Ive got a lot of thinking to do
The last couple of months have been a very busy couple of months. September started off with 5 new volunteers coming to the YDC where I live, so I was living with 6 other people. It was pretty chaotic at times, and as you can probably imagine it was a rush as to who got to the bathroom first in the mornings! I also had a weekend away with the church that I am a part of here in South Africa.
The weekend was a mens weekend away and it was an amazing time; God really challenged me that weekend with some potential future plans for my life but right now I dont know how He is going to get me there. For now though, thats not for me to worry about.
Over the last month we have all experienced the dangers of the area that we live in here in PMB. I remember when I first arrived my housemates, at the time, told me that we lived in the middle of the ghetto and this last month has really proven that.
In the last month we had the experience of a break-in. Fortunately, the thieves only broke into the back of the YDC / Boys Shelter, while everyone was asleep, and didnt actually break into the house or the shelter. The thieves did steal things: wheels to a minibus, broke into a car, and they stole the uncles clothes that were hanging out on the clothes line overnight.
We also had the scary experience of my housemate, Tania, who was held up by 2 men holding a knife to her face and asking for her phone. They took her phone that was in her pocket and she was very shaken up. She is still trying to deal with this as it only happened in the last week October. Its a very difficult thing to deal with but what is really encouraging to me is that she can see that God is in this situation and that He kept her safe.
The work that I have been doing on the streets has been a bit slow over the last couple of months but it has also been a lot! Some of the street kids have been moving around recently, and so the hotspots where they hang out have been a bit quiet. Weve found out that the older guys on the streets have been charging the younger ones money so that they can stay on the street, and so the kids havent been coming along to where they would usually hang out.
However, when we have seen the kids it has been tough at times; there have been a couple of incidences where the street kids have been doing very hard drugs such as methamphetamine, whoonga (a drug mixed with the HIV anti-retro-vial drug), and heroin instead of coming to play soccer.
I also went to another hotspot, where one time that we all went there, a boy dislocated his elbow. Instead of him going to the hospital, he majorly sniffed on his glue and had a couple of other boys pull on his arm to try and fix it back into place. After I arranged for someone to come and pick us up to go to hospital, he then refused to come with us, because he was so high from inhaling glue and was unaware of how much pain he was or wasnt in because the glue covered up the pain. So all we could do was pass him a number incase it got worse, and leave him.
That to me was a very difficult thing to do, as Im sure he should have got his arm looked at but because he refused to come with us we were unable to force him to go to the hospital. On the way back to the office on this day I remember the car being pretty quiet as we were all taking in what had just happened, and I something else caught my eye on one of the streets we driving down. A man just outside my car window was talking to someone but in doing so waving a gun around that he had in his hand.
In excitement I yelled out, That dudes got a gun!. Luckily the man didnt hear me, or even see that we were there, but it was just a smaller insight to the environment that I am surrounded by here. I hear a lot of stories about people getting shot, and even killed by guns here, occasionally we here the odd popping sound in the distant too, but that was my first visual contact of someone who had a gun. Id like to stress here too that I WAS SAFE. The man was on the street and we were on the road. I just so happened to see him.
Ive also able to assist in getting a girl from off the streets and into the girls shelter over the last couple of months. We were doing some street work, and visited one hotspot called, The Bridge, and we saw one boy who we know well and stopped to say hello to him, and then as we were talking this girl came from under The Bridge.
It turns out that we got there just in time as the boy was just about to make her his girl – Ill leave that to you to work out what I mean. We then spoke with the girl and she was really eager to come to the shelter, and because she had only been on the streets for a couple of weeks or so she didnt know about Khayalethu. When the boy realised we were taking her with us he then turned on us, and we had to leave pretty quick before anything serious happened. The girl then came back to the shelter where she stayed for roughly a month, and she is now living back home with her family.
I also had the opportunity to go and visit a rehab centre in Durban that the children go to from the boys shelter. My supervisor invited me to go to the leaving ceremony where we were able to see one of our boys complete his 4 month rehabilitation program, and then bring him back to the boys shelter.
As I arrived at the rehab centre I wasnt sure if I knew the boy that was there because he went to rehab roughly the same time as I arrived in South Africa. Upon arrival however, when he saw that I came along, he came running over to me with a huge smile on his face saying, Hi Tim! How are you?. When I saw him I realised that we had met, and that he did know me, but it must have been in my first week that I met him. It was really good to see how far he has come along. He is now back at the shelter, and back in school, and is doing really well.
I also had the opportunity to go to court where one of the older street kids had signed himself up to go to a rehab centre where he can begin to clean his life up. It was a very long and tedious day because the judge that we were waiting for was stuck in another hearing for most of the day.
So another YDC and I waited around for the best part of a day, in a cold dark and miserable corridor to get the papers filled in to send the boy off to rehab. Luckily the judge eventually arrived, and we were able to send him off to rehab; which was awesome! But Im in no hurry to go back to the court anytime soon!
I also had another couple of weeks training in the last couple of months. In the first week of training I gave a 2 hour presentation on Life on the Streets where I was able to talk about what the Outreach team do on the streets. I was able to set the scene for the morning by getting everyone to sit on the floor, on newspapers and cardboard boxes.
I also dressed up, and pretended to be a child that lives on the streets; this included pretending to smoke glue, begging for money and food, getting them to play games that were connected to children on the streets, and presenting a video that I had created with photos of actual children that live on the streets.
Im glad to say that the feedback that I got wasnt all bad either, and that people were still taking about it the day after too; it was very encouraging. The pastor of the church Im at also wanted to come and watch my presentation, as Ive got a really good relationship going on with him – it was an added stress – but he really enjoyed seeing me in the work place and giving a presentation. In the second week of training I lead the morning devotions.
We begin each day of training with some morning devotions, but since I have arrived they have felt very boring, awkward, and fake. I was able to introduce some new ideas for morning devotions, such as: a bible quiz, doing an activity on temptations then have a small bible teaching, talking about meanings in songs, and some other reflections of what bible passages mean to us as individuals where I asked the interns to share their favourite bible passages and tell us what they mean to them. This was also a really encouraging week for me, some of the interns even call me Pastor Tim, and I hope that I will be able to do the devotions again in next months training.
These last couple of months have been very draining but through all that I am doing I am continuing to seek Gods will for the direction he wants me to go. My boss here, Sally, has also told me to have an extra day off each week so that I can have a rest day and have some time to myself just so I can have some Tim time. The next couple of months will be getting busier as it approaches Christmas too, so this time off will be needed.