The Week That Was: March 9th-13th, 2009.
by Chris Kamalski
The Week That Was: You’ve heard plenty of thoughts for now on our community’s experience supporting our brother Oupa this past weekend out in Soshanguve at his brother’s funeral. In some ways I think we all continue to carry the emotional weight of what we saw and experienced. Plus, Oupa returned yesterday evening to Pangani, and so our need for compassion in caring for him truly begins now. This week has been pretty heavy emotionally for some reason. I don’t know if it is the combination of all of the things we have learned and experienced starting to catch up on us (we’ve been through quite a lot already, and are only 2 1/2 weeks into our first learning posture, “Listening”). I actually realized this afternoon while spending some time in solitude at Lorraine’s (see post above this one) that I have been out of America now for 50 days, and as of next Monday, will have been outside the US for the longest period in my life. Mmmmm, a Chipotle burrito sounds really good right now. Missing home a bit.
What have I been up to this week though? Mostly beginning to listen and discern the Spirit’s voice as to where/how/what I am to begin becoming involved with in mission and ministry this year. On Monday that looked like meeting with Cobus, a sharp young Afrikaner pastor here in Pretoria who is involved in the South African emerging church discussion. We had a fantastic chat over coffee about everything under the sun, and he was super interested in my experience at the Institute for Spiritual Formation (in fact, he was fairly emotional when I began describing how God had begun to meet me through my time spent in direction). There is a real possibility that we may continue meeting for direction and other conversation in the spiritual formation world.
The next day Curtis headed out to Soshanguve with Doug to meet with Luc and Petunia Kabongo, who lead the recently-begun InnerChange team out in the township. They are seeking help primarily for Petunia’s health care workers/volunteers (she is a Registered Nurse who helps lead a local NGO that does hospice care for HIV/AIDS patients primarily) because of the frequency in which they carry grief and death with them. Petunia mentioned that there are weeks in which up to five patients pass away that they visit, and that there is no outlet for method to grieving a ‘professional’ loss like that. I have walked the various Blocks in Sosh that they work in, and can testify that their care is much more relational and friend-like than professional, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like to walk with death in that manner. We began dreaming about establishing spiritual direction groups for her workers (there are 23 more permanent workers/volunteers), which would be an amazing/hard/powerful environment to be a part of, and to use my gifts in. Luc and I also began dreaming about possibilities of training various pastors throughout the township that he is in relationship with in how to grieve well. Seems like much of my work as a spiritual director in Soshanguve may center around this subject matter, which would be profound and growing for me. I feel heavy considering this possibility however.
Today, we spent the morning in our Bible time working through a Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading–Google it, profound way to experience the God of the Scriptures) in Psalm 139. I felt burdened and overwhelmed during much of it, and the line ‘Your strength will support me’ (Ps. 139:10, NLT) just wrecked me. I desperately need to be carried by God in these days, and wish to live a life in dependence with the Spirit. We then headed out to celebrate Adrienne’s birthday at Cappuchino’s, a fantastic restaurant, and I got HOOKED UP with a R19.90 breakfast that was the bomb! Took some sweet pictures, and headed home. I spent the afternoon at Lorraine’s retreat house just down the road from Pangani (a 7 minute walk), where we explored beginning a spiritual direction relationship together (for myself), and collaborating in some upcoming opportunities to partner with her and her existing network of ministry with the Ignatian Spirituality Center here in Pretoria. I napped, rested, and just worked on ‘being’ this afternoon. SO NEEDED. So, that’s me. You?
Where I Am At The Moment: Sitting in my room slamming out a quick update before we head out to The Cuban Cafe to celebrate Adrienne’s 26th birthday, and Dayna’s mphfdh (undetermined) birthday. Nursing a headache on a grayish day in Pretoria North that would best be described as a ‘stay in and chill with a hot cup of Rooiboos tea (with milk, sugar, and 1 equal packet), a book, and a fire (if it weren’t still humid summer). But, dancing, merriness, and mirth await. I’m excited, aren’t I?
On My To-Do List This Week: So much. Partly why I’m overwhelmed. Let’s see: Read several books (Transforming Mission by Bosch, Spiritual Direction by Nouwen, a book on leadership for our Grip-Birkman training next week), do a bunch of self-evaluation stuff for our Grip-Birkman training, get out those ‘lovely’ postcards I’m still procrastinating on, begin monthly donor updates. Not much, huh?
Procrastinating About: Hmm. Apparently To-Do Lists and Procrastination are synonymous this week. Ugh.
Books I’m In The Midst Of: See above, plus I’ve begun reading Stephen King’s brilliant work on the art of writing a book, On Writing. Time to start leaning into my gifts here, and begin crafting marvelous collections of lyrical gems (Anybody?). Seriously though, one of the things I’m so excited about this year is simply beginning to take seriously my writing–through this blog, and into more actual pieces. I hope I have some books in me…
On The Current iTunes Playlist: New U2. Didn’t love it at first, but it keeps growing on me with each listen. And old-school worship songs like DC Talk’s “My Will,” Jars of Clay’s self-titled acoustic album, “Come and Fill Me Up.” Solid!
I’m Thinking About: Too much. Want and need to chill.
Next Trip: Tomorrow. Head to meet with Cobus and others to begin a reading group in David Bosch’s work Transforming Mission. His wife will be joining us. This is widely considered one of ‘the’ books in the missional church conversation, so I can’t wait to dive into it with a wide variety of local South Africans.
South African Word Of The Week: Curtis has been arguing the use of “JACKED UP” this week, debating with us that it actually means an organization that has it’s things sorted and in order. Obviously, he is wrong. If I write this sentence, what do you think: “The US economy is jacked up right now.”
How I’m Feeling About This Week: Pretty overwhelmed and drained right now.
Prayer Request: Rest. Being with God, not Doing (I’m fighting running too fast and hard already, and having to always say yes and ‘be on’ with our community. Want to truly be myself). Discernment, wisdom, and pace in how to move into the above opportunities to engage in practicing spiritual direction here in South Africa.