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Tuesday, June 30, 2009
It's very late at night. I'm tired and I don't have a lot time, but I wanted to post a quick update. I'll try to post some pictures later. Sometimes it is quite a mission to upload pictures because the internet connection is so slow here.
Today we sent part of the team back out to Phokeng to continue on the ceilings. Tomorrow the cabinets will be installed. Tomorrow is our last day of working so we have a lot to do.
We also began rebuilding the Lighthouse shelter's playground today. Our intention was to install new posts in the ground and then re-use the existing wood from the old playground, but as we've begun the project we are finding that almost all of the wood is rotten so we are pretty much starting from scratch, which has made the project much more involved than we originally intended. I doubt that we will finish completely, but hopefully we can do enough that the kids can use it.
We also sent 4 of our ladies to Neobirth today. Neobirth is a crisis pregnancy center in town. The ladies from our team were just going to see what they do at Neobirth and learn a little about the social issues that they deal with. While they were there several mothers came in seeking help with their pregnancy or asking for help for their newborns. It was one crisis after another while the girls were there and they got quite an education on the problems of South Africa. One of our team members is a social worker in the states and said that today was the most impacting day yet for her. I'm glad that they had that opportunity.
Tomorrow our last batch of team members will visit Freedom Park.
Tonight I had a meeting in town regarding the leadership of the shelter and I returned to find that the team had been writing a song about their experience in South Africa. It was amazing. Maybe we'll post the lyrics here eventually - keep checking back. It means so much to me to see how this trip has impacted each of them individually. It is more than I could have hoped for. A lot of tears were being shed tonight because of how God is moving in each person's life.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Today we took the second group of people from our team to visit Freedom Park. It is so much fun for me to see people experience that for the first time. Today's trip to Freedom Park had a particularly heavy impact on our team.
They really connected well with the caregivers that showed us around and really got a heart for the heavy burden of these people. There is so much tragedy and heartache that it can be very overwhelming. It is very difficult to explain Freedom Park to people until you have visited. Every time that I take visitors there the common comment when we leave is, "I don't know what to think. I'm so overwhelmed by what I saw." To see it in person is so much more meaningful than to hear about it or see pictures or video.
When you see children playing barefoot in streets filled with broken glass, when you smell the smoldering ruins of a shack that has recently burned down because one person wanted to murder the 4 people living inside, when you feel the bone-numbing cold inside the tin shacks, when you smell the pungent odor of paraffin stoves mixed with the decay of terminally ill patients, when you see the hopelessness in the eyes of one patient, and then hear the laughter, joy, and dreams of the next patient, when you shake hands with a terminally ill patient and feel the light weight of their hand...you realize you are essentially holding skin and bones, when you watch a child using a discarded bone as a chew toy, or watch them using rusty tin cans as toys, when you see the pain and heartache of the caregivers, but hear them talk of joy and hope for their patients....all of these things mix and mingle in your mind as a stew of emotions, and thoughts, and fears, and inspiration, and hope, and pain....and you don't know what to think or feel.
It is very overwhelming, and today was definitely overwhelming for every person that visited. We have not yet had time to debrief and talk about it, but I can tell that it rocked their world.
4 of the ladies from our group went with Dr. Neil on his rounds to the AIDS clinics. (Dr. Neil is a South African doctor who volunteers much of his time helping out in several AIDS clinics, he also provides free health care for all of the children at the Lighthouse shelter.) I haven't had a chance yet to talk to them about their experience, but I know they enjoyed it. Dr. Neil is such a wealth of information and experience. He loves to show people around and explain to them all about the HIV pandemic and what is being done to help the situation. I'm sure that their mind is full of experiences and information. I look forward to hearing about their day.
Some of the team went back out to Phokeng to continue working on the ceilings, and 4 of the ladies came back to the shelter to begin digging 3 ft deep holes to plant the new poles for the playground that we will be rebuilding tomorrow. I know that this earth is not soft and they definitely had their work cut out for them. My hat is off to everyone that is working so hard to make a difference. I really appreciate all their hard work.
Sunday was a great day. To start with, the power to the property was off when we woke up. No power means no water. No water means no showers before church. I told the team it was time for them to suffer on the mission field for a change.
We went to a real African service....all 3 hours of it. I knew we were in trouble when the pastor gets up and says, "First thing I want to say is we all need to make more of an effort to be on time to church. Second, church is much too short. We need to spend more time in church." I thought, "Oh boy, this is going to be interesting."
It really was a good experience for everyone to witness an African service. They spoke in English for our benefit and then translated it to Tswana. Worship was about 1 1/2 hours long. The sermon was an hour. Then there was about a 1/2 hour of benedictions, announcements, prayers, etc.
Worship was very lively and charismatic, not necessarily what Red Rocks people are used to, but it was definitely fun to be a part of. They wanted us to perform a song, so we sang a worship song from the states. It was very mellow and quiet after their worship, but hopefully they enjoyed it.
We had brought a guitar to donate on this trip. We weren't sure who we were going to give it to, but at the end of service, the church's piano player was talking to our guitar player and commented that he has always wanted to learn to play guitar. So we gave him our guitar. He was so excited, he started practicing right away. We gave him a book of chords, and he commented that he would learn it in about a week. I don't doubt that is true, he was a good piano player.
During service at least 4 or 5 times, when people were referencing the Americans, they called us "Obama's Children." It was very funny to be seen in that way. It definitely shows how favorable Obama is viewed in this country.
After church we went to our good friends, Derek and Rebecca's house for lunch and ate with their YWAM staff. It was a nice restful day.
At the end of the day we all went to a local steak house/restaurant/ pub type place to watch the Confederates Cup Soccer finals. The U.S. was playing Brazil for the finals. It would have been cool to go to the game in Jo-burg, but we didn't think about it until it was too late. So, watching it live in the country it's taking place in is a pretty cool second option. We had a lot of fun, it was a nice break from working sun up to sun down. The U.S. lost 3-2 in case you missed it.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Today was an incredible Safari day at Pilanesberg Game Reserve. We saw more varieties of animals today than I've ever seen there in one day. We saw Hippos, Blesbok, Impala, Kudu, Wildebeest, Warthogs, Zebra, Elephant, Rhino, Giraffe, Crocodile, Turtles, a giant Monitor (spelling?, it's a big lizard,) and for the grand finale, Lions.
Unless you're with a professional tracker it is very rare to see Lions in the game park. I've only seen them once before from far off. This time they were pretty close to the road. They were very sleepy and it took a little prompting from us to get them to raise their heads and look in our direction. We were tempted to kick a soccer ball at them to get them moving, but we decided that probably wasn't such a good idea.
We saw a baby crocodile that was being taunted by some ducks, and a wide variety of cool looking birds. It was an amazing day, I think that everyone was really happy to see as many animals as we did. We probably have around 3,000 pictures between the whole group. Tomorrow we are going to an African church service. They want us to sing a song....we'll see how that goes.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Day 5 Red Rocks Team Trip
Today we went out to Phokeng again. Part of the team went out to Phokeng early to keep working on the ceilings and doors. The kitchen ceiling is done and the first coat of paint is on. The eating area has the ceiling almost fully installed. It's coming along well now. Today I (Lincoln) ordered the kitchen cabinets, expecting them to take a week to be delivered. I was shocked to find that they were all in stock, and they actually delivered them today. So it's very cool to actually have them there and ready to install. The guy at the hardware store that sold me the cabinets was interested in what we are doing and he wants to come out next Wednesday and help us install the cabinets. So that's a cool connection to have people in the community that want to get involved. He was very excited to help and he will be taking the day off of work to do it.
Today we made peanut butter sandwiches with the bread that was donated yesterday and made extras to give to all the kids in Phokeng to take home. The girls had a tea party and painted nails while the guys played a soccer game with the boys. Those kids are competitive. They've never heard of playing just for fun. They play for blood. I'm going to regret running around trying to play soccer. I'll be sore tomorrow.
I was just thinking about how God works some times. This work in Phokeng has been in process for the last several years. When we were here 2 1/2 years ago a friend of ours visited us and we took her out to meet the kids in Phokeng. She got a heart for the kids that had to eat lunch at Martha's outside in the hot sun. She came home and raised money to build a carport. Then the YWAM Rustenburg base raised money to brick the carport in. Now our team has returned to put in the ceilings, doors, and cabinets. It's taking a long time, but it's fun to watch God work and provide for these kids.
Tomorrow is safari day at Pilansberg Game Reserve. I'm looking forward to that. I always enjoy it, even though my wife makes fun of me because I've done it so much. (Jenny here - I don't make fun of him because he's done it so much, I tease him because every time he goes he takes about 7 thousand pictures!! How many pictures of an elephant drinking water does one need?) It will be fun to watch the team experience it for the first time. I'm hoping that we get to see the elephants up close, that's always my favorite.
Once again, I can't compliment this team enough. Everyone is so much fun, works so hard, has great attitudes, and is eager to do whatever needs to be done. They are welcome back anytime when my family moves back here.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Day 4 Red Rocks Team Trip.
Today 4 of the girls and I (Lincoln) went to Freedom Park, a local squatter camp, and brought food parcels to people living in the shacks and prayed with them. That is always a moving experience and it was fun for me to expose our team to that part of South Africa. The rest of the team will visit Freedom Park next Monday and Wednesday.
Part of our team worked in the Lighthouse Children's Shelter garden, roto-tilling the soil and digging up weeds. Another part of the team tore down the old playground at the shelter. That thing was a death trap. It is a heavy, leaning giant just waiting for a breeze to blow over....very scary. Our team bought some big treated poles that we will plant in the ground to give the playground more stability. Tomorrow we will do that and next week we will begin reassembling the playground.
Part of our team was in Phokeng at Martha's (the lady who feeds and cares for 40-50 orphans in her neighborhood.) We got the ceiling up in the kitchen and began the ceiling in the feeding room. The doors are all prepped, sealed, and ready to install when they dry. Tomorrow I'll order the cabinets and hopefully we can install them next week if they arrive in time. The rest of the team joined the builders in Phokeng at 2:30 and we had fun playing soccer with the kids and making some beaded necklaces. It's fun to watch the team begin to build relationships with the kids out there after two days of being together.
A very cool thing happened in Phokeng today. Manna from heaven.
Across the street from Martha's home is the stadium that will be hosting some games for the world cup in 2010. Right now they are having the confederate cup there which is a huge international soccer tournament. The caterers there had a lot of left over food and didn't know what to do with it, so they decided to drive around the community and ask people where they should take it.
They happened to run into someone who knew Martha, and they told them to bring it to Martha's house. They drove up with a truck load of bread. We unloaded the bread and they said, "We'll be right back with another load." They returned half an hour later with another truck of bread, and one truck filled with potatoes. It was amazing. There was so much that Martha couldn't keep it all in her house. Good thing we just finished putting doors and locks on her new kitchen. We brought 3 trash bags full of bread back to the shelter as well. It was really cool for the children to have a gift like that come out of nowhere.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Today is day 3 of our Red Rocks Team trip to South Africa. We've had an amazing trip. This is by far the best missions trip I've ever taken. We have a great team. Everyone is working really hard, there hasn't been any complaining, everyone is eager to get involved and do whatever needs to be done.
Today was our first full day of ministry. We worked in the garden and played with the kids at the Lighthouse Shelter.
Part of our team spent the day in Phokeng working at Martha's house. Martha is a lady that cares for 40 - 50 orphans that live in her community. She feeds them once a day, helps them with homework, and acts as a surrogate parent to them. The kids do not live with her, they just visit once a day for their meal and some love. The YWAM team here in Rustenburg has built a car port, and then bricked it in with rooms to be a kitchen, eating area, and two rooms. Our team is putting in a ceiling, doors, and kitchen cabinets. Today we started working on the doors and installing the ceiling.
In the afternoon the rest of the team came over and spent the rest of the day playing with the kids, singing songs with the guitar, and dancing together. Everyone had a lot of fun. We brought some instruments to give to the kids, like tambourines, drums, and some homemade recorders.
When our team arrived this week we were met by one of the little girls that is one of those siblings. She has been sent back to the shelter because she had been beat again so badly that she was sent to the hospital for 5 days. She is such a sweetheart with a beautiful smile and wonderful personality.
Today she was hanging out with some of our team talking to them. She is very open and vulnerable about her experiences and willing to share. One of our team members, Jenny, was asking her if she ever prays. She said, "Oh yes, I love Jesus, I pray all the time." Jenny asked her what she prays for, and she said, "Oh, every night I pray for an instrument. I really want a tambourine, or guitar, or drum."
Well, she didn't know that Jenny is a music teacher and we had brought 4 suitcases filled with kid's instruments and a guitar. So, Jenny asked her what instrument she wanted and she picked out a tambourine that she was able to color and decorate. She was beaming from ear to ear, she was so happy.
Then as they were talking some more Jenny commented on how she liked the bandanna the little girl was wearing. This little girl wears a bandanna because her head was shaved because of her injuries. She said that she has been praying for a princess crown so that people don't see her bandanna on her head. Jenny had brought princess crowns for the girls in the shelter to decorate. This precious little girl was able to decorate her own princess crown.
She spent the rest of the day hanging out with the team, and eating dinner with us, being the little princess of the group. It was really an amazing God moment where the team had the opportunity to be used by God in a really special way. We look forward to seeing what else God does on this trip.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Survey: 1 in 4 South African men admit to rape
Researcher describes findings as 'shocking' but 'not unexpected'
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - One in four male South Africans surveyed admitted to committing rape, according to a research group.
The government-funded Medical Research Council, whose findings often influence official policy, said it conducted the survey to deepen understanding of men's attitudes and behavior.
The finding has cast a harsh light on a culture of sexual violence that victims groups say is deeply embedded in society.
According to police statistics, some 36,000 women were raped in 2007 — nearly 100 per day. But victim support groups and government-backed research say the vast majority of rapes go unreported because of the stigma and trauma involved. South Africa is home to about 50 million people.
Chief researcher Rachel Jewkes said Friday that the findings were "shocking" but "not unexpected." Opposition political parties said they were horrified, but victim support groups said they were not surprised.
"The report indicates that rape has become 'normalized' as a feature of masculine identity in a society that has emerged from years of oppression — a tragic development for both women and for men," said Anne Marie Goetz, chief of the Governance, Peace and Security section of the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
"The implications of this are grave for women's security but also for long-term development, which relies upon deepening gender equality," Goetz said.
South Africa's newly installed president, Jacob Zuma, has made combating crime one of his top priorities and has set up a new ministry to promote women's and children's rights.
The government had no immediate comment, but the study is expected to be one of the focal points of a conference on sexual violence early next month.
"Rape is a crime of a sense of entitlement. It comes from a notion of power," Jewkes said, adding that South Africa's male dominated cultural traditions were partly to blame.
"I don't think there is a quick fix," said Jewkes. "If people were concerted about trying to fix it, it would take a generation."
Researchers interviewed men from just over 1,700 households from a cross-section of the population in the rural provinces of the eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The survey gave no margin of error. The research council is internationally respected and regarded as reliable. It said it surveyed a representative cross-section of men of all races in the two provinces, which are representative of South Africa.
It was not immediately known if any comparable surveys on this sensitive topic have been published. Sexual abuse is rife in a number of African countries but none have the sophisticated survey methods of South Africa, and in some other countries it is a taboo subject.
Nearly 28 percent of men interviewed said they had forced a woman or girl to have sexual intercourse against her will, according to the survey. It said that 14 percent said they had raped a former or current girlfriend; 12 percent said they had raped someone who was not their partner; and 10 percent said they had raped both a stranger and a partner.
The research council survey said that nearly 20 percent of those who admitted sexual abuse had the AIDS virus — only slightly higher than the 18 percent infection rate among men not involved in rape.
It said that 17 percent of the men surveyed admitted to attempted rape, and 9 percent said they had taken part in gang rapes. In all, 42 percent of men surveyed said they had been physically violent to an intimate partner (current or ex-girlfriend or wife), including 14 percent in the past year.
"Our study suggests that the pathway which leads to these ideas and the practices of rape and other forms of violence toward women starts in childhood," said Jewkes, head of the research council's gender and health unit. She said the results backed up findings of earlier research among younger men.
She said that "rape is far too common, and its origins too deeply embedded in ideas about South African manhood," for it to be regarded merely as a criminal problem which could be solved by prosecuting the rapists.
"You can't change behavior practiced by one quarter of the population if the main strategy is through the use of police and courts," Jewkes told The Associated Press. "The police and courts are important but they are only part of the solution."
Many victim support groups complain that rape cases are repeatedly postponed and little is done to protect the woman from the trauma of facing her tormentor. Most cases don't even reach court.
"Rape is one of the most brutal human rights violations in the world," said Maria Jose Alcala, who heads the U.N. development fund's effort to curtail violence against women. "It is a stark manifestation of just how little value our societies place on the lives and dignity of women and girls."
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I remember clearly the very real sensation of drowning in the overwhelming struggles. I can still feel the knot in my stomach that comes in the middle of life threatening crises. I'm not going back with romantic notions of helping orphans in need, I'm going back with a steadfast determination to make a difference whatever the difficulty. I know what we are in for and I know that it is not going to be easy.
When people ask me if I'm excited to move back, it's a hard question to answer honestly without a lengthy explanation. Yes, I'm excited, but I'm also aware of what awaits us. I feel like a soldier preparing for a worthwhile battle. I'm ready to do what needs to be done, but I also know it's going to be a struggle.
I've been reading the newest book by my favorite author, Brennan Manning, called Ruthless Trust.
In the book, Manning says, "The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and promise."
I want to learn to trust God through anything. I know what lays ahead of us and I want to be ready to trust God.
Manning continues, "The basic premise of biblical trust is the conviction that God wants us to grow, to unfold, and to experience fullness of life. However, this kind of trust is acquired only gradually and most often through a series of crises and trials."
This might sound fatalistic, but it is actually an encouragement to me, knowing that God will draw me closer to him in the midst of the struggle. I thank God for moments where he speaks clearly to me.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Lincoln has been very busy getting all of the last minute details taken care of for the upcoming missions trip to South Africa. He is taking a group from our church, Red Rocks Church. He is so excited to be going back! The group leaves Sunday June 21st and will return on Saturday July 4th. Please keep them in your prayers.
If you are going on the trip and have any questions, please contact Lincoln at JennyLincoln@hotmail.com