Tag Archives: south africa

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Bye’s, Belmont in Africa & Birthday’s!

I am down to my last two weeks in Cape Town and I have not come to terms with the fact that I actually have to leave.  I am in sheer denial.

Waited two years to see the view from Table Mountain on a clear day!

Waited two years to see the view from Table Mountain on a clear day!

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“Justice is what love looks like in public” Cornel West

The last week has been filled with many exciting and bittersweet things!  Two of our residents left the safe house, and that is not an easy process for any of us.  One left under less than ideal circumstances, however it was best for the safety and well being of all involved.  The other had decided she wanted to return home, and even though we wish she would have stayed longer to process and work through some things, she left with grace and joy, and we had a proper farewell filled with lots of laughter, tears and faith that her time with us was enough.  One thing that was echoed during her farewell, and the farewell of others, was the love she experienced and how it was unlike anything she had ever known. And that is the heart of S-CAPE and the heart of each of us who work here. Love is not a scarce resource, though society, and many of our circumstances and experiences, would like to tell us otherwise.  On the contrary, love is the essence of all things. It the essence of our being, of God, of the Gospel. Love bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. Few places and times in my life has love been so tangible as it is as S-CAPE. The other place that sticks out in my mind is Thistle Farms, and I am not surprised. It seems that humble, honest, hopeful communities of imperfect people pursuing wholeness and living life together are the breeding ground for sanctuaries of love and acceptance.  At S-CAPE and Thistle Farms, and I would venture to say places like the Simple Way and L’Arche, there is a spirit of ubuntu that runs deep and wide, that I am not me without you, and until we are all free, none of us are free. I am so thankful to be apart of the S-CAPE family, and lifetime of learning what it means to love in the way of Jesus.  So to all the residents who have said they had never experienced a love like this, well neither had I.

Some other exciting events that occurred this week were that the Belmont in Africa Maymester arrived and I got to tag along with them!!  It is such an out of body experience seeing my University, some friends and one of the most formative professors in my collegiate experience here in Cape Town.  It has been a long time since I have been around so many Americans! It was exciting to get to re-experience some of my favorite places through the excitement of the students on that Maymester. I also got to share with some of the students about what I am doing here and my favorite places in Cape Town and that was very special for me.

 

#BelmontinAfrica round2!! Where is the #hashflag

#BelmontinAfrica round2!! Where is the #hashflag

Finally, it was my birthday!  My second South African birthday!  I turned 22 on May 13 and it was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!! My sweet friends know I love surprises, and so they did just that, surprised me with all my favorite things.  The day started at Jeremy’s (the Belmont in Africa tour guide and my adopted South African father/mentor/friend/life changer) church and we had proper African worship. Then my friend picked us up and took me, my friend from Belmont (who was on the study abroad) and my flat mate to Paarl!! It was magical.  We did a chocolate tasting with all fair trade, organic, ethically sourced and produced chocolate (of course), we petted GOATS!!!! And it is truly amazing how much goats smell like goat cheese (or vice versa). Then we went to a lion and chimpanzee sanctuary, two of my favorite animals!!!! And finally we ended up at my favorite market, Root 44 in Stellenbosch and I ate the spiciest curry of my life.  And to end the day, we hiked my favorite mountain, Lion’s Head at sunset. I celebrated with friends from around the world, at my favorite place in the world, it was truly a dream come true.

"It's my birthday!"-Burno Mars" -Madison Barefield

“It’s my birthday!”-Burno Mars” -Madison Barefield

Friends from around the world!

Friends from around the world!

Paarl!!!

Paarl!!!

little bokkie!

little bokkie!

Today I went for a walk on the beach as I do when I need to process, and I was reminded of the necessity of cultivating an attitude of gratitude.  I keep say that I never want the beauty all around me and the joy of my work to become “normal.” I want to always be surprised, thankful, amazed at the miracle that is life.  I want to recognize every ordinary moment as extraordinary, and every encounter as one with the Divine. There is so much beauty and hope in the world, we must just open our eyes to the magic happening around us all the time.  

I still have a lot of work I want to finish over my next two weeks, like submitting a big grant, helping with some last minute fundraising planning before our event and taking the residents on some special outings.  People keep asking me if I am excited to go home, and as much as I miss my family and friends, Cape Town is my home! It is going to be very difficult to transition back to so much comfort, as strange as that sounds.  As Miriam Adeney said, “you will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

I screamed when I saw this....chicken feet...apparently is lekker...

I screamed when I saw this....chicken feet...apparently is lekker...

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Reflections on Nonviolence

Almost a week ago I was schooled by my African brothers and sisters on the topic of nonviolence and social justice.  I attended a conference put on by a local non profit that works with churches in Cape Town, serving and assisting them in their response to poverty, injustice and division.  There has been a two week contemplative activism workshop running at the larger umbrella organization I am volunteering in, but I could not take two weeks off of work, so I decided I would just come to the public event.  There were people from YWAM (the organization my project is associated with), from local churches, from the community, etc. It was diverse, and subversive, challenging and gut wrenching, enlightening and humbling. We discussed power, and what nonviolent resistance looks like in the face of the powers that be.  This post is a way for me to process all the rich and thought provoking stories I encountered.

Jesus is introduced to us as the stranger, the other, the xenos in Greek, which is where we get the word xenophobia, or fear of the stranger.  Jesus was also crucified, a horrible, gruesome, embarrassing death, that left his followers, or students if you will, despondent.  They thought the Messiah would bring about a political revolution, overthrowing the oppressive Roman empire and restoring Israel. But instead, their “revolutionary” leader was murdered, a victim of capital punishment and left no visible political revolution in his wake.  Instead, that revolution, that freedom from exile and oppression came about in the form of Jesus embodying and teaching the world what it means to be fully human, to be an Image Bearer, to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. The life of Jesus revealed that God is not some far off deity to be appeased, on the contrary, God, the Divine, the animating force of love in the world is present in us and in all creation.  The ordinary, which perhaps is indeed the extraordinary, all bears witness to the oceanic oneness and interconnectedness of all things.   

The night the workshop ended was the first time I have picked up my Bible in probably a year and half.  For my whole life, the Bible had been taught to me literally. I was told in essence that God told people the exact words to write, thus why we can call it a “God breathed text”.  In fact, the certainty in which I was taught to read the text made it seem as if God had a hand, and “he” (I won’t get started on how the use of “he” when talking about God bothers me) dropped these texts into the laps of prophets and there we have it, the Bible! I have witnessed the Bible be used to justify and inform the most un-Christ like ideas and actions.  I have heard a lifetime of sermons that told me this was the only way to interpret what this verse was saying. I was angry that the Bible is in fact this beautiful story of redemption, reconciliation and love, but I, and I would venture to say many Christians, were so tainted with the legalistic and moral codes of individualistic, “soul winning” Christianity, that we never interacted with the narrative in such a way.  

It has been eighteen months of deconstructing all things I believed was an incredibly painful and simultaneously life giving process.  And while I have started to reconstruct a few things, this workshop was the challenge and hope I needed to salvage my faith, especially in the Bible.  Introduced to me was a new way of reading Scripture, one in which we read the text with the lens of Jesus’s proximity to pain. He was right in there, living amongst the suffering of the world.  Power and money tell us that the more we have, the farther away we can be from that suffering, as we move into areas and houses with high walls and gated neighborhoods far away from the reminders of physical and systemic violence, often perpetuated by “Christians” we see on the streets of our own nation.  If our gospel doesn’t call us into the pain, the suffering, the solidarity, the fight for justice, then perhaps it is no gospel at all, and certainly not the gospel of Jesus. I have been so disheartened by Christians who think their “job” is to “convert” people so they can have a “ticket to heaven.” NO! What a limited and frankly violent view of the gospel!  If the good news of Jesus, that he came to proclaim to the poor, the prisoners, the prostitutes, etc is reduced to a “soul winning” scheme, then we have missed the point. Jesus showed us that we can have Heaven, now! We are co creators, co laborers, co conspirators in work of justice and equality. We are like mirrors reflecting the glory of God (which as St. Irenaeus would say, is (wo)man fully alive).  We are a part of the grand restoration project. Now that is good news! But this good news requires much of us. It requires that we die daily to the False Self, the to comforts that keep us from engaging with injustice, and to the powers and principalities that exist. I think this is why Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God, because rarely do the rich want to admit how much they benefit from a system that affords them the privilege of so much at the expense of many.  Rarely do the rich want to challenge the systems that allow them to stay rich. Rarely do the rich want to move closer, more intimately into the face of suffering.  In fact, one of my African sisters proclaimed at the workshop that “attacking white people’s pockets is the way to bring about change.” YOH! That about knocked me off my chair.

In my attempt at reconstructing my faith, I realized I was asking the wrong kinds of questions, those that were dualistic and individualistic in nature.  But when we see Jesus for who Jesus really is and what he revealed to humanity, a whole new set of questions emerge  To quote Rainer Maria Rilke, questions that we must “not seek the answers [to now], which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  Those questions we are invited to live, for instance, what does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus, are illuminated in what Jesus preached in the context of his society and what he imagined for the world, which I believe are precisely the questions that mainstream, evangelical, Western Christianity has lost (speaking from my own experience).

In John 14:9, Jesus that “whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”  And when we see Jesus in the Bible, he is among the poor, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the refugees (in fact he was one), the sick, the marginalized, etc.  Jesus was and is where we would least expect God to be and in many ways that is the same today. Friends with theology degrees or those who know more than me, please enlighten me if this understanding is wrong (this is what the journey is all about!) but I would venture to say that when we see the marginalized, we see Jesus, and thus we see God and the heart of God, and if that doesn’t flip our theology on its head then I don’t know what will!  The table is extended, there is room for all, especially those we do expect to be there.

When I say I ascribe to a philosophy and life of nonviolent resistance to the powers and principalities that be, it is not just a nice statement about my being in the world.  No, on the contrary that is a very weighty statement that requires much responsibility.  It means that, as my friends of color have pointed out, I have to resist the violent SYSTEMS too.  Those being, especially economic, social and political. Thus, nonviolence doesn’t just require me to show up in protest of unjust action, it requires daily denial of the privilege that my white, American, middle class, straight, Christian, able bodied status has afforded me.  This plays out in many ways, namely in the way I am perceived, monetarily and in the power I hold in most circumstances.

It is funny that those we Christians label (perhaps one of the most dangerous acts we can participate in) as Atheist, Muslim, evil, sinful, Buddhist, other,  etc, are the ones who seem to be seeking the Kingdom more than those who call themselves disciples of Jesus. Namely, this was revealed in the 2016 presidential election, and in subsequent events.  It is fascinating how in my experience, the most vocal advocates of justice and equality are those are not “Christian.” Again, those at the table are the ones we least expect. The state of the Church in American, and the Western world deeply saddens me and simultaneously invigorates me.  Hearing the stories and perspectives from Christians in very marginalized communities reminded me of why I want to be a student of Jesus. Not the student of white washed, colonizer Jesus, but a student of the subversive, contemplative, fully human and fully divine Jesus.  

In an attempt to bring this very long and scattered reflection to a close, I want to add that these are just a weeks ponderings on a lifelong journey of nonviolent activism and resistance.  If there is one thing I have learned recently, it is that certainty is death. I must learn to hold all things with an open hand. Like all things, I am constantly evolving, so perhaps in another week, month or year, I will look back at these ideas and laugh, like I do with most things I write.  But these are my honest words that I believe with my whole heart in this moment. I would like to end this in the way we ended our time together at the workshop, in lament. We sang a song, “Senzeni Na,” which is Xhosa and Zulu song we could equate to the American protest song “We Shall Overcome.”  Senzeni Na means, “what have we done” and as it was described to me, this song was sang as the Xhosa and Zulu people buried their dead during apartheid, knowing full and well that as the song ended, they would again be attacked, oppressed and killed by the violent apartheid regime operating in their communities.  And what had they done? Their only crime was being black, as one version of the song puts it. And as I sang along, I was overcome by grief, and the words “what have we done” became my words. I lamented for what has and has not been done in the name of God, the climate of my nation and at the current state of our world.  Where is the ubuntu? Where is the love? Where is the peace? But gathered in this community of lament, none of whom I knew, but was intrinsically connected too, there was tangible hope. In the face of sorrow and injustice, we too had faith that we shall overcome.

ubuntu

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Cape Town at sunset! WOW!

It as been a month today since I have been in Cape Town! WOW!  I still have to pinch myself that this is real!  It is the most beautiful, calm day right now.  I woke up to it raining (woohoo!), and went for a run along the beachfront.  I am writing this from my favorite little cafe overlooking the beach.  The water is iridescent blue and there are the most gentle waves I have seen in my time here.  The clouds have cleared over the mountains and the sun is shinning, revealing every little rock and crevice that was hazy just a few hours ago.  I can see the sailboats on the other side of False Bay and the seagulls flying east towards the hills of Simons Town.

The past two weeks have been very busy in the best way.  I have learned a lot of things like

  1. How to drive a manual car on the other side of the road
  2. About the private and public South African health care system
  3. The importance of self care
  4. That I am simply fascinated with people and the world (sometimes to a fault)
  5. That I do not need to think so much, sometimes I just need to feel.

I forgot how much I missed driving until I got behind the wheel on the right side of the car.  It is pretty empowering to finally be able to help drive the women to necessary appointments and outings.  I am able to help in ways I really wanted to, but wasn’t able to because, unlike the rest of the world, I was only taught how to drive an automatic car.  I have become more and more aware of my own culture and way of life through relationship with people that are not American.  In fact, I am the only American at S-CAPE right now, and I am very thankful for that.  It has humbled me and taught me so much about new ways to see the world, while simultaneously reminding me of our undeniable interconnectedness.

In South Africa, health care is a human right, and for that I am incredibly thankful.  There are private hospitals (that are similar to American hospitals and for people with insurance or the money to pay), and there are public hospitals/clinics that are free of charge and will serve anyone in South Africa.  There is a pharmacy in the public clinics with medicine that is also free.  South Africa also has ARV’s (retrovirals used in the management of HIV/AIDS) that are free, which is amazing because those drugs can be very expensive.  I have had the privilege of experiencing both private and public health care, being right within my comfort zone and way outside anything I have ever experienced before.  The public clinics are located in lower income areas and they are packed.  We must arrive before 08:00 and we still wait in queues for up to five hours to see a doctor.  There are few times in my life I have been that aware of my skin color and foreigner status as I am when I sit in the clinic.  It is a humbling experience and again a reminder of our shared humanity.  We all get sick, we all experience some sort of trauma, we all want to be healthy and happy and free.  We met with the sweetest counselor in the clinic that reminded me of this.  I have not been to many hospitals in my life so perhaps this is a normal occurrence, but it was beautiful to have a counselor in a clinic to be there for hard diagnosis’s and to talk through what it looks like to move forward.  She was what I would imagine an angel to be.  It makes me think about all the individuals in America who don’t have access to healthcare and what that means for us as a society.  When one is sick, we are all sick.  When one is oppressed, we are all oppressed.  When one is denied a basic human right, we are all denied a basic human right, because my flourishing is intertwined with yours.

The other S-CAPE, volunteer and my dear friend from Germany, Lina and me during our first clinic experience.

The other S-CAPE, volunteer and my dear friend from Germany, Lina and me during our first clinic experience.

Last week some of our team went to a training on stress management, and on Monday, the director of the organization challenged us to make an intentional effort to practice self care this week.  The past two weeks have been busy, and I have found myself rushing around a lot trying to do all the things, but not really being present.  It is a constant lesson, the reminder of the importance of presence, but I am thankful that always we can begin again.  This week I was getting flustered quickly and more easily annoyed when changes would come up that I had not planned.  I was rushing out of habit, not out of necessity.  I was reminded of how cruel humanity can be and how I say we are all interconnected, but in reality, I do not want traffickers and pimps and johns to be connected to the greater beloved community in any way.  It is much easier for me to talk in generalizations, than to encounter an individual that has no regard for human dignity or life, and say, “you too, are my brother (or sister).”  So this week I made it a point to spend more time in silence and read more, read people that challenge me to see beyond the dualities, and see that those who oppress and hurt others are caught up in their own personal hell.  It is not my job to fix the world, but to love the world and when I feel overwhelmed by the injustice and hurt and suffering, I can choose to be present and love those around me well, or I can come apart in a blame and shame spiral of hopelessness.  And even though I do not want to be apart of the inextricable network of mutuality with the men who exploit the women I love so dearly, I must realize that they too have most likely never experienced what it means to be loved, just as many of the women have not.  And it is not me who loves perfectly, it is the Divine within that does, that teaches me to love without expectations or stipulations just as I have been loved.

I have met SO many incredible people already, from all over the world.  I am also in the most beautiful place in the whole world, and so this is an enneagram 7’s DREAM!  But I noticed myself waking up on Friday’s and immediately trying to plan my weekend, and being anxious when I did not have anything scheduled because I would be wasting precious time and energy if I didn’t see every inch of Cape Town that I have not seen!  One morning I awoke so anxious because I didn’t have anything to do and thankfully I was aware of my tendencies enough that I could say to myself, “I am being an unhealthy 7 right now!”  Joy doesn’t come from doing, it comes from being.  From assimilating all these experiences into something deeper and more profound than just a check on a bucket list. And this is a lesson I have to remind myself of every single day.

Finally, getting out of my head.  Enneagram 7’s are in the head triad, meaning that we do indeed live deep inside our head and crave certainty.  Going through a long and very challenging spiritual deconstruction about a year ago, I threw basically everything I was taught about God out and started over because it was the only way I knew how to salvage my faith.  Evangelical and charismatic groups had really wounded me because I was fed an Americanized, individualistic, self help version of Jesus that I later came to understand to be totally false and incredibly destructive.  I had unconsciously made a little mental checklist of words and statements that would immediately turn me off (like hell, fire, blood, pretty much anything that depicts God as angry, vengeful, unloving or exclusive) and didn’t fit my new understanding of Jesus (as the one who taught we can have heaven now, we can see beyond the dualities, we must work tirelessly for justice and stand up for the oppressed, and above all, we must love all beings everywhere).  But being back in South Africa, I am surrounded by evangelicals, and people with the most genuine child like faith, and I have come to really respect that and even miss some aspects of my upbringing.  So it has been interesting navigating some of my spiritual dissonance and conflicting ideas in a place where those around me have such deep, authentic faith.  The other day on a walk I had a revelation that I suppose I knew deep down, but it never stuck.  I realized that it is okay, in fact it is GOOD to change your mind.  That I don’t have to run every thing through a mental gymnastics, but what feels right can stay, and what doesn’t fit can go.  Certitude is death, it leaves no room for creativity or growth or revelation, but willingness to change your mind, that is the greatest gift and oftentimes the most difficult work to do.

So yes, the last few weeks have been challenging and thought provoking and times of immense growth and change!  I am reminded daily of what ubuntu looks like in practice, not just ideas. It has been a beautiful month of falling more and more in love with S-CAPE, the people around me, and Cape Town.  And it certainly would be a dream to stay here forever.

Taken on a special day, the day three of our residents got baptized in the ocean! Was a beautiful moment to witness.

 

Meet the Coaches!

Some of our coaches cheering on our rugby players at Derby Day!

I can’t believe that five weeks ago, these people were just strangers to me. During my time in South Africa, I’ve not only had the chance to fall in love with a new nation and people, I’ve also been able to make an impact with these incredible folks from all around the world. And they’ve been so kind as to let me in on a few reflections from their coaching experiences!

Why did you decide to volunteer with United Through Sport?

I decided to volunteer at UTS because I fully believe in their goals and wanted them to help reach them at 100%. By placing children in the townships in the center of the attention, United Through Sport is taking care of the future of South Africa. —Julian S.

I’ve always wanted to do sport-related volunteering, and United Through Sport really stood out to me. After seeing a video and some photos of the kids that UTS was working with, it sounded incredible and described everything I wanted to do as a volunteer. —Jess T. 

Katie and Imi attempting candids on a coaching day.

Continue reading

Shamwari Safari!

This weekend was one for the books. When visiting Africa, it’s a must to get a chance to venture into the wild. While I’ve seen so much in both Port Elizabeth and the townships that has taken me out of my comfort zone, I really wanted to go on an excursion into the thousands of acres of untouched wilderness that make Africa so beautiful. Shamwari was all that and more.

It was an early start for us on Saturday morning, and the sun was just starting to rise as we entered the 25,000 hectare reserve. The mountains surrounding us were shrouded in fog and I had to take a moment to feel how small I was in the vastness. We met with our safari guide and hopped into the open-air Land Rover for a day of exploring.

 There was no time wasted as we drove right over the terrain and into a herd of Cape Buffalo, the first of Africa’s Big Five. The Big Five are named so because they are the most dangerous animals to hunt. As one lumbered towards our truck, I could see why. The helmet of horns crowning this two-ton beast can ricochet bullets off of bone, and once they charge, they don’t stop. Fortunately, we just crossed paths and were off to see some more wildlife!

On our way to the Animal Rehabilitation Center, we saw dozens more animals—oreck, warthogs, springbok, and more. We stopped at mid-day at the Animal Rehabilitation Center which is managed by Shamwari and focuses on giving animals on the reserve that have been abandoned or injured a shot at recovery. I got to feed a nialla named Lilly and meet a zebra named Zeus!

We headed out again in search of the remainder of the Big Five. Our guide was able to track some elephants a few miles away, so we headed over to what was my favorite encounter of the day. The herd of elephants we encountered was a group of females and two adorable baby elephants! I could hardly breathe when one of the females walked LITERALLY a foot away from our truck, and I could have spent hours watching them eat with their long and surprisingly nimble trunks. They are definitely one of my favorite animals and seeing them up close was incredible.

Our next goal was to see the King of Africa and the Big Five: the lion. We past a few fresh prints on the wet mud and spent a few hours driving around some open plain. We ended up driving past the three lions we saw a few times, because they could hardly be spotted as they were taking a mid-day nap. After watching them for a while, the male got up and did the most cat-like stretch in the sun. Totally cuddle-worthy, but I decided against getting out of our truck and in with the lions.

Rhino, another member of the Big Five, are incredibly valuable and as a result have lost about half their population due to poaching. The conservationists at Shamwari make sure to take every precaution to prevent poachers from killing rhinos or permanently injuring them by improperly removing their horns. We were really lucky to see a mother rhino and her baby on our drive and I’m really hoping that people will realize that having that opportunity is priceless.

After stopping for lunch, we headed to the Big Cat Rehabilitation Center, where we saw our final member of the Big Five: leopard. Even though we didn’t see them in the wild, these three triplets were taken from Romania where they were used in circuses and had spent their entire life in a cage. Being able to roam free in their natural habitat is the mission of this place, and seeing all the big cats there was nothing short of amazing.

 We headed back for dinner and enjoyed a great night at the volunteer quarters. I swear the stars have never looked more beautiful. After a good night’s rest we headed back to Port Elizabeth, ready to begin another week.

I could not have asked for a better safari experience! Seeing all of the Big Five in one day and experiencing Africa’s beautiful landscape was definitely something I’ll never forget.

This is our final week of teaching and coaching before school break. Next week we are hosting a holiday camp for all the different townships, and I may have some very special guests featured on my next blog...

A Trip to Jeffrey’s Bay!

Hey all!

A three-day weekend calls for adventuring, and what better place to do so than South Africa? Last weekend we headed an hour west to Jeffery’s Bay, home of the Billabong Surfing Championships. After a road trip and a few wrong turns, we made it to Island Vibes, our hostel and home for the next few days.

From the moment we talked to the smiling Charmain at the front desk, I knew I would love Island Vibes. The laid-back, surf bum feel was absolute heaven to me. I had never stayed in a hostel before, but it ended up being AMAZING! It was kind of like living in a big house, except your house-mates just happened to be incredible surfers from all around the world. As I leaned over the balcony watch the waves crashing on the shore and breathed in the salt-tinged air, I was filled with bliss (how’s that for Island Vibes?) Continue reading

JSE Art Day!

When I was first thinking about what I wanted to bring to the communities of South Africa as a result of my Lumos Project, my mind was immediately drawn to the creative. To me, art is one of the best lenses in which to view the rest of the world. Art is both history book and atlas, teacher and storyteller. With it, we open doors to new and different worlds.

When I arrived at United Through Sport, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to pursue that goal. Obviously, UTS is sport-focused, which has taught me so many things, both about sports themselves and about the value of teaching sports as a way to communicate life skills and values. However, in my teaching role and work with the Junior School of Excellence, I was able to talk to the staff at UTS and plan an Art Day at the JSE of Isaac Boii. Continue reading

Jen’s Lumos Journey: Week Two

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” —Marcel Proust

aI came to Africa knowing that my perspective on many things—social change, world issues, and my part in this story—would inevitably shift when met with the reality of living here. The first part of a changed perspective is seeing things as they are, not as you imagined them to be. This week, I found myself encountering a few realities that have helped me to see life here with new eyes. I’ll share a few of those stories with you now. Continue reading

Unbelievable Journey

This roller coaster ride of experiences, emotions, and events is shortly coming to an end. This Friday I will be boarding that silver bird in the sky and departing this beautiful place for an undetermined amount of time. Reflecting on my time here drudges up a multitude of emotions that I can’t quite grasp completely yet. I have been waiting on a flood of emotions to overcome me but I mostly feel numb.

My heart has truly been torn in two for the country that I am from and my new adopted country. Many of the people I hold nearest and dearest are in the US and they have been an amazing support system but I will always have this pull from South Africa that will keep me coming back. I have found beauty in the small things and learned to love the the process. Not only is the love of my life is from South Africa, but the family and network of people I have had the pleasure of getting to know here have consumed my heart with a level of love that you only find once in a lifetime.

Not to say that I haven’t had some low moments living here but that can be expected. I have cried hard and prayed even harder. I have had moments when I just wanted to come home and I have moments when I just wanted to be left alone. The moments of amazement and adventure have completely outweighed the bad.

The list of things I will miss is endless. From the Molo I hear every morning from fellow commuters, to the sound of waves crashing on the beach in an undefined pattern. From the children preforming on the streets for change, to the melodic sounds from all types of bands and music. From the height of Table Mountain showcasing Cape Town’s beauty below, to the way that mothers wrap their young on their backs with blankets instead of buying baby carriers. From the random people you meet on the train, to the almost magical sunsets producing an array of colors across the sky. From the various food and craft markets to the beautiful languages spoken by all of the people you pass. From the children that are grateful for you run around and act like a maniac with them, to their creativity to come up with new names for me when I came around. Cape Town is not perfect, but it sure has become home.

I am a firm believe in the fact that God will only take you where he can keep you and I have felt his love all the way throughout this year. His love manifested in the people I have met, the places I have gone, and the level to which I have grown. I needed this year to take a break from school but I have learned so much more than you can even imagine. Now I am ready to take on my next adventure and see what God has in store for me now! And I know that coming back to South Africa is somewhere near in my future, I just have to follow the path the leads me back to here.

Until next time Cape Town,

RiTara

Movie Moments

Movie Moments

nashvill

I’ve seen it in films before; the nostalgic head turn, looking back at the skyline of a city full of memories, trials, celebrations, and love in your rear view mirror. It wasn’t until today that I experienced the overflow of emotions that dwell in the vehicle as you drive away from a place you’ve called home.

John Piper said, “When you give up the sense of at-homeness you had in your house, you get back one hundred times the comfort and security knowing the Lord owns every home.”

In the previous 5 days, I graduated from my dream college, held my grandmothers hand during her last breaths, and have immersed myself in a community of people that have showered me with God’s love. These moments are invaluable to me for eternity.

As I walk into the mission field, at the center of God’s will for my life, I will be the first to confess that the glamorized image of dreams coming true isn’t as picturesque as the movie trailer life in which we selectively display our supreme moments in. Dreams coming to life are accompanied by the price of spiritual warfare and tests that I have never encountered at such intensity before.

A dear friend of mine shared this convicting T.S. Eliot quote with me before leaving my beloved Nashville:

Because I know that time is always time

And place is always and only place

And what is actual is actual only for one time

And only for one place

I rejoice that things are as they are and

I renounce the blessed face

And renounce the voice

Because I cannot hope to turn again

Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something

Upon which to rejoice

I can only hope to walk through the next 6 months in Africa with such faith and humility. I trust that God is going to give me “movie moments.” Vision is the lens that interprets the events of our life, the way we view people and our concept of God. I trust that I am going to witness things that are meant for my eyes to see to deliver stories to others through the lens of God’s vision.

I cannot fathom my gratefulness to be a Lumos Travel Scholarship recipient. This is an honor and privilege that I have dreamt of since the beginning of my college career and it is surreal that this vision has become a reality.

I am so looking forward to the opportunity to put into practice everything I learned in the Social Entrepreneurship program at Belmont University as I work as a Marketing Intern at Joint Aid Management. This is an organization that I have been passionate about for many years with a community of people that I have so much respect for.

Endless love,

Morgan Fisher

“The level of sacrifice that an environment requires will determine the size of people that will follow” -Kris Vallotton