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

Latest News

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Theres always something new and interesting to experience here in Madagascar. For over a week now, Ive had cutaneous larva migrans on my hands - basically its hookworms that have burrowed into my skin and have started zig-zagging around as they grow (under my skin). Ive got the big one on the inside of my wrist and Ive got a couple others around the tips of my fingers (one has started wrapping around my index finger on my left hand by now). It took me over a week to figure out what it was (Ive alternated between thinking it was a simple bug bite, to a spider bite, to fungus in multiple spots; but finally the zig-zagging lines that have continued to grow have proved what it is). Maybe its just me, but I feel like every time it hits the point of becoming unbearably itchy, thats when I can notice that the line has zig-zagged and spread out a bit more... maybe as the worm has been tunneling through the layer underneath my outer skin? Pretty disgusting! But thankfully no worse than itching and a bit of pressure where it stretches the skin a bit too tight on my knuckles.

I mustve gotten it while digging through the dirt that Ive been using in my small garden that Ive made here at our house. Apparently an infected cat or dog can spread it through their feces, particularly in sandy soils, and then it spreads to people when the infected soil comes into contact with human skin. Thankfully people arent their actual target and they cant really go anywhere else (no further than they can grow and stretch out underneath my skin that is) and they cant reproduce inside me at all, nor can I contaminate anyone else. And thankfully the treatment is fairly readily available and easy (Ive started the medicine today). I should be completely cured of it within about 5 days. And hopefully I can find a way to treat our neighbors kittens, who are the likely culprits for spreading these things into my garden soil. I dont really want this to happen again, haha! (It did happen to Matimu once though, when he was about 1 year old and he was playing on the beach on the east coast of Madagascar - he got one each on the backs of his legs. Back then I think it took us about a month to figure out what it was and to treat it. So its not the first time our family has had to deal with this particularly disgusting infection!)

There's always something new and "interesting" to experience here in Madagascar. For over a week now, I've had "cutaneous larva migrans" on my hands - basically it's hookworms that have burrowed into my skin and have started zig-zagging around as they grow (under my skin). I've got the big one on the inside of my wrist and I've got a couple others around the tips of my fingers (one has started wrapping around my index finger on my left hand by now). It took me over a week to figure out what it was (I've alternated between thinking it was a simple bug bite, to a spider bite, to fungus in multiple spots; but finally the zig-zagging lines that have continued to grow have proved what it is). Maybe it's just me, but I feel like every time it hits the point of becoming unbearably itchy, that's when I can notice that the line has zig-zagged and spread out a bit more... maybe as the worm has been tunneling through the layer underneath my outer skin? Pretty disgusting! But thankfully no worse than itching and a bit of pressure where it stretches the skin a bit too tight on my knuckles.

I must've gotten it while digging through the dirt that I've been using in my small garden that I've made here at our house. Apparently an infected cat or dog can spread it through their feces, particularly in sandy soils, and then it spreads to people when the infected soil comes into contact with human skin. Thankfully people aren't their actual target and they can't really go anywhere else (no further than they can grow and stretch out underneath my skin that is) and they can't reproduce inside me at all, nor can I contaminate anyone else. And thankfully the treatment is fairly readily available and easy (I've started the medicine today). I should be completely cured of it within about 5 days. And hopefully I can find a way to treat our neighbors' kittens, who are the likely culprits for spreading these things into my garden soil. I don't really want this to happen again, haha! (It did happen to Matimu once though, when he was about 1 year old and he was playing on the beach on the east coast of Madagascar - he got one each on the backs of his legs. Back then I think it took us about a month to figure out what it was and to treat it. So it's not the first time our family has had to deal with this particularly disgusting infection!)
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We call this "parasy kankana" or literally worm-flea. People take banana skin, heat or burn the inside to the highest temperature they can bear and stick it to the skin where it is. That would kill the worm-flea. Then they take a pin or a needle to make a little opening in the skin and get it out. The east coast wet sandy ground is full of it.

This evening we were happy to be able to demonstrate to one of our local friends how to do a simple "discovery Bible study" (DBS) using a Bible story we had translated into the Antakarana language. She's one of the same ones we've been doing local outreach and prayer times with lately. DBS is such a great simple and effective tool for discipling others in ways that can be easily reproduced and multiply. We hope to use this method (or one much like it) to follow up and disciple those who we've been reaching out to nearby. ... See MoreSee Less

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Mahaliana be ahy izany tantatra ao anatin'ny Baiboly voadika amin'ny teny Antakarana izany! Ahoana no mba mety hananako azy?

We had a good time going out to the clinic this morning and also meeting with an older man who lives nearby. It was good to see the enthusiasm our local friends had to share the Gospel and to pray with people. There's also a lot that we can still share with them about the process of disciple-making and using contextual stories to communicate about Jesus. The best part of the morning was the older man being eager to have us return regularly to his house to share more stories about Jesus! Our friends here have also decided on a regular schedule to meet with us for prayer and outreach. We're excited about the start of this!

Please pray that we'd be able to share well with our local friends here about the process of making disciples who make disciples and that they'd be receptive to expanding their methods and goals for ministry. Praise God for an encouraging start with them this morning!
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3 weeks ago

Willards in Madagascar - www.madmissions.com

We had a great meeting this afternoon with a few local believers! It was exciting to hear them tell us about their passion for simple non-institutional churches - one of the first times I've ever heard a Malagasy person talk about this! We also shared with them our vision for seeing local disciples multiplied, with the long-term goal that everyone in northern Madagascar can hear the good news and have the choice to follow Jesus together with a simple local church in their own language. This weekend we plan to all go together to one of the local clinics in town, to talk and pray with people there. We hope this is the start of a fruitful partnership that will see God's Kingdom established firmly among the Antakarana! He's at work here! ... See MoreSee Less

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