The Truth about Africa

The truth is that I need to update this thing more frequently! This once each week thing has to end. I’ll try to be more diligent.

Anyway, Will and I have taken up walking as of late. The house we currently live in is at the bottom of a valley. Either way we want to go on our road to get out of our valley, we have to go up some pretty intense and steep hills. I have decided that running is out of the question for me because I will be undoubtedly be exhausted 1/3 of the way up the hill and then want to go home. It doesn’t make for much of a workout. So, walking it is. We have gone on two so far, each being over an hour long. It’s good for us. And, since it isn’t too warm yet, we are not getting overheated yet.

And now for the part of my blog entry entitled, “things I have learned about Africa”.

1) One thing I didn’t expect about Africa is how short the days are here. We have just reached the equinox and the sun rises at around 5:40am and sets around 6:30pm. Apparently, even in the height of summer the sun only sets at 8:30ish. I’m used to the sun setting late when it’s summer. It will be interesting.

2) It gets cold here. But you already know that.

3) The colors of the plants here are way more vibrant than they are in America. There are purple trees and fuschia trees and yellow bushes. And it’s not the muted versions of these colors that we have in our gardens. These plants are BRIGHT! And there are also birds of paradise EVERYWHERE! and this includes my backyard. They are lovely. I really should take pictures and post them. Add it to the to-do list.

4) There are no chocolate chips…seriously. There are fake ones, but they don’t bake well. It’s my number one disappointment so far ūüôā

5)  Durban has the highest population of Indian people (ie from India) of any place outside of India itself which means lots of curry for Katie. Hooray!

6) Sometimes you have lizards in your house. Sometimes you have birds in your house. But both of these animals eat all the bugs that would have taken up residence in your house, so it all works out in the end.

7) The internet is sketchy…sorry friends. I don’t avoid you intentionally. Although, it does make for a good excuse…
Just kidding, the internet really is sketchy. We’re hoping to fix this.

8) Contrary to popular belief, giraffes do not run around the neighborhoods at random. They only live in game reserves. (I didn’t really think they actually ran around wild everywhere, promise). Monkeys are hilarious and there are a lot of them. Like they are just as funny as they are in the zoo, but here, there are no bars between you and them. They are just there, swinging in your hammock in your backyard while another one pushes it….crazy right?! (point of clarification: I have not actually seen this happen in real life, but I have heard tell that it does)

9) Onions are in everything. It’s a thing and my tummy is sad.

10) I have been told that I have an accent. I don’t believe it.

And this completes today’s installation of “things I have learned about Africa”. Tune in next week, this may become a segment.

Much love from Africa!

Katie

…and then a bird pooped on my head

…and by a bird pooped on my head, I mean a bird pooped on my couch and my dining table and on the floor and probably in the bedroom and…it smells.

Will and I have had a fairly busy past few days. We’ve been to an orphanage (LIV village, check it out¬†http://www.liv-village.com/), been to some soup kitchens, been to an all-day retreat, been to two churches for worship, witnessed baptism, had dinner with some pretty great people, and had a meeting with the director/CEO of Focus on the Family for all of Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s been amazing and a bit overwhelming as well. Through these conversations and experiences, it is my belief that Africa is changing the world. The old men are dreaming dreams, the young men are seeing visions, and the sons and daughters are prophesying to the nations. The Spirit is continually being poured out upon all flesh here and it’s incredible.

People get ideas of how they can spread the Gospel in and to various contexts, which I suppose we do in America as well, but here, THEY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Some of the ideas work with only a few, and some are striving to work with the entire country and spread to the world. Regardless of the target group, the world will be changed through these peoples’ commitment to care for other people and keep their eyes on Christ. They actually let the Holy Spirit work in them and use them as instruments and it’s a sight to see. Oh to have that sort of vision and have it realized, how wonderful it must be.

Anyway, amid all the running around we’ve been doing, we left our bathroom window open yesterday morning and a pigeon decided the best idea would be to walk into our cottage and get stuck inside. So, we came home from the first worship service only to find a bird flying around our apartment. And, because it is a thatch-roof cottage, the bird had free reign of the building and took up a perch too high for us to reach. Because it was scared, it pooped everywhere. Finally, it attempted multiple times to escape through the picture window and I grabbed it with my hands (and a towel barricade from nasty-birdness) and let it go out one of our other windows. The poor little thing was terrified!

Needless to say, I’ve disinfected everything.

Katie

And you thought Minnesota’s weather was temperamental….

Remember last time I posted and told you that I was cold? Yeah, well today it is going ot be in the upper 80s/low 90s today with a large chance of humidity! Hooray! I packed for this! I’m excited! (Although talk to me later in the week when the highs are going to be above 100…). Anyway, today I’m excited about that

Also, I have come to the conclusion that I am responsible for the fun and day-to-day posts and Will is responsible for the more serious, GPF related posts. I’m not sure how that happened, but I’m pretty sure I got the better end of the deal. I get to be the funny one ūüôā Well, at least I think I’m funny. But what if I had something serious to say? Who am I kidding? I have nothing serious to say. ūüôā

Let’s see…yesterday WIll and I went to worship in a township in the morning. It was pretty neat. They spoke both Zulu and English during the service, so we understood about half of what was going on. However, the cool thing was that the emotion and conviction in the room was so powerful that we didn’t need to understand the words to get the point. It was pretty great. But it was LOUD! We both left with our ears ringing a little bit. The people we met there gave us hugs and were so gracious toward us. It was incredible. And it takes me back to a question that is constantly stirring inside of me, “how can we assume that we are able to bring Christ into another place?” That is to say, I often feel like I am being ministered to much more than I am ministering. God is already there ahead of us. I am fascinated by how others encounter, proclaim, and praise God and if I would have gotten the preaching fellowship when I applied, that would have been the basis of my proposal. Here I get to do that without being held accountable to anyone. It’s neat. I just get to ruminate on these questions and then go read a book…which I think I’ll do now.

Much love!

Katie

A new day

I’m cold. I didn’t anticipate saying that when Will and I were preparing to come to Africa, but I am. I’m cold. Today it is in the low seventies, overcast, and damp. Which, when I was in Scotland, was called summer. But for some reason, I’m cold today. I think it’s an expectation thing. I didn’t expect to be cold in Africa. I didn’t pack for it to be cold in Africa. And by cold, I mean below 80 degrees (or 27 degrees C). I’m super lame

However, today, I am also happy. Today Will and I had friends and made friends. One of the people we met at the church invited us to meet some of his friends and hang out. So, we did. It was a HOOT! We went bowling. Will was asked if we had ever gone bowling before. I told him he should have said no, but he didn’t…he’s so honest. And, really, that is the theme of our time with our new found friends. Will is nice and honest, and I tease people mercilessly and lie like it’s my job to get people to laugh when they realize I’m just putting them on. It made today very fun.

We are slowly becoming accustomed to things here. The driving is getting easier, we are recognizing faces and learning names, we are maybe even making friends. We are trying new things and finding small things that we can cling to here. It’s shaping up to be a good first few weeks.

At the moment, I am finding happiness sitting on a couch in our living/dining room watching SVU with my glass of wine and my husband cuddled up next to me. This is home.

“We all have monkey problems”

We’ve moved! I have seriously written this article three times now. The first two, in my struggles to make my tablet work on wordpress, were erased. So, I have come to the conclusion that I can only post on the chromebook….so I shall. Anyway, as of last Saturday evening, we are happy residents of a one-room, thatch-roofed, granny cottage on the property of one of the pastors at Red Point. It’s adorable and cozy and our own space. We are quickly settling in and spreading out (with our 2 suitcases of possessions in this hemisphere). We have gone grocry shopping twice and are rapidly discovering things that are not present from our usual grocery marts in America. So, new staples we will find.¬†

I am happy to report that last night (for the second time since arriving in South Africa) I slept all the way through the night, from midnight to about 6am. Huzzah! It has made today much less exhausting to be sure. The bunny chow I had today also helped with that. (Seriously, I cannot get enough). Our new home is lovely.

Which haphazardly brings me to the title of my post. After our day of experiencing on of the schools that Red Point sponsors, figuring out what we are doing for the rest of the week, eating lunch, and downloading important materials onto my kindle, Will and I found ourselves sitting on our couches at home with the windows open….as they are all time, really. doing our respective things when we heard this odd noise. I turned to Will after a few minutes of it and said “Is that a chicken or a monkey?” Will listened a few more times and replied, “it’s gotta be a chicken.” I was not convinced, but not unconvinced, so I started sticking my head out the windows around the house trying to figure out which direction it was coming from. I decided it was coming from behind the main house. Will and I set out to see if, indeed, it was a chicken or a monkey. Down by the pool, we met Grant and asked what the sound was and he told us it was a monkey.¬†

We’ve heard many tales about the monkeys in this area. Apparently, they are quite the nuisance. They will steal food out of people’s gardens. If you leave your window open they will come in and steal the fruit off of your table. If you have a hammock, they will sleep in it. They are supposedly quite cheeky. Yet, Will and I had only seen one since being here and it was on the boardwalk by the ocean. Will, Grant and his family, and I all went over to the overlook and Will and I have now seen two monkeys and are hoping to see more, hopefully being silly. I love silly animals.

Well, off to the next thing. Tonight we get to meet a few Americans that are in the country.

Much love from KZN!

Katie

Prayer and Preaching

The last few days have been busy – here are some first thoughts on the GPF topic of how context affects preaching/what goes on in the church.

On Thursday night we attended a prayer service at RedPoint, the church who is¬†very generously¬†hosting us. ¬†Like many of the things we attended in our first week, we were not entirely sure what we would experience. ¬†When I heard “prayer service” for “about a hundred people” I thought that we would sit or stand in a circle or a couple of circles and pray together (one person at a time), as well as praying silently by ourselves for a time.

I was in for quite a surprise!  We began by standing and singing a few songs.  There were no rows or circles of chairs Рin fact, there were no chairs set out at all.  The room, a smaller worshiping area than the main gathering space, quickly began to fill with people singing, swaying, raising their hands.  People arrived ten, fifteen, twenty minutes late and just popped in, joining the music.

And as I was thinking to myself, “What a strange prayer service this is with no prayer”, the prayers began. ¬†I’m not sure how exactly it started now – it’s been a few days and the energy in the room was so palpable my head was spinning. ¬†The general pattern was that someone would come up to the front and read a passage from the Bible or tell the congregation¬†something that they thought needed prayer. ¬†And I remember thinking what an amazing thing – that people would get up front in the church and ask for God’s presence and healing and grace in different parts of their lives.

A man on the church’s staff came up to the microphone, asking for prayer for ROC, RedPoint’s ministry on the university campus just about a kilometer away. ¬†There have been strikes by the students in recent days, and ROC was not sure if they would be able to have the regular Friday night gathering because of it. ¬†This young man told us all about what was going on – a police officer hit with rocks, burning tires, and other riotous behavior because of the fees the university is imposing. ¬†And then he started¬†to pray. ¬†He prayed crying out to God for God to calm the rioters, for dialogue to be opened up between the Student Resource Council and the University, and for the campus to be made safe again so that it could open for both learning and ROC’s ministry.

As soon as he began to pray, so did everyone else. ¬†But not in the hands folded, head bowed, mumbling quietly under one’s breath or silently sort of way. ¬†The gathered assembly of God’s people broke out into spoken prayer as well, inspired by this young man’s need and his own prayer. ¬†The energy was palpable. ¬†The clamor¬†of noise was tremendous. ¬†The number of conversations going on with God were too many for the human ear to latch onto and comprehend all at once. ¬†The people prayed with fervor, with earnest, submitting their request to God. ¬†Some hands were folded, some not. ¬†Some heads bowed, some stretching toward the ceiling. ¬†But all were praying for God’s presence in that request.

And it was the same with each of the other six or eight or ten people who came to the front to bear their needs before God and the community.

It was something I’d never before experienced.

Afterward, I began to think about this fellowship proposal, and of how changes in society, culture, and life affect how the Gospel is preached. ¬†And no, this service wasn’t one with preaching – but these events clearly affected the spiritual lives of those who experienced them. ¬†These changes that they lived through¬†shone a different light on the Gospel message that they had already heard. ¬†I’m not sure exactly what that was for them, but for me that new light was a simple reminder that God is active in the world and that we need God to be active in the world. ¬†No matter how many times I’ve heard that very message before, it was an inspiring reminder to receive.

On Thursday night, the Gospel was clearly preached to me, without a formal sermon.  In the presence of a community of people who believe in Christ, I heard the message that we need God to be active and we believe God is active in the world.  I heard the message that we need to be surrounded by communities of believers on a regular basis.  I heard the message that prayer matters.  And I heard the message that God listens to his children.

Will

Bunny Curry

I have found the best food in the world. It is known as bunny chowder or bunny curry. The first time we had it was on Sunday night after church. It is amazing. No, it is not made out of bunnies. There seems to be a distinct lack of those around here. It is a type of curry made with any number of types of meat served in a bread bowl. It is spicy hot and spicy flavorful and I love it. Since arriving here, I have eaten it twice (but almost three times) and I plan on eating it multiple times a day….I mean week…I mean whenever I can from here on out.¬†

Well, maybe not that much because I’m sure there are so many other types of food that I am going to try and love. As for now, it is my favorite and so delicious that I felt it needed its own post dedicated to it.¬†

Perhaps I’ll make you all some when we return.

Katie

What can make a hippopotamus smile?

I don’t know. I haven’t seen any of those yet. I have, however, been introduced to the wonderful bird called the Ibis. They are affectionately (or not-so-affectionately) called Ha-di-ha birds because when they make noise, that is what it sounds like they are saying. Except it is about 3000 decibels louder than any other bird ever. They are LOUD! And really funny looking. I’m not to the point of being annoyed by them yet. I just find them highly amusing.¬†

In other news, Will and I ventured to the beach yesterday for a bit of a walk This was exciting and fear-invoking for two reasons. 1) We have no idea where anything is yet, so finding our way there into a big city could have proven to be an adventure and 2) Will had never driven on the right side of the car/left side of the road before and I had only done it a few times in Scotland, so we could have killed ourselves driving. Luckily, everything turned our well. I drove on the way down and Will navigated through gritted teeth and racing heartbeat and we switched positions on the way back.

The beaches are lovely here. Very windy! Will’s hair was standing straight up by the time we went inside and mine was in snarls, but it was a gloriously sunny day and the Indian Ocean was wild to see. It was choppy and alive. The Ocean is also very warm here-at least comparatively. It is still considerably colder than most of the lakes that I’m used to swimming in, but warmer than either the Pacific or Atlantic.¬†

Apparently there are jellyfish here. We saw squids, but no jellyfish on the beach. I hope that trend continues. I don’t think I’d like jellyfishes.¬†

Anyway, this was a rather uninformative post, but I wanted to document our adventures…so I did.

Love!

Katie

Two lefts don’t make a right…

The title to this post fits in a twofold sort of way. 

First of all, today we (probably) get our car. We are going to be driving an automatic, which is strange in three ways. 1) Most cars in this country are manual transmission cars. 2) Will and I both are used to driving manual transmission cars. And 3) It is a Mercedes, which neither one of us is used to driving. One of the parishioners has very generously offered to lend us a car for our stead here which is AMAZING!!!! And that pretty much sums up the way that we feel about everyone that we have met here. Every person that we have come in contact with has been warm and welcoming and gone out of their way to help us feel like we belong here.

We have been invited to dinners and people have opened their houses to us and lent us a car and said that they will help in whatever way they can! We are overflowing with gratitude for how people have rushed to make this transition easier for us. Thank you, Red Point!

The other side of this point is that we will be driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the road-opposite of what we are used to doing. When I was living in Scotland, I drove about 5 times, and I’m not sure that it is something that comes back to you as easily as riding a bike. So, I’ll have to figure it out again for the second time from scratch. Will has never done it, so it will be a challenge for both of us. But, we’ll be okay once we figure out where we are going.

And now the second connection to the title of this post. I’m not sure how much all of you have been following our saga of putting the Graduate Preaching Fellowship (GPF) together. Let’s just say it has been a bit of a challenge. At points it has lived fully into Murphy’s law that “Everything that can go wrong, will”. IT’s not quite that bad anymore now that we are here, but there are still pieces that we are finding we need to figure out and it is wearing us a bit thin. Newly added to this list are the fact that Will cannot sign into his student loans account because for some reason, though they have sent him emails, they do not have his email attached to his account. What?! And we are finding that, though we thought we had brought every adapter possibility known to man with us….they still don’t fit into the sockets here, so we have to buy yet another one here. Also, we’re not sure if our date plans that we bought for our phone actually work. Will’s phone does not have wireless connectivity as an option, so he has to use data in order to get online. We’re not sure if it is just that there isn’t a signal up here or if it is really not working. So, we’ll have to figure that out as well. And we will. These are just small things and hopefully easily figured out.

Two lefts don’t make a right…but three do. Let’s do this!

Katie 

SOUTH AFRICA FOUND US!!!! or we found it…we are found together

Greetings avid readers!

Just a quick backtrack to trace where we have been thus far. After leaving our cozy apartment on Tuesday (almost a week ago), we ventured across the States to Seattle area to say our goodbyes and spend a few days with Will’s parental units. After much hassle and many miscommunications and an overnighted envelope or two we received our passports with visas included 2 hours before we left for the airport to leave the country! Yikes!

From there we went to our boarding gate (which took about 5 seconds, it was craziness!) and found out that we were only allowed one carry on and we had two. Later we found out that wasn’t entirely true, but at that point we thought we had better follow any rules laid out for us so that we could just leave the country as easily as possible at that point. We boarded the plane and set off on our great adventure. 14.5 hours later we landed…..200 miles from Dubai. There was a sandstorm/thunderstorms in Dubai and apparently sand isn’t good for plane turbines…who knew (other than everybody always)? We got all refueled at that airport and zipped on over to Dubai, which took about another hour and a half. So, about 16 hours after we left SeaTac, we arrived in the Dubai airport completely confused and disoriented. We had flown through an entire night, and entire day, and it was now the beginning of a very long and sleepless night.¬†

I’m sure the Dubai airport is wonderful during the daytime, or even during the nighttime if you have had any sort of sleep, because it is awake 24 hours a day. However, we just wanted to find some sleepies or get rid of them. And it’s hard to find a place there that is comfortable enough to sleep in. There are sort of reclinery chairs that are made out of plastic, but don’t really recline….they are hard to explain, but not very comfortable. We eventually found a corner to crash in for a couple of hours. We probably didn’t actually sleep at all, but laying down was nice anyway.¬†

After doing 2 crossword puzzles, multiple games of cribbage and walking around the airport approximately 9 times and playing solitare and laughing at absolutely nothing because we were so slaphappy, we got to our boarding gate at around 9:20 am and were directed into a holding area down an escalator, where we waited for about 20 minutes. Then Will and I boarded a bus and got a full tour of the Dubai airport which took about 20 minutes. We climbed our way into the plane that would take us to our final destination. From there it was smooth sailing. We played games. We watched movies on our own personal screens. We almost napped a few times. And at 6pm, we arrived in our new home, Durban, South Africa. 

It’s beautiful here.¬†

The people are great. The family we are temporarily staying with is great. Our bed is GREAT (although I think we could have slept on a piece of plywood that first night and been happy). We are happy here and looking forward to a wonderful 8 months in South Africa. 

It is now time for showers and to face the new day (we get cellphone SIM cards today!). 

Love to you all from the other side of the world!

Katie (and Will)