Wednesday, March 24, 2010

to ShoW yOU!

day to day

“Hello nice, can I burn you?”

What!? As I jog past a group of workers heading home after a day at the construction site, they holler in my direction…something that I still cannot decipher. I can guess what it means to be called nice, but I don’t know what that second part means. And I don’t have much interest in figuring it out. So I toss a casual , “hello” back to them and keep on running. Along the highway that passes central prison, through the Salvakop field which has just recently been cut down and burned, around the neighborhood, back past the fruit vendors, through a few patches of mealies growing and people chatting or chilling in the streets, over the bridge, through the bus station and down the hill back to Museums Park. This is my evening run. All this while the air is getting crisper as autumn approaches and the sun turns the sky neon pinks, purples, and oranges. It highlights the tin roofs of the shacks and glistens in the eyes of the kids that run with me for a block or two. They are fast, and usually win any impromptu race that gets started. That light makes this city a new place.

In the past month, I have been trying to find some islands in my day. A friend gave me this analogy and it has really helped my sanity. We need times to sit still, to have some comfort of familiarity, and to settle into routine when everything else around us is new and constantly changing. I bought some Earl Grey tea for the mornings, planted basil and wildflowers to watch grow, got a new pen to write with, and have started going on evening runs. All of these things have really contributed to a new peace, necessary after realizing that I am still very much adjusting to life here in South Africa, but more, life in a city. It has been nearly 8 months now and the transition is still in process. This probably won’t finish by the time I board the plane to come home. We are constantly adjusting and learning and changing and everything here is new still. South Africa is a place of paradoxes, of strange combination of realities and to reconcile these in my mind is difficult. This schizophrenic reality is even revealed in how my time is spent here. There is time to take vacations and do some exploring of this beautiful country. And I am so thankful for these opportunities to see places like the Blyde River Canyon, Durban, Mozambique, Nature Reserves, and soon Botswana. Hopefully, in this last season here, there will be a chance to do some backpacking in Lesotho (check out the pictures…it’s ridiculous) and take a visit to Cape Town. Trips like this are full of wandering, laughter, eating strange food, navigating bumpy roads on public transportation, resting, and breathing clean air. On the flip side however, other days are full of work. Busy schedules of meetings and emails; organizing outreaches and gathering materials; making plans, and walking the city streets. The weight of the lives that people are living here is a lot and to manage it in such a hectic, cluttered, and rushed environment just increases the challenge. God has been faithful to remind me though, that this is not my job…to carry that weight. These arms are not strong enough. He has also been good to remind me that the islands I’m finding have been allowed and provided by Him and for His Glory.

Finally, here are some photos from Margit’s visit here last month as well as from Siri’s birthday party. The other volunteers have been so generous and helpful and will compile some of their photos from this year for me so there will be lots to show when I get home. I need to get better at taking pictures of the everyday things…as I’m sure those will be some of the things I miss the most.

Thank you to everyone as always for your thoughts and prayers for the work and the people here. It is really working. My friend is recovering very well and is planning on staying to finish her time here, our work with the Counter-Trafficking Coalition is moving forward. We have most of the resources we need and have begun outreaches. There are some new girls at Lerato House and people really use the services there, often referring cases to us. Work has been slow for the ladies of the night and they are surprised at this, unsure of what it will be like during the World Cup. Our hope is that this will create a curiosity in other options for employment and training…which is available.

Some of the things we’ve been cooking around here:
Malva pudding, Butternut and tomato sauce for pasta, Curried eggs with onions and toast, South African Tiramisu, Gem squash stuffed with creamed corn, and chakalaka pancakes.

It’s much more difficult to cook properly with only a 2 burner stove top, 1 pot and 1 pan, no oven and no refrigerator. But we get by and have gotten much more creative. Siri and I are both essentially vegetarians now. It’s avocado, mango, and orange season now though…so I’m happy!

South African fun fact of the day: You can buy anything you want on the street. Literally.

Just a few of the things I’ve seen for sale on the streets: fruit, shoes, dvds, cds, candy, corn, phone charges, sun glasses, flags, hats, juice, mirrors, earings, bags, car stickers, watermelon, vuvuzelas, soccer balls, HUGE inflatable soccer balls, brooms, fatcakes (donuts), cell phones, nail clippers, and finally, a big classroom diagram of the human body!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

what in the world is going on

To all my long lost friends and family. First, sorry that it really has been a month since some of you have heard from me. Yes I'm alive and things are going fine here in Pretoria. For those of you who want the quick and easy update this is it: enjoying the new flat, work is busy, still thankful to be here, saw a giraffe and rhino, I miss doing Yoga class, and I'm spelling things the European way now. For those of you with either more time on your hands or more we go!

The weeks since last time have really flown by but some very significant things have been going on. My step-mom Margit came for a visit for a week and we had a great time exploring just outside of town. We went to the Hartesbeepoort Dam area and stayed in some great little backpackers. After getting lost a good number of times, we found ourselves at Pilanesburg National Game Reserve and spent the day on Safari. Safaris are HOT! It was a blast searching with the binoculars for zebras, springbokke, rhinos, and giraffes. I cannot even start to describe how beautiful the park was and how much fun we had shrieking when the hippos would pop their noses and eyes out of the water, or when we finally at the end of the day spotted a "tower" of giraffes in the trees. Margit nearly jumped out of the car to get a better look. Good thing we didn't see any lions. We also got to go to a musical at the Market Theatre in Jo'Burg featuring Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo who are both significant and world famous jazz musicians who did a lot during the Apartheid Struggle. It was amazing! Pictures will be coming soon. The trip went very quickly but I think she got a taste of the reality, beauty, and variety of South Africa. I am so thankful that she could visit, it was nice to have a bit of home here!

Why has it been so long? Thank you first to those of you who have been so dedicated in keeping in touch and sending your encouragement, it means a lot. The last night that Margit was here we returned from dinner to find my laptop gone from the flat that Siri and I stay in. It was stolen from our lounge and the person had to have come in through my bedroom window. In the tradition of police officers, they arrived and went on to ask me what they should do! Furious, I told them to search the flats that were also in Museum Park since no one else would really know I had one there and other valuables were not taken. No luck. The computer is gone and that greatly limits Siri and my chances of writing any sort of emails, blogs, or posting pictures. The pictures are also all gone. God is still good and quickly reminded me that things are things, and people are what matter. 4 days later, another of the volunteers here was attacked just outside our gate. She is, thankfully and miraculously doing alright now but it led to a very hectic and traumatic day and week for many of us. But as I said, things are plastic and people are priceless. The police are still investigating the case so if you like, please pray that justice will be done and the person will be caught. Also for her recovery and all of our attitudes. There are a lot of new security measures in place for Museum Park now and the changes seem to be limiting the number of people coming and going so that is good.

All of these things, along with some others really seemed to be a Spiritual as well as physical battle and were challenging much of the work that is being done. We are all reminded that as we work towards furthering the Kingdom of God, there are forces that do not want this to happen. The Counter-Human Trafficking Coalition took a big hit, with people getting sick and information being lost, meetings confused and schedules disrupted but we are back on track now. I will post more next time with exactly what we are busy doing.

Last night, Mashadi, Sheryl and I went on the night outreach to Pretoria Central and it was so nice to be back out on the street. The ladies were pretty friendly and were joking around and talking with us about how things have been going. Sometimes, they are only interested in talking if we have soda or tea or coffee in hand but last night they were really willing to chat. It is always interesting to just sit down and talk about work with a woman who's industry has so many stigmas around it. Some women to be praying for specifically are: Mavis, Olivia, Lizette, Linda, Sibongile, Moshudu, and Polly.

Finding space in the city is difficult and this past week, it was brought to my attention how different life is here than at home and how much this still affects me. So, it has been my new challenge to try and find some spaces to escape to and breathe. Last weekend some friends and I found one! A great big park just outside of town to hike, bike, and ride horses in! There are giraffes and zebras running around, tall grasses, and beautiful trees. Still looking for others, but the list is growing. In the next month or so, I am hoping to do some traveling again. My cousins Pete and Shelley just moved to Gaborone,Botswana and Siri and I are hoping to visit over the Easter Holidays. At the end of April, the plan is to do a hiking trip in Lesotho (there may even be snow there by then).

A new favorite person that you should check out is: Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche Communities. His words and work have been very encouraging and challenging lately and we all could learn something from his life!

Okay, more to come in a week or so...maybe even some pictures!
But I love you all and pray that you are well.

Peace that continues to surpass understanding and grace that keeps us serving Him,