Tag Archives: host family

Scarcity into Plenty

Scarcity into Plenty

It was one of my self-reflective revelations, about the time I graduated college, that not everybody enjoys cooking as much as I do. For some reason it had never occurred to me before that there were alternative perspectives on the subject.

Cooking has entertained and invigorated me for many a hour, many early mornings, and several late nights, since I first learned to mix a batch of brownies for my elementary school friends. This might come as a surprise to my community here in South Africa, since they are all more or less convinced that their young American guest is incapable of cooking or at least deathly afraid of it.

It’s true that I haven’t cooked as much as I imagined I would. In my defense, my facilities are limited. My kitchen consists of a desk squeezed in the corner of my apartment, sporting two burners and an electric kettle for my appliances, with a single pan and diminutive pot as my tools. That put a kabosh on my plans for showering family and friends with goodies, but I was determined that no oven did not have to mean no baked goods ever.

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Keep Thy Household

Keep Thy Household

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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To Guide and Bless

To Guide and Bless

practicumThis past week smiled on luminous accomplishments: the graduation of my first class of South African learners, and my graduation to a new phase of the Umama School of Cooking – baking!

I had hinted to my host mother that my future family in KZN, to say nothing of myself, might recall my time in Bundu even more fondly if we had some tangible token to treasure…baked goodies, for example.

She obliged by imparting to me a coveted recipe for “amakhekhe” – the Zulu word for cake, here applied to mouthwatering tea biscuits!

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Never-Failing Care

Never-Failing Care

 The final chapter of Proverbs graces us with a portrait of an excellent woman: “more precious than jewels,” “with willing hands,” rising “while it is yet night,” clothed in strength and dignity, teaching kindness.

My host mother gives life to these virtues.  She welcomed me into her home as another daughter–a invitation as kind as it must be familiar for her. Eva cares for four children at once most days: a daughter, a granddaughter, and two twin boys.

Her daughter is six years old, and her granddaughter is seven.  “SamKele was a surprise,” I remarked to her older brother, a twenty-five year old college student.

“I’d say that’s an understatement,” he chuckled.

Eva calls it a blessing. “More than twenty years–and God gave us a daughter!”  The name “SamKele” means “We accept.”

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