|Webster Baptist Church||
People of the blog, I send you pictures from my present location at Silver Bay YMCA. I will be here reading and reflecting for the next week. The drive down yesterday was a gorgeous day for a drive through the mountians. I wuold arrive at the opening before you and the picturesque views would simply continue. I look forward to my reading and meditation times during my stay throughout the week.
People of the blog, I know today was Sunday and yet it was yesterday that I had one of those amazingly spiritual times. Barbara and I have had a good Sunday as we have driven back from Elkart, Indiana. The sky was filled with white puffy clouds, a warm sun and wonderful day for a drive, but my center was the winds which poured through the day yesterday. Folks, we went to the Adell and Drew Moore Family Reunion. I am talking about the decedent's of my mother's parent's coming together as they were able to make it and what a time it was!
I was not going to attend becuase I felt I would be tired and jet lagged from my return flight from South Africa on Wednesday, I was. However there was something compelling me to make thie trip. So I told Barbara we shoould go and she agreed. I was totally blessed as 6 of my 8 living aunts were there along with members of their families. Four of my siblings and there families and a huge host of cousins made the day something really special. The laughter, dancing, food, and sharing of affection between one another had me just looking at the relatives I knew and the ones I just met and saying wow! These are amazing folks, doing fantastic things and I was so proud! I could not take it all in till Barbara and I were driivng home and the reflections poured over me again and again.
I hope we will gather next year as some dream this future. Yet today I claim the Holiness of yesterday's gift to me and I my willingness to make the journey. I hope you had a spiritual time sometime this past weekend.
People of the blog, I have made it safely back to Rochester from Cape Town, South Africa! While the sabbatical journey yet continues for a bit longer, I could not help pondering the word, "takeaway." This word for South Africans often means grabbing a quick snack, sandwich or drink as you continue on your path or you could sit too. The expression is much richer and deeper than our fast food mentality and the quisine choices are more healthier, to me. I was reminded throughout my time in South Africa of the simple phrase "takeaways," thus this expression has been with me since I boarded a plane at 8:30 am Tuseday, Rochester time, till I arrived Wednesday at 9:30 am yesterday. And one of my takeaways is "bless."
Henri Nowen writes, "Too bless means to say good things. We have to bless one another constantly, Parents need to bless their children, Children their parents, husbands their wives. and wives their husbands, friends their friends. In our society, so full of curses, we must fill each place we enter with our blessings. We forget so quickly that we are God's beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our hearts. Therefore we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind others of theirs too. Whether the blessing is given in words or with gestures, in a solemn or an informal way, our lives need to be blessed lives." I know this to be true of the many expreinces of South Africa I'll process for a longtime to come.
The pictures are the expressions of blessing I received from the men and women of my favorite coffe spot, "Bean There." We became a family in only a month sharing in one another's joys and sorrows. They blessed me everytime we met with smiles, warmth, honesty, friendship and their faith. Yes, I did likewise with them as they all want to come visit WBC and the family. Yet as I told them on Tuesday morning, I recieved far more from them. And then there was the plane ride home when a woman and a man were seated one with me and one behind me. In quick conversation I found they were husband and wife, I offered to move from my seat so they could sit together. They were so thankful and only afterwards I found out they are expecting their first child. My people of the blog, whether at a South African coffee shop or on long plane ride , we are to bless one another, no matter what! This one of my many "takeaways."
People of the blog, tomorrow I began the journey back to the U.S.! Yes my time hear in South Africa has come to a close. While it has felt short, I have taken the full advantage given me to experience the resiliency of God's people, the devine beauty of this country and to worship in it all. Yesterday the sermon title was " Where is the love?" This challenging message was for those of us sitting in the pews!
And then today I would feel and see this love as Rev. Ross took me on a wonderfully guided cultural tour all the way to Camp Point. What a beautiful day for a drive. I would then be led by Bishop Mtini on a tour of Rainbow Educ-Care, a pre-school ministry, his wife and other church members of Siyuvili National Baptist are providing for young children. The stories I was privaledged to hear spoke richly to "Where is the love" in both sustantial and none -sustantial ways.
I have seen, experienced and been impacted by this very question throught my time here. I am positive I will continue traveling this questioning journey when I return. There was moments made for completing light reading too. Meanwhile the time to pack is now as the time has come.
People of the blog, here are scenes from my Friday. The sun setting over Signal Hill at the end of the day. The unique Zebra I pass each day walking out of
Bo-Kaap. Yes, I had fish and chips on Friday. You will get to see the beautiful shirt made for me in person when I get home. And Rose is the corner market where I picked up those in between food itiems.
A beautiful day to sit out on the patio. The warmed winter's sun of CapeTown, South Africa and lunch all done. It's grinning time!
People of the blog, "Molowi," meaning good morning. I share with you the church I attended this past Sunday, Sivuyile National Baptist Church. I was also asked to preach. This was the last day of the national recognition of Women's Month. The church was packed as there were also nursing students from the University of Connecticut too. What I can tell you is this place was vibrant, rhythmic, and full of the Holy Spirit. There was dancing in the isles as the music instruments of a drum, hand bag, and plastic pipe set the pace.
Sisters and brothers we started a little after 10am and I did not come up to preach till 12 noon! No one left and in between any silence in our place of worshipping sounds could be heard of other Churches. It was Sunday in the poorest township call Gugulethu and praise was being done. My sermon title was the "Power of Devotion" from Ruth 1:1-18. While every song was done in the xhosa langauge, when I preached they understood me! How powerful is the spirit's work? And then I was presented the most precious gift, a Xhosa Bible, I am still in awe, as I share with you now. Suffice it to say Sunday was a very special day of so many on this journey.
People of the blog, today, like Monday was an emotional day, but for different reasons. You see, as I continue on this spirit filled misson journey, I had to close out my time with the Go Go's (grandmother's) of Paarl. I have been traveling to work beside these amazing women of faith as they served the children of Mbekweni Township. When I began we were serving about 150 to 200 hundred children after school and this past week has been 275 to 300. On my last day it was only one Grandmother doing the cooking becuase the other scheduled women for the day were at a family funeral and the doctor's.
So Esther, Joye and myself got the food prepared, dished and served until we ran out. Every day this week we did not run out of food till today. And even as I said to the children still in line, there was no more, the children responded calmly and without complaint. They had done so the week before but for some reason I understood today. They've known this experience in their young lives and how to move toward the next day. What an awakening as we washed the last bowls and put everything away.
It continues to be the dedication of these grandmothers who come from different churches attempting to make a small dent in these children's lives and I got the blessing of being a part for two weeks. And what can I say about the children other than they are precious. We played, kidded, and laugh with each other from the 5 year olds to the 12 year olds. I know the church's mission by God is loving kindness by the old or the young of the church. This mercy is an action word for all of us. Therefore seeing a need and being daring enough to step out on faith is the spirit I pray for the church today!
People of the blog, today I spent time with Becky, a young American woman with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She came to this place called sibongile two years ago with the intention of staying just for one year of mission service. However as we sat down and talked she told me the work spoke to her and she his completing her second year of work. She is about to go home to the States and a long term descion must be made on whether she will remain in the U.S. or return to this work at sibongile after sometime back home. My friends the work she is doing resides with children suffering from Cerebral Palsey and other nurelogical issues.
This is hard, draining, and taxing work on the mind, soul, and body. Yet this woman chose to be here not one year but two She is finding the thought of going back home not that simple. I know why as I played with a little child otuside kicking a small plastic red ball. He did not have Cerebral Palsy but ADHD, which enabled him to run around and kick a small red ball past me everytime somehow. When I thought the game was over he would walk over to me and grab both my hands spreading them out so we could play even more. I did not want to stop when Becky and I had to go to the next location. She would tell me a history of so many of the children, knowing every child by name and understanding their language impeccably. I understood why this future departure will be hard.
This young woman's heart to make a missiional difference is a reflectoon of what can happen when work like this is supported by those who could not make such a trek nor have the skills needed for such work. For the thirty plus childern, Treemdous Hearts and those who support them help Becky make a diffrence and for that I was truly thankful this day. These children would have no place to go, would be socially left behind, along with having a shorter life expectancy for sure. Yet despite the poverty, social stigma and physical struggles of each of these children a difference is beig made.
So I need you to "imagine all the children," becuase out of respect and safety reasons I am not posting pictures of them or the staff. Followers of this blog trust me when I say, your emotional and spiritual places were challenged this day, in a good way.
Pictures from my Friday with community organizer, Vernon Ross. We would stop at Langa, the oldest township. I would meet a young man putting his artistic skills to work for himself and the community. Then we would visit a Baptist Church in the poorest township, Guguletu. From there we would go to the largest township, khayelitsha. There I would talk and shake hands with the same young man who met then to be President Barack Obama! We talked about the same issues, AIDS prevention and care for this community which is running somewhere in the neighborhood of 15%. So much more could be done by government and finally I was reminded of the many street vendors and take aways (mom and pop for us in the US), competing poorly just to make a living from each other.