The past weeks since I updated this blog in any substantive manner have been packed full of experiences. I'm just going to put it all out here, and you can read what you like, as I've included handy subheadings. =)
Building and Pizza
While Dayna's team was here building a house for one of Granny's neighbors, I spent many hours out in Sosh with the team and the family. I didn't do a whole lot of building, and our usual times with the family were mostly taken over by the building project, but those days were a rich time of deepening relationships and hanging out together. And getting to see Granny sing a song about pizza. Seriously, not to be missed. It includes air guitar.
One of these days included a lot more than a building project. Martha, a friend of Granny's family, passed away from AIDS on July 6th. The family invited me, Sarah, Doug, and Dayna's team to attend the funeral on a Wednesday morning. Visiting the cemetery for the service brought home the reality of the death toll here, as we drove past grave after grave piled with fresh dirt. At the same time, the voices lifted in song were a reminder of the hope that still lives in this place.
A New Home
Later that same afternoon, Doug, Sarah and I took a few of the family to visit a friend, Elena, who now has a new home in another block of Soshanguve. Elena has struggled to find permanent housing for herself and her two sons for a long time now. A family back in California sent money for a home for her, and Granny's family helped her to purchase a pre-made tin shack. Elena was able to put up her new house next to the home of her "uncle"--not a relative, but the brother of the woman who raised Elena. Elena was so proud to be able to welcome us into her new home and offer us cooldrink (soda).
Interviews and Writing Stories
Over the past few weeks, Sarah and I have begun to present our writing project to the various women we're working with--at Potter's House, and in Soshanguve. This past Thursday, Sarah and I had our first interview with Minnie, one of the women at Potter's House. She said over and over how honored she was that we wanted to hear about her life and write her story to share with others.
As part of sharing our lives with Granny's family and hearing their stories, we've been preparing to share life timelines with each other. Just like our Bible study plans, this hasn't always worked out with the timing we'd hoped for. This past Wednesday, Sarah and I planned to share our timelines with the women. We asked Carissa to come with us and hang out with the kids during this time, to minimize distractions. But...Emily was busy at her house with builders, and they wanted us to wait until we could all be together.
Impromptu Bible Study
Instead, Annah asked if we could study just a few verses or a chapter of the Bible together. I didn't have anything prepared, and hadn't even brought my Bible! Annah found Bibles for all of us, and we were off, reading the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4. This was similar to the previous Wednesday, when Doug asked me as we walked into Granny's if I'd like to lead the Bible study...so there I was, discussing Ruth 3-4 with Emily, Sophia, Sylvester, and Doug. Times like these make me feel like I'm on a really bumpy ride over which I have no control whatsoever. But I'm loving it.
More of the Meetings, Less of the Timelines & Bible Study
On Friday this week, we went out a little early to meet with a friend, Doris, to talk with her about our writing project to see if she'd be interested in being part of things. Her first reaction was to take us to visit her friend Mpho and present the idea to her so that she could be part of it as well. Then we went to Granny's to meet with the women and share our timelines together...except again, it was a busy Friday and that didn't happen.
But, as Sarah and I sat and had tea, a friend of the family named Queen stopped by. Annah had invited her to hear our timelines but also to hear about our writing project. We had a great conversation with her and she was really excited to hear about NC and about the InnerChange team coming next week. We invited her to come be part of things, and we're hoping that will work out. So. Friday: no timeline sharing. No Bible study. But: some great conversations with Doris and Granny and Annah and Christinah and two new friends.
Meanwhile, Back at Pangani
We're finishing up the "Contending" posture in our curriculum, and are therefore 2/3 through the year. I've had some great times with the community this past week, being prayed for in some of the stuff that God's working on with me. The InnerChange team arrives tomorrow, and we'll spend time with them sharing our experiences in Soshanguve. We'll also take part with the exploration the team will be undertaking as they look at establishing a team in Sosh in the future. It'll be an exciting though busy time...and just afterwards will be our final week off. Four of us will be heading to Mozambique to hang out on the beach for a week. And stay in huts. Can't forget the staying in huts.
This has been scattered and long. Sorry. Hmm, this is what my monthly updates usually look like. Guess that's what happens when I don't update for weeks on end...