“Life-changing” is a word that many of us Fellows in South Africa would use to describe this trip. Yet not all will use it for the same reason. Each Fellow will come back with a different story of how God has used this trip to change them from who they were when they left.

This past week, we got the opportunity to work with our partner, Living Hope, in their life skills program. We went to Masiphumelele to work with Living Hope in the shacks of the wetlands. Linda, one of our partners, led us through the shacks and told us these areas experienced extreme flooding and fires that destroyed many houses. One would think that after leaving an area like that one would be sad and depressed, but the opposite actually happened. Many of us left the area joyful and happier than when we arrived. This is because the people of Masiphumelele had the biggest smiles, the most joy, and were the friendliest people we had ever met. They invited us into their community with open arms and we got to talk with them like old friends. Afterward, as we contemplated this, one of the leaders brought these verses to us, and they made us rethink who is really rich in this world: 

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in return for his life?” 
-Matthew 16:25-26

Later that day, we got to go to Lavender Hill and serve with Rise Up. We were told we were going to be pulling weeds. This made some of us a bit disappointed because we had been looking forward to playing with the kids. However, when we arrived, we met three local kids who were so much fun and they picked weeds with us. It made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable, and we ended Monday on a high note. 

The last experience we want to share is from this past Tuesday. In the morning we got to go to Capricorn, a local village outside Cape Town. We had the opportunity to do house visits with Living Hope. Walking through a village of metal shacks, we passed by children playing soccer, teens standing around talking, and adults going about their lives. We visited six houses where we assisted with medical checkups and prayed for the patients. It was a blessing to see all of their joy amidst their struggles. One older lady we met had had a stroke and could not walk. She said to us when we asked her what she needed, ” I have Jesus, what else could I need?” This made our small group seriously contemplate our needs and desires in our day-to-day lives. 

“I have loved learning from and getting to know the local leaders of ministries in South Africa. Their love and dependence on the Lord is inspiring, their prioritization of the gospel and heart for the lost is needed, and the Lord is clearly doing great work in South Africa through His ministries and their leaders!”
-Lauren Gonzales

Being in South Africa, our hearts have found so much joy. We are thankful for the joyful smiles from strangers, the joyful sound of worshipping, the joy in holding hands, the joy in the pain, and even the joy of picking weeds. We love the joy South Africa has given us. 

Kendall Cochran and Jacob Mossberg