Arrival in South Africa
I arrived safely in Pretoria on Wednesday, April 23rd, and it’s been amazing to be back! Right now I’m living at Pangani, in the 3-bedroom staff house on the property. When Sarah arrives (my fellow new staff member/apprentice from last year/writing project ministry partner/all around good buddy), we’ll both be staying here until we find an apartment together in the area. Right now, I’m enjoying having my “own” place again, though it’s a little strange to be rattling around in this house by myself!
The morning of my second day here, my parents called with the news that my brother and sister-in-law welcomed their new son into the world just before midnight on April 23rd. Arriving 6 weeks early, Daniel David Hillaker weighed in at 4 lbs. 15 oz. I think it was a little sneaky of him to decide to arrive on the same calendar day as my arrival in South Africa.
Over the past week and a half, I’ve been regaining my bearings, catching up with friends from last year, and getting acquainted with this year’s eight apprentices. They’re really a great group and I’ve enjoyed the initial getting-to-know-you conversations, as well as some deeper talks here and there. I’m beginning to explore and define my role on the staff team, and the part I’ll play this year in the apprenticeship program. It’s been good to attend the learning conversations, book discussions, and other community activities as I start to figure out the dynamics of this year’s community.
On Friday evenings this year, our community has a meal together, followed by a creative worship and prayer time. This in some ways replaces the Sunday braai we did regularly last year. We invite friends we’ve met in ministry or elsewhere to join us in sharing a meal and worshipping together. This past Friday, I got to jump in and help plan the worship time with one of the apprentices. It was great to spend time planning together and then leading the community in a time of worship focused on God’s character as revealed in creation.
In our curriculum this week, we’ll be finishing up the Submerging Posture—a time to focus on going deeper in our engagement with God, in our relationships with each other, and in really “submerging” into the community and culture around us. The apprentices head out on Tuesday to spend three days staying with the people or ministries where they have been serving or have felt led to serve. The following week will be their first week off, and then we’ll start into the Inviting Posture—the third curriculum unit of the year. I feel like the year’s been rushing on without me and I really need to catch up!
Some things to pray for if you are so inclined:
-That all the details of getting settled here (finding an apartment, buying a car, etc.) would go smoothly
-For me to be patient with myself as I get to know new people and figure out my role on the team and in the community
-That I would be intentional and take the initiative in building friendships with the apprentices
-That I would look to God’s leading as I explore my new responsibilities and start planning how to put my vision and dreams for ministry into action