A Psalm of Petition (a poem)

What I’m asking, the thing I seek,

Is that you’d pitch a tent in my wilderness, please.

Not the solid, brooding stone of Elijah’s cave.

Not the haunting bird calls and thundering waterfalls

Of David’s wild places.

A space, a pause,

Just a tent.

And not the wilderness of solitude and temptation,

But the one in the midst of the brood of children

Demanding water and quail and peanut butter sandwiches.

That wilderness.

A fragile, fabric flap, which lets in the sounds

Of laughter and tears and questions

But is somehow strong enough to shield the peace.

Not high up, on some mighty, manly temple mount,

But here in my kitchen, or possibly the laundry room.

I want to know if you will make a table for me in the presence of–

If not my enemies, then at least my own children–

If my prayers for parking places, snotty noses

lost toys, lost patience

Are still precious.

If you will still meet me,

still make my face glow.

I want to know

If the apron flung over my head

Can become a tabernacle.

Blog posts I should have written, and a hike!

So, there are many blog posts I could have written in the past few weeks. I in fact, wrote them perfectly and completely in my head. They were things like:

“Black people don’t camp”…and other race lies we believe that actually have nothing to do with race… based on going camping with the other iThemba staff (most of whom are black, most of whom had never camped, and most of whom loved it and are planning on doing it again, but because they didn’t grow up camping, it just wasn’t on their radar). A prime example of a class/structural thing that we like to say is a race thing- if, for generations, the majority of black people are working minimum wage jobs, do you think they would have tons of time and money (and TRANSPORT) to go out to the mountains, book a campsite, purchase camping supplies and camp?! Leisure activities like camping also run in families. Like- my husband’s family is a camping family. Hardcore. But I have white, middle class friends who have never been camping, because their parents didn’t take them and it’s not top on their list of fun things to do. (** edit: reasons why you should write full blog posts and not paragraphs: By this, I am not dismissing the fact that stats show that it’s mostly white people who camp. What I’m trying to say is there are larger, structural reasons why it’s mostly white people camping, and not because there’s “something about white people” that just loves camping or that black people are born with this innate desire to never camp in their lives. Which is kind of the way we tend to talk about it here in South Africa: White guys can’t dance. Black people don’t camp. End of story.**)

“Isn’t it a cultural thing?” and other things white people like saying to explain stuff we really don’t understand and are actually too lazy to go find out about. Maybe it is a culture thing. Maybe that person is just weird. But instead of idly making comments like that, what if we became actual students of another culture? We say we’re proudly South African rainbow nation and all that stuff, but beyond eating Indian food and the stereotypes we laugh at with Trevor Noah, what do we actually know about _______ culture? Are we really learning from each other? Or are we patting ourselves on the back because of what we already know? This was sparked by some missionaries visiting our church and talking about the process they went through to learn about the culture in the country where they serve. I think all of us should be required to do those things. Things like: attending weddings, funerals and celebrations from another culture with someone from that culture. Learning another language. Finding out what people talk about and in what order. How do people spend their free time? What do they value? Shop where they shop.

Leaving: I prefer the ripping off the bandaid method. There are two kinds of bandaid removers in the world. Here’s the picture: You’re five, and you have a bandaid that’s really, really stuck. Do you slowly wiggled at the corners,  easing it off millimeter by millimeter? Or, you were one of those people who just gritted your teeth and yanked it off as fast as possible?  We’re leaving in just one week to hike El Camino, and then on to the USA for David to do his masters, and as we’ve been packing up and saying goodbye and being with everyone these past three weeks, I keep wishing I could just yank the bandaid off, get everything over with, and move on. I. Hate. Saying. Goodbye.

But I’m trying to be present, and to be grateful, and I read Daring Greatly and this is a perfect opportunity to practice my “leaning in and embracing the moment and being vulnerable skills” and yeah. Mhmm. Whatever.

So, all that to say– I haven’t written any of those posts, but there they all are for you to think about for a month while David and I hike El Camino de Santiago through Spain. I will probably blog about the hike after the hike, because that’s how I process things, but I don’t think I’ll actually write during it. If I feel divinely inspired, I might change my mind, but that’s the plan right now.

Then, we’ll be back in the States, finding jobs and settling as David starts his Math studies, wooohooo. I’ll still be doing iThemba’s communications even from the States, so I’m sure you’ll still hear stories from Sweetwaters/Mpumuza, but also some of our adventures trying to live in America again and what that looks like! But probably the blog will be quiet for a while as we find our feet, and figure out this new chapter of our lives.

It’s been great traveling with you all over these past two and a half years! Thanks for reading, and hopefully we’ll catch up again in a few months!

Asidlale–Siyazama Creche

Here’s a video I made to be sent out as a thank you to the people who help support Asidlale, our Early Childhood Education programme. I thought since I talk so much about these creches and kids, you might like to watch a 1min 30s clip of them. 🙂

Also, for those of you who are following this and are the praying kind– today is the start of 3 days of prayer and fasting for iThemba and the work in Sweetwaters. I have a prayer guide for the three days, just click here to view it: prayer guide August 2013.

Thank you for joining us in what God is doing in the community! 🙂

Farther Together

Nompilo competing during a race. She was NOT running this fast when she was helping me. :)
Nompilo competing during a race. She was NOT running this fast when she was helping me. 🙂

When we have a team visiting us, it means I get to go be involved with every aspect of iThemba’s work for a few days. This week, that meant I visited running club for the first time since I got over my mono (glandular fever). I have posted about running club in the past, but for those who don’t like hyperlinks, running club is a group of students from a local high-school coached by Thulani, one of our discipleship fieldworkers. There are about 40 of them, and this term they are competing (and winning) against super-priviledged schools in the area.

I took the team to meet the club and join in with the practice– and hopefully encourage the kids to keep going and be dedicated. Thulani had us start by running a few warm-up laps around the stadium (which also doubles as a cow pasture). Since I didn’t want to be lazy, and I wanted to set the example by participating, I decided to run one lap. My friend Nompilo, a student in running club who also was in art club last term (and is one of the fastest on the team), was very kind and slowed pratically to a walk so she could jog with me. Then, as we approached the end of the first lap, I was going to stop, when she wrapped both her arms around me and said, “No, it’s okay, I’ll be with you, you can do it! Keep going.” And so I kept going. 

On my own, I would have done just one lap, but with Nompilo  I was able to do two. 🙂 What a beautiful picture of encouragement, teamwork, and the fact that we really do go farther together. We really do need each other. 

Many of the discipleship fieldworkers have been facing very serious situations in the community with the kids they work with: suicides, abuse, death from AIDS– and all of this has been taking a toll on them. Thankfully, this team we recently had from Restroation Hope was able to pray for them and encourage them to keep going. To see the American church come hold hands and gather around the South African church, praying for the Spirit help them finish strong was a beautiful picture of Christ’s body at work.

  • Pray that the discipleship fieldworkers will continue to be encouraged. 
  • Pray that the running club will become a group of students who support each other in making wise choices.