Fourth Post – Saturday, August 4, 2018
The mission team arrived after a typically long, but uneventful flight. Having now traveled three times to South Africa, I still forget how strange it is to lose an entire day. Leaving Wednesday afternoon and arriving Thursday, which includes a six hour time change makes the trip seem much longer than it actually is.
As usual, we were met at the Johannesburg airport by our hosts and instantly remembered one reason why we continue to return to Care Village. Gerrie and Ernie were so grateful to see another group of people who traveled many hours to spend time with their Care Village children. We had a nice dinner in Johannesburg and piled into the Care Village bus for the 90 minute ride to Care Village. While most of the team slept on the bus, I could not stop thinking about all that has transpired with Care Village over the course of the past year. It seems a little overwhelming to think that I have put down roots at my “home away from home” – over nine thousand miles away, on the other side of the world. Nevertheless, when I am here, I feel as welcome, loved, appreciated, and understood as anywhere I have lived.
We arrived at Care Village around 9:30pm and were greeted by 10 of the boys from house three who, after several greetings and hugs, promptly carried our luggage into our accommodations, house one – pretty much identical to the houses where the children live. I immediately notice that Gerrie and his staff have gone out of their way to make our stay pleasant! New curtains, on many of the windows, new plumbing fixtures, stocked refrigerators, loads of snacks – even a heater installed in one of the community rooms for the cool winter mornings. Gerrie told us that we must not be shy to ask for anything at all that might make our stay more pleasant. “We want you to be comfortable and know how much you are appreciated so that you will return.” He reiterated how important our presence is to the children and thanked us in advance for coming to Care Village.
Our first day with the children was celebratory, renewing friendships and creating new. The children were very excited to see us. There weren’t enough hands to hold all those thrust at us. Hugs were plentiful and constant. For three hours, we played, laughed, jumped, danced, ran, read with children of all ages who welcomed us like long lost family.
Our theme for the week is “Family.” Daily devotionals contain scripture and discussion that center on this theme. We spent time discussing the many ways families can be present in our lives. We also discussed the many ways we think of relationships as family, even when there is no blood connection. It was wonderful to see our Care Village Family!
Many thanks for the thoughts and prayers from multiple well-wishers for a safe journey and a fruitful adventure. We look forward to our second day at Care Village. There is a flea market on site today, a regular community event and fund raiser for Care Village. Gerrie tells us that they have outstanding brewed coffee, to which many of us are looking forward! A celebratory Braii with the children, including friends from the community is being prepared for us this evening, followed by a campfire and smores, a non-South African treat that we like to provide for the children.