Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Reflection

To become neighbors is to bridge the gap between people.  As long as there is distance between us and we cannot look into each other’s eyes, all sorts of false ideas and images arise.  We give them names, make jokes about them, cover them with our prejudices, and avoid direct contact.  We think of them as enemies.  We forget that they love as we love. Care for their children as we care for ours, become sick and die as we do.  We forget that they are our brothers and sisters and treat them as objects that can be destroyed at will.
Only when we have the courage to cross the road and look into one another’s eyes can we see there that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family.  ---

After being here a few days shy of two weeks I have seen great beauty in people's faces, in the land, in the love and hospitality that I have been shown by the brothers here at the monastery and the staff at the school and people I have met in town.  I have also felt a deep sense of familiarity when going to the grocery stores, being in school watching children play and swing and jump up and down and cry and pout, also when walking on the streets looking at birds flying over head and looking at trees as they shed their leaves (its winter over here).  

At the same time felt I’ve felt completely isolated from the world I know and the people I love and have had a sense of unfamiliarity with my surroundings; forgetting which side of the road I’m suppose to be driving on, getting lost trying to find my way home, hearing conversations people are having in passing and thinking wow I really am in a different country, which sometimes feels like a completely different world. 

One thing that I try to keep in mind is perspective.  Im sure that in time I will learn the streets and become more comfortable living here.  In time I will learn how to better stay in contact with my family and friends. In time everything will balance out and I will find that happy median.  

Until then,

Last Week

It has been an exciting last several days.  I have had my first South African brie (BBQ) and said goodbye to the Yascers as they went home.  I sat in on my first PTA meeting at the school and have just gotten a chance to get to know the kids.  And boy are they wonderful! It is never a dull moment and I constantly have a smile on my face.  In the school I have been kind of a wanderer. Ill wander into the grade 2 classroom and help some students with their math work and help them with their English lessons.  Or ill wander into the grade 1 classroom to read them a story or help them practice telling the time.  I might wander into grade R (kindergarten) to jump up and down scream and shout and do some arts and crafts.  
After school I get to drive a carload of kids to their homes.  They live on farms,  and in order to get there we have to do a bit off-roading.  The kids love when I hit a bump and they bounce up into the air (I’m a safe driver!)  All the kids call me Ubhuti, which is pronounced bootie J this means brother and is a sign of endearment.  I was kind of taken back on my first day when I was introduced as Ubhuti Maurice, but after I found out the meaning I’ve enjoy my new name.

The brothers are in their bi-yearly Long Retreat.  This lasts for about two weeks and is a time of meditation and centering as the brothers stop talking.  I was worried about this originally, but I have found it very relaxing and have found this to be a time of deep contemplation and solitude, which has been very much needed.  The brothers conclude long retreat this upcoming Friday. Even though this has been a very nice time to be with them in presence it will be even nicer to be able to speak with them and get to know them through verbal communication.  But this process got me thinking; what if whenever you were meeting someone new or old for that matter, you spent some prolonged amount of time together in silence.  You ate in silence you passed them by outside in silence you woke up in silence and when to sleep in silence. There is something very powerful about physically sharing a space, even if you aren't talking. I have found that even though I have not been in verbal communication I feel like I have become quite acquainted with them.  

Well ill leave you with a few photos from last weeks church service, the brie and the PTA meeting.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thank God its Saturday!

Today (Saturday) is a day off, perfect time to sleep in and catch up on some much needed rest! Once I rolled out of bed I was invited to lunch with Stephen and Cameron to Nomhamhase house who is the school grandma.  Had another wonderful meal of chicken, potato’s, yams, and mqosh, which is a bean mixture that is paste like in texture (extremely good).   

After lunch I had my first (and last (because I’m a pro)) driving lesson.  Nailed driving a stick on the opposite side of the car and driving on the opposite side of the road.  It was almost a perfect experience; I once stalled on a hill with a car behind me but that was fine because the driver behind grew impatient (rather quickly) and drove around me. Also did some guided exploration and saw some more of the beauty that is Grahamstown.

Tonight for dinner we were invited to Matt Kellen’s house.  He is a former Yascer who met the love of his life Zinzile here in South Africa and now lives here in Grahamstown permanently.  Its been nice for me to tag along as Cameron and Stephen say their goodbyes, not only am I being fed:), but I am meeting tons of people who are apart of both the school community and who live out in town.

Tomorrow is church at the monastery, apparently a lot of people from town come over.  #Veryexcited (bet you didn't expect to see a hash tag in a blog post:) 

Ok well until next time...

First full day of school

Yesterday was my first full day in school.  I walked up to the school at 6:30, to unlock the school in preparation for the kids to arrive.  They come about 7 and there is about an hour before school starts, so you know what that means? That’s right, soccer and play time! Which by the way is a wonderful way to start out the day! The day is jam packed with learning and fun! It was also a special day because it was Stephen and Cameron’s (the current YASCers) last day, so the brothers came up from the monastery and there was tons of festivities and cake as the school bid those two farewells. 

After school I went into town to see what it was like, absolutely beautiful.  The town is relatively small, but the majority of people live out in the townships or as it is commonly known as the location.  The centerpiece of Grahamstown is the Cathedral, which is the biggest building in town and is located in the center.

After my brief tour in town, Cameron, Stephen, Ntsika (one of the teachers at the school) and myself had an invitation to dinner by Jenny, the school’s nurse at her house.  She whipped us up a fabulous meal of what was almost like Shepard’s pie.