Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Goodbye Africa!

Coming back to Heronbridge was such a strange feeling.  As we all got off the bus you could hear everyone saying, "this is so weird!! It's like we never left!"

Ending off this 3-month adventure of a lifetime in the same place we began it gave us a very odd sense of deja vu and made it seem like the last 3 months had literally flown by.  In some ways, it seems like we've been in Africa forever, but at the same time it feels like we've just arrived.

Our time in Heronbridge was full of 'lasts'.  Our last time moving, our last time packing, our last debrief, our last church service, our last meal in Africa, our last time soaking up the hot African sun, and one of our last time together as a group.  There was also a lot of reminiscing, "Remeber when..." was a phrase often heard.

It was a bittersweet 6 days, knowing that our time together was coming to a close and that Africa would soon be a memory.  But we also knew it was less than a week until we would be on Canadian soil with a Tim Horton's iced cap in our hands reuniting with our family and friends.  It was a very strange mixture of emotions, but that didn't stop us from having an awesome last week!!

A multitude of hours in the pool and in the sun were how our days were mostly spent, although volleyball, cricket and euchre were other options (when we weren't debriefing of course).  We even had an Easter egg hunt!  Although, technically it was more of an Easter P.S. Bar hunt...  We also had the pleasure of being with Ryan as he was baptized on Easter morning!

It was an incredible week, but as awesome as this country is, it's time to say goodby and go back home.

Good bye Africa, it's been a blast.

Written by: Kelsey

Monday, 9 April 2012

African School of Missions Assignment: Debrief

Purpose: To determine everyone's thoughts, experiences, and opinions of their Outtatown year through debrief.

Hypothesis: If there is the right combination of rest, relaxation, recreation and good food, then the time spent at ASM doing debrief will be amazing.

- 30 Outtatown students
- 4 Outtatown leaders
- 1 bus driver
- 34+++ bags of luggage
- 2 tennis courts
- 1 soccer field
- 1 swimming pool
- many hangout areas
- 6+ decks of cards
- 34 chairs for debrief sessions
- constant supplies of hot tea
- lots of good food

1.  Arrive at ASM after leaving Swaziland
2.  Unload bags into rooms of 4
3.  Attend the best breakfasts of all of South Africa.  One day people had the option of sleeping in and missing breakfast, but strangely enough, not many people did.
4.  Listen to students talk about their Outtatown year.  Each student shared for 15-20 minutes, followed by a time of encouragement and prayer.  Every student was well prepared and everyone really enjoyed listening to the stories and insights from the year.
5.  Allow time for euchre.  In Swaziland, Hugo and Mark started a euchre tournament and many games were played at ASM.  There were 13 teams in all and some of the games were very exciting and nerve-wracking as only 8 playoff spots were available.  The winner is yet to be determined.
6.  Allow time for recreation.  There seemed to always be someone in the tennis courts or in the pool.  It was great to have space to play ulitmate, soccer or sit by a fire at night.
7.  Make sure that there are some new experiences.  For example, I'm sure it was new for many girls when they found a monkey in the hallway outside their rooms.

Discussion/Conclusion: The time at ASM was a great bonding time.  We had some well deserved rest and spent a lot of time enjoying being with each other.  It was great to start the debrief process, as this year has been full of new, surprising, fun and challenging experiences.  We had time to kick back and enjoy God's creation through our surroundings.  One night there was a beautiful and powerful lightning storm that has us all in awe!  I know that I speak on behalf of many when I say that Outtatown is so amazing.  The places we go are all so unique.  Even though our time is quickly drawing to an end, we still have had fun together during the last days.

Written by: Megan

A brief step out of South Africa

For our time in Swaziland we stayed at the New Hope Centre.  This place was one of the most inspirational organizations we worked with.  Upon arrival, our host informed us that Swaziland is dying of AIDS.  Literally.  78% of the people are thought to have HIV/AIDS.  New Hope Centre is an orphanage that promotes leadership; their slogan is "orphans today, leaders tomorrow".  Interestingly enough, New Hope doesn't search for orphans, but allows God to lead specific children (orphans who have lost all family members: mom, dad, aunties, grandfathers...) through their gates.

We helped build a garden at New Hope using principles of "Farming God's Way" with the children living there.  Through this we formed deep relationships with the kids, some of the most meaningful of the entire semester.  It was really great to live at New Hope for the week, at the end of the school/work day we got to hang out with them.  On our last night there we had a braai and listened to many stories of how God has worked in some of the children's lives.  One boy had prayed for a bicycle for six years.  Wow.  It was moving to realize how essential God is for them.  God was their everything. 

One kid, named Asher, grew up taking care of animals that his family owned instead of attending school.  Now, at New Hope, he is able to do both.  The centre offers lots of unique opportunities to nurture the kids' passions.

Random facts:
- New Hope is striving to be self sustainable
- All the kids have the last name 'Abraham' since we are all children of God

Written by: Andrew and Emily

Sunday, 1 April 2012

We pooped, we puked, we partied

Hello and welcome to another addition of Site 2 Blog. Our time in Durban started off a little bit rocky and rough. Sickness overcame some of the group but we conquered that and enjoyed our time. The visit to Durban consisted of visiting temples and learning about the different religions that the East Indian people of Durban follow. Did you know that Durban has the largest Indian population outside of India? We enjoyed curry; for some it was delicious and others couldn’t handle the heat. The home stays were very enjoyable and each group had their own unique experiences. For myself, I enjoyed the home and talking with the family every night learning about them and what they do. Very fun. We also got into the Soap Opera scene and we are all into Days of our Lives and other amazing t.v programs. We learned about how the East Indian people came to South Africa and how Ghandi helped in the movement towards abolishing apartheid. A very interesting experience and we ended it off with a visit to Ushaka!! A wet and wild, fun filled day. Waterslides and lazy rivers filled our last day in Durban. All in all it was a fun experience. Well that is all folks. Until next time.

By: Hugo Malan

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Surf's up in J-Bay!

Before heading to J-Bay for a short 'all sites' reunion, our site was going to participate in a little Outtatown ritual over the Blaukrans river... Bunjee jumping!

From day 1 of the program the bunjee jump was somethign that frequently came up in conversation.  In fact, I remember at Camp Squeah when we would practise jumping from the benches.  We made it as realistic as possible you see...

When it was time for the real thing most of us were leaning towards being more excited than terrified.  There were the odd exceptions... *coughjessica&kendra*  Jumping from the bridge was a totally surreal feeling and everyone who ended up jumping had no regrets.  As you're flying through the air, leaving the pounding music on the bridge, all that you can think of is just how much you love Outtatown.
That's it! The bridge we jumped off of!
Getting ready to go!
All done! Go Coral, Alisha & Kaitlyn!

All Sites at J-Bay was a very enjoyable and relaxing 2 days.  We got the chance to take surfing lessons and go for a canter along the beach with some African horses.  After that we took the opportunity to shop in all the outlet stores, searching for a shirts and swimsuits to show off our tans when we get back.  Or, in a couple cases, rent surf boards on our own and spend all day in the water. 
Jess, Carol, Lisa, Kaitlyn, Alisha, Coral, Tobi, Becci & Megan going riding

All in all, it was a fantastic way to spend the  half-way weekend of our semester!

Written by: Andrew

Pietermaritzburg service & Drachensberg Hike

The time at Pietermaritzburg was fantastic!  We met some amazing people who were doing God's work at Project Gateway Prison.  We felt very blessed to be a little part of what they were doing while we were there doing service work.  Whether it was scraping off old paint or painting interior/exterior walls, we enjoyed helping out Project Gateway one group at a time. Both groups worked on preparing and painting some accomodation rooms, painting the hallway and other exterior painting jobs.  It was good to be put to work and I know the people at Project Gateway appreciated everything we did.

We also got to experience some of the Zulu culture one night.  The kitchen ladies prepared a Zulu feast for us, including chicken feet, tripe (cow intestine), chicken gizzard and sour milk,  Let's just say it was an entertaining meal as people tried all the new food.  After dinner we got to play games with some of the local children and that was very fun!  The whole evening was a great taste of Zulu culture.

Our group was split in half that week.  While one group stayed to do service, the other group left to hike Rhino's Peak in the Drachensberg Mountains.  The hike was both challenging and rewarding.  The hike, so beautiful!  It was such an amazing experience to sleep in a cave for two nights and cook our food in a little pot over a single flame.  At night we were surrounded by stars and bats, and in the morning we were greeted by the sunrise rising up through the mountains.  It was such a wonderful experience to be completely surrounded by God's creation.  The hike was challenging and took about 3 hours to get to the top where we met some BaSotho herdsmen.  Along the way we got to drink water right from the river which was a very cool experience (literally, the water was freezing!).  Everyone encouraged one another and I know everyone loved getting to the summit.  We could see for miles - it was such an incredible view!  We also had a lot of fun with our guides, Paul and Josh, who talked with us and even played cards with us.  Overall the hike was one of the most amazing experiences we got to do this year and I'm sure it was a highlight for many members of the group.

Written by: Layla

Carol & Alisha in our home cave
Sandy, Kaitly, Tobi, Carol & Alisha nearing the top

group shot with the BaSotho herdsmen in the country of LeSotho

Chloe taking in the view over SA

Take a walk on the Wild Side

Our week at Mdumbi (on the Wild Coast) was very relaxing.  We enjoyed having free time on the beach with the cows and other random livestock.  There was a cozy chill room where we spent most of our evenings playing cards, listening to music and chatting.  Our hike to Coffee Bay was definitely a highlight.  We hiked along the coast - down the beach, through a cave and off a cliff into the ocean.  With only 2 nights left, some of us decided to sleep outside on the beach:

"So a few of us hauled our sleeping bags, blankets and pillows down to the beach.  Others decided to mooch off the people who did bring warmth *coughandrewcough* and one true woodsman thought to make bot rock lounge chairs to keep him warm throughout the night.  Too bad it took him all night to make it!  About 10 of us drifted off to sleep by the fired, snuggling in the sand, looking at the starts and hearing the crashing of the waves.  However, as we slept, the waves kept crashing and the tide rose higher and higher... higher than it had all week.  Some beach bums felt the waves coming earlier on, but instead of warning the rest of us they decided to keep that information to themselves leaving the rest of us to a shocking wake up.  Water rushed into our sleeping bags, soaking everything inside and taking our pillows, sweaters and glasses cases right out to sea!  It was a mad dash to find all our belongings followed by a lovely hike back up the hill carrying all our dripping sleeping gear with us.  Not the most ideal thing to be doing at 3am... but it sure makes for a funny memory!"

Nathan Reiger also flew down to spend some time with us and Site 3.  Many of us got to have one-on-one conversations with him.  He spoke to us about V.I.M. - Vision, Intention and Means.  This was important to learn about as many of us are considering our next steps following Outtatown.  In our Knowing Yourself session with Sandy we discussed the importance of transitioning well.  Leaving our Outtatown community and transitioning well back to Canada will take intentionality!  With only 10 days left, we want to make the most of our time and finish off the year well.

One final note, one beautiful morning at the beach, Kaitlyn decided to get baptized.  It was an incredible moment where she dedicated her life to Jesus.  Cool beans :)

Written by: Emily Brubaker-Zehr
Story by: Rachel Parkinson

Kaitlyn sharing her testimony

beach at Mdumbi

hiking to Coffee Bay