The Rolf Weichardt family and volunteers from Holland and Germany.
Cathy and I are completing our eight weeks in Africa tomorrow. We fly out tomorrow night for Amsterdam and hopefully see some ministry friends there on Tuesday before flying home to Memphis. It seems like we have been here for an eternity because the experiences have filled our senses.
It was very a special spending Friday morning with ministry volunteers teaching the Word of God. Actually we got to speak with them three times this past week. Their hunger for God’s Word was accented with their special request to visit their boarding home for dinner and a study. I asked them about Christmas and their diversity of experience was stark. Some would have no feeling for the day because it is not celebrated in their culture. Others called it their favorite day of the year. I marveled at the unique experiences and broad opinions in the room.
Thursday we watched a DVD of composer David Foster that had a song called The Prayer. It was sung by Andrea Bocelli and Katharine McPhee. Tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to those pristine voices and powerful message. God guide us with your grace to a place that is safe. Andrea’s blindness made the song even more sacred. That is just one moment this past week that made me thankful for our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a lot I don’t understand about what we have experienced. But I also have to say that God has exposed us to many unique incidents and unveiled some thoughts that will not settle in our minds. The ancestry worship of Africa has a strong hold in the minds of people that seem impenetrable. We have now been invited into the lives of many Africans.
My talk with a missionary who has been here since 1947 gave us great insight into these issues. The blending of religious thought and practice is very similar to the Samaritans of the Lord’s Day. That is what happens when the authority of the Bible is subjugated to the traditions of man.
Augustine once said we count on God’s grace for the past, on God’s love for our current needs and on His sovereignty for the future. That statement resonates in my mind this morning. Thank you for the continued prayers, support and guidance. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Cathy and Danny Sartin
Danny standing with several pastors in Mpumalanga.
This week has slowed our pace so we can breathe and digest many of the experiences over the last seven weeks. Memories pop to the surface like popcorn as we remember the missionaries, the pastors, the deaths, the services, the Bible Study, the people, the issues and most importantly our education about Africa.
One morning in April I was riding with Ronas Marule to pickup some pastors for a 5 am prayer meeting. I remember going down dirt roads that were laced with channels washed away by rain. We bounced up and down as we crept along the road. Then the road turned into two tire tracks with tall grass in the middle. Grass was swiping along the bottom as we drove back in the bush to pickup one pastor. There were no lights anywhere but only the car lights contrasting the inky darkness.
Ronas explained the pastor can’t walk to the road due to thugs who robbed him at gun point recently. We stopped and he looked into the darkness to see the pastor. Where is he? Then he stepped out of the darkness to open the car door. There is no running water at his home or electricity. Women in the area have to tote water for over a mile to use at home.
I also remember seeing women bending over and using home made brooms to sweep the dirt of leaves and other debris. It took me back to the home of my grandmother in Walnut Grove, Mississippi in the 1950’s. African women made brooms of certain brush that grows near water and streams. They bind the straw together with cut inner tube strips to provide a handle. It was just like my grandmother who couldn’t afford a “store bought” broom.
Another strong recollection comes from the orphans. There are so many children left on their own as both parents die from AIDS. One village area had over 100 orphans in each rural community. In Swaziland there were vegetable gardens organized for the orphans to work and grown some food. Busie’s mother who is now a widow organizes feeding for hundreds of children who have no adult left to care for them. Their troubles broke my heart and their smiles invited us in.
We have met volunteer staff here in Cape Town that come from Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland and the USA. We had a great Bible Study Friday at their office. Last night one came to me and asked if Cathy and I would come to their group home for dinner and do another study. They were excited about the study on Friday.
This last week will be full of mentoring, teaching and spending time with Weichardt family here in Cape Town. Remember Gio, a former member of Khaniysa and good friend of ours, as she lost her father yesterday. We also would covet your prayers for our family. We trust the Lord to guide you in those prayers.
Cathy & Danny Sartin
The bull elephant that charged our bus.
Last week we had a scare when an enormous bull elephant charged us with only a meter to spare. All Cathy could see in the back window were gigantic tusks and flapping ears. The bull was startled by a school bus that revved his engine and changed gears as he passed by. He raced at the bus that moved and we were sitting on the other side of the road. We were the next target as Darrryl Mather-Pike cranked his engine and pulled away. I was laughing while Cathy was scared and very upset for a while. Cathy was in the back seat with Janine and closest to danger. The elephant chased about five cars away and raced down the road after all of us. He was not happy that his mid day had been disturbed by the big bus.
This week has been fast but less demanding. We spent our last two days in Mpumalanga with Ronas and Busie Marule. They took us to a reptile exhibit several hours north of White River on the holiday after Easter. We saw black mambas, green boomslangs, cobras and many others. Again the Lord gave us favor and let us see different snakes fed rats, mice and rabbits. That only happens every few months. Cathy even got to feed a chameleon meal worms. She also had her picture taken with a python around her neck. She loved it! We will show you pictures when we return.
We left Nelspruit on Wednesday and traveled to Magaliesburg with Mark and Les Harper, missionaries from Mozambique. We had a great conversation about Mozambique and their mission work. They want us to come there next time we visit Africa. We will see what God allows. It continues to amaze us that God brings people into our paths that desire our attention.
We attended an African wedding (Blessing Mpofu) in Magaliesburg and flew to Cape Town on Thursday with Rolf. We are taking the weekend to rest with the Weichardts in Yzerfontein and catch up on our individual life issues. Yesterday a six foot mole snake appeared in the yard and we took pictures. He is very large and has obviously been eating well.
Next week will go quickly as we spend time with the Weichardts and Emelio Gassibe. What a joy to impart past experience and share encouragement with others. We are now on the last leg of this mission trip and deeply gratified as we look back on six weeks of intense activity, mentoring, teaching, speaking and sharing God’s Word. We have learned so much and God has given us favor in learning the heart of many Africans. I can’t wait to sit and share these lessons with you.
Oh by the way, over thirty people accepted Christ as their personal savior at Easter services. Dozens came forward for prayer on various issues. I continue to be amazed at how our Lord is using us. Continue to pray.
Cathy & Danny Sartin
Four decade veteran of youth ministry in churches, Youth For Christ and now is the Founder and Executive Director of Deeper Still Missions. Danny and his wife Cathy spend most of their time mentoring missionaries in Africa, Europe, Central America and North America. Future opportunities include South America and the Asia Pacific area.