So, I’m back and am feeling refreshed and renewed. Many amazing pics and stories to tell. I even had a great Monday back with our community, to the point where I don’t want my holiday to end. I just caught up with Tim Milosch, a fantastic teacher and dear friend at Eastside, over Facebook during his prep period (It must be nearing the end of the school year in America, as he was the 2nd staff member to chat me DURING THE WORK DAY in a span of 10 minutes!). (Cough, Guilty, Cough).
Alas, I digress. As I was re-connecting with friends, I began writing a long overdue update to a friend of mine who was waiting for substantial details of how I was doing. Long story short, I gave her what she was looking for and then pulled the dirty move of saying that I was going to re-paste this here for you all as well. So, enjoy on Aly’s behalf (I haven’t changed punctuation or edited!):
here’s some of me: i just went on holiday to capetown, which was amazing. one of my favorite cities of the world for sure. did some touristy stuff with about 5 apprentices for a few days, then took off for 4 on my own and drove the garden route and surfed/hiked/drove around for forever. it was fantastically refreshing in so many ways (i got to bodyboard super clean 4-foot jeffrey’s bay, which is one of the top 10 ways in the world, spent a bunch of time just being with God as i hiked in nature, took photos, and drove). but i’m stoked to be back home, to jump into deeper life with our community, and lean into the next few months of growth. (tonight i’m procrastinating and wishing holiday was longer though).
in short, i am well. i think i’ve coming to grips (and even liking in a lot of ways) the reality that i now live in south africa, at least for this year, maybe for more! i really was struck with the reality that my life is now here, and i need to stay connected with friends and family and amazing peeps like you (friend now! :-)) and all that, but also lean further into my life here. this is my community (at least for this year), and my life (gym, grocery, mission stuff, community) is here!
so much of me feels pressure to report on my life (especially to donor folk who are giving me money to be here), and that i must report back on ‘how i am changing africa, or africa is changing me.’ and frankly, both are happening in subtle and dramatic ways (dumb sort of evidence, but significant: i am becoming friends with many dear people who are significantly poor. they are turning my world upside down with issues of poverty and justice and what sort of standards we in the west are placing on those who have ‘less’ than us. i mean, even tonight my roomie johannes who lives in the local township soshanguve i work out in blew me away with his willingness to help 2 other apprentices return some movies by walking down the hill from our place with them, when myself and another guy were too selfish to want to go in his place. i am learning a ton about how complex poverty is, how western solutions don’t always immediately solve everything (throwing money, buildings, new programs at stuff matters little if corresponding relationships/trust/cultural bridges around walked across in mutual self-understanding). and the corresponding reluctance to truly dive off the ‘deep end’ and truly engage with this sort of incarnational mission with others. a large part of me wants to truly do the kinds of thing people like luke record where houses and possessions are simply laid down for another’s sake–and yet i realize that it is a much harder line to actually walk into relationship with those around me, instead of just throwing a ‘solution’ at a problem i forsee.
as for mission stuff: i am leading 2 spiritual direction groups for luc and petunia kabongo’s (dear friends who are i am growing in relationship with who run a sister ministry to nieucommunities south africa called innerchange, that live incarnationally among the poor in the local township) non-governmental organization of health care workers in soshanguve (to help them carry and process the grief they hold as those who walk with families into death), i am doing some teaching of spiritual formation stuff adapted from my graduate program with joe reed (a fellow staff member here) 1x a month at third place, a young creative afrikaaner church in pretoria east, and some other random individual direction stuff with a few people in our local community AS WELL.
personally, i am coming into my own with photography, trying to establish a rhythm i actually want to live my life by, and just trying to choose how i want to live…i feel like as much as i struggle and live in despair at times with how my life has turned out (why am i not married yet? why am i alone at times? am i ‘doomed’ to this life i am living?), i am more fervently beginning to choose to enjoy and live my life now. a big thing i’ve been wrestling with lately is the reality that i don’t want to simply report my life any longer–I WANT TO LIVE IT FULLY. i’ve re-read The Shack (William Young) this past week on holiday, and there are so many fantastic parts of it I could/will quote it to death i am sure. but a couple major things stick out right now:
-we can only experience and live life with God in the present moment (even receive the love of God only in the present moment). if we are consumed with our futures, often that is merely an exercise in wrestling control away from God; if we are consumed with our past, we can become paralyzed in a web of past mistakes. MY IS THIS ME!
-relationship with God is about moving from responsibility->responsive and fulfilling expectations-> expectant. the latter requires my effort/performance/struggle to be off the charts perfect; the former is (likely) closer to the heart of God and how he actually wishes to relate to us.
-Daddy (Papa!) is deeply fond of me…a phrase repeated throughout the book that pierced my soul each time i read it. oh how i want to live in a growing experiential knowledge of this!
i’m trying to live in the (consistenly) hard reality that i am single, and don’t want to be, but that is where i’m at in my life right now. often i feel foolish even admitting this reality to myself or to others (even though i know i am deeply loved as i am, and many many friends and family would LOVE to hear about this struggle over and over and over again. i feel like lately (as in the last several months) the Spirit has gently been asking me to open up these unfulfilled desires in my life, and to simply be present to Him IN THESE UNFULFILLED LONGINGS. super hard to do–but a growth experience of opening to God as i truly am.
whew. i’m tired from writing all this. but it’s good to get it out.