south of somewhere

Hi, our names are Sarah and Nathan Cooper. We are based in Sheffield in England, but are preparing to move to South Africa in September '06 to join a church planting team in the Western Cape. We hope that this blog will keep you up to date with our progress as we embark on this new adventure. Watch this space...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Food & Clothes going out!

The young people in Next Level did a great job this month of organising food and clothing parcels for the most needy famillies in their communities. 3 groups went out, taking the parcels to famillies in the local Government flats (with serious over-crowding problems), to the township of Avian Park (that you can see in the picture), and to the homeless people who sleep rough in Worcester town centre. You can see Sabelo, Quinton and Leonie in the photo.

The outreaches were all thought-up and organised by the youth themselves - we are so excited to see leaders emerging!

PS - please do pray for Quinton. His Father has a drink and drug addiction, which means Quinton is sometimes unable to stay at home because he is not safe there. We recently lent him a cricket bat and had to tell him off for leaving it a friend's house. It later emerged Quinton had to leave the bat at his friend's house several times because his Father keeps trying to sell it. Quinton came to us as an exceptionally quiet person who really seemed to be taking nothing in and was basically responseless. In recent weeks he has blossomed - he's cracking jokes, mixing with the other kids, making suggestions of things he'd like to do with the NextLevel (and he's even organised a film evening for us complete with a projector onto the wall!) His confidence has increased no end, but we know just how hard he finds it to go home at the end of the day.

Beaches and Budgeting

Waaaaay back in January we took some of our NextLevel youth Group on a trip to the beach in Cape Town. We had a fantastic day, swimming in the sea, trying not to think about sharks, and finishing with fish and chips. The youth loved it - I think you can tell from their faces!

The only disappointment was having to leave 5 members behind who hadn't managed to raise the money for the trip (about 4 pounds). Part of the exercise in doing the trip was to try to teach the kids some basic budgeting, by encouraging them to bring 10 Rand a week (about 70p) over 6 weeks, and also trying to encourage openness with us when they were having trouble finding the money. The 5 who didn't go hadn't given their money in, but more importantly hadn't told us they wouldn't be able to, despite our weekly pleadings that they must tell us if they are in any difficulty, so we could put back the date of the trip!

We see this as such an important step in helping them to understand the concept of budgeting in a culture where very few people have bank accounts (you have to pay to open account, then pay to put money in, then pay again to get it out!) and where people face the prospect of long stretches without employment and income. We also see openness in these areas as a vital step to helping these kids form a community where they can be honest with each other when they face financial difficulties, so that they can work together to help meet each other's needs. We believe that helping to build a church community where people can be honest and do look out for each other will be key to avoiding dependance on people like ourselves who won't be here forever with handouts.

And we were pleased that on our next trip out every single member came along!

Friday, March 23, 2007

We've been to Toronto (kind of...)

We spent a couple of days this week at a conference in Cape Town, run by a team from the Toronto Airport Christain Fellowship. We used our day off on Monday and then had a nice suprise of a Bank Holiday on Wednesday that we didn't know we had. So we had 2 days of brilliant teaching and time with some Sheffield friends, Alex & Maureen Roberts who had come all the way over to be part of the ministry team there. We had a really wonderful time and left feeling blissfully chilled and the most rested we've felt since we arrived!

Friday, March 16, 2007

half a year in SA

Can't believe that we've been here in Worcester for six months this week. It's certainly been a hectic half year, changing our way of doing just about everything; work, rest, socialising, exercising, money, cooking, key relationships, church... I'm tired out just writing about it!

Seriously though, it's been a fantastic adventure so far and great to feel like we really are in the right place at the right time. So a big thank you to all of you who have played a part in getting us here, keeping us here and generally encouraging and 'big-ing us up'.

By the way, we can't seem to get to our pictures at the moment, so no photos this entry, sorry... don't know if it's a problem with our computer or camera, or just plain technological incompetence! We'll get some images asap. So watch this space for the latest on our UK 'tour' in June/July as well as new Next Level members. Also, please pray for Sarah who is teaching at this Sunday morning's meeting at church... preach it sister!