Throughout our travels around the world doing missions, one of the more interesting parts of entering a new community is seeing how they view and receive you as outsiders. I can recall vividly being in the rolling hills of Jamaica as kids would run up to us shouting 'white people!' They were very open to us, but obviously saw us as 'tourists' who were there to give them money or candy. In Uganda we were called 'muzungus' and it was something also shouted affectionately, probably for the same reason. Here in South Africa, because of the tumultuous and violent history between whites, coloureds (mixed race), and blacks, there is definitely not always a warm reception for white people. In Cape Town, there are many tourists and missionaries, so sometimes the kids still are open to you hoping to get something in return. Now, since we live in a township community, WE are the ones who are skeptical of the white people invading our space. A couple weeks ago, a team from somewhere in the US was here doing mission work and they were walking throughout Ocean View daily. I saw them in the 'flats' talking to people and kissing babies. It almost seemed political, you know? We frequently see white groups leading events for kids, complete with face painting and balloons, and as quickly as they descend upon our home, they are again gone in a flash and life continues for all of us. It creates a strange uneasiness in our hearts when we see another gaggle of whitey's coming into our space. Why are they here? To help? To take pictures? Exploit? Befriend?
Surely people have had these same thoughts about US the Prince family as we have invaded this coloured community (yes, not everyone knows the famed Prince's all over the world...), so now we love bringing people into OUR world of Ocean View, letting them meet and chat to our community and friends, and see it through a new perspective that hopefully isn't as invasive to those we love.
This week there are lots of white people in our world as so we have tried to welcome them with open arms into our hearts and lives and help them to see the beauty and courage of the people we live with here. Last week a group of 30 students from Elon University in NC came to see the View and hear Casey and I share about it a bit, and we brought our friend Timmy Thomas who works for Living Hope and is a youth pastor to share his first-hand perspective of growing up in the OV. It was brilliant and a perspective we could never have. Then, this week, four of those students came to work with Casey and Ubuntu Sports for Wednesday and Thursday. Casey put together a soccer camp for some View kids and had a great turnout and time with a big bunch of them. Every day we had a late lunch with the students while they shared about their lives and we let them into ours, as well. A remark that has stuck with me was a girl who said to Casey, "you guys just seem so happy and content! It's amazing!" They loved our stories and lives and truly didn't want to leave. What is particularly special about this is that none of them are Christians, and it shows the power of profound truths that transcend religions and personal beliefs. To help people is good, to see pure courage is always inspiring, and people are all just people wherever you are and whatever you wear and own. What a privilege to share our lives with them. Also this week there is another mission team of young people going ALL OVER AFRICA, and here for 20 days. They worked with us yesterday and are helping Casey today with the Ubuntu gear that we just received from Raleigh in our HUGE shipment. I am hoping (fingers crossed!) to get them to do a little fiesta set-up with me today too :) And finally, there are some seminary students from Princeton Divinity School here also, working with Kyle and the Ocean View Methodist Church, one of whom I know from Raleigh! Crazy. Anna Shaw Harmon is here and had dinner with us last night and hung out with some youth from the OV. So fun. We will see them again tonight for some Mexican food prepared by my co-pastor Kyle.
What a life we have, and how small the world can really be. We love sharing this world, and helping people to see beyond the crime and violence, and deeper than the dirt and dust. The people are beautiful and it's an incredible world here. There is one right where you live too, sometimes you have to just look a little harder.
Lots of love,