Hello from chilly South Africa! We're in the middle of winter, which means that it can get quite cold around here--and it has. Then again, there are also days like today where the highs are in the low 70s. Not so bad for winter!
Self-portrait--a warmer day by the Indian Ocean, on a weekend retreat
I was happy that we had warmer weather last Sunday for the outing Sarah and I had planned with some of the women from Granny's family. Sarah and I drove out to Sosh and picked up three of Granny's daughters, as well as three of their daughters. It was fun to see the family gathered to see them off for our big day! We went to a nearby park, had a braai (BBQ), played on the playground equipment, talked, laughed, danced...and Sarah and I learned many new phrases in Sotho and Tswana! It was a wonderful day to just enjoy being together.
Group picture on our "Banyana Banyana" (Ladies) day out
Sarah and I have been excited to see our ministry relationships with women here beginning to deepen and grow. Sarah recently started an art class for the women at Potter's House, and I'm joining her to help out every other week, in addition to my usual times out at Granny's house. While we haven't been studying the Bible so often at Granny's lately, the recent visits out there have focused more on helping families in their community. We've been preparing for a work team who arrived this week, led by a former NC apprentice (Dayna). This group is from California, and is an awesome eclectic team of people both Christian and not, all with a desire to serve and help those in need. They'll be spending their days this next week building a house for one of Granny's neighbors, Ma Ntabiseng. For the past week or so, Sarah and Doug and I have been watching and helping in the progress on Ma Ntabiseng's tin shack, as it's been torn down, moved to the back of the lot, the concrete floor broken up, and finally the foundation laid by a contractor, ready for the team to start building her new block house on Monday.
I took the opportunity to go visit at both Emily's and Granny's homes on Friday afternoon, to spend some time with them before the rush of the building starts next week. I talked quite a bit with Anna and Christinah, and mentioned that Sarah and I would like to share with them a bit more about our stories--maybe in our next Bible study time after Dayna's team finishes up. I'm looking forward to having this time to talk more deeply with the women about the ways God's worked in my life and open up the opportunity for them to share with us as well.
Looking ahead, next month we have a team coming from another division of CRM called InnerChange. InnerChange teams live and minister among poor communities, and this team will be exploring the possibilities of starting an InnerChange team here. Please be in prayer for this time--many of us will be involved with the team during their time here, in addition to our own ministries. I'm excited to see more of what InnerChange is about and to take the time to be out in Sosh more intensely during this time.
Finally, as my year here with NC flies past, I am thinking and praying more and more about what lies past November. A few weeks ago, we had a CRM staff member out here leading us through a leadership assessment test. He also met with us individually, and it was a really good time for me to look at my gifts and personality and how God might use those in the future. I think I have a better sense of how a lot of my gifts work together...but the specifics of how to use those are what I'd really like answers to. =) I know that'll come, but do be in prayer for me and the rest of the apprentices as we look ahead to where God might have us next.
-For the InnerChange team arriving August 6, and for our community as we join them in what they are doing in Soshanguve
-For Dayna's team as they build a house for Ma Ntabiseng this week, and for us as we host them at Pangani
-For the family (sisters, mother, and 4 children) of Martha, a woman we've been helping out in Sosh, who died of AIDS last week.
-For my ministry project with Sarah--as we share more with Granny's family, and as Sarah grows relationships with the women in her art class. Please pray for us as we start to narrow down which women's stories to tell, and as we begin to meet with them to get their stories on paper.
-For guidance in my thoughts and plans about next year