Thursday, March 27, 2008

Update on Events and Prayer Requests

Good morning!

A few of the things that I’m starting to do here that you can be praying for:
One thing is my role trying to develop volunteers for the Red Hill Holiday Club. The kids have three weeks off of school right now and we have these clubs the next two weeks (planning this week). It’s kind of like VBS. My job is to try and develop the teenagers into leaders for the club. Well, I tried meeting with them today and learned that their English isn’t very strong, so that made things challenging (they speak Xhlose, which is one of the clicking languages). So, just pray that I would know how to communicate the principles and what we need from them in a way that they would connect with. The Program in this community is under-staffed, so the better I’m able to raise up some leaders amongst the teens, the better things will be long term.

In this community they recently had a major fire and many people lost their shack homes. This has brought a lot of attention to the area and many mission organizations are trying to get involved. Avril, my supervisor, has asked me to sort of ‘investigate’ what their plans are long term and try to make sure that we are partnering together and not doing our own things. Apparently in one of the other communities where we work (Masiphumelele) there are over 100 organizations working there, but nothing is changing b/c everybody is doing their own thing. She doesn’t want that to happen in Red Hill. So, pray that I would be able to humbly communicate with these groups and be a catalyst for connecting these ministries so we do what is best for this community long term. Living Hope will be there for the long haul as they have been for a while, so we need to be the ones bringing the groups together. Somehow I got tapped to do that! I feel a little over my head with both of these tasks. I know and believe that God will work through me, in my strengths and my weaknesses, but I felt a bit worthless today. The situation today was actually a bit comical, which is how Sarah and I feel most days about things. Thanks for the prayers so far! Keep them coming!

Also wanted to share something that happened this week that was very impactful for both Sarah and I. It is pretty amazing the enormity of the struggles of the people here. You can sort of separate yourself from it, even in our roles (which is what 99% of the white people here do), which I don’t want to do. I want my heart to break over their struggles. Tuesday, on the street in Muizenberg (which is just a little beach town where LH has an office), a lady asked us for money to buy some sort of like corn meal stuff. Some how we started talking to her and ended up there for 10-15 minutes with her crying. She can’t feed her kids and can’t find a job. Her kids cry b/c they are hungry and so she just gets more depressed. It was like we were the first people that took the time to listen to her. It’s so heart-breaking though. She wants to provide for them, but has no means to do it. There are too many people and not enough jobs. It’s very similar in the way that everybody from central Mexico moves to the border to get the jobs in the maquilladoras. Eventually, the jobs run out, but the people are stuck there. Everybody has moved to Cape Town and Jo-Burg and there are just no more jobs. It’s terribly sad! When we got in the car to leave we pretty much didn’t say anything all the way back home.

Thanks for being a part of this!


Kerry said...

hey casey and sarah...what a heartfelt moment you had with that woman...after I read your blog this morning (which, by the way, I check repetitively), I sat down to read for bible study tonight, and I came across some words of wisdom from Margaret Feinberg, and her book "The Organic God" - the chapter is "abundantly kind" (one of the many awesome characteristics of our God):

"When we grow close to God and when we hunger after him, we can' help but encounter his kindness, and it sprouts inside of us like fruit. That kindness invites us to recognize the needs of others and take the steps necessary to meet those needs. Not all our acts of kindness will be heroic. We will never be able to meet all the needs, answer all the questions, or perform all kinds of extraordinary feats, but we can choose kindness so that it becomes an extension of who we are in all that we do...As part of humanity, we are all in a vulnerable situation. We are susceptible to disappointments, disease, pain, and all the things that come with living in an imperfect world. That is why kindness - particularly God's kindness - is so important. Simple acts of kindness put us at ease. They impart hope. At times, they make all the difference." (pages 160 - 162).

You are Sarah are making SUCH a difference.

love, kfc

Mallory said...

Wow. I will definitely be praying for you continuously. It seems like God is doing AMAZING things in South Africa, but honestly, when is God not AMAZING?!! Well glad all is well!

I love y'all!


Alicia Collins said...

thanks so much for sharing your experience and your thoughts. I feel God is really challenging you to just be Casey w/ the heart of Jesus. You are asked to do such challanging things, and listen to such heart breaking situations. Is He just wanting you to do as best you can, (which is good enough) and to show kindness and compassion as Jesus did while He was here on earth. You and Sarah are there for a reason and I believe He is smiling down on you, and also grieves with you for these people. Remember, we don't understand His plan, but He does, He does.
Love you so, Mom

Allison said...

Casey and Sarah, it's been interesting for us over here to read about your journey so far.

And it's especially interesting to hear this perspective about this woman asking for help.

What's great about this is that you have the opportunity to encourage everyone who is here reading and watching and supporting you to learn more about what is going on in South Africa...and about what went on in South Africa. Chances are that this woman's family, like thousands of others, didn't choose to move to an urban area...chances are they were forced to move. Community is very important to the Xhosa, to the Zulu, to the Basotho, and no one leaves home for long if s/he can help it. The long arm of apartheid had sweeping repercussions, and it continues to today.

Another sad fact of the matter is that handouts rarely ever help in these situations, and this is true all over the world. From what we saw in Lesotho, once people realized that someone else would give them money and/or food just for being poor, they kept being poor...why work when someone gives you money for nothing? (We even see this sometimes with American welfare, though of course it's not true in every case.) When WFP comes by with food every week, why does one need to go out to seek for food? It's a sticky situation with no real answer, and I think that's the most heart-wrenching thing.

Anyway, good luck with your continued mission there...continue to touch and be touched, continue to care, but don't let yourself be taken advantage of.

To everyone who reads this, and this includes me...don't just read about the Prince adventure and be proud of their all that AND do something of your own: educate yourself about what's going on abroad and more especially at home, volunteer your time to help a worthwhile cause. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." (Ghandi)

Fred said...

Allison said: "Community is very important to the Xhosa, to the Zulu, to the Basotho, and no one leaves home for long if s/he can help it. The long arm of apartheid had sweeping repercussions, and it continues to today".

I think it is a little naive to blame the woman's plight that Casey described to apartheid. She certainly did not move to Muizenberg because of apartheid.

Rather look for blame (or even better a solution) in the injustices of social stereotypes, differences in opportunities, differences in education and yes, racial prejudice too.

OK, isn't that last item apartheid, you ask?

No, it is not. Apartheid was a cruel system of seperation based on race and was aimed at non-whites in South Africa (as it was in the US under the guise of segregation).

Racial prejudice is a far wider-reaching evil in this world and is practiced by (some) people of all races. White on black, black on white, black on Asian, etc. etc.

It is also not unique to South Africa.

Let us pray for *ALL* types of prejudice and injustice to cease and each work individually to rid the world of it - case by case, person by person.

Casey & Sarah - you are *GREAT* examples to all of us, of how we can do this !

- Fred