Ten Ways I’m Becoming South African

1. I typically say things like, “It’s not a train-smash.”; “How’s it?”; “Get in the bakkie.” (pick-up truck); “Shame.”; “Haibo!” – a Zulu expression, typically used when children do something surprising, either negative or positive.

2. I watch American movies and there’s always a moment of confusion when I’m convinced people are driving on the wrong side of the road.

3. I’m averaging a mug of tea every two hours, even on 90+ degree days.

4. I sometimes forget my umbrella on days that it drizzles, but never when the temperature is any where near or above the 80s.

5. Half of the stickers on my water bottle are SAfrican – one from my church’s diocese, proclaiming to the world that I am “Proudly Lutheran” and one for the Kaizer Chiefs (#khosiforlife), a local soccer team who, to be honest, haven’t been doing so great this year, but as my brother tells me, being a fan isn’t about just supporting our team in the good times (my entire family are die hard Chiefs fans). Which means that my stickers now show my support for marriage equality, Alaskan beer, Lutheranism, and SAfrican soccer. Really, what else is there? 

6. LunchBar (something akin to a 100Grand Bar in the States) and P.S. I Love You (sort of like a KitKat) are rivaling my love of Rolos and Gummy Worms. Reeses stay uncontested as number one.

7. A meal feels incomplete without rice or phutu – a sort of mashed potatoes consistency starch made from cornmeal. 

8. When trying to speak French to two men from Switzerland, I could not force my mouth to speak anything but Zulu. 

9. My marriage proposals from complete strangers are dwindling into the single digits per week.

10. I constantly confuse my family by calling both our house home and the States home. Little do they know the amount of internal confusion it creates too.

John 1

My heart is crying.

Crying for all that is swallowed
by the tidal wave of Western conformity.
 
Crying for those who feel they are worth less
or worthless.
 
Crying for the blank stares fashioned by
poverty
hatred
exclusion.
 
My heart laments innocence lost before it’s time,
Grieves for unjust pain,
Whimpers out of unfairness.
 
I cannot be the only one
who wants to scream into the silence.
The silence that is my only answer
When my soul questions what my eyes see
But what my mind cannot comprehend.
 
The silence, as oppressive as darkness,
Steals hope, steals possibility, steals morality.
Small voices cry out into the empty space,
Attempting to beat back the abyss.
 
Into this wilderness, a sudden blaze.
Darkness is shattered, no more than a window pane.
Pain forgotten,
All falls second to the overwhelming fire.
 
The light shines in the darkness and it was not overcome.
 
The light
Of a child’s smile
Of a woman’s belly-deep laughter
Of a man’s grateful tears.
 
The light
Of a tireless social worker
Of an ambitious new graduate
Of those too stubborn, or too hopeful, to give up.
 
Small glows from small candles,
growing together, becoming the blaze
setting aflame to
injustice, hatred, greed,
leaving soil rich and dark
for love, laughter, and understanding.
 
“Pay attention!” each candle calls.
“Pay attention – it is not all shadows.
The darkness is real, but it is not all.
Do not get lost – come with us.
We will show you the Way.
The Way is the Word
And the Word was made flesh.
So grab hold of us.
Entwine our hands.
Walk with us.
We will show you the Way.”