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

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July 23rd 2008 South Africa Update

Hello again from South Africa! There's less than a week left before I leave, and there's still so much that needs to be done here! It's been wonderful to be in Soshanguve. It's been wonderful to love hurting people, and to see so much love returned. I have to admit that I'm not looking forward to the day when I have to come back to the American reality. I'll be returning to comfort, to safety, to family, and to my home, but I'll be leaving behind so many people I've grown to love here. So many children are fatherless here, as I've shared with you before. After seeing my interaction with one little fatherless girl of 5, Ammu, another girl asked me if I was her father. When I replied that I was not, she asked if I loved Ammu like a father. I replied that I did love her (which was lost in translation as a full affirmation), and she asked if I could love herself as a father as well.
On the 18th, our team was among a group of 30 or 40 who watched the documentary entitled Not for Sale. I cannot help but highlight this seemingly insignificant activity that could be done anywhere in the world. Recently it has seemed as though everywhere I go, this ongoing tragedy of immense proportions highlighted by the film haunts me. I truly hope that I can be of some service to at least a few of the many enslaved people of the world highlighted in this film, particularly those in the bondage of sexual slavery. The documentary described many of the people trapped in this particular brand of slavery as men, women, and children with only death in their eyes. We learned that as the third largest criminal industry in the world (next to drug and arms trafficking), and fastest growing, human trafficking currently enslaves more men, women, and children than any other time in human history.

I did not hold back from weeping throughout much of the film. While objective callousness is a cultural norm, whether it be emotional callousness or apathy towards ever changing one's normative activity when called upon to do so, I did not revert to maintaining a cynical distance on this occasion. For such a horrific abomination as this, destroying so many lives even as I write, it simply seemed too inhuman to hold back my tears.

After the film the people present prayed. We prayed that the film portraying many others' everyday reality would not simply touch our hearts without ever penetrating our lives. I believe that helping the enslaved is a large piece of my future.

The night of the 17th was a night of celebration. There was finally a working toilet in the house next door to us on the left, after 3 years of Ezekiel, the landlord on our left who rents out some rooms of his home and a few shacks behind it, desiring one. He had been working for close to two weeks, first spending days trying to find the pipe buried underground by digging in various places around his yard, then digging trenches for the pipe, getting the materials, beating a hole through the wall, etc. The last piece of pipe, which he hadn't thought he would have until the next week due to running out of funds, was something that Kevin and I were able to surprise him with as a birthday present, for the 17th was also his birthday. I worked with them digging, beating, brick throwing, and even playing with some of the kids that lived there, from all but an hour of two PM to nine.
After the toilet was working with all of the leaks in the pipe repaired, Kevin came in about 9 with a cake and some neighbors, and we began to celebrate. People's favorite activity seemed to be coming at various times to smear pieces of cake on Ezekiel's head! He was so happy, and kept saying, "This is too much!"
In the new bathroom, we saw a list of goals that Ezekiel had for 2008. Included in them were things like "stopping my bad drinking habit", "getting better morals", etc. It was very encouraging to see.
After the festivities died down, Ezekiel, I, and another man who I met that night talked about God. The other man believed in many gods, and was fairly confrontational because he knew that we were missionaries. Ezekiel came to my defense, saying that "Jesus is King", as he says sometimes when I'm around. It was very encouraging to hear from Ma Selepe, that he had indeed been doing better since we came, and I pray that he continues to grow in Life and Love after we leave Sunday.

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