Tag Archives: lumostraveler

What Words Cannot Describe

Greetings from my bed after a very long, very hot day!

Driving out to Pringle Bay for our first market! Most beautiful drive I have ever witnessed.

Driving out to Pringle Bay for our first market! Most beautiful drive I have ever witnessed.

It has been a busy, but good few weeks!  I was talking with a friend from home the other day about how incredible it is that even on the hard days, getting up and going to work feels like a privilege.  I have been thinking about, reading and listening to a lot of podcast recently about the limits of language, and how sometimes words cannot do our experiences justice.  I have witnessed this especially in cross cultural context, in talking with my German flat mate about how she wants to express something, but there is no equivalent in English for what it means to her in her mother tongue and culture.  Aside from language and cultural barriers, I have recently been trying to put my experiences and emotions into words, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.  There is something unexplainable about how fully alive I feel right now.  That is not to say that I have not had my fair share of moments where it felt like parts of me were missing, sorrows were real, and anxiety and dread were looming in the corners of my mind.  But even in those moments, there was a new kind of hope and resiliency that I had not experienced before.  And every evening when I crawl into my bed and reflect on the day, I have this overwhelming and unutterable joy, peace and fullness.  I think this is equally internal and external, as I have come to understand more about myself over the past few months, while simultaneously being surrounded and immersed in a culture, country and cause that I love deeply.

On a less poetic and more practical level, my days look very different.  Monday’s we have our operations meeting in the morning, and because we are in Africa, operation meetings run on African time which I really enjoy.  Monday afternoons I spend grocery shopping for the Safe House.  I have come to learn a lot about meat over the past few weeks.  And have spent more time around dead cow than I wish.

On Tuesday’s, I do some office work in the morning, my current projects are working on project files for the Department of Social Services, helping organize an upcoming fundraising event and updating the Safe House shopping list and menu.  Tuesday afternoons I have my entrepreneurship workshop with the ladies at the Safe House, which has been so amazing.  This past weekend we went to our first market! The women made lip balm (they do not understand my use of the word “chapstick”) to sell, as well as repurposed old costume jewelry.  They designed their own brand and had tags made, kept track of expenses, were taught the basics of a loan and given a small loan, set up their own business email, and sold their product!  It is just the beginning, and it has been such a fun experience.  The women were so excited to go to the market, one of the residents told me (paraphrasing here) that she never imagined herself to be a business woman, but selling something she made with her own hands was the most empowering experience!  I was empowered just watching them with such excitement and fervor set up and sell their product in the marketplace.  WOW!  And their goods were not branded as a charity project for survivors of human trafficking.  No, they were just business women with a great product that could sell without the cause (Social Entrepreneurship 101).  It was a fabulous experience for me, and the women and I cannot wait to see how this unfolds.

  Wednesday’s are my off day, so I usually sleep in a bit, go for a long run, then practice some self care by reading on the beach or spending some extended time outside.

Thursdays, I do more office work in the morning on different projects, or I take the residents to different appointments/therapies they have.  And in the afternoon we go to kids ministry, which is a special time for our residents to give back to the community.

The next few Friday’s I am covering a shift as a house mother, so I will either run a workshop with the residents or take them for an outing around Cape Town.  Outings are really exciting for me and the women because some of them were trafficked from other cities/countries and only know the most beautiful city in the world from the hell the endured.  So getting to experience the beauty and grandeur of Cape Town together with them is a really special moment.

I never fail to learn something new each day, wether it be a new word in Xhosa or Afrikaans, something about mine or another culture, or about the beauty and light that is still present in a world that seems to be getting uglier and darker by the day.  This work is challenging and heart breaking, but it also the source of so much hope and faith in the long and humbling process of love, peace and reconciliation.

Getting ready to go!

Let’s do this thing!

สวัสดี ค่ะ! <— That, pronounced Sa-wat-dee ka, means hello (and goodbye!) in Thai. Sa-wat-dee is the actual greeting, and ka is the suffix attached to indicate gender. Females use ka whereas males use krab. Additionally, Thai, as one of the oldest Easter Asian languages, is monosyllabic and tonal. The entire meaning of a word is different based on which tone – high, mid, low, rising, or falling – you use. And all of this comes into play when just giving a greeting! It’s clear just from scratching the surface that the Thai language is unique, complex, and is going to be a challenge to use, but I’m looking forward to learning.

Saying hello is just one of the many things I’ve learned as I’ve prepared for my journey abroad. Other tidbits: you can contract very scary-sounding diseases like chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis from contact with mosquitos; you have to mail your actual passport across the country to apply for a visa; and I can, in fact, squeeze all of my possessions into a four-door sedan (I recently made the drive from Nashville to Albuquerque).

To catch you all up to speed, I depart on Wednesday, June 28th (in just 8 days!) to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I will be working with Urban Light, an organization that provides life-changing services to young male victims of human trafficking and exploitation in the region. I will be serving as the full-time Education, Advocacy, and Social Marketing intern. As such, I will be assisting the organization with services and advocacy by teaching English and conducting life skills workshops, managing and maintaining UL’s social media accounts, fundraising, and helping case managers.

The last six months have been filled with tons of general life transition. In December, shortly after I received the Lumos Award, I graduated from Belmont University with a BA in Social Entrepreneurship. In January, I began working full-time in communications at Social Enterprise Alliance, an organization that seeks to equip and empower social enterprises across the United States. And last week, my life in Nashville came to a close (for now!) as I said goodbye to my home, my dear friends, my church, my beloved Chagos, and my team of girl bosses. My dad and I packed up my car and drove across the country to my hometown of Albuquerque, NM, where I’ll be until I leave.

On the preparation front, I’ve booked my flights, downloaded Memrise’s Thai course, volunteered in an ESL classroom, bought way too much travel gear on Amazon (like, do I need six packets of oral rehydration salts? Stay tuned to find out, I guess!), and started reading books like “Working at the Bar: Sex Work and Health Communication in Thailand.” I’ve gotten all the necessary vaccinations, navigated the process for my volunteer visa, ordered foreign currency (the Thai baht) and photos of friends and family, learned how to avoid mosquitos, and stocked up on contact lenses. In short, I am ready to do this thing!

2017 has been completely crazy so far, and it’s about to get even wilder! But through all the uncertainty and insecurity that comes with transitioning into “the real world,” thinking about this journey has always made me feel more like myself than I’ve felt in awhile. I’m sure I’ll have moments of fear and thoughts of what the heck made me think I could do this, but at this point, I feel nothing but excitement and joy. I cannot wait to learn and grow, make new friends, haul my camera and ukulele across the world, serve an amazing cause and organization, focus on my life’s purpose, and learn what it means to truly depend on my faith. I’m even looking forward to the hard stuff: fumbling my way through conversations in Thai, times of loneliness and solitude, and dealing with situations that put my strength to the test.

I can hardly believe it. I’ve been working towards this adventure my entire life, and now I’m actually here, standing on the edge of the unknown, about to dive in.

Stay tuned!

Post Mandela Day

I’ve learned faster in the previous 6 weeks than I have in any season of life. I started with my time in Angola where I witnessed some of the most heartbreaking stories and then quickly transitioned back to South Africa to begin working on Mandela Day events with the JAM International team. My experiences in Angola fueled the fire in my heart to make Mandela Day a success.
Screenshot 2015-07-19 11.42.52

I believe in a God that gives us big vision and when trusting in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts. My greatest desires in life are to see the children of Africa be fed and for people to encounter the love of Jesus through me. I am certain that I am at the center of God’s will for my life and that in His time, the big vision will be fulfilled.

“If you can’t feed 100, just feed 1. ”
— Mother Teresa

I found myself apologizing for something that should not be apologized for. Due to the fact that I so desire for every child to be fed, I was discouraged that there weren’t more sign ups. To be honest, even if there were, I might have been disappointed that even more needed to be fed. The truth is, If just one child was fed on Mandela Day, someones life was completely changed. Someone was given hope for their future. A life being changed for the better is not something to apologize about, it is a celebratory matter.

On three different occasions that day, different individuals walked up to me and said,

“Be faithful in the small things for it is in them that your victory lies.”

Watch my friend Samuel Music honor Mandela through this U2 Ordinary Love cover and share how easy it is to make a difference through JAM.

At the end of the day, I helped book 3 venues in a country foreign to me, interacted and worked with cultural differences and language barriers, booked 3 of South Africa’s award winning bands to represent JAM’s mission, worked with an experienced international marketing team, saw a vision become a reality, and formed relationships and had conversations that challenged and inspired me.

Much love,

Morgan

Angola Reflections

clinic

It’s been nearly a month since I have returned from Angola and I have just now processed through everything I witnessed and the lessons I have learned from this experience.

First off, I want to thank Peter & Ann Pretorius for giving me the opportunity to go into the fields with the JAM Media Team to capture the stories of the local people. I know this was a rare opportunity and I am so grateful to have been able to join such a talented and wise group of people.

Secondly, I want to thank the team that I travelled with Darren, Chadrac,  Murray, Clint and Peter. Thank you for your patience, wisdom, and concern for me as I witnessed some of these things for the first time.

I tried to emotionally, spiritually, and physically prepare myself for Angola, but there truly is no way to prepare for the things that we saw.

feedingline

Visiting the malnutrition clinic was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced. I remember Peter praying for a child to be healed and the week the team returned, we had heard news that the child passed. I was heartbroken. I have never seen such frail children in my life.

What I learned from witnessing this is that if God leads you to see something like this, you must use your voice to encourage others to feed and educate children so they do not end up in a malnutrition clinic like this one that we visited.

My most joyful moment in Angola was seeing JAM drill and hit water. The reaction of the local people was priceless! They say it is not how long you are in the desert, but what your attitude is in the desert. These people had been waiting for water their entire lives and witnessing their constant joy, even before the water was provided, inspired me.

Filming in the last village we visited, we captured some of the saddest stories I have ever heard. We listened to many stories of mothers losing children to malnutrition. As the night closed, we went to our campsite and I saw a box being carried by the locals. I asked what it was. It was a funeral happening right before our eyes. What got me through that moment was earlier in the day, Peter had said, we must bring these people food before we return to our campsite and we did. It was fulfilling to know that at least in the 24 hours we were there we could make an impact.

There is a selfless spirit. A spirit of humility instilled in African people. When we brought food, a little girl ran to her grandmother with utmost excitement to tell her there was food that could be shared.

From this experience, I hope to live life with the humility and selflessness of the people I encountered. I walked away from this trip heartbroken, yet inspired. For my entire life, I have something to fight for and I am grateful for JAM providing that opportunity for me.

 

With Love,

Morgan