Saturday, July 14, 2007

Language lesson #2

My Sotho knowledge is growing.

When arriving at Granny's, this is the usual exchange, at least my understanding of it thus far:

Dumela, Gogo! (Hello, Granny)
Ahe (Hello)
Lekai? (How are you)
Kitang (I am fine)

I recently learned how to distinguish between plural and singular in greetings, making me a little more Sotho-competent. I know now that all this time I've been asking "How are all of you?" instead of "How are you?" and responding with "I am fine" when asked "How are all of you?" Maybe I'll get it right yet!

Okai? = how are you? (singular)
Lekai? = how are (all of) you?

Kitang = I am fine
Ritang = We are fine

Some more handy Sotho phrases:

Keleboha = thank you
Salampila = goodbye (when you are the one leaving--I think this translates to something like "stay well")
Samayapila = goodbye (when you are the one staying--as above, I think this one means "go well")

Phrases learned on our Banyana Banyana day:

kelapile ke lam: I am so tired
imonati: delicious
gwatonya = it's cold
gwafisa = it's warm
letsatsi lafisa: it's very hot/sunny
yisheshwa: things are happening fast (this is Zulu)

Another bonus in Zulu:
I learned last year on my Road Trip that "sawubona" means hello in Zulu. I have since learned that "sawubona" literally means "I see you." I love that. =)

Small note: I cannot vouch for my spelling of any of these words. Let me first figure out what to say when...


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.

Please pray:
-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

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

When the exotic becomes familiar

We've been talking a lot about "Kingdom Realities" lately, something I've written about here a little bit. In our worship time on Monday morning, we looked at a lot of the kingdom parables in Matthew, and then Arthur asked us to take a walk around Pangani, looking for pictures of or metaphors for the Kingdom of God.

As I walked along the bottom of the property, I heard a strange noise and looked up to see that it was a bird (called a Hadeda) that had landed on our neighbor's tin roof. I glanced at the bird and continued walking, then stopped as I realized how weird it was that this exotic-looking bird was now a totally normal sight to me--like seeing a sparrow at home. And that's where I found my kingdom metaphor for the morning.

The Kingdom of God is when the exotic becomes familiar. I've been thinking about how God's Kingdom is about making wrongs right--it's the way things should be, the way God intended for them to be. The reality we live in most of the time is not that way. There's injustice, death, suffering, sickness, poverty, AIDS. But as God's kingdom is realized, we contend against these things. As we participate in God's kingdom becoming a reality, we see justice, mercy, comfort, hope, relief, healing, and abundance. These things are not ordinary. All too often, they're unfamiliar. But when we truly participate in God's kingdom, these things become reality. Just like the Hadeda on our neighbor's's not exotic anymore. It's familiar, and I see it every day. If I take the time to glance upwards.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

It's not about the Bible study after all

On Friday, I headed out to Sosh with Doug, having three objectives in mind. I was planning to read and discuss the second half of the book of Ruth with the women. Doug needed to meet with Emily and Anna and a friend, Alena, to talk about some money that had been sent from America to help Alena build a house. We also wanted to take our friend Doris to meet and visit with Martha, who's very ill with HIV/AIDS. We left early, allowing time for all of the above to happen. Or so we thought...

As it turned out, Doris wasn't available until later in the afternoon, so we planned to do Bible study first off--Doug with the guys, and me with the women. But we had to track down people first. It was laundry day, and both Emily and Anna were busy with that. Anna kept sending text messages to Sophia to tell her to come home so we could read the Bible.

Doug finally did gather the guys and they started their Bible study. Meanwhile, the women all seemed busy with something else, coming in and out, taking care of other things. I grew uneasy about whether we'd have time to read together, and uncertain as to when I should get started. As we waited for Sophia to come home, I suggested that we plan the outing we've been talking about for months. And we did! The women were so excited to plan a day for all of us to just relax together--with no kids. As they put it, "Sisters and Mothers Only!"

The afternoon wore on, and I could hear the guys outside, having their Bible discussion. Meanwhile, I was sitting inside listening as Emily and Anna talked with Alena (in Sotho, of course) about the money for her house. Hearing Emily with Alena, hearing her taking leadership, trying to make sure that the situation was handled the best way for Alena and that the money was actually used for a house and not spent was then that I realized this was more important at that moment than studying Ruth and checking off one more objective from my agenda for the afternoon. Yes, studying the Bible is important, but on Friday, building relationships, planning time we could be together, helping others in the neighborhood--those are what God had for the afternoon, rather than reading chapters 3-4 of Ruth.

Doug and the guys finished their study and came inside, and when Doug asked how our study had gone, I was able to answer quite cheerfully that we hadn't even started. He had heard back from Doris and she was on her way home, so while we waited for her to arrive, I went outside and watched the kids dancing as the sun sank lower and lower in the sky.

At the beginning of June, we had a guy stay with us at Pangani for about a week as part of a year-long pilgrimage he's in the middle of. He's been blogging daily, reflecting on his journeys and the communities of faith he's visiting along the way. As I watched this group of neighborhood kids dance, David's post about visiting Granny's house popped into my mind. David commented that he felt like dancing at Granny's looked like heaven.

This week, we've begun reading Dallas Willard's book The Divine Conspiracy. In it, he discusses Jesus' proclamation that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand--present, here with us, a reality in which we can participate. As I watched the kids at Granny's hanging out together, dancing in the afternoon sun, laughing, and so full of life, I couldn't help but think that this isn't just like's the kingdom of heaven. Granny's house is a place where I see God and His kingdom, here and now. And as we left Granny's at dusk and traveled to Block EE to visit Martha (without Doris after all)--Emily and Anna taking us to help bring comfort to a friend who is suffering--I saw the kingdom of heaven in action. And that's what it's really about, after all.