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.