Friday, November 29, 2013

Guardian Angels

Written on 15 October 2013

I am being watched over. 
My guardian angels protect, comfort, and guide me. 

There are many places where I go and have no clue what to do. At school, I can never remember where to go or when in the mornings. But luckily kids come find me and show me where to go. They greet me and tell me to either hurry up and head to the teacher prayer or hold my hand and guide me to the department prayer. They walk with me. As we play, they let me know when class is going to start. During celebrations at school I enter crowded rooms and stare frightfully at what I will have to navigate on my own. But I don’t need to fear; my eyes catch the eyes of my guardian angels and they motion to where I should sit. After school or on weekends, when I walk home through crowded streets, I hear “Elle” being shouted and know I will soon be accompanied by a young friend with a warm smile. As I pass houses on my walks, I find adults outside their homes; some greet me, some look confused and then smile when I greet them, but whenever I hear a high pitched voice say “Elle!” I know to look a little lower and see my guardian angels that welcome me and look after me to ensure that I am happy and well.

I knew this year was going to be about accompaniment. But I did not think that I would be accompanied by so many loving children, some of which I’ve only met once or twice. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Street Friends and Mangos

My street friends. Mangos. Two of my favorite things here. So I would like to share an afternoon where those two met up for a great time-at least in my eyes.

I am an introvert. I enjoy the time I have after coming home from school to sit and re-energize. But that time does not last long. Something I enjoy more is playing. Around 4 o’clock I head outside because I can hear small children coming together to play. My street friends. This is the term I use to describe the kids that live around me who have become my friends. We differ in age, me being almost 23, and they range between 4-8, but that does not matter when we play in the streets. As I walk out the door and down my driveway they usually spot me and come running, screaming “ELLE!” I brace myself for the dog pile I receive-they really enjoy jumping on me to greet me. J We play a game that I grew up calling “criss cross apple sauce” with a circular rope that is held apart by two people, wrapped behind their legs, while the others jump in and out, slowly moving the rope higher and higher. I find it funny because I am always a base person and so is the youngest and smallest girl that comes to play. I have to giggle when they have us put it at the same body part, when clearly my knees are at her hips. But, alas, that does not seem to bother or phase any of the other kids.

When that game wears out, we move on to another one. Hide and Seek. Their rules are slightly different then what I grew up playing and the person seeking has to ‘scope’ someone (call their name and say ‘scope’) before the hider runs back to the starting spot. I usually count. They hid all around my house, and this time I had to circle it before finding all of them. When we went running around the side we noticed the mangos on the ground from one of our mango trees. So we paused the game to collect mangos. There were enough good mangos on the ground for each of us to have one (over 6 good mangos). Luckily there is a water spout right there where we all wash the mangos to then bite into.

It was so joyous to be able to share that time with them. I found so much happiness in running barefoot around the house, finding mangos on the ground, washing right then and there and eating them in the company of friends, and then washing sticky hands to return to playing. It all felt natural, I felt close to the earth, I felt in touch with creation, I felt near God. I could see what she had created, yummy mangos, fresh water, tough feet, smiling children, and loving hearts. Things I am so grateful for. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Typical Day

Here is a play by play of a typical day with no extra meetings or gatherings that I get to attend.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

5:30 a.m.- Wake up. Go for a run around Shayandima. Admire the beauty of the mountains in the morning with the sun coming up opposite of them. Come home and collect (on average) the 10 mangos that fell from one of our mango tree last night. Sometimes I can carry them all in my hands; sometimes I need the help of my shirt. Eat breakfast – a delicious bowl of cereal. Read my morning devotion. Get ready for school.

6:55 a.m.- Leave for Tshilidzini Special School. If I time it right I usually run into a friend along the way and get to walk with them for most of the trip.

7:15 a.m.- Morning prayer for the teachers.

7:30 a.m.- Class begins.

10:00 a.m.- TEA TIME. Everyone breaks and the teachers go eat a lunch/snack and drink tea, and the kids go eat snack (they don’t have tea J). I have started going to the lunchroom with all the kids. I eat my apple and 2 mangos while they eat their pap, and fish (or beans and butternut squash, or another protein and vegetable) and apple.

10:30 a.m.- Class resumes. More learning. We have been doing a lot of reviewing because they have their exams soon. School calendar follows the year calendar here because our summer break is during the months of December and January.

1:30 p.m.- I knock off (finish work) and head for home. I have learned that the sun is really strong and hot. I have less than a 15 minute walk and have learned to use an umbrella to keep me shaded during this quick trip. As I walk there are many school children also on their way home. (There are 4 other schools that I know of on or near the main road that I walk, which creates for busy streets full of kids walking home). Many of them call to me, some know me and yell “Elle!” others just greet me in English and then are shocked and giggle when I respond in TshiVenda. J

2:00 p.m.- Home and usually eating lunch, which consists of pap and some meat (yesterday was chicken that my aunt cooked over the open fire-we call it braai, American version is bbq/grilled). I veg out for a little while eating and watching T.V. My aunt comes to join me with her lunch (the same thing). I then retreat to my room to rest and recharge during the hot hours of the day. Introverted time usually consists of either a quick power nap, letter writing, journaling, or just thinking.

3:30 p.m.- Small voices cry from outside our house “Elle!” “Ahh” (a greeting that females use) which means I am being summoned to go play. J They usually come sometime between 3:30 – 4:30. My neighborhood friends range from the age of 4-13 and the number of them ranges from day to day. There is never less than 3 and has made it up to 15. On Tuesday, there were 6 waiting for me at the end of our driveway. We sing songs, and play games in the street. When a car comes we yell “goloi” (“car”) and move to the side. I am thankful and lucky enough to be able to speak English. Many of them know English and some of them are learning. So we teach each other. I teach them English and they teach me TshiVenda. It is really funny when Edzi tries to get me to pronounce words. She speaks slowly and syllable by syllable, but does not understand that some letter combinations (vh- or fh-) do not happen in English (and therefore I will not be good at them) and we will sit for a while with me poorly repeating the same sound over and over while I watch her 7 year old mouth move. There is much laughter and we have a lot of fun.

5:45 p.m.- They now know that I LOVE watching the sun set behind the mountains and that I think it is just beautiful. So if I do not suggest it first, my friends will say, “let’s go watch that beautiful sun set.” It is our evening practice. On our way down the street we usually see more friends that we greet, and when we turn the corner the sun is beautiful. And of course our trip would not be complete if one does not just on my back for a piggy back ride, which then usually turns into everyone wanting a turn to jump on me. J Luckily they are small and the trip is not long.

6:30 p.m.- It is getting darker and roughly the time we all head home and inside. I go in and watch our favorite T.V. shows with my aunt. Before I do so, I go to close the windows in my room and shut my door and any other bedroom door that is still open. Sealing the rooms at night helps to keep the mosquitoes out.

8:30 p.m.- I head to bed. I get to practice saying "edele zwavuhdi" (sleep well) each night. I finish journaling for the day and tidy my room of whatever mess I created that day. I thank God for all the joy and beauty that is in my life.