Every Life is a Journey: Here's a Bit of Mine

Every Life is a Journey: Here's a Bit of Mine

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 15th 08 South Africa Update

Hello again from South Africa! By now you can't tell that I had bronchitis for the most part, and I'm doing very well! Once I introduced some of the kids to boxing with the big gloves I brought, they immediately got hooked, and I'm afraid that they're addicted! After the first time, which went til it got too dark to see each other well, they were at our house asking if they could box the morning of the next day, and have asked many times since then when I haven't had time! Thanks for the suggestion to bring them Dr. Buis (a South African professor I had at Wheaton)!

I've been learning and seeing through many more experiences since my last update, too many to cover in an email! We have weekly mentoring sessions, and in my mentoring time with Paul Nix, the US co-team leader here, he told me how he had had an encounter with one man who said, "Thank you for being brave enough to come here… Thanks for not being afraid."
Andrew and Aimee leave today to both go back to the UK. Andrew is studying to receive a masters in disaster management. Aimee is studying to be a doctor, and spent quite some time while here with Petunia and the NGO she works with which visits homes to help treat them for sickness, much of which starts with AIDS. They'll be greatly missed, by our team as well as those who they impacted and who impacted them in return. Last night we had a parting dinner for them, which their host parents attended. Pastor Sampson, who Andrew was staying with, spoke about how he had been serving in Soshanguve for 30 years, but had never known of anything like what was going on in Soshanguve with our team. He said that he's seen white people come into town to do ministry, but they always leave at night. Seeing our team not only doing ministry, but playing soccer with locals, sitting down on concrete to have conversations, and essentially living with the people here meant so much to him. He now considers Andrew like an adopted son, and hopes to see him again, because he's family now.
Ma Selepe and Pa Selepe (as we call them) have opened up more and more to us. Pa Selepe told us about his experiences in 1976, when he was in 8th grade. I asked him if anyone he knew had gotten hurt. He responded by telling us how he was beaten and stomped on by a white cop simply because he was available. He told us how walking alone could get you shot, for no witnesses might be found, and walking in a group of 2 or 3 you could be accused of conspiring, then beaten. He told us how in effect all white people were cops, because they could all get you arrested for nothing. I learned about tires being burned around black people's necks prior to coming here, but Pa Selepe telling me about what someone had screamed amidst burning was different entirely. He told us, "I saw everything."

So many people want to come to America. So many struggle to find a decent job, and commonly ask me to help them find one. The landlords who live and rent space on our immediate left are both jobless, although they've been thankful to recently find part time work for a little while helping to build a house nearby. I'm afraid the house will be built too soon, and they'll be jobless once more. The man of the house of my next-door neighbor on the right, Dikaledi's home, is jobless. A vendor here called to me and said something I don't believe I've heard before. She said, "please come, I need business." While I don't believe it sounds that meaningful in writing, her expression and tone conveyed far more than I can on paper. Too often we forget how blessed we are to be born in the land of opportunity (for those born in America reading). It can be easy to ignore the pain and struggle of others who aren't so fortunate.

Thanks again for all of those among you who have been praying for me! I so appreciate it, even if I won't have time to respond to practically any of your encouraging emails until I return. Ma Selepe knows the power of prayer as few do; in fact, the effective power of prayer is actually one of the primary reasons why she went from ancestor worship as her family had done for a long time to Christianity. She told us how her payers to her ancestors never worked, but when others prayed to Jesus, "this, and this, and this" all happened. Members of her family couldn't believe that she had become a Christian at first, for it appears as though she was involved in witchcraft.

Please pray:
For Aimee and Andrew as they go home to the UK today. Pray that they would be able to process the experiences they had while here, and that God would put into places those people who could best help them process things when they do process with others. Also pray for those they leave behind, those they ministered to and lived with while here.

For John Hayes, the leader of Innerchange and the man who was essential to my being in South Africa now. Medical complications made him unable to come and visit, encourage, and serve with us as he had planned. Please pray for his mother as well, for she is also suffering medically.

For Pastor Selepe: She so wants to help the people here that she sees physically and spiritually hurting. Kevin was comforting her that she has something to offer that many rich churches don't have, true love and compassion. Pray that sustainable support would arise that would enable her to help people more, including building an orphanage and finding staff who would love the children that come to her as she does. Pray that she would feel better physically as well; she has had difficulty sleeping as her teeth have hurt greatly while Pa Selepe probably would have difficulty coming up with the money to pay for a dentist while so much of their finances are used to help the less fortunate. Love expressed in such a manner seems ludicrous to the world, Her body aches as well now, probably due to lack of rest.

Thank the Lord: For what He is doing through our time in Soshanguve; For the impact of this time on the lives of those that Andrew and Amee came into contact with, as well as the continued impact on their lives; For those that are giving to the people here, such as Pa Selepe, who works so hard, some night shifts and some day shifts, providing for his family, the church, and the hurting people here. He is the primary reason that Ma Selepe is able to give what little she can. In a place of few fathers, a father like him is a rare thing to find indeed.

Thank you all.

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