Knock knock - Who is there? Otter. Otter Outreach!
I just finished a four-page script to be filmed about the O.T. Tabernacle and how it helps us to pray as N.T believers.
I was so ready to start filming the next day and quite happy about the progress. Finally, I can get to the Tabernacle and some thoughts to help us think deeper about prayer and the book to the Hebrews I so love. The African Muslim Makhuwa project is also in between it all...
My good buddy Jacomi popped in for a brief coffee and then there was another knock on my front door. It was 16:15 last Tuesday afternoon. Who could this be?
Photos: Jacomi, Derick, and I walking Sundays on Stilbaai beaches. I rescued 8 sea stars on this day!
I was about to get ready for Badminton cause we were going to play George and I was invited onto the team. (Yes… slowly I am losing my tennis arm and picking up a Badminton wrist!) I had to get to practice after 5.
As Samuel-Gilmore walked into my place he said, “I am not here for coffee but I got a random place to join a group for the famous Otter trial tomorrow. There is still another place left - wanna come?” Later he told me this was not the reason he randomly walked into my house!
We South Africans know that:
- The Otter is the most coveted trail in South Africa
- You have to book 1-2 years in advance depending on the season you go
- It is always fully booked… and you need a lot of gear.
- You have to have a high level of fitness for the high climbs each day.
Two weeks prior to Samuel-Gilmore popping in, I was at the doctor for a very bad tennis elbow of my left arm and specifically asked him if I would ever be able to carry a backpack for a trail again. You see, Jacomi’s husband (photos above) is an official trail blaze tour guide for South African hikes. I’ve never been able to join them cause I cannot carry a backpack and my back has been giving me trouble. The doctor said, no! You will not be able to do trial blazing like that again.
In a space of 5 minutes I had to say yes or no to do the Otter.
- I had to consider fitness,
- my back,
- and that I had zero preparations
- or food
- and no gear... no backpack.
The Tsitsikamma Otter trail is a 7/10 for trial difficulty (and Jacomi’s husband rightly encouraged me to consider not going!) You have to carry food for 5 days. It as several technical river crossings and hiking 4 hours in the dark over sharp rocks and cliffs to get the tides right. It is 300km from my house in Stilbaai.
What did I say?
I turned my heart towards the Lord and said, “If I am not to go please trouble me in my spirit because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am not getting younger. Give me peace about my back and my fitness level.
In the back of my mind, I recalled the fact that I walked an 8km hike from Jongensfontein to Stilbaai the previous Sunday and remember telling my friend Jacomi - I am not tired at all! My fitness has really increased since the badminton and my back is holding out. My inner peace remained. I said yes and was super excited.
The reason behind my said YES - mom’s heart failure.
The next morning 9am I was on the road - with a backpack and food and boots on my two feet! I said yes because it was my mother’s dream to walk the Otter and she never got to it. Now that she has been diagnosed by two doctors with heart failure (mom is quite ill), I said - FOR MY MOTHER I GO! Mom was green with jealousy but she was so happy for me. It shows me again, that we need to carpe diem! Father’s day marked 5 years since we said goodbye to my late brother Zarias at the age of 37 - and both incidences were outstanding reminders to carpe diem while we have the health to do so.
I hung a shell necklace I made for my mom around my neck… and it is still hanging! I walked the entire Otter with no back-pain. I cry as I type. It was one of the most extraordinary unplanned trips of my life. Due to the fact that I had to safe money for something else, and that it could wait another few months, The amount I saved was the amount needed for the entire trip!
Did God decide to send me on a mini outreach? YES - I believe so.
Only Samuel-Gilmore and I were Christians.
Out of a team of 11 South Africans and 1 person from Eastern Europe, we were the only two who knew Jesus and the Bible. The lost-ness touched me deeply. The only person who was not as ‘lost’ about things was my new Muslim friend, Abas.
You literally could see the shock on his face when I greeted him with Salam Alaikum, and then I threw more Arabic words around and by the time I said Habibi… he said:
“Sarah, I really want to know how you know this.”
I kept silent and ignored his question. I shared my background with no one. I simply said that I do sandplay therapy with traumatized kids and adults. This was enough info for this group.
I called my friend by his Arabic name Abas. He is a Yemen born, Saudi who currently lives in Cape Town. What a sweet young man. He runs a restaurant in District six, 48 Harrington street Zonneblom, Cape Town… go try his Moroccan food if you like.
I pulled out all my Koran knowledge that I picked up in projects we did for the Middle East and never in my life before was so grateful for my near decade with Create International.
I was able to be culturally sensitive and share the gospel in a Muslim-friendly way that kept our uplifting debate going for 5 days! We both agreed to disagree and this was really helpful. He was my lift back to my car on the N2. It rained as it usually does in George. We kept seeing amazing rainbows popping up. I suddenly heard Holy Spirit in my heart: “Ask him if he knows why there is a rainbow.” In my head I thought - surely he knows! Again, a second time I heard, “Ask him if he knows why there is a rainbow.”
So I did…
Low and behold! It was not in the Koran and he has never heard the Biblical account of why there is a rainbow in the sky. I pulled out my phone, found an Arabic Bible and sent Genesis to his Whats App. Now God can continue to water the soil He is preparing for harvest!
What did the rest of the group believe?
All the other women aspired to become Yoga Spiritual Instructors (some already had a Masters Degree in that type of spirituality). They really wanted to visit Varanasi to which I replied... been there... done that... you really don't want to go! These are my reasons. One of them seemed to really 'get' what I was saying. She is what we call a "TRUE SEEKER"
When they asked what I have studied, my reply was "spiritual formation" and this opened up a way for me to be part of conversations that I had could shape with a language that is not to familiar with normal christian'ese church ideas but again, living in a Buddhist nation for 8 years and making resources for Hindu's in India gave me deep insight as to what they were really after and how to frame it to them - this did not come with my Masters and perhaps it should seeing that we are a missions organization.
This group was not the typical Christian South Africans that I am familiar with. None of these English South Africans grew up in Christian homes with at least some Sunday school background of some sort… this ENTIRE Group was unreached - IN MY NATION! I cannot but wonder:
Where are the evangelists?
Where are the Gideon bible distributors?
I received only NO NO NO
Do you have a Bible. No.
Do you know the amount in Genesis? No.
Do you know ‘why the devil?' No.
Do you know 'why Jesus?' No.
Have you ever read the Bible? No.
What do you do with your bad karma… do you have hope? Blank stare.
Of course, when I got back the very first thing I did was to get a bible to one of the girls whom I could sense was truly seeking truth. I told her Truth is a Person - She has never heard this before - she lives in Knysna! Then again. I lived there and as a Christian I had a very hard time when I gave school that year. So many unbelieving kids, satanist and atheists!
She told me that if what I say is true, she will pursue it. Thanks to Pep to Pep, a Bible should arrive today or tomorrow. Thanks to buddy Charmaine for sponsoring the Bible!
This young girl told me that I stood out from the group. I said why? She apparently noticed my joy and contentment as a single person. She noticed my peace. (Wow - I had no idea!) She was dissecting me cause she never met someone like me.
During our final kilometer the group expressed how sad they were to leave the peacefulness behind. I said to them "I feel exactly the same as when I came. Goodness and Mercy follow me - and Jesus gave me his Peace! It is not a place like the Otter that brings peace. It is merely an escape for 5 days from daily routine. I did not feel like escaping when I came. I am content regardless of my circumstance."
They responded as we walked barefoot to the car
"You have something we don't have."
On our last night which happened to be at the young girl's house in Knysna on a farm, (5 of us bonded quite deep and decided to stay another night) she opened up to me and told me lots about her broken family. I was able to give her lots of input and it surely felt like a divinely appointed time. Not scheduled by me but by God still seeking that 1 sheep leaving the 99 in Stilbaai :-)
When I walked into her house, the first thing I did was to ask her questions about all the photos on the wall. She looked at me and said, “I cannot remember any of my friends ever looking at the pictures and asking me about my family!” I was so shocked.
The other young person asked me what I thought of Karma… The type of questions from this group was so unexpected but because of my God stories that I shared, they were really interested in knowing more.
I can simply praise God for the Otter Outreach setup!
ON MY WAY HOME -we stopped at a house for kids with special needs.
We told the lady that we just finished the Otter.
She said - I was a walker myself. I did most of the SA Trails. A few days ago I told my daughter that I was going to get rid of my backpack with ALL THE GEAR... and place it on the sidewalk.
I put up my hand as a joke and said: Tannie, I have NO GEAR... would you like to put it on my sidewalk?
She looked at me and smiled: "ITS ALL YOURS"
I do not live to eat
I eat to live
but lately... I've been baking quite a bit more and I enjoy it.
This is because I am growing a sourdough yeast plant and need to feed it with flour every morning. I take the flour that I need to scrape and make lovely pancakes with it each day.
This filling below is boiled sweet potato with fried onion & garlic and a dash of balsamic vinegar It is really a tasty paste!
I finally got my ciabata right and made excellent hummus! I was so happy about this. For nearly two months now I have been cutting out meat and eating what I never though I would - bread! My weight is completely stable... I finally found the culprit to many things - I am A+ blood type so it should come as no surprise. The surprise is - I am doing it. It is working.
Today I hope to finish the Tabernacle Video. To imagine, that I've been with a group of people who have zero knowledge about what this video is about - is staggering to me. At least, for some of them... this will now change.
My deepest hope for them is that they too might experience entering through the torn veil, coming face to face with their Maker and Saviour.