Thursday, June 4, 2009

Some crazy stories and crazier insights...

Hey friends out there!

I'm sorry I've been horrible at keeping my promise of writing something every week. Life has been Hectic - thats right, with a capital H. The wedding that is taking place here in South Africa takes place in only 5 weeks so I've been doing an enormous amount of preparation for it plus my regular work and the evening class that I do twice a week. Can I just say, I'm exhausted?!

But I have been thinking about writing - even though there has been an absence, I've been thinking about what to say and how to say it. Some funny things have happened lately that all center around our observations about those around us. It has taught me a few things about the importance of communication and interaction and I thought maybe I could share it with you. Let me share the crazy examples first.

Example #1 - I was asked by a Zulu friend here if it was true if white girls wore clothespins on our noses when we are small and thats why our noses are so pointed.

Example #2 - I met an old white lady at my bus stop. It happened to be Ascension Day and she told me about how she had gone to great lengths to see if the buses were running that day because it was a Christian Holiday. She assured me that they were and said, "Do you want to know why? Its because blacks aren't Christians so they don't celebrate Christian holidays."

Example #3 - I was asked by a dear Zulu friend if I knew how to wash dishes. I made a joke about her not liking my Canadian dish washing technique and asked her why she was asking me this. She said, "No, I just thought that white people always had maids".

Interesting hey? The perceptions that people have of one another...

But it made me wonder, what types of perceptions do we have about one another back at home that are inaccurate, whether they are cultural or not... I'm sure it happens more often than we know.

These 3 examples also illustrate the rift that still exists between races in South Africa even now that Apartheid has ended. Its crazy, isn't it? Its not that theres fighting or hostility but it just shows how apart the people here can sometimes be and how unknown other people groups can be too. I'm not sure if this is the same in other cities in South Africa but it is definetly true for the city of Durban. Sometimes it moves me to anger and sometimes things make me laugh but I am always surprised.

One thing that it teaches me is the importance of reaching out to others and sharing with them. I remember when I lived and worked in Belfast we often stressed the importance of doing this when doing Reconciliation workshops. During one of these workshops I heard a great Native American story about the topic that goes a little something like this: "There were two tribes that had long been at war. One day the cheifs of the tribes realized how much blood of their people had been shed and together, decided to send out the strongest brave from each side to fight each other on behalf of the people. A time was set and the tribes lined up to watch the outcome of the battle. The two braves met and fought and fought and fought. They were so evenly matched that the battle didn't end quickly but went on into the evening. Soon the sun began to set and it was decided that the men would stop their fighting and resume again when the sun rose. The onlookers retired to their homes and the two men laid on their backs in the grass, trying to get comfortable for the night. After a while one man sighed and said to the other, "my children are in bed now". The other man, shocked, sat in silence for awhile and then asked him, "you have children?". The two men began to ask each other questions about their families. When the sun rose that morning the onlookers returned and saw the two men sitting across from one another. They had been sitting together, sharing with each other all night. Seeing the onlookers made them remember what they were meant to do and they looked at each other... "How can I fight a friend?"....

Interesting story hey? It illustrates how we can often demonize the "other" person without knowing about them. Without knowing how they live, that they have a family, that they are just a person too who need love, forgiveness and make mistakes. This sounds all warm and fuzzy after a good story but its tough to apply it in real life after a history of conflict between cultures or, after someone has done something that has really hurt us on an individual basis but... its got to possible.

You know what, actually I think that the ability to forgive is one of those things that cause a distinction between humans and animals. Someone told me that if you throw a rock at a monkey, they will go and get a bigger rock and throw it at you. If you throw a stick at a monkey, they will go and get a heavier stick and throw it at you. If you aim for their body, they will aim for your head. Crazy little animals, hey? But we humans do the same thing - our ability to forgive is something divine - something that makes us different.

Sometimes, here in South Africa, I feel a bit like a bridge between two cultures. One one side of the bridge I explain to people how "the other" group can really be, on the other side of the bridge I do the same. Its a bit frustrating at times but kind of fun and interesting too.

Another thing this makes me realize is how different Mthoko and my relationship is here in South Africa. To me, Mthoko is just Mthoko and I am just me. We've always been friends and I know him. Hes just like me in a lot of ways. I don't think of his as "black" and he doesn't think of me as "white". I think when you're really friends with someone, labels like this don't even cross your mind. Haha, but people don't understand this when they see us from the outside and what shockwaves we must make! We've gotten some very interesting responses from people here - some positive, some negative - but I know that God is doing something to restore this country somehow... even when it seems impossible sometimes. I don't always like being such a political statement but, I like being with my best friend and thats what I choose to focus on.

But with this, guys, I realize how much we need your prayers. We've got 5 weeks of preparation left for our big wedding here and although we do covet your prayers for God's provision with all of the plans, we need your prayers for protection, wisdom and unity (and any other blessing you want to bestow!) even more so. Please pray guys.

Thanks so much for reading these funny little blogs. Hope you guys are well. Feel free to drop me an email. I'd love to hear from you and I look forward to seeing you guys at some point in the future! I'm back in Canada, August 6th for 3 weeks. Bring on the good times!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Little Message From This Side of the World.

Hi everyone,
Just thought I would update this little blogspot. I haven't really gotten to any of the good stuff - the good news. Over my past few blogs I've told you about the challenges, the culture shock and shown pictures of the new apartment but I haven't told you about....

My new job. Although some of you may have heard.

So to fill you in, about a month ago my friend and pastor, Sizwe Mthembu came to me and asked me how things were going. I told him about the challenges I've been facing with adjusting to a new country, work challenges, church challenges, etc. Then he asked me about the wedding plans...

Haha, the plans for our wedding have also been challenging - try planning a wedding in a foreign country - but they are coming together bit by bit. After I spoke for a bit, Sizwe told me that a position had opened up in the business that he is apart of for a Personal Assistant for himself to call clients, book appointments, etc. He said that he would love it if I could help him and that in return he could help me out with wedding funds. It would also mean that I could move into the city of Durban and live a lot closer to Mthoko so that we could also be closer to work on plans for the wedding. It all came together rather quickly. I remember Sizwe spoke to me about all of this on a Monday and then already on a Wednesday I came into town to speak with the people at his office. I then participated in a staff training session on Thursday and got right to work! I've been here in the office for a month already and have been learning a lot.

And God has been speaking to me too. Initially when Sizwe offered this position I thought, "It doesn't really fit in line with my desire to work with kids or contribute to South African society" but the more I thought about it the more it just seemed to fit. Sizwe runs two churches, he is the president of World Changers Academy (which I was previously working with), he works as a team facilitator and motivational speaker and, is also a financial advisor. Working for him, for someone who has started an NGO, is an amazing opportunity because my long term vision is actually in line with this - one day I would like to start a little somethin' of my own. I've been a part of many organizations and orphanages in the past in several different countries. The more I pray about it, the more I feel like God has been preparing me to start something new and fresh and different at some point in the future. In a lot of orphanages I've seen, the orphanages themselves work as just a transition place and not neccessarily a home. I remember in Haiti, the nannies had their favorites, the other children were left to the side, and, as in many orphanages around the world, lost kids continued to remain.... well.... lost. The kids just had to learn how to survive - even at the age of say 15 months... and when kids are just thinking about surviving do you think that the process of healing from their past life and issues of abandonment is even a possibility? No way. And you know what? I know thats not the will of God.

In Ezekiel 34, God speaks about what it means to be a great leader. Part of what He says is that we need to go out and rescue the lost and take care of the weak and broken who can't take care of themselves. As I think about starting some sort of childrens home in the future, I want this home to be different - why can't a home be a place of healing for children? As I sit and dream about the future, I think it would be amazing to someday have a place where we could use music, drama, drawing, painting, dancing to help heal kids and let them be kids again. To bring in professionals to teach kids who would otherwise would not have the opportunity, how to do any of these art forms. Who knows what a project like this could look like... except maybe God? haha.

After I get married to Mtho and receive my Spousal Visa I'll be able to study here for the same price as a local. I've already looked into a few different possibilities that would help equip me for the dream I mentioned above. This is all a dream a few years in the making but I share it with you to show you that God is really in control. I am encouraged. I am where I am supposed to be for right now. God has placed me here. God is currently equipping me. And even right now, God is using me in ways I don't know... this is hard for me to remember sometimes but it is true.

And its true for you too. No matter where you are - you don't have to live overseas but can be at home. You have been placed by God in your particular task today for a reason. God has a plan and a purpose - bigger dreams than we have - for our lives. Its exciting, hey?

Thanks so much for your prayers. Thanks for your ongoing love and encouragement. I love you guys too ;).

Also, just to let you know about the wedding plans on this side, things are moving together. Mthoko and are continually blessed to see things coming together and how God is providing for us. I still need to do some things urgently (uh.. like make the invitations and the wedding is only 10 weeks away! Yipe!) but the venue, the cook, the decor... its all coming together. What I'm most excited about is my bridesmaids. I can't wait to see them and hug them at the airport. I hope we'll get to go on some little trip somewhere to show them the beauty thats in this country.

Alright, thats it for now. Lots of love out to you guys. Write when you can!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Flat

I had a few people asking me if they could see pictures of Mtho and my new flat so here some are. Its not very furnished (a bed, a toaster oven, an iron, a kettle and a toaster... and a fridge on the way!) but we're having fun and just starting out this way is such an adventure! I've been living here for 3 weeks now and come July, once Mtho and I are married, we'll share it together. Its a great little place, right near the harbor and nice and central in the city so that we can get most anywhere.



Living Room


And thats all folks!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Postal Address

New Post Address! You can now send mail to:

Christy Reed
508 Haven Court
Fenton Road

Culture Shock 101

Wow... has it ever been a long time since my last update and... so much has happened. Where do I start to fill you in on life as I now know it?

Last time I wrote I spoke a very little bit about the challenges I had been going through, about the adjustments (which have been huge), about Mthoko and the apartment that we had gotten... so this is how things have progressed. I'll try to include a little more detail.

I mentioned that the challenges - the culture shock that I've experienced here - has been quite different to regular culture shock, I believe. I've experienced culture shock before but its been when I've been living someplace for just 6 months, 1 year or 2 years... never when I've chosen to live somewhere permanently. A whole new reality hits. I don't know if culture shock can be described to someone whose never moved out of their culture to another culture before but... I'll try.

It is a good stretching opportunity - I think often times people equate culture shock as being something negative. But it is challenging in a good way. I feel like a stronger person and any amount of overcoming, no matter how small or big it might be, makes me feel like I've conquered the world and accomplished something great - and I think I have!

I've been getting used to ways of doing things, to different perspectives and to a totally different environment and this is where the shock comes in - sometimes I would just rather revert back to what I know. Sometimes I hate the way something might be done here... but I'm learning.

One thing I've really learnt through all this culture shock is, not to fall to extremes. What does this mean? Well, it seems normal to think that it would be possible for someone, in the face of so many different ways of doing things, of thinking, etc., to think that their way is best and stubbornly stick to it at any cost. However, its also possible for someone to want to become a part of a culture so much that they are willing to give up their own ways and totally take on the new culture's ways. I think this was my mistake during my first few months. I knew this move would be permanent so I thought that the best way to transition easily would be to take on South Africa's way of doing things... But then I realized something...

I realized that what I was trying to do was impossible and actually, not that healthy. I had good intentions but in my heart, I am Canadian. And I love being Canadian. I love my country. I love my friends and family back at home. I love the way I was raised. I love the landscape of the country I come from. I still don't love the weather but... maybe I just need to live overseas for a little while longer? Haha, maybe then I'll come to miss snow too.

Anyway, I realized that in adjusting, I needed to maintain some balance and an open mind. Its key when going through an experience like this one to listen to all differences but to decide what works for me and what doesn't... not take on everything regardless of how it meshes or doesn't mesh with my Canadian world view and practices. I am a Canadian living in South Africa - not a South African living in South Africa and its okay for me to be me. I like that.

So this is a little of what I've been going through. Its taken some time to reach these conclusions even though the truths I've discovered seem so simple. Its taken some times of frustration, some tears, some hugs, a very understanding fiance and some great feelings of finallly overcoming as I do small things like take the bus by myself, walk downtown by myself and find new places and discover new things (for security reasons - because South Africa is much more dangerous than home, I haven't been able to do a lot of things independently until just recently. You can imagine how that made me feel being so used to hop in the car and go anywhere I felt at home. At times I would joke with friends here about needing a bodyguard or a babysitter wherever I went. However now, being able to venture out on my own feels so so good and I have a sense of ownership of where I live).

Alright, I've already written a tonne and haven't really gotten to how things have changed since I last wrote. I think I may just give you some time to read through this gigantic update and I'll write more later. Things are settling down now so there should be no more changing ahead for at least a little while. Thats it for me from now... and I promise to update again in a week.
Lots of love to all!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Hi everyone,

Sorry it has been awhile since I wrote something. Life has somehow gotten very hectic over here and at times, I have found it very, very challenging. To fill you in a bit, and to be honest, I've been finding the adjustment to a new culture for a permanent period of time very difficult. I'm currently talking to Mthoko about everything - he has been a big comfort to me - and I've also been speaking with leaders from our church and from World Changers, the org I am working with. I'm thankful I have great friends.

But, I also have exciting news, only 3 more months to the wedding and God has been taking care of everything. Our plane tickets are taken care of for traveling to and from Canada. My bridesmaids are able to come to the wedding in South Africa. And.... Mthoko and I found our first apartment! I love it and at some point will be posting photos of it. Its a great little place near the harbour and its safe too so I can get out and walk around and take a little more ownership of my corner of South Africa than I've been able to while living in an organization base out in the boonies. I'm so excited to have a home.

Mthoko has been an amazing support through all the adjustments I've been going through. Last night he came to surprise me at the base, just to see how I was doing and make sure I was ok. The surprise was so good as I wasn't expecting to see him for awhile and actually wasn't doing too well with all the challenges lately. He truly is my best friend.

Thats just a little bit for now. I'll update you as things progress here. Thanks for supporting me and praying for me. I know I'm a funny little missionary of sorts - I'm not really connected to an organization or a mission as most people are when they come to be a missionary in another country. But I know I'm called to love people here. Lately thats been difficult so please pray for me as I make these big adjustments in adapting to this culture. I know I am called to the message of Isaiah 61: to preach Good News, to bind up the broken, to proclaim freedom, to release people from darkness... I really want to see these things come true here for the people of South Africa. I feel like I come against a lot of spiritual attack. Please pray for me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oh, & a little surprise!

We're Officially Engaged!

Challenges, Revelations & Wedding Plans...

Hey friends near and dear... some not so near. Haha. Its been awhile since I updated my blog and I've been wanting to. Actually, to tell you the truth, I've been needing to. Sometimes I really miss my friends and these past few weeks, I've been finding this more and more.

To tell you a little bit about whats going on here, I am still hard at work at World Changers Academy. My work load has been slightly lighter over the past two weeks as there is a break between schools. In the meantime I am working on my own studies (I am studying 2 evenings a week in a Bible School called the Breakthrough School of Ministry) and I've also continued to do work with the church I am involved in here. Before the break, I was able to visit 4 townships over one week and 2 the following week and it was great to be out and about, in the sunshine, meeting new students and speaking to facilitators, asking them how their doing and about the progress being made in the areas surrounding the schools.

Then, just last week, I got pretty sick. I came down with a pretty bad cold the week before and tried to continue working as I figured I would just get over it with time, but it seemed to just get worse and worse. I finally was just so sick of being sick that I went to the doctor and got some pretty strong meds that took care of the cold in just a few days. The doctor was great, really friendly and I had to ask myself was I had put off going to the doctor here in South Africa for so long. I guess in my mind I thought the whole procedure would be a little more difficult or intimidating because there aren't nearly enough doctors here for the amount of people. I think that this is a big problem for the hospitals and emergency rooms here but where I went, to a private clinic, it was fine. Seemed a little better than home actually.

This week I'm feeling new and refreshed and am able to approach work with a whole new mindset which I really needed. Last week with being sick, being far from home (and then, not to mention, the water was turned off in our area and we didn't have any running water from Saturday to Thursday), I was feeling the need to connect with good friends.

I wish I could describe to you what transitioning to this new life has been like. Sometimes its so hard and I actually have to ask myself, Am I really happy with the work I'm doing and where I'm at? Other times I feel so fulfilled, my heart is full and I have this breakthrough revelation that I was made for this. This is all purely from a work viewpoint though. My new Zulu family has been incredibly supportive. Even when I feel like I stand out like a sore thumb everywhere else, my Zulu family embraces me and treats me like I am one of their own. My Zulu mama worries about me when I'm sick. My fiance is my best friend and my greatest support. Just this past Friday we sat and spoke about our weeks and it was incredible to realize that he understands me better than I understand myself.

I think that I am sometimes shocked by the challenges of this journey but that I realize that this is a journey full of God. Thats truly what it has to come down to. I know that I am where God wants me to be. I remember that I have something to offer to people here and I try to make my heart open to receive and learn from people here too. Our worlds are so different but God is in both of them. I feel like most of my mission here is to tell people that God loves them. That he made them for a reason. That He has a plan and a purpose for their lives. That when God looks at them, He sees good things... its incredible to see the way that this news changes their disposition and gives people hope.

Actually, that reminds me of a story. During my first weeks of my job, going out and visiting training centres, there was this young guy, I think around my age, who was part of the work at the training centre because he had actually been caught stealing and had been referred to the program through the court. The day that I came to visit, he was overwhelmed and he left the class in the middle of a teaching. The facilitator followed him out and called me to come and speak to him. As I approached him I was surprised to see him crying because, even more than Western men, Zulu men don't cry. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that his mom was really sick and that she had stopped taking her medication and that she had stoppped eating. He said that he thought she was worried about his younger sisters who were sleeping with guys and the one, who had fallen pregnant. He said that he needed to be providing for his family because no one at home was working but that he had to go to this training centre which took up most of his time. If he stopped attending the classes, he would need to go to jail. His situation seemed hopeless but I asked him if he prayed... He said the sometimes his family did in the evenings. I told him that it sounded like all he could do was pray. I told him that God had good plans for his life. That when God saw him, he saw someone that he loved. I told him that God can and wants to do miracles in his life. That he was never alone. Slowly the young man stopped crying and he looked more and more relaxed. Then it dawned on me that if hes been praying for a way out of his situation, him attending our Life Skill courses is actually an answer to that prayer, even though he needs to attend as a consquence to his action. I told him so and we both sat there surprised.

I was surprised because I am always surprised by what the young people go through here. Theres so much crime. Theres a lot of single moms or children being raised by grandmas and neighbours. Life in South Africa is intense. Growing up in Canada, having parents that love me sometimes makes it hard to know what I can offer - I have no similar experiences. But, even though I am not worthy, God chooses to speak through me as His tool and then I'm surprised at the words that come. And I'm encouraged by the impact that they make. Its incredibly encouraging to know that I've been used by God. It actually can make my entire week or month...

Two weeks later I decided to go back and visit this young man and see how he was doing. I arrived at the classroom early, before even the teacher arrived and as I stood there waiting, I saw the young man coming to class. I ran up to him and greeted him and told him I had come just to see him. I asked him how he was doing and he smiled and said, "Christy, I am a new man."

Isn't that incredible? We continued talking, I warned him against challenges that may come his way but told him he could always overcome them, that God was always there with him... but even now, 2 weeks later, I can't get over his response. Its incredible what God can do and is doing in peoples' lives here. Stories like this make me realize that, despite the challenges that might come, I am blessed to have my job. I am blessed to live in South Africa. I am even blessed to be different, to stand out like a sore thumb, because even that can be healing to people. I think because Black people here have been told for so long that they are useless, that they are less than dogs by White people, its actually spiritual warfare to do what I do.

Man, on that note, I love my job. Haha.
Thanks again guys for those of you who have written me letters and have been praying for me. I need it over here. There are times of huge encouragement but there are times of huge challenges too. I need your support and prayers.

Before I go, I'll fill you in on some Wedding plans. Mthoko and I have a finalized date for our South African wedding - July 11th! And its only 4 months away which is incredibly soon. We would love your prayers and we approach this date. Prayers not only for provision (which is something we do stand in need of) but prayers for our communication, unity & spiritual preparation as we enter into marriage.
Thanks everyone! I love you friends.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Just a picture from yesterday.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Recipe Amendments

Hey guys! I just realized I need to amend the recipe that I added down below for Zulu bread. If you were hoping to make it, please take notes of the additional info that I'll write down in red.
Lots of love!

A tour of WCA in Pictures...

As promised, some pictures for your personal enjoyment:

Welcome to World Changers Academy

Our little driveway

The view

The laundry station...

More view...

The office

Our messy bedroom

My bunk bed

Friday, January 30, 2009

LifeSkills, MSE & a little surprise ;)

Hey everyone,
its the end of another week and I just wanted to write you a short note to let you know how things are going over here. I've been really getting down to business in terms of my work here. Life is getting busy but I'm excited about what I'm involved in and I wanted to tell you about it!

As I've written here before, I work for an org called World Changers Academy. They are involved with going out in township areas around Durban and speaking to young people about different lifeskills, world views, and life attitudes which, as you can imagine, makes a huge impact on students. It gives them a broader perspective and not only helps them with approaching job opportunities but also helps them see the world in a different way. It also introduces Christianity and many of the young people that come to our LifeSkills class make decisions for Christ and their lives are changed in very, very radical ways. My favorite story is of a friend of mine who actually attended a LifeSkill class because he heard that there were computers there that he could steal. He heard the teaching and the messages, kept attending the classes, and actually gave his life to Christ. Now he is making a huge impact in his community.

I love my work because I work with people whose lives have been changed and I'm working to see more lives affected. What my job title here at World Changers is, Human Resources Coordinator. I have the fun job of going to the different classroom settings, or centres, where the classes are being taught and support the teachers or coordinators, as we call them here. We say that they don't teach, they coordinate, because they are teaching the students but they are also being taught by the students.

This past week I visited 2 different centres and sat in on classes being taught on Vision and Worldview. It was great to see the students being challenged and asking questions. It was great seeing the excitement of the coordinators too - they are so excited to make an impact in their communities. To share the knowledge that was given to them and see it passed out to other people.
It actually challenges me in my own life - what am I doing with the knowledge thats been given to me? With the New Life thats been given to me? Am I afraid to share it? Or is it so hope-filled and life-giving that I have to share it with others.

I'm also involved with some other work here in Durban. Its work that I am super excited about but feeling pretty challenged about as well. I'm feeling challenged because if the students in the LifeSkills are being challenged and having their worldviews & attitudes changed, then so am I! I've been asked to help administrate and coordinate a new school called "Mentorship School of Excellence" or MSE. Its been started because the directors here at World Changers have been finding that LifeSkills lets them input into the students spiritually only to a certain point. MSE has been designed for people who really have a desire to grow in God and to be radical and unique here in their country. They are challenged to be helping out in their communities, to develope a culture of learning, debating, and asking questions to broaden their understanding... basically the school is built around principles from the New Testament where Paul speaks about what the Kingdom of God is alongwith, the lives of radical people in the Bible like Daniel, Esther, and Joseph who stood out and made a difference in their countries. I am so excited to get to be a part of this and to be learning too.
The director here is really wanting to input into us as MSE staff so we've been asked to also be students in another school called BSM: Breakthrough School of Ministry. The staff and I went to the introductory session on Sunday afternoon and my mind was blown away. I am pumped by what we get to learn and I'm so excited that 2009 is really seeming like a year of radical growth for me. I can't wait!

My excitment with work related things has been really good for me - its been helping me settle in here and feel like I have purpose and that this is truly my home. I am loving my roomates: Precious, Phindile & Mabusi. I am loving my co-workers. Maybe its just because today is so sun-shiney but I am loving life.

Haha, although I will give you a little clue as to why I may be so excited today. I had some plans to hang out with a friend of mine this weekend. Mthoko is going to come here to the org for a Mens' meeting but I was going to be leaving and going elsewhere which was a bit of a bummer but good for me too as I'm making good girl friends and getting some good quality girl time. Anyway, I just heard this morning from my friend that the plans to go to her house actually don't work for her so I'm looking forward to surprising Mthoko this afternoon when he gets here. Woo who! Haha, I can't wait.

Oh! And before I sign off, I just wanted to apologize for not putting up photos this week. I actually made a video but it was too long and so my blog has been unable to upload it onto here. I'll keep trying and I will be putting up pictures in the very near future.

Lots of love out to you guys!

A recipe for Zulu bread.

Hey guys!

I did get a few photos taken this week of when I learnt how to make Zulu bread or Jeqe, as they call it here (make sure you click your tongue when you say the Q!). Here are the pics and I've also included the recipe if you're interested:

12 cups flour
half a package bread yeast
half a cup of sugar (or add more alongwith raisins to make sweet bread)
a large water pitcher (slightly smaller than a juice pitcher that you might use for a family supper) filled with half boiling water, half cool water so that the water is warm to touch.
I know the ingredients don't seem very exact but its so easy they don't really need to be. If you know how to make bread like we do at home, you'll know what to do with this bread as well.

1.Get a big ol bowl and mix together all of the dry ingredients inside. Make sure that they are good and mixed which means you'll have to get your hands dirty... but don't worry... its fun.

2. Get the pitcher of water and pour in about a quarter cup. It looks like not enough but mix, mix, mix... even when you think you need to pour more water in, DON'T! As you continue to take the time to mix it, you'll see that it really is mixing without the extra water. Its hard work but man, you'll feel like you've accomplished something in the end.

3. Pour a little more water in. Mix. I should have warned you... the three pics above are of me mixing... just mixing. Be prepared for lots of mixing and working of the dough.

4. Pour a little more water in. Mix

5. Pour the last of the water in. Mix. Mix like crazy. By now there will be dough sticking to your fingers. Dough sticking to your t-shirt. Dough everywhere. What I was told is that you know you are done mixing when the dough is no longer stuck on your fingers but is altogether in the bowl. There is a special Zulu technique to help in mixing the dough. At the point you can really start pounding the dough with your fist. Haha, I haven't figured out yet if this is to get your frustrations out because it takes forever to mix the dough or, if its really helping but the chef who taught me really believed in how much it helps. Make sure you roll the dough, flatten it with your hands (by pounding it) and then try to roll in up in a roll and over and over again. That way it will be nice and mixed.

6. Then put the dough in a very warm place for 45 min to an hour for it to rise. We made the bread on a rainy so it was hard to find a warm place here. A heater or anything will work there at home but here, what we did is put the dough in a plastic bowl and then put that bowl inside of a larger bowl. We then heated up the kettle and poured hot water down along the middle of the two bowls, careful not to get any water inside the bowl with the dough. Then we covered both bowls with towels so the heat wouldn't escape and just waited. If you're wondering what the dough should look like at this point, what we did was just molded into a big, flat ball. We actually cooked it like this too. My roomate, Precious, suggested actually letting the dough rise three times and in between times pushing the dough back. I tried her Zulu bread and it was extra moist and lovely so definetly try this out.

7. While you're waiting, nows the perfect time to practice your Zulu dancing.
Click on to see some hot moves.

8. When the dough has risen, take the dough, and put it inside of a metal pot. Then put the pot inside of a bigger metal pot. The idea is to create a double boiler. What you're going to do is put boiling water in the bigger pot but not into the pot with the dough. Then put this on the stove and continue to keep on heat for 3 hours. The steam from the water is what cooks the dough and creates the bread. Make sure that you cover the pots so that the steam doesn't get out. The steam is what cooks the bread.

9. Wait

10. Wait some more.

11. Practice some more Zulu dancing

12. Start to anticipate what you're going to eat on your lovely steamed bread. I've heard different amounts of how long to cook the bread - some say 3 hours... some say 1 hour... and for the same amount of flour as well! But such is the case sometimes in Africa. Everyone has their own way of doing things and time is an altogether different concept than it is at home. What I suggest is to steam the bread for about an hour and then check what the bread is like. It should have the consistency of sourdough.

13. Then look into the pot and discover the warmth and smell of fresh Jeqe. Cut yourself off a huge slice. Eat to your hearts content. Yum. Yum. Zulus eat Jeqe with beans or meat or whatever they're eating for supper but you can try it with anything. Its just plain delicous.

Let me know what you think ;).

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Years Resolutions, God's Provision & Driving a Standard on the Right Hand Side of the Road...

Sawubona loved ones back at home!

I've been thinking of you often from my new little corner of the world and its time to write you another update. Hope this finds you all well, recovered from the busy-ness of the holidays, and being encouraged in the midst of New Years Resolutions. Yes, it can happen, haha.

Speaking of New Years Resolutions, I know that at home sometimes we're reluctant to make them because we believe, "whats the point? I'm going to break them anyway". But here in South Africa I've found the way they approach New Years Resolutions very refreshing. Yesterday in church, our pastor was talking about making goals and strategies on how to accomplish our goals over the next year. He asked us to discuss in small groups the question, "Pretend it is December 2009, what is your measure of success for your year? What have you accomplished? What is your level of spiritual competency?". It was great thinking about these things and it made me excited for Dec 2009. This year is going to be a good one!

Ok, off my soapbox and onto other things: This past week the responsibilities of my job were really layed out for me. Here at World Changers Academy, I have become the Human Resource Coordinator and am in charge of going to hear the Life Skills coordinators teach and coordinate and evaluate what they're doing, tell them what they can be doing better and what they're doing well and be there for them if they need someone to talk to about issues concerning them in their personal life. Some of them come from really tough backgrounds and have been radically saved by Jesus so its exciting to be able to help them grow and really be a part of challenging them in this growth as well. I'm also coordinating a program here called Ministry School of Excellence (MSE) that is teaching principles about the Kingdom of God to young people who are wanting to seriously grow in their spiritual walk. I'm really excited about this. Another task I've also been given is Administrator for our church community, Kingdom Life Center. They are all exciting opportunities. Opportunites which involve me driving here - on the opposite side of the road in a standard vehicle! - so they're very exciting!

So last week and this week I was/will be getting myself organized for these positions so that everything can get started up January 27th-31st. I'd love your prayers for this time. I'll def keep you informed as to how things are going.

I also covet your prayers for Mthoko and I as we plan our weddings. South African weddings can be huge (we're talking 500 people) so we're trying to cut down our guest list (to maybe 100 - 150) so that we can make this event happen. We're also looking at booking plane tickets right now. We need to buy a return ticket for Mthoko's trip to Canada and back to South Africa and then a one-way ticket for me, back from Canada to South Africa. We're astonished at the way God is providing for us and the way He has been taking care of every detail from my parent's consent to us being married, right down to Mthoko's ticket to Canada. Thats right! Mthoko and I were astonished to realize that God has given us nearly exactly the right amount of money for Mthoko's plane ticket. Its so encouraging! Right now we're just trusting God for my one way flight. My one way flight as Mrs. Shange. Doesn't that name bring music to your ears? Mthoko is also doing so well at his job. More details on this to come in the future but for now I'll just say that God is giving him so much favour and its another big blessing to us both.

Some things that God has already provided for us:
  1. Someone volunteered to pay for our wedding's venue location
  2. Someone volunteered to pay for the rental of the guys' tuxedos
  3. My mom and and dad bought my wedding dress
  4. Someone volunteered to help decorate and make the day beautiful
  5. Someone else who works for a big decorating company volunteered to help however he can with the resources availiable to him.
  6. We've got a chef that just needs to be confirmed that I actually think is wanting to cook for free!
  7. We're looking at delicous items for the menu at our wedding
  8. I am getting a small stipend here, my rent for free and my food free of charge as well.

So as I write this, I'm very encouraged. God is a good God and He loves and cares for his kids.

Some things we're trusting God for are:

  1. that God will provide my bridemaids' airfare - they are both flying in from Northern Ireland
  2. my flight back to South Africa after our Canadian wedding
  3. a honeymoon
  4. that we'll find the right little apartment to rent here in South Africa for after we're married
  5. a little car so we can get around instead of me needing to take the semi-dangerous public transport. I've been taking it while I've been here but I always need to have someone with me because I stand out like a sore thumb, but this isn't always possible & man, it would sure be nice just to feel some freedom to go out and do things I'm used to like a normal human being! :P
So thats all for an update from me. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement. I wrote in my last update that at times I've felt a little lonely and your letters and thoughts and prayers have been encouraging. I'm still not sure exactly where I fit in at times - White South Africans generally aren't so welcoming when they know who I'm engaged to and I don't speak the language of the Black South Africans and neither am I black so I find myself in this odd place somewhere in the middle. But as a young person, I have prayed and told God that I don't want to have just an ordinary life. I know I am called to live life to the full for Him who made me and this is what He has created me to do. My quiet times with Him have been incredible because He is taking time to affirm me and confirm in me that my identity is in Him and that in Him I am never alone and am always safe and secure. Some of your prayers have been about just this so I thank you so much for praying those prayers and for keeping me in your hearts.

Lots of love,

P.S. Please stay tuned to this place. I'll soon be putting up photos of where I live and work so you can get an idea of what life is like here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Christmas, Culture Shock & A Zulu Wedding...

Hey everyone!

So sorry I haven't been in touch lately! I've been away from work for the holidays and away from any connection to the internet. I've been able to log on once in awhile through my cell phone but haven't wanted to rack up costs by staying on for too long and was waiting for the chance to write everyone a nice long, unrushed letter. Hope you're doing well and that your Christmas and New Year was great and spent with lots of family time. Thanks to everyone who wrote me emails and called to! It made my Christmas!

During the holidays, Mthoko and I took a little cruise around the Durban Harbor.

I spent my time here by visiting my fiancee's family on Christmas Day. His mom made a really nice meal and we were full for the whole day long. Doesn't sound so different from home, hey? But man, the weather was hot and because the climate was so different, the whole holiday feel was different too. For that reason I've been so confused by the seasons and I feel more like its July than December and sometimes I'll actually tell that to people. Haha, whoopsie. I guess they're slowly but surely getting used to this crazy white girl.

For New Years, Mthoko and I went with one of Mthoko's close friends, Max, to a beach party up the coast a bit from Durban. It turned out to be quite different than we thought – we had heard that it was a Radio Station party that catered to the young white youth in the area – that it was suppose to have some of the greatest fireworks and live music in the country. We were all excited, bought our tickets and even packed a picnic basket for the roadtrip. But when we got there we were immediately confronted by tonnes of teenagers drinking, some already drunk at 8pm! Definetly not the classy party we thought it was going to be! We went in and heard some of the music and tried to just have fun but it was kind of a tragic night with the kids all around us.
All in all, we had fun just because we were with Mthoko's friend, Max, but it was quite an interesting night.

Max, Me and Mthoko...

New Years Day Mthoko and I spent hours talking about New Years Resolutions. We decided to give each other Resolutions because we both know that we have blind spots and, since we know each other best, we could help each other out with these. It was such an interesting, growing time and I felt like it was the best way that we could have started out the New Year. One of my Resolutions: to be more creative! To draw, paint, sing, record music at least 2 times a week. I'll let you know how this goes. Another is to fight any spirit of fear I have by stepping out of my comfort zone at least once a week. Haha, this one is not so fun and is quite challenging but I've got to say, I did it today and it felt great!! Thinking about it more though, I think I may have to up this from once a week to once a day. It just feels that good.

In all, I spent about 2 weeks on holidays and am now back at World Changers Academy (WCA) where I am starting to work. Msizi, who is a good friend of mine and the leader just over me who is helping me with my new role here at WCA, just got back from his honeymoon so I will really get down to business next week. This week I am brushing up on some computer skills, earning my “International Computers Driving License” and investing in new friendships with some ladies here at the base. I've just had such a great day, sitting and laughing with my new friends: Mabusi, Pindile, and Precious.

Oh! and how could I forget my day as a Zulu maid of honor? This was for Msizi's wedding who I mentioned above who was the groom and just got married to Nosipho. It was a beautiful day but, to be honest, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by everything. Tonnes of people and lots of new things.

One thing I've noticed while writing this and writing emails to a bunch of people too is that during my first two weeks here in South Africa, I was amazed at how easily I transitioned into everything. In so many ways, it felt like I had never left here from the time I last visited in May 2007 and I lived and worked with tonnes of confidence that I was (and am) right where God intended for me to be. The Wedding day though was a bit of a climax point for me because this was the day I really experienced some Culture Shock at being so far away from home, from what I'm familar with, and missing my family and traditions over the Holidays too. Since then I've been trying to take everything in stride but at times, I've been feeling a little lonely. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and your emails. They've been really encouraging through everything!

I did find the day stressful but I am sure that my stress can be contributed to this culture shock I just mentioned. I went to the bride's family's home out in a very rural area the night before. It was very rural – an outdoor toilet, a basin to wash in in the morning because there was no shower... the meat for the wedding, I saw being butchered up in the morning. Yup, I was greeted "Good Morning" by a dead cow head on my way to the outdoor toilet. Awesome. Haha. Usually I would laugh about this and see the whole thing as an adventure but for some reason, I began to feel very lonely and being the only white person made the loneliness stronger. The girls were all excited and speaking in Zulu and I wanted so bad to just jump in on the conversation but couldn't. My Zulu is growing but not fast enough to carry on real conversations yet. So yeah, I felt overwhelmed, lonely... but had a good cry that night and was feeling better by the morning. Despite my feelings I knew I am strong, God is with me and I could get through it.

The night of the wedding, when it was all over, I had a good talk with my roomate here from Australia, Cate. It was so great to talk about things we were both feeling overwhelmed about and realize like, “What a relief! I am normal!!” Haha. Guys, don't laugh... I am normal. Then we just spent time exchanging crazy stories and laughing like crazy.

Here are a few pics from the wedding. I've put up a tonne more in an album in my Facebook account. Hope you can check them out by clicking on the following link:

I'll try to include some more pictures and stories as I slowly but surely become Zulu.

I think thats about it for now. I'll write some more about the work I'm doing here and include some more pictures of my friends here too. Thanks again for all your prayers and emails. Keep 'em coming!!

Lots of love