Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HalF TimE Report---it's IChristmas. :)

Half Time Report

Merry Merry Christmas to everyone StaTesiDe! I do pray that it is a joyful time of year for each of you and that you are experiencing God’s love story of Christ in a new way this year. It is amazing to prepare for the Holiday in a different country, feeling like I get a new perspective of just how BiG our God is; that the same story is being taught and celebrated 10,000miles away at the bottom of Africa. It’s all over the world. We are celebrating here by hosting Christmas in the Park. Most people who live in the city are not actually from Pretoria but rather have come here looking for work or to go to school. So, many people travel home for the Festive Season leaving only those in town who cannot afford to go home or do not have a family to return to. Sunday night, we put on a service in the middle of Burgers Park, singing Christmas Carols and just joining people to get to know how and where God wants to come into their worlds. It was a beautiful sight, the candle light, held by children, families, guys from the street, and staff of TLF, singing Silent Night. This whole week we will have activities during the day for fellowship then on Christmas Eve, there will be a big meal, songs, and Santa in the park. Apart from being with my own family on Christmas, there is no better way to celebrate the life of Christ than being with the family here; brothers and sisters I have not met yet; people who are probably aching for a simple conversation or company during the holidays. Those of you who are lucky enough to be with family this week, please realize how blessed you are to have those people around you. I encourage you also to find ways to include the ones who may not have loved ones near. Look for simple and sincere ways that speak of extravagant love.

Since this year is coming to a close, but my year in South Africa is at about half-way it seems appropriate to do some reflection and summarization of what’s been happening here. Also to let you all know the craziness that’s in store for 2010!

The past 5 months have been pretty documented so I won’t go into too much detail but sometimes its fun to put everything together to be encouraged that God is active.
Lerato House Outreach-weekly day and night outreach to the Ladies of the Night. During the day, a group of us go to the “bad buildings,” to meet with the women, distribute condoms, first aid, and information, and mostly just spend time building relationships that will eventually lead to the women taking steps away from a destructive life and into the one that is waiting for her. 5 women in the last 2 months have signed up for classes at a local organization that teaches sewing, baking, and computer skills. They will start training for other work! Sarah and Lebo are two women that I’ve spent some time talking with and have heard some really incredible stories of what is “normal life” for them. We sit in an old abandoned tavern that usually smells like rubbish and is apparently used as a toilet too. They lay there waiting for the evening’s work to begin. We chat for awhile about men, life, and the world cup, then they start asking about God. About what His love means. These are some of my favorite moments here, sitting in strange places…just talking with my sisters…no strings attached. Walls of social expectations and racial rules that still exist can be broken down. Praise God that He is the original author of reconciliation.

Prison outreach-on Tuesdays we go to the juveniles section of the prison to lead a bible study and do some sort of activity. One of the girls will usually start us with a worship song, and let me tell you listening to the sound of strong voices praising God from the brick walls of a prison is something out of this world. I know that He hears those girls’ hearts and smiles. Last week, they all made Christmas cards to send home to families or friends. One of the girls who was released from prison came to Lerato House and talked of great plans to stay and to turn her life around. Unfortunately, within just 3 days she had run away and is, most likely, back in Sunnyside with her “boyfriend,” who she claimed, doesn’t sell her, just the others.

Policy/Advocacy Unit work- TLF has an advocacy unit which is small but strong! There are two guys that work full time, partnering with the different projects to help them take on events and really spread a message effectively. I have joined them 2 days a week mostly to do research and some foot work when there is an event happening. At the beginning of December for World Aids Day, Rivoningo, the Hospice Center of TLF wanted to do an event and thought that going into the hospitals in the city to train nurses about the myths of HIV/AIDs would be a good idea. Turned out to be an incredible place to talk about this. For about 2 weeks we did workshops then on December 1st there was a parade through town ending at an event near the State Theatre. Lesego, a girl who was originally given just a few weeks to live came to Rivoningo and started getting proper treatment. She now is walking and is generally healthy, living an normal life for a 23 year old. She had the opportunity to speak at the event, telling her story and encouraging others to be responsible, get tested, and stick to the ARV medications. I walked two guys who came to our table afterwards asking to get tested, to the clinic down the road. Talking with them along the way was so interesting, to hear their thoughts and nervousness about finding out their status, they hadn’t been testing in 7 months. I pray that those two guys found out good news and that they will continue to be responsible with their bodies and others.

So, all of these things, along with the everyday conversations, questions, and opportunities that come up are evidence to me that God has brought me here for a purpose and I am so thankful and humbled to be able to carry His name down the streets here, loving people by and with His grace.

With the new year, come new projects. Could you be praying that God would guide and bless these endeavors?
Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition: TLF is joining with a number of other organization in the city, including the city itself to establish a project to stop Human Trafficking. There will be many different facets to it, but it will be outreach based. We hope to get information and training into all of the businesses, restaurants, taxis, hotels, taverns, and bus stations in the city as well as do training for flat caretakers and taxi drivers on how to identify a potential trafficking victim and what to do in that situation. There will also be direct outreach like what is already happening. The School of Creative Arts will be included to do public street theatre and events speaking about the issue. Both potential victims and buyers will be targeted.
Better World Village: During the month of the world cup, all schools are released and many people who are not working (south Africa has a 42 % unemployment rate from what I hear), will be just enthralled with the games going on. There will be fan parks and viewing centers all over the country. One will be just a block away, in Burgers Park. This one will be different though, there will be discussion forums about leadership, homelessness, environmentalism, and abuse. It will be a fan park with a further purpose than just the games. There will also be a street soccer tournament and a youth leadership group working with the kids. The city of Tshwane is partnering with TLF to support and market this and I am so curious what it will turn out to be. TLF is gifted with the ability to dream big and trust in God’s abundance…please pray with us that it will become what He intends it to be.

So, these, along with all of the normal activities that are happening around TLF, it will be a very busy few months. I know it will just fly by. Or, as they say here…time will really run!

Now, I need to say a HUGE thank you for all of you who have contributed to this trip financially and otherwise. Your gifts have completely blessed me and allowed some great work to be done here in Pretoria. May God bless your generosity. Thank you also for the prayers. They are priceless and many times I have really felt the love and support coming from somewhere in the WeSt! I love you guys so much and really hope that this trip has been a bridge in many ways. That is something that would be great to explore for this next few months is how it can become more of a connection between you and this place; between Bellingham and Pretoria, Puyallup and Pretoria, Texas and Pretoria. I would love to see people connecting with projects, learning about this country and the things that are happening around here. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

With this thank you comes a request. I will lay out my monthly budget for you to see where your finances have been going. There is also an explanation of what my needs still are for the rest of my stay here. I trust that God will provide and there is no fear in my heart that the necessary money will come. He is good and will not lead people without preparing the way for them and supplying them with every gift; material and spiritual that is necessary to accomplish His purpose there. Please ask God if this is something that He would have you give to.

Monthly Budget:
Rent: $70
Internship Fee: $30
Food: $80-100
Transportation: $15-20
Communication (internet/phone/etc):$15-20
Other: $20-30
Total: $230-270/month

This does not include my plane ticket home or the unexpected costs that inevitably come up as life rolls on. Rent may also be increasing as my living arrangement changes. $70 per month is obviously an amazing price for rent and this includes utilities but I am unsure of what the new situation will be. No doubt, it will be slightly more expensive than it has been so far.

Need: 2,000-2,500. Initially my estimate was that the year in total would cost about 6,000 and God provided the initial 3,000 that was needed to get here and support me for the first part of the trip. This estimate still seems accurate and currently, I will need to raise at least 2,000-2,500 more dollars in order to finish my time here and then make it back home (and I would really like to come back home at some point).Plane tickets home are about 1,100 for a one way trip (thank you World Cup). And I am planning on returning at the end of July.

If people want to donate to me, TLF or to one of the projects.

To me: through the website using PayPal www.ibhuloho.blogspot.com or by mailing a check made out to my step-mom Margit Davis, so she can deposit it in the South Africa account in the US.
To TLF or a specific project: details are on the TLF website; www.tlf.org.za

Here’s some suggestions of movies if any of you are interested in getting a peek into South African culture: Sarafina, Tsotsi, Izulu Lami, District 9, and of course, Invictus

For New Year’S I’ll be travelling to Mozambique for a week and am so excited for another breather from the city. Stay tuned for stories from the sea as well as some thoughts about race here in South Africa. That has been one of the hardest things lately…is getting glimpses of how deep the racial devide is. It is so hard to see, but makes the moments when true reconciliation has happened just that much more beautiful.

I love each of you and cherish our friendships---far and near.

God bless you.

1 comment:

  1. Robin you never cease to amaze me and we are so proud of you. I so enjoy your blog and I so admire you and your works. God is good and you help me remember that when I see all that you have done this past 5 months. In lieu of sending you a Christmas package, Todd and I would like to give you some money so we will be sending that your way...Merry Christmas sister and I love you!