Monday, August 10, 2009

First impressioNs

First impressions.

Last night I went to sleep with the sounds of strong, powerful voices singing songs of change and freedom. I must have arrived in Pretoria. In the same building as I am living there are rehearsals happening for a play called Blinding Sight, a play addressing homelessness, racism, and judgement of all sorts. The Tshwane Leadership Foundation puts on a festival each year called the Feast of the Clowns. The next update, I’m sure will be mostly about that. It happens in the park down the street for one week and the idea is to reclaim the city for joy and laughter. There are great bands that perform all week long (the Soweto Gospel choir for example), plays, and workshops on art/poetry/dance, and lectures on human trafficking and homelessness. I’m sure it will be a good chance to get to know a few people and get a feel for where this city is at.

Home for now, is an apartment that the foundation rents just across the street from City hall. The building is an old fire station and there are so many amazing things that happen in the complex. TLF”s School of the Creative Arts is located next door as well as a backpackers’s hostel, another organization, an old person’s home, and a few other things that I haven’t quite figured out yet. So far, I have seen people practicing fencing, a fireman’s retiree lunch, and marimba hip hop (yes, there’s a room just for practicing the marimba). In our apartment, there will be 5 of us living; my friend Siri, the house mother Priscilla, Steven, and Alexa. Priscilla is from Cape town but has been living in Pretoria for 6 months and works with TLF. She runs a kiosk in the Burgers park and obviously loves what she’s doing. Already, she is so caring and welcoming. She is excited that I know how to make Chai tea and sounds like she will be a great teacher and advocate. Steven has been living here and working with Akanani (the homeless ministry) for 2 years now. He also already feels like a brother and is starting to teach Siri and I a bit of language to get around. Alexa is from Germany and has been working with TLF for one year. She is off to Mozambique for the weekend (really!). It really feels like these people will become family and I am still confident in thinking that God really has prepared a place here for both Siri and I.

The city is comfortable, despite all of the stories we’ve heard already about how dangerous it is. There will be no walking around after dark, alone or with others. Also, driving a car brings many hazards like car-jacking or having it stolen off the street, so I hope to avoid that. But people are friendly so far. There are fruit stands on every corner selling bananas, avacados, oranges, apples, and all sorts of candies and snacks. Avacados are only 20c! I also met Benjamin, the ice cream man. Between Museum Park (the apartments), and TLF, the streets are lined with Jacaranda trees which have beautiful crinkled branches and bright yellow leaves. It feels and smells like autumn here, which is funny because it is spring time and everyone has been ranting about how warm it is and that it’s nearly summer!

All the logistics have gone fine. Banks are accessible, the planes were...planes...I have keys to my new home, food is good. This afternoon we are off to do some exploring of Church Square, where I guess there are shops and cafe’s. Tomorrow, maybe we’ll go to the Zoo! Thank you to everyone for your prayers. Please continue to pray for safety, and guidance in where my time here should take me, and that God would move in people’s hearts and in this lovely city, revealing Himself to them.

South Africa tip of the day: If you want something done or are going to meet up with someone and they respond with “now,” they mean sometime a month from now. When something needs to happen more immediately, you must specify, “now now.” Then, it could happen that day, probably. “Now now now” means very soon. Saying “Now now now now,” is actually necessary if you want something immediately. Try it, you can actually say it quite fast when you need to.


  1. You know that I am praying, Robin. It sounds marvelous and you sound a little tentative. I am praying for you to fling your arms open and dive in. Stay in touch. I love you much, dear friend.

  2. So glad to hear you are there safely. Sounds as if you are already getting the lay of the land. I am sharing your words with my small group at church for inspiration to us all.Your descriptions are precious and delightful.God will definitely show you His way in your new city. Forge on!
    Prayers for leading and safety.
    Much Love, Aunt Mary