Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Safe and Sound

I have received several concerned messages and wanted to post and assure everyone that I am safe and doing well. I know that there have been quite a few news stories about Xenophobia in South Africa recently and there has definitely been serious violence here. It has impacted the area I stay in, as well as the areas I visited while in Johannesburg. I did have to “evacuate” on Friday night and stay in more safe accommodation last weekend. I am back in Kayamandi now and feel safe, things have settled and the general sentiment is that there is no longer an increased risk to my safety.

"Xenophobia" here in SA is primarily black South African people groups persecuting black immigrants from other African countries(most of which are refugees). Those who are encouraging the violence say that these immigrants (nearly all illegally in the country) are taking jobs and wives away from the native South Africans. Considering the importance of tribal heritage and blood lines, for many black South Africans the issue of taking wives is even more serious then taking jobs.

However, as with most mob violence like this, it has become an opportunity to commit crime irregardless of race or ethnicity. In Johannesburg, I read headlines that estimated 42 people dead and 15,000 homeless. Here in Kayamandi we had riots and looting last Friday and Saturday night. The information I received was that 230 people were escorted out of the township under police protection after mobs attacked them with rocks, fists and firearms. We are a fairly small township so 230 people feels like a lot. I am sure there were more attacked who were not lucky enough to make it out with the police. One of the boys I work most closely with had a gun stuck in his side and was threatened. This was very scary, Friday night things started while we were still here in the office and it was very frightening. We have fantastic security staff who anticipated the riots and tripled their staffing. They were also armed. Myself and another American volunteer were escorted out of the township by one of the South African staff. I still had my bag with me from my time in Jo-burg (I had the privilege of being sponsored to attend a conference on Child Psychology there). So I was already packed to spend the weekend in safety, thank you Lord.

Nearly all the shops in Kayamandi are owned and run by foreigners, primarily Somalians, but recently we have had more refugees from Kenya and Zimbabwe moving in. These shops were completely gutted and many structures knocked down or damaged as people frantically grabbed all they could carry. Homes were also looted. There were so many people involved that the police did nothing about the theft, realizing they did not have the man power to do much more then insure the safety of those under attack.

Like I said things have calmed now. I met many people in Jo-burg who had lost nearly everything and send family back to their home countries for fear that they would be targeted. Please continue to pray for these people and their families.

This is the third post I have made today. So please read further to get updated on the other happenings over the last several weeks. Thank you for all your love and concern for me.

Wonderings and Wanderings

I have been reading from 1 Corinthians recently and was reminded that Paul was the first real missionary—after Christ that is. In chapter 9 Paul clearly states his methodology of missions. It is nice to read in the New Living Translation. The content of his message is written in other places, but the means by which he chose to deliver the message is there in chapter 9. Reading this with the words in proverbs that speak about truth or wise words given at the right time are like “golden apples in settings of silver” has been a real encouragement to me. Christ was the first example of what Paul speaks about here in chapter 9. Paul calls himself a slave to all, and of course this is what Christ was, deity illegitimately born into the world, in a town no one wanted to visit, a blue collar guy, homeless for most of his adult life, possessing nothing, he came to live as a slave in service to those he hope to save, even unto death. Then as we read, Christ spoke with divine wisdom and places these difficult to decipher apples of gold in the perfect settings. When people ask him questions he responds contextually. He nearly near gives a straight, plain, flat answer. He places his meaning in a context, a beautiful setting through, story, analogy and metaphor. He says himself that those who are not ready to hear what he has to say will not hear it. They listen, but only the heart that is ready can unlock the truth that is there. And of course it is the Spirit of God that prepares the heart to receive this.

I am still so much in the pre and introductory phases of an incarnational witness here. It can take years to become a fairly integrated part of any community even in your native culture, with people who speak your native language.

I am not sure where God will land me. Maybe here in Kayamandi, maybe Liberia, Rwanda or Mozambique. But I am definitely in cross-cultural Kindergarten. Washing in a basin, greeting mean looking guys with a smile, using a bucket for a toilet, riding in make-shift combies with 15 other people, eating pap and sour milk, making peace with the cockroaches and mice, expecting 36 interruptions a day—these things have become second nature, but there are so many other things that still feel foreign. I am hoping that this “basic training” coupled with many other forms of training and education that God has given me will be of benefit wherever I end up.

Thank you all for your patience with me. I never feel like any of you have a “Produce, Produce, Produce!” mindset or that you expect that I become the next female Billy Graham. You are patient with me as I am work to be patient with myself. Your grace extended and support has been my greatest encouragement next to the Lord. I am excited to be able to come and visit with all of you soon. This year has been very exploratory (as I had never been in a township prior to arriving). I am excited to plan, pray, and prepare with all of you for my return to Kayamandi; as well as learn more about what your lives have been like over the past year.

I will be arriving in San Diego on the 22nd of June and will stay through the third of July. Jen Ryan, my sponsorship coordinator and my mother will be helping to organize several group gatherings. There will be a dessert and meeting at my parent’s home on the 28th of June. I would love to meet and share with any of you individually as well.

Love and Blessings,
Hello everyone, I apologize for taking so long to write. So much has happened recently. It is hard to believe that it has been two months since my last post!
I am still living with my colleague and friend, Sis Pumla and her son Monde’ in Kayamandi. I am making real progress with Xhosa, so people tell me, and I have a great tutor from the community who walks me through Kayamandi and coaches me as I speak to my neighbours. It is definitely a challenge.

I had the privilege visiting Pumla’s family in the Eastern Cape at the beginning of May. After a 12 hour bus ride, 5 blocks walking with our luggage in a grocery cart, 2 make-shift combie taxi rides and another 20 min walk on dirt roads, we arrived at the Qualinge family home. Over the next seven days I was given a new family in South Africa. I made Mnqushu, (traditional African dish) over the fire and help to make Umqombothi (traditional African beer). I assisted with the slaughtering and cleaning of many chickens and participated in a traditional ceremony that welcomed me as one of the family. I was able to meet the patriarch of the family and three of Sis Pumla’s six siblings along with their children. More than this, I was privileged to be given a very intimate and internal view of family roles, dynamics and traditions within the Xhosa culture.

Below is a quick update on the projects I am working on here at Kuyasa, I will be speaking in more detail about these when I see you all in June.
• 70% of the 36 lesson curriculum for children suffering from PTSD
• 75% of the Standard Procedures for Kuyasa
• Annual All Staff Training Modules
• HR consult and assistance with hiring, creating the application and interview process
• The annual contracts and job descriptions for all full time and part time staff
• Guitar lessons once a week with students
• Worship band, practicing once a week (We recently received funding for a drum set!)
• Art Program, mentoring a young man from the community who is doing a FANTASTIC job creating lesson plans and structuring the program
• Implementation of 12 Sponsorship Program Training Modules to train up sponsorship administrator from 4 different NGOs locally
• IT classes for staff and students