Friday, November 17, 2006

Hi everyone!

Greetings from Leondale, South Africa! I trust that these notes will prove to be an encouragement in the Lord and bring praise to Him. The first of what I expect to be five weeks here has been wonderful! I realize that many of you may be surprised at my sudden departure. Please don't think that I didn't care to tell you. It was exactly a week and a half from the time that Pastor Mark and I talked until I stepped on the airplane! Surprised was be a good word to describe me, as was excited, and even stunned as I watched the Lord everything out so quickly including several of the necessary details within just 12 hours of the time that I talked to Pastor Mark!

I've been interested in missions work for years and would be very happy if God would provide that I could minister His Word full time. I've been hoping to see Africa for some time and to learn more of the life of a missionary. For this reason I'm very happy to be staying with Pastor Mark and Auntie Wyla (as they are affectionately known.) Thursday, the 16th was their 38th wedding anniversary and and marks 53 faithful years on the mission fields of Africa. When they first came to their house here in South Africa 30 years ago there were no missionaries in the area. Now Community Bible church, two blocks away gathers several times throughout the week for prayer, Sunday services, visitation/evangelism, singing, soccer, volleyball, Bible studies, and weekday youth ministries. God raised it from nothing and now it is an active, soulwinning and discipling church from those that the Lord has brought through the Grings work here. Several other churches in nearby towns have been planted and continue, originating at CBC and still others have gone out as foreign missionaries. I love to witness the transforming and reproducing power of God.

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Leondale is a suburb of Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. It is very modern and probably not at all what you imagine when you think, 'Josh is in Africa.' Living at the Grings home is actually similar to home in many respects. We eat mostly American foods and I have an internet connection, and I sleep on a bed with a normal spring matress. What more could a guy ask for, right? Really though, on a deeper level things are similar to home too. It's the same beautiful children as those on my bus route at home, English is predominant, sin enslaves mankind and drives him to destruction, God's Word provides hope, and it's a joy to be with God's people. I sat thinking the other day, 'Just what would tell me that I'm not in America?'

There are some big differences, and I haven't woken up confused yet about where I am. More than once though I've woken up with names running through my head of people I met recently... Easy to remember names like Wisani, Luvo, Tabesa, Thandho, Ntsako. The water here tastes different too. How do you describe tastes? Just different from anything I've tasted, yuk. Oh, and driving on the other side of the road still gets me concerned. A missionary family from the states that lives next door told me the other day that they've played jokes on Americans when they pick them up from the airport by walking to the 'driver's' side of the car while the American naturally wanders over and looks confused at the steering wheel in front of him. Another thing about driving. It's not uncommon here to be hurtling down the road at 120 or 130 kph (75 or 80 mph) and suddenly come to a traffic jam. This has happened several times. Overall, it's just a little more tense of an experience for me. Speaking of travel, walking is another good option. :-) It's very common here, and more children in the Sunday School walk than ride the bus. This culture hinders my frenetic tendencies (a little bit.)

Until later,

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