When we were living and working in Turkey we made the welfare of our children a priority. We used every opportunity to ensure that they were emotionally, physically and spiritually functioning well.
During the first year of our return to South Africa we were well aware of the challenges related to reverse culture shock – getting used to your own culture after living for a long period in a foreign culture. Magda and I experienced this mainly in our spiritual walk as we tried to fit back into a mono-cultural, conservative-reformed fellowship. This was very far removed from our experience in the multi-cultural and theological diverse international fellowships we were used to in Turkey. The children experienced the difference as they tried to make friends and socialize. Thea-Marie was affected the most as she was mocked for coming from “Turkey”. She felt she could not share about her childhood experiences in Turkey when her friends were talking about theirs. The divide between her world and theirs were just to big and she struggled to make meaningful friendships.
In the ProChristo Global Mission office in Kimberley, the ministry was taking strain. There was a change in leadership, which I was part of. The new leadership team reviewed all areas of the ministry and realized that the full-time staff and donor-base was getting older and the donor base was shrinking fast. It was very difficult to raise financial support for the ministry and it had been some time since any young volunteers came forward to engage in ministry or missions. The opposite was happening at the ProChristo base in Kabwe, Zambia. There was strong growth in finances, volunteers and missions projects, run from the base. The ministry was vibrant and full of life!
It was evident that the energy of the ministry had shifted to the base in Kabwe. Even if we succeeded in mobilizing funds and volunteers in South Africa our calculations showed that it was still cheaper to train people in Kabwe than in South Africa.
Whilst this was happening I was preparing for another visit to Chad. Two members of a congregation in Kimberley, supporting the missionaries in Chad, decided to join me on a visit to the two missionaries. Our purpose was to show them moral, financial and spiritual support after there first year in Chad. One of my travel companions was a 65 year old man who recently suffered a light stroke and was prone to get lost when he walking – which he loved! The other was a 78 year old lady who signed up for her 30th outreach, including smuggling Bibles into China several times!
We followed the same route via Ethiopia to Chad. Our lady companion was supposed to be hosted by a missionary family in there home. Just before our arrival they had to leave for their home-country due to a family crises. They never the less prepared a space for our lady companion in the basement of their home where she had a bathroom and a large room with a sleeping mat to her disposal. She was grateful but never slept comfortable because she had a real fear for the many geckos that shared the basement with her!
We were more reliant on ourselves this time and made frequent visits to the market area in the city. Almost everything available in Chad is imported and extremely expensive. To spoil the two missionaries for a meal or two during our stay we managed to buy some tinned food and fresh vegetables. Visiting the meat and fish market was another experience! We never doubted what kind of meat was displayed on the tables. The head of the animal that was slaughtered that day was proudly displayed among the cuts of meat on the tables. The meat was not covered and the daily temperatures were high. A young boy was on duty at the meat tables and he was ever so often waiving a leaved branch over the meat to disturb the hordes of flies resting on the meat.
Two days before our return to South Africa our lady companion slipped in the market place on a banana peel. She was dressed in her usual blouse, skirt and stockings and her choice of shoes were also not conducive to the surfaces we had to traverse. Luckily the only injuries was a few scratches and bruises that were disinfected and treated at the WEC Guesthouse. I made sure that I never took my eyes off our male companion and luckily he never got lost!
It was a very difficult trip for me and I was very relieved when I was back home in Kimberley. During the first visit to Chad I was emotionally affected and struggled to gather my thoughts and feelings for some time. This time I suffered physically with a very painful gout attack that started just before our return. I still have a damaged joint on my left big toe as proof of this ordeal!
Back at the office it was time to take some difficult decisions. Despite many efforts, including a road trip to promote ProChristo Global Missions, it was clear that the best solutions would be to move the operations of ProChristo Global Missions to the base in Kabwe and to close the office in Kimberley. This decision was not lightly taken and had a big impact on the full-time staff who could not relocate to Zambia and had no where else to go. Others, including us, were able to find new opportunities with other ministries. The base in Kabwe went from strength to strength raising up many African missionaries for Africa. Recently the base was assimilated under OM Africa and they are continuing the good work!
I met one of the Zambian missionaries working in Chad at an OM conference in 2014. He told me that I was the last visitor from South Africa to visit him in Chad.
Our time in Kimberley was indeed “bitter-sweet”, We could not relocate to Kabwe and there was no future for us in Kimberley. We realized that it was time to move on!