Saturday: Full-Spectrum Birthday Parties.

by Chris Kamalski

Noa Du Plessis, hijacking her brother's party last year in enthusiastic love!

Bleary-eyed, Maxie and I met Christiaan Krit, a good ‘muso’ (music) friend of ours, for coffee at Seattle early Saturday morning. Tian is shepherding all of the musical elements of our wedding celebration, and it was past due time for us to all get on the same page regarding our upcoming Chraxie Celebration! We had a great time waking up via warm cappuccinos, dreaming of the elaborate musical entrances and exits that will frame certain sections of our wedding, all the while Maxie subtly reigning Tian and my ridiculous plans back towards reality (Me: “I think 10 jimbae drums would be amazing!” Maxie: “One is plenty, sweetheart.” 🙂 )

Then we headed over to Pierre and Rialette Du Plessis’ house for their daughter Noa’s 3 year-old birthday party. Full disclosure: Pierre whispered with an equally amused/frantic sparkle in his eyes that they were expecting 30 parents and 34 children (almost entirely under 5!) for this party, which made me shudder at the potential chaos that we were about to enter into, but instead Maxie and I found a bustling yard full of creativity (an amazing castle cake) and activity (almost that many children running around handing us random treasures they had found). Pierre and Ria are the lead pastors who initially planted 3rd Place as a creative new expression of the church several years ago, and have been good friends with Maxie for a long time. I’ve recently begun working much closer with Pierre and 3rd Place as their resident “Liturgist,” helping introduce and shepherd the 3rd Place community through the church liturgical year, a rhythm of regular introduction to spiritual disciplines and other faith practices that shape how this group of cultural creatives are following God in the way of Jesus.

The man himself! My good friend Rassie Fourie, introduced to bocce ball!

In the evening, we drove out to Rassie and Michele Fourie’s new home on the edge of a lovely farm plot (Their living room window looks out on a field of sheep!) to celebrate Rassie’s aborted 30th birthday, due to Mika, his newborn, having developed a nasty bout of bronchitis. We laughed at the similarity between our 30th birthdays, and how those we loved and their various sicknesses/accidental injuries shelving plans for ‘the most epic party ever!’ (Maxie partially tore ligaments in her left knee the day before I turned 30, and now Rassie found his big bash shelved because of his daughter!). Maxie and I have really connected with Rassie and Michele over the past few months, and realize that we share a similar heart for missional engagement, intimate community that births fresh expression of mission and participation in God’s work in the world, and a sense of global calling to multiple cultures throughout the world. We are eager to remain open to God for possible partnership and alignment of our respective callings at some point, and at this point simply want to grow in relationship as friends! (Rassie will be officiating the vows between Maxie and I as we marry in a few weeks, and has fast become one of my closest South African friends).

More than anything, the activities of this busy Saturday confirmed yet again the reality that much of my work in missional service here in South Africa stems, and should stem, from the careful and deliberate cultivation of friendships birthed first out of a shared relational connection. The work of God throughout our world is not based solely on shared strategic planning, nor smart execution of a desired outcome (though those things have their place), but rather out of friends joining together to lean into each other’s lives for the purpose of furthering God’s Kingdom.

All in all, a day well spent!

(Each day this week I will post a story or reflection about some aspect of my work and life that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the questions, ‘What does a week in my life look like? while framing that within the larger question of ‘What stories are you co-writing with God in South Africa, and how does this story fulfill your unique mandate to apprentice South African leaders in the way of Jesus into sustainable mission around the globe?’)

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