The medical portion of the mission took place in the second week of the visit. The Cape Cod team erected a large tent beside a playing field, adjacent to the building site, and in five consecutive days the MUSC team (joined by a nurse from the Cape Cod team), treated a total of 1025 patients. Most treatments were for the effects of AIDS (which is epidemic through southern Africa); and conditions of aging. They also treated many pediatric cases. In addition to diagnoses, procedures and medications, every patient who passed through the tent was prayed over by the care providers.
Revival-style meetings were held in the tent at night. These featured singing, dancing, witness talks (by the Cape Cod team, translated into Zulu), and prayers and sermons by Pastor Selby and Pastor Daryl, joined by local pastors from other churches. Dancing by the Youth for Christ team was suspended on one memorable evening when a brief thunder storm produced two inches of water which flowed in one side of the tent and out the other.
Among the most tragic victims of the AIDS epidemic are hundreds of orphans; more than 10 percent of Badplaas households are headed by a child of 12 or younger. Dozens of them participated in the evening tent ministry.
The mission took place near the end of the Southern summer. In anticipation of the coming cold season the team purchased and distributed dozens of sturdy blankets to the neediest families in the hills around Badplaas. Team members were accompanied in this effort by pastors of nearby churches of all denominations.
Mummers & Mimes
A part of the Funani ministry was to children, whom they delighted with interactive clown acts and pantomime. All their stories and skits carried a message, either in support of AIDS education or illustrating lessons from the Bible. Teens and adults from the Cape Cod team joined in their efforts.
In promotion of the evening tent meetings, team members took local children as translators and went out into the surrounding countryside to carry the message of that night's events. Every home visit included an offer to pray for anyone in need, often with touching and dramatic results. Several visitors were asked to pray over the dying, some of whom included young adults in the final stages of AIDS. For most of the families visited by this outreach, sick or well, the call was the first direct contact they had ever had with members of another race in their own homes.
By law, the South African school system does not permit students to attend classes unless they wear a school uniform. Even in those cases, as in Badplaas, where an enlightened headmaster chooses to make compassionate exceptions on the basis of need, any students without the standard attire are still set apart by their dress, and sometimes subjected to embarrassment and childhood cruelties. In orphan households, a school uniform could mean the difference between earning a future through education or, by exclusion from school, being forced into prostitution to support their siblings, and near-certain death. The Cape Cod mission team purchased numbers of uniforms in sizes supplied by the headmaster in advance of our visit, and presented them to the delighted recipients, privately, after songs and prayers with the whole student body.
The septic hole was begun by machinery hired for the day, but the last two feet of hardened clay proved too strong for the power shovel. Volunteers descended into the pit and worked alongside paid laborers at the grueling task of picking and shoveling out the last of the clay and rocks, completing the excavation. Then the volunteers assembled and mortared the cinderblock holding tank, a structure equal in size to a small house.
The ironworkers, two brothers-in-law who worked at nominal wages to build churches all over South Africa, returned to the site on completion of the walls to add the support system for the galvanized tin roof which would be installed in the week after our mission ended. Perched on the unprotected rafters, they worked with arc welders in the sweltering sun for 8 hours at a stretch.
Built around one of three major geothermal wells in southern Africa (one of the other two, in nearby Swaziland, is for the exclusive use of royalty), the spa at Badplaas is the site of one of the country's leading resorts. Thanks to the advocacy of Living Hope co-pastor Erik Eskelund's sister and brother-in-law, who are employees at the resort, accommodations and food were made available to the mission volunteers at a small fraction of their cost to the general public. A high point of the day was a dip in one or more of the Olympic-sized swimming pools. For many, the apogee for the trip was a safari ride through the resort's game park - a gift to the Cape Cod volunteers by the world's greatest administrator, the indispensable and immensely talented Beth Marques.