Thursday, October 28, 2010


I am a dork. This means that I like dorky things, like LED flashlights in the shape of Jesus. I purchased such an item when I was still in the USA, as it 1) made me laugh and 2) was practical- it’s small enough to stow in your pocket. A few days ago, my dorkiness paid off; I discovered that it can be really helpful to have “Jesus, the Light of the World” in your possession.

After a long day of pulling weeds and planting still more seedlings in the garden, I was filthy. As the sun began to sink below the horizon, a thunderstorm was brewing in the sky above, bringing (we hoped) much needed rain to the area. As much as I love thunderstorms, I’m not necessarily a fan of bathing while one is happening outside. But on this day I didn’t have much of a choice, as I was covered in dirt. I decided to hop in and get it done with, before something happened due to the storm, like the roof blowing off the house (it’s happened here before)!

So there I am- scrubbing away at my filthy limbs and lathering up my hair when ZAP! There go the lights! I am plunged into sudden darkness, punctuated only by flashes of lightning which I glimpse through the windows. Instead of being afraid though, I laughed aloud; I knew Jesus was with me. I had a feeling that something like this might just happen, so I had brought my dorky Jesus light with me to the bathroom. His Light led me through the darkness, and brought comfort where there might have been anxiety; I was, after all, in a rather compromising situation! After drying myself off and getting fully clothed, I was proud to walk out of the bathroom and show my host parents that Jesus, the Light of the World, had led me through the darkness.

And today, I realized just how much of an impact that little light of mine can have; I was at the store with my host mom when she noticed little mini flashlights for sale at the cash register. She reached over, grabbed one, and said, “Well, you have Jesus with you. I decided I’d better get one for myself.”

Moral of the Story? It’s great when you have a Light, but it’s even better when you can share that Light with others. I wonder when I might need to pull out Jesus, the Light of the World, next?

Saturday, October 23, 2010


My Favorite Things That I Brought With Me
~Hiking boots - now Garden boots
~Bible- providing comfort on a daily basis
~Wide brimmed hat- thanks, Liz!
~Knee High Socks and Leggings- it can get much colder here than I expected! 

My Favorite Things I That I Forgot
~Stocking Hat- thanks for mailing it, Mom!
~Winter Jacket & Long Underwear- who knew?!

My Favorite African Foods
~Fresh Avocados
~Custard and Jello Dessert- yum!
~Boiled tomatoes and onion
~Ouma buttermilk biscuits- served at teatime and delicious when dunked!
~Peanut Butter Toast- nothing exotic here, but so nice to have!
My Favorite Foods That I’m Craving
~Macaroni and cheese- probably the longest I’ve gone without eating it, ever!
~Chicken Wild Rice Soup
~Granola bars
~Anything with chocolate

My Least Favorite Experiences
~Having dirty feet
~No napkins after eating most food without silverware- but isn’t that what pants are for, anyway?
~Inconveniencing other people to drive me around
~Waiting for the internet to decide if it will cooperate today- or not

My Most Favorite Experiences
~Saying  ‘Hello’  to people on the street in Zulu- and the look of surprise on their face when they see that a white person can and wants to speak Zulu to them!
~Meeting new people at Sunday worship- and then recognizing their faces again at Circuit events
~Morning Prayer with my family- and the fact that they love to give hugs!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


For those of you interested in the particulars of my placement site…

Carolina is a small town in rural South Africa. The geography and landscape looks a lot to my eyes like South Dakota, with its expansive grazing land for cattle and numerous grain elevators. The town itself has one main street that contains three grocery stores, banks, multiple fresh fruit vendors, cell phone repair shops, hardware stores, a few clothing stores, a petrol station, post office, and municipal buildings (including library). Off the main street there are also two schools, a hospital, and lots of churches. The largest community in the area is Ermelo, a 45 minute drive away, which has more services and entertainment options. So Carolina is really a pretty self-contained little town; there aren’t even public transportation options here, unless you count hitchhiking as public transportation!

View from my front door
My host parents live on the outskirts of town in a neighborhood formerly reserved for whites. Under apartheid, blacks and coloureds (typically people of Indian or Asian descent) lived in townships built about 1km away from towns in an attempt to keep races separated. Although apartheid has been abolished and townships are no longer regulated by law, its effects are still very much a reality; most blacks and coloureds still live in designated township areas. Carolina has two such townships, a black and a coloured. My family lives between the black township of Silobela and Carolina proper in what is now a racially mixed community that is neither town, township, or country. [interactive moment- find Carolina, South Africa on GoogleMaps and you’ll see Silobela outside it’s southeastern boundary] Also, I still haven’t found anyone who can tell me what the population of Carolina is, mainly because I’ve discovered it’s not that straightforward of a question, given the presence of two townships. By my guesstimate Carolina alone probably has a population of 1,000 residents or so, but I’m going to continue to ask! I haven’t explored Silobela enough to understand its overall size.

The back door, which is the unofficial "front door"

 Thus far I am enjoying the rural setting; one of the first phrases I learned in Zulu was ‘Ngisahamba ngi ya edolobheni’, which means ‘I am going to town’. It is safe for me to walk around by myself here, something for which I am very thankful for! However, being in a rural area means that while I can walk around freely in town, we usually have to drive everywhere else. Rev. Absalom is also the Dean of the Igwa Circuit of the ELCSA, which covers almost the entire Mpumalanga province. His duties to preach around the circuit every Sunday means we often travel great distances to go to church. I enjoy meeting people in each congregation as much as I enjoy getting to see different towns and areas in the circuit.

As for my job here, right now it’s Anything Goes. I have been assisting the Dean and his full-time Clerk Lindiwe with various church tasks (typically involving the computer) and whatever else needs to be done around the house. I work in the garden, wash dishes, visit sick community members, and assist neighbors with homework for their adult education classes. I am also doing a bit of architectural drawing for a church centre in Ermelo that contains a conference center, housing, and HIV/AIDS counseling center. I will visit with the Principal for a local primary school this week to see if I can help there as well.

I am discovering something new each day about myself and the global world we live in. I am also learning to not worry about not knowing all the particulars! I’ll do my best to share the particulars I do know with you, but let me know if I’ve left out one you’re interested in and I’ll respond as best I can!


October already? Thanking God for all of you this month; I can see the gorgeous fall colors in my mind...

October 10- William & Sandra Arbaugh
Debut of a newly commissioned motet

October 10- St. James Choir
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty!

October 31- LaVon Holden
Reformation Day (Yay, Martin Luther!)