I thought I’d write a few posts this week about our trip to South Africa, and today I want to talk about the good, hospitable, hard-working folks we enjoyed. We flew into Johannesburg and spent most of the first week in Pretoria — the capital of South Africa and home to the University of Pretoria.
Marius Nel, a pastor and NT teacher at the University, kindly met us at the airport — and it is incredibly helpful to be met by a local for transportation after a lengthy international flight. He took us to a lovely guesthouse near Pretoria’s famous Wonderboom (sp?) and then he and his wife, Jampie (also a pastor), were wonderful hosts for us that week. We visited a number of places, including Nelson Mandela’s home, the cradle of humanity, and sites around Pretoria. I gave a public lecture at the university about why folks walk away from the faith. It was a stimulating session for me, and I hope for the listeners. We were happy to hear the newspaper wrote a big piece about the lecture. (The piece was in Afrikans, so I couldn’t read a word!) Marius also attended the conference in Stellenbosch, and the picture above is from our evening dinner at the Wijnhuis. Many pastors in South Africa have PhDs, and I wish more American pastors would follow in their steps.
In Stellenbosch we were hosted by Coenie Burger and Communitas, a ministry of the Dutch Reformed Church that focuses on pastoral education. I will write more about this conference later this week. Coenie arranged for us to stay at Just Joeys, a wonderful guesthouse a few hundred yards from the University and theological faculty offices. The easy access we had, both to the church were I spoke on Sunday and to the university, made our life so much easier.
We’ve been to Stellenbosch twice, and both times in May — and that means the onset of South Africa’s winter. After a morning conference on Friday with some local pastors, we had Saturday for some sightseeing — in the rain and wind and mist. We were blessed to have had Andre Serfontein be our escort throughout the day … and escort us he did. He took us into the vineyards around Stellenbosch — to Tokara and to La Motte, where we were treated to an expert explanation of their wines (and samples to boot!). Andre, who is a pastor at Stellenbosch Congregation and who sings very well in their band, took us then to Fransjhoek for lunch and more views. Wondrous! That evening his kind wife, Ann, joined us at a nice restaurant in Stellenbosch (Cognito). Their hospitality for our sightseeing day made us deeply grateful for their kindnesses.
Now I skip to Thursday, our last day in South Africa — Theo and Wilma Geyser, along with little Lucca (a miracle baby), took us on a grand tour of Cape Town — to see Table Mountain (last time it was covered with mist), to Hout Bay for a splendid lunch on the ocean bay, to a shore where we saw hundreds of penguins up close, and then along the coast and back to Stellenbosch for a wonderful evening meal at a vineyard (Vredeheim). Again, splendid hospitality from the wonderful, kind, and loving folks in South Africa.
Kris and I want to say once again to the Nels, to the Burgers, to the Serfonteins, and to the Geysers — “buyadonkey!” We will never forget your kindness to us.