Well, I can say I would never have imagined writing that I have gotten into touch rugby but when you are desperate to play a sport and it is by far the most available, that's what ends up happening. I met up with friends from UNC a couple days ago (lucky to see Nitin a second time and have an awesome conversation as always about our experiences thus far here before he headed back to Kruger. we also ran into the other UNCers as well) and on the walk home, I passed by a field of soccer and rugby players. I hurried back so I could change and get to the soccer, but when I returned, the field of soccer players was cleared. Instead, I played a little basketball and then joined in the touch rugby, having no earthly idea at first what I was doing. Of course, the rules were quite simple because it was pickup touch, but I am so used to running long wide receiver routes that it was not used to adjusting to laterals. Nevertheless, I had a great time dodging huge guys with English accents (or South African accents I guess would be more correct) and even scored a couple times. The greatest part of playing was that the field on one side has a crystal clear view of table mountain, so it is like I was playing on a field bordered by the some of the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen...I kept thinking, I can't wait to play soccer here-- talk of a dream come true.
As I put in my email to many of you, I have noticed a number of funny differences in the meanings of words. You will often hear people say, "I hope to make it into your diary today." Sounds like a weak pickup line but actually is just a calendar. It is also common to have somebody in the office say, "Will you please give me a stiffy?" The greatest was that this girl I knew had her boss say that to her and gave him a dirty look before he explained... and of course, the one I have already used quite a few times is, "honk your hooters," which means car horn. It is also odd because stoplights are called robots. But anyway, food here is pretty similar and diverse as it is in America, though I enjoy the more popular uses of pudding and custard, the chocolate is much better, and people LOVE their meat here (though the ribs lack the memphis bbq sauce that I miss so much). I learned that quickly the first few days when I was in Jo-berg at the seminary and we had a huge braai (barbeque), or braai-bq as we called it (for we had both South Africans and Americans grilling together and we are all about community). We were grilling pounds and pounds of meat of all kinds (4 full buckets worth) and I kept saying, "this is way too much for the twenty people here." I could not believe it when one of the guys who grilled the stuff with me mocked me for my failure to believe how much meat people could eat- and every one of the hundreds of pieces of pork and beef and chicken was gone.
Back to newsy stuff, one exciting development here is that I get to move into one of the townships (kayelitsha) this week for the last 4-5 weeks here in Capetown, to live hopefully with a group of guys about my age who all live together in the heart of the real action and community. I got to be in Kayelitsha a few days ago to work in an orphanage called Bophamalele (spelling probably wrong, but it means "progress" in Xhosa), which was started by a woman from the community who realized she had a heart for the kids who were left on the street. Over the course of about 11 years (five years as an orphanage), it has grown into a full orphanage of around 100 kids of every age. I was taken around by a guy named Jeff, who is a graduate of UNC! He and his wife (also from UNC) came almost two years ago now to stay for around a year. As they got involved with this orphanage, they decided that they were called to stay for longer, and have ended up adopting one of the girls from the orphanage, as well as help the orphanage grow to a much larger and more organized staff. Even with a number of staff members, I was quite overwhelmed by the magnitude of kids and the confusion of trying to sort out who was supposed to be doing what, especially during homework time. But the kids were amazing, and I had a great time calling out spelling words to the 4th and 5th graders (and remembering the spelling days) and helping the toddlers get snack. The cool part of this connection is that the orphanage has its own service on Sundays, in which all the kids participate. Because I will be living nearby, I will be able to see what the service of these many kids is. And I look forward to learning even more than I already have about what it really means to praise God and worship as a loving community.
Yesterday was also an eventful day. I got to go back and be with the HIV support group at Sweethome farms (stories from the last post-- one of the informal settlements) and took my journal so that I could write down Xhosa. I am finding that I can learn it much easier if I get them to write down words and go over the pronunciation that way. So again, they laughed as I struggled through "ungubani igama lakho?" (what's your name?) and "mingaphi iminyaka yakho" (how old are you?). Xhosa is no easy language, especially for me who has a hard enough time with English. But we had a great time eating, singing, and talking about blessings and struggles. They all named a number of thanksgivings, and again I thought how interesting it was that we often have a hard time naming things we are thankful for. It sure opens my eyes to a lot.
I also got to sit in on a meeting with three people at the Warehouse trying to brainstorm how to create a program (or prayergram as they call it) that could lead to the development of thousands upon thousands of new businesses for the townships and money flowing from resourced churches to under-resourced areas (restitution of sorts) as investments into these new entrepreneurships. It is a fascinating process because they are really trying to transform the whole system, based on the success of one of the unemployment initiatives in which guys from the townships have created up and coming businesses of all sorts-- from garden services to woodworking to a goat business. At the warehouse, everything is done very much around prayer-- starting with an hour of prayer each morning and lots in between. I have always believed prayer was extremely important but have never been a part of something that it was such a central thing. It has been an amazing experience in many ways to have a community that is so faithful to prayer as a group. It is also odd sometimes when the language changes and people talk of seeing us riding a boat with god at the front and odd metaphors of all kinds. But, the group is incredible and I have learned more in two weeks that I could ever have imagined. Time to reform the system in Memphis and America? I think so!
Well, I am about to head out to hike table mountain on this beautiful Saturday morning. I will continue soon and love and miss all of ya!