Saturday, January 11, 2014

Post Office Walk

Walking to the post office is probably one of my favorite things. It is not just because going to the post office means that I get to send letters to loved ones, reminding them of how special they are, nor is it just because I get to receive letters from loved ones, reminding me that I am still thought of. No, my trips to the post office consist of something uniquely special. An experience of community, my community. Every time I come home from the post office I have a story. I try to save my trips to the post office for days when not much is going on, when I don’t travel to the store with my mom, when people don’t come over. Each trip is an adventure in itself and I never want to rush through it. I don’t have the vocabulary to express how much I LOVE going to the post office. So I will just describe my trip today, January 11, 2014. (Sorry for the length in advance, there’s just so much God that I have no words—which means I have to us many J ).

Today is a restful day for the family, nothing is planned. I grab the post office key for our PO Box and I head out the door just after 10:15. The walk down the street takes about 15-20 minutes. Now this is with the Venda pace. Not the American pace that is taught to our legs as we grow up fighting our way through crowded high school halls, and then further ingrained in our system as we try to cram our days full and basically run from meal to class to meeting to event. No, this is the pace that you travel at because it is too hot to go any faster than a stroll. Plus, traveling at this pace creates time and space for unique opportunities and fellowship.

I walk down the drive and see my friend doing work in his driveway right across the street. I greet him and then turn left out of our driveway and see in his backyard two of my young friends (his siblings) on the back patio. I yell “Ndi matsheloni” (good morning) to greet them. They answer back with smiles and wave. I head down the road and at the intersection I find my good friend emerging from the patio of our neighbor’s house. She comes to give me a hug and we exchange some conversation. I greet the rest of my neighbors on the patio and tell them I am off to the post office. They wish me good travels and I wish them well as they stay. When I round the corner, I greet my other neighbor. He is one of my favorite people. He is 72 years old and continually reminds me the importance of walking, staying active, and learning. I love talking with him. He was in the middle of a conversation with a woman from my church. Both of them greeted me and I kindly greeted them. (when greeting an elder, or anyone older than you, to show respect you bend your knees, bow, and place your hands together). I do this and he goes off about how I am learning so well and how I am always writing so I can learn—which is true J my community now knows that I pretty much write down everything J.

As I travel up the road, loving that I get to see so many people, I see another young friend of mine. He is seated on the curb just hanging out. I tell him “Ndi matsheloni, mungana” (good morning, friend). We exchange a handshake and I continue on my way.

A white pick-up truck approaches right as I am about to greet some more of my little friends who are traveling down the road. Before I can scoop them up in a hug I realize that the car belongs to my good friend and neighbor, whom I have not seen for a very long time. He warmly greets me and we shake hands through his open window. We talk for a little bit before he has to go, by now my little friends are far down the road, but I am sure that I will catch up with them soon.

On the corner of the main road is a family member’s house. I have not been introduced to everyone who stays there, but I regard all of them as family. A man exits their gate and I greet him. We begin to walk together along the main road. He asks about me and what I am doing here. I tell him I am a volunteer with the Lutheran church. We keep talking and then he tells me I have two minutes to tell him about the Bible. Okay, go! J I smile and try to think of something to say. I talk about love, and how we should love each other because God loves us and commands us to do so. And we should greet one another and treat them like we would Jesus. And that we are all unique and special, and that Jesus loved even those that no one else liked, the poor and tax collectors, so we too should treat each other with kindness and love, even the outcasts. We keep walking and talking and this man is wonderful! He begins to quote the Bible and we talk about love (1 Cor. 13) and how God made us in His image (Gen. 1:26), and how Jesus has always been (John 1:1). We walk a good while and talk about God and love almost the whole way to the post office. A few meters before I’m going to turn into the post office he tells me that this is his barber and wishes me good travels, and I wish him the same “Tshimele zwavhudi” (go well) as I continue on, beaming from our interaction.

After I collect my mail I head home. There are two roads that go to the post office, and I like to travel both of them. On the way back I head past the playground. There weren’t any kids on it and I decided that I was going to go swing for a bit. As I walk on the dirt path amongst the over grown grass toward the swing set, three kids come running past me to the swings J (and yes there are only three swings). So instead of deviating from my original destination, I decide I am going to push them on the swings and join in on their fun. We laugh and swing and yell and talk. I push them for a good while and one of the girls kept saying “push me!” and then when I would step towards her she would scream “NO NO NO!” terrified of swinging too high. A dad and his little boy also come over to the swing set. I push the three kids a few more times and then tell them I have to go.

As I make my way out of the dirt path, dodging the puddles from the rain these past few days, I head up the road, rejoicing about all the people I have met so far and how the church I am approaching has music blaring out from it and women with traditional Venda wear are going inside, I hear the same kids I was just with yelling and running toward me a good few meters away. I stop and turn around to wait for them. All five of them, dad and 4 kids, are coming my way. We walk and talk together. The dad and I talk about what I do here and where I am staying. Part of me wonders if they are going to walk me home to see where I stay-this has happened before with three kids who saw met me and played with me on the playground for the first time a few weeks ago. J But I found out that they stay over there, pointing slightly to the left of where we were walking, and they turned a corner before I did. I was so happy to walk with them and share in our travels.

Smiling, I continue my walk, greeting those who pass. A woman greets me and I her, she laughs for it is unusual for a white person to know TshiVenda, and then she asks my name. I tell her “Elelwani” and she tells me her name. I say “nice to meet you,” she laughs which causes me to giggle and we both continue on our way.

When I round the corner, I see my friend that hugged me earlier at another neighbor’s house. I go over to say hi to her and three of my little friends who I have not seen in a long time, they were the ones that passed me on the road as I began my journey. I now scoop them up in warm hugs, greeting them. As I walked further up their driveway, talking with a woman around my age, I notice that my other friend is helping do building work next door. I greet him and we talk for a bit, I ask about what they are working on. They are breaking down an old structure to build a new one. After a few minutes, I head out.

I then make my way back home rounding my last corner and up my driveway. I look at my watch and smile seeing that it is 11:15. All I can do is beam from my walk and how special it was. I thank God that She FILLS my journeys with Her Spirit each time I travel. Each journey is beautiful beyond words.

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