Monday, October 27, 2014

Healing of Memories Wokshop

This past weekend I went on my first healing of memories retreat. I was accompanied by 26 others people from all over capetown and there was even two young ladies from Damascus, Syria.
 This workshop is about story telling.  We broke up into small groups and do exactly that, share our stories.  I was a bit intimidated before going because I was very self-conscious of my story, and in my head compared it to this imaginary story of someone who was worse off than me, a 25 year old guy from the states.  But through the process I just gave into it and said well I’m just going to own my story where I come from the things that I have gone through, I will share the pain that I have, the loneliness, my ambition, my hope. 
And, wowe it really is amazing the power of sharing with others has.  And that is what the workshop goal is, a sense of healing through sharing.  Others share and even though they come from a completely different world than I, it was very moving to see how relatable we all are.  Because the stories are different, but the feelings and emotions are the same.  We all experience love and pain because we all are human.  The workshop was quite successful for me. It left me extremely exhausted, but in a good way, at least I know I worked hard.
The workshop wasn’t just all heavy stuff we also sang and danced and ate and laughed together and we all bonded.  We all were genuinely sad to see each other go on Sunday.  But overall it was absolutely positively amazing!


Last Wednesday attended a workshop put on in the community of Delft.  50 people from the community, everyday people gathered to discuss stereotypes.  What they are, how we create them on a daily basis and how stereotyping or prejudice can lead us to discriminate against people.  I was absolutely amazed at the dedication these people had for education, and I stress, these were everyday people, non-academic, just people who cared about their community and realized the only way to put an end to this is to first begin to talk about it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lost in Atlantis

When I was asked if id like to go to a place called Atlantis to help facilitate a youth seminar. I jumped at the opportunity.  I pictured an ocean paradise with waterfalls and sailboats and good looking people in swimwear.  So when they told me that id have to take a 30 minute train to catch a bus for a 2 hour I didn’t mind. As I was on the bus  I began to realize that I was heading further and further away from the coast and  further and further inland. It was only about a hour and a half into the bus ride I realized I was not going to the beach.  So I put my swim trunks and my life jacket and arm floaties back into my bag and awaited for what the true Atlantis had in stored for me.  

I got off the bus and caught a taxi with my coworker to the venue, I walked inside and there was thirty bright eyes and cheerful 13 and 14 year olds from all over the greater capetown area.  I sat down in the circle and then the fun began….

After some fun ice breakers we dove right into it breaking up into small groups to discuss the theme of the workshop, what is culture and what good can come from being able to develop a personal cultural identity living in diverse and multicultural communities. They live in places where you might find two or three different languages spoken regularly. 

These teens together came upon some wonderful realizations of how they must know themselves, and know where they come from and their family and cultural histories in order to be able to cherish the differences between the many cultural groups that share the same spaces as they do. 

We sang together we danced together we shared lunch. The workshop lasted all morning into later in the afternoon.  And when it was time to go, the teens that lived in Atlantis all left.  But there still was a large group of kids who were going to a place called Langa, which was about 45 mins away. Because the facilitators are responsible adult we had to make sure that these teens got home all right.  So we organized to have a taxicab bus take these kids home.  Well that taxi driver must have been really unorganized because we had to wait around for him for an hour.  We all pile into this cab that really shouldn’t have let us all in and with the dance music blearing we take these kids home.  From there my two coworkers and I needed to take another taxi to the train station, we do, and then get on the train when I realize that I didn’t get a return ticket home so I jump off the train to get one to find that there was no ticket window at that stop and then the train takes off without me.  So there I am all alone forced to navigate my way back home.  Some how some way by the grace of God I managed to find my way home after another hour walk and a final cab ride. 

Definitely not the original idea I had when I was asked if I wanted to go to Atlantis J but all’s well that ends well and it really was an amazing workshop, where a lot of good work was done.  Anywho here are some photos! Enjoy!    

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Office

Ive spent the last couple days meeting with the staff around the office meeting and reading workbooks and old reports trying to get an understanding of exactly what the institute does.  So far I’ve spent all my time in the office, but most of the interactive work is done outside of the office.  

I arrived here in between workshops, and im grateful that I have, because this is allowing me to better build a context of what the heck is getting ready to happen.  I will spend plenty of time out the office in the community in the coming days and weeks. Next weekend I will be traveling to a near by area called Constantia all weekend, with other staff to participate in my first healing of memories workshop that they will be leading and facilitating 

I thought itd be a good idea to have a pre workshop blog post to get out all of my, um, thoughts.  I just got finished watching a dvd that the institute has put together on what happens at these workshops.  And was quite moving and emotional, which is perfect cuz I’m an emotional kinda guy J  But it is a two day intensive process, filled with meetings, small groups and other activities.  Everyone who participates sleeps, eats and immerses themselves in the process.  I am very much looking forward to what is in stored.  Until then here are some photos from around the office J  

 Oh and also I tried my hand at cooking in my apartment last night.  Just some sausage or as it is called here Vors, and bread.  Not much, but seeing as it was the first time  I cooked here I thought it was worth mentioning J

Monday, October 13, 2014

First 4 Days in Capetown

Greetings from Capetown,

After a 26 hour trip and 3 horribly jetlagged nights of sleep I am absolutely loving it here in Capetown! I look out my window and can see a giant mountain right smack dab in the middle of the city. 

My work place doesn’t believe in letting me catch my breath, just like I like it! J

My boss Alphonse picked me up from the airport weds evening, my flight was about half hour late so I got in about 10PM then he took me to my living space which wasn’t too far from the airport.  He told me that he’d meet me at my place in the morning at 10am he stressed that I did need to sleep.  I was too excited to sleep I finally fell asleep at 4am that morning then I woke up again at 6am.  I still had a few hours before I was due to call him, so I decided to go outside for an exploratory jog.  Was great to get my heart rate up and see the area I was in, then I came home.  Was about 730 so I decided to go back to sleep for another hour and a half.  Well that’s when everything went awry, I must have turned off my alarm during my sleep because when I woke up it was a quarter to 12. I was a bit frazzled so I quickly jumped up and got ready and just as I was about to leave my house my boss was standing at my front door J

He was great, he said he knew I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning but he just wanted to make sure that aliens hadn’t abducted me.  He took me out for breakfast (lunch) then took me by the office to show me around and that ended my first day. 

The next day, Friday, I spent the whole day in the office meeting the staff. By the end of the day I wound up with a book in my hands, a book that the institute wants to publish next month and I was told to read it, edit it, and write a review on it ASAP.

 I’ve made it through the majority of it and am floored by the 10 stories of these seemingly average local Muslim women, who come from ordinary background who have gone through some extraordinary things.  Not to say that currently they have reached some extraordinary level of social achievement, but in their lives they have.  These are stories of resilience and perseverance, stories that attest to how even in the darkest hours that we may find ourselves in, there is always a way through just as long as you keep moving forward.   I will make excerpts of this book available in the upcoming days for your reading pleasure. 

I am only truly beginning to learn just how healing it can be to share our stories with others. So often we pass by people without looking them in the eyes, imagine if we took the time to sit and listen to these perfect strangers.  Welcome to this journey of stories, come with me as we find out exactly what this Institute for the Healing of Memories is all about. 



Yasc RE-entry Retreat

Last week myself and 15 other missionaries were flown to spend about a week in New York, to meet up and to communally digest our last year overseas.  Was a wonderful experience, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect going into it the last time we were all together was June 2013 when we were together for 2 straight weeks of training. 

But this really was a remarkable time together where we were able to share, not only stories but also to share in a bond like none other.  We were all in very different places in the world and had very different experience.  But the retreat really was able to draw out the common line of experience that we all shared. 

It was great over the last few months being home and visiting different friends and family, seeing the people who keep me real.  But, there was something distinctly different about being with my fellow missionaries; being able to see eye to eye with them and feeling that commonality between us. 

The retreat basically was like group therapy, which helped us to begin to frame our experiences from last year.  We were all in different places in our journeys home.  One guy Sean flew straight in from working on a farm in Japan, others had been home for a few months, I was leaving straight after to head back to South Africa. 

All in all it was a wonderful experience with a wonderful group of young people and I am truly thankful for knowing them and sharing this time in my life with them all. 

Well I’m off to Cape Town now, see y’all on the other side!