Tag Archives: beach

Little wave: Yoron snorkeling

Little wave: Yoron snorkeling
Little wave: Yoron snorkeling

Former JET participants had alerted me to anticipate sports day at my school, but the school culture festival caught me off guard. On Saturday the entire student body took over the town performing arts theater to showcase their musical talents, art projects, comedy routines, body-building, and other shenanigans.

Some elements struck me as quintessentially Japanese, both classically (the calligraphy and martial arts demos) and modernistically (the pop idol routine and horror movie spoof). Besides a chance to relish my students’ inventiveness, the all-day weekend event also granted me an unexpected holiday: Most teachers would take off the Monday of that same weekend, but I was due to ferry to Yoron that morning — so I extended my stay on the little island instead.

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Meeting together: Kagoshima and Yoron

Meeting together: Kagoshima and Yoron
Meeting together: Kagoshima and Yoron

“Did you make it back home?” a friend from the Christian retreat asked me.

“Well…”

My secondary school had asked me to teach the week immediately following the holidays — so instead of taking a 15 hour ferry home, I sailed for 20 hours to Yoron Island. Thankfully, my itinerary allowed for one night’s stopover in Kagoshima City, where the international Calvary Church welcomed me warmly as ever.

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Ube nokhisimuzi omuhle: Holidays

Ube nokhisimuzi omuhle: Holidays

Christmas cheer was thin on the ground last year. Despite my best intentions, the week leading up to my final essay submission demanded a slog of sleepless nights and soul-searching doubt. Just when I thought I was free to relax into the holidays, the UK government shocked everyone by declaring a stay-at-home order with less than 24 hours notice.

Even so, God was good to me.

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Singleness of Heart: Holidays in Western Cape

Singleness of Heart: Holidays in Western Cape

Three weeks of holiday delivered a treasure trove of fellowship opportunities in June and July.

The weekend after schools closed, I joined a local Christian ministry for hosting a short-term mission, or “outreach” team. Our guests, fifteen young men from Pretoria, made even the typical Peace Corps accommodations look glamorous: They pitched tents on the hillside in front of the Youth Center, with nothing but the spigots on jojos (massive rain water barrels) for showers.

Introducing them to the wonderful world of my local community brought back memories of my early days here, when I was still puzzling out and goggling at the mind-blowing ministry and development work unfolding around every corner.

It felt strange to be a veteran in comparison.

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The World Which Thou Hast Redeemed: April Holidays & Swaziland

The World Which Thou Hast Redeemed: April Holidays & Swaziland

A friend told me that sleeping cleans and heals our brains, like brushing the plaque from our teeth. That’s how church felt my first Sunday back from visiting the USA: brushing the plaque from my soul.

Peace and a sense of belonging enveloped me like a perfume; I greeted every friend with joy, conscious of how blessed I am to know them. Every week, it seems that a new connection unfolds, weaving me more and more into the fabric of community life in KZN.

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Thy Special Bounty: Unexpected Adventures in KZN

Thy Special Bounty: Unexpected Adventures in KZN

This summer, many friends committed to praying for Christian community to find me here in South Africa. If they hadn’t, I might never have realized how bountifully the Lord has answered those prayers.

My first week of school, when I was interviewing the teachers according to my Peace Corps integration assignment, the Foundation phase Head of Department suggested I contact the principal at a nearby private school. When I finally chided myself into making the call, she graciously invited me to visit.

That was where I met Petra. A native South African and world traveler, she has taught for years in schools as far flung as Europe, the Middle East, the United States, and rural KZN. This exceptional Christian lady has opened her heart and home to me, introducing me to my most exceptional experiences in South Africa to date.

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To the Haven Where We Would Be: Swearing-In Ceremony in Durban

To the Haven Where We Would Be: Swearing-In Ceremony in Durban

The road was long, but the destination was worth it.

That’s the best way to sum up our training to become Peace Corps Volunteers, and the very same phrase applies to our week in Durban.

Durban: the beach-side city where we would take our oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution and swear in as the 38th class of South Africa’s Peace Corps Volunteers. We had been anticipating this day since we arrived in South Africa, some of my fellow volunteers for years before that–but first we had to get there.

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