We left amid a flurry of packing and goodbyes to those-we-love-the-most, and here we are in Cape Town, beginning the adventure again. I tagged along with Missy and Michelle yesterday, buying rice and sardines, spinach and soap, then separating it all into food parcels for selected needier families in Masiphumelele. It’s all about sustainability, but in some cases a hand-out seems the only answer.
We visited in the home of one recipient, Nofirst, possibly 40 years old. It’s hard to guess ages here—we had to ask to determine if the five-month old on her back was daughter or granddaughter. Granddaughter she is, child of the woman’s 16-year old daughter, who is in school. Nofirst also cares for two teen-aged nieces. Her older son, the family breadwinner, was recently shot to death in an act of random violence. Out of …desperation, she’s been encouraging the girls to drop out of school and try to find work. We hope that this weekly food parcel will allow them to continue schooling. Without education, there is little chance of the generational cycles being broken.
Nofirst’s home, a 12’ x 12’ wooden shack, is neat and tidy. It contains two single beds (for four adults and a baby), a smallish refrigerator with TV perched atop, suitcases storing clothes, a two-burner hot plate and some cooking utensils. No stockpile of groceries—people here live day-to-day.
Nofirst sits gingerly on the bed. She is in obvious pain from arthritis in her legs and hip. Missy explains the food program, and that her sponsor will be praying for her. Michelle takes her photo and we pray for relief from the pain, both physical and emotional, for awareness of the One who knows her and loves her. I tease and smile with the little one on her back, and our translator Wendy tells us the child’s name, Luthando, means “I Am Loved”.
I Am Loved! Could I too be known by the love bestowed upon me, could this be my identifying label? Jesus, could your eyes be the mirror that tells me who I am? It’s only in experiencing your Love for me that I am able to speak to I Am Loved, and to Nofirst, of their own belovedness. That Love does not shy away from these drab, maze-like alleys, these neglected children and countless bored youth. That Love encircles the five young men from Masi who were baptized in the Indian Ocean days after we arrived. That Love embraces them, and me, together. We are the beloved, children of a Father beyond imagining.
“Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on” (Psalm 33:22).