Tag Archives: church

The Fruit of Good Living: Goodbye to South Africa

The Fruit of Good Living: Goodbye to South Africa

This was not the post I was expecting to write when I began outlining ideas for March 2020 — any more than these months seem to be what anyone was expecting.

The last weeks of my service in South Africa began like all the others: a kaleidoscope of culture, friendships, quiet, and difficult times. Then it started to get weird. A cascade of unrelated events contributed to a growing sense of chaos, which paradoxically prepared me for the end of my Peace Corps service in a way that I could never have anticipated.

In the end, as a friend pointed out to me, it was a mercy.

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In All Godly Quietness: USA Visit Via London

In All Godly Quietness: USA Visit Via London

If there’s anything Peace Corps service has taught me, it’s the necessity of waiting.

My nature rebels against the humility and simple surrender of acknowledging that further action will avail nothing; the outcome is beyond my power to influence; there’s nothing to do but place my trust in the Lord…and wait.

In some small areas, my expectations have made the adjustment: the taxis to my shopping town, the line at the grocery store, the printers at school. Although service providers here rarely hurry and sometimes acknowledge requests reluctantly, that doesn’t mean they aren’t responding. A patient smile does wonders for my health and theirs.

It’s the big questions – about career, family, and the future – that send me into the wrestling ring with God. As a Christian blogger pointed out, there’s a difference between waiting for something you know will happen (eventually) and waiting when you’re not sure whether it ever will. The Biblical images of sowing and reaping acquire new resonance for me as I wonder when the time invested in these critical areas will begin to bear fruit.

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Drawing Nearer to Thee: 2019 Christmas Weddings

Drawing Nearer to Thee: 2019 Christmas Weddings

Graduation, Christmas, weddings – December in South Africa has it all!

The end of this year – and the decade! – marked the conclusion of my first full year in South Africa. Twelve months ago, I never could have predicted that I would be flying to Cape Town for a wedding, or applying to a masters program in African studies, or joining a family reunion at the same farm where Judy and I reveled in fresh-made dairy last year.

All of these events and more impressed on me the greatest blessing of my Peace Corps service: becoming like family with the people here.

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Cheer with Hope: Celebrations, St. Lucia, the Reed Dance

Cheer with Hope: Celebrations, St. Lucia, the Reed Dance

Whenever someone surprises me with that infamous question – “How’s it going in Africa?” or “What’s it like doing Peace Corps?” – I resort to my emergency reply: “Mountains and valleys!”

Peace Corps has given me some of the happiest times of my life – and some of the most difficult. The past month unfolded along the same lines, running from birthday celebrations to a memorial service for a Grade 6 learner at my school. In the good times, in the difficult times, we need not fear…for the Lord walks with us.

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So Peaceably Ordered: Peace Corps Jargon Decoded

So Peaceably Ordered: Peace Corps Jargon Decoded

While away in Western Cape, I was marveling about the blooming aloes at Talitha’s wedding venue, lamenting their beauty compared to the plain janes lining my host family’s property…only to discover, on my return, that the aloes at home are blooming, too!

After a cascade of often unexpected opportunities for travel this past year, it’s been my joy to discover the tiny treasures of spending time closer to home.

When a Peace Corps Volunteer isn’t soaking in the sights and sounds of her adopted country, how does she occupy her time? What are you supposed to do at site, anyway?

For decoding the nitty gritty of the volunteer experience, please consult this cheat sheet of five daily doings in Peace Corps South Africa:
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In Returning and Rest: Furlough in Pretoria

In Returning and Rest: Furlough in Pretoria

Last month the Lord blessed me with a mini-furlough: I traveled to Pretoria for a Resource Committee meeting and stayed with Christian friends!

The time away gave me a much-needed chance to reconnect with God and reflect on my reasons for service.

It persuaded me that, no matter the troubles and challenges I face here, I am committed to finding a way to glorify God through my service in South Africa.

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The Yearly Remembrance: End of Year Festivities

The Yearly Remembrance: End of Year Festivities

My last month at site before the holidays was full of good-byes, hellos, and special moments.

It hardly felt like Christmas, in this hot weather, but the end of the year did bring a different kind of festivities…

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Keep Thy Household: My New Site

Keep Thy Household: My New Site

If you have ever traveled with me, you know that my sense of direction is, well, lacking. I can walk into a building and come back out confused: Which way did we come in?

My hapless navigating generated some laughs when we were all together during training, but I confess it gave me a feeling of trepidation when I thought ahead to finding my way around site.

The Peace Corps answer to areas where Google Maps may be faulty or non-existent is a mandatory “community mapping” assignment. This key element of integration entails a hand-drawn map with local landmarks, but also an investigation of the intangible network of relationships that make up a community.

My second week at site, I armed myself with pencil and paper, ready to try my hand at surveying. Happily for me, my host brother answered the call–he and some friends allowed me to recruit them for a tour of my new village.

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The Gates of Larger Life: Weekend Away With the Family

The Gates of Larger Life: Weekend Away With the Family

On my way home from Kwamhlanga, I pondered how to describe my weekend away.  My host mother had invited me there for a sojourn to her mother’s house.  The town wasn’t far, but we would be staying overnight.

What was the occasion, exactly?  “Church.” 

I suspected there was more involved, since she had broached the subject weeks in advance and invested the days preceding in amassing buckets of handmade amakheki (sweet biscuits or ‘fat cakes’).

“What will we be doing?” I ventured, in my elementary Zulu. 

“Praying.”

Despite the apparent logic of these replies, I couldn’t quell the sense that something more awaited me.

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The Adventures of Quatty, Act I

The Adventures of Quatty, Act I

DSC_0136 Note: I returned home Thursday morning, August 15th, after a red-eye flight — safe but sleepy (and fully recovered from food poisoning!). My thanks to everyone for their prayers and support during the trip. Many photos and stories remain, so I plan to continue updating the blog through my journey’s conclusion.

Note 2: I struggled to finish this post — hence the two week plus delay in updating — and it nearly finished my instead.  I credit my sister with the spark that finally kindled this saga of church camp. Read the rest of this entry