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Category Archives: Around the World

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Remembered Rain

Remembered Rain

When I finally go upstairs in the morning, I can hear the rain pounding on the roof. Good, I think, we need the rain. It’s been much too dry this spring. Even though I prefer sunny days and dry heat, there is something I love about the rain. After breakfast I put on old clothes and go for a walk, barefoot in the coulees. I delight in the mud between my toes and the water on my face. My hands get muddy from holding my dirty flip flops. I look up to the crying sky and remember other rains.

 

I laugh, heart pounding, as our canoe crests another wave. Under my rain gear I’m mostly keeping dry, but I find myself grateful I don’t wear glasses anymore or I would be blind. As it is I trust Mark to steer us well, because it’s all I can do to make out the other canoes nearby. Were I in the back we would be hopelessly lost. I’ve enjoyed our canoe trip more than I thought I would, but now, fighting the waves, feeling the danger of falling, I am thrilled. It might not be a massive storm. It might not be too terribly dangerous. But for a beginner, it’s enough to set my heart racing. As we glide into a space that is sheltered from the wind, I shake my hood off and thank God for the storm.

——-

My feet and hands are cold and wet, but somehow my fingers are nimble enough to tie the ropes that hold the sweat lodge together. I think we must be an interesting sight, the men holding the branches fast as the women tie them, but we have to move quickly and I don’t have time to step back and look at us working there. When I am not busy, I watch the sweat lodge come together and wish it would stop raining.

I kneel on the floor near the opening of the tent, in line with the opening of the sweat lodge where most of our site is sitting. Those of us outside are spending time in prayer and wondering what exactly is going on inside. As time wears on and the flap of the lodge opens and closes periodically, I grow cold. It may be warm nearer the fire, but I don’t dare move even to grab my coat. Something pulls at me – I won’t leave my spot until everyone is out of that tent. Cold air blows on my back and I fancy that despite the shelter I can feel the rain.

When everyone has left the sweat lodge I step outside to make room for those in line for their food. Steam rises from their bodies and when they too come outside it seems like the rain hardly touches them. I understand the feeling – I never liked the idea of that sweat lodge – and for a moment I too feel like skittering away from them. But the moment passes, and I am cold and curious, and it doesn’t bother me to move closer.

——-

It’s drizzling like it does practically every day here. I’m getting used to the constant rain already, but I’m glad I live somewhere sunnier most of the time. Still, there are things to enjoy about rain. For instance, the rain means nobody is outside to see me when I spread my arms and run along the path from main hall to cabin, pretending to be an airplane. I delight in the speed and the raindrops on my face and I giggle to myself like a child, enjoying not being quite a grown up yet.

——-

It’s not really raining, exactly, when we wake up in a cloud.

——-

Just because we spend most of our day in caves, sheltered from the rain, doesn’t mean we don’t get wet. I’m glad for my raincoat and the set of coveralls that provide and extra layer of warmth even though I’m wet to the bone. Nobody seems to really care today that it’s raining and sometimes cold – we explore every possible route and race each other though the tunnels. We roam over the outside of the mountain and peer at slugs and lizards. Then, cold and wet but thrilled, we collapse in the vans and prepare for the last event of the day: the race to the showers.

——-

We’ve only been in Africa for a day, and we’re currently exploring a mall, where we can buy phones and call home and drink bubble tea and get used to the time zone. It was warm this morning but as I leave the bookstore I glance outside and see that it seems cooler. Soon enough, rain starts lashing at the windows. I can see the trees outside bending from the force of the wind. I sip my bubble tea and internally bemoan the fact that I’m experiencing my first African rainstorm from inside.

——-

The storm outside brings everyone to the doors. We gather underneath the sheltered parts of the courtyard and at first we just watch. I can’t remember who starts it, who first runs out and starts spinning, but I remember joining them. We grab hands and spin together, leaning out and trusting our connection. Laughter bubbles up inside and pours out of us as we turn and turn until someone calls us back. After, drenched, I play Émilie’s Song on the broken piano, just to know what it sounds like out of tune in a thunderstorm.

——-

We come back from our work in the storerooms dusty and tired, and the afternoon shower is just starting. I stay outside in my dirty clothes and let the rain fall on me.It doesn’t take much to convince others to come out. We take advantage of the uneven ground, jumping in the puddles and letting the splashes turn the dust on our legs into muddy tear tracks.

——-

It was a beautiful sunny morning as we hiked along the coastline, enjoying the views and anticipating the pizza. Now, the pizza has been consumed and we’re left to explore Coffee Bay. We get down to where the river meets the ocean just in time to get across dry, and instead of wandering too far, we sit on the rocky beach and watch the waves. And as we watch the rain rolls in again. Looking out on the ocean, seeing the wind drive the waves to greater heights, the drops on our heads don’t seem to matter.

——-

I’m near the front of the long line of students who want to enter Lesotho, so I have a while to wait once I get through. I’m not much good with pictures, so I only try a couple of times to get that perfect lightning shot. But I do stand with the others, looking through the fence at the hills where you can see that it’s storming. When we get back on the bus, I sit in the front and watch the countryside and little villages go by, waiting and hoping we’ll drive into the rain.

——-

Storms escalate quickly here. One minute we’re standing out behind the buildings, watching the storm come to us, and the next it’s too windy to hold our plates and everyone is being called under cover. The rain starts, torrential, and the wind rushes across the semi-enclosed area made by the buildings. The tent goes flying, a sheet of metal whips off the roof, almost taking off heads. We watch the wreckage while we eat, caught by the sheer power of the storm. Then, as quickly as it came, it has passed, and we can watch the lighting as it moves away from us, into the distance behind the hills.

——-

My stomach is full and I’m starting to get warm despite being outside in the rapidly cooling night. I curl up in my sleeping bag and pull it over my head, arranging myself carefully so that I’m protected from the water dripping from the roof. It takes a while to get comfortable on the rocky floor of the cave, but I’m tired and that helps. I fall asleep to the patter of raindrops and when I wake up in the morning to the fog lifting off the mountain, the sound is still there.

 

When I finally go upstairs in the morning, I can hear the rain pounding on the roof. Good, I think, we need the rain. It’s been much too dry this spring. Even though I prefer sunny days and dry heat, there is something I love about the rain. After breakfast I put on old clothes and go for a walk, barefoot in the coulees. I delight in the mud between my toes and the water on my face. My hands get muddy from holding my dirty flip flops. I look up to the crying sky and thank God for the rains.

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Strandfontein

Sunday the twenty-second February, we drove from Stellenbosch to Strandfontein and went to a Methodist church. This was our homestay week with coloured families, so after church, we went home with out host families. That afternoon we went for a couple walks and visited some family friends, which was quite nice. Quick history of Strandfontein, why it’s there and why it’s a coloured community: So, before apartheid people lived wherever. Then, when apartheid was put into action, the government made some areas whites-only, some for blacks, some for coloured people, and some for Indians. There was an area in Cape Town called District 6, where lots of coloured people lived, then the government decided it was going to be a whites-only area. So they took everyone who was living there and moved them out of the city into suburbs, and thus places like Strandfontein and Mitchell’s Plain were created. Now, many of these people have to commute into Cape Town every day to work and the traffic is horrendous. On Monday we visited a museum about District 6, and we went to Green Market Square, which is a large market area in Cape Town. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we had service days in Mitchell’s Plain, working in a community garden. We did a lot of weeding. Friday we had a trip out to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The tour was interesting, but not as sobering or sad as I expected, considering the atmosphere and responses at similar places that we had visited. The most interesting part was hearing from our guide, who was an ex-political prisonner. We spent our afternoon on the waterfront. I saw a jazz band busking, which was quite fun. We got home about three hours later than usual that day, but none of us had been told that would happen, so everyone’s host parents were very concerned. There was a little bit of chaos there. Saturday was our day with our host families. I took the morning to relax, and in the afternoon/evening we went to visit our… host aunt? Our host dad’s sister and her husband. We had a braai at their house. They were really kind and we quite enjoyed chatting with them and sharing our talents. Our host family was really good. I and another girl stayed with an older couple, their grown daughters and their grandson. The little boy was adorable, and I like getting to play with him, but he could be trouble, and he liked getting into our things. Our host mom was always very concerned about us. And after I read a story of mine at the braai Saturday, our host dad said he would be looking for my name in the Canadian Parliment. I don’t think that’s a place my name will be, but who really knows? Altogether, our week in Strandfontein was good. It was nice to be coming home to somewhere again, and I enjoyed getting to tell new people all about my family.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Around the World

 

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Project 19:14 and Other Big Things

Stellenbosch is a university town in the heart of South Africa’s wine country. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, their slopes covered in vinyards. It’s upon arriving here that we discover my favourite place in South Africa to stop for a quick lunch. The Food Lover’s Market is not only a grocery store. It has a salad bar, and a dessert bar, and biltong and other warm, healthy meals (though it isn’t hard to be healthier than McDonald’s and Steers). For someone who has been eating lettuce and cucumbers for the past month, the salad bar is the best lunch option ever. I leave a wide berth around the tomatoes and feta cheese (the reasons for my lack of veggie intake) and fill my plastic bowl with carrots, peppers, lettuce and little pieces of biltong. I never thought I would be this happy to see a salad.
That evening we are settled in to a camp just outside of town. It is in this beautiful setting that, over the course of two weeks, I learn to play cricket (badly), have countless life talks, cut my face open walking into a tent rope at eleven at night, and get red South African dirt everywhere. Actually, though. Feet, clothing, sleeping bag, backpack: that dust gets everywhere. I love it. The camp is still under construction: we are the first group to stay there. But we have a lot to do outside the camp, too.
Our big job for these two weeks is to design and put into action our own service projects in the township of Kayamandi. This is a week that everyone has been looking forward to, and we have some big expectations for our time here. Our team works with volunteers from Kuyasa, a crèche/after-school-programme, who will be our guides and translators. We are split into smaller groups and, after two days of learning our way around, we present our projects to our leaders and Johann. My group has partnered with another as we decided to rennovate a park, which needed more than just one group could provide. Helped by members of the community, we repaint the structures, put up soccer nets and paint a huge mural. It is a joy to see everything coming together and to know that we are making a difference, even a small one. We meet a man who coaches a local soccer team, and he tells us about coming to the park one evening with his team and wondering ‘where did those nets come from? Did they come from heaven?’ Some of us have the chance to work next door at a crèche, building relationships with the kids there, and on our last day they all come out to see what we’re up to. The mural that we’ve painted along the fence is my favourite part of the project, though. Through the combined efforts of a couple artistic outtatowners and some community artists, we cover the fence in fun, colourful pictures. In the center is the South African flag, made up of handprints from everyone who came and worked or played. One one side we have the verse ‘Let the children come to me, and do no stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as them.’ from Matthew 19:14. The rest was done by others: a rabbit, a heart, a cross… When we step back at the end to look at the finished product, it is a lasting representation of our partnership with the community to make this park somewhere people want to go and can be proud of having built. An image that will stay in my mind forever is this, from the last day of our project. I was coming around the corner towards the park with a couple of others (we had gone up to a church to see another project that was going on – this was where we met the soccer coach), and as I came around the corner, I saw the last few community kids washing their hands after putting up their print in the flag. The mural was finished, the paints were all off to one side, and kids and outtatowners were playing shirts and skins soccer together. It was exactly the coming together that we had hoped for when we started this project, and it was incredibly fulfilling to see it happening.
Our time there wasn’t all work and soccer games. On days that we weren’t doing service work, we did other fun things. Our evening entertainment included a rugby game and a night at the university learning to sokkie dance. Everyone loved sokkie dancing, and every once and a while, if there’s music on, a few people will get up and dance – including one time, on a bridge over a ravine, in line waiting to jump off… more on that later!
I have now hiked to the top of Table Mountain. I’m not a big hiker, so I wouldn’t say it was one of my favourite experiences, but I have done it. It was foggy at the top and we saw almost nothing. But hey, Table Mountain is famous and all that, so I guess you have to go if you go to South Africa, right? That’s what I’m telling myself, at least.
On Valentines Day, many of us hopped on a boat and went out looking for a shark to be our Valentine. Shark Diving was a blast. The ocean was cold when we were just sitting in the cage, waiting, but when a shark came by and we ducked underwater we forgot about the cold. Sharks swam right by my corner, less than a metre away from me! It was insane, but so cool. The view from the boat was good, too, and we saw some come out of the water looking for the fish head that had been thrown in as bait.
A last memory was of driving into Cape Town to meet Desmond Tutu. We got stuck in traffic and missed the church service, but fortunately we still got to meet him. He was very kind and gave a nice encouraging speech, and there were pictures all around. It was really quite a nice morning.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Around the World

 

February 23, 2015

Lots of things have happened since I last wrote a blog post and the last one hasn’t even been posted yet. But I will try to describe some snippets of life on outtatown South Africa.
We drove for two days from Soweto to Simon’s Town. Overnight we stayed in the middle of nowhere in the Karoo. Even though we were only there for one night I think it is one of my favourite places, speaking strictly of landscape and climate. The Karoo is dusty hills with plains in between and so much bright blue open sky. We saw bushes with little yellow flowers and white spines as long as my finger. Everything there seems spiny. It’s a landscape that makes you feel powerful, as though if you lived there you would grow strong and quick and brave, but also vulnerable because nothing protects you from the wind and the sand and even the plants are hostile. It really prodded my imagination somehow and also brought back to mind God’s creativity in all the different things He made that I haven’t seen yet. I really loved it there.
Simon’s Town was a debrief week for us after the dramatic difference between Pretoria and Soweto. We stayed at a retreat centre and often walked into town to visit the beach on hot days. One morning some people got up at three in the morning to hike up to the top of the mountain and see the sunrise. Not I- I got up at five and hiked for five minutes to see it. It was gorgeous but I’m not motivated to hike before most sane people are awake. It was a beautiful morning, though.
Our week in Simon’s Town held many delights for us. One day we took the afternoon in town to see the penguins on the beaches and visit the shops. The penguins were adorable and we got really close to them. That was lots of fun. Walking the streets was fun, too. Unlike the landlocked province of Gauteng, the British influence in the Simon’s Town area is very obvious. The little shops are charming and it isn’t hard to find good fish and chips around here. That week we also went skydiving. It was fantastic! Going up in the plane was a little sketchy: the plane was tiny and rickety and I sat right next to the rolling door. Also, it was really cold. But jumping out strapped to an instructor didn’t scare me. I just moved my feet over the edge of the plane and then we were out! It didn’t feel like falling at all, because I was too high up. It just felt like flying, suspended in the air, except that there was so much wind. Then they pulled the parachute and the wind stopped, and I could look around and see the ocean, and all the little coastal towns, and Capetown and Table Mountain. As we got closer to the ground we turned in circles a bit, did some tricks. Then we came right over the top of the building and landed! I really enjoyed it.
Friday we spent at Cape Point, in the ocean. Cape Point is the tourist destination for the southernmost tip of Africa. The tip is actually a little ways away from there; I guess the land bends around somehow. At Cape Point we climbed up to a lighthouse and stood at the edge of a cliff, looking down onto the beach, then climbed down to the beach to enjoy ourselves. That evening we drove to Muizenberg and checked into a surfer’s hostel, which was absolutely gorgeous. I went for seafood with a few friends that evening, then came back for our Small Group, where we witnessed a man walk into a sliding glass door and break it.
Saturday was a free day in Muizenberg. I did my homework, read a lot, and took advantage of the wifi to contact my parents.We also did a bit of shopping and just walking about, enjoying the end of our week of relaxation. Good thing, too, because we had a lot ahead of us!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Around the World

 

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Long Days in Soweto: part 2

I roll out of bed at quarter after seven and get ready quickly. Breakfast is at seven-thirty and we leave as soon as possible after that. We’re fairly chatty as we eat our breakfast: cereal and toast with eggs and tomatoes. Oh, and fish sticks, which I firmly believe are not to be eaten for breakfast (or without custard). Once we grab our lunch and water, it’s off to our service projects for the day.
I’m working at an orphanage around five minutes’ drive from the church and compund where we’re staying. When we walk in the door we’re surrounded my toddlers clamouring for our attention. This is where I’ll spend my day. We engage the kids briefly as we pass through the nusery, lifting them up once, rubbing their heads gently, letting them cling to us. I leave my bag in someone’s office along with my phone and iPod, because I’m working back in the nursery today.
At first, I’m surrounded. I can do nothing but sit down and let them play, four or so in my lap and some playing with my long hair. Once that ceases to amuse them, though, they wander off and I’m left to try to make friends. I search the nursery for a child who might want to play, but instead I see a tiny girl in pink, sitting silently near one of the mamas who is busy with another child. I settle next to her and start to talk.
“Hey, sweetheart…” I offer my hand for a high five but she doesn’t even acknowlege me, just keeps staring at the other children. I frown and set my fingers in her palm. She grabs them lightly, but otherwise, nothing. I look around and notice for the first time that she is the smallest child there. Of course! I’m just not paying attention. She’s too little to answer me or figure out high fives. “Do you want to come here?” I ask quietly, lifting her into my lap and scooting out of the way. Around us the room is very active and I’m not sure what’s happening, but people are getting out tables and chairs and there is a mad rush of toddlers towards those seats. The baby I’m rocking starts fussing, reaching for the table we’re nearest to, but all the chairs are full there. In fact, the chairs at all the tables are full, and some of the kids are pulling up chairs in front of the seated mamas. So I stay where I am, rocking the little girl, while all the little children pray in Zulu, with a very enthusiastic ‘Amen!’ When the porridge starts coming out, I grab a bowl and as soon as the first bite of food gets in her mouth she calms right down. “There we go,” I murmer as I feed her, “we’re all good, right?” She just keeps eating. I snatch a chair when its occupant finishes and leaves, and though we’re among the last people done with this eating process, we’re both seemingly happy by the end of it.
The next step is to follow everyone else into the toddlers’ bedroom. Inside, the children mill about while the mamas sing and pray in Zulu. I sit with my tiny girl, watching as praying for the smiling little faces that peek out at me. It’s absolutely wonderful to see the love that these mamas have for the orphans there, and though I couldn’t understand a word of what they said to the children or to The Lord, I could feel it and see it in their actions. Of all the people we met that week, they had a profound effect on me. I hope I one day have that much care and patience and dedication to whatever God puts in front of me.
From then until our lunch break it’s playtime. My friend and I sit on the floor with the kids and let them play on us, climbing on us, playing with our ponytails, and thowing tantrums when they all want the same thing. I help the smallest girl to walk for a bit, and sing My Favourite Things to them when they cry. Lunch comes all too soon. We eat our egg salad, and chat with the rest of our team about what they’ve been doing on the second floor in the storage rooms all day. But soon we get to return to our posts, where it is lunchtime again. And so the routine of feeding starts again, with prayer, food and hectic clean-up. But this time is the last we’ll see of these kids today, because once their faces and hands have been wiped, we set them in their cribs and sneak out of the nursery so that they can nap.
We help out upstairs for half an hour, but soon it’s time for us to leave so that we can meet the rest of our site at the mall. Yesterday our student leaders hailed the taxi, but today it’s our turn. In South Africa, getting a taxi is complicated, requiring multiple strange hand signals depending on where you want to go. But getting to the mall from here isn’t too hard: Nathaniel points over his shoulder and a fifteen-passenger taxi comes screaming to a halt next to us. We all pile in and squish together, because there are a few stops yet between here and where we get off and people will get on even if we think it’s full.
Once we meet there we head directly back to our compound and settle in for a night of worship and making friends, but I keep the time in mind, because we have another day of toddlers and sorting shoes ahead of us tomorrow and it’s a little exhausting.
Altogether, I love Africa. I love how friendly and welcoming the people are and the way they welcome you home the first time you arrive. I love the little children with their bright black eyes and the way they stroke my hair and hold it against their cheeks. I love the intricate braids and the bright colours and even the dusty streets and corner store coca-cola vendors. Something about it feels like home even when you sleep in a different bed each week, and life seems routine even though new things happen each day. I can’t wait to see more of it.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Around the World

 

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Long Days in Soweto: part 1

I only know the basics of my day when I wake up in the morning, but I can tell that it will be long. I wake up in my bunk in the compound in Soweto and lay there a moment, listening to the sounds of people waking up around me. My roommates are getting ready for the day with quiet shuffling and murmured greetings, but the boys on the floor above us are certainly audible: their feet on the metal grating and the slamming of doors, the calling of greetings to those of us below. I like the sounds of life in the morning, and that gives me the energy to drag myself out of bed and prepare for my day.
Breakfast is quick and efficient, and soon we are gathered in the courtyard, listening to our partner Mpho explain our day. I was right, it will be long, but also hopefully educational and ultimately beneficial. I find over the course of our week in Soweto that Mpho fills our days and minds to the brim, and that I come away from each day feeling that the day really was woth every second I put into it.
We bus first over to Constitution Hill, where sits the Constitutional Court, built on the site of an old prison. We are given a tour of part of the prison, where black inmates were kept during aparthied. Hearing and reading the descriptions of their treatment at the time reminds me of something, though right at that moment I can’t put my finger on it. Later on in the day I realise that I’m reminded of visiting Mittlebau-Dora, a concentration camp I saw with my family in Germany a couple years ago. The horror stories are comparable and it brings me back to the fact that it truly hasn’t been long since the people of this country were suffering things I find it hard to imagine. Despite also seeing inside the courthouse, which is beautiful and reflects the optimism of the future, we come away from the place solemn.
We go next to the university, where we listen to a lecture on the state of the education system in South Africa. This, too, is sobering, and we ask many questions. I think about my own education and the days that I resented having to get up and go to school. Only in grade seven or eight did I realise the privilege that it was for me to go to school and the importance of a good education. But now I could see the differences and it made me profoundly grateful for the quality of education I received and the people whose life’s work is to teach us and who can take pride in it. Not so here, where those who do have an education rarely choose to go back and give others that chance. We eat lunch afterwards on the grass outside and then move quickly on.
Our next stop is the Apartheid Museum. Here many people drift through, their brains already full of information. But I love museums, and I get caught up in the flood in information in the Mandela exhibit, then move on to the main feature. But despite my efforts, I’m not even halfway through the permanent exhibit when it’s time to go. It’s a good thing we hear about the history so often!
For supper we go to a traditional sort of buffet, where we find not only some really good food that we’re reasonably familiar with, but also chicken feet and intestines. The restaurant is on the only street in the world where two Nobel Prize winners have lived: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. And that is how a group of students ends up making towers out of their straws on a world-famous street.
We are all very tired when we get back to the compound, but we make time to spend with each other, chatting and relaxing after our day. I sit on the wall and swap testimonies with a friend, as promised, before heading to bed. Again, I listen to the noises of the community as I go to sleep, a reassurance that they’ll be there when I wake up again. I don’t know all the details, but I know it will be a long day.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Around the World

 

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January 29, 2015

So, I am back to tell you about my week in Pretoria, which was very long but also very awesome.
Monday, we attended a fantastic lecture at UNISA, which is the University of South Africa, in Pretoria. UNISA is primarily a correspondance school, actually, so most of the space there is for professors to work and do their research; there aren’t many lecture halls. But the place is huge anyways. Our lecture was on the history of white people, mostly Afrikaners, in South Africa. It was super extensive and intense, and the professor was really knowledgable. I loved it. After the lecture we went to the Voortrekker monument. Inside this monument, on the walls on the main floor, there’s a mural thing that stretches around the whole thing and tells the story of the voortrekkers. If you look through a hole in the centre you can see a sarcophagus on the level below, and if you look up you can see a hole in the roof. On December 16th every year the sun shines through that hole and illuminates the sarcophagus perfectly. That’s some science right there. December 16th is a national holiday called Day of the Covenant or Day of the Vow or something. Basically, a group of voortrekkers were having some trouble with a tribe in the area near Pretoria (I think – no, it’s not quite near Pretoria. It’s called the battle of Blood River, I believe). They were vastly outnumbered, so their priest made a vow before God that if God would give them victory they would keep that day as holy as the Sabbath for as long as their people lived. Or something. Then, they made a circle with their wagons, put the women, children and animals inside the circle, and shot at the oncoming enemy. So many died that the river ran red. And to this day they keep December 16th holy. I don’t have my notes next to me, and no internet currently, but that’s the gist of it. You can climb a bunch of stairs to the top of this dome and be really close to the hole in the roof. This was horrifying, actually, because you could look down and see all the way to the main floor and then through the hole to the floor below with the sarcophagus. I was fine up there until I looked over, but there’s a weird pattern on the floor, and it makes you dizzy and sick to look down on it. I couldn’t even hold my camera over to get a picture because I was shaking and worried I would drop it. Everyone who went up said they felt gross after. On the floor with the sarcophagus and the floor beneath there is a museum, which was pretty good. It was at that point that I realised that only one person in our group goes through museums as slowly as me.
That was Monday.
Tuesday we heard from Piet Meiring, who sat on the Truth and Reconciliation commission. He told us lots of stories about his work and also a bit about Nelson Mandela. The latter was certainly more cheerful than the former, but he had our full attention for hours with everything he could tell us. He also taught us about the ideas and principles behind the TRC. He was very open and I enjoyed hearing from him even though many of the stories were terribly sad.
Wednesday was our service day – we donated our time in a poor white community. I spent the day sorting fabrics for a group that makes and sells prayer pillows. Other groups cut vegetables for preserving, and the group washing the car had a massive water fight. We had a good time though it was a long, hot day.
Thursday morning we had a drumming workship at the University of Pretoria. Our instructor was amazing; it’s certainly one of my favourite activities so far. He started by leading us, but by the end he had us singing and leading each other in creating rhythms and even dancing. In the afternoon we had a picnic on the grounds of the Union building, and had our Small Groups meetings there.
Friday we had a talk in the morning with Paul Peters, a coordinator for outtatown, who told us a lot about his own story and also gave us some insights into the rest of our semester. That afternoon we went to a lion park! We saw lots of animals, including giraffes, ostriches, zebras and, yes, lions. We even got to pet lion cubs! It was pretty neat.
Saturday, our host family took us out to a game reserve where we saw even more animals. We had a relaxing afternoon with them, and a little braai where I tried ostrich meat. We played Trivial Pursuit in the evening. Sunday morning very early we left for Soweto.
I really enjoyed staying with my host family as well. They were lots of fun and we often met up with another of the host families with whom they were good friends. We made them a Canadian meal on Thursday: pancakes with maple syrup and bacon!
Altogether, the semester is off to a pretty good start!

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Around the World

 

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LadyFace

Laura Gabrielle Feasey

Spectrum Educational Services

Engaging Life Issues Autistically

honestme363

revealing my inner narrator

Afthead

Where I keep my knit hats, my mommy eyes, and my writing muse

Zounds, Alack, and By My Troth

A tragical-comical-historical-pastoral webcomic by Ben Sawyer