Site 2 ended off the year with a safari at Kruger National Park. Most of us saw the big 5!! Here are a few photos of our time.
By Silas Allen
Last week we did a three-day hike in the Drakensburg Mountains and went to the top of Rhino Peak. It was something that I had been looking forward to all year. We arrived at the base greeted by 4 piles of supplies and food to add to our backpacks. After repacking our bags, we hiked an hour and a half to the cave. We were welcomed to the Drakensburg by rain and thunder which couldn’t stop our team… as a matter of fact it helped us. The rain would be start stop, start stop the whole way up and we loved having the rain to cool us down after building up a sweat. We arrived at the cave, set up camp and then did various things to relax and unwind. Some of us went down to jump in the cold river and take a few glugs of the delicious mountain water. We then made our 2-minute dinner, hung out in the cave, stood amazed by a double rainbow, listened to Daniel read Songs of Solomon, and then went to bed. The next morning, we woke up and started our 4 hour hike to the peak. Half way up we heard a man yelling at us from the top of the mountain screaming “aaaagghh!!!” A few minutes later we discovered that it wasn’t a local Basoot but was a pack of Baboons running along the side of the mountains. Finally, after 3 1/2 hours, we made it to the top only to have our breath taken away by the beauty of God’s creation all around us. It was amazing, we had sun shining on us and only a few kilometers away we watched the rain fall and lightning strike over the Burg. After hiking down, we cooled down in the flowing waterfall. On the final day, some of us watched the sunrise and then made breakfast, packed, and headed back. We made it to the bottom and enjoyed both the lunch ready for us as well as a real bathroom. We met the second group, wished them luck and then spent the next couple days at project gateway doing some service and catching up on our assignments. We were also treated to a Zulu night with traditional food and dance. Overall it was a great week of experiencing God in the beauty of his creation of the Drakensburg.
By Skye Wagenman
On Friday morning, we (the second group) loaded the bus and prepared to leave for the Drakensburg hike. Just as the bus started to pull away, the rain started. It rained, and hailed, everyone scrambled to quickly cover their bags, ensuring they were dry. The rain made it quite chilly and many of us were worrying if we brought enough layers or a warm enough sleeping bag. We arrived at the spot where we were meeting our guides, unloaded our bags and all took shelter under a small, covered area. We were then introduced to the four leaders, Matt, Martin, Monde, and Sekele. We were also given our food, dishes, and bathroom supplies for the next few days. After we all got our bags on and fitting comfortably, we were off! We walked through the rain, every so often stopping to catch our breath, or stare at the mountain outlines through the mist. We walked mostly in silence, with the occasional conversation, or the phrase, “We winning!” yelled out. After over an hour and a half, we arrived at a large cave, unpacked all of our supplies and made our fantastic lunch/dinner of 2-minute noodles. Most people went to their beds not long after, because it was so cold. As the sun set, the view from inside the cave looking out was incredible. The sky was a thick orange mist for as far as you could see.
The next morning, once everyone was awake and de-frosted enough to look outside, we were a little disheartened to see nothing but fog. Unfortunately, the guides decided conditions were too dangerous to hike to Rhino Peak, but they did open up an optional hike for those who really wanted to go. Myself and a few others decided to hike as far as we could. We hiked for over 2 hours, but unfortunately had to stop at the base of Rhino Peak. We hiked back to the cave and arrived wet and cold, but in good spirits. The people who stayed behind wrote poems, read through John, had good conversations, and never left their sleeping bags. As the day went on, it felt like the temperature was dropping more and more. As the sun went down, people prepared for bed. They could be seen zipping sleeping bags together, squeezing two people into one sleeping bag, and layering up.
Heading out on the last morning, we were expecting to see the foggy, misty view that had been our reality for the past two days, but we were struck with a beautiful view of the mountains, hills and valleys surrounding us. We all stood there in awe of God’s amazing works and timing. We hiked out full of joy and laughter. The Drakensburg hike gave us all such amazing memories and brought us even closer together. Those three days, despite how cold and rainy it was, we all stood in awe of the beautiful creation God has blessed us with.
By Katie Clements
In Durban we had a full schedule of fun cultural things to do. We went to uShaka Marine Park, so we got to go to an aquarium and a water park which was great because it was a really hot day and the waterslides really helped to cool off. We also went to a museum that was all about the history of the Indian culture in South Africa and how they came to live here because of indentured labour. We also were given a free day with our homestay over the period of time that we were with them. My homestay went ice skating and we were able to teach some of our “sisters” how to skate. We also watched a movie with them and I was able to connect with my homestay family through that. We had plenty of cultural foods, such as bunnychow and curry, which meant a lot of water for me! For most people the spice was not bad but for a few it was a hot weekend both for the food and the weather. I really enjoyed my time in Durban because the conversations were great, the time that we got to spend with the church and the community was well planned, and we had lots of fun. On Sunday we were invited to participate in the service, which meant that we led part of the worship, some students read scripture, and some of us talked to the congregation about things that they noticed about church in South Africa compared to church in Canada. So overall the long weekend in Durban was a great one!
(photos by Alexa Nicolle
By Bailey Cressman
Another week has come and gone, yet none has seemed to fly by as fast as our time at El Olam did. So much happened in the five days we stayed at this camp. I had such a fun time; from the crazy rides in the back of the bucky (a pickup truck), watching sugar cane fields being burned for harvest, to learning how to make Potjie (a popular South African stew in a cast iron pot), and putting on a skit for the local school. There are so many things that I could choose to talk about from that week.
I think something that we all considered special were our visits to the local elementary school, Hope Valley Farming School. This school was just a walk down the hill from the camp, and we went there twice during our stay. The ministry that is occurring there is amazing. I could really see the hand of God at work there. There were many comments of, “I’d love to be a teacher here,” from many of us as we walked away from the school both days. The first time, I was part of a group that went and read and played games with the third graders. What a sweet bunch, we had so much fun! I could not get over the amount of joy they got from just playing a game of “Duck-duck-goose” with us.
The second time we visited, we were in charge of leading an assembly for the school. We taught them some songs, and had them participate in a skit with us. This time, after the assembly, I went and hung out with the sixth graders, a class of only five. They had a whole list of questions for us, and were greatly amused when Naomi and I sang the entire Canadian anthem on request. It was yet again another lesson in joy when hanging out with these kids. It truly is the little things that can bring the most joy and mean so much to others. If I learned anything out of my week at El Olam, it is that I should strive to bring joy to others, and myself, in the small ways, for that’s what always seems to end up mattering the most.
Written by: Hadiya Huijer
After a long bus ride from J-Bay, we arrived in Mdumbi, where we stayed at a backpacker’s hostel for a week. Throughout the week, we took some time to relax and unwind from the craziness of the past few weeks. We were right on the ocean, and many of us spent our free time surfing, swimming, and enjoying the beach.
On the Sunday, two men from the village guided us on a hike along the coast from the hostel to Coffee Bay. Along the way, we got to walk along the beach, took a rowboat across the river, and explored some caves. At the end of the hike, we were treated to a much-appreciated lunch of pizza in Coffee Bay.
During the week, each of our leaders lead a Knowing Yourself session. We explored topics such as values, strengths, the Myers-Briggs personality test, and discerning the will of God. We also got to spend the week with Nathan Rieger, who led a few sessions that expanded on some of his lectures from last semester on idols. He took time to chat with many of us individually as well, and took time to get to know us as a community.
On Tuesday, we did a silent day similar to the one we had back in River’s Edge last semester. Starting after breakfast, we stayed silent until the evening. We used the time to listen for God, and enjoy the beauty of His creation. After dinner, we broke our silence with worship, and got the opportunity to share how we’d seen God that day. During our silent day, we also did a 24-hour prayer, in which people could sign up for an hour-long slot, meaning our community was covered in prayer for a full twenty-four hours.
All in all, our week in Mdumbi was an amazing week filled with learning, exploring, and relaxing on the Wild Coast.
During the week we spent in Jeffreys Bay, we had the opportunity to go sand boarding, horseback riding on the beach, or take surfing lessons. I chose to go sand boarding with about a dozen other people. The sand boards are similar to snowboards but also very different. They are shorter, and your feet are strapped in with velcro straps. At the top of the sandhill we waxed the board every time before riding it down, to allow us to go faster. As we were riding down we had a gorgeous view of the ocean. Near the bottom of the sand dunes there were a few natural jumps that you could do spins and grabs from. Afterwards, we cooled off in the ocean and then jumped in the bus to drive back.
Surfing in Jay Bay was amazing. Naomi, Cole, Jess, Amani, Julien, and I all walked to the surf shop and rented our boards and wetsuits. It was a beautiful day to surf. Our surf instructor was cool. We went out on the waves and body surfed. Then we learned to stand up, and we struggled because it was a bit of a challenge. Our surf instructor then gave us the most inspirational speech ever, then made us go practice on the beach to remember the steps to stand up and surf. He said, “There’s no desire. No fire. You guys need self confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, then how do you ever expect to achieve anything? You need to have faith. You need to want it. You need to achieve this goal and be able to say you stood up on your own. You tried your best and gave it all you had. It’s just like in life; you need to seize the opportunity.” After that, we all surfed like pros. His inspiration made us glow and gave us strength. It was beautiful and I’ll never forget his speech. All you need is to believe in yourself and you can do pretty much anything.
Horsing around during our time in Jeffreys Bay was an incredible experience for all of us who mounted those crazy horses. We drove out to the ranch all dressed up in our long pants and shoes, despite the temperature reaching 35° and not a cloud in the sky. We all mounted our horses, and then we took off down the trail to the sand dunes. The sun and heat was relentless, as was the bouncing of our rear ends when the horses trotted, until we made it to a steep sand dune and hung on as the horses leaped up. We all stood on the top and admired the view of the endless sand and ocean, but the horses became impatient and either dumped riders (me) or started off down the dunes (also me). The horses started galloping when we hit the sand, and the feeling was incredible. We made it to the ocean, and after touching the water some of our horses took off galloping completely out of our control, and it took a lot of shouting “WOAH!” to stop them and return to the group. The feeling of riding the horses in the ocean breeze as they sprinted across the beach was one of the best feelings I’ve experienced but also one of the most terrified feelings I’ve had. We trotted, cantered, and galloped back along the beach to our starting point, barely keeping in control and roasting in the sun as we left the beach. We got back sweltering in our long pants only to learn that our bus did not have working air conditioning, a major disappointment. Luckily, we stopped at store and bought cold refreshments, and jumped in the showers as soon as we returned. Horse riding on the beach was a fantastic experience and I would easily do it again.
Knowing God. Knowing Yourself. Knowing the World.
Knowing God. Knowing Yourself. Knowing the World.