30 September 2010

New Reflections

I have a few reflections in the works which I hope to post soon.  However, I am traveling with the Durban Circuit Men's League choir to the South Eastern Diocese Prayer Men's League Rally this weekend, so they probably won't go up until I return from the rally.

In the meantime, I highly suggest checking out the program facebook page for more news from South Africa.  Also, if you are interesting in learning more about the motivations behind accompaniment, I highly recommend this article written by one of my Country Coordinators, Brian Konkol.

21 September 2010

Two Weeks in Durban

It's hard to believe I have been in Durban almost two weeks already.  With new experiences every day, time really seems to fly by here.  At the same time, life seems to be moving at a slower pace, with every experience an intentional time to be in relationship with people from all walks of life.

I look forward to each day I am in the creche.  Every day, the children greet me with hugs and requests to be lifted up.  Their joy is infectious and lifts me up even when I am feeling under the weather.

I also look forward to my afternoons in the PUSH office where I am helping with some administration tasks.  The ladies in the office are full of joy;  I look forward to the times we have to share stories from our lives with each other.

Every aspect of who I am as a person seems to find room to flourish here in Durban.

When I was at St. Michael's congregation on last Sunday, I was introduced to a man named Tsepo who promptly invited me to sing in a choir.  As a result, I am now singing in two choirs, the Durban Circuit Men's League choir and the Durban Circuit choir.

I am working with children and youth of all ages while here in Durban.  At the creche, I am working with children up to age 7.  Some Saturdays, I work with children who are a little older at an outreach program with the YMCA.  On Thursdays, it is likely that I will be helping youth ages 15-18 with math and other subjects with another program with the YMCA.  Prior to this year, I never would have suspected that I have it in me to work with children and youth like this.  I wonder what other hidden gifts God will help me unlock this year.

My faith is also finding room to flourish here in Durban.  From conversations with Jonathan (the German volunteer staying with me who has been tremendously helpful teaching me how to find my way around Durban), to Bible studies at the Y, to working at the creche and PUSH offices, to attending beautiful worship services on Sunday, everywhere I turn I see faith in action that only serves to strengthen mine.

On Friday, I met Elise, an American volunteer with the Mennonite Central Committee temporarily volunteering at the creche.  Talking with her about her background in international development was a fruitful step in my discernment process this year.  As I live in community this year, I putting my faith in God to lead me where I need to go.

08 September 2010

Durban: A Truly International City

On Monday, we dispersed from our in-country orientation in Pietermaritzburg to our host sites.  Now I had heard that Durban was a diverse, international city, but I never truly appreciated that until I arrived in Durban to stay.  One of the sites where I will be working is a creche (pre-school for children aged 0-6) started by refugees and operating for refugees from various conflicted regions in Africa.  Walking down the street, I see people from all over the world mingling with each other, going about their daily business.  The very first night I was in Durban, there was a parents meeting at the creche where one of the sponsoring agencies, the Mennonite Central Committee, brought in speakers from the US and Canada to talk about parental involvement in their child's education.  While at the meeting, I was introduced along with a German volunteer who is also working at the creche.

Being in a very international environment has served as an immediate reminder to me of the many tensions I will be living this year on my journey.  There are dichotomies between serving and being served, learning and teaching, doing and being.  Orientation helped me to cast aside my old way of approaching life and become open to new ways of living.  As I expand the relationships I have already formed and develop new ones this year, I will learn to adjust to these tensions and experience a new way of approaching life.