Map of South AfricaAdam and Lora Willard were US Peace Corps Volunteers in South Africa from July 2008 until November 2010.  While in South Africa they lived in a rural village known as Dumphries B, located in the northeastern Mpumalanga province and just a few kilometers from the fence of Kruger National Park.  Almost everyone in Dumphries B are members of the Shangaan tribe and spoke the xiTsonga/Shangaan language, which we also learned to communicate competently.  Many residents of Dumphries B were also refugees from political turmoil in Mozambique.

With Peace Corps South Africa, Lora and Adam were part of the School and Community Resources Project and worked for two primary schools in the area.  In Dumphries B was Mahlahluvana Primary School, and just 4-5 kilometers away in Dumphries A was Welani Primary School.  Our job was to assess the needs and resources of the schools and community and participate in developing them and strengthening the teachers and school staff in any way possible.

To that end, Lora engaged primarily in literacy projects.  She organized and created a library at both primary schools, trainedLora with the Book Club at Mahlahluvana children and teachers to run and manage the libraries, and created a curriculum for the library to be used school-wide on a weekly basis for every class.  She also started an after-school reading club at Mahlahluvana and developed a curriculum for teaching literacy to Grades 2 and 3 and trained those teachers in how to use it to improve the literacy rates of the learners (which were dismally low).

One major area of involvement for Adam was Information Technology.  He created a curriculum and did one-on-one training with all the teachers and staff at each school, teaching basic computer skills to most and advanced skills including maintenance and repair to a few.  He also did computer repair work (for free, as Peace Corps is an entirely non-profit job) for everyone who asked for it in about a 20-mile radius.  Near the end of his service, he set up a computer lab (with the help of Ulusaba and Emmaus Road Church) for teaching computer skills to the learners, at each primary school and the replacement Peace Corps Volunteer took up this work.

Adam also began an after-school Art Club at Mahlahluvana Primary School that he co-taught with another teacher.  With the Art Club, the kids did contests, painted murals at the school (including a giant world map and South African map), and eventually took a field trip to the capital city to visit art museums and professional sculptors.

World Cup Mural painting by Mahlahluvana Art ClubFinally, Adam was also heavily involved in helping the schools develop their local resources.  This particularly included helping solidify a partnership between the schools and a local private game lodge, Ulusaba.  Through this partnership, Ulusaba and their guests funded many projects for the schools including both libraries and computer labs, the Art Club murals and field trip, a playground and sports field for Mahlahluvana, and the publishing of a cultural yearbook created by the Grade 7 class with Adam.

We both immensely enjoyed our time in South Africa and even extended our time by 2 months more than our contracted date in order to properly finish up some of our projects.  The opportunity to live among and live as the rural South Africans and build deep and meaningful relationships with them and our co-workers was more rewarding than can ever be explained.  On top of that, we brought a wonderful souvenir back with us from South Africa, our son, Matimu!  His name actually means "History" in the Shangaan language.

All of the posts on this page are e-mail newsletters we sent out during our time in South Africa.  If you're just visiting this page but you'd like to receive similar and regular updates throughout our years in Madagascar, just send us a message with your e-mail address and we'll add you to the list.

If you'd like to see the photo-filled book we created with the 7th graders from Mahlahluvana, please click the cover here to download the .pdf.

It's really a fantastic piece of cross-cultural communication, as the 7th graders did their best to share their lives in the English language.  All of their writing has been preserved just as they wrote it, with pictures drawn by the kids and with photos of the authors in the middle of their daily activities.

Modern Shangaan Life: From a 7th Grade Perspective

Click here for the Modern Shangaan Life: From a 7th Grade Perspective, book in .pdf format

 

And if you'd like to read all of our articles / stories from South Africa in one printable .pdf document, then please click here and enjoy!

Thoughts from South Africa by Adam & Lora Willard

 

 Click here for an album of our best pictures from South Africa:

Click here for an album of our best South Africa photos

Click here for an album of our best South Africa photos!

 

 

A Cloud of Witnesses

…a scene of dust and blood, of body parts strewn haphazardly, some still twitching, disjointed, bleeding out. Not one piece is connected to another and thus the entire body, broken apart and moments from death, lies collapsed in the sand, unable to move, unable even to seek help.

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Merry Christmas!

Each and every one of us were foreigners to God’s Kingdom, to his lands, and with no hope of acceptance. So then God came to us, to our land. As one of us, he tore down the fences and the dividing walls that were built by our sin; and the effort killed him. But death couldn’t keep him and…

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David Immanuel Willard is Here!

David Immanuel Willard has made his grand entrance! Born on Dec 6th at 3:17 am in Pretoria, South Africa (7:17 pm Dec 5th, CST), weighing 7.6 lbs. and 21 in. long, he’s a sight to behold!

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South Africa & Tanzania 2013 Photos

We visited South Africa and Tanzania between April and June 2013, visiting the village where we used to be PCVs, some training in Tanzania, a safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and visiting a missionary team in an Alagwa village in Tanzania. 124 photos

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Back and Forth

We stepped off the taxi, three of us this time, back in our village in South Africa.  We began...

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Transition to Madagascar Photos

Pictures from our move to Madagascar. They’re mostly from South Africa, in Pretoria, Dumphries, and Kruger, where we stopped for a few weeks along the way to visit friends and “family”. But the last 10-15 are from our arrival in Madagascar. 139 photos

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South Africa – Best Of Photos

These are a collection of our best photos from our time in Peace Corps South Africa, living in Dumphries in Mpumalanga province (near the border of Kruger), and working in the School and Community Resources Project. It was a great time, from July 2008 to November 2010. 513 photos.

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Ku Tsundzuka

Our time is up.  We extended a couple of months, but those are finished now too.  After nearly two...

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Video Introduction

Watch this video for an introduction to the Antakarana people and our work among them

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We just heard the good news that in our part of Madagascar (and also any other part of the country without any cases of covid-19), the government has lifted the restrictions on gathering in groups!

So, we should be able to move forward on some of the ministry plans we've had put on hold during the time of coronavirus lockdowns in Madagascar. Praise God for this opportunity to continue ministry with no fear of health risks here! Pray for us as we hope to visit Antanamazava again this week or next, that we'll do exactly as God is leading us to forward his Kingdom there and from there.

Please continue to pray for other parts of Madagascar, those around Tamatave, Tana, and Fianarantsoa - the coronavirus continues to spread little by little there and thus their lives and travel remain restricted and with some fear of potentially spreading the disease to those with weak health.
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Things have been quiet here as we've followed the Madagascar government's efforts at keeping the coronavirus from spreading here in Madagascar. (So far it seems to be going very successfully.) For us that's meant a pause from our formal ministry meeting times, but we've still had some great times of prayer with our closest local ministry partner. And though things are quiet with *our* efforts, God has assured us that he's still working in the hearts and minds of the Antakarana people, drawing to him those he's chosen to be the leaders of his Kingdom movement among them.

This Easter season with so much craziness in the world, it helps us to remember that in Jesus, though we often go through periods of suffering and even death, his resurrection and new life is always the result! We've been praying regularly for many of you all around the world, that you would be safe and protected from the virus, or healed if you've already been in contact with it, and that through it all you would be aware of Jesus's presence. Through his death and resurrection, and the gift of his Holy Spirit, he's always with us in any time of trouble or sorrow. With Paul we can say, "though outwardly we are wasting away (or maybe sometimes we just feel that way), but inwardly we are being renewed day by day." We identify with Jesus in his death, that we might also hope to share with him in his resurrection. He is risen indeed!
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The Joy of the Lord be your strength.The covenant of Gods protection and preservation be upon you all in Jesus name.

Happy Easter Willards!!!! I hope you are doing good

God bless and keep you all safe and well 🙏🏻

We went back out to Antanamazava today (the first day in a week that had good enough weather! God prepares the way!) We weren't able to show the Jesus film yet because it was a long time before we found the head village official to discuss it with. But in the meantime we had a great talk with several people in the village, about our hopes for disciple-making in simple Holy Spirit-dependent ways. One lady really seems like she might be a "person of peace" there... she was talking about how she feels like whatever she receives from God she should freely share with others. She also said that she really felt like God called her to that village specifically (previously she lived in another area a ways from there) and that he has a specific task for her there, to help people know and follow him. As we shared more about simple reproducible discipleship methods and discipling people in their own language, she was very receptive.

Eventually we did find the head village official to speak with him and he said the door is open for us there. He showed us the place where we'll share the first part of the Jesus film (right in the center of the village). So we'll return Thursday evening to show the first part, to engage with people in discussion, and to see if anyone at that point wants to commit to meeting regularly for discipleship through Bible stories. (We should share the next part of the Jesus film the following week.)

We may not have achieved our plan for today, but I don't doubt that God has directed our paths! Pray that the person(s) of peace (if this lady or others) will become clear, that they'll take a strong leadership in the work there, and that they'll be able to spread it far and wide!
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Exciting...praying for those who need to hear God’s Word will be there Thursday!

May the first fruits of your work in this land be the vessels that God will use to establish your precious work by His Holy Spirit in Jesus name.

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