Sunday, June 29, 2008

San Diego

I'm taking advantage of the free wireless at Lindbergh Field (Free wireless! At the airport!) to post a couple pictures from the past few days.

All my nieces & nephews at the park yesterday

Everybody except my brother, who was taking the picture

Me with David & Dianna and Daniel at church this morning, for Daniel's baby dedication

I'll be flying to LA in about 20 minutes, then on to Frankfurt and finally Jo'burg. I kinda feel like I'm headed home, though it was really hard to say goodbye to the kids yesterday!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I've been in Vancouver the past few days, participating in a coaching workshop with other NC staff and apprentices. It's been an awesome time--the training has been really good and I've enjoyed connecting with the NCVC team as well as catching up with other NC staff who are here for the training. I've found it amusing that the temperatures here in VC in the summer are pretty much the same as back in South Africa, where it's winter. Sunset at 10:00pm has really been throwing me off, though!

I head down to San Diego tomorrow to spend a few days visiting with family before I fly back to South Africa on Sunday. I'm excited to meet my new nephew and be there for his baby dedication on Sunday morning!

Here are some pictures from my time here in Vancouver:

Laurie, Amy, Dayna and me--on our way to dinner tonight (yes, I realize that there are too many of us in the back seat...)

Granville Island

View of downtown from the house where I'm staying

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Baby shower... sort of.

Our friend Winnie in Soshanguve had a baby about three months ago. Melissa had been planning a baby shower, but Winnie ended up having the baby on the day they were to have the shower! Yesterday, Melissa, Sarah, and I finally made it out to Granny's house with a bunch of gifts for Winnie and her baby daughter, Maseho. Her English name is Sweetness. =)

Winnie opening gifts

Sarah and Maseho

Sarah, me, Winnie, and Melissa

Maseho napping with Granny

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


As we were packing up after the braai, four puppies wandered over and joined the party. The kids had a great time playing with these little guys.

Ok, maybe not just the kids.

Party for the People

We had the day off on Monday for Youth Day. The apprentices planned a braai in the park, and we invited friends from all over to join us.

Jody at the braai

Laura and a friend

Belted towel...

Sprinkler, African style

Amanda pumping up a soccer ball

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Photographic Tour, Part 4

Continuing out the back door, here's our yard.

"We can build stuff!" Bricks in the back corner of the yard, next to the mysterious tall grass and barbed wire that Sarah is afraid might harbor snakes.

Security system part one: the spikes on our fence.

Security system part two: you can't quite see it, but I'm brandishing a pipe we found in the front flowerbeds. Oh yes, we'll be quite safe.

Photographic Tour, Part 3

And now we move on to the kitchen...

And here's the washing machine. I was very excited to have a washing machine in the house. But I discovered the hard way that the hose that drains the water from the machine wasn't connected to anything, it was just hooked over the tap at the back. This resulted in a heavily flooded floor.

But, the flood contained itself to the laundry room and continued out the back door rather than into the rest of the house...

Photographic Tour, Part 2

Our awesome living room, with the couch that was graciously left in the house for us to use.

The living room seen from the hallway. I love the arched doorway.

My room! I'm working on getting furniture beyond just a bed...

The awesome bathroom that unfortunately doesn't have a shower.

Please note the holes in the wall. This is Sarah's window, where we tried to put up a curtain rod, and were unsuccessful for many reasons. It's a work in progress...

Photographic Tour, Part 1

I moved into my new place on Thursday. I thought you might like a tour.

Street sign. My street name means "rest" in Afrikaans. No, not Koos de la Rey. The other one.

Welcome to our home! Here's Sarah on the front stoep.

Here's our driveway and the 2-car garage. Now we just need a car.

Sarah hanging out on the front stoep.

The other side isn't quite as spacious for sitting. Sorry, Chris.

Monday, June 09, 2008


My problem with writing updates during my first month back in South Africa was that I was doing a lot of reconnecting, readjusting, and getting to know new people. As such, there wasn't a whole lot to talk about, and I was often out of energy and words by the time I got to the blog. Now that I've been back for six weeks, suddenly I find myself with lots to talk about, but little time in which to say it.

I feel like I've been just as bad about communicating directly with people. Today I was reminded of a friend back home and thought how I need to write them a postcard. I now realize that if I'd sent a postcard for every time I'd thought of and missed someone, just about all of you would have multiple postcards by now. I'm still trying to figure out some sort of a rhythm for communicating with friends outside of South Africa. So in the interests of doing something productive along this line, I'm attempting a scattered and completely non-comprehensive update in addition to the short glimpses through pictures that are below.

A New Place

I'm moving on Thursday! Sarah arrived on May 31st, and in the intervening time I've dragged her around in search of necessary things like beds and sheets and pillows and towels. (You wouldn't think it would take as long as it has.) This afternoon, we spent too many hours in a huge "Mr. Price Home" store. In spite of the fact that I like to think of the local Mr. Price clothing store as my South African Old Navy, this afternoon I came to the unfortunate realization that not everything is cheaper in South Africa. At least it didn't feel that way as I was contemplating duvet covers and sorely missing a local Target.

Book Discussions

Last week, I had my first evening book discussion. Arthur asked me to put together an evening reading group to discuss some of the books we're reading together as a community this year. Our community book discussions are on Friday mornings... which isn't the best time for people who have "real" jobs to join us. =) Arthur gave me a whole list of people who were interested in reading the current book, N.T. Wright's Simply Christian, but I haven't had a lot of responses. It was just two of us last week, but this Wednesday, there should be three. I enjoyed last week, and I'm looking forward to these times to have some good talks about important things, and in the process to get better acquainted with others in our broader Pretoria North community.

Staff Retreat

Over the weekend, the seven NCSA staff headed out of town for a retreat. I posted some pictures below, but I'll say a bit more here. This weekend felt like home for me, and I think that's primarily because of the team that I'm journeying with. It was wonderful to get to know the staff last year during my apprenticeship, and it's an even greater privilege to grow deeper in my friendships with each of them now that I'm on the staff side of things. The weekend was spent just hanging out together, making a ton of pottery and relaxing and enjoying being together. There weren't hugely deep and life-changing conversations over our three days away, but for me it was a rich time of being with friends. We had a good conversation with our hosts over breakfast on Sunday, when they asked a little more about what we do and what NieuCommunities is about. As various others on the team talked about why we do what we do, it was an awesome reminder of how excited I am to be part of this team and to play a small part in what NieuCommunities is doing here in South Africa.

Salvation and Help

During this morning's conversation, we talked about salvation. We were asked to create a picture of salvation--an image that captures the idea for us. I think I expended all my creative energies making pottery over the weekend, because I just didn't have it in me to attempt a mediocre drawing given my limited art skills. As I thought about what to draw (and how to create an image that I would be happy with), I reflected on the weekend just past and some of my frustration with the pottery-making.

See, I don't like not being able to do things right. I also don't like to ask for help. But when I finally do accept help (offering me help can sometimes be a perilous undertaking in itself), there is nothing more frustrating to me than when others just take over and do it for me. Because I want to do it myself. All of these traits are problematic when it comes to salvation. I can't do it right. I do need help. And, I need someone to do it for me. So somehow I found it very appropriate to share my image with the group by explaining this while holding up the blank piece of paper upon which I was unable to draw the image I wanted to convey: a hand extended, offering the help I need. If only I would swallow my pride, acknowledge my mediocre efforts, and take hold of the hand that will accomplish what I need. What's completes this image for me is that the capable hand of God still lets me be a part of things.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Staff Retreat

This weekend, the NCSA staff team went away for a weekend of simply spending time together... making pottery. We stayed in a couple of awesome chalets in the bush, and had three full days of learning to make pottery (which often meant watching our host, Armand, fix our mistakes). I was amazed at the quantity of pottery we made in just three days... and I didn't even make anything new on the last day.

Melissa's hands on the pottery wheel

Daleen and Melissa hard at work

Amazing sunset (moonrise?) from our chalet

Me, Arthur, and Sarah trying to keep warm at the fire

The almost-finished products--these are all the things I made over the weekend.

Soshanguve sunset

On Wednesday, I went out to visit my friend Sophia, one of Granny's granddaughters. We hung out at her boyfriend's house in Block V and then I took her home to Granny's house in Block KK, where there was an amazing sunset. You really can't beat African sunsets.

Welcome dinner

This was taken at my "welcome to the staff" dinner a couple weeks ago. At that point in time, these were the NCSA staff women: me, Melissa and Daleen. Two days after this picture was taken, Sarah arrived. I guess it's time for a new picture...