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John and Amelia Hayworth’s Visit to KwaZulu Mission

April 2, 2015

Our South African Visit

By John Hayworth

Visiting Gogo at another Mtshali home

Visiting Gogo at another Mtshali home

We finally arrived at Oliver Tambo Airport after spending 11 extremely uncomfortable hours in the air during which we barely slept.  I was glad to get off the plane and stretch my legs.  After getting through immigration and collecting our baggage (not sure which first) we finally made our way through to the main lobby where we were met by Salvador and Dianne.

Salvador suggested that we would need a rest so we could go somewhere and sit down.  I replied that as we had spent many ours sitting, cooped up in an aeroplane, that was not something either of us wanted to do, so instead we made our way to the lift in order to descend to the parking bay where their vehicle was parked.

At the lift we met two extremely “friendly” men who insisted on helping us with our baggage to the car.  Though we protested that it wasn’t necessary they insisted on accompanying us to the vehicle.  Fortunately there was car park security near-by so we were able to leave with our pockets intact.  Thus we were introduced to one of two main examples of South African hospitality.

There are two types of hospitality:

  1. The kind that will cost money; either by tipping a couple of Rand or handing over one’s wallet and valuables, or..
  2. Genuine kindness.

Our second introduction to South African hospitality came in the shape of a couple of friends of Salvi and Di called Morne and Doret Lambert.  They had so kindly offered their home to us for the night so that we could rest up before travelling up to KwaZulu Natal the following morning.  They would do the same at the end of our trip when we returned home.

Buy a Donkey?????

Morne and Doret are Afrikaans speakers and while when we arrived at their home Doret introduced us to the Afrikaners’ obsession with donkeys.  Every were we went Afrikaners would insist we should buy one.  In fact even when they pray they often tell our Heavenly Father to buy one also! “Buy a donkey, Father!” “Buy a Donkey!”  If ever you visit S.A. you will hear the Afrikaners tell you to, “Buy a donkey”!

At first I had the suspicion that Afrikaners made money from the commission they received from the sale of all these donkeys yet they, themselves, never actually owned donkeys!  My suspicions were without foundation as what they were actually saying to us was not to “buy a donkey” but “Baie Dankie” which is Afrikaans for “Thank you very much!”


Birthday Embarrassment

The following day we went to visit Alan and Sue Wells a couple who have a large extended family of adopted children.  It was not easy to remember everyone’s name.  I recall a Rosie, two Thembe’s (I think that’s how it is spelt), a Thabo and the rest skips my mind.  We shared lunch in the garden and the eldest daughter and one of their sons (Edward I think) treated us to a concert of guitar and woodwind music.

Later on we drove on to Vryheid where we stopped for a meal in a restaurant.  Unbeknownst to me Salvador had leaked the news that the following day would be my 61st birthday.  At the end of the meal all the waitresses came to our table and began to dance to music in celebration of my birthday.  Being your typical Englishman I felt really embarrassed, especially as the dancing went on and on for at least 3 minutes.  Finally I was presented with a serving of ice cream that had a lighted sparkler in it!

The Kraal

Salvi and Di live in a Kraal belonging to their good friend and fellow worker in Christ, Phumlani.  A Kraal is a typical Zulu homestead comprising several small buildings, the most important being at the centre, which is the home of the “Gogo” (the Grandmother—or mother of the family where there are no children).

Phumlani’s mother had, sadly, passed away, sot her little house remained empty, a monument to the family’s love and devotion to her.

Zulu Tradition

Towards the end of the 18th century what is now the proud Zulu nation was a collection of different tribes spread across the Eastern part of what was called Natal.  In 1825 all these tribes were united under the rule of the legendary Zulu king Shaka kaSenzangakhona (Shaka Zulu).  Shaka was a military genius however very brutal and three years later, at the age of 41, Shaka was brutally assassinated by his three half-brothers.

Under Shaka the Zulu empire grew and the Zulu armies were a most feared and formidable opponent as the British Colonial Army was to find out at the hill Insandhlwana where, on 22 January 1879, an army of 20-25,000 Zulu despatched a force of around 1800 British troops armed with field guns, rockets and rifles.  This was the worst defeat the British Army has ever suffered at the hands of an indigenous people.

The following day several thousand Zulus moved on to attack the mission station at Rorke’s Drift where a small force of British troops had been garrisoned.

Both incidents have been depicted in major films; The battle of Isandhlwana in the film “Zulu Dawn” and the battle of Rorke’s Drift in the film “Zulu”.

During our stay we were fortunate to visit both these sites that are now both Heritage Sites, Isandhlwana being the burial place of a number of British dead as well as having several monuments erected near the base of the hill.  Isandhlwana is especially poignant as all across the landscape there are stone cairns (painted in white) where the dead fell, some of them baring gravestones that were erected by the grieving relatives.

Evangelism

We accompanied Salvador and Phumlani as they went out to bring the Gospel to the Zulu people.  On one occasion I was able to preach, Salvador acting as my interpreter.

There is one main obstacle to Zulu conversion and that is their devotion to the Ancestors.  In Zulu culture the ancestors must be appeased through animal sacrifices and it is believed that they communicate through dreams and can either bless or curse individuals and families if offended.

In the past the Zulu people were evangelised by American Missionaries from Zion, Illinois.  The Zulus were largely converted however they were left mainly to their own devices after the missionaries left.  Since then the Ancestor cult has been incorporated into their belief system, even though they still hold the Bible in great reverence.  Their churches comprise the Zionist Christian Churches in S. A. after the town of Zion.

Both Salvador and Phumlani challenge this belief pointing out that this practice goes against the teaching of the Bible and that people need to repent of such things and believe what the Bible teaches if they are to be saved.  The cult of Ancestors has a great hold on people and few seem willing to abandon their superstitions.  Nevertheless some do—including some Zionist Churches.

Children’s Evangelism

Children in Rural KwaZulu Natal are generally left to their own devices.  During the day they are expected to knuckle down and study.  Children often walk many miles to school and back home.  In the early hours of the morning and in the middle of the afternoon the dirt paths and small roads are filled with lines of children of all ages on their way to and from school.

Whilst we were visiting a lady in one of these rural areas a young boy who was on his way home from school approached us.  He was obviously tired and his forehead was dripping with perspiration under the hot sun.  At first we thought that he was asking us for a ride as many people hitch hike due to the lack of transport.  However, this young boy simply wanted to practice his English.  Salvador offered him a comic tract, which he began to look at.  He obviously understood what it was about and so he thanked us and went off on his way home.

Phumlani’s sister, Celani, has opened her Kraal to the local children every Saturday as a “Kidz Club” as a means to evangelise them.  Children come from all over; either Salvador or Phumlani often picks some up from further afield.  They sing and are taught from the Bible concerning the things of God—much like a Sunday School—and are presented with the Gospel.  They will be questioned as to whether they had understood what had been taught.  Afterwards they will be given a picture to colour in representing the teaching they had received.

On the second Saturday I taught them the story of David the shepherd boy, his encounter with a lion and a bear and the Giant, and related this to the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan and using the Bible like stones in David’s slingshot to defeat the devil’s arguments.

Children in S.A. are much easier to teach that in UK because they are taught to sit and pay attention as well as to respect their elders and teachers.  UK children can be very disruptive, disrespectful and are often rebellious to any form of authority; including parents, teachers and their elders.  When we explained this to South Africans they are shocked.

Another lady we were introduced to in Vryheid is called Belinda.  Belinda and her husband had invited us to our first “Braai” which is a kind of S.A. BBQ but with much more meat content.  Belinda runs a local crèche where she employs several workers because there are so many children.  We were all introduced to one of the classes consisting of what must have been 60 or more children.  Salvador taught them a story from the Bible and we sang some songs with them.  Amélia and I also taught them a new song about the story of Elijah, the Ravens and the widow, “The Raven’s Wings”.

Preaching the Word to churches

Churches come in different shapes and sizes.  Some are more formal others less so.  Some have purpose built buildings where they meet others do not.  However the Bible defines the church as the people who gather together in order to fellowship and NOT the place where they gather.

Salvador had brought a copy of Vryheid’s local English language newspaper.  As I was looking through it I came across a headline about someone’s escape from a cult.  I thought that it would be an interesting story.  It soon became apparent that the article was about Amélia and myself and was advertising a meeting at the local Baptist Church building where I was to speak concerning our experience in, and escape from, the “Children of God” cult.

The meeting was quite well attended as I gave a candid and often emotional account of our life.  People obviously must have been touched by it by the comments we received afterwards.  What we didn’t know is that a lady was there with her husband who was not a believer.  Salvador told us that this was quite a surprise as he was from a Hindu background.  Apparently he was very touched by my story and it seems that he had begun to soften in his behaviour towards her.  We continue to pray that he will yield to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and turn to Christ.

The second meeting I preached at was with the church that Salvador had help to pioneer in one of the rural areas.  They meet in a Kraal, in a mud hut.  I preached as Salvador interpreted.  I preached from Psalm 121 concerning how that though we may feel that we are insignificant God is always around us, just as the mountains that are around the place we were meeting at.  That God is looking for fruit in our lives and is not so concerned as to how much fruit, but the fact that there IS fruit.  Like the parable of the sower, the seed sown on good soil brought forth a harvest of different amounts of grain.

One of the women shared that a neighbour’s dog had been stealing her chickens and, even though she had spoken with her neighbour, nothing was being done.  We all prayed for her and encouraged her to trust the Lord.  A few days later I asked Phumlani about her problem with the chickens.  Phumlani said that the problem had been resolved and that the dog had died!

The third meeting was at a Home Church.  In fact people had gathered from several Home Churches around the region.  I preached on the Judgement and the criterion that Christ will use on that day; how we have loved the least of His brethren and not how well we have performed in our churches.

The Flora and Fauna

As a birthday treat we all went on a Safari to see Africa animals in their natural habitat.  Apparently there are 5 animals that we ought to see that are called “The Big Five”; Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and Leopard.  Up until then I had seen the other Big 5; Chicken, Cow, Bull, Sheep and Goat.

Our guide, knick named “Hallelujah”, was from Zimbabwe.  He was amazing at spotting so many animals from a great distance, including a crocodile that looked just like a black rock next to a river.  There were many Zebras, Impalas, Buffalo, Rhinos, Zebras and we even saw some Baboons in the distance.  Eventually we saw an elephant, however it was across a river from us and had its backside towards us all the time because it was too busy eating the lush grass that was growing there. We also saw several giraffes.

Hallelujah explained so many things about each animal.  We stopped off at the main base where we had lunch and a toilet break.  Afterwards we set off in another direction in search of elephants and, after Dianne and Salvador had prayed, a lion.  Eventually we saw an elephant in the distance feeding from a tree.  Just in front of us a car had stopped and the occupants had got out to observe the elephant.  Eventually they got back into the car and drove off so Hallelujah edge the vehicle we were in to the place that they were at.  Suddenly, not six feet from were the people in the car had been standing, a lion reared up its head to see what all the commotion was!

One rule about gong on safari is that you keep your car doors locked, windows closed and you definitely do not get out of your vehicle!  These people were oblivious to the fact that just a few feet away from them was a lion hidden in the grass.  Fortunately for them it seems that they got back into their car and drove off just in time and fortunately for us we got to see a lion.  We were also fortunate not to witness a lion attacking a person!

We saw many birds during our stay in S.A.  Vultures, Birds of Paradise, Eagles, Weaver Birds, European Rollers, Doves, Ibis, Hardidas, Storks, Red Bishops amongst others.  Some we were able to photograph some we were not as they wouldn’t stay still long enough in one place in order to be photographed.

We had similar difficulties with the native insects, however we did manage to capture a couple of butterflies, a moth, grasshoppers (one of which was absolutely enormous), giant African wasps (they are really scary), crickets, and Praying Mantis.  Once a big grasshopper got into the vehicle as we were driving and landed on Amélia’s foot.  We aren’t sure who jumped the highest, Amélia or the grasshopper.  After frantic pleading from Amélia and Di we stopped the vehicle so that the grasshopper could leave.

One thing Amélia hates is creepy crawlies and snakes; we saw many creepy crawlies but no snakes.  We also ended up sleeping under a mosquito net at the kraal as Amélia became a Smörgåsbord for the local insects, all this despite the presence of several geckos that were patrolling the walls of our room.

We were treated to a visit by several of the local grey monkeys when we were staying at the coast in Ballito on the last day of our stay there.

The plant life is incredible.  From Sugar Cane, Bamboo, various species of exotic plants and trees as well as many varieties of the most beautiful flowers the whole experience was an indication of what the Garden in Eden must have been like, and what the Earth will be like during the millennium—except for the nasty biting and stinging plants and bugs, oh and carnivorous wild life!

We spent three wonderful weeks visiting S.A.  We saw some incredible sights, even paddled in the Indian Ocean.  We petted lion cubs and fed Giraffes, ate some amazing food and met some truly generous people.  We also witnessed human suffering in the shape of shantytowns and met women widowed to the victims of HIV/AIDS, some of them losing most of their immediate families to this terrible disease.

All that remains for us to say to our new found friends is; “Ngiyabonga konke” and “Buy a Donkey”!

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