Monthly Archives: September 2012

News Flash: The Rest Of The World Doesn’t Live Like We Do

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I’m finding it quite difficult to put into words what I want to say. South Africa is a fabulous place with so much beauty. But beyond the beauty is much more; history. Andrew and Karen (our Radical Journey leaders here in SA) have been talking to us a lot about the history of SA. It’s been a lot to take in, and it’s been a challenge to take it all in as well. The mix between the Afrikaners, the Zulus, the Xhosa, the Indians, the colored, etc. have mesmerized me; being in this brand new culture filled with brand new people has been one of the most incredible journey’s I’ve ever been on. I’m so glad it’s only just begun.

I’m unsure of how to put into words the things I see daily when we go for drives. I find talking about it on this blog quite difficult, actually. It’s nothing like North America. Yes, there are similarities here and there, but overall, South Africa is a very different place. Andrew and Karen told us our job placements last night! All of ours are different; they matched us up based on our personalities and our interests and how we are as a person. (Really cool, right?) I will be working in Mpophomeni, which is I believe 20 minutes outside of PMB. (Pietermaritzburg.) I have to learn how to drive the Ballad, which is this amazingly reliable car (tad bit of sarcasm.) that has been around for quite some time now for the RJ people to use. Not only do I not know how to drive a standard, but add on top of that the fact that it’s driving on the opposite side of the road as well; challenge accepted. I’m starting to get used to the whole opposite side thing when it comes to driving. Now when I think of North America and our driving system, I find it odd because I’m used to seeing driving being done this way. Anyway, so at Mpophomeni, I’ll be working with the HIV/AIDS organization; working with people who are affected and effected but HIV/AIDS. There’s an after school program for the kids and I’ll be working at that about 3 or 4 times a week. On the days where I’m not working there, I’ll be working at my host family’s church. About 40% of the people who live in Maseim Bumbane (the township in Mpophomeni where I’ll be working.) are infected with HIV/AIDS, and there are still countless others who haven’t been tested for it. The kids I’ll be working with either have HIV/AIDS, or their parents do.

We learn about Africa in school. We here about HIV/AIDS, we see pictures, we watch informational videos. Some of us have heard of apartheid, some of us haven’t. We picture what South Africa looks like, but we don’t know for sure because we haven’t been there. All of this is real. The segregation, the black townships, white townships, Indian townships and colored townships are real. HIV/AIDS is real. And I know you’re probably thinking “Well no duh it’s real, Abby.” But you don’t understand. This stuff is REAL. I’m seeing some form of it every day. We sit in school while teachers drill into our brains issues of this world; poverty, segregation, racism, etc. But I’m here to tell you as a person who has never really understood that concept until I came to South Africa that YOU will never really understand what your teachers are telling you. In fact, your teachers probably don’t fully understand it themselves. It’s living here that has given me this understanding that the rest of the world doesn’t live the way I do…THE REST OF THE WORLD. I want to close my blog today with something to think about: The way you live is rare; closet full of clothes, TV in your room, 2 story home, a swing on your front porch, and food in your fridge. The rest of the world lives with less than that. Think about it.

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This Time, It’s For Real; South Africa.

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Oh my, how refreshing it is to be able to finally blog!  I’ve been looking forward to telling you all how things have been here in SA.  We arrived at 12am Friday morning, and we’ve been involved in a lot since we came here; in a nutshell, it’s been amazing.

Things are very different here.  I’m not sure if I went through a “culture shock” to be exact,  but I went through something very uncomfortable and hard; which might be culture shock.  It’s funny though, because it was the little things that would really get to me.  For example, the light switches are different, the toilets are different,  everyone keeps their doors open during the day, the seasons are completely backwards, time is 6 hours ahead of the United States, they tell time in military time, they use kilometers per hour instead of mph, they don’t use the U.S. metric system (let me say that converting things is so difficult.) their traffic lights are called robots and they are also not located on wires above the cars…they’re located on these poles on the side of the road, you drive on the opposite side of the road and the steering wheel is also on the opposite side, everyone drives a standard, they say “How’s it?” and “Eh!” a lot, they have a lot of different words for normal things we use every day, riding in the trunk of a car/back of a truck is normal (and so fun. ), they have trees from The Lion King everywhere, and I could think about 20 more million things if I wasn’t so tired right now.  These differences are tough and hard to get adjusted to, but let me just say that I hate being uncomfortable…and I absolutely positively love it at the same time.

That above statement may not make sense to people, but it makes sense to me.  Being uncomfortable sucks, let’s admit it. I wish the point in this journey would come when I’m not feeling so awkward here, and I can just get into the swing of things without thinking about it. But at the same time, being uncomfortable is SUCH an amazing thing; it breaks you down, it makes you grow, and it pushes you to keep going.  I challenge you to be uncomfortable.  It’ll change your life.

A lot of people have been asking, “Abby, how’s South Africa?” And honestly, I’m not even sure how I can answer that question.  It’s such a vague question, and my answer is going to be way too broad.  No matter how many words I use, it can’t come close to describing South Africa.  No one really understands because they aren’t there, you know?  And they can try their very hardest to understand what I’m talking about and how I’m feeling, but they never will; and that’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just because they haven’t experienced it themselves. 

Am I missing everyone back home?  You have no idea.  I think about everyone constantly; my home congregation, my family, my best friend, Sean.  But what keeps me going is knowing that I will be coming home someday.  For now, this is something I’ve been called to do, and God will not leave me.  He is with me always.  I’ve found so much truth in this; HE WILL NEVER LEAVE ME OR FORSAKE ME.  In my darkest times, my Savior is here. 

To South Africa!….Or Not.

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I’m currently sitting in the Sheraton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.  If you’re reading this right now, you probably have an incredibly puzzled look on your face because this wasn’t the plans we had in mind.  Well, you’re correct.   Let’s just say that everything that could go wrong yesterday….went wrong.

First, our flight from Chicago to Atlanta was delayed about 2 hours.  Then we get on the plane and are sitting for an hour because they realize one of the engines is low on oil.  So after that long wait, we FINALLY  get moving, and let’s just say that the South Africa team was totally excited because if we would’ve waited any longer, we would be missing our connecting flight from Atlanta for Johannesburg.  About an hour and a half later, the pilot comes on the speakers saying that one of the generators has gone out, and we need to land now.  Now being in Knoxville, Tennessee.  At this time, it’s almost 6pm.  Our flight to Johannesburg will leave at 7:30pm, and we realize then that we won’t be making it.  There was a little bit of frustration, but then we realized the only thing we could really do was laugh about it.  So we end up waiting in this tiny airport until 9:45pm, when a plane came and took us all to Atlanta.  Tiny airport as in this airport was smaller than Conemaugh Township High School.  No exaggeration.  So this time, we’re incredibly excited to be boarding this plane!  It was a 40 minute flight to Atlanta, and we got there at around 10:40pm.  Delta Airlines was extremely hospitable to us, and for anyone who had connecting flights somewhere else, like ourselves, they scheduled us to stay in a hotel for the night, and they also gave us a bunch of free meal voucher passes.  The downside of all of this was this: we don’t have our luggage because our luggage is going to Johannesburg.

At first, we thought “Crap.”  But then we realized that we really didn’t need it anyway.  Delta gave us these little care packages that had almost everything we needed for an overnight stay, except new clothes.  By the time we got out of the Atlanta Airport, it was 1am.  So needless to say, we were mentally exhausted.  Our expectations of arriving in Johannesburg by this time this morning are long gone; we actually have to catch a flight tonight at 7:30pm, so we’ll arrive there by Friday.

You’d think that we would be extremely upset that all of this happened, but in all honesty, we weren’t at all.  In fact, we’ve come to the fact that all of this was definitely a God thing.  Yes, all of that bad stuff did happen, but then it got totally turned around.  We got to have a good night’s sleep in an amazingly nice hotel, we have a lot of free food, and we feel so much more refreshed.  You see, I think Satan was extremely active yesterday; attempting to get us off course; attempting to get us upset and frustrated and angry.  For a little bit, his plan did work.  But after that, we couldn’t help but laugh.  God is good, all the time.  Amen?

Things may not always go the way you planned them to; they might go the exact opposite.  But NEVER doubt God.  Don’t doubt who He is, His power, His might, His love.  He has a plan, and He will always pull through; He NEVER fails.

We’re planning on going over the Atlantic Ocean tonight; but if God has a different plan in mind, then we’re following Him.  We’ve been called to go, but God didn’t say there wouldn’t be some rough patches along the way.

Live Fearlessly,

Abigail Cable

Nervous Butterflies, Anxious Smiles, Serving Hearts

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It’s currently 12:47am here in Chicago, Illinois.  I know I should be sleeping right now, but the anxiousness of tomorrow, (or today, in better terms.) is keeping me awake.  I really can’t believe I’m leaving for South Africa today.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that the only two emotions I’m feeling is excitement and happiness, but if I did that, I would be lying to you all.  Yes, I am really excited and happy, but I’m also a million other emotions as well; nervous, scared, lonely, sad, uncomfortable, weird.  I never thought at the age of 18 years old, I would be going to live in another country with a host family I’ve never met before for 11 months.

I know that God is faithful, and He alone is GOOD.  Being uncomfortable can be a sucky feeling sometimes, but in the end, it can be the most beautiful thing in the whole entire world.

This will be my last blog for a few days until I get settled in in South Africa.  Thank you to my friends and family, who have been amazing supporters of me; including Sean, who has encouraged me to keep pressing forward even when I’m tired. (:

South Africa, here I come; ready or not.
Live Fearlessly,

Abigail Cable

My Life Is Changing: Beautiful Moments.

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Anthony. That was his name. Anya and I saw him standing on the side of the street holding a sign.  He looked tired, hungry, helpless. I walked up to him and asked him if he had eaten dinner yet.  His answer was what I assumed it would be; no.  So we walked with him to Panera Bread, where the rest of the RJ team was at as well.  We made small talk along the way, asking him where he was from, how he ended up here in Chicago, how old he was, etc.  I don’t want to include the details about him, because I feel they aren’t important.  The important part of this story is simply Anthony.

So I got him some food, and we went and sat down at the table with everyone else from RJ.  Immediately, everyone started talking with him, just showing him love; letting him know that they are interested in his story; they really care.  I could see Anthony’s eyes lighting up as he was listening to our conversations and joining in as well.

As Anthony was finishing up eating, one of his friends walked into Panera; she was homeless as well.  She started talking to him, and the manager of Panera walked over to our table where we were sitting and said “Is there a problem here?”  And Anthony simply replied, “No, she’s my friend.  And I’m with them.” as he pointed to us. The manager walked away, looked at us, and said “Oh! Have a good evening then.”  I cannot even BEGIN to explain to you my anger after that man walked away.  Anthony slowly got up, thanked us so much for the food, wished us the best as we embarked on our journey’s, and walked away with his friend.  I sat there, still in disbelief that the manager of Panera had the audacity to say that to them.  Tears almost started to roll down my cheeks.  Who was that man to come up to people and ask them that question just because they didn’t have nice clothing, just because they didn’t look like us, just because he knew they weren’t middle class people?  I know it seems insignificant to some, but in that very moment, I wanted to become homeless.  If Anthony couldn’t eat at a simple restaurant with normal people without being questioned, then I didn’t want to either.  It’s funny, because it’s in that anger that I felt love.  I felt love and compassion for people like Anthony; people who couldn’t afford a dinner that night, or a place to sleep.  I felt love and compassion for the manager of Panera, who had no idea what was even going on, and who didn’t even take the time to ask.

9 chances out of 10, I will never see Anthony again in my life.  But if I did, I would tell him thank you.  Thank you for opening up my eyes to see that love goes BEYOND borders, sexual orientation, status quot, normality, classes in society, religion, etc.  I have no idea if Anthony even knew who Jesus was, and I regret not asking him. But for some reason, I have a feeling that Anthony’s gonna be okay; he’s going to have one amazing testimony. I’m not going to forget him.

At Living Water Community Church, we got the chance to have an amazing worship experience with people of so many different ethnicities. I would have to say one of the most moving parts of the service was when the African choir came up to lead some songs.  I have honestly never felt so touched by music in my life.  You see, this church was living simply.  There were no pews: only chairs.  They didn’t have this crazy awesome sound system, their worship band consisted of a piano player, guitar player, drummer, and 2 singers: no flashy lights.  For their potluck meal afterwards, there wasn’t another room they ate; we all picked up our chairs, set up tables in the same place we worshipped, and ate there. The sermon was short, maybe about 15 minutes, but let me say this; it was the most powerful sermon I’ve ever listened to in my life.  It was in that moment that I realized that I really disliked what the church was becoming.  Why do we need a huge worship band, why can’t we just sing praises?  Why do we need built in lights that shine EXACTLY where we want them too? Why do we feel that any sermon under 30 minutes or over 30 minutes is just not following that “30 minute sermon rule.”? Why do we feel that sermons have to be so epic; why can’t they be about studying the Bible, really getting in depth? I mean, have we thought about it at all? There are people gathering in underground churches in Asia, just to READ THE BIBLE. Just to really get in depth, to dig deeper. They have this undying, passionate, love to follow Jesus. That, my friends, is church.

Live Fearlessly,

Abigail Cable