Monday, June 28, 2010

Prometheus

Nor wild romance, nor pride allured me here

Duty and Destiny with equal voice

sustained my steps: I had no other choice.

Something for Africa to do or say...

-Pringle


After a week of “bunking” (as my bishop laughingly called it), I'm ready to get back to work. This past week, and really the last two, have not been so effective for my project. Indeed, I have not moved forward much at all. The experiences I've had were enjoyable, certainly, but now I need to be more effective. I loved going to a World Cup match, and thoroughly enjoyed the Grahamstown Arts Festival, but those things really aren't why I am here.

For the past few months, I've struggled with enthusiasm. I remember with fondness the electric fire I felt for what I was doing as I prepared for a mission, and seek the same degree of energy in my life now. These past two semesters, though very busy, were really a time of cooling; the engine of my heart has slowed considerably. My passion has ebbed.

Part of that has been due to a lack of direction. Like a ship without a course is blown all about, it is difficult to make headway without clear goals. This journey has been plagued by that problem - where am I going in Africa? Why, really, am I here?

Problems are so much harder when they are undefined. Confusion is perhaps the worst of foes; when the conflict is clear, although the battle may still be incredibly difficult, it is possible to succeed. When the enemy is unknown, it is difficult to make headway, or, having made it, to know that one has advanced. Divine inspiration circumvents these problems, of course, but it seems that much of the time we are given to struggle a bit for ourselves in order to grow.

Mathematics provides a decent metaphor. Easier problems are spelled out in symbols; more difficult problems are described ambiguously in words.

And so I think on Prometheus, Fire-bringer. Prometheus' great service to mankind (in most of the myths about him) was that he brought fire. Light and heat. In my clumsy attempt at a metaphorical treatment here, light is clarity: Prometheus brings the ability to define problems, to see things as they are, and (abstractly) to see things as they can be. In this way, Prometheus brings hope. The earliest story of Prometheus actually links Prometheus and Pandora. Prometheus' gift inspires the gods to send Pandora's box, containing both ills and hope. Clarity and hope: Vision.

Fire is also a source of heat. Perhaps the most common metaphor is the link between fire and passion; given fuel, fire turns potential into energy. Our whole world is based on this idea: fossil-fuels consumed in controlled bursts of explosive fire provide the force, the motion, the drive, the energy of our lives. I'm not speaking about sex; that's one use of energy, but certainly not the only type of passion. And in most cases, it is fire that unlocks the potential. Interestingly, man doesn't have this ability in himself; he receives it from the gods. From Prometheus. Fire-bringer. Bringer of Vision and Passion.

And so what is the modern Prometheus? From where does modern fire come? This is not only an abstract question: “Where do I go to become passionate about what I do?” In the later Promethean myths, Prometheus is the go-between, the advocate of man with the gods, the one that brings gifts from the gods to man (for the moment, we can ignore the context of Prometheus' gifts). In Christian theology, this role is fulfilled by the Holy Ghost.

Indeed, the Mormon hymn gives us, “The Spirit of God like a fire is burning!” (Hymns no. 2). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of revelation; it provides clarity on otherwise unknowable things.

President Hinckley linked the Spirit of God to “a great, overpowering Spirit of optimism” (Ensign, Nov 1995, 72); I would say that the Spirit provides hope. Clarity and hope: Vision.

The Spirit also provides passion. Positive passion is often called enthusiasm: en-thou-siasmos – God in us. That is the function of the Spirit – to work inside of us and to set alight the fire of our potential, and to inspire us to do that which is good. Thus, Ether could not be restrained because of the Spirit of God which was in him; Nephi and Lehi could not be held by prisons, the disciples of Christ spake and they could not be held by bars or pits, because of the Spirit of God.

In other words, to gain fire, seek the Spirit of God.

Stepping away from Greek tradition and into Hebrew, continual fire is found in the temple, on the altar of sacrifice, in the candelabra, and on the altar of incense; significantly, at the scriptural dedication of several temples, “fire came down from heaven... and the glory of the Lord filled the house” (2 Chron 7:1): covenant making and covenant keeping. From one of my favorite lines of a hymn (though not in our hymnal – it may not be doctrinally correct) - “I have read a fiery Gospel writ on burnished rows of steel” (The Battle Hymn of the Republic): the scriptures. From the Book of Mormon and the Bible [paraphrase]: as they prayed, each was surrounded by a pillar of fire.

The methods are the same, and I don't mean to focus on them here. Simply that as we draw closer to God and seek the companionship of His Spirit, we are filled with Vision and Passion, and our potential turns into energy and reality.

I have found that to be true over the past few days. Over the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, when my enthusiasm was at its lowest ebb, I began to pray with a lot more intent than I otherwise would. That prayer led to choice clarity and vision about my future and about my immediate purpose here. Subsequent struggle to draw nearer to God – not merely to go through the motions, but to truly seek and wrestle with the Lord – have provided additional hope, vision, clarity, and passion. Sincere scripture study has augmented and extended the fire of the Spirit, and I am regaining the passion I once had for the things that the Lord would have me do.

I find comfort in that now, because I was not the original impetus for coming to Africa. I am here because I felt like I needed to be, feel like the Lord wants me to be, feel like I will need to have been here. Hence, the opening poem, which I found on a wall in Grahamstown – “Duty and destiny with equal voice sustained my steps. I had no other choice: something for Africa to do or say.” (Pringle, whoever that is)

And so this week I go back to work in earnest. And I feel the fire begin to return.



Here I am at the Stadium in Port Elizabeth, just before the England Slovenia match. It was a lot of fun, and as you can see here, I'm pretty excited about it. I'm holding an England scarf and flag in my hand, and a South African vuvuzela in my right. I didn't want to not wear a soccer jersey, so like the South African fans there, I'm wearing a Bafana Bafana jersey (the away jersey).

In the match, Ashley and I (Collins nephew, and the person I sat next to) asked an England fan who was painting his friend's face to paint ours as well, which he was happy to do. I'll post those when I get back.



The seats we had were incredible - eight rows up from the field itself, right at England's corner for the first half. We sat in the right row but wrong seats until someone came at halftime and asked us to move; at that point, it was even better though. My actual seat was halfway between the corner and midfield for the second half, which is exactly where Slovenia was defending, so most of the second half action was right in front of me. :-D

Btw, the English fans were a lot of fun. They had one whole section to themselves, where everyone was standing and cheering; stamping and shouting England, or singing (loudly!) "Rule, Brittania!" and "God Save the Queen."






Here are some guys on stilts advertising for a couple of shows in GRahamstown, during the National Arts Festival. Grahamstown Festival was a lot of fun; I saw some good shows, and a lot of beautiful artwork.



















Louis Mhlanga (stick your tongue on the back of your top teeth, and then blow through your mouth so that your cheeks puff out a bit and the air sloughs off of them in order to get the right "h" sound here. It's a lot like the Welsh double-l if that helps anything), a Zimbabwean jazz guitarist and singer. He was VERY good, and very enjoyable to listen to. We spoke to him afterwards, and he was also very humble and down to earth. If you like jazz, you should find this guys cd- I definitely will when I get back.
















Grahamstown was experiencing perfect autumn-like weather while we were there. Although it was a bit chilly at times, mostly it had the same beautiful refracted light and autumn like feel I would find at home, with the pleasant addition of flowers in full bloom, almost everywhere you looked.











I included this one because I am not usually very pleased with my pictures of people, and I feel that this one actually turned out quite well. This is Rebecka R├Ânndal. Note the fallen leaves behind her - again, Autumn.













And here are the three of us in Grahamstown. I think we were all pretty tired by this point, but we had a lot of fun regardless. Me, Macrae McDermott, and Rebecka R├Ânndal, form left to right.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Doors and Windows in the Wall


Doors and Windows in the Wall

I am uneasy with the saying, “Whenever God closes a door, he opens a window.” I understand the meaning, of course, but windows are not intended for travel; the saying leaves me feeling that God is restrictive.

I prefer the road metaphor - “This is the path to which I have been called to go.” One of my favorite books as a child, A Door in the Wall, blends the two metaphors: [When thou comest to a wall,] “thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.”

I borrow the phrase this week since I have the opportunity to walk a different road than I initially planned: BYU has rejected my request to go to Capetown and its accompanying World Cup match. Indeed, my coordinator (the person in charge of all the facilitators and all of the BYU Field Study students around the world) has strictly forbidden it, “walled it off.” Fortunately, I will still be able to attend a match in Port Elizabeth, but I was disappointed not to be able to travel the “Garden Route” from East London to Capetown. The landscapes and destinations along the route are supposed to be stunningly beautiful, and Capetown itself is said to be one of the prettiest places in South Africa. I had also looked forward to climbing Table Mountain and thereby bagging my first summit on the African continent. Both the mountain and the route will have to wait. I'll extend my future Kilimanjaro journey and tour South Africa first, take a trip through Malawi, and then conquer the shortest of the seven summits.

However, I find that this new set of opportunities may be as or more rewarding than a jaunt to Capetown. The evening I found out my request was denied, I was asked to escort someone to a “matric farewell.” This is the equivalent of a South African prom, but has the pomp and festival of a Latin American sweet sixteen celebration. It's entirely platonic – the girl is sixteen, I think – but it will be an interesting experience; a different side of Africa. Similarly, that same evening I was invited to accompany some local fisherman on one of their trips in the bay and out into the ocean. Although this may not initially sound fun to a non-fisherman, the sardine are currently making their run to Durban. Every time these fisherman go out, they see dolphins, whales, birds of prey, and interesting fish. On many occasions, the dolphins are close enough to touch; last week, a whale surfaced no more than 100 meters away. Also, I enjoy fishing, so enjoyment is guaranteed on that front as well.

I now have a chance to go to the annual Grahamstown Arts Festival; it's a yearly cultural event featuring dance, theatre, film screenings, live music, and a host of other activities. There's one performance in particular – San, a representation of the Khoi-San people - that I intend to attend. Again, it's another side of Africa; South Africa's own expression of itself through the performing arts. I was looking forward to South Africa's natural and historic wonders; along this path, I get to experience the living, human symphony as well.

I get another week to conduct research, including another two Sundays worth of meetings in my congregations. I don't have to miss sacrament meeting and can continue to work with my young men. I have been praying for help to do what I need to do here; that prayer has been answered through one way being hedged up, and another opened, blessed, and prospered. “Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy way and defend thee! Surely His goodness and mercy will ever attend thee. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who, with His love, doth befriend thee! … Hast thou not seen how all thou needest hath been granted in that He ordaineth?” (“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” Hymns no. 72)

I was stopped in a restaurant this past week by an inebriated man. We had a brief conversation, and then he said something profound: “You have something you need to do in this life. You don't know what it is – you must think about it a lot, and [pray] a lot [and figure it out].” Though intoxicated, what he said was true. I thought the Lord wanted me to go to Indonesia and Capetown; instead, He has provided other opportunities that will better enable me to do what I need to do. In this case literally, “it may not be on a mountain height … my Lord will have need of me” (“I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” Hymns no. 270)

I realize as I write that the “doors” the Lord closes are only windows onto daydreams; the “windows” he opens are pathways leading to our purpose, our eternal growth, and our ultimate exaltation. Indeed, it is often through the walls He puts in our way that we are led along the pathway we should go, until we come to the doors leading to the right experiences and the best blessings.



This is the lighthouse at West Bank. My hostess is starting a little catering business on the weekends, so I helped her nephew go and pick up tables this past Saturday from a restaurant down by the harbor.












And here was my first look at real Sprigboks! In their native, golf-course habitat! The Springboks are kind of a national symbol for South Africa. The national rugby team are called the Springboks, and South Africans are justifiably proud of them - they won the last Rugby World Cup, and are probably in the top three teams currently. (In fact, a Church member told me that the cricket team is also in the top ten, as are several other teams. Apparently, it's ONLY the soccer team that isn't in the top ten; Bafana Bafana is ranked 96th in the world.





Here is what I spent a good part of the week doing. I volunteered with a Baptist church's soccer camp, and helped to make sandwiches. I became the official logistics guy - it wasmy job to keep an accurate count and sort of the different types of sandwiches, which went to which leaders, etc. (once some of the sandwiches had been made and bagged. Until that point, I was part of the line). We got better thoughout the week - by Friday, we turned out 201 sandwiches in less that an hour and a half. It was actually pretty fun. Keenan, one of the young men, and I determined that if we made 200 sandwiches at 1R each, and sold each one for 5R (about 75cents, and the going rate for cheap food on Oxford St), that would be 800R profit each day, for about an hour and a half's work. Not shabby. The other people helping told us we were on our own, though - what, who doesn't want to make hundreds of sandwiches day, indefinitely?


Here are the YSAs at a fun Karaoke night on Saturday evening. It was a good group.










I opened the evening with the Backstreet Boys' "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely." In my defense, I only knew the chorus (I am a man, after all), but made sure to ham it up. Sadly, the person I asked to take pictures struggled a bit with my camera, so we only got blurry images, but one person got a video of it, so it is recorded somewhere.

They're probably planning on using it for blackmail, actually, now that I think about it.



The uppermost image, in the body of the post, is a picture of a really nice restroom (read: literally including a chandelier and mirror mosaic) in a girls elementary school. I was going for an abstract photo (remember, it's deep), but then thought it worked well with the title and so left it up at the top.




Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Turning Point

Occasionally, there come points in life, larger than normal, that change the course of our behavior. One such point came to me. Point is the wrong term – it's more of a turn, a curve rather than a discrete angle. One such turn came to me this past week, as I battled with a second bout of culture shock. This round was not so much a panic as a general unease, a nervousness in everything I did, the continual feeling of being a “fish out of water.”

These feelings were exacerbated by my attendance at a Pentecostal (I had originally thought they were Baptist, hence their inclusion in my research) Getaway weekend. Not only was I struggling with South African cultural expectations, but also with the difficulty of adapting to and operating in a different religious paradigm than my own. (Not that this involved many direct, external stimuli – most of this battle was in my head).

The trouble with the Pentecostal congregation really brought to a head the other difficulties I've been having. The people were wonderful – that wasn't the issue at all - I simply didn't know how to respond appropriately to them (in terms of humor, topics of conversation, etc – the thousand little things that cue and guide our actions everyday). Because of my unfamiliarity with this South African culture – my inability to speak the “language” of this country - I had been paralyzed with fear of offending someone. I was acting out of cowardice. Not that my behavior itself was all that different – simply, my motivation was fear and doubt, leading to over-caution and a lack of confidence in everything I did.

After feeling, and probably being, uncomfortable for about a day (the camp was a three day affair), I went paddling on a “paddle-ski” (like a kayak that one doesn't sit into, just on top of), I thought about it, and decided to be confident. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, come what may. I'll try my best, and if I fail, or offend people, or whatever – so be it.

There was a lot of divine help with that decision; it was made in prayer. That change had been building for about a week - I found out this week that I will not be going to Indonesia this year, as I did not receive a Boren scholarship. I was selected as an alternate, which is an honor, but it was still disappointing. I was grappling with some of that disappointment when I made my decision.

The decision made, I have seen a stream of blessings flow from it. Everything is falling into place. The person who had taken my previous teaching job contacted me and said that they would seek employment elsewhere, so I may have a position when I return. Similarly, I was blessed, the day before I found out about Indonesia, to see the benefits of not going – graduating a year earlier, opportunities to date and get married, and opportunities to teach in East Asia over the summers.

Choosing to shed my fear and live in faith – for that is what I believe happened – has enabled me to enjoy my experience here to much greater degree. Do I have to like this food? NO! But will I taste it to be polite? Yes! Will I try to like it out of love for the people? Yes! Does that mean it is or that I should pretend it's pleasant the first time? No! Do I really like this particular thing (about South Africa, about America, w/e)? Yes – regardless of what a local, or a fellow American, thinks about it. Faith seems to give a person the opportunity to be themselves, genuine, to be different from others. Fear demands conformity, shuns the challenge of independence, and denies an individual the right to think or believe as they wish.

Faith also allows the Lord to speak to us; “by faith miracles are wrought,” especially the miracle of revelation, “for he had first seen these things with an eye of faith.” That seems to be a key to this life – that we walk in faith, without seeing (That's a Swedish translation. We walk by faith, and not by sight, is the proper English). Since choosing to be confident, I have had an easier time hearing the Lord's direction and following it.

I therefore testify of the scripture, “I would that ye were hot or cold.” Be decisive. Live in faith, not fear. “Whatever thou doest, do it wholeheartedly.” If you fail, fail giving it your best shot. Be committed to what you do. Win or lose, believe in what you're doing – and if you're doing wrong, change. Either way, don't doubt. Ponder, consider, decide, and follow through.

This has become a sermon, but I one directed at myself. I share because this is probably the best description of my week.

As a note of some of the other things going on – The World Cup has begun! The first day was exciting – the morning before the opener, I went into town and bought a Bafana Bafana jersey from a peddler on the street, and also bought a vuvuzela (one of the African horns that soccer fans are using. Vuvuzela means to kill with sound; apparently, it was originally an instrument used to stun or kill baboons. The noise it produces is supposed to mimic an elephants trumpet.) People were honking horns, and blowing vuvuzelas everywhere – the cacophony was amazing, and joyous. The person I was walking with remarked that the World Cup was really bringing South Africa together – whites, blacks, coloureds, and Indians were all cheering on Bafana Bafana together, and everyone was blowing the vuvuzela in support (even if they'd hated it a few months ago). It's a fun and exciting time.

And it's a fun and exciting time for me as well. I'm learning a lot, growing, changing. I'm having fun with photography, and taking a lot more pictures – I'll have to show you all when I get home. Things are going well, my project is coming along beautifully, and I feel that the Lord is with me. Who could ask for more?

Brett


Here is a sunrise in Cintsa, where I attended that Pentecostal camp. The location was beautiful, so I made sure to get up early Saturday morning and catch the sunrise. I wasn't disappointed - it was a fantastic experience.






Here's an interesting war memorial, to Boer-Afrikaners who fought in the First World War. This monument is at Buffalo City Public FET College (basically a Junior college) - now called Walter Sisulu University. Sisulu was a black freedom fighter in the apartheid years.









Cintsa again - the camp was beautiful. I was taking pictures all day - I think I ended up with about 400 - but couldn't get the midday ones to work until I tried close ups of some interesting plants. Here's one of my favorites from that little shoot.





This is my friend, Chris, on a paddle ski. Chris was the one who invited me along. This is Saturday evening.








Here is a little girl, Raywen, with a butterfly she found.







Here are two of the teenagers I was working with over the weekend - Cloey and Lynnae, if I remember correctly.












Sunrise again, a little earlier than the previous picture.








Saturday, sunset on Cintsa beach at the Cefani Resort.







Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rhythm and Theory...

Last week was spent in very little pursuit of my project – appropriately, this has resulted in this week becoming very intensely project oriented. I had two observations and two interviews last week; this week, I've already had one observation and an interview, have two or three more planned, and then will attend a three-day Baptist camp this weekend. I hope and believe it will yield a lot of valuable information. (For the record, I didn't waste time - I simply worked on other projects; i.e., coursework that I needed to do, and worked through some class notes, as well as some creative work I describe below).

I also feel I've broken through some kind of barrier – a fear, maybe. I'm going to attend a World Cup match in Capetown, I'm going to buy souvenirs, I'm going to a Baptist camp in Chintsa (pop the tongue off the back of your teeth, as if tut-tut-tutting someone, and then “hintsa” simultaneously as you finish the pop); I attend young men's activities (as a leader), I'm helping with a soccer camp, etc. I feel like I'm in things now, and that's a good change.

Sundays – LDS services on Sunday, are and have been a blessing. I truly enjoyed fast and testimony meeting – spiritual food, quite directly.

I attended a Xhosa cleansing ceremony where two Xhosa choirs sang – one from a local church congregation, and one from the prison. The prisoners were phenomenal – in the tent where we were, the twenty-five of them sounded like a hundred, and their music was amazing. If I am able, I will post the video. The cleansing ceremony was a mixture of Christianity and traditional Xhosa beliefs, with both sides represented roughly equally. Three or four Christian ministers were there, as were the Xhosa royal family and a traditional Xhosa healer (who looked very dark in his countenance, - (his look, not his skin.)

Interestingly, people have trouble guessing my age here. I've had a few who guess correctly at 22, but I've also gotten three 28s, two 26s, one or two 24s, and surprisingly, two “18 or 19s.” I've started asking people I know how old they think I am, out of curiosity and just for fun, and seeing their reactions.

I wrote the beginning of a “grand” (attempting to explain a lot) theory this week. I'm still working on it. It's interesting – I feel simultaneously more rooted, and more shaken, than before I wrote it. I felt like there was some inspiration given concerning it, and I was very excited about writing it – Again, I think I've broken through into a different world, a different realm of my life. I'm not sure yet what this means, but it seems like I'm moving forward.

And now, off to get a rabies vaccination!

(Note, afterward - I wish I'd gotten ALL of my rabies vaccinations here. Painless, and 130 dollars less here. US- 200 dollars; SA - 480 Rand/70 dollars. Oi. But, they don't carry Japanese encephalitis vaccine at all, so that's a problem.)




The YSAs had a dance event. Rolanda taught us the first part o the diski dance (the national soccer dance) and Heather and I taught them how to Swing, and Brandon taught a little breakdancing.
This is Sipwesihle, one of the YSAs.









Here we are at Nokuthula's house, eating walkie-talkies, so named because they are in fact chicken heads and feet. The flavor isn't bad, but looking at them too long makes the feet begin to resemble human hands. Also, they're not particularly tasty - it's mostly fat and sinew - so I would recommend a stiff sauce if you're going to eat them, and a proclivity for crushing bones and beaks in your teeth. I didn't enjoy this meal too much, to be honest.








Here's Macrae making a frightening face behind Auntie P, while we were making cook sisters. Cook sisters are quite good - imagine an cinnamon wheat bread, made into doughnuts, deep fried in oil, and then boiled in syrup until soaked through, and then rolled in dried coconut. They're quite unhealthy, but pretty tasty.



Here's my abstract image for this week. Almost all houses here are ringed with razor wire (or the wall is topped by a very high voltage electric fence) - at least in suburban and urban areas. Slums, of course, lack such an amenity. I saw the wire here entwined with a flower bearing vine, and thought I'd snap a shot - something about beautiful nature and dangerous people. (Or about life, and the benefits of exercise. I don't know - I'm making this up as I go.)




Ok, this was just me being silly. I guess THIS is the abstract photo of the week - again, life and the benefits of exercise. It's deep, trust me.













The Xhosa cleansing ceremony was to bless an area in which four murdered women had been found stashed in a cave. A women's shelter we've worked with (they're the ones who invited us to the Trafficking in Persons Conference) invited us along. Afterward, we went to a prison for supper (the prisoners make and sell food at this particular prison.) This was a decorative carving in the hall, also made by a prisoner. I found something similar for sale for about 100 bucks yesterday; I just don't know how I'd get it home or what I'd do with it.




Here is Nokuthula demonstrating how to properly eat a chicken head, and me stalling before eating one. There just isn't a lot of meat on any of it; again, it's mostly fat, skin, tendons, and ligaments. Chicken tongue, for example, is meat - but the piece is smaller than my pinky fingernail.
Anyway, it was for the experience anyway, not to be filled. And, although I balked, and didn't eat much; I did try both, and did eat something, clearing both my name and my mother's for when she didn't want to eat Walkie-talkies in Columbian soups.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Changes - 5-29-2010

The seasons are changing here. I'm sitting in my granny flat, bundled up in thick woolen socks, wearing a shirt and sweater, and still shivering occasionally. I'm in the midst of the rapid South African autumn – three days ago, it was too hot to wear jeans.

I'm changing as well. I realized, looking back, that I needed a full two months to feel comfortable in my new ward in Stadium Terrace. I've been here two full weeks now, and I'm starting to feel comfortable. My research is progressing well – still in the preliminary stages, but moving forward - and I'm not as frantic about my field notes, though I'm farther behind than ever.

I hope this represents improvement – an increased ability to react and adapt – i.e., a shorter time requirement. If so, this is clear evidence of divine intervention and help, as I've blundered through the past two weeks.
Another change I notice is that I care for children a lot more than I did before. I hope that I have always loved children, but in the past two weeks, some of my discomfort around young children has decreased.
Tutoring has been particularly rewarding. As I sat and read with a young man named Nqaba (N – (pop the tongue off of the middle of the roof of the mouth, simultaneously moving the jaw downward) -ah -bah) I got the distinct impression that no one had ever read with him before – really read with him. He said he didn't like reading, but that he did like sports; his reading material was a junior encyclopedia volume on Sc-Sz, so we picked skiing and read about it.
Although I'm not a skier, I tried to enliven the reading with descriptions of my own – here's how the ski curves, etc. A lot of the entry was about Sweden, so I was able to incorporate some of my experiences there. Anyway, I didn't think too much of the reading session. The next week, I met Nqaba again, but didn't get to tutor him. He actually came early, as had I, so we sat and talked for a bit. After the students had finished their tutoring time, he and a girl and I walked to the taxi area together. As we walked, he mentioned that he reads at home now, and then asked, “You know why I like reading? It's because of you.” This was one of my proudest and most rewarding moments of the past year.
I don't know what the change was. Similarly, on our second trip to Zamani daycare, I felt far more comfortable with the children. Although I was uncomfortable and a little distant again at first, by the end of our time there, I was dancing and playing with the kids, and felt comfortable letting them climb on me. This was not good for my laundry – my shirt had a small dirt footprint near my collar, and the collar itself was a different color than it should have been – but it was good for my soul.

I think the Lord has other purposes for my being here. Based on an interview yesterday, I think that my research itself may be useful in helping the pastors in the area encourage their parishioners to act according to their faith. However, I think that the personal changes the Lord is causing in me will be far more valuable. I came here hoping, praying to be changed by the experience. It looks like that hope and prayer is being answered.
Interestingly, part of that has been a result of attending Baptist services. Honestly, I have been uplifted by the faith and love of the people with whom I work, and I do feel a unity and love with people of other Christian faiths and other religions generally. I think that a lot of my fears about other Christians have been allayed; I don't feel that I have been persecuted for my LDS beliefs. I thank my Protestant brothers and sisters for that – it has been a blessing to me.
This whole trip has been a blessing to me, troubles and all. I came here without a clear idea of why – I felt it was the right thing to do, but my original need to publish research findings in a scholarly journal evaporated with my success in sociological research. I will still do my research to the best of my ability, but I no longer feel that is why I'm here; my research seems to be a mechanism, not a goal. But the Lord is in charge, and I do feel that He is leading me onward. And so, I feel to cheer - “Lead thou me on!” (Hymns 97, Lead Kindly Light)
This is from Eastern Beach, the day I was walking to the Prevention of Human Trafficking Conference. I don't go to this beach often, but I really like it when I am able to.



This picture above, (Sorry, I'm having trouble tagging these photos) comes from a fun photo shoot I did around Valda's house on one particularly beautiful evening. Sunsets here are amazing. I often look into the sky to see a flock of birds winging in a turning arc across skies like the one above.
Photo below: I had some photographic difficulty in this stage of the photshoot, but I think the photo still puts the idea across. This is Valda's (and thus temporarily, my) backyard.


Here are the Kids at Zamani Daycare - we went back for their festival.
And here's Heather with one of the boys. They were clambering all over us that day - evidently, Macrae has a picture of me buried under about eight little kids. I'll see if I can get it from her and post it.

Just a random picture I took, that I thought was kind of fun. It's the bonus picture - I try to give 5 good ones, and the sixth may be questionable.