An Update from South Africa
Spring has arrived! The gardens are greening up, the vegetables are growing quicker, and the days are getting longer. The time has come to share our first harvest.
On September 26 we hosted our first farm-to-table dinner at The Bakery. Because it was our first one, the dinner provided us with an opportunity to learn from many new situations. We milled our own flour for our breads and made our own pasta. We made a non-alcoholic cordial from kumquats, a fruit that we had never used before. From 500 grams (about a pound) of gooseberries, we produced a dessert drizzle that had to suffice for what seemed like 5,000 people, but in reality was only 30!
The preparations were great fun! We spent the week before the dinner collecting as much produce from all of our family gardens that our plants could provide. Our spinach patch was cared for and nurtured more than ever before. We even spoke to our gooseberry plants, our lettuces and all our herbs, encouraging them to grow quickly and to provide an abundant harvest. And they did!
On the day of the dinner our little kitchen was overflowing with heaps of spinach and an excited (and a little nervous) kitchen crew! We had an attendance of around 30 people. Many of our guests stayed late into the night, reluctant to pull away from a delightful evening.
One of our regular bakery customers, a single lady in her fifties, booked a stay with us for the week. She found herself undecided as to whether to attend the dinner, but finally convinced herself to try it. A smile stayed on her face throughout the whole evening. As we sang the words to the song “Lean on Me,” tears flowed from her eyes as she sang along. “If there is a load you have to bear that you can’t carry, well I’m right up the road, and I’ll share your load, if you’ll just call me.” All that she could say when she left that night was how happy she felt for deciding to attend!
Readying the Glamping Tents
Early Thursday morning on October 1, Sister Mariska’s car rolled out of the parking area with the light yellow, box-shaped trailer bouncing behind it. In the Bakery, Sister Jenna and some of the other sisters watched the car and trailer leave. Sister Jenna confided, “This is so exciting; I can’t wait until this afternoon!”
Afternoon came, finally. We closed the Bakery as quickly as possible and raced up to the glamping tents. Sister Mariska had just returned from the town of George with the little trailer packed with furniture. At last the day had arrived when we could set up and decorate the glamping tents!
Everyone helped wherever they could. We relocated a 5,000-liter (about 1,300 gallons) water tank from our main water source to the glamping sites. The tank, which we fill with well water, is the water source for the tents. A sense of accomplishment shone forth from each person’s face as we worked together to complete all of the jobs.
Later in the week, two of our couples spent a night in each of the tents to ensure that everything was as it should be before we marketed the accommodations.
Changing with the Seasons
Springtime also brings with it a deeper cultivating in each of our hearts as we dig deeper and uproot more entangled roots. Then through our shared struggles and pain, we join closer together to sow seeds that will bear fruit again. In the last few weeks some visitors have asked us what defines our community. One aspect is the daily life itself. A life that allows us to struggle together, work together, cry together, laugh together and grow together. Amid all of that is the knowing that you are never alone.
October 4 was the day that Brother Adi turned 21 years old. A couple of weeks prior to his birthday, a small group of young people got together and started practicing a few songs to sing for him. We felt a little daunted at this because for the last five years he has been our music leader and teacher! From our first practice we realized that the songs would be great fun, but we really needed God’s help and blessing!
We celebrated his birthday with some close friends and visitors as well as with all of the community.
Throughout the whole day we looked back on how far God has brought us and rejoiced in His changes that each of us felt within! What a victorious day it was for us all.
Carl, one of our visitors, marveled at the sound and beauty of the guitar that Brother Adi had constructed while in Texas. Carl started playing a song that we all quickly recognized. Suddenly all of the different circles of conversation broke up as we all joined together and sang: “How great is our God. Sing with me, how great is our God. And all will see how great, how great is our God.” The music throughout the evening blessed us all.
Preparing for Holiday Vacationers
December is generally a hectic month for us. The Western Cape is a very popular tourist attraction for the Christmas season, which for us occurs in summer. People from all over the world flood in for the holidays. So we are gearing up and preparing for what could be called a month-long fair! We will be working on many crafts, songs and baking.
December is also our time for sowing crops. We intend to plant all of our corn as a community crop. We will also sow some summer pasture with a variety of grasses, such as teff, to use as cow feed.