Wednesday, July 30, 2008

everyday is a winding road.....

This is a journal passage that I want to share with you from the last weekend. We took a trip to the Cedarburg Mountains and on the way there I had, lets say, “a fancy to write…”

“I’m looking out the window at this moment that God has chosen to share with me. I don’t think I knew what the word awe was until now. no words. All that is left is sound and feeling and sight. The spirit interferes for us with groans that we don’t understand. That verse becomes real today. I’m a sponge and all I can do is continue to submerge myself and soak and soak and soak. I’ve found this hunger and thirst for this beauty we call Africa for something that I’ve only caught the occasional glimpse of. No amount of megapixels could capture the color, the vibrancy or the clarity of the physical. The English language proves inadequate today. There are stories here that I am only beginning to understand.”

Nothing beats hiking a mountain with a group of 30 other people. At only 4500 ft. I definitely got my butt kicked. We hiked up an 80° degree incline (at the least) and then proceeded to crawl, squeeze and balance ourselves through cracks in the heart of the mountain. These cracks varied from openings designed for small children (or those of us who are vertically challenged) to giant gaps that easily allowed our entire group to fit through. Our final crack before the top consisted of a 2x4 ft space we had to crawl through on our backs arms first and then pull ourselves to a 2x10 ft space that we shimmied up and then finally Rambo climb a wall to a tiny passage way that lead to the top of the mountain. Needless to say all the huffing and puffing was worth it. As a side note, i would also like to mention that i had a ridiculous amount of layers on and the weather went between two temperatures, freezing and boiling, thank you.

On another note, the drive there was unreal. Endless valleys of rolling green fields, skies so blue we don’t have a name for the shade. We hit a storm and even that was beautiful. All of a sudden light would shine through and another hidden valley would sneak by. It was like playing peek-a-boo with the sun. We saw prehistoric cave drawings of herds of elephants and people that had walked the same earth thousands of years before us. We looked out around us and for a moment we saw what our ancestors saw, uncharted, dangerous, bewitching wilderness. And then we hopped our happy newly enlightened selves back into the crammed (but heated) vans.

Friends and family give thanks that you have central heating.

Peace. Love. Grace

Monday, July 28, 2008

on privilege and such things....

last week we went and visited a township that I will be volunteering with while i'm here, Kayamandi. It holds roughly 3,000 people in a very small encampment. I dont know how to begin to describe the poverty that meets my eyes here or the peace. the people of Kayamandi have a calm about them, a source of strength that shakes you to the core.

the first sight that meets my eyes is a group of toddlers wrapped top to bottom in layers shyly rotating between waving and hiding behind a tree. and then im attacked by image after image of unfamiliar sights. an ocean of shacks stacked up next to each other. a woman washing next to a pile of rubbish. goat heads roasting on an open fire. The resonant laughter of a group of men echos back to me. the click of the women as they talk. a baby is crying somewhere...a million scents attack my nose. smoke, rubbish, barbeque, smog, urine all of it. i breathing all of it. i'm a mess. i don't know how to react i dont know what to do so i do the only thing that comes to mind i smile at the first person i see. Songo. who happens to be our "guide". he smiles back and after a short speech to the group, i fall into step with him and the questions seem to spill from within me. he answers as well as he knows how and i find myself wishing i had a video camera to catch the soft lilt of his voice as he describes to me a Kayamandi that i would never have seen by myself. There is pride in his eyes as he gives us details of Kayamandi, as he speaks of the volunteer program he helps lead. occasionally he calls out a greeting in Xhosa to people we pass on the road.

somehow i find myself at the back of the group. i lag behind soaking in everything around me. i look back to see an elderly man watching us we pass through a small opening between the houses. Molotata"greetings grandfather". he smiles and nods. Ewe "and to you" we come through to a street. a group of school children run up and run away pushing each other to see who will come the closest. growing bolder a small boy latches on to the hand of a girl besides me and all of a sudden we are in sea of giggling bright faces. i look out and the beauty around me is to heavy to hold. its heavier than the brokeness. its heavier than my guilt. my pity. its heavier than the poverty. its heavier than the circumstances and its what the people here are holding on to.

we are at the top of Kayamundi and as i look out around me i think of what Songo said. about being privileged to help his community to grow. i think of all the i've seen. all that i will see here. and all i will never see. I am privileged.

peace. love. grace.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One week and then some

MOLWENI!!! welcome in Xhosa! So now i've officially spent a week here in stellenbosch but it feels like we've been here a month. My expectations and my biases have been broken. my patience has been tested and my priorities have changed. I dont know where to start. Pictures don't do this place justice and my words are not nearly enough.

I live in house with nine other people! woo. My house mates include two Germans, two Namibians, four americans, and one Ethiopian.So in the house itself we have a lot going on. The weather has been crazy this week too. we're in the winter months and we've had freezing cold rain and heat heat heat all in the expanse of two days. We're about half an hour to 45 minutes from Cape Town so we get the benefits of mountains, valley and beach. The rand (national currency) is seven to the dollar so things are reasonably inexpensive. I've almost been hit by a car a couple of times now....i think the 16th time around i finally learned what direction to look.

The people here come from every sort of back ground... we have the Afrikaners (whites) the Coloreds (mixed/other race) and the Blacks. Here in South Africa you fall in one of the three categories whether you like it or not. It's been a little overwhelming/difficult adjusting to the racial categories heres. Granted i do get treated a little different because i'm foreign or whatever that means but It's hard consistently being the one of a few black people in restaurant that is predominately white. or walking around with friends/classmates of other races, etc. Everything is broken down by race here. It's hard to see a lot of wealth right next to a lot of poverty and to see the racial barrier in it. The weird thing (or weird to me) is that i've find that the people leaving in the broken townships on the outskirts of town are just as happy as the wine farmers in their houses. I've never been this uncomfortable in my skin and i've been in plenty of situations already where i find myself asking what is that sets me apart, why is life different for me.....its making me realize that i dont understand alot and right now i dont know if i can with anger, bewilderment and shame dictating any thoughts i have of reasoning.... everything i know or think i know has been flipped upside down.

So things i've learned so far:

-you have to be open to everything
-its ok to be upset
-its ok to not be upset
-change doesn't happen over night
-you have to let go of your pride sometimes
-its ok not to know

and its still going. and somehow in all of this i am learning. I'm here and I'm experiencing all of this, this is EXACTLY where i am supposed to be.

thank you for praying for me, for thinking of me. i'm thinking of all of you.

peace. love. grace.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

remembering london...

a side note before i begin the long awaited reflection on my time in london..

London in all its unseen glory...from tipsy middle aged women pole dancing on the tube to the english and their love for small cars, obscure words, loud LOUD colors and fabulously crowded "high streets"

and now for your viewing pleasure...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

south africa!!

ya so thats what some of us look like waiting. we're leaving london and we're finally off to south africa....our flight is bording in 2o minutes and i am ready to go! just a little notice that the next post will have media on my little stay in london....AFRICA here i come!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

digiital dilema

friends and family.

welcome to day two of chaos, insomnia, narcalepsy, ridiculous prices, gorgeous buildings and crummy weather.

i give you london.

i'm having a bit of a delay keeping everyone posted because the hotel is charging £5 ($10) for one hour of internet service which is £4 too much. so i've just discovered this cafe on our lunch break which does charge £1 but alas i dont have my computer...but do not fear. i'm planning to return in a few hours once i can remember how to get back to the hotel and find a way closer. right now im wandering somewhere in south london which is beautiful. im going to hope on the tube (haha oh the brits) back to the hotel once i figure out the connections and hurray we might have actual material for you all to look out.

all in all i have nothing to complain about. i havent gotten lost or mugged. i've been on quite a few adventures already and the blessings keep coming. thinking of all of you. love love you

:-) off i go on the tube.