Monday, December 15, 2008

December 15 - The Beginning of my South African life...

Hey everyone! I've been wanting to take some time to update you so heres, what I hope to be, a brief little update on events so far. My blog has long been needing an update so here is one coming at you...

Some of you may know that before I left for South Africa, I was actually having some problems obtaining a visa from the South African Consulate in Toronto. I flew off on Thursday evening but, right up until Tuesday night, I still didn't know if I would get my visa in time, before I flew. I had called the Consulate and they said that they had issued me a visa and sent it in the mail - the mail was just taking forever to actually arrive. Thankfully Debbie, my friend at the Canada Post office, was able to keep an eye open for the incoming mail and she called me the morning it came in. I really thought I would have to delay my departure if I didn't receive the visa by Wednesday morning and, guess what? I received it Wednesday morning. Just in time.
As frustrating as all of that was, it was actually pretty encouraging too. Encouraging to know that God's timing is perfect and that He has got me in the centre of it. There has been so many times already, in just the week that I've been here in South Africa, that I've thought to myself, "I am exactly where God wants me in this moment in time". On Friday I went to Mthoko's work party with him and actually ended up talking to someone about this very thing. How God set up tasks for us to do ahead of time. Exciting stuff... What has He set up for you to do?

So what can I tell you about being here so far? Where to start? Where to start? Before I get into all the detail stuff - like where I live and what I am doing, I need to tell you something that I just love about being here...

The word for bride in Zulu is "makoti" (pronounced Mah - co - tee) and when a girl gets engaged she gets a new nickname: "Makoti" or "Koti". I am loving it. I visited a friend's family and found out that my new surname, "Shange", runs in their family too so immediately, I was welcomed as one of their own. Part of their family. Their Makoti too. Its really amazing because regardless of all my differences in culture, appearance, whatever, I am family. It really makes me feel like I belong here.

To tell you a little bit about where I am living, I've got to tell you a little bit about World Changers Academy (WCA). WCA is a small org. that works to empower Zulu young people. The unemployment rate here is high - especially since lately recession has been called by most countries all across the world. It is especially high in the townships - up to 80%! - surrounding Durban (for those at home a township could be described as a ghetto but, politically speaking, are more similar to our reservations at home). Because of this high unemployment rate, what World Changers does is hugely important. And the thing is, the teaching affects people in more ways than just learning basic employment skills. Students here learn about things like Worldview, African Renaissance, Healing of the Past, Self Esteem, Peer Pressure, Relationships and the list goes on and on. So these students' lives are radically changed throughout this process and then they go out and affect their own communities. I'm tremendously proud to be a part of all of this and the people I work with are incredible too. I think its pretty rare to join an org and fall in love with every single one of my co-workers but here, it has been easy. I love them all! So, this is where I am living and working. I live with 4-5 Zulu girls, an Australian volunteer that is here until Feb, and then a pile of Zulu guys too. They are all already like family and are taking care of me like crazy.

So what do I do? Haha, I'm actually still waiting to find out more of my role here until after the Christmas holidays but, what I do know, is that here at WCA, I will be working sort of as a Staff Counsellor in the Human Resource Department. The manager here has been finding that sometimes the teachers or facilitators have 4 or 5 leaders to answer to but no one who really checks on how they are feeling or doing personally. Thats my job which is something I'm really excited to do. I'll be meeting with the facilitators on a reg. basis and also helping with staff recruitment. I will also be working with Ministry School of Excellence which is loosely connected to WCA but, I will hear more about that sometime during the holidays when I can meet with my pastor, Sizwe. I will also be doing admin work for the church that I attend here called Kingdom Life Centre.

Thats all for now. Thanks to everyone back at home who has been praying for me - the transition and building new friendships is all going great. I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that I've been made for being here. I am loving life.
Lots of love to you guys!
Christy Reed

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just some exciting news...

Hey guys! Just some exciting news to share! I bought my plane ticket and all my forms and everything are sent in for my South African visa. I should be hearing back from the South African Consulate about that in two weeks or less and I am officially off, December 4th! I can't wait.
Also, Mthoko is sending some South African jewelry so I'll soon be selling that at a location near you to help raise some extra funds for the journey ahead. I'll let you know where that will be and when.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One Rwandan Grandpa...

Hey everyone! Thanks for tuning into my blog. Just had a few thoughts today that I thought I'd write down to process through myself and to share with others incase anyone else is reading this too.
Thought #1: I've been feeling really hungry for God lately and have been feeling this "there must be more than this" ache inside. Today I was looking and praying through some papers that I received when I went on a Freedom Immersion conference in Tacoma WA, this September and I felt God come so near. He reminded me of the first time I was in Africa, I shared my testimony with a group of people suffering from HIV/AIDS. It was the first time I shared as indepth as I did but there was something so receptive about these people. Maybe it was because they were broken people, they had been rejected by family and friends, but all I saw pouring forth from them was pure love. In the midst of love like that, I had to share everything. I didn't want to cheapen the moment and withdraw because of fear.
After I shared, there were hugs all around and this little old man with big ol' glasses came up to me and in the tenderest way, took hold of my elbows and looked into my eyes. He started saying something in Rwanda's native language, Kinyarwanda, and, even though I couldn't understand, I could, you know? I think that Africa's languages are heart languages anyway.
As he spoke to me, tears came to my eyes and a thought into my mind: "What if God is like this man infront of me and, if given half a chance, he wouldn't tell me what I needed to work on, or how I could attain perfect holiness, but would tell me how proud He is of me and how much He loved me?" I haven't remembered this thought for quite some time but today, while I was reading through papers from September, this thought came flying back.
I have to admit at this point that lately my quiet times have been quite dry. I've been challenged by working amongst a small group of non-Christians over the past 5-6 months and have been struggling with how to make the message of my life relate-able to them, where they are at. But often times I have become discouraged and wondered, "I look at my life and the lives of Christians around me and we are broken, struggling, sinful people... how do I convey this to non-Christians? I desperately don't want to come across as holier than thou, self-righteous, worst of all: condemning." I don't know if I'm making sense but essentially, the root of it is Grace - how do I convey the Grace that we as Christians have discovered and been given? The Great Love that I want to take hold of me and to have pour from my life.
Ok, so slightly off topic there, but I've been challenged and struggling lately and I feel like my struggle has begun to take on a slightly passive turn. Quiet times haven't been alive the way they used to and, at Bible Study last Thurs night, remembering the passion and excitement I had as a new Christian, I suddenly wondered why I couldn't still be like that... I missed it actually.
So today's time with this sweet memory of a dear Rwandan grandpa, brought tears to my eyes and it suddenly hit me how much God wants to meet with His children. It seems impossible to convey this with mere words in a sentence. God REALLY wants to meet with us. Do I dare to write that He is desperate for it? And really, deep inside, there is a part of us that is desperate for it too. With just this small encounter with God, dreams and words of destiny come rushing back. In Him, I realize who I am.
I dearly hope that your Quiet times are coming alive to you today - if they aren't, He is more desperate for this time than you are. Just ask Him for it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Its all starting to come together...

Hi! Or should I say, "Sawubona!". Welcome to my new blog for my upcoming adventure in South Africa! Thanks for checking it out. Please stay tuned to this place to read my newsletters and find out about the lastest goings on with my staffing experience with World Changers Academy's "The School of Excellence".