Monday, September 16, 2013

The English Language??

Recently in our YASC Facebook page, a fellow YASCer commented that not only is she learning the local language, but is also finding herself learning British English! A few of us quickly agreed that even the English we're hearing and speaking sounds foreign often, so I thought I'd share with you some of the fun English words I've found that mean completely different things here in South Africa!

In America, a boot is something you wear on your foot in the rain and snow. Although they have rain boots here and sell boots in shoe stores, a boot is generally a word for the trunk of a car! 

Continuing this car theme, remember those traffic lights we have in the States? Here they are called "robots". That is one word substitution that I'm hoping I can bring back to the States with me!

In New York City, you might need to take the underpass in order to get on the right Subway. But here in South Africa, you take the subway to make your train on time! Subway is another word for the path underneath the tracks that gets you to the other side of the station.

If you're lucky enough to be walking around during rush hour traffic, watch out for cars "hooting" at you, because they don't honk! On a related note, on Thursday I was hooted at for the first time and felt like maybe I was a true Capetonian!

On my first trip to the grocery store I went to buy laundry detergent and imagine my surprise when I discovered the word "detergent" does not exist down here! Instead, you can buy washing powder to put into your washer.

Also at the grocery store I noticed some interesting brand differences. My favorite is "Niknaks", basically Cheetos!

There are some interesting time differences as well. For example, "meridian", at 13h00 (That's 1:00pm for those non-military time readers), is not only a time of day but specifies a break in the day where you might have lunch or just take an hour off from whatever you're working on. At the office, it's lunch time, but I've noticed that the students I know who go to UCT all have a break at meridian even though they all have different classes in different departments.

In addition, I've discovered that the word "now" is more complicated than we think!

These differences, while challenging at first, are an easier transition than a full new language. I'm grateful that these words and meanings are the only ones I absolutely need to learn! These geographical differences are not specific to drastic adjustments in location. Over in New Jersey, they call taylor ham "pork roll", and nowhere else in the country has heard of either! Take a look at this video made by one of my favorite authors and Youtubers, John Green, discussing some of the local (United States) differences in language. When have you been taken aback by a word you thought you knew previously in one place but clearly do not understand in a new location?

Thanks for reading! Love and prayers to all those who have been following this journey of mine!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Spiritual Updates

(Note to reader: I initially wrote this post as a call to local priests and deacons who may want to support my trip. I present it now for anyone and everyone who has chosen to support this journey of mine. I cannot thank you enough.) 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:16-17

Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:12-13  

These words are a charge, a challenge, and a call. God loved the world by giving his Son for us. Jesus loved us by giving his life for us. Jesus challenges us to love one another just as he showed love to us. Are we meant to give our lives to one another? Are we meant to sacrifice our own well-being and our own health for those around us?

As your years in seminary surely taught you, Jesus speaks in metaphors. The seeds cast in rock, weeds, and good soil are those of us raised in different environments. The goats and the lambs are those who showed compassion and those who did not. And compassion to whom, you might ask? Well, Jesus says that when you show compassion to someone else, that is symbolic of showing compassion to Jesus himself. With metaphors aplenty, Jesus teaches the ways we are supposed to live our life as devout Christians.

So back to the question at hand…is Jesus teaching us that we are supposed to sacrifice our own life or the life of our son for the sins of others? Although we can never know for sure, I believe that is not what he teaches us. But what could this metaphor possibly mean? How can we not take this teaching literally?

What would it mean to give yourself fully for another person? What does it take to accomplish such a feat? As my interpretation goes, it means understanding them entirely. Understanding what they need and want, who they are and where they come from. That same understanding needs to be as free of your own biases as possible. It’s just as important to understand yourself as well. You’ll need to know what you need and want and what your capabilities are if you’ll ever be able to love as dearly as Christ loved his people.

My first two weeks in Cape Town have taught me to slow down and truly try to understand the people around me. Not only is there a language/accent barrier, but even the English words we all use do not hold the same meaning universally. While it can be embarrassing to ask someone to repeat themselves more than two or three times, it helps my understanding that much more. No one has gotten fed up with my constant straining to understand and I am starting to get better! The accents here are marvelous and all so different, but I’m starting to not hear them and instead am listening to the words being spoken, not how they’re being spoken.

I’m not sure I’ve accomplished my full understanding of the culture here, but I am well on my way! In the office I’ve noticed an incredible emphasis on community time. While we work hard in our offices, we take breaks often to sip tea and coffee and enjoy each other’s company. Whenever I have my headphones in because I don’t want to disturb everyone around me with my music, I feel like I’m taking myself away from the office. There is constant communication between all the different offices here and constant celebration of one another’s work. I’m starting to lose my United States work ethic and am beginning to appreciate breaks during the day. Although I still want to just finish every task I’ve been given as quickly as possible, I can see the incredible benefits of being together at the office and taking time to be with each other and not just with our work.

If you ever get the opportunity to create a work environment, I strongly suggest you make breaks a part of the daily agenda. This office is happier for it and works that much harder after tea breaks. I know I plan on implementing breaks for myself in whatever work I find myself doing next. If that means scheduling classes and shifts accordingly, I will do it! Emphasis on community makes for a fantastic and productive work environment.

I wonder if God giving us their only son was a way to understand us. I wonder if God watching us from a far felt hypocritical to them, so they decided to get to know us in order to truly help us and make a difference in our lives. I wonder if God likes how we’ve turned out and appreciates our connections in communities and families. All this I wonder, but I also know that my God is proud of us. Maybe not all of us at all times of the day, but I know that God loves who we are and who we have grown up to be. I know that God supports us as long as we support each other.

Now, I haven’t been ordained and I’ve certainly not been through years of seminary and nor do I plan, so here I will stop. But whether you are religious, spiritual, atheistic, agnostic, or questioning, continue to do well for your community and support those around you. Give a hug or reassuring smile today. Thank your partner, best friend, spouse, boss, colleague, or dog for being in your life today and making you happy. These little supports and appreciations can make all the difference. I know in mine they certainly have.

Thank you for your support and love. I literally could not have done it without any of you.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Get Out The Map!

It's that time of week again! Time to blog!

I've been in Cape Town a week, and while I'm starting to find my way around the place locally, I wouldn't be able to tell anyone on the map where to find me! So I thought I'd create this short little blog where we zoom in on Cape Town and figure it out together!

So, I know I'm in Africa and I'm pretty sure we all know what Africa looks like, so I'm going to start with a picture of South Africa.

So you can see Cape Town in the bottom left corner of South Africa. Let's zoom in closer shall we?

Alright, we're getting closer! It's still there in the bottom left corner.

Alright, now we're getting somewhere! An important fact to note is the little city, Hermanus, in the bottom right corner. Keri, a fellow YASCer is spending her time in a town just outside of Hermanus working in a hospice clinic. Click on her name to check out her blog! Luckily she's only an hour and a half away from me, so she and I will reunite every now and then on weekends and sight see together!

Ok, so that word Southern Suburbs. The Southern Suburbs of Cape Town proper. I've heard people throw that around and apparently that's where I live! Let's zoom in, shall we?

Now, see that word Rondebosch in the lower right side of the map? That's where I live! I live just across the street from the University of Cape Town in the suburb, Rondebosch. And now to zoom in a bit further to see where I spend my days at the HOPE Africa office!

Ok, so At the bottom of the map you see the little suburb, Kenilworth. The HOPE Africa office is in Kenilworth, about 6K away from Rondebosch (That's about 3.7 miles to you non-SA and non-running folk.)

For those who are wondering, I do have some pictures of my commute. Check out the office!

After leaving the office, I walk a couple blocks to the train station in Kenilworth and take the train to Rondebosch Station. At Rondebosch, I walk a few blocks back to Anhouse! Here's some of my walk from the Rondebosch Station to Anhouse. 

See how close I am to the University? It's right on the right side of the road through those trees!

And here's Anhouse! 

The backyard.
The road is behind the house, but this is
technically the front door of the building.

So how's that for some Cape Town info and pictures? I'll try to remember to take a picture of the side of the house that faces the road! There's a sweet little mural created by past residents. 

Love and Totsiens to all!