Friday, December 13, 2013

mourning mandela during advent

SAFM, one of the world's great radio stations, has been particularly fascinating since Tata Mandela's passing last friday. Every show has been dedicated to the discussion of his life and legacy. One strand that has run through it all has been the constant tension between deification of Mandela and "he was a human who himself admitted that he made mistakes."

What has been clear is that he enacted for us, in our own time and place, exactly what Jesus meant by "love your enemies." The events of the past weeks coming during advent have given reality to why God HAD to come in human form. The law was good--Jesus called its greatest commandment "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-40). But without seeing it acted out, most of us are unable to imagine how it could apply in our lives. Jesus showed us. And so have many others in their humanness. Mandela had the opportunity to do so in such a large way. When we see it we are utterly captivated. Enthralled.

And yet we will not be able to deify him, we cannot make him into God. That can only happen for one who really is God--for Jesus who does not lie in a grave.

The question that everyone on SAFM is asked is how they will carry on Mandela's legacy in their own life. And my answer is that I will do so by, like him, hoping to live the Jesus way of love in every small action so that if I am put in a situation where larger sacrificial choices are required I will be prepared to do so.


Monday, December 9, 2013

succeeding Mandela

One metaphor for Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has repeatedly emerged for me in the wake of his passing last Thursday.  Sunday's City Press paid tribute to Africa's "towering baobab", lauding Mandela as the indisputably sturdiest tree in a forest of African leaders.  My reading of that comparison came on the heels of Sunday worship in which the service's leader employed an image from his native Ghana to describe the great South African--Mandela the man with a "heart of oak." Interestingly enough, on Friday another friend had related to us a story from the Ghanaian context.

Our friend, Professor Tony Balcomb, was a friend to the great Ghanaian theologian, the late Kwame Bediako.  Bediako, mentor to many, died of cancer when still at the height of his academic powers. On a visit to the institution that Bediako had founded, Balcomb received a vision of a tree that reached to the sky, forming a great canopy.  The tree was felled, but a forest of trees had sprung up in the absence of its great shade.  The vision was a window on reality: Bediako had been an inspiring teacher, and in his absence his institution was flourishing with a new generation of scholars.

Mandela's death signals the end of an era.  There are many reasons why Mandela is beloved, but foremost in the eyes of the world was his example of forgiveness.  The point was brought home strongly again by another acquaintance.  "We hated those guys," he said, referring to those whites who oppressed him and his comrades.  His point was that they were ready to seek vengeance at their leader's command, but that Mandela had come out of prison speaking peace.  There is a very real sense in which Mandela changed the course of history.  Without Mandela, South Africa would not be in the position that it is in today.

Even so, it is only without Mandela that South Africa can enter a new era of freedom.  The defining mark of greatness is the humility to see oneself in the company of others, to perceive that the purpose of life is to give life to others.  It seems to be true that, at the appointed time, only the termination of a present state can bring about a desired maturity.  In the departure is struggle, and also opportunity, learning, and the freedom to do "greater things" (Jn 14:12) than those who have gone before.  

Inspired by Mandela's start, it remains for South Africa-- and the world--to pursue with greater urgency the justice and peace which are ever before us.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

soundtrack of their lives

Our boys have been blessed to have grown up in a setting in which they consider this singing to be normal background music to their various activities.




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

reading with kids

One of the joys of South African life has been that no one does anything in the evening. For the most part, families go into their houses and that's about it. And so with no meetings, no church events, no social events, and no extended family time, we and our kids have moved through vast amounts of children's literature during our evening reading sessions.

Having finished all the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter books in one year with Isaac and Moses, we are now reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Redwall chronicles various points in the history of Mossflower woods in which the virtuous Woodlanders--mice, otters, hedgehogs, moles, and badgers--come up against sinister forces--rats, wildcats, ferrets, weasels, and stoats--wishing to enslave them and take their woods. Reading these three epic series in quick succession in conjunction with morning Bible reading has led us to reflect on a number of characteristics of evil similarly portrayed in all three series. 
  • Evil is quick to turn even on its own. Voldemort, Saruman, and Tsarmina the Ruthless are all ready to turn on their followers for any offense.  In contrast, the side of good is loyal to its own and even seeks to restore the servants of evil to their own true selves.
  • Evil requires a level of uniformity absent in the side of good. The evil forces wear robes or armor that bring them into a mass that is programmed to destroy and never to disobey. The side of good is peopled with individual characters who serve out of devotion to the cause and whose individual best gifts are called forth.  
  • Evil overlooks the contributions of the weak and unattractive.  Good befriends the weak who in turn provide the key to victory. Sauron never expects hobbits or trees to feature in the plans of his enemies; Voldemort never even notices the house-elves; and Cluny the Scourge knows nothing of a baby squirrel who doesn't talk. In failing to notice, they secure their own demise.  In giving honour to the weakest members, the side of good finds its redemption.
  • Evil does not necessarily need to be destroyed but merely turned on itself. When the Hobbits are tied in sacks, awaiting the decision on whether they are to be boiled or fried for the trolls' dinner, the greed of the trolls needs only a few insults to bring forth a rage that results in them destroying each other. In a similar fashion Frodo and Sam escape from the orc tower, Harry and friends escape from Malfoy Manor, and countless woodlanders walk unscathed from scenes of terror.  
  • Self-sacrifice is the only means of true triumph, triumph that is not a simple re-appropriation of power. It is only when Frodo and Sam decide that they will not be coming back and eat the last of their food that the fortunes of good turn. Harry defeats Voldemort only when he willingly gives his life. While less prominent in Redwall, each book's hero must go off on a quest that could end the character's life but, if successful, will bring victory. 
There are many more things to say about these books.  Gospel themes are not hard to find. One element that bears constant discussion is the tendency toward redemptive violence.  In one such discussion last night, Isaac and Moses showed us the depth of their moral reasoning shaped by our reading of literature and the Bible. I was commenting on how, in Redwall, the side of good can use violence to achieve its ends and the books still end with peace and tranquility. There seems to be little repurcussion from the brutality of war, the "soul splitting" that results from killing, as JK Rowling emphasises.

I remarked on the fictional world in which there is a side of pure evil and a side of pure good. Moses chimed in: "there is no such thing because in real life it depends on your point of view." Later, I paused my reading during a description of an evil owl to comment that I liked owls.  Isaac reprimanded me, "but mom, you have to see it from the mouse's perspective."  Isaac and Moses' comments show a gospel understanding. Each side has its story to tell. We are all created good, all fallen, and all in need of redemption. For this reason, Jesus does not allow us to kill our enemies. As my boys seem to understand, the books we read personify the resistance to "the cosmic power of this present age" which is to be distinguished from the killing of "enemies of blood and flesh" (Ephesians 6:12). In real life, there is no one side of good and another of evil. Each of us must daily decide whether to follow the Christ who gave his life even for enemies.  Only insofar as we do that can we resist evil and work for good.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

on authority

En route to Cape Town earlier this month, I bought a copy of the Cape Times, my interest piqued by a front page photo of church ministers prayerfully blessing South African State President Jacob Zuma.  The accompanying article described the scene.  Zuma, "addressing the 33rd Presbyterian Synod in Giyani, Limpopo", had stated that "whether we like it or not, God has made a connection between the government and the church."  More specifically, Zuma shared his views on the nature of authority.  "If you don't respect those in leadership, if you don't respect authority, then you are bordering on a curse."

The president's sentiments stirred in me a fair amount of discomfort which I herewith put into words--if indeed by doing so I am not "bordering on a curse."

First, the president's words are remarkable in historical perspective.  As one who struggled against apartheid, a particular form of "authority" and one of history's most conspicuous examples of "the connection between the government and the church", was the pre-1994 Mr. Zuma himself thereby "bordering on a curse."  Was apartheid, by virtue of it being both government and authority, worthy of "respect"?

Second, the president's words are decidedly unremarkable from a cultural perspective.  Every land and culture has its own traditional or civil religion(s).  It is a commonplace of religion to ossify into a simple guardianship of culture, to uphold the traditions of a particular nation, party, or people at any cost.  Because, therefore, culture itself is the highest good, any attempt to modify or reform culture will be met with the threat of "curse" from those entrusted with its guardianship.  The president understands that he occupies the highest office in the land and quite "naturally" pronounces the curse upon all who confront the order which he serves.

Third, the president's words are deeply offensive from a theological perspective.  Since the president has drug the debate on authority into the church, the church will respond (with the exception of those church leaders who have welcomed him in).  There are church traditions, the Anabaptist being one, which have maintained for centuries the faith that in certain and not infrequent circumstances disobedience to earthly authorities is the crucible of obedience to God.  God has not, in fact, "made a connection between the government and the church", but has ordained the church as the witness against the idolatrous and destructive powers with which the state so often exercises its authority.  Such a church considers it pure joy when it is reviled for pursuing the justice of God; that which is cursed of humans may be blessed of God (Mt 5:10-12).

Finally, authority in the president's perspective is ultimately impotent from a biblical perspective.  Human authority has no power to curse what God has blessed, for "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming for us a curse" (Gal 3:13).  Hung on a tree and cursed by the vile and ungodly collaboration of religious and political authorities, "God . . . raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand . . . far above all rule and authority and power and dominion" (Eph 1:20-21).

With faith in its risen Lord, then, let the church confront without fear the pretensions of earthly authority.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Anabaptist theologies conference

A lot has happened since I last wrote.  I have found that my silence over the last while is a reflection of 1) having been more exhausted after some recent events, and 2) feeling less and less confident about saying anything about South Africa the longer we've lived in the country.  Still, as we move through our last few months here, I will try to post some news and reflections.  I'll start with something that took place last week.

From 6-8 October, I participated in a conference organized by the Anabaptist Network in South Africa on the theme of Anabaptist theologies in South Africa.  I prepared a paper on the convergences and divergences between Anabaptist and Pentecostal Christianity, inspired by my work with African Initiated Churches and other Pentecostal churches and informed by the work of many scholars of both Anabaptism and Pentecostalism.  The experience proved to be a way of tying together some of the main themes of our work here in South Africa, perhaps in a way bringing a measure of closure to our time (though we still have significant events on the horizon).

The conference was held at Volmoed, a Christian retreat and conference center located in the heart of the world's largest floral kingdom.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

threads of Christian history

At Bethany Bible School last weekend, I used pictures to teach on the history of Christianity.  By comparing and contrasting the images in the pictures, a portrait emerged of God's will for Christian living.

The first story, represented here by the Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, was of Perpetua, a young North African mother who was killed for her faith around the year 200.  In the painting, we see a group of Christians gathered in a Roman stadium, awaiting death from the terrible beasts emerging from below.  Perpetua was a member of such a group of Christian friends who had been apprehended by the authorities and refused to recant their faith.  While in prison, she was strengthened for her suffering by visions of heaven.  Before being ripped apart by the beasts, Perpetua and her fellow Christians exchanged the "kiss of peace", the sign of their unity in Christ and their last witness before the bloodthirsty crowd.

The second story was of Constantine I, who in the year 312 defeated his rival Maxentius for supremacy of the Roman Empire.  On the eve of battle, the young military commander saw a fiery cross in the sky, accompanied by the command, "by this sign, conquer."  Constantine attributed his victory to the sign and, in 313, issued the Edict of Milan which declared Christianity a legal religion.

The third vignette from Christian history was of the Crusades, the series of "holy wars" fought across the first three centuries of the second Christian millenium that European Christians waged against Muslims in order to win back the city of Jerusalem.
The fourth story was of the sixteenth-century Anabaptist martyr Dirk Willems, who was rewarded with a gruesome death for an act of astonishing Christ-like mercy: rescuing his drowning enemy from a frigid lake.  Detained for his faith, Dirk escaped from prison and ran across a frozen moat to apparent freedom.  His pursuer was not so fortunate; the same ice that upheld Dirk broke under the weight of his enemy.  Dirk turned back to rescue the man, who promptly returned him to prison.  Dirk was burned at the stake days later.
Having heard all these stories and studied their images, we discerned as a group two primary actions of Christians down through the ages.  Christians have been killed, and they have killed their enemies.  In killing, Christians merely mimic the actions of their enemies.  In the picture of the Crusades, for example, I was able to clearly show that the only difference between the Christians and their enemies was in the sign of the cross adorning the Christians' armor.  Otherwise, the behavior of Christians bears no difference from the behavior of their enemies; each group seeks to kill the other with the sword.  So too Constantine, the first "Christian" king, lines up against his enemies much as they line up against him.  By contrast, the Christians in the Roman stadium, and Dirk Willems, accepted death rather than do their enemies harm.  Their witness was one with Jesus, who offered peace to his enemies even unto death on a cross.

So I asked the students, "Who are the real Christians?"  They did not hesitate to point out Perpetua and Dirk.


Monday, July 15, 2013

a reading of Ruth

Currently our Bible School has five student-leaders who are enrolled in a certificate course with the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC).  These are leaders whom we and their peers in the student body have identified for greater leadership in the school.  These five students have now completed their first round of assignments for the school year after much study.  They are receiving their first results now--and the reports we have received so far have been positive.

We received this encouragement firsthand from Nonyameko Dwele, one of these students, who bore witness to the insights she is gaining through her studies.  On a visit to our home last Saturday, Mama Dwele narrated the biblical story of Ruth and made specific applications of its main themes to her own social situation in South Africa (which was one of her assignments in the introductory Old Testament course).

Nonyameko Dwele (center, with pen) transcribing answers for a small group study at Bethany Bible School in 2012.

In her telling of the story, Mama Dwele emphasized the foreigner status of, first, Naomi, and second, Ruth.  Naomi, an Israelite, had gone with her family to the country of Moab to find food during a time of famine.  While residing there, both her husband and her sons died, leaving Naomi with her daughters-in-law, the Moabites Orpah and Ruth.  While Orpah remained in Moab, Ruth insisted on following her mother-in-law in her return to Israel.  Though a foreigner in Israel, Ruth found belonging in the house of Boaz, Naomi's relative, who became Ruth's husband.  Through their union a son, Obed, the grandfather of David, was born.  Consequently, just as Naomi had gone down to Moab as a foreigner and there acquired Ruth as a beloved daughter, so Ruth went to Israel as a foreigner and acquired a beloved son and grandson for Naomi.

Mama Dwele then made this application to her own world, which I paraphrase below:

We Xhosas have a hard time accepting foreigners.  But Naomi was a foreigner and the people of that land accepted her.  Then Ruth was a foreigner, and the people in Israel treated her well.  I took from that that we must welcome foreigners.

We were inspired by Mama Dwele's apt summary and application of the story in the direction of the love of God that crosses boundaries between cultures.


Friday, July 12, 2013

ESSA Winter Bible School

The week of 24-28 June I had the privilege of teaching a course on the letter to the Ephesians at the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa's (ESSA) Winter Bible School.  I was invited to do so by my colleague Andrew Suderman, who has taught classes at the institution for several years now, and was also leading a course during the week on the topic, What is church?.  We met in the ESSA library, adjacent to the stacks of the Anabaptist Network in South Africa's Peace Library, which is also housed there.  

The participants of the intensive week of learning are below.  Though we were few in number, the insights gained in studying the scriptures together were great.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

real presence

I believe in paying attention to patterns and repetitions.  When teaching the Bible, I tell our students to look for them in the text; in life, when two or more events of a similar nature pop up without warning, I take notice.

Recently, South Africa mourned the sudden loss of Vuyo Mbuli, one of its most popular television and radio personalities.  In the tribute of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, "Vuyo Mbuli was a constantly reassuring presence on our television screens over two tumultuous decades", perhaps something like the voice of a free and democratic South Africa trying to recover from its long night of apartheid.  At the same time, I found myself riveted by reader comments--usually a worthless lot of discouragement and negativity--addended to internet news releases about the passing of longtime Kansas City Royals' Radio broadcaster Fred White.  For me, White's voice, like the internet readers whose own loving memories of listening to Royals' baseball so nearly matched my own, was the record of the highs and lows, triumphs and defeats, wins and losses, of a midwestern American ball club and an adolescent boy whose heart it had captured.  For me, the Royals very nearly lived, came alive through, became really present, by the voices of White and broadcast partner Denny Mathews.

As some voices bridge space, others bridge time.  On her work with victims and perpetrators of heinous crimes during apartheid, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela has spoken of the way in which the narration of past traumatic experiences makes them present.  When giving voice to their experiences of trauma, Gobodo-Madikizela has observed that victims often unconsciously move back and forth from the past to the present tense.  She observed of one woman's story that "the event seemed so vivid to me that it was as if it were happening in the moment" (Gobodo-Madikizela, 2003: 89)  The speaking of the past made it real in the present.

Similarly, at the heart of Christian worship is a recollection of trauma, a memory of suffering, that through word and spirit collapses the distance between past and present and here and there.  "The
Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Cor 11:23-24).  The memory begins, in the words of Paul to the Corinthians or any person who commemorates the event for others, in the past--"betrayed", "took", "had given thanks", "broke", "said"--but suddenly--"This is my body"--slips into the present.  As the victim's narration made the past real in the present for Gobodo-Madikizela, so the church's remembrance in word and spirit makes present the betrayed one who gave his life "for us."

Christian worship at its best, like the spontaneous passion or "reassuring presence" of a broadcaster bringing to life events his audience cannot see, makes real the presence of the one who loved us and gave himself for us.  If God therefore presents himself through our worship, it is particularly incumbent upon those whose task it is to speak for others to be truly attentive to reality as it unfolds.


Gobodo-Madikizela's reflections can be read in her book, A Human Being Died That Night: A Story of Forgiveness (Claremont, South Africa: David Philip, 2003), especially pp. 88ff.        

Monday, May 13, 2013

learnings from perspectives on the African past

Back during Holy Week, the preacher at one of the evening services relayed an insight that I found interesting on the subject of the relationship between the past and the present in his particular African culture.  The first point of interest for me were the subjects this man and his friends were themselves interested in.  The man spoke of a question his friend used to ask, "Why was it that Jesus was born in the Middle East and not in South Africa?"  It was not the type of question I had ever asked myself with regard to my own point of origin.  Indeed, I had never assumed that Jesus could have been born in what is now known as North America.  Yet, with regard to his own home, the man's friend needed to know why God chose Palestine and not Africa?

The preacher's own answer to his friend's question had to do with the idea that the Jews had an advantage over the preacher's own African culture due to the former's belief in the one God.  "All we knew here were our grandfathers," the preacher said, referring to the spiritual place of authority occupied by the ancestors in traditional religion.  The preacher's logic seemed to be that Jesus, being the fulfilment of the revelation of the one God in history, could only appear to those who were prepared to receive him.  By faith in the God of Israel, so it seems, the Jews were more ready for God's great act of self-disclosure in Christ than were, in this case, inhabitants of southern Africa.  Jesus had first to fulfil the faith of those to whom he came before the faith could be taken to others.

The preacher's perspective on his African past would seem to fly in the face of much African scholarship that insists that the pre-Christian peoples of Africa did worship the one God.  Far from the man's statement that "we only knew our grandfathers" is the premise that Africans always knew of the one God and worshipped God through the ancestors.  Of course, the positions are not mutually exclusive.  Some insist that though God was known, God was too other, holy, or distant to be approached without the mediation of the ancestors. Consequently, because descendants went "directly" to the realm of the spirit only through their ancestors, one might say that only "our grandfathers" were known even without denying the presence of the one God beyond.  Perhaps in practice only "our grandfathers" were known while in theory also God was known.  Nevertheless, in the preacher's perspective, whatever knowing of God in comparison to the ancestors was so partial as to disqualify his forefathers from seeing the birth of the historical Jesus within their culture.

The man's comments, then, privilege the Jews in salvation history.  I have sometimes encountered an assumption in Christian missiology that the traditional cultures of the world are in the place of the first-century Jews in relation to the Christ, as though Christ comes "to fulfil the law and the prophets" of every culture as much as he claimed to do so for Israel (Mt 5:17).  The logical progression of such thinking is that Jesus might have, in terms of the question of the preacher's friend, as easily have come to Africa as to Palestine.  Moreover, such thinking betrays a Christian ambiguity about the place of the Old Testament, for if every culture can receive Jesus directly, then the Old Testament may be an expendable source of gospel proclamation.  In the latent logic of the aforementioned African lay preacher, however, no necessary choice exists between Jesus the fulfilment of every culture and Jesus the fulfilment of Israel.  If the story of Jesus is the story of Israel fulfilled, then the law and the prophets are part and parcel of the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Jesus who speaks to every particularity comes with his own particularity.  To know Jesus is, to a very significant degree, to know his story.

Nevertheless, the conviction that the story of Israel is one with the gospel of Jesus does not mean that the two are identical.  Christians believe that Jesus is the Lord of the story, so that the story holds together in him.  The Old Testament shapes a distinctively Christian way of life only in relation to Christ, so that the particular ways in which Jesus took up the law and the prophets (as recorded in the New Testament gospels) give special direction for Christian faithfulness in every culture.  In seeing how Christ fit and did not fit the expectations of his culture, Christians learn how they should and should not fit the expectations of their own cultures.  For that work of discerning the ways of faithfulness, Christians need Christ with his story.  Christ with his story, the story of Israel fulfilled, is the necessary precursor to a deep implantation of the faith that pleases God in every culture.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March happenings

Here's a quick recap of our last month, now that we've had a chance to catch our breath.

1-2 March.  Bethany Bible School workshop weekend with guest instructor Hlobisile Nxumalo from Swaziland.  We enjoyed hosting Hlobi in our home for parts of four days.  Nanna and AK, our Danish volunteers, also spent the weekend with us.  Jacob, Anna's brother, left us on Sunday, 3 March, after a four-month stay.

8-10 March.  Anabaptist Network in South Africa Steering Committee Meeting in Pietermaritzburg.  Three members of Bethany Bible School, Nonyameko Dwele, Reuben Mgodeli, and Lawrence Coetzee, represented the school to the gathering and with us presented a proposal to the Anabaptist Network on how it might collaborate with Bethany.

10-20 March.  Travels with church delegation from Clinton Frame Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana.  We enjoyed hosting and sharing about our life and work with six members from one of our supporting congregations.  Over several days in the Mthatha area, the group

  • visited the rural homestead of one of our Bible School members.  The group received a royal welcome and witnessed a lively church service;
  • got a feel for the local verve in the city of Mthatha
  • spent a beautiful day at the beach at Silaka Nature Reserve, Port St. Johns
After Mthatha, the group went on to Philipstown where we spent a weekend with Grace Community Church.  We enjoyed
  • a Saturday evening braai of sheep and boerwoers;
  • church on Sunday
After Philipstown, we headed to Johannesburg from which the group eventually departed for the states.  While in Johannesburg, the group visited the Apartheid Museum and a craft market.  After their departure, our family took a couple days of vacation in the city.  

Now we're back home, and are looking forward to the observances of this Holy Week.


 Nanna, Jacob, Hlobisile, and AK being Levi's grandparents for the day at his grandparents' tea

The boys in front of soccer city in Johannesburg

Thursday, February 14, 2013

bring and braai

Yesterday we participated in one of South Africa's most venerable traditions--the bring and braai.  The closest equivalent to a braai in the USA is a barbeque.  I use the modifier "closest" because South Africans do not put on the grill what Americans typically do--hamburgers and hot dogs.  South African braais consist only of slabs of meat, mostly of the red variety (chicken also doesn't really count--though we did braai some chicken on this night).  Braais also consist of boerwoers, farmer's sausage--but not by any means as the main meat.  Rather, boerwoers seems to be the mere garnish to steak or lamb, usually ringed on the grill around the main fare.  The occasion of this braai was a welcome to families with students who have just entered Transkei Primary School through Grade R (kindergarten).  This is our third one of these, since, in addition to our current Grade R learner (Levi), we've been through this with Moses and Isaac. 

Families set up blankets and chairs around the perimeter of the grounds in front of Levi's school.  Our contingent on this day consisted of our usual household (our six plus Simelwe and Asiko and, since October, Jacob) and one guest--Nonyameko Dwele from our Bible School (she had joined our family for a couple of days while studying at our house).

The braai duties usually fall to the men, so I did my best.  Jacob helped me out.   The school  furnished the fires and the braais (grills), each family brought its own meat, sides, and table service.  It's every man for himself around the braais; people cram their meat in open spaces alongside others' meat, then remove their food from the grill when it's done to make room for others.

Asiko and Jesse sharing a drink.

Monday, January 28, 2013

volunteers from Denmark

Currently we have the privilege of hosting two young women from Denmark.  Nanna and Anna Kathrine, both 20, are acquaintances of our friends, Steen and Christina, who were missionaries in Botswana and used to attend our Mennonite worker retreats.  Christina approached us about finding a placement for Nanna and Anna Kathrine in South Africa, as they were interested in doing a short term of service abroad in a time of transition between their studies.  We then approached Mzomtsha Youth Care Centre (of which Joe serves on the board) near the village of Ngqeleni (about 30 km from Mthatha) about Nanna and Anna Kathrine serving there.  Today, after five days of rest from their travels and orientation with us, we took Nanna and Anna Kathrine to their new home at Mzomtsha.  They will visit us once a week from now until their return home to Denmark in early May.  The women are keeping a blog about their experiences.  They tell about their first week here (the page is in Danish, but you should see an option at the top of your page to translate it to English).