Friday, August 22, 2008

Baking and ministry and life

I headed out to Soshanguve yesterday to visit my friend Emily—one of Granny’s daughters. Emily has a very entrepreneurial spirit and has dreamed for a long time of starting her own business—to provide for her family and to bring jobs and opportunities to others in her community. For the past six weeks, Rob & Laura Sturgess (from London) have been staying at Pangani, while looking into many different business opportunities around Pretoria for Enterprise International. EI is another division of CRM—they start up and manage for-profit businesses that help fund ministries as well as offer job opportunities for people in the community. An opportunity that is now becoming a reality is the just-about-to-be-opened “Wholesome Bakery” in Soshanguve. This bakery is at Emily’s house. I can’t even express how exciting this is for her! Today, Emily and the other women will receive their certificates for completing their training as baking students. The bakery will officially open next week—in its own new tin shack at the front of Emily’s yard—but neighbors are already stopping by Emily’s house to buy bread, scones, Chelsea buns, and other yummy baked goods.

Yvonne, Christinah, Rob, me, Emily, and Laura

When I visited yesterday, the Sturgesses were finishing up a meeting with Victor, who’s been training Emily and several local women. They also held job interviews with several of the women while I hung out with the family. Emily talked through more details with Rob and Laura, and I watched a couple Olympic events with Christinah (Emily’s sister) and Pretty (Emily’s oldest daughter).

A little later, I gave Christinah a lift home to Granny’s house, with Pretty coming along so she could pick up her two younger sisters. I told Emily I’d be back to say goodbye and to buy some of her bread and cakes. I visited a bit with Granny and the family, before heading back to Emily’s to buy some baked goods. I said I was the bakery taxi, and in true taxi fashion, we crammed as many people into the car as possible. Annah, her niece Winnie, Winnie’s baby Matseho, and Pretty and her two sisters. Two of the kids looked at us forlornly as I turned the car around in the dirt road in front of Granny’s… so Annah called them over and in climbed Tshegofatso and Nthabiseng, bringing the total number of people in the car up to 9. Four adults, four kids, and one baby. I am constantly amazed at how many people can and will cram into my car when we’re driving across Sosh. It’s really kind of awesome.

Just one of the 50kg sacks of flour currently in Emily's living room

After dropping everyone off at their respective homes once again, I was off to my own home, carrying baked goods in the back seat and watching another amazing African sunset out my window.

Sometimes it’s hard to describe ministry here. Life and work and ministry are categories that blur together. Am I doing ministry when I visit Granny’s family and hang out? Or am I visiting friends? When I have a conversation with my roommate about our common struggles in our new roles as NC staff, is that ministry? Is it ministry when one of the apprentices comes over to my house for tea? Or am I just being a friend? I was thinking about this on my ride home last night, and was reminded of a quote from John Hayes’ book Submerge: “Your ministry is not your life; your life should be your ministry.” There’s more context to it, but that distinction has been very helpful. When I start seeing life as ministry, the categories may blur a bit more, but it helps me to stop analyzing whether what I’m doing is ministry or not—and instead let the ministry flow through all of life, through who I am.

Leading a conversation in Church Square during the recent Road Trip

Some exciting things that have been going on around here over the past couple months:
-We planned for and hosted a group of 8 for a 2-week Road Trip
-We attended the Institute for Urban Ministry’s conference on bringing hope in the city
-Throughout July, we practiced a “Simplicity Month” in which we were challenged to live on half our disposable income
-We’re in the process of discerning how to use the money we saved during July
-We’ve grown more connected to and burdened for the Zimbabwean refugees living in a local shelter, which is soon to be closed down (please pray for housing for our friends!)
-I’ve started helping to rework some of our curriculum & helping coordinate assignments for the Reeds, interns this year
-Sarah and I finally got a kitchen table & chairs, so when we have people over for a meal, we don’t have to sit on the floor (not that most people mind)
-Our community hosted many guests throughout July, from the Sturgess family with EI, to a Zimbabwean pastor named Xoli who’s on CRM Africa’s board. There was one Friday evening (our usual community dinner and worship night) where we had people visiting from four different divisions of CRM, as well as the Road Trip group, our local friends, and our core NC community. God is beginning and building all kinds of new work here in South Africa, and it’s exciting to be here in the midst of it!

Things coming up:
- We start our Imagining Posture on Monday, and these next seven weeks will be an exciting time for our apprentices as they dream and imagine with God about what might be next for them. The heart of the Imagining Posture is the Life Compass curriculum, which is a pretty intense three weeks of looking back at what has brought us to where we are, and made us who we are; looking more deeply at our values, talents, and gifts; and looking ahead to what all those things might add up to for our future vision. This was a very powerful time for me last year—I’m excited to see this year’s group of apprentices engage the material and begin to move into a deeper vision and calling. Please be in prayer for both apprentices and staff over the next few weeks during this exciting process!
-Next weekend, I’ll be attending a 2-day training and learning more about the teaching philosophy/method that NC uses in our curriculum
-I’ll be leading an evening book discussion group again this posture—please pray for those who will attend, that we’ll have good conversation and connection through reading Alan Hirsch’s book, The Forgotten Ways.

1 comment:

Sam and Shelley said...

Wow! It's great to hear about the exciting happenings and developments there! The entrepreneurial initiative sounds like something that is going to be a real blessing to the people there in the townships. I can't wait to hear about the success of the bakery. God bless you!