I've been attempting to write a monthly update for four weeks now. This is getting ridiculous. The weekend I was going to write the update, I thought to myself: "I'll wait a week, because next weekend I'll just be getting back from Mozambique and I'll have all kinds of fun stories to tell." Ha. I got back from Mozambique and our trip had been one of those unfortunate ones where almost everything went wrong. I didn't want to talk about it. I also didn't want to do anything but lie in bed because I was miserably sick with a nasty cold. (No, it wasn't malaria, but wouldn't that have been fun?) Then a few days after our return from Mozambique, eleven people descended upon Pangani for a 2-week-long Road Trip--doing ministry and catching a glimpse of what life is like here and what NCSA is about. The Road Trippers went home last Sunday, and I've been catching up ever since.
I always find it a little strange to write a monthly update in any case, because when I sit down and review the past month, I have what feels like two or three months' worth of experiences to write about. This is even more true this time around. So rather than attempt to give you a comprehensive summary (you really don't want to hear about Mozambique anyway), here are some of the things that are more prominent in my mind:
Sarah and I have been interviewing women for our writing ministry project, and doing the follow-up work of transcribing and trying to make sense of the interviews. As we've approached women about being involved, we've been encouraged and blown away by the openness and enthusiasm we've found. While we're a little overwhelmed with already-busy schedules, this is an exciting thing! This past week, I talked in more depth with Granny's family about interviewing several of them, and Emily immediately plunged into making plans for them to come to Pangani, where we can talk with fewer distractions. I'm looking forward to having them here on Wednesday this coming week--we told them to bring swimsuits and we'll make an outing of it!
Me with Sophia, Annah's daughter
At the beginning of August, we had a team visit from InnerChange, a division of CRM that lives and works in poor communities. InnerChange has been looking at the possibility of starting a team in Soshanguve, and it was exciting to be part of their exploration in small ways as they got to know people and place—the history, struggles, and victories that are part of this township. One of our staff, Luc, wrote more about it on the community blog, and you can read that here. InnerChange will be moving forward with placing a team in Sosh early next year, and Luc and his family are going to be joining that team. We're so excited for Luc and Petunia, but I know NieuCommunities will miss them greatly!
Though the past few months have been really busy with all the groups and guests we've had at Pangani, the recent Road Trip was a really good experience. We had hosted a Road Trip group earlier in the year, and I think this time around we figured out better how to all pitch in and get involved. I had fun getting to know a couple of the RTs in more depth and had the opportunity to counsel with one of the girls on their last day here. I'm seeing more and more how much I enjoy those one-on-one mentoring kinds of relationships, and am excited to explore that further as I look at what's ahead.
Me with Melanie G., one of our Road Trippers
Speaking of which, the question of the hour seems to be what my plans are for next year. I am very aware that the end of my time here is a short two months away! In our curriculum at the moment, we're in the middle of a three-week unit called Life Compass. It's been a great process to work through, looking back at the events and people that have made me who I am, looking at my gifts and personality, and starting the process of envisioning what all of those pieces might mean for where God is leading me in the future. I get to write a vision statement this weekend and will keep you posted. =)
I have two friends coming to visit this week--they arrive on Thursday and will get into things right away with a community weekend away to the mountains. Then they get to follow me around for a while! I'm so excited to get to show them around and introduce them to the people and places that have come to mean so much to me over the past eight months.
I will close here in the hope that my next update will be written in a more timely fashion...
-For the rest of the Life Compass process this coming week, and for direction beyond—for God to direct my thoughts as I look more closely at ideas and options for next year, and how they match up with what I'm learning about who I am and where He's leading me.
-For understanding in our communication as Sarah and I interview women, and diligence as we write their stories.
-For the family of Mpho, a woman Sarah and I met through a friend about a month ago. She was excited about being part of our writing project, but shortly after we first met and prayed with her about her recent illnesses, she was diagnosed with HIV. She passed away last night, leaving behind two children. Please pray for her family as they struggle with losing their daughter, sister, and mother.