I wrote this and emailed it out, and have delayed on posting it here because I was going to give you, my blog-reading public, the full version of Sunday's events. But I'm lazy right now and will post that later. When I get to it. I have updated some details at the end, though...
I was excited about writing an update this week, knowing it would be just after a weekend retreat spent in the countryside of Mpumalanga, a province just east of here. As it turns out, there is indeed a lot to share, both good and bad. As a result, this is a bit long-winded. Deal with it. =)
This week is the final one in our listening posture, and now comes the time to make decisions about ministry for the rest of the year. The decision process has been a bit frustrating for me, as I've felt pretty clear on where I'd be doing ministry (Soshanguve), but the details of what that would look like have been fuzzy. I've thought about getting involved with the ministry that one of the staff here--Doug--is already doing in Soshanguve. He's working closely with one family in particular, and there's a real need for women to minister to the women in this family, with discipleship & mentoring, as well as to just lend a hand in some outreach to the surrounding community. I've kicked around this idea without a real sense of why, and that's what's been bothering me. I've wanted to nail down a purpose and calling for ministry that is uniquely my own, more than just arbitrarily filling a need.
For some time, I've also been wondering about my background in writing and editing and the passion that I have for the written word. I've wondered what part that might play in my ministry here, and for the rest of my life! About a month ago, I chatted online with a friend who challenged me to keep an eye out for people here who have stories that need to be told. He emphasized the "literary expertise" I could offer to help someone write about their own experience. While I felt my "expertise" was being a little over-estimated, this conversation stuck in the back of my head.
Fast forward to this weekend. In addition to being a great time of being away, spending time with my fellow apprentices, and taking time to reflect and just be with God, over the weekend God did some really cool stuff in my ministry decisions. On Saturday, Sarah and I were hanging out, just chatting about random stuff, and we started talking about ministry decisions. Sarah mentioned some of the big dreams she's had about creative things she might do while she's here...downplaying all of them as things she'd realized wouldn't really be possible. And she said she'd had this dream of using her writing and art to help tell people's stories. As soon as she uttered that phrase, I started laughing as everything clicked together in my head. Then I had to explain why I was laughing...not at her dream, but because it was a dream God had planted in my heart as well. Suddenly, we were sharing all the different things that had brought us both to this same dream, and wondering why we hadn't had this conversation before.
That one conversation brought a lot of things into focus for me. While what I was already thinking about as far as ministry may end up looking the same--ministry to women in Soshanguve--there's now a clarity and focus to this that makes it uniquely my own, even as I work alongside other members of my community here. My vision is to work with some of the women in Granny's family, as well as begin to build some relationships with other women in the community. As I share in each of their journeys, along the way I'm hoping to help them to share their stories in a written form. I'm not sure where all of this will go, but I'm excited, and I feel very settled in what God has brought together in my mind and heart. There are still conversations I need to have as Sarah and I develop this idea, and as I figure out how to fit into the ministry Doug has in Soshanguve. Be in prayer for me and for Sarah as well as in working out the details of how this will look for both of us.
Now, the not-so-good part of the weekend. On Sunday morning, my roommate Carissa severely dislocated her elbow in a fall from a horse. We extended our weekend by an extra day since she ended up in the hospital overnight after having surgery. Our hosts at the farm where we were staying for the weekend went way above and beyond in their hospitality, and at every turn we've encountered others who have done the same in so many ways. We arrived back in Pretoria on Monday night, and got Carissa checked into a local hospital, where she had reconstructive surgery yesterday on her elbow. Carissa's doing well, but please be in prayer for her recovery and for her settling back into life at Pangani with only one good arm! Also, pray for the money considerations that need to be worked out with the hospital and the insurance company and all the really not fun details of that process.
New info: While we had hoped Carissa would be able to come home today, I am still roommate-less. She needs three more days of antibiotics via IV and will therefore be in the hospital at least until Monday. That's not fun. Continue to pray for her recovery and for patience with the longer hospital stay!