Wednesday, April 19, 2006




Pictures: The first four pictures are of businesses along the streets of Mamelodi. Two hair-style places, a tire store, and a muffler store (I am not being funny, they are stores that provide real services.) The final two pictures are views of the informal settlements. (Raymond, our taxi driver that gets our team to the construction site) told us that people can buy prefabricated walls (not unlike the ones above) for about Rand750 (or about US$135). When asked "Where did all of these people come from?" The common answer is "I don't know, they just came.")

"What you have done in four days would have taken us years."

Last evening, the pastor of the local church (our sister church) said the above words. Initially, I was trying to figure out that if it was accurate that it would have taken years to build one of the houses that we are building. "Getting funds together, getting building material, getting assistance -- ok, maybe it would take a long time" was my traing of thought.

Then it dawned on me that he didn't really mean years to build the houses, but years to build the relationships. Relationships with the people of the formal and informal settlements, with the people of the local church, and with the local media, and with the local politicians.

It is still a long row to hoe, but perhaps our visit has shortened some steps in the journey of improvement.

For me, it is interesting to see what I've learned. Before we left, I think that my wife was getting a little -- well, frustrated is not the right word, but a diet version of frustrated is -- that I was not getting excited about going and that I was thinking that it was just another construction job.

Well, I was wrong. Its not just another construction job.

Right now, I can't think of appropriate words that describe how I'm feeling each day/moment or even what I'm learning -- or maybe I just don't really want to post them. But, I am receiving my own education of who I am, perhaps a little more of my purpose, and perhaps even a little closer to the ultimate goal.

From our side, the hardest part about leaving here will be to remember-to-remember what we've learned, what we've felt, and whom we've met. Not unlike a morphine drip button, it'd be great to have a Mamelodi-drip button to put us back in our learning place. That'd be good.

The pictures above will provide a little input of what things here look like and how society operates. But they won't do justice to the interactions with the residents. They won't provide the choked-up feeling when we talk to people. And they won't provide the flow of joy in simple things of life.

No comments: