Friday, January 21, 2011


Greetings from Mthatha. This is a long overdue post, but that’s mostly due to the fact that there’s been quite a lot happening in the past month. Here are a few more pictures from adventuring in Cape Town, and some updates from this corner of the Southern Hemisphere…

I am so thankful for the two weeks I was able to spend in the "Mother City" of Cape Town. Being able to share Christmas and celebrate the start of the New Year with good friends was truly wonderful. Amanda and Ann who are YASCers in Cape Town were gracious hosts and great tour guides to Jessie, who flew down from her YASC post in Maseno, Kenya, and myself. I arrived on the 23rd, just in time for Christmas Eve preparations and to share the holiday cheer in a new place with some familiar faces. We had a tasty and unique Christmas Eve experience when Mari, one Amanda’s co-workers at HOPE Africa, invited us over for a traditional Finnish meal. We shared some delicious food, danced, swapped gifts, and laughed a lot. Then we journeyed over to the St. George’s Cathedral for their midnight mass. Sitting there as the service started, I couldn’t help but miss my family and the late night service that would be taking place a few hours from then at St. Paul’s in Chattanooga. This was my first Christmas away from my homes in Chattanooga, Los Angeles, and Sewanee, and I felt the absence of the traditions that each place holds. However, I realized sitting there in the candlelit darkness of St. George’s and singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” what a truly a miraculous event we were celebrating in community worldwide in a way that I never have before.

We all spent the night in the cozy home of Rev. Suzanne Peterson (and her wonderful pup Thembi) who has been living and working in South Africa for over a decade. Her house became holiday central on Christmas Day. We spent most of the day cooking, eating Jessie’s monkey bread, listening to music, trying to master the paddle ball that Amanda’s mom sent to her, and just being together. My role in all of the cooking was mainly to chop this or wash that, so I can’t really take much credit, but we ended up with quite a feast for Christmas dinner with Ann’s leg of lamb as our center piece (check out the picture from my last post to see more of our delicious spread).

The rest of our time together in Cape Town was spent exploring and sharing with one another. One of our first adventures was to the top of Table Mountain via the cable cars on a very windy day. We also made our way out to Boulder’s Beach where we could hang out with some penguins, and dip our toes into the verrrry chilly waters. Wine tasting was also a must, and a fun evening out with the staff of HOPE Africa made for many memories including a midnight visit to Clifton Beach. We also ventured to the Castle of Good Hope and the District Six Museum, which the history nerd in me loved. The District Six Museum stood out especially as a place where stories are preserved, honored, and shared in a very community driven way. I appreciated this and how it pushed me to think about memory, storytelling, and the power of the human voice in new ways. Our time together also allowed us to share our stories with one another and talk about where our journeys this year are taking us. I felt so much joy being there with Jessie, Amanda, and Ann. Ringing in 2011 with these amazing young women will not be forgotten, and I’m so grateful we had the opportunity to share this time together.

Flying back to Mthatha, I was filled with happiness both from the memories of Cape Town, but also in feeling that I was coming a home. I was coming back to people and places that are no longer so new and unfamiliar. Getting out of the truck on our first day back at Itipini, I was greeted by Wee Mama, who has one of the best smiles, and engulfed by a big hug and “Molo Sarah! Unjani?” (“Hello Sarah! How are you?”). I was happy to be back and hear how everyone was doing. It was good to see the kids and some of our regulars in the clinic. My first day back and these first few weeks since our holiday break have such a different feel to them than my first days in Itipini. I’m so very glad to be back.

School started last week, and a lot of our time has been spent helping sort out their registration fees and paperwork. It’s a busy time, and I’ll have more to share soon. Thanks for reading, and let us walk together.

Peace be with you.

p.s. To learn more about what Amanda, Ann, and Jessie are doing in Cape Town and Maseno, please click on their names and you’ll be taken to their blogs.