Like much of Cape Town, Pniel is bordered by a mountain, and even though when we arrived it was dreary, cold and about to get real wet, the scene was beautiful – much like our fall in Michigan. We were welcomed into Winston and Denise’s home where we met Uncle Eddie who was to be our tour guide of the village before a braai (barbeque) and meeting meeting our host families. On the tour we started by setting the very first church building that was inaugurated in 1843 as well as the two additions that were added on in 1850 and 1865.
Following the church we toured the Pniel Museum which gave the history of Pniel as the first mission station established outside of Cape Town. It also included rooms designed as an old kitchen, living room, church, and school. There was also a room celebrating the sports of Pniel and Winston’s Rugby picture was hanging up. The museum was quite interesting because the people of Pniel are so proud of their village and they want everybody to see and love it as much as they do. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we loved our time there and it was a great home away from home. Below are testimonials about Pniel from the six different homes that students from our group stayed in:
We stayed with Denise’s sister’s family. They were very welcoming and nice people. We went with them to a 21st birthday party that was Moulan Rouge themed which was a god time. On Sunday they took us on a tour of Pniel and the neighboring communities which was educational. It was a privilege because we were able to hear their perspective on Apartheid and how it is still affecting many families. Overall our family was amazing and we couldn’t have asked for a better host family! -Sarah and Jessica
We stayed at Henrietta and Winston #2’s house. We were able to chat with them for awhile before their son and nephew (Clint and Warren) picked us up and showed us around Pniel and took us to the Rugby Clubhouse for a going away party for a family friend. After the Clubhouse we went to Henrietta’s sister’s house to get to know each other and compare experiences and perspectives on the U.S. and South Africa. By the end of the trip, it truly felt like we were family because everyone was welcoming and made us feel at home – they even taught us a new game called bottles. -Maddie, Stephanie, and Margie
Our family took us in with open arms and were unbelievably warm and accomodating. We were treated like family and were able to enjoy pizza, red wine, and good ‘ol South African board games. We learned a lot and we couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling and positive weekend. -Glenn and Anthony
Our host Mom was Lucille, and she was so sweet and caring. Pniel was nothing but welcoming and the town was beautiful. To be totally immersed in another community is definitely a unique experience and was one of the best things about South Africa so far! -Claira and Challie
The homestay was my favorite thing so far because I stayed with the most loving family (Denise and Winston), who made me feel like I was one of them. I got to meet a lot of sweet people at a birthday party and got to play with their three daughters the whole time. It was great to be truly immersed into their culture and be with genuine people. -Esther
Pniel was interesting. It was nice to experience the middle class of South Africa. It would be nice if Pniel was representative of most of Africa, but that is not the case. However, as we traveled through the quaint village we couldn’t help but notice the way everyone waved to anyone and everyone as they passed them on the street. The warm hugs that greeted us as we walked into homes made us feel like we were coming home after being gone for months. Being in such a close-knit community that is so proud of their history and so welcoming was so refreshing, and was exactly what we all needed. We all now have a community that will always welcome us with open arms even though we all come from different experiences, backgrounds, and cultures. -Zak, Kanyn, and Casey
In closing, Pniel was a warm and welcoming village that offered us a unique experience. Now I ask you, how do you celebrate your history and how do you welcome those who aren’t from your community?