Today was a bittersweet day, as it was our final day at Elim. Our whole team has formed meaningful relationships with the children and teachers, so it was tough to say goodbye. We spent the morning with the children divided into three age groups for smaller classroom settings. The youngest children had a blast reading books and coloring some neat fish Shari brought, as well as practicing their alphabet, shapes, and colors. Becky and Barb were with the middle age group of kids (grades 4-6) teaching them a lesson on nouns and verbs. Jana and John taught the oldest kids (grades 8-10) a lesson about biology and the systems of the body. Once again, the children were all very sharp and attentive, impressing us all. 

After we finished up teaching our sessions, the children put on an unexpected show for us which was easily the highlight of the day at Elim. They set up a stage with a microphone and speakers in their small classroom and performed beautiful poems, songs and dances. The children had been practicing their performances for weeks and each performer had a confident stage presence. By the end of the show, the kids pulled all of our group to the front for a dance party! There was a lot of love in that room. 

While we were wrapping up at Elim, Cassie and Morgan played soccer with some kids and Austin and John were invited to play a South African game called Netball. The kids absolutely loved Netball, which was basically the same as keep-away since the school didn’t have any actual nets. Playing games and bonding with the kids is something our team members have loved most about this trip. 

Following our time at Elim, Lawrence and Queenie took us to Disthego, where Isabell and some of the teachers (Brenda, Eunice, Ellen, Salaminah, and more) led us to tour Mooiplaas. All of us were anxious to see the community, but didn’t really know what to expect. We knew it would be rather dirty and shocking, but as we entered this foreign community, we were welcomed by nothing but smiling, friendly faces.

We were in awe by the positivity of the people despite their subpar living conditions. Families lived in small shacks made of whatever they had access to — metal, plastic, brick. A few of our guides lived in Mooiplaas and were very proud to show us their community. Eunice excitedly took Shari into her favorite “grocery store” and Ellen was happy to show us her church, which was basically a tent. Seeing Mooiplaas was instrumental for our team, as it gave us full perspective on the lives of the people we met this week.

We left Mooiplaas and Disthego with a swarm of emotions. We felt sadness for some of the things we had witnessed, but we were also hopeful. Seeing people make something from nothing while maintaining a smile on their faces was a truly humbling experience.

We are all created equally as God’s children. No matter what background we are from, we can do all things through God who strengthens us. When we come together as one, anything is possible. Our tour of Mooiplaas is something our group will always remember.