Service Corps

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sanibonani from Africa!

For the past week the team has been split up for most of the day. Half of us would do programs for young adults at the S.O.S. camp (see Matthew's blog), and the other half did children's ministry in the town of Mayfair. Rachel, Vasti, and I were in the Mayfair group.

Thank you, God, for placing me with the kids. It has been such a tremendous blessing. And I don't normally get the opportunity to work with small children so I'm even more thankful. They were amazing. :]

There were many challenges throughout the week. The first couple days we struggled to get even a handful of kids. Mayfair is a primarily Muslim community and our normal tactics for gathering children weren't working. We spent hours marching around the different parks in the town nearly in vain.

However, on Thursday we drove to a shanty town 15 minutes from the corps to try our luck there and had 50 kids within the first 5 minutes. From that day on we had on average 75 kids a day with a couple days over 100. The problem then was too many kids and not enough help! I remember on Friday when I was in charge of the outdoor games station that as soon as the 0-6 year olds came outside they immediately started climbing this flight of stairs that came to a dangerous high balcony with sections that had no railing whatsoever. Nearly 20 baby-types all bum-rushing me to get to this balcony! Yo! And I swear that at least one of them peed his/her pants cause I stank for the rest of the day... Ha! Good memories. ;)

But on a serious note the biggest challenge for me was on Sunday. While we were picking kids up at the settlement, one of the many drunk guys that was hanging around came over to our vehicle and started screaming at one of the small boys in Tswana or maybe Zulu. At that point only Matthew, Esther, and I were at the vehicle. Our South African counterparts were finding more kids within the settlement. We had no idea what was going on but this guy yanked the kid out of the back of our truck and then made his way to the front seat where he did the same thing to another boy. Thankfully Peter, one of our South African teammates came back and calmed the guy down and got the kids back into the truck.

Honestly, this is a hard thing for me to write about because at the time I didn't do anything. In my head I was justified because I had no idea why the guy was yelling or what the kids did. I remember asking myself, "What right do I have to interfere with these peoples' business? Maybe those kids did something really terrible? I don't speak the language, is this guy going to understand my reasoning?" I just came up with 1,000,000 excuses why I shouldn't do anything. So that's what I did. Nothing. And I know that I'll regret that for the rest of my life because although the kids still got to come and they had a great time, I missed a rare opportunity to stand up for what was right. No matter what those kids had done, no one should be as violent with a child as this guy was.

The ironic thing about this whole situation was that on Friday I was doing the last devotion in the little booklet that Jim gave us during orientation and it was about God breaking your heart for something during your mission trip and I remember thinking that I hadn't really had that experience yet. I remember thinking that going into this trip I had prepared myself to see poverty and so when we actually saw it, my heart was ready. And after reading the devotion I doubted that my heart would be broken. I earnestly prayed that it would be but I thought that with only two weeks left, the chances that God would break my heart were slim.

Don't be a fool like me and try to limit God. He will humble you in ways you are not prepared for. In that moment, I failed. I failed myself. I failed those little boys. And I failed God. And after the church service was finished and I was waving goodbye to those kids for the last time, my heart was broken. They were all going back to a place so dark, and violent, and void of love and that Sunday might be the last time that some of them ever see someone from the Salvation Army. The little ones had such light in them but you could tell that the older they got, the harder it was to uncover that light. Some of the older boys would steal stuff right in front of us! But I don't blame them because that's what they're taught to survive. How many acts of violence, beatings or rapes, does it take before that light is gone forever?

It's my prayer that the Mayfair corps will continue going to that settlement. I pray that all those little kids and babies get the love that every little kid and baby deserves. I also pray that the next time God gives me an opportunity to stand up to injustice, I have the strength and courage to do so.


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