I haven't posted in a while, and don't have time to write the many stories down, but this is from an email I wrote earlier today that I think covers things of late pretty well. Sorry to that person who has to read this twice :-)
Life here has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I am so overwhelmed right now by the many seemingly contrasting extremes (though I did just finish "let your life speak" and realize that both winter and summer are a part of the journey, but I don't yet understand how to deal with both at the same time). The extremes of
going to church in gugalethu and worshipping with people from the smallest shacks, then being given a full meal of food, and having people dance and sing praises with all of their hearts outside in the mud, with the community (30ish people from 2 year olds to grown ups) joining in-- such a sense of love, community, giving despite a lack of resources. To the other extreme of having a woman from our HIV support
group who has the most beautiful smile being gang raped on Saturday, and visiting her to see her broken and wounded forced half smile. Never have I had to see
somebody that close to when something like that had happened....and it
happened one day after she had suggested the name for the HIV support
group be "sipuxolo" (give us peace).
Back to the "but god moment" of having the HIV support group gather around her and having somebody to sit by her bed with her day and night, willing to be there in silence and suffering with her. To the opposite extreme of having a counselor lecture her about her not being married and how she should be thankful she is alive, when it all had no relevance and if anything was just filling that woman's own needs. And my being so sad, hurt, angry, overwhelmed to see and hear all of this and
be able to do very little, if anything at all other than sit beside
her (and the others who were there) and wonder, "where is the peace?".
Again, to the other extreme of living in a township now with five amazing
guys, all my age, who are teaching me Xhosa (slang included!), taking me around the townships, sharing their home and the three rooms they are already packed into, letting me squeeze in the middle of the couch with them to watch the world cup and play crazy card games. I am loving it even despite having to share a common cup and eat off a dirty plate and learn to bathe in a tiny and dirty tub (yeah, even me. good lessons to learn-- that good community trumps that desire for sanitation). But all of it together has been overwhelming. I am so confused with what all of
this means, knowing that God is clearly in these places
but being so overwhelmed by the simultaneous hurt and pain, joy and hope, laughter and tears....
Newho, so that is my life of late, in short. I have learned more this week
than in much of my life but processing it all is quite a difficult
thing. And my faith has been broken and turned upside down and
hopefully being remolded in a very real way. But that is the
struggle, the journey, always full of question and very rarely of