Monday, September 26, 2011


After a long hiatus, Richard has a new blog and a new location:

See you there :)

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's getting cold...

I've been avoiding a blog post for some time because I know I'll at least get misty eyed doing it...

Winter has fully come. I've survived my first sand storm (though it was mercifully short), and the nights leave me curled up in my bed with the space heater on full blast. My time here is drawing to a pretty quick close. I'm starting to notice things here and there that will kill me to miss. The kids I play with, the way the ladies who take care of the clinic ask me how I'm doing each morning. The way Dorothy yells [with a whole lot of love] at the kids who hang outside her window at the clinic. The thumbs up people give you on the road when you let them in front of you. How I won't be able to say "Ay wena, suka!" to anyone once I'm home and know that they know what I'm saying, and none of the giggles that ought to follow. All the slang I learned in Durban will be useless now. It's making me swok, I won't be able to chune with my lighties this side, though I hope to vy back one day, at least for a night at the jol, varay. Meet up, Sadeck, Jermaine, Bender, and all the folks of Stonebridge, and the Location! We'll comber in the future, no flop, I never lie to you.

No more snot covered (and completely adorable) children begging to be launched skyward to be caught by me, laughing uproariously. No more, "Mollo bhuti, unjani?" No more "uRich!," "Howzit?," "Is it?," "Lekker me bru," "Hlamba imoto?" No more amaqina. No more isiXhosa. No more excitement for 2010, (I leave the day the 2010 World Cup starts).

I'll miss my neighbors, grazzi Georgio, gracias Francisco, salaam Iqbal. I'll miss the kids at the clinic. I'll miss each Tuesday when what seems like a hundred mothers bring their tiniest child, each one cherished and bright eyed (when their eyes are open) to be cared for. I'll miss being antagonized by some of the older kids, ("small boy! you are a blind man") and then just walking towards them, them retreating, knowing that I won't do much of anything, but still engaging in a game of cat and mouse. I'll miss my TB patients, and the relationships we've built upon their infirmities and my want to help them. I'll miss the nurses and staff at the Ngangalizwe Health Clinic. I'll miss this and that and the other thing, the list goes on, and it will certainly grow (and oh baba that scares and saddens me).

I'll miss the friends who always keep their weekends open (enkosi kakulu, Ntando, Ngara, Msi, Yonga, and several others who deserve to be named).

But I've got 10 more days, and I don't have to miss anything quite yet. Soak it up, life's umhle, kakulu.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Little time left, thus starts the reflection...

I have  two months to go. This is somewhat amazing, time has ebbed and flowed here in a very different way than I am used to. Some weeks flew, others were excruciatingly long. Now I have eight. For three of those, Jenny is away, and in-between those two I am off to Kenya for a missionary retreat.

This all happens just as the kids of iTipini just started calling me by my name, rather than "Jesse" or "umblungu" (xhosa for "white"). Along with this, I've been seeing more people I know in grocery stores, and have made Durban my second, and favorite, home in SA. That'll all disappear in a short-ish amount of time. I've been building this life in a place that will be very hard for me to ever return to. It's amazing how God teaches us the impermanence of all things in this life.

Nonetheless, I will continue to enjoy my remaining moments in this place. The friends I've made I'll make sure to enjoy time with, and the places I've loved I'll make one more trip to. At iTipini, despite the complete dissolution of the after-school group, the same set of kids come to me for help on homework; that certainly helps me feel needed. Our latest batch of TB patients have been very good about getting themselves to the clinic for treatment. I can also read 90% of what Dorothy, the other nurse at our clinic, writes down, which can require a bit of deciphering.

As to looking forward, that's much murkier. Some of you know, I wished to continue doing work like this State-side. Unfortunately, no one has emailed me back about any potential leads for the future. Also, I've had some real doubts as to my calling to ordained ministry. However, I do see some openings in continued education, likely an MA in Theology. Who knows what the future brings. Pray for guidance in my life, and thank you for reading!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trials, Tribulations, Patience and Clarity Part II

Now that I find myself back in Mthatha, staring at a little over 90 days left in my time here, I keep thinking about what there is left to do and what I've done.

One thing that has been a source of near constant aggravation has been the after-school reading group that Jesse Zinc started but that I have not been successful in keeping up. I've tried bribery (snacks, pizza, a promise of a movie night). I've tried being just nice ("it's ok that you've not come in over a month, just come back next week and try to do better!"). I've tried being outwardly annoyed ("ok gang, this just isn't working when only three people show up, and not even the same three people."). The group has not met once since early December. I tried to restart the group yesterday, but no one showed up.

Something I truly enjoy is taking care of the TB patients and all of the things they need. As a result, I have made very very good friends at the local government clinic which we are under the purview of. This in turn has led to a much easier flow of information on patients and treatments which simply were not present when I arrived. Huzzah, success!

In mid to late April Jenny will be off to the US for fund raising for a period of nearly 3 weeks, which leaves me and Dorothy at the clinic to manage things. The end of that time will mark the half-way point from my return to SA to my journey back home.

Mostly though, I continue to pray that my time here is fruitful, and that God blesses all that we try to do in his name. Prayers are always welcomed, thank you all for reading!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Trials, Tribulations, Patience and Clarity Part I

So, I've not blogged in, oh, a solid 2 and 1/2 months. For this I do have legitimate excuses.
#1. On the 2nd of January my bank card was swallowed in Durban. Just like that, gone. The local bank who operated the machine had no idea where it went, so that got canceled. My new bank card has not arrived yet.

#2. I'm a clumsy fool, and dropped my lap top, breaking the all important screen. One would think you could get this fixed, but nay, it cannot happen in Mthatha, at least not safely.

Now I find myself back inside the US due to visa complications. Needless to say, it is good to be home temporarily, because not only do I have a computer again, but a bank card, and everything else I'll need to keep you all informed as to the events of my final 3 months in Mthatha. There will be a more expanded version of this in the future, perhaps upon re-arrival in SA by mid-next week.

My sincerest apologies to everyone for my inability to fulfill the previous promises made about more blog updates. The circumstances were simply out of my control. Thank you for your continued attention.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Preschool Graduation and more from iTipini

'Tis the season for all things that give us a break at Tipini. Tomorrow I head off to Durban to enjoy over a week there, plus more time off while in Mthatha. The build up to this break has been quite something. One of the big events pre-break has been the preschool graduation, which is a really really big deal for the whole community here. It's hard to describe if you haven't witnessed it first hand, but imagine organized chaos that is filled with dancing, laughing and children with big big grins on their faces and you've got a decent idea of what went on. Here are some pictures:

Aside from this, we've had our Community Project Staff dinner, a big Christmas celebration at Bedford hospital, where I reside, and other fun and similar get-togethers  around Mthatha.

I've gotten more used to the rhythm of other volunteers coming and going a month and-a-half or so at a time. I must admit that it is difficult to lay down the solid roots of friendship and then have to wave goodbye at a plane speeding away with a months worth of relationship building on it. Se la vi. Nonetheless, each of these people have been blessings, and I continue to learn and (hopefully) grow each day. Where God is leading me, I do not know, and when I'll get wherever this place is is even foggier. But as the Advent meditation guide put out by the national church for young adults points out, Abraham had less of a clue than anyone, and he dropped all at God's mere words to discover what lies beyond for him. Here's hoping I continue to feel God holding my hand as each day seems to fly by.

I promise to be a bit more regular with the New Year. Thank you for reading, and as you go into the Christmas mode after this Advent, may you see that the mysteries of God always end in a love for you and for all of us for whom his son was sent.

The blessings of Christ be upon each of you always.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trip to Grahamstown

Well, after nearly 6 hours of driving I arrived in Grahamstown. The first leg of the trip was a complete haze, I couldn't see more than 30ft (9.144m) at any time, with cows running around in some places in traffic jams in small towns National highways go right through towns here, no bypassing. But we got through that first leg, and things were ok. The sun came out, we had gotten through most of the towns. God provided a lit path. The picture to the right was taken at around 6.30pm on Friday.

The next day was a little surreal, I woke up to the sounds of the monks doing vespers at 6am on Saturday. I took Mkusele, the leader of the iTipini choir among other things, into Grahamstown for some music session, then I went and hung out on the street with hobos who I got to play guitar with. I asked if I could play ones guitar and he let me, and there was sat, jammin' out (he did most of the music playing, relief there). A lot of folks looked at us funny, but it was pretty cool. After this I went to a coffee shop where I ended up talking to the owner of the place about Biblical and theological issues over coffee on the house. We disagreed about quite a bit, especially over issues of homosexuality and women in the priesthood, as well as a few others, but Tinnis said that "it was still good because it was so congenial and God centered." Then I saw Rob, a fellow Yascer, for a little while. It was good to see someone doing something similar to me.

Once Sunday rolled around I got to head back to Mthatha after church was finished at the monastery, and that little place was packed. They said good-bye to one of the other YASC volunteers here, and it was rather touching. At one point, Brother Timothy of the Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery said that "you don't need to like doing the work of God, you just have to do it." That struck me as true, as every once and a while things get a bit stressful here. But you do it, it gets done, and hopefully things will be better because of it.

I got home Sunday at around 1pm and things have gone back to normal.

Blessings to all.