Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Chapter Opens

My life has certainly not been void of adventure, and so I carefully consider the weight of such a promise when I say that I came to South Africa looking for what I know will be the greatest adventure of my life. With each passing day, I am more convinced of the great adventure that lies ahead of me, though I am also convinced that as usual, it is not going to be the adventure I was looking for. Its going to be even better.

The first couple of days have brought with them many new people to meet, places to visit, and communities to explore as we struggle through our jet lag. Rachel did a great job talking about some of the people we will be working closely with, I encourage you to check out her blog for introductions.

 (Me, Rachel, Lunch break on the front porch of SHADE offices. YEA sunshine!)

The first day at SHADE was Monday, and it was spent trying to soak in as much information as possible. We knew before we arrived here that we would be going to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a few weeks’ time, but we didn’t know why. Today, that date seems like it is only a few days away as we are welcomed with open arms. We are anxious to get some of the groundwork set so that our open arms we offer in return may soon be used to help carry the burden of work for this upcoming journey. After getting a short history of SHADE, how they came to be, how their projects have come to grow, and where they may be going next, we were briefed on why we are going to DRC.

SHADE is hosting an international women’s conference (Sister 2 Sister) in Lubumbashi, DRC. It is an annual gathering of women leaders (and now also some key male leaders, mostly clergy) from all over southern Africa. It is an opportunity for these leaders to gather, learn, pray and plan together for the communities they will return to and the communities SHADE is yet to reach. I am looking forward to meeting some of the leaders of Satellite Projects I will be working with over the next couple of years.

Yesterday (Tuesday) brought with it another overload of information, which will likely be the case over the next several weeks. It also brought with it more concrete information about what our tasks will look like, at least in terms of the upcoming conference. In addition to helping out with preparations now, we are also each leading one plenary session and leading twice daily hour-long workshops. For as ill-prepared as we feel, we recognize both what a great privilege it is to be invited to lead in this way, as well as the huge responsibility it brings.

Rather than a lecture, I’ve been invited to offer a morning devotion (read: 30 minute message) on the topic of “True Worshipers.” At first, I was really excited about this and thought I got the “easy” one, but then I realized the topic for the day is “The church’s response to the abuse of women and children, and to the endless violence in the world.” With the overarching theme of the conference as “HOPE,” this may prove to be more challenging than originally anticipated, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve begun with a light outline am excited to see where it takes me.

Slowly but sure we’re finding our way here in the office. Whether we find ourselves useful by making folders and packing bags to go to the conference or by preparing lectures for either the conference there or confirmation classes here (I start teaching them tomorrow), I am enjoying the fact that we are quickly adapting and feeling useful.

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