Team Leader’s Report
A smaller than normal team of 14 members made the long trip northwards to Ondangwa. The purpose of the mission was much more focussed than previous years. We wanted to specifically pick up from where Tish had left off with the training of the lady leadership and build some playground equipment for the play schools that Tish had envisaged.
The team did not travel together as some were already in Namibia before mission and some needed to visit Outjo to meet with the team behind the training that the play school ladies had done. By Monday 30 June we had all arrived at Nakambale Rest Camp, welcomed by fasithful Maggie as usual.
From the start the team worked very well together and this improved as time went by. There were only 3 on the team who had never been on this mission before so from that respect things went very smoothly. The unifying factor is always that we are all here for a common purpose and this means that whatever we are doing it always has that purpose in mind – to evangelise and assist the churches of REACH Namibia – five churches at present.
Holly, Jan, Jessie and Bonny Vat, Attie & Karrie Botha, Sally & Mike Sessions, Kevin & Carine Brand, Cameron Brand, Nicole Ballentine, Ross & Muriel Bartholomew
When the programme for the shorter than normal mission was planned it looked like it would be a fairly relaxed time but from when we all arrived until we left 1 week later it was very busy and hardly any time to relax by anyone.
Not having Tish there to welcome us and assist along the way was very sad, sorely missed and at times also very difficult. Our arrival also served to bring back the reality of her death to the ladies in particular and much time was spent with them in memories and reflections.
It was an absolute privilege to be part of this team and therefore part of all that took place while in Ovamboland this year. Since we had a primary focus we didn’t end up being able to spend any time at the two northern churches, St Lukes and St Pauls. Our ladies spent most of their time with the lady leaders and covered a great deal of material. The Children’s team, of two and sometimes assisted by others, managed to minister at Poffies as well as St Peters, St Johns and Christ Church. Some of the team also visited the Bushmen families which was very interesting.
Our maintenance team once again did some small miracles by erecting two jungle gyms in the space of 4 days - from scratch. There were getting put through their paces even while being built!
All in all I am very proud of the team and all that was accomplished – may God be praised.
This year our clear goal was to cement and deepen the relationships that Tish had established as well as to continue with the teaching she had begun from “Fundamentals of the Faith” by John McArthur. I believe this was accomplished.
It was good to be reunited with our old friends and the following ladies attended every session;
- Hilka- translator (Christophine’s niece)
- Christophine and Lydia from St Peters, Onamambili
- Unice and Lavinia from St Johns, Indungungu
- Asnath, Emilia and Willemien (pre-school teacher) from Christchurch, Ondangwa
Hilma also attended- it seems she was from Christchurch- she is not one of the leaders as far as I could ascertain, but she attended and participated although clearly she has some moral issues to deal with in her personal life.
The first day began with a time of sharing photos of Tish, sharing special memories, talking of her life and death and sharing a few tears. We ended this memorial time by singing a hymn from her funeral sheet and were then able to move on with the work we had planned.
The ladies meet once a week to study together. Tish made provision for transport costs to be covered as well as the necessary phone calls, messages and photocopies. Gerhard Enslin pays Christophine an amount every month and she then gives the taxi fare to the ladies who attend every week. It takes them approximately one month to complete a chapter and they do not meet during planting and harvest time.
The group had continued working through the book and had completed chapter 7 which was on the Holy Spirit. We then continued with chapter 8 on prayer which we completed and revised during the week. The teaching was shared between Carine Brand, Sally Sessions and Karrie Botha.
The revision on the final day ended with a time of subject related and then more general questions. Good material related questions were asked including “How do we grieve the Holy Spirit?” and a few questions on repentance and prayer.
Church and moral questions included queries about irregular adherents seeking baptism for their infants and how to approach this when they didn’t seem to be Christians. What to do about people who ‘commit adultery on Saturday and repent on Sunday so that they can pray in church.’ I was not sure if this was an actual case, whether this was directed at Hilma and her circumstances or just a teaching question which is something Christophine often does.
The week ended with a gift of a mango tree to each woman along with an encouragement to keep growing and bearing fruit as the trees would. All the ladies thought it a fitting gift as Tish had encouraged them to plant trees at their homesteads so for many of them it was a very tangible reminded of their friendship with Tish and her desire for each one to grow in their relationship with the Lord.
2014 was a somewhat different year for the men who took part in the mission to Ondangwa in Namibia. In previous years the task was to undertake maintenance of the local church buildings but this year we were asked to be more creative. Part of Tish Hannekom's vision for nurturing the local children was the running of pre-school crèches attached to the churches. Two of these are already up and running - at Christ Church and at St Peter's - and we were asked to make jungle gyms for the playgrounds.
With only 5 days to complete the task finding the right materials at the right prices was the first urgent requirement. Fortunately there are several building material stores in the area and all of these were visited many times before the construction could start.
After serious negiotiations had taken place (and a small discount had been agreed) delivery of the poles was arranged for early the following day. With the distance from the store to the church being a matter of less than one kilometer what could go wrong? It appears that the delivery address we gave (the painted church over there..) was somewhat imprecise and the truck spent a couple of hours being driven around before finally arriving late in the morning.
Laying out the frame involved a lesson from Attie on the work of Pythagoras (something about 3 : 4 : 5 - I am not sure if that is the ratio of the lengths of sides of a right angle triangle or the recipe for apple crumble!) but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we had the first swing extensively tested by Denys before any children were allowed to play on it.
Each design had two swings, a ladder and a tyre climbing frame to access a platform, and a slide which was transported all the way from South Africa. Below the platform was a set of monkey bars which proved to be a novelty amongst the children as they had to be taught how to use them.
It was certainly rewarding to see the excitement of the children as they played on the jungle gyms for the first time
I was in conversation with Tish from February to May 2014 regarding helping in the establishment of Christian Pre-schools at the above locations.
I communicated with and visited Wilma Schoolman in Outjo before arriving in Owamboland in June. She had asked me and any other member of our team to encourage and provide certain items for the school teachers.
Nicole Ballentine and myself visited the Onanambili school twice (Selma has 9 children there) and the Christchurch Ondangwa school three times (Willemien has 12 children in her class and as the jungle gym went up received an application for another 1).
We had the amazing privilege of watching our 2014 Maintenance team put into place a jungle gym including a slide, swings and monkey bars at each school. Many thanks to Mike, Kevin and Attie for their excellent work and thank you to those churches who sponsored the materials.
Nicole and I were able to observe the teachers working diligently from their preparation files daily. We demonstrated a few alternative activities and discussed options for storing activities and displaying posters and Art. The curriculum has wonderful Christian based activities.
The children were all very happy and enthusiastic during their lessons.
We gave the teachers covered/labelled ice cream boxes containing tennis balls, puzzles, counters and other building block types of games. They were also given cardboard books and a first aid kit for each classroom. Thank you to those individuals and churches, who helped provide.
The age range and language proficiency is really varied which makes their task challenging. However the parents are paying their R 50 per child per month for their salaries. We also drafted a letter for the teachers to give to the parents requesting that a toilet roll, some scrap paper and a facecloth and soap be sent in each term by each household.
In the 5 days of ministry time we had we visited Eluwa (special needs school), Proffies School, 3 of the local churches and the Bushmen. The team comprised primarily of myself and Nicole but had much needed help from the ladies and Ross.
The children and youth at Eluwa appreciated the donations of fruit, soap and face cloths, and they particularly enjoyed the video which Lisa, Richard and Agnes sent for them. However, one afternoon with them was not enough, they were very sad that there wasn’t a team working with them this year so hopefully next year a team for them can be put together. The need is great there and they seem to be open and hungry for teaching.
Gerhard and Nicolene are doing great work at Proffies School. The kids are not only taught their academics but also life lessons and the gospel. There are 2 very encouraging projects on the go there. Firstly, the afternoon scripture union classes which are run by Gabe (A local guy Tish met with). The children attend these classes out of their own will and often ask Gabe important questions showing that their hearts are moved by the gospel. The second project is the Bushmen project. Gerhard and Nicolene are supporting 5 Bushmen children who board just outside Ondangwa where they are looked after during the week. They attend school and are taken back to their families once or twice a month. They are very happy to attend school and their parents seem grateful for the opportunity for the children to go to school as the parents are struggling to support themselves and thus in no position to afford to send their children to school. When the children are taken back home Gerhard and Nicolene supply the parents and family group with enough food until they visit again, this is due to them being very malnourished and unable to bring in enough to support themselves independently (many are struggling with alcohol addiction and unable to support the basic needs of their children, thus the reason the 5 children live in Ondangwa). Our involvement at Proffies consisted of a short drama and talk during their morning assembly. Thereafter the team divided up between the classes where we could explain the drama and talk again, and then go through the Lord’s Prayer booklet at the various classes. Our involvement with the Bushmen consisted of driving out to where the Bushmen families live where we could meet the children’s families. While we were there we did a short talk on the basics of the gospel. Overall Gerhard and Nicolene are doing great work in there, especially in these projects. I feel that supporting them in whatever way possible is important.
The remainder of our time was spent at 3 local churches, St Peters, St. Johns and Christ Church Ondangwa. At these churches we played games to attract the kids and then used a gospel picture book with each picture explained in their local language, this helped greatly as they were much more attentive. We then went through each picture a second time asking them questions and explaining the gospel. The Children responded well to the questions and enjoyed the gifts which were prepared by various people back home. Hopefully these gifts remind to them of the time we spent with them and the importance of Jesus in their lives. The children in these churches would all benefit greatly from consistent teaching, be it once a week. Training someone to do this would be a great advantage. Lastly, an important observation we made was that at each of these churches there were many youth, youth are very vulnerable to so much in these areas and are often scarcely seen in churches. Therefore this poses an opportunity in future missions.
Jan, Bonny, Jessie and Holly Vat - prospective mmissionaries.
The first two weeks were spent in Ondangwa. I taught at the Bible College each afternoon from Monday to Thursday and the teaching was received by the students with the same enthusiasm as before. Boniface, the principal of the college, had asked me to teach “The Bible Basically” but on the second day the projector stopped working so I resorted to teaching on the Prophets instead. On the second Sunday I preached at the college during a very lively three-hour service. On leaving Boniface again expressed his desire that I should come and teach permanently at the college.
I also met with leaders of REACH Namibia on two occasions and preached at Christ Church Ondangwa on the first Sunday. The church leaders indicated that their greatest need right now was to find a replacement for Tish. I took care to explain that, for good reason, neither I nor Bonny would be fulfilling that role and suggested they appoint one of the ladies taught by Tish. I clarified that our main mission would involve the training of church leaders across denominations and that this would be of great benefit to REACH Namibia if suitable trainees could be found from within the denomination. As a secondary mission, Bonny and I will make ourselves available to lend a helping hand to REACH Namibia as and when we are able. This was graciously accepted by Denys and the other leaders.
With help from Boniface I was able to meet with 24 church leaders in the area. I presented the Bible Institute’s Christian Leadership Programme (CLP) to them and answered many questions concerning course content, non-recognition by the Namibian education authorities, and costs. I also explained that I had been approached by NETS to teach their courses which are recognised by the Namibian education authorities. They were unanimous in voicing their opinion that they did not have the qualifications required for the more advanced NETS courses. As they had done last year, they expressed a great desire for teaching and indicated that they will sign up for CLP should I come. Only this morning I received a message from Boniface that he will e-mail their names to me.
We also spent some time looking at the housing situation in Ondangwa, Ongwadiva and Oshakati. The options in Ondangwa are limited in contrast to the other two towns where the options are numerous. We shall pray for the Lord to make something available in Ondangwa as it would mean that we will not have to travel much but, failing that, we are sure to find something in the other towns.
Although Bonny is presently home schooling Jessie and Holly we have been concerned that this is the best option for them. Jessie, in particular, has an outgoing personality and would probably blossom more in a school environment. Hence we looked at the feasibility to put them into Christian schools. We probably preferred “Proffies” in Ondangwa over “Four Square” in Ongwadeva. However, our main item of concern is the proficiency of the English teachers. Without fail, English is their second language, which is very noticeable to say the least, so here also we need to make a wise decision.
In the first week of our stay in Ondangwa the mission team from REACH South Africa was with us. The men put up playground facilities for the crèches at Christ Church and St Peters and the rest of the team ministered to the women and children of two of the churches and to the children of Proffies. The whole team was invited to attend a Bible study run by Gerard and Nicolene Emslin. We were offered a lovely meal and had great fellowship with members of the group. At the end of the week it was sad to say goodbye to the mission team and we felt rather lonely at Nakambali, our campsite, in the week that followed. The weather also grew colder in the evenings and early mornings and it became harder to have cold showers (the solar heating system was out of operation). For that reason (the world cup final was purely incidental and only by accident did we manage to watch two of Holland’s matches in Timothy’s home!), I decided that we would stay at the Protea Hotel on the last night so that Bonny could have a warm shower.
Visit to the Bushmen
Five of us - Karrie, Carine, Cameron, Nicole and Muriel, joined Gerrard, Nicolene and Boerie Enslin, as well as Samuel, - the translator and ‘guardian’ of the children, to spend some time with the Bushman on Friday 4th July. Tish was instrumental in discovering these Bushmen and provided help to them in the form of food and other basic needs. We set out early in order to be back in time for other events in the day. After some difficult 4 x 4 driving (thank you Cameron!), we arrived in a small settlement and parked under a big tree, which was surrounded by packets of braai wood.
We got out and watched as the people slowly approached to greet us and congregate around the meeting place – the tree. We unpacked the food we had brought with us and the men started packing the braai wood into the vehicles and trailer. The braai wood is collected by the Bushman in ‘exchange’ for the food. The five Bushman children that the Enslins are sponsoring at their school, came with us to visit their families. They greeted their parents and showed them their school books, proudly displaying their work. The families were impressed. The Enslins have provided accommodation, education and a care-giver for the children during the school week. They visit their families once a month over a weekend.
After a while we settled around the tree for a time of teaching. Cameron and Nicole presented the Gospel using a Saber machine and pictures. The recording of the story was in their own language and they listened attentively. Later Cameron spoke and issued the challenge to live for Jesus, which was translated by Samuel. Pray that the Lord even now, uses those words for the Gospel sake.
The food was distributed amongst the five families represented there and consisted of dried and tinned goods, frozen fish, oil, some fresh fruit and rusks. We said our goodbyes and returned a different way stopping for a picnic tea in the palm-filled landscape. We were grateful for the visit and the opportunity to meet them and share the Gospel.