As we work through final camp preparations before the youth arrive this afternoon to Moolmanshoek Leadership Development Center outside of Ficksburg, South Africa.
In a little less than an hour, our campers will begin arriving from around the country of South Africa–from Cape Town, Gauteng, Kimberly, Bloemfontein, Kwazulu Natal, and East London.
Yesterday was the first day that all of us as Youth Corps participants had a chance to connect together based on the specifics of their various flights. I came in last week to assist the Camp Director Vivien Botha, and his administrative staff, Cathy (his wife), and Nigel and Charlene Schuller.
We spent the time prior to camp in the beautiful town of Franschhoek, where Viv and Cathy call home. Franschhoek is nestled in the mountains and is the center of the Western Cape wine country. Beautiful vineyards and mountains, fields of blueberries, strawberries, and orchards were in abundance, setting a very millennial setting.
Wrestley and Josh came in on Monday, Wrestley ultimately routing from Manila to Dubai and on to Cape Town, while Josh followed my same path down the week prior, Atlanta to Johannesburg, and then from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
Those of us in the Youth Corps had a chance to bond yesterday during a particularly long transport from Cape Town to where the camp is being held outside of Ficksburg. Ordinarily a 14-hour trip by road, it ended up being over 21 hours due to a bad accident on the N1, Christmas traffic as people traveled to see their family and some standard Murphy’s Law that you come to expect when traveling the world.
The trip to Ficksburg was beautiful, as we moved from the Mediterranean coastal climate of Cape Town to the mountainous regions outside of town, to the scrub desert, and grassland-type climate throughout the center of the country. Josh and I couldn’t help but notice how much it seemed to follow the way that things change in the United States as you travel from California and Oregon eastward across the continent. If I didn’t know I was in South Africa and everyone was driving on the opposite side of the road… I would have thought I was in parts of California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma.
Along the way, we had a chance to see some of the indigenous wildlife, with the fields next to the highway containing Springbok, Kudu, Eland, Ostrich, Flamingoes, and we even spotted a monkey at one point perched on top of one of the highway road signs next to the lane of travel. That was a new one for us - we’re used to seeing hawks, or other large birds perched on those signs at home - but never a monkey.
We had fun trying a number of different South African foods along the way. Due to the various influences from the cultures in South Africa, the food has Central African, Malaysian, and European influences. Frequently, curries and turmeric are used to spice the foods which are delicious! Curried meat pies, curried vegetables in spring rolls, and pastry pockets known as samosas, as well as a fry bread with a delicious Malay-inspired tamarind sauce called Dhalchi. And.. because road trips are road trips regardless of where you are, we had some South African road trip food as well - various flavors of chips that we’ve never seen in the United States or the Philippines.
We arrived at 3:30 in the morning yesterday night in Moolmanshoek, where we’ll be having camp. The camp setting and accommodations are beautiful, and rival and even exceed the accommodations of our Youth Camps in the United States. The kids will have an opportunity to do some Abseiling (rappelling and high ropes), as well as an overnight hike in the game preserve that is next to camp among the herds of Springbok, Kudu, Eland, and Wildebeest.
This year’s camp theme is “Becoming Sons and Daughters of God”. It’s a critical concept and one that we’re looking forward to introducing to the youth here in South Africa. God is calling our children to a special opportunity, an incredible purpose and destiny... to become members of His family, joint heirs with our elder brother Jesus Christ. It is to this incredible purpose that all of our efforts point. At the end of the day, these are God’s kids. It is God’s camp. We are simply here to serve them and help them to build and strengthen their relationship with Him.
Shortly, our campers will be here and camp begins in earnest. We cannot wait to spend the week together here at beautiful Moolmanshoek. Thank you for your prayers for a successful camp program. We appreciate the love and support.