2019 was Plymouth Adventist church's year for mission. Every other year the youth organise and participate in a mission trip abroad. In 2015 a group went to Romania and helped with a 'messy church' programme and did some renovations to houses that were in desperate need. In 2017 another trip was to Moldova. Working with the local pastor the volunteers helped the local churches to renovate 2 church members' houses.
The financial figures were quite daunting but by God's grace enough money was raised to send a group of 11 to Cape Town tasked with helping the local Adventist primary school and the local community.
After three flights the team were glad to touch down in Cape Town and get their first glimpse of life in the busy city. Immediately we could see the needs of the people and wondered how we could even begin to help. The area surrounding Cape Town airport is set out in blocks. Around every turn in the road you can't be sure if you will see a nice housing estate or a busy network of tin shacks packed tightly together with children and animals wondering seemingly aimlessly around the litter-filled alleyways. It was quite different from life in the UK.
During the two weeks in Cape Town there were a number of small projects to get involved in. The first was to visit a local care home for the elderly and help out for the morning. After worship with the staff some helped in the kitchen preparing lunch whilst others mingled with the residents. These residents varied in health and their ability to care for themselves. Various tasks were carried out such as cutting finger and toenails and soothing aching legs with cream. Others were escorted to the garden to enjoy the morning sunshine.
One lady was hemming her top with dental floss instead of thread, so Joy searched the premises for thread and hemmed the garment for her. It was inspiring to see how the lady overcame the issue of no thread and reminded me that although life isn't always straightforward, one can adapt and overcome.
The main task of the group was to help Hillcrest Primary School where we stripped and repainted steps and railings and painted a bright Creation-themed mural in the playground. Everyone got stuck in and the work was quickly finished.
For four days, twice a year, the Elsiesrivier church members run a community Vacation Bible School which we helped out at one morning. It was inspiring to see them give up their time and energy to minister to the children in the area and every day they had over 100 participants. We brought some resources with us from the UK and did some painting on tiles with the children. This got very messy but they loved it.
We joined the Elsiesrivier church members once again on a local food run one Sabbath morning. Just across from the church stood a maze of flats and dilapidated houses. Perhaps once a nice neighbourhood but now an area covered in rubbish and broken glass with stagnant water festering in the streets. The food run was specifically for the children and they patiently queued whilst the food was dished up for them in take away containers. We recognised many of the faces from the Bible School in the week and they happily joined in with some songs of praise as they waited. We later joined a second food run, aimed at the homeless, on Christmas Eve.
For many the favourite part was visiting a local orphanage and playing with the children aged 2 to 8. We brought teddies and T-shirts with us from the UK which the children loved. It took a little while for some to warm to us but before long they relaxed and everyone enjoyed cuddles, singing and games.
Of course, you can't visit Cape Town without climbing or taking the cable car up and down Table Mountain, swimming with penguins at the Boulders or seeing the waters meet at Cape Point.
Jordan remarked, "As with our mission trips in the past, it has been so rewarding being able to reach out and lend a helping hand to our brothers and sisters at Hillcrest School and I feel privileged having had this opportunity. I would highly urge all those who can, to go on a mission trip in their lifetime."
Participating in a mission trip not only helps those you are there to physically help and minister too but often leads to a discovery in oneself. Perhaps a new talent, passion or drive will be discovered when facing a new, sometimes challenging, situation in a foreign land which may go on to physically, mentally or spiritually enhancing the next stage of one's life.
Everyone fell in love with Cape Town and we left feeling there was so much more to do in the community and to explore in the city and beyond. We were very grateful that everyone was very hospitable and welcomed us into their homes.
The team and I would especially like to thank Pastor Clifford and Ophelia Herman for planning the entire trip and seeing that we were well looked after.
We all look forward to our next trip together.