Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dumela a Tshwane!

10 days in South Africa and I have had quite an education so far. Here are 5 fun things I've learned since I've been here:

1) I've learned that Pretoria is no longer called Pretoria. The new name of this city is Tshwane, which makes much more sense given that it is in a region that speaks mostly the tribal language of Tshwana. I've tried to learn as much Tswana as I can, but there are lots of sounds that are not in English. Last weekend we had a training in the region of Hammanskraal with the pastors of the churches we'll be working with in the area. We spent all of Saturday training their church volunteers to run programs within their churches, and many of the volunteers had fun trying to teach me Tswana. I have "thank you" down, and I'm definitely ok with "hello" (dumela) but a few of the other important words like "good morning", "good evening" and "good bye" I'm still practicing. My pronunciation of those is very white girl American. But the churches have been really excited about building children's programs and soccer programs, and it's exciting that we get to be a part of helping resource their ideas.

2) I've also learned a few important Afrikaans phrases, most specifically, "Gaan kotz in die bos." This means "Go puke in the bush." It can be used in it's literal form, but mostly is used to dismiss anyone who is being ridiculous.

3) Many South Africans (particularly taxi drivers) consider driving laws optional, particularly stop signs and robots (aka stoplights). Also, merging is a vehicular demonstration of Survival of the Fittest; Darwin would be proud.

4) God can, and does, provide for His people in miraculous ways. We had about 120 people to feed lunch to on Saturday, and there is no way that the gas to cook the rice or the rice itself should have lasted. But as we scooped out rice, it continued to extend, and we ended up with two small bowls left over. It was awesome to watch. Those same meals will be what we're bringing with our trailers during the World Cup. We want to feed every child that comes to a Holiday Club, and we are doing it with this rice meal that is supplemented with vitamins. We can feed 6 kids for just 36 US cents; it's quite a product. We're still about $3500 short, but God has already shown up, and we believe he will continue to do so.

5) Cricket is a very odd game. Two guys run back and forth between three sticks on each side and have to hit a ball that is bowled by a guy who pitches kind of like fast-pitch softball. Saturday afternoon I put these big leg protectors on and giant squishy gloves and learned to bat in some batting cages. It's quite an odd hitting motion, particularly with all the gear on. But honestly, more odd than that is the fact that in the original form of the game, it lasts 5 days, 8 hours each day. What kind of spectator sport lasts 40 straight hours? And, within those 8 hours there are two tea breaks and a lunch break. I'm not convinced it should be permissible to have a tea break during a sporting event. However, Greg is playing on a team that plays a short version of the game called 20/20 Cricket. It only took about 2 1/2 hours to play. This was much more tolerable than 8 hours with tea breaks.

You can see a few of my pictures from the first week are up (just click on the slideshow and they'll come up full screen). I'll post more later in the week (uploading just uses a lot of bandwidth).

Thanks for all your prayers - keep praying for more food, blankets, and volunteers.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Welkom in Pretoria!

(Welcome to Pretoria... in Afrikaans)
I am now in the process of absorbing at least two new languages (Afrikaans and Tswana) plus the dialect that is South African English.

I landed last night around 6pm local time after a long and excellently turbulent flight. (It was about 4 hours of turbulence... I thought the fuselage was going to just split apart at the seems.) But alas, I landed and so did both my bags (though I did also learn not to borrow a bag right before a trip - I had no idea which black rectangular bag was mine).

Greg picked me up from the airport and took me out to his apartment complex where my excellent host family had organized a braai (a South African barbeque) to welcome me. It also felt quite good to sleep in a bed last night.

Today, I jumped in (was thrown in?) with both feet with three meetings with leaders and pastors to discuss upcoming plans. It's great to see so many people getting behind one vision and one mission.

The plan for tomorrow is one more meeting with a pastor, and then 6 of us are driving off to Hammanskraal (about 35 minutes north of Pretoria) to run the 2nd of 5 trainings for pastors and volunteers in the area. When the international teams come in, they will work with a local, under-resourced church and the local church volunteers to run programs for the local children, teens, and adults in the area. So this training is for those pastors and local volunteers. One of the big goals of this program is to help empower many of the under-resourced churches to use what they have to reach their communities in positive ways.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Still In Virginia

Ok, so for those of you who were expecting a "Annie Landed Safely" message... I haven't taken off yet. Due to bad weather in Atlanta my flight into Atl got canceled and I rebooked for today. So, I take off for Atlanta in a couple of hours and with any luck I'll land in SA tomorrow (Wednesday) around Noon Eastern (US) time, 6pm SA time.

Thanks for your prayers, I'll let you know when I get there.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


How is it, that after months of preparation I still feel so extraordinarily unprepared to go to South Africa? All I've done for weeks is make lists, run errands, send emails, make phone calls, organize, pack, plan, sell 80% of my worldly possessions, and yet I still don't feel ready to leave. I know my brain says that no one ever feels ready to leave, but that doesn't steady my emotions enough to make me sleep well. Andy Stanley has said that no one is ever more than 80% sure of any major change and I guess that 20% feels as if it is bearing down on me tonight.

I have Pandora playing on a worship station right now and Passion's version of "Better is One Day" is on.
Better is one day in Your courts, better is one day in Your house, Better is one day in Your courts, than thousands elsewhere

Lord, teach me to trust that truth. I am following as You have asked, I am choosing to be obedient in the tasks you have put before me, but I am having trouble seeing the blessing beyond the sacrifice. I want to believe that my life will be more blessed and more fruitful and more honoring to You and those around me as I am following Your direction into Your "courts" and Your ministry, but my head doesn't know how to trust that right now.

Steph and I were watching tv the other day and this commercial came on where this couple was talking about the horrible weeds in their back yard and the struggle in destroying the dandelions. I made fun of it and told Steph that if Greg and I ever get to a point where our biggest stress in life is killing the weeds in our lawn, she has free permission to punch me in the face.

She laughed but responded (perhaps quite prophetically), "Yeah, but there may come a day when you'll wish your biggest stress is the weeds in your lawn."

I know, that with the greatest challenges come the greatest growth. And I am honored that God would think I am worthy of such an incredible task, but that doesn't make me feel any more prepared.

But, tomorrow the sun will rise. I cannot think 10 months down the road, for that matter I can't think 10 days down the road. I will choose to honor God with tomorrow... and then I'll go from there.