Adventures in South Africa for St Pauls Church

A group from St Pauls church Throop have just got back from an exciting trip to South Africa. Here's their diary from their trip:

"After a 10 hour flight to Johannesburg, our group headed straight to the Lion Park where we were taken on a safari. This was an amazing experience for all of us as were able to see lots of different animals up close. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to play with the lion cubs in their enclosures, which was very surreal.

On the Sunday, we visited an Afrikaans church. This was different to a typical service back at home, but the people were very welcoming and even preached the sermon in English so we could understand it.

On Monday, we started the build - the main aim of our trip to South Africa. We started the week with only a square slab of concrete surrounded by tin homes. We built the house from large polystyrene sheets framed with metal. The first day consisted of cutting out the windows and doorways and placing the walls (polystyrene sheets) into the correct positions. We then spent the rest of the week mixing concrete and stuccoing every visible surface twice, as we had to do two layers! This was definitely the toughest and most physical part of trip and it really pushed our group. To remain mentally sane, we girls delighted our 40 person crew with renditions of every Disney song written whilst working. This managed to spark a turf war with the Scottish group, who retaliated with some interesting songs of their own. Finally, we finished the build and it was time to hand over the keys. The whole group surrounded the house as we passed the keys along in a chain to the proud new owners! This was an emotional part of the trip, as all of our hard work was benefiting such a lovely and grateful family. 

On the build site, we had regular breaks to play with the local children. It was their winter holidays, so there were lots of children that came to play with us every day. It was really great to get to know the children and see how grateful and appreciative they were for the little they had. It was very hard at the end of the 10 days to say goodbye to the children and leave them behind.

Whilst we were out there, we also ran a children's club for around 100 children. This was a lot of fun to do and the children seemed to really enjoy it. To start with we acted out a short Bible story and sang some songs. We then had different activities for the children to do including face painting, parachute games, colouring, loom bands, football and more!

On the last day, before our flight, we visited a HIV/AIDs orphanage. This was an incredible experience but also very emotional. We had a couple of hours to spend with the children. It was amazing to see how happy they were, which was very encouraging for us. We played lots of games with the children and also had lunch with them.

Thank you so much for the money and support you gave our group for this trip. We are all so grateful and have had the best time in South Africa. It has been a life-changing experience that none of us will ever forget. We have all learnt a lot from it and it has shaped us into better people."

The JTYAF are so pleased you had a great experience!