Over the next few months, the students learnt things like Bush hygiene and safety, cooking on an open fire, making the actual fire, bush bread making, bush hair salon, First Aid level 1 and CPR.
We also taught them how to use a bush long drop used in rural Africa and also the toilet system used in the South East Asian rural areas. Pictures of this hysterically funny training below.
Then came their first introductory mission trip to the Drakensberg. Here they get a taste of “roughing” it, but they still have running water and flushing toilets! We do have some compassion! 😊
They do team builds, cooking, hiking and putting their bush skills to the test. In this group we had a few of the girls absolutely terrified of heights, so again, some of them were pushed way out of their comfort zones.
The campsite we use in the Drakensberg is the Glen Reenen Sanpark camp. The facilities and the hiking trails are perfect for our purpose and training. This campsite is also shared by a troop of baboons! They are so huge, brazen and fearless – they even walk right into your tent – with you in it and raid your trailer, if not locked. Needless to say, the encounters with these baboons provided much screams, laughter and horror! Good training for any mission trips into very rural Africa!
The hikes are breath-taking and there are quite a few trails to choose from. The first trail we all take, we teach a lesson to the students that as with Mission work, there are highs and valleys, there are times when we can stop to smell the roses and look at the beauty all around us. Then there are times when we have to work hard to get to a point where we can rest and regain strength and then the final push up high areas to reach the summit. Here they enjoy the thrill of their achievement and the wonder of God’s creation.
The next day is a longer hike with ups and downs, again pushing them to go past their perceived limits. Some adventurous and fitter students push on with Justin and Odette (who are extremely fit and seasoned hikers), while a group of less fit students, return to base to start supper.
Singing around the campfire or showing a movie in the bush on a makeshift screen or eating marshmallows and maries, ends each perfect day.
The day before we depart, we traditionally take the group to the village and put their newfound outreach skills to the test. It’s a surprise every year, so I can’t elaborate, but it is, definitely, the highlight of every trip we have done to the Drakensberg! God gets ALL the glory!
At the end of each day on these trips, we ask the students what their worst part of the day was and then their best part. Every one of them say the worst was when we told them what they had to do, and the best part was when they did it and reaped the blessing. We are blessed to be a blessing becomes very real to them when we do this outreach and it set the stage for all the other outreach and trips they did during the rest of the GAP year!