Monday, October 29, 2007

The cultural experiences keep on coming

Sarah and I went to Potter's House tonight for the last time. Well, Sarah will probably take her parents to visit there in a few weeks, but I'm headed back to California in a little under 2 weeks. Anyway. It was quite a night.

We were running late because on the way, we stopped at the store to buy dessert. We were a little worried we'd miss dinner--it's usually around 6:30, and we didn't get there until 7:00. No need for worry--we hadn't even come close to missing dinner. We got there just in time for a meeting on obtaining housing. The meeting went till 8:30. THEN they served dinner. We were asked to go ahead and dish up the milk tart we'd brought for dessert--on the plates with the rest of dinner. They said we should put the milk tart on top of the pap, so it wouldn't get in the gravy. Ok. It was a bit strange, but it worked.

Once the milk tart was dished up, we waited for the rest of dinner to be served. Sarah was in the middle of a conversation and didn't immediately notice what was being spooned onto the plates. I watched closely for her reaction. I was rewarded by witnessing her doing a very obvious double-take. Because,'s a visual aid:

They're also known as "runaways," but yes, that's a chicken foot. Mmmmm.

After dinner, we made the rounds, saying goodbyes and giving out contact info. The evening concluded with one woman asking for our mailing addresses in America because she wanted to send us a package. Actually, her exact words were: "I will send you the Vanity Fair bras." She went on to ask for our bra sizes. Aaaaaand, then we went home.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rain and Reunions

It's spring here in Pretoria. It's rainy and cold, and the jacarandas are blooming everywhere. Their branches loom overhead, loaded with purple blossoms that fall and carpet every inch of Pangani's garden. I'd been missing cold rain, and I've gotten my wish these past few weeks.

Jacarandas at sunrise along a nearby street

The past month has been full of so many things (but maybe that's just the way things go here). My friends Anne and Karen came to visit in mid-September. They joined the five apprentices and the Stewart family for a weekend away to the Drakensbergs, a range of mountains in a province southeast of Pretoria. The scenery was beautiful, we went on a couple of hikes, and spent plenty of time just hanging out and relaxing at the cottages where we stayed. After our return to Pretoria, I spent a week juggling my responsibilities with showing Anne and Karen around the area. One of the highlights of the week was getting caught a little closer than we would have liked to a rather angry elephant at a local game park. I thought it was awesome; Anne was a little less enthusiastic.

Hiking in the Draks with Anne and Karen

Most prominent in my mind right now is a crazy and amazing trip I went on this past weekend. Last Friday night, Doug and I took Granny, three of her daughters, her son-in-law Solomon, and their cousin Andries on a road trip to the Durban area. On this journey, we were hoping to reunite Granny with her daughter Dumazile, who was kidnapped when she was seven years old. 37 years have now passed, and recently Granny was able to get information about Dumazile's whereabouts.

The house where Dumazile grew up

The journey was quite an experience--driving through the night in the rain, followed by a 2-hour drive on muddy, slightly perilous mountain roads. We kept passing incredible views, looking out over valleys and mountains beyond. At one point, I turned to Granny and exclaimed how beautiful it was. She responded by shaking her head, saying, "Oh, Barbara..." and covering her head with a blanket so she wouldn't see the dropoff to the side of the van! When we reached the home where Dumazile was raised, in a remote village in the mountains, there were several animated conversations in Zulu between Granny's family and the woman who raised Dumazile. We were finally able to drive to Dumazile's home and bring her back to be reunited with her mother and her sisters.

Granny with her daughters

The sisters...including the "white sister," as they called me!

When we saw our first glimpse of the daughter who had been missing from Granny's family for so long, Annah looked at me with joy in her face and said: "We have found our sister." All I could think was that Dumazile looked exactly like she belonged. She looks like Granny, she looks like her sisters Betty and Annah, and she looks like her niece Champagne. Dumazile was so happy to finally know her mother and sisters, to finally know that her mother did want her and had been searching for her. It was amazing to be part of the reunion and to hear the family exclaiming what a miracle it was to find Dumazile. As we were leaving, Granny walked with me on the way to the car. She kept saying: "I am so blessed, Barbara, so blessed by God..." We all felt that way as we began the long journey home.

I've felt so blessed to be here this past year, to see and be part of the amazing things God is doing. As my time in South Africa comes to a close, I'm excited about what God has in store for the future (though those details are still getting figured out). Even so, it will be hard to leave this community and these people who've come to mean so much to me. All of the apprentices are balancing thoughts of what's next with finishing well here. It's a delicate balance, to be sure...

-For my roommate Carissa’s continued recovery following her third surgery on her elbow (and at the same time, immense praise for how well she’s doing and how much movement she’s regained in just the past week!)
-For wisdom and perseverance as Sarah and I finish our writing project and figure out how much to do here and how much to put off till we get back to the US
-That my time here would finish well—in bringing things to a close in ministry and in saying goodbyes to everyone
-For continued guidance as I settle the next steps leading into next year

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Please pray about...

On Friday, I will be going on a unique road trip. Doug and I will be taking Granny's family to the Durban area, to find Granny's oldest daughter, Dumazile. Dumazile was taken away from Granny when Dumazile was about 7 years old. A family member took Dumazile and gave her to another family member who didn't have kids. Granny wasn't given any information on where Dumazile was or how to find her, and so it's been over 30 years since Granny has seen her oldest daughter.

Over the past year, the family has started searching for Dumazile. They've gotten in touch with other family members who were willing to give them information on where Dumazile is now. They now have an address of where she's living and we're planning to try to find her this weekend. There are plenty of family dynamics that will make this reunion complicated, especially since Dumazile and the family who took her don't know we're coming! Please pray for safe travel as well as a successful and happy reunion. It will be quite the adventure, no doubt!

Also on Friday, my roommate Carissa is going in for another surgery on her elbow, which she injured badly back in March. She still hasn't regained much movement in her arm, so she sought a second opinion from a specialist who was highly recommended by her physical therapist. Apparently there's a ton of stuff wrong that wasn't fixed in her previous surgeries. This new doctor is going to try to fix all of the issues in one surgery, with 6-8 weeks of recovery and physical therapy to follow. Be in prayer that her surgery will go well and lead to her regaining the desired movement in her arm!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Attempt at a weekly update

I posted on the community blog yesterday, and just in case you don't keep up with us over there, I thought I'd link to it here.

This week marks the beginning of our last posture (Entrusting), which means I have only six weeks left here in South Africa. It's been pouring rain on our tin roof almost every night, and the jacaranda trees are bursting into bloom--lush greens and purples are everywhere. It's beautiful and I don't want to leave.