It’s real a joy and an amazing privilege to travel to remote parts of Africa with the aim of making a positive difference in people’s lives.  After all, it’s not every holiday that a local Fish Hoek Valley surfer gets to be part of a team of dedicated and passionate people taking the hope of fresh drinking water and the Gospel of Jesus Christ into a thirsty Mozambican village.

On the 21st of June, during my time off from a busy BSocSci degree at UCT, a team of eight enthusiastic and servant-hearted members of King of Kings Baptist Church in Sunvalley and I piled into the Church’s kombi and travelled the twenty six hour journey to South Africa’s North-Eastern boundary. We’d be short-term missionaries working under Samaria Mission inMozambique for one week. Our goal was to provide the rural village of Muqwenbani with a reliable source of fresh drinking water, saving local women a daily hot and dusty six kilometre walk to the nearest river, as well as to teach the Bible’s Creation story.

After spending the night of the 22nd in Polokwane, we made our way through theKrugerNational Park and intoSouthern Mozambique. Driving through the Park was awesome. Elephant sightings were frequent and never without excitement.  Other animal sightings included zebra, crocodile, giraffe, vervet monkey, wildebeest and other buck.  The warthog were definitely the team favourite!  Our expedition leaders, two Samaria Mission pastors, led us through the border post and on into Mozambican bush country. We spent the next hour bouncing and sliding over dusty bush roads through sporadic Mopane forests, punctuated with baobab trees and passing many villages.

Muqwembani is a very large village spread over many kilometres. Our team with the Samaria Mission crew including camp crew, cooks and indigenous translators who were also qualified pastors, spent the first day setting up camp close to the local school. We spent our days meeting the locals and talking with them through translators in the fields and at the school, sharing the Creation Story. An unexpected highlight was being invited to attend the national Mozambican Day of Independence ceremony in the village led by the chief and his dignitaries.

Muqwembani’s main source of income is the production of a palm wine using fermented juice from the palm tree root. Men in the village spend the daylight hours in the palm fields producing, drinking and selling the wine.

Evenings were taken up with an episode of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth which we projected onto a spread out sheet span as a screen for the villagers to enjoy. Each episode was received with fascination and load bursts of laughter whenever the predator caught the prey. Camp life was very enjoyable and even included hot bush showers made possible by a makeshift geyser.

All through the week the well was slowly but surely drilled with a home-made rig and different members of our team helping each day. On my work day I shovelled mud for four hours and followed orders. Drilling and the assembly of the well pump was finished on the last day and the well turned out to be the best Samaria team had dug to date , producing fresh clean water only a short walk from the village.

By the time we left on the 30th of June, there had been a very positive response to our work. Many villagers had listened and shown an interest in the message and we hope that a Church will be established there soon. The well drilling was a complete success and will significantly ease water issues during the coming dry season. I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and am grateful to have been part of such meaningful outreach.

By Jack Straw