|Bonita, California Home|
We have lived in many homes over our lifetime—some rather humble (or at least we thought so) and some quite grand. They grew in size as our family and our income grew. I am sure the Amy, Tim, Sarah and Brad can remember the time when they all shared one bedroom in the little white house in Hooper. By the time Jesse left home for his mission, he had his choice of three different bedrooms. Though I often voiced a prayer of gratitude for our home, I never truly appreciated the blessing of our beautiful homes until I served in South Africa.
During apartheid the Black African were separated from the white populations and were assigned to “Native Units” or townships according to their tribal heritage. Up until 1994 when apartheid ended, the 20% white, Afrikaners population controlled 80% of the wealth and land, forcing the blacks out of their city centers into the countryside. The effects of that political decision are evident throughout South Africa even today. When you are in the large cities such as Cape Town or East London we feel as if we were touring a beautiful first-world country with modern buildings and four-lane freeways, until you enter the townships.
Mdantsane is the second largest township in South Africa. The original inhabitants are people who were forcibly removed from what was known as East Bank in East London and has a population of about 175,000. We are continually lost when driving there because there are no street signs, only house numbers, so sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack. Only about half of the roads are paved, so during rainstorms it is treacherous driving there.
|Typical Township Home|
As missionaries, we have entered dozens of homes to reach out a hand of fellowship. It is hard to describe what we see and feel in these humble homes. The more affluent people have cinderblock homes that measure about 30 X 20 feet and are divided into four small rooms; living room, kitchen and 2 bedrooms. The bathroom (or toilet as they call it here) is located in separate little “outhouse” in the back yard along with an attached cement sink in which the wash bodies, dishes and laundry. Most cooking is done on a two-burner hot plate (no ovens) with not built in cabinets or counters. Almost all have fridges and a few have portable washing machines. Everyone dry their clothes on a line.
There are generally no yards, grass or flowers but a few have vegetable gardens. Amazingly most have cell phones and many have flat screen TVs’ even in the humblest abodes.
The poorest folks would be considered squatters in the United States. They find a little piece of land and scab together a little shanty that is generally made of timbers and scrap tin roofing material. They are usually just a single room (although we have seen a two-story scanty) without even an outhouse. I am not sure what they do for water or bathroom facilities.
|Preparing Family Dinner|
When we enter their homes…they feel very much like HOME. They are most often warm and welcoming, offering us the best chairs in the house. Sometimes if there are two facing couches in those tiny rooms our knees nearly touch those of the people sitting across from us. Quite often the only chair is the edge of a bed or a bench. My first few weeks in these homes, my brain would short-circuit and I was not very effective as it processed the poverty. Now, I have come to understand that these small buildings are truly their homes. They are comfortable and proud of what they have been able to provide for their families. It is their place of refuge from the world and they are just as happy (or perhaps more so) than I am in my beautiful San Diego home. I only hope that this experience has truly taught me that happiness is not bound to the things of this world. May I always be grateful for my home wherever or whatever it may be.
|Visiting Sister Asanda at her humble home.|