At a glance…

Keeping up with the orientation and trying to get as much of it online as possible, I will continue our journey through South Africa.  On last thursday, we went to Durban for the day from Petermauritzburg. Durban is about an hour’s drive down through the mountains to the coast on the Indian Ocean. Jessica and Shawnti have their assignments in Durban, so we went there so that they could meet the people in charge of their work as well as get a glance of the city.  We arrived in Durban around 10 am and stopped first at Jessica’s work with Refugee Social Services.  After meeting the people in the office, we took a tea and coffee break to meet Shawnti’s host parents at the cafe below the office.  After our time there, we went to the Creche where Shawnti will be working.  A creche is a preschool and daycare for little children ranging from babies to kindergartners. After the creche, we went to my first Indian restaurant, where I had bunny chow, which is a spicy tomato sauce based dish with some kind of meat or vegetable packed into half or quarter of a loaf of bread.  It was not my favorite food, but I would eat it again.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach at Durban.  I swam in the Indian Ocean for the first time.  Although it is the end of winter going into the beginning of spring, the afternoon was still warm enough as well as the water that we spent at least an hour in the water.  It was so much fun.  I have never experienced waves that big before, nor had I ever seen someone surfing before.  After the beach, we drove back to Petermauritzburg for the night, ate dinner, and soon went to bed.  It was a wonderful day.

On Friday, we went to a zulu cultural village for the morning and part of the afternoon.  It was an outstanding experience to see how this group of people have been living for many years.  Some in South Africa still live in rondavilles, which are stone and mud huts that have a thatched roof.  Because of the large swing in temperature in southern africa, these structures do a wonderful job of keeping things cool during the day and warm during the night.  We also learned about the way that a family structured the homes within a dwelling.  A family dwelling would usually have four or five rondavilles as well as a place to keep animals for the evening so that they would not be stolen during the night.  The place where cows are kept is called a kraal, and the family who had set up this zulu experience came up with an ingenius way to use the manure from the kraal.  They built a cistern underground that traps the methane gas that is released from the waste and then sends it through pipes to each rondaville in the dwelling so that you could use the methane for cooking or light or whatever people needed.  It was a great way to recycle the waste and create a subsistent cooking and heating measure.  It made me think of possibilities for the American public where we have to purchase our own propane gas for heating and cooking.  What if we started to use our own waste for something similar.  After a tour of the village, we had a traditional zulu lunch and some dancing, which I was a part of, but I was pretty unsuccessful at.  My dancing skills just aren’t developed enough.

We returned to Petermauritzburg later in the afternoon around 4 and spent the time before supper relaxing.  Then our evening activity was talking with a South African couple about spiritual warfare while we are on term.  The conversation was good and reminded me of some ideas that I had encountered in my studies during high school.  I wondered, though, as the meeting continued if our ideas of the spiritual world are almost too fantastic (meaning fantasy), but I don’t want to, at the same time, underestimate the way that Satan and his spiritual forces are interacting in our world.  Also, I wonder how much we read into scripture what was not a reference to Satan (because I remember people quoting several biblical passages that supposedly gave us Satan’s background before humans, but maybe those texts had nothing to do with it).

On Saturday, we started our spiritual retreat for the weekend.  Many challenging questions and thoughts were posed during the weekend.  I was deeply convicted of many things during our time with a Pastor who has been in South Africa for many years.  The biggest conviction was the need for me to give up my own selfish motives and ambitions in relation to the trip and really try and be flexible in relation to how I could be more like Jesus in every moment during the trip.  This came up several times when we were talking about goals for our time.  It was the challenge that Jesus posed two thousand years ago: we must come and die, giving up our own lives, wants, and needs in order to become fully devoted followers of him whereever that leads us.

We spent Saturday, Sunday morning and afternoon, and Monday morning with the spiritual retreat.  On Sunday evening, we went to a church in Petermauritzburg called New Covenant Fellowship. It was a large church, and it reminded me of many of the mega-churches in America.  A large auditorium with a huge stage, 3 projector screens, and a cool band, but it really made me think more about the focus of the church in this present time.  Is our goal only to get as many people through the doors of church as possible, or is our concern more about discipling followers of Jesus so that they can, in turn, reach out to others and disciple them as they join us in our journey with Jesus?  I wonder sometimes if large church atmospheres are the best catalyst for this kind of community.

After the final leg of our spiritual retreat on Monday, James and Joan took the other four SALTers to their assignments in Petermauritzburg and Durban.  Kendelle and I would be leaving for Lesotho the next morning, so we spent the afternoon, picking things up in the Alty home, conversing, and getting packed for the next morning.  We left Tuesday morning for Lesotho around 7:30 am, and after an interesting adventure in missing the road we needed and back tracking on a different road, we missed the border post closing time at 4 pm on the southwestern border of Lesotho.  We spent the evening at a little bed and breakfast in Zastron, a small South African town about an hour away from the border of Lesotho.  James, Kendelle, and I woke up the next morning and drove to the border post by 8 am.

We met William at the border post and got through all of the passport checks within a few minutes.  Then we began our trek into the Maphutseng (mah-poot-sehng) Valley of Lesotho, a new and wonderful place full of exciting things that I will talk more about in my next blog post.


~ by randallkoehler on September 8, 2011.

2 Responses to “At a glance…”

  1. Glad to hear you are having fun and exciting adventures! Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers!

  2. Praying for you Randall!

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