Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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!

No comments:

Post a Comment