Day 2 – Sunday
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3
Our scripture from worship this morning, Psalm 23:1-3, could not sum up our second South African day more beautifully. Following an early-morning walk around the neighborhood (which borders the Game Reserve) and a hot breakfast prepared by two of our team members (Thank you, Cindy and Andrea!), we began our day by worshiping with our African brothers and sisters in Christ at Dihatswane Village Church. As we pulled up to the small, corrugated metal and wood building, we could hear the songs of praise coming from inside. We stepped through the doors and were immediately greeted with hugs, smiles, and handshakes from children of God of all ages. After being led to the decorated chairs in the front of the church set aside for us, we joined in to the singing, clapping, and dancing (as well as we were able!). The enthusiasm and joy in the room was overwhelming, and I think I can speak for all of us by saying that we would have loved to stay there for the rest of the day. When the singing time ended, Pastor Mpho invited Cindy, our fearless leader, to come to the altar area to introduce the rest of the group, and we were all given the opportunity to stand in front of the congregation and share with them a little bit about ourselves and thank them for welcoming us into their village. When each of us had introduced ourselves, Pastor Mpho welcomed us once again, telling us just how grateful they were for the sacrifices we had made and the time and energy we were going to give. He told us that “God lived in Dihatswane” and that we, having been to “God’s dwelling place,” could now go to heaven. Needless to say, the service began in a beautiful, humorous, and very encouraging way.
As Pastor Mpho shared the message for the day, I was overcome with gratitude, once again, that God has brought me (and this team) to South Africa “for such a time as this.” He spoke about putting God first in our lives – in all things – and giving him our best. In his inspiring and enthusiastic way, he reinvigorated in all of us a passion for our ministry here. God worked through him in a powerful way to “restore our souls” (however jet-lagged they may be!) and remind us that, because God gave us His best in His Son, Jesus Christ, we now can give Him and His people our best. Our team cannot wait to do just that – by his power and “for his name’s sake!”
After the service, we were invited to take a group picture with the entire congregation. As we huddled together, I was reminded of Hebrews 12:1 (a verse one of our team members had shared with me earlier in the trip) and gave thanks that I was “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” – in South Africa! We said goodbye to our new family and left even more excited for the week ahead.
Following church, we enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant called Nando’s, which is known for his Portuguese (ironic, I know) “peri-peri” sauce (similar to buffalo sauce, but more vinegar-y), and were able to spend time with the four Orchard: Africa interns who are living in the house until the end of July. We then did a little shopping for late-night snacks and headed back to the house for the Game Reserve Drive. At 3:15, our wonderful taxi driver, Lorato, took us on the 2-hour drive through the African Game Reserve, and were excited to see and take pictures of zebras, rhinos, ostriches, wildebeests, warthogs, kudus, red hartebeests, and water buffaloes. We returned to the house to a dinner of “braai,” which is African-style barbecue (lamb, chicken, and boerewors), and ended the night with a two-and-a-half-hour devotion time in which God worked powerfully in all of our hearts and brought us closer together and to Him. He is doing great things every moment, and we praise and thank Him for His work in and through us! Bring on Day One in the village!