Friday, September 18, 2009
Today I climb on my BMW GS11:50 and head for Vleiland.
This is a farming community about 300km from home. Head up the N1 to Laingsburg and turn right along a dusty road towards Seweweekspoort (tr: 7 weeks pass). Just before the cutting in the mountains is a lovely fertile valley watered by the Huis River.
Three years ago my friends Jeff and Jette Vye abandoned the city to farm tea and vegetables, and have invited me to stay with them for the weekend.
I have twice been to visit this valley: each time to take a church service for the community. 10 farmers bought the old Dutch Reformed church, and they take turns in leading a fortnightly Sunday service. Some of them can do this: one studied at the Stellenbosch theological seminary before his father’s death called him to take over the family farm. Another is the son of a Dutch Reformed Minister. (Of the latter – Jeff says that it feels like he reads his father’s old sermons when he takes the service). But when it is Jeff’s turn he asks me to come.
The farmers are a mixed group of people, some of old faming stock, and some like Jeff having escaped the busy city life. They and their workers all crowd into the church, forming this fascinating, mostly Afrikaans, congregation. The pianist is hard of hearing, so she takes the bit between her teeth and sets off at her own tempo, dragging the singers behind her. And there is a whiff of Saturday night’s revelry that fuels the lusty singing.
The last time I was there I encountered a wizened old man who announced that he had brought his son to be married. He explained that his son was 40 years old and had lived with a woman for 20 years and he was so glad that I was there to see that they “did the right thing”. He was bitterly disappointed when I pointed out that I did not have my marriage documents with me. So I promised to return.
Tomorrow there will be a wedding. And I will take the Sunday service. And I am grateful to be part of the life of this community.