Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ysterplaas Airshow

After a beautiful day on Friday and using the public holiday as an excuse to sit in a coffee shop for a couple of hours followed by a stroll around Kalk Bay, I was almost surprised at how great the follow-up weather on Saturday was!

3 of a kind! Can you see
the family resemblance?

By around 9 this morning, breakfast was eaten, lunch was made, and Lisa, Jessica and I were on our way out the door on another beautiful day! On today’s agenda was nothing less than driving out to Milnerton for the Ysterplaas air show! I struggle a bit with the concept of an air show because of the waste and how much fuel is burned in preparation for and during the two-day show terrifies me. But I don’t recall ever going to an air show, so I was excited all the same.

It was another hot day but for most of the morning, the cool Cape wind kept us from overheating.
Lisa at the controls in a military tank
The displays put up were full of information and a couple were even active. Lisa had the energy and excitement of a child, keeping us engaged and excited alongside her as we watched and explored. There were divers from the navy in a tank who fetched our coins for us if we threw them in and tankers we were invited to step into.

In the air there were jets spinning circles and flying upside down, big old planes that looked like they were from WWII-era, helicopters flying in a line, and of course: the mock battle. The mock battle, I must say, was definitely the coolest of all. It all began with 11 people jumping from a plane and reminding me that I want to do that one day soon… and what followed was quite impressive. I know that I understand very little about the skill actually required to fly these aircraft, but in what I have begun to imagine, I am blown away by the precision and skill displayed this afternoon. This is when I realized why people go to the air show. The “mock battle” alone made it worth it. Seriously.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Put Your Right Knee In...

...and don't shake it all about. But for some reason the Hokie Pokie is stuck in my head today. I hope it can be stuck in yours now, too - and bring a smile to your face. :)

The thing with knees is: I began having pains in my right knee (my “good” knee- not the one I’ve already had an operation on) about 3 weeks into the Ride:Well Tour in 2009 (which you may remember was an 8-week tour). During the tour, I just took anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving meds to “get by.” After the tour, I didn’t go to a doctor but was told by my medically-inclined friends that if I let it rest and wasn’t too active for a while, the problem should take care of itself.

Unfortunately, its a year later and that didn’t happen. So after a few doctors visits and an MRI, I hear the doctor tell me, “if you let it rest for about 6-8 weeks, the pain should just go away.” Then I tell him how long its been, and how much activity I’ve been doing lately (not much, its too painful!)… and he’s surprised. So off to plan B.

Yesterday, I returned to the Sports Science Institute to “check into rehab.”

This comes with a mixed set of emotions. First, I’m frustrated because they want me doing so little that if possible, I’m even driving to work now. Yes, to the church that is a 15 minute walk. *sigh* The good news: at least I have access to a car and am able to follow these directions without much hassle! I am aware few would have such a luxury.

Second, I’m disappointed because 8 weeks really cuts into things like… summer that is now around the corner! and what am I looking forward to most as summer arrives? Hiking! Running! Walking everywhere! Getting out, being active, and spending time wandering around in nature. Alas, that will have to wait for awhile.

At the end of the day, though, despite my disappointment or wish for some miracle, I’m grateful it isn’t something more serious. Last week, I was anxious all week as I feared the doctor may request I have some sort of surgery. So at the end of the day, if they think some different stretches or exercises can help my body heal itself from the inside out, I’m all for it. They even have me wearing some pretty blue spider tape on my right knee. And while I was unsure about it at first, one day in and I’m already convinced its somehow working its “magic.” I’m even thinking of going in next week and having both knees taped before Amanda arrives (!!!) for a visit, as I know we’ll be out and about more than I “should” be right now.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Afternoon Tea

Summer is finally getting close. Here in Cape Town, it has been raining a lot… and while I understand that rain is good and healthy and we need it… I’m also just ready for it to stop!

Mostly, this is because I know that the rains stopping are a sure sign that summer is arriving. and I can’t wait for summer! The gloom, the cold, the overcast skies, and now the rain here in Cape Town, have become daunting and old, and I’m ready to move on to new things!

That is why I was so pleased to see sunshine this weekend. It was still a bit cool, but as long as there are semi-clear skies and sunshine, that matters little.

To celebrate the beautiful weather and (almost) cloud-free mountain, we had afternoon tea at Kirstenbosch gardens this afternoon. As much time as I’ve spent in Cape Town, and somehow I had never been to Kirstenbosch, so this was really a treat! It was a perfect day for it as I sat with Lisa, Amy, Jess and Greg and took in the day’s final rays of sun, watched adorable children take turns rolling down the hill, and snapped a few photos.

All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon/evening.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blessed to be a Blessing

My friend Veronica runs a school for 3-5 year olds in a run-down, difficult community. Appropriately named "iThemba," which means "Hope," this school in Capricorn (part of the Vryground community) is across the street from a drug house and few houses down from a shabeen. There is no sense in trying to protect the children that attend her school from what comes alongside such settings: they already know. By the time the children (ages 4-5) reach her classroom, they’ve seen it all. They know more about life and its hard lessons than most pre-teens. Or at least more than I did when I was that age.

For example: one morning this week, they had a discussion about how things were going for them at home. As they sat innocently in a circle on the carpet, two of her pupils (again, 4-5 years old) told a story of how they’d accidentally lit a bush on fire: while smoking cigarettes. Last week, she reports, they had a conversation about condoms and what they’re used for, because one of her students brought one and asked, and other students snickered in disbelief that they didn’t know. If she doesn’t talk to them, Veronica says to me, someone else will. It may as well be a conversation in a safe, controlled environment.

I will never be one to tell you that I had an easy childhood. I didn’t. From a young age, I too saw and experienced things no young child should ever have to. And yet, I cannot even begin to imagine what life is like for these children.

So today, I asked if I could just come and spend the day with them. I had no agenda except to support my friend who has a very, very difficult job. After being shown around the school, I made my way the the playground where the children were carrying on doing what these children should do often but seldom get the chance to: play. I ran races, spun in circles, pushed swings, climbed on a jungle gym cheered as they took turns on a slide.

I saw and experienced what I was told to expect, but how it felt cannot be so easily described. The pain, the distress, and the need to be loved was more evident in this group of 50 children than in any other group I have ever encountered. It was heartbreaking.

and yet… while it may be selfish, it also absolutely made my day. Not to see the hurt and the pain and the need, but to be able to see them be loved and cared for. Not by me! Good heavens, I hope I was able to love them a bit, but they need more than an afternoon. They need consistency and discipline and structure: these too are forms of great love. At this school, I know they have that.

They have that because my friend Veronica and her colleagues are the most committed, hard working, loving people I have ever seen at work.

Others told me what a strong, wonderful woman Veronica was and that maybe a visit would be an opportunity to encourage her. No doubt this was true, but it also served as something more: an opportunity for me to see the hands and feet of Jesus hard at work in the form of a beautiful woman who knows nothing less than how to love people well.

I pray that my own ministry can one day be even a remote reflection of what hers looks like. and I pray for Veronica’s continued courage and passion as she works to share the love of Christ with the children of her school in Capricorn.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Moving Uncomfortably Slow

Its been a while since I updated, and things have been slow to get moving here. It is taking time to get to know people, to network, to become acquainted with the community I will be working with over the next few months.

It has been a slow journey to get moving, and, honestly, I have resented that at some times. I am used to being busy, all the time. When at SHADE, it felt like there was always something to do, always a deadline to meet. While it was (mostly) fulfilling work, we worked hard, long hours, and it was exhausting. Now that I’m on the other side of the spectrum, I don’t really know what to do with myself!

I am grateful for the support I have received and the encouragement to “take advantage” of this time. I know those words are right, but it is a difficult shift of mind and body (and spirit). I am working on not feeling guilty about not working when there is not work to do. Or not feeling guilty for having time off during “business hours” even when I know I have to go back to “work” for evening meetings or Bible Studies… or on Sunday mornings, for that matter.

Truly, I know better than to complain about there not being work to do in a church. There is ALWAYS work to be done in a church and I am well aware of that! But I am looking forward to investing more in the work I have come here to do, and until that ball is rolling a bit faster, I imagine I will continue to struggle with the “in between.” I just pray that until then, I will find a way to appreciate the gift of time that has been granted to me.

After all, after everything I have been through in the past few months, this “time” is likely just what I need. Now I must just make a way to live into that more fully…

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It Is Well...

This week I had one of “those moments” when all felt like it was right and good in the world again.

It had been a while since such a moment passed for me, and it was quite a relief.

I am always marveled at the passion, hard work and dedication of people who have served through important ministries for long periods of time. Once a week, Plumstead Methodist Church hosts a soup kitchen-type ministry known as “Hands and Feet.” It is a ministry to “street people” in the area, takes place each Tuesday morning, and has been led by one such dedicated individual for the past seven years. I appreciated the time, thought and effort he offered as he introduced me to a few people and offered some thoughts on the community, the program, and why its important. I am looking forward to returning and hearing more.

Following my visit, I entered into another conversation about the history of the ongoing mission related ministries at the church. I discovered a space to learn, a space to ask questions, and a space to reflect on my “outsiders” perspective of what mission in a church  - in this church - does/can/should look like. Though a brief conversation, I discovered it to be a life-giving one. and in the midst of that discovery, I discovered something else: that perhaps this is the conversation I was called here to have. It certainly fits into my “job description,” but more than that, I am realizing that these are the questions I feel called to ask alongside the support, leadership and hope I feel called to give.

It has been a while since such a short, simple conversation was so rejuvenating - and I am grateful to be called awake for such a case as this.