Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcome Home

This is the final blog of the 2013 South African mission trip. We are each going to write a little bit telling our favorite story, best memory, or most cherished moment. Thank you again for all of your support and your prayers. We have all truly appreciated it!

Today was one of my favorite days here in South Africa. We had so much to do but it was all so rewarding. One of those things was visiting the preschool. I just love the kids and how happy they all are. It filled my heart with joy getting to hold them and play with them. My favorite memory from this trip, however, will be from the housewarming party. All of us joined in singing Jesus Loves Me. It brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget that moment of us all worshiping Him. Amazing!

Today was incredibly rewarding . We actually finished our house. We went to the man's metal shack that was getting our house and then we walked to his new home. His first time with plumbing, electricity etc.

I am very tired from the hard work but today clarifies why we come here!!!!
Amen!!   Praise God!!!!

I was once told that compared with the Afrikaans language, English has so many more words and adjectives. Even so, when working alongside of the South African people I often find myself completely speechless. My heart is full from....slapping cement on bricks and laughing with the South African workers; walking through Philemon and Emily's mukuku (shack) and then taking them to the newly finished Mosaic house where they will soon live with their two foster children and watching the tears come to their eyes as they saw their new home; visiting children I worked with at the preschool and getting to talk with them in English for the first time; seeing God at work in our team and in the South African people...these are just a few! Thank you all for your continued prayers for this amazing partnership.

I have to admit that it can get quite lonely here in South Africa sometimes, especially when I feel like I might be the only American within 5 surrounding towns, so it is always a blessing to have a whole team of friends from home visiting!! It's so much fun to watch everyone take in everyday life in South Africa. My favorite conversations are always with those who have never been here before, watching them discover the realities that face South Africans and comparing them to our lives back home. My prayer for the team here now is that this experience will bless them even more richly than they have blessed the ones that they're serving here. I know that this will be true.

Today was a incredibly rewarding day that put our entire trip to South Africa into perspective. We started off by seeing some of the happiest and most carefree faces I've even seen at a local preschool in Ikageng. From here we did an HGTV style finish on our home to get it done in time for our amazing family who would be moving into the home to see.  After seeing their current house and then welcoming them into their new home so many emotions were flying that just made the trip a truly amazing experience!

Today made it all come full circle. We started off the day by spending some quality time with the local preschool, such an amazing way to start the day. The kids pour out such emotion and joy, it is contagious. A great pep start to the day! Power painting started! Once we rushed the painting, it was time to get the place ready for the housewarming party. Being able to see Philemon and his place before the transformation was very eye opening. Being able to see the appreciation on the faces of the family was the most rewarding thing I have ever seen. This has been such an incredible journey and I will always think back on the family and be so thankful that I was able to be part in making a differece in making a family's life one step closer to the dream for a better life.


By now you have a pretty good idea of how our first day went! But I can't explain in words how moving today was. This is my first trip to South Africa working with the Mosaic, so I wasn't quit sure what I was in for when I arrived. As you have seen from the previous blogs it was definitely some long hours, sore muscles and overall physically draining work days. Today made all of that worth it. Seeing Philemon and his families faces when they saw the house that we had built, brought me to tears and summed everything this trip was about. It put everything into perspective for me. The reason we were here, all we take for granite, what I can do for the future,...really everything. Overall, I am moved, I am beyond grateful for this experience and I am looking forward to Dr. Dick's therapy session tonight!

Today was another great day in South Africa.  After a frantic rush to finish the house, we were able to show off what we had accomplished (from a physical point of view) to the new homeowners.  We talked to the parents, Philemon and Emily, about their adopted kids.  Philemon mentioned that they could not have kids on their own and had wondered why for many years.  Then he looked at his youngest adopted girl and said now he knows why.

Along with the normal housewarming gifts, we gave the family a Bible and a picture of our team building their house.  We told them that God loves them and that we love them too and will be praying for them.  I mentioned that we accomplished a lot from a physical point of view, but what I love about this trip is letting less fortunate people know that there are people that care about them and love them.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you." John 15:4

Though each day brings challenges, the joy of being in this place and with these remarkable people, has given me, yet again, a glimpse of the kingdom of God here on earth. The pastor on Sunday mentioned this verse from John 15 and it describes what my prayer has been for this experience - to dwell in each moment; to remain aware of God's presence during our work and fellowship; and to rejoice that God is living in us and shining out of us as we serve alongside His people in South Africa.  
Our team left the Mosaic building site today (our South African coworkers were putting on the roof and installing doors) to spend the day with our friend, Aunt Suzie at the Ikageng Day Care Center. Our work task was to paint the outside of the building and install homemade planters (recycled tires!), but much more was accomplished in my heart and soul, listening to Aunt Suzie pray, worshipping with elderlies, and hearing the laughter from our team.
As you will see from the photo, the garden at the Ikageng Day Care Center, has had quite a facelift. Apparently, the birds and rats have been causing destruction to the wide range of fruit and vegetable plants and the new netting has been very effective in protecting the crops!
After a full day of painting, we packed up and headed to the Mosaic community center to participate in the after school activities. Tony and I worked with the children inside on homework and the rest of the team spent time talking with the children and playing soccer. 

It is the end of yet another wonderful day and we are so thankful to be here and so in awe of how God is working here. Thank you for your prayers!


Update - Sights and Sounds From Ikageng

It was brought to my attention that the video I posted yesterday - Sights and Sounds of Ikageng - did not work. I believe I changed the settings properly so you all should be able to see it now.  Someone please let me know if you still can't see it. Thanks!

Sights and Sounds of Ikageng

Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Monday from South Africa! After two days off, today was a long grueling yet very productive day of work! This morning started early with breaking bricks, and laying out the foundation for a "car park" or  a "parking spot" for the house. It was tedious work but once it was finished it looked great!

Next portion of the day was much more challenging. We laid sod to create a yard for the house. The sod was dropped off and it was our job to move it accordingly and place it on the dirt that we raked level. I think we were all happy when this job was completed! Our muscles are sore but the outside of the house is really coming together.

Finally, we moved onto painting. We painted a base coat throughout the majority of the house and the shutters and tomorrow the main coat will be applied (which will be yellow)! We got to interact with the other African workers today which is always fun! We missed them from having a couple of days off. We all ate lunch together including the exchange students from Germany who joined us. It was pretty cool, we had people from all over the world all together for the same reason.

Until tomorrow...

Sights and Sounds from Ikageng

Below is a link to a video of some pictures I took around Ikageng and the house we are building set to the singing and preaching from the second worship service yesterday.
Sights and Sounds from Ikageng
 I really hope you love it as much as I do!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Day for the Lord and the Mosaic Kids

Today was an incredible day.  We started off our day at Potchefstroom Methodist Church.  The worship service was alive with Jordan and Jen playing in the praise band and the local girls and boys high school filling the congregation.  One of the songs they played was Hillsong's Hosanna. That song includes the phrase "break my heart for what breaks yours."  That happens to me every time I come to South Africa.  Another thing that stuck out to me was an analogy that the pastor used in his sermon.  He said that people will often see a shiny piece of glass laying on the ground and think about how beautiful it is.  But what they fail to realize is that it is the sun that gives the glass its beauty.  It is God who gives all and provides all.

After the service at the Methodist church, we were ready for another one.  So we headed to Ikageng and met up with Nkosana, an incredible young pastor at a Dutch Reform church (and spiritual leader for the Mosaic families).  While we could not understand most of the service, we all felt the Lord's presence as the whole congregation sang and danced.  There was even a young boy (less than 2 years old) that was keeping the beat by banging his hand on a clapping pad.

In the afternoon we took 15 kids from the Mosaic homes to KFC and then to see Despicable Me 2.  For many of them, it was the first time that they had seen a movie.  It is humbling to think about how blessed we are to be born in the US and how much we take for granted.  Needless to say, the kids had a fantastic time.

It was a great day of worship, fellowship, and relaxation.

In Him,
Tony Brantzeg

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A walk on the wild side

Our Saturday in Potch was a little different than our usual routine. We started our day off by visiting Kohra Lion Farm. Here we were able to see the adult lions feeding on some "fresh meat" which was very interesting but a little tough of our stomachs. We went through seeing the stages of the lion lifespan and even had a chance to hold the lion cubs.

After our adventures at the Lion Farm we had the opportunity to do some "American" things such as shopping at the local mall and eating some delicious pizza! From here we attempted to see a rugby game in person, however time doesn't seem to be as valued here and they last minuted changed the start time so we showed up after the rugby game was finished.  Instead some of our local hosts took us to a local sports bar where we were able to see the very popular South African Springboks play and win in a championship Rugby game against Argentina.

Today was a very nice change of pace and a great chance to be able to experience how other South Africans live their daily lives.

Until tomorrow....