Saturday, August 9, 2008

United in Hope

In a few days, I leave South Africa and travel to Germany for a couple weeks to visit my family. I have found that the prospect of seeing them has made homesickness so much worse. I try my hardest to avoid counting the hours till departure. I don’t want to miss something important here while I was wishing I was somewhere else, but living in the present has always been a problem for me. Which is unfortunate, because my ‘present’, my here-and-now, is not something to be missed.

These last few weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time in a community called Kabokweni. I go with a few others and we bring enough food to feed close to ninety children. The women have taught us how to prepare more traditional African fare and everyday we gather in a small kitchen cutting loads of onions, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and beetroot. We cry [you would too if you had to cut this many onions], we laugh, and occasionally, we sing as we work as music is an integral part of African culture and you can’t help but sing along.

Then we play games or make crafts with the kids. We’ve brought play dough, coloring books, nail polish, and jump ropes. Every week, we have the children bring their school uniforms and we hand wash them with the ladies leaning over our shoulders laughing at our washing machine-pampered, clumsy attempts. Frequently, an article of clothing will be taken from my hands and the Gogo [Granny] will cluck her tongue and rewash it. I look down at my raw and bleeding knuckles and laugh. The bleach may sting something fierce and I may be bright red with embarrassment, but strangely I enjoy myself despite the discomfort.

We plan to build a care center here in this community and I can hardly wait to see the walls up, the building bustling with activity. The land is ready, the volunteers are ready, the garden is blooming, and plans are in progress for AIDS awareness classes, income generating projects for parents, and a daycare for children along with dozens of other visions and ideas. All we’re missing is the $30,000 it takes to put it all together, but I am confident in God’s provision.

I see the property, I play with the children, and I am overwhelmed with the potential, the raw power of what Jesus-loving people can do when they are united. I see hope where there was none. I see Jesus moving, and while I rarely understand Him, I am grateful He allows me to participate.