Well it’s 10:00pm on Thursday August 22, 2013 here in Mafeking, South Africa. Today we were supposed to visit the primary school in the Village of Madutle. As it turned out the teachers had an in-service meeting today so there was no school. That meant that we would have to improvise a bit. We were still able to get the message out that if they remained in school and gained knowledge by paying attention to their teachers and by doing their homework, they could be anyone they wanted to be. That their dreams don’t just have to be dreams. It also meant that we got to spend almost two extra hours bonding with the children before VBS started. We used the time to get to know them better, playing football (soccer), singing songs and playing games from Madutle and Mt. Pleasant. These people are so loving and sweet.
In reflecting on the day, I’m starting to accept the fact that I only get to cherish these beautiful faces one more time. In only 4 days my heart has connected with so many of these kids. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. Hearing some of the staggering statistics like 65% or 2,600 of the approximately 4,000 people (including children) in this village are infected with HIV is hard to comprehend. We also visited the Madutle cemetery. Graves for the young and the very young are present throughout. Although I’m sure they are there I didn’t see any graves for people reaching a “ripe old age”. Pastor Patrick stated that he conducts almost 1 funeral a week for this small village. Un-imaginable for us but a stark reality for Madutle. We also met some of the villagers that are currently sick or struggle to meet even their basic needs. It’s hard for me to process this information. As tough as it is to witness these hardships, there is HOPE. Hope and joy, not in “stuff” but in children’s faces. Hope in the staff that feeds 200 children every Monday-Friday. Hope in the teachers that have such a huge heart and a desire to see these children become anything they want to be. Hope in the church with the staff of Orchard Africa and Pastors Patrick and Joseph spreading the love and message of Christ daily. Hope and love in the hearts of new family members visiting for the first time and existing members returning from a village across the world called Mt. Pleasant Community Church in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. There is HOPE in Madutle, South Africa.
It’s now approaching midnight and I’m struggling to capture the words to describe what this experience has meant to me. Tears on this rough draft is one way, another is to talk about the overwhelming love I feel in return from these kids when I’m with them. Our eyes meet and there is a love and a connection that only God could have created. If you look only at the surface of Madutle and it’s people, things may appear bleak. I assure you change for the better is occurring. More people are employed from Madutle than ever before, more people from all over this region are attending church, the villagers are coming together on some weekends offering an additional meal that never existed and tomorrow we are having a groundbreaking ceremony to build three new toilets near the church (they currently have none) from money raised by our VBS children in Mt. Pleasant. I am so blessed to have added more brothers and sisters to my family. You don’t have to look far to know that God is surely in this place.
None of us are guaranteed another day. Make this one count by showing the love of Christ. Matthew 25:34-40 says “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came and visited me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”.
The mission field is all around you and I. It’s an elderly neighbor that could really use a hand with lawn mowing or snow shoveling. It’s a person struggling to load the groceries from his/her cart to the car in a parking lot and yes it’s across the world in a small village in Madutle, South Africa. Don’t miss your chance to share the love of Jesus Christ with “one of the least of these”.
The opportunity to love these people has been the most meaningful experience of my life. I pray that they saw Christ this week and not Michael Dunham.
As the sun rose over the intoxicating scenery surrounding our brothers and sisters in Madutle we found our M.P.C.C. team bouncing down a dusty road filled with the wonder of what God would do in and through us today. Conversations drifted naturally from how amazing the animals are, to how loving our pastor friends are and to how easy it is to fall in love with the people of Madutle Village. Laughs and smiles were exchanged as we talked about the work God has done in the hearts of the team. It was unanimously agreed that when we held one of these children in our arms we recognized a universal truth. When you stare directly into the innocent, smiling, giggling, loving eyes of a child who is accepting you unconditionally it feels in that moment like you are staring into the eyes of God. Proverbs 22:2 says, “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.” We experienced again today the unquestionable truth that no matter where you were born, what village you call home, what your sir name is, whether or not you have parents, the amount of money you have, the color of your skin or the language you speak we are all equally loved in the kingdom of God. Our brothers and sisters in Christ may live in Madutle Village, but they make us feel like we are at home with family.
Our first stop was at a medical clinic with Pastor Patrick and Pastor Joseph. The nurse met us with a genuine smile and welcomed us inside. We smiled and said hello to the women and children in the waiting room and then entered another small room. The room was an office, recovery room for women who had just delivered, medicine storage facility and secondary observation room. We then visited a small room with an infant incubator and observed a small room no larger than a closet which held medicines and supplies. This clinic served over 1,200 people in the month of July and that is just below their monthly average. We learned there are only 3 ambulances available in a huge geographical region and that some villages may easily wait 3 hours for one to respond. Many women deliver at home with no medical assistance, and the infant mortality rate is approximately 40% for the area around Madutle Village. We also learned that approximately 65% of the people of Madutle Village are HIV positive.
On our second stop we had the honor of visiting a special place in the Madutle Village. We were accepted as guest in the Madutle Village cemetery. You may wonder why we would be impacted by a cemetery when we can visit one in Michigan anytime we wish. A caring eye in this quiet place surrounded by beautiful trees and a cloudless breezy sky would notice this resting place holds those brothers and sisters and daughters and sons with birth dates in the 1980’s. This is not just the honored resting place of the elderly of the community as one would expect. This is the earth that holds the grave markers of babies, teens and young adults that suffered untimely passing due to disease.
At this point you may be wondering where this day is going. How can a beautiful morning lead to such a heart saddening day? This is where God allowed us to see his love. This is the part of the beautiful day when we are reminded why Orchard Africa has invited us to serve in their God given mission to RESTORE HOPE. We walked from the cemetery to the home of a woman who could not even walk a few weeks ago due to her sickness. Pastor Patrick introduced us and we were honored with the opportunity to talk to her as she smiled and then lay hands on her as a team praying for God’s continued healing of her body and blessings to her heart. The next stop was at the home of a sick senior saint. Again we saw God move as the team melted into a closely woven circle with Pastor Patrick and Pastor Joseph and laid hands on her praying to the heart of God for her peace and comfort. Things seemed to move faster then as Pastor Patrick pointed to the home of the first man led to Christ in the village, then we met a young Madutle Village teen who won a national cross-country meet putting her small village on the map, then we were met by smiling kids who were literally clinging to the church yard fence waiting for their M.P.C.C. family to come teach and play with them. The town people we meet in Mafikeng merely an hour drive away have never heard of Madutle Village, but God had not forgotten his children.
This is not a story of despair. This is a story of reality and truth and legitimate circumstances. However, it is by the grace of God that it is an energizing story when viewed through the proper Godly world view. Yes there is hunger, but God has brought a feeding program that serves nearly 200 children Monday through Friday. Yes, there is a high percentage of HIV positive people in Madutle Village, but God has given them care givers who visit the sick daily to ensure medication and care. Yes, there are educational challenges, but God has provided a way for children to have a Pre-K through High School education. Yes, there is poverty, but God has provided jobs for an increasing number of villagers. Yes, Madutle Village was once regarded as a forgotten village, but God has brought the government’s attention to his people who now have electricity in over 90% of there homes. Yes, there are people needing medical attention, but God has provided transportation to the clinic daily and a traveling medical van monthly. Yes, there is a need for comfort, but God has raised up men of integrity and faith to lead his people. Yes, there are echoes through the village every Sunday when God’s church meets to pray an worship and learn about his love. If every member of the church met in one place they would number nearly 200 believers strong! Yes, villagers see their pastor as a man of God and a community leader who at his young age is accepted when seated among the village elders.
The reality is that there are many needs for our brothers and sisters in Madutle Village. The greater reality is that God has brought M.P.C.C. into a dedicated relationship with Orchard Africa which in turn lead to many people and resources and opportunities being in place that were not there even 3 years ago. There was another village meeting at the Community Center today partially influenced by the presence of the village’s Mount Pleasant friends. One man who was led to Christ in the church now leads a program helping teens escape addiction challenges. The entire church body in Mount Pleasant plays a huge role as you pray for Madutle Village and support our Madutle teams. When we leave one part of our church family we fly directly into the arms of the rest of our church family.
We laughed today as the children and staff experienced gold-fish crackers and pretzels for the first time in their lives. The children played baseball with new bases using the skills taught to them by their village brother, “Tall Joel” from Mount Pleasant. Sure, they may avoid being tagged out by skipping second base completely, but there is no instant replay in South African baseball either! Your donations are being delivered directly to Pastor Patrick and Pastor Joseph. You are truly serving as God’s encouragers in this endeavor.
As the sun disappeared behind the trees here in South Africa our team shared our daily small group devotion time. We opened our hearts, shared honestly, prayed and talked about how difficult it will be to leave the people here who embrace us in Christ’s love and call us brothers and sisters. Heading off to rest we know we have observed first hand some of the challenges of Madutle Village. We will sleep easy knowing the same God that was watching over us as the sun rose is the same great God who is watching us as we close our eyes. It is so reassuring to know that just as he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he is the God of Mount Pleasant and Madutle Village. He is the hope of the world and he is RESTORING HOPE to his children.
We send you love from Pastor Patrick, Pastor Joseph and Joel’s Madutle Father and Mother, and we pray daily that God protects you and pours his blessings over you until we return to you soon.
Josh Lator, Team Member
2013 Madutle Team
How would you like to have to learn how to spell a 12-letter first name? My VBS group has a precious little girl whose name is “Kegomoditswe.” I think I’d be pushing for a “nickname,” how about you?
Today was our second day in the village. After visiting the preschool we walked through the village of Madutle. We were invited to visit one of the more wealthy homes and also surprised the shop owner (like a 7-11 store) by buying a few snacks. I’m sure this will be one of his best days for sales.
This was our second day of conducting VBS. The children are more and more comfortable with us each day. It’s easy to observe those who are orphans, sick (i.e., AIDS) or who have a family (of some sort). I’m guessing many of those who are more quiet and want to be held constantly are probably the orphans. The acceptance of us by both children and staff is 100%. It doesn’t matter if we are tall or short, fat or thin, handsome or not so handsome–give our entire team unconditional “love.”
I’m so amazed at how GOD is surrounding us with HIS agape’ love. Not only do we feel HIS love, we are experiencing a tremendous growth of love among our team members. Our team is growing into a close, loving “family,” but we are also beginning to realize the residents or Madutle are part of our “family.” Each year, Mt. Pleasant Community Church members have made a banner for the Madutle church by signing their names and writing little notes. We have learned that the church members of Madutle periodically place their hands on each name on the banner and pray for each of those names. Yes, they pray for us! WOW! We are so blessed to be actually experiencing the world-wide the family of GOD.
Brenda Newman, Team Member
2013 Madutle Mission Team
Monday, August 19, 2013
The team was blessed by much beauty today. A beautiful day, beautiful smiles and a great time of playing and loving on children and adults. Plus a sighting of 16 giraffes on the way back to the Mission House.
We started the day with meeting the Orchard Africa Staff. We decided to make good use of the time and asked the caregivers to teach us some swetswana. The were very eager to take over the role of “teacher”. We asked them how to say I love you, see you tomorrow, thank you, children, come here. They insisted we practice until we did it correctly. I explained that when we say it it sounded like noise and a frog in our throat, when they speak it sounds like beautiful music. I was pretty sure that regardless of how much we practiced, we would never get to sound like they do.
We were able to share a story and music with the preschoolers and spend our first day of VBS with the school children. The VBS went smoothly with the children being so eager to please and so easy to please, they loved story, crafts and games.
During our devotion time last night we discussed stretching ourselves – and today we did, spiritually, emotionally and physically. We spent time playing football, soccer, jumping rope, twirling kids, carrying kids on our shoulders. We even held a beauty salon with children, pre-school teachers, and food program workers flocking to get their nails done. It was a exhausting and exhilarating and something we all agree we would not want to miss.
We have become a family and we are feeling the blessings. We are soaking up each day and tying to enjoy the moment. Because we know that all to soon we will have to say good-bye.
Today we were driven down a bumpy, dusty road into Mafikeng near the border of Botswana in South Africa for the first time. As far as I know, only one of us got car sick. The landscape was flat, dry, and monochromatic. Winter here is the dry season and it is obviously harsh on plants and animals, as well as humans. It is hard to imagine anything thriving out here in such a desolate environment. There are scattered farms/homesteads with cattle, goats, and sheep. The wind was a cool constant reminder that it is winter, although the sun was warm and welcoming. As we approached the village of Madutle, we passed homes constructed of mud brick, corrugated iron, and cinderblock which, for the most part, were roofed with corrugated iron held down with big rocks and bricks. There were rudimentary fences encasing dirt yards, laundry hanging on lines, and smiling people waving hello. The church/community center is a cinderblock building with a fenced-in yard. There were two other vehicles in the yard before us; not because there was no one there, but because no one had cars. When we left our vehicles, we were greeted joyously by the people who were outside. Pastor Patrick emerged from the building with a broad smile and joy in his eyes. He shook all our hands and hugged us. He exclaimed “We are so glad you are here!” So many of the people said the same that it was clear that they were serious and sincere. We were invited into the church where more people shook our hands and hugged us. We took our seats as the worship team serenaded us with their beautiful harmonious voices. The worship team consisted of teenagers to early 20‘s age range. Pastor Patrick invited Dave Durfee up to the front to greet the congregation and to introduce each of us by name while Patrick translated. They seemed to be very impressed and touched by the number of father/daughter and mother/son couples we had in our group, as well as being honored to have Mama Rose’s husband, Garry, join her this year.
Patrick is a charismatic, devoted, dynamic man who loves his congregation and his calling to be the leader of this church. He is determined to keep the people here, who have so little, to retain hope in their lives. The observation of the members of our team who have been here before agreed that pastor Patrick has grown in confidence and he is thriving in his role as a spiritual leader.
Dance as if no one is watching:
Movement is infectious. We got our first dose of freedom from our sense of self consciousness as soon as we walked into the sanctuary. Everyone was rocking in there and the rhythms were infectious. We sang the English parts of songs and hummed along to the rest. There were many AMEN’s and raising of hands in praise. The most self conscious of us found ourselves participating. Dancing for some was no option because the people sitting with us brought us out to dance. All reservations were left at the door and it was so liberating.
Pastor Patrick is a master of communication, relating personal stories and every day circumstances to make his point. He had a woman translate from English to Setswana, then all of a sudden, he would speak in Setswana and the woman would translate into English without skipping a beat. His message was simple but powerful. He first emphasized that he considers us family despite the distance between us because we are all family in Christ.
Pastor gave us a review of how the church has expanded in the last 3 years, he shared with us his secret to building his congregation, which involved distributing candy to the children who experienced our VBS. In fact, the children were the only attenders at first. Eventually the mothers and then some fathers came. What pastor emphasized was that once the men of the village began to attend, others began to come. He also held up his bible and shared that the bible he was using was the very same that was given to him by Pastor Brian Lemew 3 years ago.
His theme of restoration of hope involved our expectations when we pray to God. The way God answers is not necessarily what we expect and we must prevent ourselves from being discouraged when we fail to get what we pray for or when we are faced with adversity. Earthly possessions can not give us contentment or peace. We must rely on the word of God to persevere to become mature Christians through adversity, therefore, not giving up hope because his kingdom will come.
Pastor shared his personal story of the illness and death of his mother, which was an event in his life that caused great struggle, however, he realized that healing happens in two ways: one is faith in God and following his word, the other is in death when we meet our Father in Heaven.
Pastor encouraged us to find peace and joy in intangible things. We become stronger Christians when we stand up and walk again after we fall. James 1:2-5 says “Consider it pure joy , my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I found this a bit morose when I first heard what he was saying, however, given the environment of abject poverty and the reality of death in this village at least once a week from HIV/AIDS, I understand his angle in consoling the congregation regarding their suffering.
If there was one thing that affected me most during the day, it was the ability to put myself in their shoes in my mind and try to fathom how would I not lose faith in a loving God with all this adversity. It is very easy to become hopeless in this situation. What type of character can withstand so much suffering, yet resist the temptation of becoming a victim of circumstance and descending into the dredges of despair? These people have been there. I have not seen them at the nadir of hopelessness since they are on the up-swing towards a brighter day by the grace of God and with the help of Orchard: Africa and the Pastors who have been called by God to serve these people. They are truly blessed and they are praising God’s name with the encouragement of Pastor Patrick and those who help facilitate his services.
Oh, yes, and by the way, these people do tithe. If these people who have nothing can tithe, then why can’t we?
The service ended with a true show of love and fellowship when each of us was embraced in a hug by each member of the congregation.
We Praise Your name!
Re baka leina go!
We had a way cool time meandering through a local game reserve today! God is good. He gives us a world of so much wonder.