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Report on Cedar College of Education outreach to Botswana
21 June 2008 - 8 July 2008


rakops_map_2008.jpg (50096 bytes)

This year the Cedar College 4th year outreach took us to Botswana. We were the guests of our British missionary friend, John Walters. The team consisted of lecturers from the college and missionaries from KwaSizabantu Mission, Tobie & Ilsa Vermaak, Jan Pienaar and Andries van Tonder and 7 fourth-year students, Galina Celick (American), Sue-Ann Currie (SA), Bawinne Keforilwe (from the congregation of John Waters in Botswana), Lieketseng Sekhonyana (Lesotho), Nthabiseng Sekhonyana (Lesotho), Daphne Solomon (SA), Lidia Veciunca (Romania).

We are safely back home after a blessed experience in Botswana. On behalf of the team, we would like to thank everyone who prayed for us or supported us financially or in any other way. May God who knows everything, reward you richly.

We have experienced God's provision, protection and presence throughout the outreach. For example, God miraculously provided in the critical situation concerning passports: Dr Jan Pienaar lost his ID and passport in the fire which burnt down the auditorium a week before departure; he received a new passport in one day. Tobie Vermaak (by mistake) found out at the Botswana border (more than 1000 km from home) that his passport has expired! We had to turn back to the nearest town. Four hours later we were at the gate again with a new passport. [Those who know the South African situation will acknowledge that these events were under Divine control.]

The situation at Rakops is a difficult one. A tradition of immorality (we were told that only 5% couples get married eventually), drunkedness, AIDS and witchcraft are rampant. The headmaster of a secondary school told us it is well-known that a manager will transfer a staff member to Rakops if his performance was not satisfactory! It is a dry semi-desert area, very dusty and far away from economic and health services.

Our host, a Cambridge graduate engineer, has laid his life down for the last 18 years in that remote village for the Lord's sake. We were deeply moved to experience the sacrifices he has made and the hard circumstances under which he has been labouring, pouring himself out for the Setswana people. There is already a preschool with 42 learners and the vision is to expand it to 200. (Due to Aids, 50% of the population is 15 years and younger.) The Lord had laid it on John's heart to reach out especially to the children. He has also started a leather shop which gives employment to 7 people, as well as a bakery - the profits of the bakery support the crèche.

The Lord has been providing in marvelous ways. For example: the handful local believers have a regular prayer meeting every morning; they felt led to pray that the Lord would provide them with a million Pulah (R1.3 million) to build proper school facilities and a church to meet in. Such money is beyond the comprehension of most of these people. But the Lord provided in the most unexpected way. There was a Dutch man who passed through Rakops and happened to rest in the leather shop. John shared with him a little bit of the work and the vision for the future. He forgot the incident later as quite a few Europeans pass through Botswana for holidays. In the meantime he applied for the necessary permits and paperwork to buy a plot of land and build on it. He went for a furlough and when he returned he received a phone call from a certain church organisation in Holland. They wanted to support missionary work and was told by this Dutch gentleman about his work. They gave him 125000 euros, which if converted is almost exactly a million Pulah. So the Lord provided and they could start building. One just stands amazed at God's working. A work has been started also in a nearby Bushmen settlement, Xere.

This outreach provided much exposure and experience by which team members were enriched. We experienced that we could unite with John and strengthen him. The Lord opened the doors while we were there that we could speak at all the schools, present the Gospel, present TLW and have puppet shows for the younger children which they enjoyed very much. At every meeting we experienced God's working.

To summarise: we went to encourage John and his congregation, and we came back greatly encouraged and inspired to serve God with even more joy and dedication and thankfulness for the abundance we have! And we trust that the tiny seeds which the team could plant will bring forth much fruit.
To God be the glory!
Ilsa Vermaak

Photos
team_2008.jpg (141935 bytes) students_2008.jpg (102980 bytes) car_full_john_2008.jpg (118871 bytes)
CCE Team new_buildings_2008.jpg (96057 bytes) school_students_2008.jpg (124635 bytes)
happy_faces_2008.jpg (103862 bytes) New Buildings for Preschool etc. at_bushmen_2008.jpg (108431 bytes) Happy School Children friendly_bushman_2008.jpg (88181 bytes)
Happy Children school_visit_2008.jpg (159872 bytes) Service under the tree at Bushmen settlement rakops_village_2008.jpg (92021 bytes) Bushman
boabab_2008.jpg (198632 bytes) School Outreach woman_bushmen_village_with_john_2008.jpg (155248 bytes) Rakops Village Houses
Huge Boabab Tree John speaking to a woman at the Bushmen settlement

 

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