a kosi bus ride.

April 8, 2010

8 april 2010 the rectory

the combi. here, the combi is the mode of public transit. it is a 15 passenger minibus [reminiscent of the VW bus cult classic, and yes, similar in size.]. i think it could fit inside one of the 15 passenger vans that i am familiar with. they do not leave the taxi rank until they are full. and when i say ‘full’, i mean f-u-l-l full. and it means nothing that it is a ’15 seater’…the number is relative. some have gotten pulled over for having 30+ people in the combi. they are not necessarily safe. they are known for stealing and the drivers having the smell of alcohol on their breath. but, they are the cheapest transport that you will find here.
so, it was a public holiday here, so i was able to get away for a few days and i decided to head up to kosi bay. kosi bay is right under the border of mozambique in the north east. beach. warm sand. warm ocean. sharks. malaria. mmm…i phoned the backpackers that i decided to stay at, and asked what would be the best way to get up there. his reply, ‘yeah, just go to the main taxi rank in durban and hop on a bus to manguzi and i’ll pick you up. it’s simple and cheap.’ so that’s what i did. i didn’t want the chance of missing the one combi to manguzi, so i drove down to durban and stayed the night at happy hippo backpackers. [it was pretty rad. they completely renovated an old factory in downtown durban close to the beach and took off the roof for a braai area and bar.] you never know when the combi’s will leave because they wait around until they fill up…so i was up by 6:30am and at the rank at 7:15am. ha! it was only half full! this being my first combi ride…i, not so wisely, crawled to the back seat and took a seat with two other gentlemen. an hour later, it was filled up, and we began our journey. 16 of us. 15 black people. and me. a white foreigner. four grown men on the back bench seat. it was too tight to even sit shoulder to shoulder. i had my backpack between my legs and another bag on my lap. i could not move my left foot forward or backward or side to side. i could move my left leg only up and down. i was a bit more fortunate with my right leg…i could move my foot forward and backward plus my leg up and down. only one window was open. the drivers. and if you did not know, it gets hot here. i think i started to sweat instantly. BUT we were off and moving. the beach. the sand. the ocean. these were all getting closer and closer.
as we were moving along the highway the four of us in the backseat began the typical and very human seat dance of shifting our shoulders to more comfortable positions both forward and backward. arm around the person [on the back of the seat of course]. forward with head in hands that are resting on seat in front of you. backward with head tilted [but not back too far because the roof came down right there…which let you know with every bump we hit…]. and of course this all happens without anyone speaking to anyone. when one moved…we all moved. it continued to get warmer and warmer. and the heat was only one thing. in the back, it seemed that the exhaust pipe was curled up and inserted just below our seat. b.o. exhaust. chicken. bananas. simple stink/dirtiness. this was what i was smelling. the bananas were very slight, too. i was praying that the exhaust wouldn’t start to give me a headache or that the driving wouldn’t make me sick.
after we hit a speedbump, i knocked my head on the roof. i must have dozed off for a bit. i looked down, and my ‘white’ v-neck had turned a shade of cream/khaki. there was this feeling of amazement…and at the same time…disgust. i was under the impression that you had to dye fabric or spill some coffee/wine on it to get it to change color. nope. as i sipped some water, i was thankful that i didn’t guzzle a cup of coffee before our trip. as we kept going and going i began to get more and more antsy/irritated/uncomfortable. my butt was beginning to get soar. as i was looking at my little travelers map it seemed that we were about half way…this was not accompanied with much relief. then, all of a sudden, we were slowing down and we whipped into a petrol station. at first no one moved, and i was about to rip some heads off…but the driver got out and opened the door [which was encouraging…if we were to get in an accident we wouldn’t be able to open the door…]. slowly [always slowly in africa…] everyone began to get out. what a relief!! over half way. pee break. things were looking up.
the driver paid for the petrol, put a can of oil in, and we began to pile back in. now, everyone had gotten something to eat and or drink. things were added to the smells. there was a new energy in the bus. people were realizing that the destination was in sight. so, naturally, i was getting a bit excited as well. that did not last long. another hour went by, and we were stopped at a police traffic stop. everyone piles out again and we are all getting searched. everyone was speaking zulu, and then, as the head officer is looking at me, he shouts, ‘we’re looking for cocaine people!’ they didn’t find any…and we piled back in. back to the heat. back to the smells. back to the bench. back to the lack of movement in my legs. back to the shoulder dance.
i woke up again with sweat pouring down my face and arm that it was resting on. amazingly enough…my now cream/khaki v-neck was yet another shade darker. we were slowing down!!!! we stopped in the middle of the road. and one woman jumped out. we took off again. the trip was not over…we continued on. then the energy returned. it appeared that we were entering a small town. we passed a panelbeater shop. a library. a supermarket. this was it. we pulled into the taxi rank. stopped. the driver opened the door. we all got out. we had made it to manguzi and it only took us five hours. i phoned thobeka backpackers, waited a few minutes, crawled into the back of a pickup…and exhaled…

prayer: the next 2.5months are really going to be busy. we have a training run for comrades in a week and a half and comrades the end of may. the bethel task force team is coming the beginning of june. please can continue to pray for the kids we are coaching. and forgive me for taking so long to write.

postscript: blue valley west high school was able to raise $500 in their dodgeball tournament!! what a blessing!?!



March 10, 2010

dirt., originally uploaded by andrewj..


March 10, 2010

IMG_0979, originally uploaded by andrewj..

it’s begasse. not big a- -.

February 23, 2010

23 february 2010 the rectory.

i have not written for some time now. forgive me [austin…].

we have been busy here. our friend craigy has finished welding and painting our soccer goals and the lines are painted and ready for our first game week. this wednesday [the 24rd] will be the first games for our U-11’s, and this saturday [the 27th] will be the first games for the U-19’s. so far, the leagues have run fairly smoothly. the U-19’s are the easy ones…it’s the 280+ U-11’s and U-13’s [and the school staff] that is going to be trying for us. time is secondary here…if it is even that high on the list. for the past two weeks, we have held training sessions and more and more kids seem to show up. with only two of us trying to coach [sometimes we have help. sometimes], maintain a sane level of chaos, and keeping kids from throwing punches…we have our hands full. it appears that i can yell at kids and feel no remorse, and they can completely block out all the yelling [thank god for whistles, though]. the kids are hungry for the training and even hungrier for the games. they all want to smash each other.

we are also moving into our workspace the beginning of march. this space is a huge answer to prayer. when josh and i met with a local sugarcane farmer a few weeks ago, he told us of this space and after we were done talking he took us straight there and showed off the place. josh and i fell in love with it. josh and the guys have been working in a small space at eastwood secondary to do the burns for the charcoal and then trucking all the ash back to the house to pack the briquettes by hand [a messy messy job]. well, now we have a proper working space where we will be able to store the begasse, conduct the burns, make the briquettes with an extruder, and store the briquettes. this workspace is right outside of eastwood in an area called bishopstowe. it is an absolutely beautiful area.

thank you all again so much for your thoughts/prayers/letters/emails. you all are a great encouragement. and thank you to my church in lynchburg. you brought tears to my eyes.

and i leave you with this quote…

‘i felt it in my bones; first, that this world does not explain itself. it may be a miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. but the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations i have heard. the thing is magic, true or false. second, i came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. there was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently. third, i thought this purpose beautiful in it old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons. fourth, that the proper form o f thanks to it is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank god for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them. we owed, also, an obedience to whatever made us. and last, and strangest, there had come into my mind a vague and vast impression that in some way all good was a remnant to be stored and held sacred out of some primordial ruin. man had saved his good as crusoe saved his goods: he saved them from a wreck.’
g.k. chesterton ‘orthodoxy’

-google ‘vuvuzela.’ these will only be allowed at the bafana bafana [ZA national team] games during the world cup. supposedly.
-the first casualty from the marathon was one of my toenails. i qualified for comrades, though.
-my name was turned in to creditors for not returning a movie from hollywood video. $50. awesome.
-when mthobisi, junior, and i were walking downtown we stopped at this ‘reggae’ tent alongside a road and the guys inside [beside smoking a ‘J’ ] were saying how obama was a zulu.
-some students at blue valley west highschool, where my brother ben teaches, are holding a schoolwide dodgeball tournament to raise some money for EN! and our work here. haha. ‘if you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.’

prayer: my feet [they are still sore from the marathon.]. for the leagues to run as smoothly as possible. to learn these kids name a.s.a.p. continued discernment.


about three weeks ago, we saw a boy [chris] who is on josh’s U-11 team while we were driving through eastwood. we picked him up and josh began to ask why he wasn’t in school [it being the first day back…] while we headed to eastwood primary to sort it out. we drove up and parked and made our way towards the principles office. mr. amien welcomed us, and after sorting chris’ situation, we sat and talked with him for some time. and as the conversation was naturally winding down, mr. amien looked at josh and said that he should think about starting a football league for the primary schools in the area. the wheels were already turning…

this league has long been in josh’s mind. josh has simply been waiting on the school’s and the lord. when this happened, josh could tell that i was somewhat speechless and giddy. nonchalantly, he began to explain to me how these things that the lord has put on our heart will come about. here in ZA, if you are too gung-ho and go-get-em! you can be viewed indifferently and can be quite overwhelming to the people.

josh and i had been in dialogue not long before our unplanned and unannounced visit, about our western mindsets and the need to get things done. the ‘need’ to get things done for the lord and to share with our supporters to show them our worth. this seems to be exactly the way the lord does not work. and oh, is it humbling. but these are the pressures a missionary from the west feels. these are the pressures that i am feeling. asking myself questions like, ‘what exactly am i doing?? what do i have to show to the people that love me and are supporting me?? i don’t have a job?? how can i continue to keep those back home informed and appeased?? how can i put all of this to words??’ these questions may seem frivolous and exhaustive, but they are honest and true.

so, this last week we were able to meet with the principles of both eastwood primary [mr. amien] and eastwood secondary [mr. rampaul]. josh put together a proposal for a soccer program for the schools. it includes a league for under-11’s and another league for under-13’s for the four schools present in ward 34. there would be four teams from each school [about 280 kids…not to mention the 120 under-19 year olds…]. we met with the principles to nail down some of the logistical work which included an ‘OK’ to tear down the rugby posts, sorting practice times and schedules, and getting permission to pull some of our U-19 players out of class early to help us coach the lighties. the principles [and ourselves] are very excited to see this to fruition.

patience, discernment, and longevity. these are the things that are on the frontlets. understanding and obeying the balance between ‘doing’ and ‘letting’. we do not want to overstep the Lord’s plan and yet we do not want to be deaf, dumb, and blind to it. and the q’s are in it for the long haul. this is their home. their [now our] work cannot always be tangible. like the building of a church/feeding the hungry/preaching on the corner. instead, connections are made through general life experience. coaching football. joining a football and running club. going to the grocery store. visiting friends. taking players home and conversing with their parents. talking with strangers. etc etc etc. through these connections and time trust is built. and trust is a huge thing. think of this…it would not be o.k. if a christian family from somewhere outside of the u.s. [pick your place…france/germany/china/n.korea/chile/egypt] moved to nappanee indiana and started parading their grand ideas of change and of christianity. people would not know what to think. they would not oppose the foreign idealists, but simply disregard their actions and and question their intentions. and this contempt is even worse than opposition. opposition can be stood up against…contempt cannot.

our work is like the planting of a hardwood tree. it’s growth is slow but steady. meager results now, but eventually massive results in the future. this one tree will lead to others and that one to others. and in the distant future no one will know which tree it started with…only that it has bore much fruit. [rev. 22:1-2. ps.1:3. matt.7:15-20. jer. 17:8]

->i got into comrades. [the applications were filled in 4 mins. i was first in line at 4:40am. the store, where we applied, opened at 9am. a man in line told me that he brought his pistol just in case. a guy who was 2 spots behind me (3rd in my line) did not get in. people marched to the comrades house here in maritzburg to complain. people were pissed.]
->my brother is getting married in 4 months. i’m stoked and proud.
->joining athletic clubs here is very much a part of culture.
->i didn’t get eaten or even bitten by a great white off the coast of durban last week.


prayer: discernment. balance/equilibrium. vision/recognition. capitalized personal face-time with the 400 kids. that my body holds up till comrades.


January 15, 2010

the rectory.

i have been ruminating on it for some time now.

we are battling mindsets.

ZA mindset.
here, there is culture, heritage, and tradition older than the u.s. on top of that, apartheid is only 16 years new and still fresh. we are face to face with people who hold on to these things [that zulu’s can take a few wives. that ‘bad luck’ can be fixed by the way chicken bile rolls down your nose. that ‘bad luck’ is not take lightly and is really spiritual warfare for that matter. and that sangoma’s (witch doctors) are very real (ex. last week they found a dog buried up to its neck with metal spikes through it’s hind legs in a yard of an official that was not liked…)] like we hold on to baseball, apple pie, and turkey on thanksgiving. it is this that we are trying to understand.

XP mindset.
but, we are also trying to convey our christlike culture, heritage, and tradition to an understanding in love. we are trying to break down a seperateness that runs deep, and build trust and solidarity in its place on a foundation of love. [‘god is love and love is real.’ mwY.]

USA mindset.
this ZA mindset is hard to put to words being put up against our christian and western mindset. it is hard because of my natural culture, heritage, and tradition. there are no quick [or remotely quick] results. i expect results, progression, and change. there is this innate pressure in and on me to see and get things done. period. this is my personality due to being an ‘american’ and being impatient. we, as ‘americans’, have unjustifiable expectations on ourselves and others. we are an impatient people. i have to constantly remind myself that not only is the Lord’s timing different than mine, but this country’s timing is different than mine as well. i must think and see through my western mindsets and habits daily.

now, in the midst of these old and new mindsets, we are also trying to build a sustainable and self-supportive business with a people who do not know or really trust business [a major factor being corruption], coaching a football team, starting a football league, preparing to run a handful of marathons, playing in a football league, and preparing to host a college task force team during the 2010 world cup. some days are not exciting at all. some weeks are not. other times, one hour is so full that it would take days and pages to tell you about it. just like any other work, our work here has phases or seasons, if you will.

our hands and minds are full, and it is quite overwhelming at times. but it is at those times that i have become thankful for the more relaxed days. days that i can fill with thoughts only. spending my time dissecting, what seem to be, conflicting ‘mindsets’, and simply realizing how curious and shortsighted i am and how patient the Lord is with me. though, we must try to understand our brothers and sisters mindsets, see and think through our innate mindsets, and try to best convey our christ.

–>it’s been unnaturally rainy here. the q’s blame it on my coming.
–>the funeral is the #1 attended activity here.
–>napkins are called ‘serviettes’.
–>’is it’. an expression used in a similar way to our, ‘really?!?!’.
ex. ‘man, i slept great last night!’
‘is it?!’

prayer: patience. clarity. patience. synergy.


December 29, 2009

the rectory

everyone had gone to bed. no one was really anxious about the next day being xmas. we hadn’t planned on being in the house on christmas and the kids had already gotten their presents. josh had mentioned to me earlier in the evening that jamie wasn’t feeling like the best parent, and he thought we could decorate a little for the morning. so, once every eye was closed, josh ran to the garage to sift through what seems to like 100+ plastic containers and i hit the dishes. we met back in the living room to get to work. we started with the tree. jaime has a multilevel stand for her baskets, so we wrapped a green fleece blanket around it and pinned it down the back. as josh was setting aside ornaments for me to place on our ‘tree’, the stories and memories began to flow out. they did not just come from josh’s mouth, but also from his eyes. i could see the nostalgia, joy, and peace race across them. it was working.

the whirlwind decorating finished past two a.m., and after we smiled with deep content, pleasure, and excitement…josh ran to a convenient store to pick up stocking stuffers and a magazine for everyone to open in the morning. we finished up our late night by watching a few battle scenes in braveheart. decorating for christmas isn’t the most manly thing…but braveheart is pretty close.

i woke up last and could already feel the gaiety in the air. we ate some rolls and then hit the living room. all that said, it was a very memorable and filling christmas. we all needed it.

this was my first christmas away from family and i was feeling it deeply inside and fighting it on the outside. as i read the christmas story in matthew and luke, though, all felt right.

>that what seems like simple communication back in the states, is somewhat of a luxury here.
>that we [as in the christian church community] hold on tighter to our christmas traditions than we do our religious traditions.
>mcdonalds here is halaal.
>coffee is not a big deal to s.afrikans. i had my first real cup of coffee a little over a week ago…
>costs. the average worker will here will get paid around R70-90 a day [R=rand]. that is around $10-$12 [u.s.]. now do the math. about $300-$360 a month. $3600-$4300 a year. things are not significantly cheaper here either. it is cheaper to eat out locally than to buy groceries and make meals. people are working so hard to keep their heads afloat, that when they come into some extra money they spend it to keep themselves, and or their family sane. let alone that many have an hour commute in the morning and evening on terrible public transportation.

–some prices.

-copa mundial soccer boots $100stateside $160 ZA

-bodum french press [8cup] 30stateside 100 ZA

-7oz hand sanitizer 1stateside 9 ZA

-gas/petrol 3..ish-4?? stateside 4.50 ZA

prayer: a clearer discernment/understanding of the people here and how to better communicate with them. patience. getting my appication in to comrades on jan.30th for admittance.



December 17, 2009

this last week has been filling. we have picked up leather from our friend warren. if i told you the amount of off-cuts they had laying all around and out in the rain…you wouldn’t believe me. so, yesterday, josh and i ran and picked up one of our boys from eastwood. his name is stanley. aka shume [shoe-me.]. he is 18ish, learning to be a welder, loves house music and soccer. we then ran out to the mall to a shop and talked the owner into donating paper and string to shume [while josh and i bought our’s] for his first journal, so in return he would sell the journal and begin to support her. she was kind enough to do so, and we were able to start this development with no capital. we came back to the Q’s garage and made our first journals. and this, of course, is not just a new development/business/moneymoneymoney. josh and i were able to spend 6hrs with shume. a good start. [and thanks, austin.]

monday, we met with simon. he is the dude that makes the ____paper. and it’s not just cow poo that he uses. elephant. rhino. zebra [pronounced zebra. not zeeeebra.]. he is an incredible dude. he has worked at a local museum in town for 10 years, and his paper making/selling is putting him through some marketing classes at university. he is driven, smart, 23 and he loves the lord. after our meeting with simon [poopaper], josh and i were flooded with ideas/concepts/vision. it was a little overwhelming. we shared all these, and then moved to the ‘how to’, and then concerns. one of mine being, my time here. we want these development to be sustainable. in eastwood. in maritzburg. not through josh or myself or the u.s. i began to think if it were necessary/wise to pursue any of these new developments if i were to be leaving within the next 7-8months anyways, or to just put all my time and energy in charcoal and stoves which is big enough for the Q’s, myself, and more. would i be stretching myself too thin?? am i getting ahead of myself?? am i being too ‘realistic’ and not planting my feet in faith?? i think it would be quite different if i simply committed to this city/country/people [relax dad…only though prayer…only though prayer.]. i continued to list and pray though my fears in this/what i am holding back from this/etc., and i was left with this; how will i be able to throw myself into these developments and invest my time and energy with this feeling of the temporary?? we’ll see.

this will be the first year that i have missed xmas with my family. i am excited and saddened all at once. i believe that this feeling is the dichotomy of our walk with the lord, and that this [His] mystery is healthy. we desire to ‘know’ too much. who would the lord be/what would our relationship look like/how would we act if He let us know?? matt.20:20-28.

i thank you all for your comments, encouragements, and prayers.

‘we are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character.’ c.s. lewis ‘the problem of pain.’ pg.34.


prayer: sensitivity/discernment/wisdom. patience. fervor.


December 11, 2009

sun.set., originally uploaded by andrewj..

our campsite view of the sundays river looking toward port elizabeth.

“there is a lovely road that runs from ixopo into the hills.  these hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.  the road climbs seven miles into them, to carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of africa.”

alan paton “cry, the beloved country” pg 33.

it was in these ‘hills’ that i was reminded of the beautiful blueridge [they are hardly what i would consider ‘hills’. mountains. unnamed mountains.]. they are covered with grass that is it’s own color of green, and sprinkled with small block homes and cattle.  on a mountain road similar to 501N, it occurred to me also that s.african drivers are much better than VA drivers [or the entire south for that matter].  all that said, i miss VA.

we got back from camping late sunday morning.  we camped for a week and after a hellaciously windy day, we packed up and made the 12.5hr drive back to maritzburg.  out campsite was right on the sundays river.  to the west of us were active sanddunes [under which we got our fresh water], to the south was the indian ocean about a kilometer away, to the north and east were two small towns and addo elephant national park.  our time together was really refreshing.  everyone needed it.

some of you know that i began to make and sell journals to help raise some money for my time here.  well, upon my arrival, i was telling josh this and he got really excited.  he has a friend who has begun to make paper out of cow___ […poop] and another friend who works with leather who said we could have all of his off-cuts…200-300kg of it.  that’s 440-660lbs!  we are brainstorming of how to turn this into jobs and income for our boys out of eastwood/ward34.  both of us are really excited to see what the lord has in store.

some things:

the african sun is much different than the one i am use to.  josh and i were outside pouring a little concrete today…my back is red and raw.  sort of like a high quality uncooked steak.  i’m an idiot…

get and read, “cry, the beloved country” alan paton.  and anything by andrew murray.

google “bunny chow.”  it has changed my life [it’s my new ‘cheesie’, if you will.  only much healthier…]

google “nkosi sikelel’ iafrika” and listen to it.

they are going to take more people for ‘comrades.’  [comrades.com].  i am excited and want to puke already.

s.africa is so freaking diverse.

the lord is here.  ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'[matt.10:7].  here.  stateside.  embrace It.  embrace Him.  fear Him and Him only.  not what He will do or not do with you.  and stop being so prideful.


prayer: continued guidance/vision.  adjustment [to the people/country/the q’s/language/culture, etc.].  sensitivity/discernment.  love.  love.  love.