Another African Weekend

I am glad to report that each weekend here has been spent doing something different than we would be doing in Virginia, and this past weekend was no different.   I will give you the highlights:

It started Friday when my friend Kristi and I took Rebekah and Ruthie to Bonginkosi Preschool for the morning.  This was Rebekah’s first visit to the school, and she was treated to a range of interesting sights including seeing cows and goats in the middle of a busy highway, seeing Muslim students outside the Islamic school across the street from Bonginkosi, rolling old tires around the yard for fun, and seeing a woman carrying a table AND box on her head! (Sorry my camera was not ready for that shot!)



In front of the new Bonginkosi garden

In front of the new Bonginkosi garden

Rebekah quickly adjusted to 35 children swarming her, wanting to touch her white skin, and yammering away at her in Zulu.  I think having her there made the experience less overwhelming for Ruthie as well.

This Mom asked me for a job... Women carry umbrellas for protection from the sun

This Mom asked me for a job... Women carry umbrellas for protection from the sun


Saturday was another equally interesting experience… I have been developing relationships with two ladies from Zimbabwe, Tsitsi and Thembi.  They do not have cars, so need to walk the mile or so to the nearest grocery store and then carry their bags (“packets”) back home.  On Saturday I offered to drive them to the store.  When I left the house shortly after noon I never expected to return after 5:30! You see, they were shopping for 1-2 MONTHS!

They took me to a store I had never been to before and, although crowded, I was one of the only white people inside!  The parking lot was surrounded by security guards carrying LARGE automatic weapons… Tsitsi and Thembi were shocked when I told them I had never seen anything like that before!  The “butchery” was also interesting with half muttons laid out in ice, and several meats I could not begin to identify.

It was sometimes awkward for me shopping with them because they could not afford anything that I was purchasing… They always chose the least expensive option, while I preferred some middle-grade selections.  While I was choosing snacks for the kids I noticed that they did not buy anything like that – no cookies or crackers or yogurt.  Just the basics.  We talked later about the differences, and they explained that the few choices they have for food now are much greater than what they had been eating in Zim… Mealy Meal three times a day.  I struggled not to feel guilty. Despite that, we had a very nice time together. .

Their relational African culture was evident when we finally returned home… Rather than dropping each lady off quickly (after spending so many hours together that was my intention!) they wanted to introduce me to all their relatives, have tea, and visit!  This happened at each house!  Tsitsi lives in a small two bedroom apartment with 10 relatives, and Thembi shares a bedroom in a small house occupied by three other families.  When I said to Tsitsi, “it must get crowded sometimes,” she said “no, this is just how we always live.”

All of this African culture prepared me for Sunday… our family went with Amy to a Zulu church!  She is a missionary kid whose father partners with a Zulu lay pastor in a nearby township.  The two of them preach at one church early in the morning, and then while they are singing, go to a second church to preach.  We went to the second church, a Baptist church, and purposely arrived 45 minutes into the singing time.  Despite this, we were still there for over 2 hours and much of that time was singing!  Although in Zulu, we loved the music.  The people in the church warmly welcomed us, and one teenager translated some of what was being said or done for Rebekah and I while Amy helped Brian and Rachel.

One interesting observation was that all the women sit on one side of the church while the men and children sit on the other.  Once the children leave the service for Sunday school, the men’s side is practically empty while the women’s side is full.   I checked this with Zanele today and she said both are typical – gender specific seating and far fewer men in attendance.

We will definitely return to that church sometime, hopefully with our MP3 player to record the music!


2 Responses to “Another African Weekend”

  1. 1 Kylie February 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    That sounds like quite the weekend! Mom said that your back was bothering you again after your shopping trip, and now I can see why. What an experience, one that you won’t forget I’m sure.
    All the people you’re meeting sound like beautiful people. Have you figured out how you’re going to pack them all to bring them back with you? 🙂 Love you.

  2. 2 Deb Sweigart February 19, 2009 at 4:31 am

    The children are so beautiful – keep posting pictures! I love the one of Rebekah with the school child. Phew! I’m not sure I could have survived such a marathon shopping adventure – so cool to hear all the ways you are loving on the people around you!

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