Saturday – First day in South Africa!
Today we traveled through the township where most of the children live, who will be attending the day camp. It’s called Marapong, translated ‘the place of dry bones’. I’d like to say it was enjoyable, but that isn’t the word I would use. It was hard. Hard to see how families are living. Hard to understand how they don’t have running water. Hard to believe they live in mostly aluminum type shelters that are smaller than my daughter’s bedroom. There isn’t a blade of grass and no space between ‘houses’. They live in a dirt covered community where everyone is outside. There is street after street, shanty after shanty and person after person. Typically, you would see groups of people sitting outside together. Not on chairs, but on buckets, cartons, boxes or just on the ground. They didn’t look unhappy. They looked content in just being in each others company. The children played uninhibited and what we would call ‘free range’ all throughout the community. Parents were not anywhere in sight looking after their needs or safety. They play with sticks, balls and each other. There isn’t a litany of options which we see in the US. No plastic toys, scooters, skates and bikes. No trampolines, pools or basketball hoops. They have each other.
I personally became overwhelmed. I immediately thought about the physical needs I wish I could provide for this community. We, as a team, shared about how we are so incredibly blessed to just be born in the US. These beautiful humans we saw really don’t know what they don’t have. As I struggled with the feeling of guilt at having such a fortunate life, Jim reminded us of what our response should be. We need to focus on the spiritual needs which are far more important than their physical needs. If we focus on their physical needs it would only help them for a very short time. If we can reach their spiritual needs, we could reach them for all eternity.
David, Ellie, Olivia and I are very grateful for this opportunity to serve the children of this village this week. I’m sure getting this glimpse of how they live, will impact us for a lifetime.