race couple who have at least some Indian blood. We had a warm, wonderful time with an extended family. Our time at church and in people's homes was a moving, emotional experience. Once again we were reminded that our small corner of the world is so narrow. We were once again beautifully reminded that God is the Father of us all; Jesus is Lord over his church worldwide; and the Spirit is as work in vast, diverse, powerful ways outside our own experience. How easily we forget that in the comfort and daily lives we live in the States. After dinner, we re-grouped, put on warmer clothes and headed out to Rosebank Mall to see and shop at the African Market there. Dinner at Nandos - a South African chicken franchise specializing in peri-peri sauce (extra spicy to my liking), then back to our lodge for a night of rest, some Olympics viewing and a chance to reflect ont the day. Some members of our team continue to struggle with respiratory ailment. John Witherow has supplied us with plenty of cough drops syrups, kleenex, and the like so the infirm are hanging in there but sadly, probably not fully enjoying the experience as the rest of us are. Monday morning we will attend a celebration service honoring the Pre-school teachers of Finetown - a project that Heather Witherow and Jenny Teichert organize and lead in the settlement of Finetown - an informal, sprawling place dominated by ramshackle tin houses, great poverty, HIV/AIDs and wonderful people. In the afternoon we will walk the streets and meet Mama Fliorina who runs an orphan care center. Our minds and hearts continue to be expanded and stretched this trip. Processing it all is tough and besides the jet lag we will no doubt experience upon our arrival, we will need to respond hours - perhaps days reflecting, remembering and giving thanks. All of you, no doubt will be asked to endure our stories, pictures, and raw, deep-seated emotion. Pastor Vessie had me introduced before my sermon with these words. "Pastor Fred retired at the beginning of July, One of the famous farewell speeches he used was from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: Be excellent to each other and party on in the Lord (He chose not to use party on dudes)." I close this entry with those words, Be excellent to each other and do celebrate all that the Lord is doing. As Tony Campolo says "The Kingdom of God is a Party," Join us in celebrating all the Lord is doing. In His Amazing Grace Fred

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