Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

Tag: weekly updates

The Week That Was: March 9th-13th, 2009.

A little Apprentice birthday breakfast for Adrienne at Cappuchino's

A little Apprentice birthday breakfast for Adrienne at Cappuchino's

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.

Luc Kabongo, Director of InnerChange in Soshanguve, with Daniel, a local youth he mentors.

Luc Kabongo, Director of InnerChange in Soshanguve, with Daniel, a local youth he mentors.

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.

The Week(s) That Was(Were).

I know you see the Sea Monster....

I know you see the Sea Monster....

(Originally written for Monday, February 9th, 2009.  S.O. to MARKO for post idea).

The Week(s!) That W(ere): Whew! From Obama’s innaguration on January 20th to frantically packing all day and the next morning, to trying to sort any and all things in my life (and never finishing), took an overnight flight to London on the 21st and stayed with my friends Rob and Laura Sturgess (and their ridiculously cute pig-tailed daughter Esme, and newborn son Sam) in Hackney (East London). Met them this summer at Pangani, chilled around London, LOVED the Portobello Road Market and Travel Bookshop of Notting Hill fame. Met key people from CRM UK (Tom Middleton) and visited St. Mary’s church. Fascinated by the Tate Modern. Great time becoming friends with the Sturgesses. Headed to Aberdeen, Scotland on Monday, Jan 26th, home of ancient universities, highlands, oil companies headquarters in the North Sea, and the current residence of my friends Kyle and Kelli Strobel. Kyle is finishing his dissertation on Jonathan Edwards and is ridiculously smart. We went to Loch Ness in Inverness, saw funky Scottish castles and cathedrals, took photos on the famous bridge of St. Andrews’ Old Course 18th hole (the place golf was invented), drank tons of coffee, and took the coldest walk by ocean I have ever had (North Sea baby!). Headed to Pretoria on an overnight flight arriving Saturday, January 31st. This past week has been a blur of jet lag, orientation week 1 into NieuCommunities South Africa, life in this culture and country, and getting to know our new apprentices. We’ve done team building exercises, gone to church, went to a local cricket match (super chill and family oriented with a dj mixing tunes!), headed out to the local township Soshanguve for spatlu (township burgers), and gotten our bearings within Pretoria North (home of Pangani, a bed and breakfast where we stay) and downtown Pretoria. And probably a million other things.
Where I Am At The Moment: Hiding away in my room (Room 5) at Pangani, writing blog posts and waiting to try and call my folks on Skype (A Masters graduate incorrectly subtracted 10 hours time difference this morning and called at the wrong time! DOH!) 🙂
On My To-Do List This Week: Oh, a million things. Week 2 of Orientation is crammed full this week (LUKE AND JOSH GIES: We are played Mao on Tuesday night!!!). Need to get thank you cards out to donors. Buy a watch. Cut my increasingly-shaggy hair. Learn to drive stick-shift on the right (wrong) side of the road-a la, the left side of the road.
Procrastinating About: See above. Mostly catching up on reading though (I’m behind on the books we were supposed to read before coming here).
Books I’m In The Midst Of: For fun (what category is this again?) I am reading Malcolm Gladwell’s newest, OUTLIERS. It’s the story behind why people are successful in culture–and as always, it’s FASCINATING. More on this later. For NCSA, THE CELTIC WAY OF EVANGELISM (George Hunter III) is absolutely rocking my world and possibly future dreams and visions. It is that profound. MUCH MORE on this later–this book will define much of what I do for years to come, and is central to why CRM and NieuCommunities are what they ware.
On The Current iTunes Playlist: The wonderful Matt Kersh and Kyle Strobel HOOKED me up with new music recs recently. Been digging Explosions In the Sky (where have I been) and Newton Faulkner, an incredible Irish folk dude.
I’m Thinking About: The craziness that is the fact that I am now living in South Africa for this year?!?!
Next Trip: All around Pretoria, Soshanguve, etc. this week. Tomorrow we visit Luc Kabongo and the InnerChange crew out in Soshanguve (they are a sister ministry with CRM living in the township we work in).
South African Word Of The Week:”ISIT?” Quoting from Elizabeth, or resident Pretorian who put together a list of South African vocabulary for us: “Derived from the two words ‘is’ and ‘it,’ it can be used when you have nothing to contribute if someone tells you something.’ Seems to be a filler word that I’m already picking up.
How I’m Feeling About This Week: Hmm. Mix of emotions defines life right now. Stoked to be here. Anticipating the future. Struggling a bit to dive in and choose this new community (I’m weary of opening up AGAIN), yet know I need and want to.
Prayer Request: Last line above.