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