May 24, 2008|
In life, people have a lot of expectations. I didn't know what I expected for this trip, but I didn't have to think twice when I
was asked to consider going. All I knew was that this adventure was what God had for me this summer.
I expected to go to a place that
was completely unfamiliar, where the people are very reserved and, what would seem to me as distant and unfriendly. I was prepared to
do my very best to present myself, my college, and my God in the very best light I could, and to always be especially careful of my
testimony, my actions, and my words. What I don't think I was prepared for was how most of my expectations were exceeded and my
preconceptions were disproved.
To me Cape Town seemed very European, not the African jungle that everyone expects when they hear
"Africa"; The food was amazing and the water not only drinkable, but also very good. It did take some trust building, but once our
acquaintance was established, the people were very receptive to us. By the end of the first week, we were referring to the chalets
at the camp we were staying at as "home." I didn't expect to be so blessed by the people that I was there to try to be a blessing
to, and I certainly didn't expect to come home to the States having left my new African family behind. I never expected to be offered
a place to stay should I ever have the opportunity to return to South Africa, or to be told by one teen, "If I could buy you all so
you could stay here, I would."
The beauty of God's creation and the miracle it is that He chooses me to love most out of all the
wonderful and awe-inspiring things He has created was ever before my face and completely humbled and thrilled me. I have never
known ministry purer than this experience, and God has definitely opened the possibility in my mind of continuing this kind of
work throughout my life. Praise be to God for all He has done!
Before we left the U.S., we were told that the people would be reserved and not show much emotion towards our concerts and ministry.
However, we found the opposite to be true when we arrived. The pastors were all astonished as well. The people welcomed us with smiles,
especially after we sang. They were extremely hospitable and wanted to make our stay as comfortable as possible.
The music we sang opened a lot of doors and windows to begin conversations and make contacts for the African pastors and their churches.
This was an extreme blessing for me to be able to use something as small as a song to attract someone's attention and point them to Christ
and our reason for being in their country. Also, because we stayed for the most part in one location, we built relationships and friendships
with the pastors and others in the churches and schools in which we ministered. I never expected to build such tight relationships and miss
them so much when I returned to the States.
I also built tighter relationships with others on the team. I got to know the members better in the African venue as we ministered,
hung out, and toured together. I look forward to developing these friendships more when returning to CCC in the fall. There were so many
more blessings, things I can't even explain, but God truly blessed this trip and through it, I have grown in Him and look forward to growing
more and more because of my experiences in Africa.
May 21, 2008
What a wonderful opportunity God gave our team. To see the work that God is doing through the lives of the missionaries and pastors
in South Africa is humbling. Much of the work there stems from the faithfulness of Marc and Judy Blackwell and Dave and Julie Rudolph.
We've known these missionaries for years, but seeing their ministry first hand was a huge blessing, and will change our prayers for them.
We've been talking with the Rudolphs for years about making a trip. Praise the Lord He made it possible.
I personally enjoyed the interaction with the many ladies that attended the Bible Studies and Seminars. They were very open and
responsive to the Word of God. It was a blessing to share with them and to get to know them. After seeing them at the ladies meetings,
then at the concerts, and church services, I felt I made new friends -- sisters in Christ. What a joy.
Another blessing for me was spending time with the members of our CCC team. Having our son Nathan make the trip too was an added bonus.
It was great to spend time with him on the mission field. To see the team members perform time after time and give it their all was a
blessing. Everyone was tired and travel weary and yet all were a testimony for Christ in both their attitudes and use of their talents
and gifts for God's glory. We heard many comments on their professionalism and humble attitudes. They were a great testimony for
Christ and CCC.
We laughed a lot! The teasing was merciless! It didn't matter if you were the Chair of the Music Department (after all, the whole trip
was "ALL ABOUT CRAIG"), VP for Financial Affairs, Head of HR, VP for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Development -- all were
equally ridiculed by all. My little slip of the tongue upon arrival at the camp was brought up several times. In my tiredness I said
that I hoped I would see some Bamboos (instead of Baboons) -- well everyone had fun with that. Dave Barfield quietly admitted
later on that he had made the same slip -- but did he take ribbing for that? -- NOOOO. He got plenty of ribbing for other things:-)
We put many miles on 2 vans -- Grey Fox (the greater), and Red Squirrel (the lesser). The "little bumps and bruises" to the vans
were a testimony of how difficult it was to maneuver them through the narrow, curvy, hilly, roads. Our drivers did a great job --
even with all the back seat drivers.
We saw God working while in South Africa. I can't wait to hear about how He will continue to work as a result of this trip.
To God be the Glory -- great things He has done (and will do)!
May 18, 2008
We are in our final day of our trip and pretty much worn out at this point. We have had 22 meetings most of which have been concerts.
In 13 days, this has been quite intense.
Friday, the team was able to go sightseeing to Cape Point -- perhaps one of the most beautiful
spots on earth. They were thrilled with the views and got to see penguins. They were not able to go up Table Mountain as the mountain
has been covered in mist or clouds almost every day we have been here.
Of course, the mountain was clear yesterday, Saturday, but we
had two concerts and not enough time to go up on the cable cars. I spent the day with different missionaries and taught lessons. I did
get to see my cousin for a few hours and then met up with the
team at Blue Downs for a concert that combined 3 churches. The people were receptive and opened their hearts to us. We had a great time
of ministry and just loved being in this lower class area ministering to folks hungry for the Word and good music. It was uplifting
to the team.
I spent Friday night with the Meyers, the first SA supported missionaries in this fundamental group, and enjoyed my time with them.
Their son, Nicholas, is a fabulous musician and I was able to spend time teaching him piano and looking over his compositions.
He has worked with Faye Lopez some and is really doing a great job with his music.
Saturday was our big mall concert. The mall advertised us as Maestros of Music - a little exaggerated perhaps. They set us up in a
courtyard in the mall that opened up to the upper level. There was a huge crowd there to hear us and we sang Italian, Broadway and sacred.
It was a great opportunity to make contacts for the local pastors, and many spoke to us after about our quality of music. The response to the
team has been overwhelming both at the churches and in the secular venues.
Saturday night we ministered back at Everglen and did a wrap-up seminar/concert with Marc Blackwell. Of course the hour was followed
with an amazing tea with a full spread of treats to eat. We said our sad goodbyes to the wonderful folks there with promises to return.
Here are some of the comments from the pastors and our time here in SA:
"You have given me inspiration to work on my own
voice so that I can sing better for the Lord. One man in my congregation has not played the piano for 18 years. Craig and Nathan have
inspired him to play again. His wife
woke up a few nights ago and heard the piano playing and found her husband at the keyboard." - Pastor Chris
"Malcolm, an unsaved man in Sedgefield, came to the concert last Monday. He called me yesterday and said that the music was professional
and inspirational. He wants to meet me for coffee and talk more when I return to Sedgefield this next weekend." - Dave Rudolph
We have received comment after comment about how our music has touched their hearts and inspired them to listen to and work for a
higher quality of music in their homes and churches.
Today we have already had 2 services with one more tonight. Our energy is low but we are still excited to stand and minister in song.
Again, more goodbyes will happen and we all feel the tug of the Lord for this field. Already 2 different students have said that they
will return to South Africa -- possible as tentmakers. Others want to return on a team like this as soon as the next one is organized.
Each missionary has indicated to me that they need help in music and desire us to come long term. We shall see what the Lord does in
all our hearts as we return (that is, if I get on that plane with the team! oh yes, I do have a family back in Florida! Robin, pack the
This has been an emotional trip for me as I have returned 'home' and realized how magnificent Africa is, how this is where my roots lie,
and especially how God is working in this great land in a mighty way. It will be sad to say goodbyes to the Rudolphs (who have been true
servants, giving of themselves tirelessly) and my relatives. I know my Mom will find it hard to get on the plane too.
We will return and become part of our normal lives again, but with hearts that are changed and that have truly seen into the hearts of
these gentle people, seen their needs, and shared their burdens. Our team will take these things with them even if they never return
to this soil.
Again, thank you for your prayers. To God be the Glory, GREAT things He hath done.
May 16, 2008
We are overwhelmed with what God has been doing here in the Cape area. The tears have been flowing as God has worked in the hearts of so
many South Africans and indeed in our own. Since I last wrote another week has slipped by and we are entering our final 4 days of
ministry. We still have 8 concerts to go, so there is still much to do. We have been stretched, we are worn out, but we are elated with
God's working and for His hand on our ministries. Dr. Burggraff asked me last night at our team devotions, if this trip had worked
out as I had envisioned. It was hard for me to respond as the emotion of what God has done in this team rose within me. We praise
Him for using us in His chosen way.
Last Saturday we hosted a seminar at the Paardeberg Mountain Retreat (where we are staying). About 60 people came up to the camp to
hear Dr. Burggraff teach 2 sessions on Contemporary Trends in Christianity. Mrs. Burggraff and Mrs. Livingston taught split
sessions to the ladies. Our team took care of activities and fun time with the children and some of the girls loved taking care
of the babies and toddlers in the nursery. It was a rather stormy day but we were still able to accomplish all that was set up.
We ended the day with a traditional braai (barbecue). We ended the evening with the Xhosa church singing traditional hymns in
their native tongue -- amazing to hear and stirring to the soul. We further bonded with these great Afrikaans, English and
Black South Africans.
With eternity in view,
Sunday was an early start as we headed for our first of three services. Everglen Baptist (which Dave and Julie started and then
handed over to a South African man that they trained in their Bible institute) was at 8:30 a.m., and we had a great service of music
and teaching the Word. A traditional tea time provided a nice interlude between services as we then ministered in the same building
at 10:15 a.m. to Tygerberg Gemeente Baptiste -- the Afrikaans church that the Blackwells have been leading. Our team is very much
used to 'tea time' now and they have become very South African in drinking gallons of rooibos tea and 'biscuits' (cookies). Even
the die-hard Starbucks fans are solely drinking tea at every chance. Our service at Tygerberg was very moving -- these
traditionally reserved Afrikaners came out of their shell and really sang with gusto and were very expressive as we ministered in song.
We ended our program with How Great Thou Art sung in Afrikaans -- I sang the verses and had taught the team the chorus
before we left on the trip. By the end of the song, most were wiping their eyes and moved beyond words. The glorious sound
of our group, the fact we were singing in their native tongue, and the moving of the Spirit to excellent music again showed us God
working here in South Africa - a moment to never forget. Dr. Burggraff's messages touched the heart as he preached the Word with
grace and depth. We did make it back to the camp for a much-needed nap and then set out for a new work close to Everglen that is
actually being held in a memorial park - beautiful building with great acoustics. About 3 churches joined together for that service,
so we had a full congregation to minister to. Another blessed time of lifting our voices to the Lord.
Monday we left early to head up the coast to the Garden Route, where the Rudolphs have been ministering bi-monthly for the past 3
years. Their heart is to move to the Wilderness/George/Sedgefield/Knysna area within the next year. Dave already has a small church
gathered in Sedgefield with Bible studies started in Knysna and George. Currently there are 2 families raising support in the States
to come and assist Dave on his team within the next year. An exciting vision is unfolding.
The Garden Route is named for the beauty
of the land but our team was not expecting such grandeur and majesty. The mountains, the plains, the ocean -- indescribable. Many of
us have purchased coffee table books of the area to show you the pictures for we cannot describe to you the wonders of the Cape.
This really has to be the most beautiful place on earth -- and I have traveled a lot of this world and can fully declare this. I think
our team was speechless much of the ride. Dave set up wonderful accommodations for us (I was with 2 of the team members in a cottage on a friend's
estate -- the man lives in France half the year and in Wilderness the other half - so you can imagine how nice it was. The gardens alone
were out of a magazine.)
We had our first Variety Concert in Sedgefield at the school hall that Dave Rudolph built for the community.
We had a full house (around 300) and what an amazing audience. I started my intros saying that I was from Salisbury, Rhodesia -- that
alone brought the house down with clapping and cheering. The audience was with us each step of the way (even when the lights went
out a few times because of a power issue) and was responsive to our program. We started with opera arias, Italian Neapolitan songs,
moved to Broadway and then ended with sacred. Dr. Burggraff's challenge was appropriate and heart-touching. Dave had response cards
ready and many signed them which is unusual for this culture. The team really stepped up to the plate and the concert (2 hours of singing)
was incredible. Even Dave and Julie were bowled over by the professionalism and polish of what we did. I was thrilled with the
group and with their performance. The people loved the group sacred numbers and again, many were touched to tears with our Afrikaans
How Great Thou Art. The handshakes and comments after showed us what an impact we had on them. This is a huge kick start for
Dave and his ministry in this area. 300 people know who he is and what he stands for. Pray that this concert and the contacts made
lead to amazing things for Sedgefield, the people and the work of the Lord. Dave now wants to provide a quality concert series
at least twice a year and to use this tool to serve and reach the community.
Tuesday we traveled down to Knysna and spent a few relaxing hours at the Waterfront. Again, a spectacular venue that is a mix of
California and Baltimore Harbor but even better. We spent time at the hall we were to perform in that night -- we had 2
pianos at this venue which we were thrilled about as Nathan Burggraff (my student who is now at Eastman) and I had prepared sacred and
classical 2 piano works. We ate a home-cooked meal at some of Dave's new friends -- they have a wonderful home that is on a cliff-top
overlooking the beach and Indian Ocean -- again, very hard to describe the beauty and majesty of this area.
We performed for almost
2 1/2 hours that evening to around 300 again. Not as warm an audience as Sedgefield but still responsive. I was able to see
2 different families that I know from my days in Rhodesia (the Mainwarings and the Hodgsons) so that was very special for me. A
wonderful concert again with poignant words from Dr. Burggraff and challenge from Dave Rudolph. Even though Knsyna has a concert
series, (including names from Juilliard etc.) many said our concert was the best they had ever had. We were thrilled that our labors had
paid off and that we were shining for the Lord and for Clearwater.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we left for Cape Town. The group stopped at a private game park and took a 2 hour game safari to see many of the
traditional animals. They loved it. We arrived late afternoon in Durbanville and prepared for a combined Everglen/Tygerberg singspiration.
The singing was amazing that evening. The voices raised in unison, singing English verses and then Afrikaans, stirred us
all. Interspersed with specials we ended the evening with a song Julie requested, Holy is He. What a musical feast! We taught them
Complete In Thee and In Christ Alone -- honestly, you would have thought they had known these songs for years. The power in
the singing was something we have not heard in our own singing back home for a while.
Today is a slower day as the team slept in and slowly emerged from their chalets. The Burggraffs fly home today as Dr. B has to
join the summer ministry team as they minister in the States. We will sing at the mall this afternoon and then at another mission
church tonight. The weekend will be very busy with other ministry opportunities. I need to fit in seeing my relatives again amidst
further meetings with the missionaries and pastors as well as teaching more lessons. One person asked me if I sleep at all on
this trip -- my answer is I will sleep when I am home.
Thank you for your prayers and for your support. This trip would not have been
anything without prayer. We are thrilled to see God working. We are thankful for safety, for health and for a people that we are truly
united with in spirit.
May 15, 2008
Last Friday's youth rally was well received, and the interaction between the kids and the team exceeded our expectations.
At first the teens stood back and waited to be told what to do, especially the girls since some of the guys were chucking
balls in a dodgeball game. Once Caleb started the organized games, we had opportunities to reconnect with kids we had met
earlier in the week, and meet their friends and sponsors.
Dave Barfield presented a challenge on Psalm 23; how God is our
refuge and place of rest. We sang our song, "Sing Out With Splendor," and the kids were glued to the group as we sang. We
were told at a later time that at least one of the kids came to a church service we were holding, because he heard us sing at
the rally. God has given us seemingly random opportunities and connections with people, though we know that nothing is random,
and God had each situation planned.
I've been given the austere responsibility of driving for quite a bit of our trip, and I must say that it has been an exercise in prayer.
Thankfully, God has been very gracious in keeping us safe thus far. While driving on Monday to the town of Wilderness, we were
able to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world--mountains, valleys, storms, gardens, farms. It was all quite stunning.
And I had a front row seat as the driver.
At one point, I was reminded of a song in our repertoire, "I Sing the Mighty Power of God." Phrases like
"There's not a plant nor flower below but makes Thy glory known. And clouds arise and tempest blow by order from Thy throne" took on a
new meaning as we drove through the awesome terrain. (I confess I did break out into singing. Hopefully, those in the back seats weren't
concerned about how much I was paying attention to the "wrong side" of the road.)
The only words to describe the beauty here are
"dramatically stunning." Really, words can't quite express and pictures can't quite capture the amount of beauty God has concentrated here.
Nevertheless, as we have journeyed along the various highways and roads, we persist in attempting to relate the scenery to various places
we have seen in our previous travels. The list has grown long and humorous, so I thought you might like to see what we think South
Africa reminds us of: Aspen, Colorado; Nova Scotia; Big Sur, California; Northern England, France; Salsalito, California; India;
Colorado Springs; Inner Harbor Baltimore; Arizona; Australia; New Jersey (now that's flattering); Monaco; Scotland;
Northern Wisconsin (????); Montana; Wyoming; Israel-Jordan; The Alps; Los Angeles (minus the smog); Randy's Mother-in-law's (Not
sure if that last one is a good thing or not.)
Needless to say, this has been a memorable trip of wonderful ministry and awe-inspiring scenery. Thanks so much for your prayers.
May 12-13, 2008
Very early we departed for Sedgefield and beyond. This is known as the Garden Route - approximately 300 miles east of Cape Town. It runs
between the coastline of Southern Africa and a range of mountains. The drive there is breathtaking however, it is a spiritually dark region.
Dave Rudolph wants to gather missionary couples to join as a team along with him, establishing churches in Wilderness, Sedgefield
George and Knysna. Presently there are 2 seedling church plants in Sedgefield and Knysna. The purpose of our going was to
expose the community to the gospel and these new works.
The church in Sedgefield is held in a school auditorium which the Rudolphs aided the school in building in order to have a place to meet.
Dave and Julie spent weeks promoting the CCC team and our auditorium was filled to capacity--over 250 people. Dr Ralston introduced the
team and their program which consisted of 3 parts-classical, Broadway and Sacred sections and a brief gospel presentation. There
were a few electrical disturbances during the concert, but the team kept going in spite of them.
There was a constant applause and ovation, and even though the evening lasted 2 1/2 hours, the crowd wanted more, not wanting to leave. The
comments can be summed up in the words of Bart, who said, " I've lived in Sedgefield for 17 years and have never experienced anything like this -
this was absolutely wonderful."
In the closing comments Dave Rudolph explained that in the months ahead he and his family will be moving from Cape Town to the Garden
Route area. A couple of elderly ladies misunderstood what he said and came up to him all excited because they thought the entire team
was moving to Sedgefield. The Rudolphs would certainly like that.
The following evening we repeated the concert in the town of Knysna with a few variations. This time we were able to present dueling
pianos by Nathan Burggraff and Craig Ralston.
We were able to see many area sites. Knysna, a population of 50,000 is centered in one of the most beautiful areas of South Africa.
There is great diversity. Just across the hill-within sight of a very affluent area
there is an AIDS/HIV pandemic. It is a spiritual vacuum.
A month ago the cultural music society got word of the concert and began to promote it. The venue was the largest church in the city and
there were over 300 on the main floor and in the balcony. The group was at it's best, not only sounding great, but looking wonderful
in formal wear and full concert regalia. When Craig introduced himself as a native Rhodesian, both crowds cheered and applauded.
Dr. Golson provided appropriate humorous relief.
Earlier that day, the team stopped in a bank to conduct some business. Because of the
help and graciousness of the tellers, the team sang to them, generating more interest in the concert.
May 11, 2008
Two churches share facilities--The Everglen Baptist Church which was planted by the Rudolphs, and the Tygerberg Baptiste started by the
Blackwells. The early service with the English speaking congregation enjoyed a Mothers' Day tea and then was followed by the
Afrikaans service. The team sang several pieces in each, but the highlight of
the Afrikaans service was the How Great Thou Art--sung in Afrikaans.
There was not a dry eye. Someone said they had not had anyone learn their language for a trip like this.
The team assisted by teaching Sunday School (the equivalent of our Junior Church) during each of the services. Mary taught
3 year olds to 6th grade for the Afrikaans who don't learn English until they are older. Wessel, (a CMI intern and now a friend of the team)
served as translator, so the story was told twice.
Mary Clater and Vicki Livingston
The Sunday evening service was held by a combined group from a couple of the newest church plants who do not as yet have a regular evening service.
The concert was held in a new mausoleum--great acoustics.
Everywhere we've gone, the people have been tremendously receptive, whether they are church goers or not. We had people attending just to
hear the team, so that created new contacts for the churches. Our prayer now is that there will be open doors for the churches to follow up.
May 9, 2008
We have only been in South Africa for 4 days, but it seems like we have accomplished 4 weeks of ministry opportunities.
What a whirlwind trip it has been so far. We left Sunday, May 4 for Cape Town, South Africa via Washington DC and Johannesburg.
The flight on South African Airways was 15 hours but comfortable and great service.
Johannesburg airport was a mess as they are
re-building the international terminal, but we did manage to make our way to the domestic terminal in time for our flight to Cape
Town. We arrived in Cape Town a little late and travel weary but with all our luggage which was great. We were met by Dave and
Julie Rudolph and my Uncle Jim and cousin Fiona and family. It was great to see everybody again -- since I haven't been back to
Africa for 15 years. We picked up our 2 Toyota 10-passenger vans (extremely comfortable and much nicer than anticipated) and
then headed off to Paardeburg Mountain Retreat to settle into our chalets for the night. It was very strange driving on the 'wrong'
side of the road again -- there was much hilarity as I made some errors along the way.
The camp chalets are very comfortable and not at all what we expected. The chongololos (centipedes) abound and we needed bug spray
as soon as possible. We were warned about the baboons and to make sure that our windows were closed before they opened them and
tore up our belongings. The ladies needed no more information on that subject -- they immediately complied.
With our hearts full,
Our first morning began slowly for most of the team. One of our team members, Nathan Burggraff, arrived early from Europe and
Mrs. Burgggraff and Mrs. Livingston headed off for a ladies Bible study. The team left around 10 a.m. for Durbanville (about 40 minutes
away) and we shopped for supplies at Pick and Pay and had lunch at a local mall. The team members had a hard time understanding the
South African accent, but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it and fell back into some of my own African speaking patterns.
The friendliness of all the service employees, primarily Black, deeply impressed us as we were served on the flights, airports
and now in the shops and restaurants by a people that are gentle, kind and truly service-oriented. By the time we left the mall and
drove in the city, out team was asking why I ever left Africa. They all want to move here.
The afternoon was spent at Everglen Baptist Church in team orientation led by Dave Rudolph. We learned about the history of South
Africa, the cultural issues and religious struggles that have been taking place both currently and historically. It was a learning and
growing time for all of us. We quickly learned what the team pastors here expected and what we needed to be cautious about in our
ministry (nothing new for me or the team really since I had prepped them all about most of this before -- but good to hear again.)
We had a wonderful dinner meal at the Rudolphs in their lovely house and enjoyed walking in their beautiful garden in the cool breeze.
The weather has been cool, but lovely so far. We do hope for more sun though.
Our first evening began with Dr. Burggraff bringing part I of his seminar on worship. There was a good crowd in attendance, 50-60.
We were told to expect the people to be friendly but not open or responsive (typical South African demeanor). Instead, after the
group opened with 2 songs and Dr. Burggraff taught, they were open, enthusiastic, welcoming and a real delight. The pastors were
amazed at their response.
We also taught piano, voice and composition lessons to various church members. Two young men just blew us away. Nicholas Meyer is a
young man with amazing piano skills and an incredible talent for composing.
I have been thrilled to work with him and hope to see his music in print in the U.S. Another student, Nathan, from the Blue Downs
school, is 14 and has an incredible voice, piano skills and is composing well too. What great things they are doing and will do for
the church music programs down here. We are delighted to be helping them in a small way.
We began our second morning early by leaving camp in the dark to get to a school concert at 8 a.m. We drove through the mountains
without really seeing the scenery and soon arrived in the township of Blue Downs. CWE has built a wonderful hall there that is
used for the school and the church. We gave an hour concert in song and testimony for about 35 colored children (one of SA's minority groups
are termed 'Colored' -- a mix of black/Malay/white created this race). They were the most attentive students we have ever sung to and
it was a joy to see their wide-eyed faces as we sang to the Lord. The team did an hour training session on the role of good
music in a Christian's life -- the students responded well to this.
We then drove across town to Durbanville to another
Christian school where we did another hour program followed by an hour of drama and question/answers with the upperclassmen on
music and choices. There was great interaction with the juniors and seniors and we enjoyed getting to hear their questions and
thoughts about music and the struggles they are facing. After a short rehearsal we taught more lessons, had a pizza dinner at the
Rudolphs and then returned to Everglen for our second seminar evening. Again, a wonderful time of ministering in song and Word and
then building relationships.
Thursday began early again (by this time we started wearing thin as we were getting to bed late and up early, but this was
our last day of such a grueling schedule) and we had the great opportunity to minister in a private secular school, Chester House.
Dave and other missionaries have been making inroads into this school but it has been a tough field with very rich, non-Christian
students. We only had 30 minutes so made a focused effort to present our mission, the College's mission and the fact that we sing
because we know God personally. The students were respectful and somewhat responsive. The principal attends Everglen and told us
that teachers had made comments like 'I wish we could start every morning like that' so we had an impact.
Mid-day we arrive at Tygerberg Mall and performed a 40 minute concert in the mall. Many were interested and stopped to listen --
the missionaries made good contacts and handed out their business cards to those interested. We sang a variety of classical,
Broadway and sacred. It was well received and we look forward to another 2 mall concerts next week. Pray that we can make more
contacts and really see some fruit from this venture.
Our last seminar was that night and we again taught many private lessons. It is exciting being one-on-one with the South Africans and
learning about their lives. Being able to help in any small way is a delight and privilege.
Today, Friday, was our first morning of sight-seeing. We were disappointed to find the valleys covered in mist and a blanket of
fog over Cape Town and Table Mountain. I was able to spend the day with my relatives while Dave took the team to the Waterfront and
various venues along the coast. The fog never lifted enough for the team to see Table Mountain so we hope to see it next week.
This evening the team hosted a youth meeting at a local rec center. There were over 60 teens and sponsors and a great time was
had by all. It was great to see so many young people here involved in these great youth programs.
Over all, the team has done a wonderful job.
We have had a rough schedule so far with more intense days to come. But I asked Dave to schedule things this way as I wanted maximum
exposure and opportunity since this is a missions endeavor and not just a 'cultural exchange.' Attitudes are great and team unity is
awesome. We are focused and giving our all, despite tiredness.
We will get some rest tomorrow as we can sleep in before we host a
Contemporary Trends seminar at the camp and then a cookout following. Sunday we will have 3 services and Monday we leave for destinations
up the coast. More about that later.
It has been a joy to see months of work and labor come to being and to see fruit already. The Lord is using us in a powerful way --
not because of who we are but because of who He is and what He has allowed us to do. We are thankful for safe travels, great vehicles,
lovely accommodations, no sickness, delicious food, receptive hearts, beautiful songs and powerful teaching. Pray that our ministry
might continue to be strong and that our town hall concerts next week are opportunities for opening the doors for the Rudolphs new ministry
up the coast. Thank you for you part. Your prayers are crucial. Continue to pray.
Craig Ralston (for Team South Africa)
May 8, 2008
Anna DeWitt, Dr. Ralston, Dr. Golson, Nate Burggraff, Brad Schick and I all had the opportunity to give various music lessons in the
areas of voice, piano, composition and brass last night. It was an exciting and nerve-racking experience for me, as this was my first
experience in giving voice lessons.
I was assigned by Dr. Ralston to coordinate the female voice lessons for
the trip, and Anna was
assigned to assist me in giving lessons. This task was difficult to prepare for, as there were so many elements that were unknown,
such as how many women would sign up, what their knowledge and skill level would be, and what exactly we needed to bring with us for
materials. We were told they would be shy and uncomfortable singing in front of us, especially by themselves, so we had to prepare
in our minds to be very encouraging and think of ways to overcome that.
A group of five African women who enjoy singing together signed up for lessons, and we met with them last night. We met together as a
group to go over the basics of singing together as a voice class, then split into two groups; Anna worked with two women and I with three.
I had the opportunity to share with them what music means to me as a believer, that out of all the gifts God has given us, music is the
thing I enjoy the most. The African people have a natural ear for music, and though they know nothing of notated music, it is in their
souls. These women have natural talent and want to be able to sing as an ensemble in their church. We asked to hear a traditional song
that they all knew, so they sang in beautiful three part harmony what may have been their national anthem in Afrikaans.
I have found that everywhere I go in the world, people are basically the same, they just do things a little differently.
Meeting Christians so far away from my world who have the same desires to follow God is such a blessing and an awakening
concept of what missions is all about. The focus of this group is sharing what we know to be current global issues in worship,
specifically in the area of music, as well as sharing our music education. The people are very excited to learn from us, but I am
learning just as much from them. We will be continuing our lessons tonight, and I am looking forward to it!
Hello from South Africa. Today we sang at a private, secular school. We were not sure what to expect, since it was our first
non-Christian school, but we were soon amazed at how God works. The first blessing was that we were only supposed to sing to the
high school children, but the teachers heard us warm up and wanted all the students to hear us.
God opened the door, for not
only those students, but for the teachers as well. We opened with My Father's World and sang a few of our other
pieces as well. Afterwards we were told that we could have some tea, which seems to be a favorite around here.
A lady came to the room where we were and told us that she was a missionary to Kenya and was excited to hear the Swahili
in our songs. We were also told that a few teachers made comments such as, "We should start like this every morning."
It was a blessing to be there. Everyone was attentive and we can only hope and pray that the Lord will work through our
time there this morning.
Terrah Leech, Hebrews 11:1
Hello again from Cape Town. The Lord has continued to bless us. When we arrived, Pastor Rudolph told us to be prepared for
the people of the church to be rather reserved. He said that while they would be blessed internally, they probably would not show
much excitement or engagement during the services. How surprised we were when that was not at all what we experienced.
The excitement and engagement by the congregation was very high and seldom matched even in the U.S. Pastor Rudolph and the other
missionary pastors were just as surprised as we were. "These are completely different people," they said. It has been such a
blessing to have been so well-received and encouraged by the people here. Praise the Lord that we can be used of Him here in
We had quite the adventure this morning. We were scheduled to leave at 6:45 for a 8:00 concert at a private, secular school.
In our chalet, the guys set our alarms for 5:45. We didn't get to bed until 1:00 a.m. and the next thing we heard was Dr. Ralston.
"Guys, get up! It's 6:45. We have to leave NOW! What are we going to do?" All seven of us had completely slept through BOTH of our
alarms. We frantically tried to get ready to leave. The next thing we heard was the girls outside our chalet ready to go singing some
random "Good Morning" song. Little did they know that we were half-dressed, unshaven, and running around like crazy bush-people trying
to get ready. I am rather proud to say that we left only ten minutes later and we actually didn't forget any thing important like our
music (or our pants!). When we got in the van and calmed down a bit, Dr. Burggraff suggested that we pray that we arrive safely and on
time. We were going to a non-Christian school and arriving late would not have been a very good testimony. Praise the Lord, the traffic
was lighter than expected, and we actually arrived 15 minutes EARLY. It's amazing to know that the Lord will still use us for His glory
in spite of our faults.
May 7, 2008
The Lord was very gracious on our travels to South Africa. We all arrived safely at our rendezvous in Washington, D.C. for our
transatlantic flight to Johannesburg. The flight was smooth, but very, very, very long - 14 hours and 45 minutes total.
I've never had difficulty taking short naps on flights, but naps are quite different from sleeping through the night. Alisha and
Kate had an unfair advantage in that they didn't have anyone sitting in the 2 seats next to them, so they were able to lay down to
sleep. The rest of us wrestled with our travel pillows to find the most comfortable position possible, which still wasn't very
comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of the food served on the flight. Miraculously, all of our
luggage arrived in Johannesburg with us and we all breezed through customs. We then connected to a different flight to Cape Town
and, again, all of our luggage arrived safely and in one piece, including the full-sized electronic piano that we brought for the
missionaries. We then loaded our small mountain of bags (in our defense, it wasn't all ours as we brought several bags of materials
and gifts for the missionaries we are working with) into our 2 vans and a pick-up truck. We arrived at the camp that will be our
home for the next 2 weeks at 10:00 pm (local time) and were more than ready to sleep in real beds. South Africa, here we are!
Ready or not!
So, we thought that we would have an advantage having a native South African with us as a driver (Dr. Ralston); but we soon realized
after almost backing into a car, driving on the wrong side of the road, and turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn
signal, that we would be challenged in our prayer life in a way that we hadn't imagined.
Dr. Golson is doing great in the second van.
Driving on the left side of the road was quite an experience. There were many times that we all thought we were going to die, but the
other cars all stayed on their correct side of the road. When we woke up on the first day and walked out of our chalets, the view was
more than we could have ever imagined! They are set on the side of a mountain, so the view is of vineyards in the valley below and the
mountains all around. When you are in the city, it is so westernized that it looks just like America; but as you drive out of the city
and pass the shanty towns, it looks just like how you would imagine Africa. We really realized that we were in Africa when we woke up
to the sound of the baboons barking at us as we walked out to the cars. We have all absolutely enjoyed the breathtaking view and the
warm-hearted people who have greeted us.
May 5, 2008
Craig Ralston called Monday evening to say that the team arrived in South Africa safely, and everyone is well. The ten passenger vans
they rented are perfect -- like new.