Sweet-spirited, soft-spoken, and beautiful - all words I would use to describe today's guest. I had the pleasure of meeting Corli Hall and her family earlier this year, when my husband and I went on a mission trip to the country of South Africa. I learned a lot from Corli in the brief time we were in Port Elizabeth, and it's my privilege to introduce her to you!
Maria: Welcome, Corli! Tell us a bit about yourself:
Corli: I am a native to the country of South Africa. I was born in the big city of Johannesburg and grew up in a smaller town called Bloemfontein. My mother-tongue is Afrikaans but after marrying my American husband I gained the opportunity to get better acquainted with English. After moving back to South Africa to start our ministry with the Xhosa people, I also had the privilege of learning the Xhosa language. I am passionate about my Lord and Savior and I am passionate about my family, especially my role as a wife and mother.
I love to bake, and I love to eat all things baked, especially the sugary kind! Apart from my delight in all things sweet, I am very interested in healthy living. I strive to be an encouragement to others!
Maria: Wonderful! Did you always dream of being a missionary's wife?
Corli: As a matter of fact, no. I used to enjoy the idea of following my family's footsteps into the world of education, but when I was 17 years old I fell in love, and as a result, my life took another direction. Who did I fall in love with? I fell in love with Jesus!!! From then on, the only thing I wanted to do was serve Him. In submission to Him and according to His plan for my life, He proceeded to put those dreams and desires, such as serving on the mission field, in my heart. Then as an answer to prayer, He brought my prince in shining armor from across the seas and today I have the privilege of serving the Lord alongside my husband here in South Africa.
Maria: What a beautiful love story! Describe the mission field in South Africa:
Corli: South Africa is a unique country. It consists of four main people groups. The apartheid regime left visible scars as even today, the majority of these people groups are still segregated within their own areas. Typical to the apartheid era there is still a lot of animosity and division between particularly the white and African people. We work in areas locally known as 'townships' with a mostly African population. These areas surround the cities and towns. The townships are for the most part poverty stricken, high crime areas.
We work amongst a people group called "Amaxhosa". The Xhosa people are warm and friendly. They are traditionally ancestor worshippers, devoted to their culture and traditions. South Africa is a country where religion is abundant - a personal relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ is not. There are church buildings on every corner of the townships where we work, but sadly many of these 'churches' incorporate their ancestor worship into whatever form of Christianity it mimics. In many instances there isn't a clear presentation of the gospel, or it is entirely absent. Our church members attest to this. The first six to eight months of our first church plant was a period of rejection. In spite of all the effort made, we met with literally a handful of believers - the young men we started Bible studies with while in language school. The political implications became clear.
So with that as a backdrop , we rejoice in the miracle and grace of God as He continues to build a loving church family here, adding to His family, Xhosa brothers and sisters, some of whom are the most devoted Christians we know! We also praise Him for the excellent young preachers He has raised up here! The ladies in our church are some of the kindest, selfless, most hardworking women I know. It is an honor to work with them!
Maria: Sounds like a challenging mission field - yet it's so encouraging to hear how the Lord is working there! What language do the people speak and how long did it take you to learn the language?
Corli: South Africa actually has eleven official languages! Each of the nine provinces has a language that, apart from English and Afrikaans, is predominantly spoken there. We work in the Eastern Cape province where Xhosa is the language spoken most often.
In regards to how long it took me to learn Xhosa - I am still learning and I will remain a student of the language for as long as I am here. However, it did take about 2 years before I felt like I was actually conversing and not merely digging in my mind for the things I wanted to say.
For those interested, I will share that Xhosa is a clicking language and apart from the clicks the whole language is based on 13 different noun classes, so any given sentence can be said 13 different ways depending on the nouns present. You basically do math with letters when there's more than one noun in a sentence as the prefixes and suffixes to the words following these nouns all have to change accordingly!
Maria: Wow! My hat is off to you for persevering while learning such a difficult language. What is the biggest challenge to raising your children on the mission field?
Corli: My situation is somewhat unique in that I am from South Africa and my mother and sister live close by! They have proven to be an enormous blessing not only in the physical aspect of helping with our little ones (especially in the busy times when hosting big groups etc.), but my mother is also a great source of wisdom and encouragement.
However, that being said, we still face some challenges:
*Finding a proper balance between family and ministry!
*Consistently being the right examples to our children
*Keeping the right attitude (as our attitudes affect those of our children)
*Instilling right motives (i.e. pleasing God, not man)
*Being willing to work in areas where crime is common
Maria: Those are definitely challenges. It's so good to know that you have family close by to support you and your ministry. Do you have mission teams come to help with the work there in Port Elizabeth? If so, how can a person get involved?
Corli: We have had the privilege of hosting several teams and individuals here in Port Elizabeth. There are many areas for people to get involved: preaching; teaching (children, women, men, youth etc) ; music; social aids (such as nursing); construction etc. Prayer is always welcomed too!
Maria: Sounds like a lot of opportunities! On a lighter note, what is the funniest thing that's happened on the mission field?
Corli: Anytime we get together as ladies, we have a time of fun and laughing! One thing that sticks out in my mind though is when, back in the beginning, I got the word for napkin in English confused with the word for diaper in Xhosa and would repeatedly and ever so kindly ask if I could, "Please have a diaper to wipe my mouth!!"
By the way, the word for diaper in Xhosa is 'inapukeni!'
Maria: That's hilarious - I can see how it would be easy to confuse the words! What is the most important lesson God has taught you, while on the field?
Corli: Humility and dependance upon God. I am constantly reminded of Corrie ten Boom's words: "When I try, I fail. When I trust, He succeeds." In short: it is all about, all for, and all through Him!
Maria: Fantastic words of wisdom, Corli. What goals do you have for the future?
Corli: A goal that is always before me is that of growing in the Word and becoming more like my Savior! Following closely behind that, is growing in my role as wife and mother. Also, becoming a better teacher. There is always a need to get more materials for Sunday School, ladies meeting etc., translated, edited and filed, and I will spend much of the next few months working on this.
Something else that I would like to tackle in the near future is that of learning more about blogging and also cake decorating.
Maria: I believe you'll stay busy! What words of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers?
Corli: I am truly thankful for the valuable lessons the Lord has been teaching me over the last several years. Most of these lessons, are not learned in the warmth and security of one's comfort zone, but I am learning to embrace the challenges set before us, trusting that it will conceive and bring forth that fruit which is pleasing and acceptable to our Heavenly Father. I could write paragraphs about these lessons but in all honesty, I can say that I have learned to sit at the Master's feet fixing my eyes upon Him. If I don't, I am tempted to fret, doubt, complain and even serve with selfish motives. How thankful I am that He is carving these things away, teaching that it is all about Him and that He is able!!
I have also learned to choose gratitude. With a grateful heart even the smallest blessings are immense. The smallest victories in battle, won! Even the hardships, appreciated!
Last but not least, and of great importance: treasure and nurture your family! No doubt, the home is under attack. Remember, you are the only wife and mother your family has. Honor your husband as the hero of your home. Determine to love, respect and support him. Give your hubby some freedom from his heavy load as you learn to lean on the Lord and not expect him to take care of every need in your life (especially during those needy times on the mission field)! Remember: "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want," (Psalm 23:1; KJV).
Put your children ahead of yourself. Be actively involved in discipling your children and strive to be a walking example of what you are teaching them (may the Lord help us!). If you are also one to host many guests, strive to be a proper hostess, but when circumstances do not allow, don't neglect your children in order to receive applause for your clean home and perfectly planned, delicious cooking.
Maria: Thank you so much for that valuable insight! It's been such a joy to have you visit with us today. My prayers are with you and the ministry in South Africa. God bless you and your family!
Connect with Corli and learn more about she and her husband's ministry: