By Cole Stewart
Last week our group was in the Johannesburg township of Soweto. The entire week was full of incredible moments which made for wonderful memories for every one of us. We arrived in Soweto on Sunday and had everyone we passed on the street waving at us. Walking off the bus, we were swarmed by a giant crowd of little kids. Their joyful energy and beautiful smiles would end up being what carried most of us through what turned out to be a very exhausting week. We quickly got to taste the culture with a stroll through the neighbourhood after spending a few hours with the kids. On Sunday we attended a service at Orlando Baptist Church. The loud music, dancing, and overall feel of the Church made the service one of my highlights of the week. The Holy Spirit was so very present and it was probably one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had at Church. The rest of the week was led by our partner, Mpho. We spent the first part of the week touring Soweto and getting a feel for the community while learning about the history and the culture. The first couple of days included trying new things like chicken feet (actually very delicious!) and tripe (intestines). Of course, the food is always a huge part of any culture, so how could we refuse those delicacies? Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were our service days. As a group, we split up and went to five different organizations: Kliptown Youth Program, Kliptown Creche, Lakeview Elementary School, Carl Sithole home, and Othandweni Orphanage. I, personally, spent all three days at Kliptown Creche which is a preschool/daycare for children ages 1-6. Kliptown is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in all of Soweto and both Kliptown Youth Program and Kliptown Creche are doing incredible work to show Jesus’s love to the community. I was in the three-year-old classroom the entire time and built a great relationship with both the kids and the teachers. The three year olds weren’t really learning anything, so we spent most of the time just playing with them and then we’d have a chance to talk with the teachers while the kids were napping. Both my connection with the kids and my connection with the teachers impacted me in such an amazing way and I’ll definitely remember my time spent there forever. We ended our service week with a gumboot dancing presentation/lesson from the guys at Kliptown Youth Program. It was an experience that I can’t really describe, but it was so much fun! Throughout the week, we had all made connections with the kids that came to play with us everyday at our compound, so we thought we would have a party for them. On Saturday, we had over a hundred little kids come to enjoy games, food, face painting and a photo booth. It was the best way to end an absolutely extraordinary week!