Monday, April 17, 2006

Real Construction and Blessings

Pictures: Loosened up Americans with Mamelodi toddler, South African boy with yoghurt cup, baby sleeping in wrap on mom, Construction (2 photos).

Personal Note from Deborah to her husband (a fellow constructioner): "Greg, I am doing really well."

Today, we started construction for real -- it was great.

It was great to see the numerous people getting to do real work. The first task that we accomplished was just plain moving the concrete blocks to the construction site - bucket birgade style. To move a trailerful of blocks in about 10 minutes was refreshing -- kind of like a warm up session.

People in the Township - it is referred to as "17" were out and about and were watching us. I've been told the leaders that the construction that we are doing is appreciated, but apparently, the greater reward is that "17" is seeing that people (a majority of them white) are doing what they said they would do, when they said they'd do it. This is the real story that is now cascading out of the Mamelodi Township, south to Pretoria and Johannasburg. There was a story on the news about the efforts and the partnership. Perhaps, this will create enough buzz for the beginning of a tipping point -- tipped toward people are people.

During church yesterday, one of the pastors said somthing that stuck to me: "From the lowest Christian to the highest, where the lowest will be blessed and to the highest who will be a blessing."

There have been numerious Divine Interventions for me on this trip - one could call them coincidences -- but there is something greater going on. I can't describe it or adequately write about it, but one can sense it - much like a sound at such a low frequency that you can't hear it with your ears, but you can sense it with your body. Even today at the Church, there was a service for the beginning of work - the Americans were looser, were dancing more and singing more.

I sat next to a Sohto woman that spoke a little English (since her English was better than my Sohto, we chose English). She explained some of the Sohto songs being sung and that was good. But in retrospect, this woman that I didn't know, that was (I got the feeling) normally a shy person (at least around white people) initiated the conversation and translation -- that is not really normal. It was either Divine Intervention that she should speak to me or just her everyday faith that overcame any timidness and knew that she should reach out.

Amazing. Inspiring. A Blessing. Just-plain-good-stuff. All are good descriptions.

Back to the construction for a moment. Our South African construction contact was happy with us. He told the project superintendents (about the American workers), "You just show them once how to do something . . . and they do it!" Good for the Constructors. Today, it wasn't hard to know how to be a blessing.

Now here is a personal story that I've shared with a bunch of people around here already. Yesterday, I was sure to pack some "known-clean" food for during the day (I was an early victim of an unwashed apple). Anyway, I packed some granola bars and a chocolate bar. I put all of them in my pocket. It gets hot in South Africa -- hot enough to cause a Hershey's bar to liquify. Fortunately, I took it out of my pocket before it exploded out of its foil. During an evening wrap up at Charity and Faith Church, I set it on top of my gym bag so (a) I wouldn't step on it and (b) so I could remember to throw it away.

Well, during the meeting, it solidified a little bit, so I decided to take it back to the hotel. After it solidified, I offered it to several people, but they didn't want it.

So today after all of our construction activities, but before dinner, I saw it and decided that I'd take it downstairs to eat while waiting for all of us to gather. I began eating it and thought to myself, "Re-solidifying chocolate tastes a little different than original-chocolate." But, I didn't care too much and I kept eating.

As I went to break off a third piece or so, I glanced down at the bar and saw that there was some type of writing on the inside - I was thinking a contest or something -- then I realized that it was my wife's writing and one of our son's name -- Garrett. I laughed out loud and a few of the people around me turned and looked at me.

I (now) carefully opened the rest of the wrapper and removed the bar. And there in my wife's handing writing it said "We hope that you are having a great day! Love, Kim, Kira, Morgan, Garrett, and Darby." It choked me up.

For me to have kept that seemingly mushy, almost non-edible candy bar and then take it back to the hotel and then actually have enought light to see the writing (instead of opening it on the bus), and to actually look back at the foil (did I mention that my wife put her writing inside the foil part of the wrapper and then re-wrapped it?) was once again just amazing. At the least, there had to be some vibes that I was receiving from Kim. I'd like to think that perhaps there was some God-like vibe-intensifier in there with the assist.

Thanks Kim -- what a great support network I have -- lucky, lucky.


Anonymous said..., they are making you work!! Did you get to stay with a host family? I read on someone else' blog about you guys being able to give an exyra 20,000 to the church/hospice b/c of the savings from the hotel. Wow! Cool to read your stories...sounds like you will come back a changed person. We would take the old Dave Thurston, but this new, even wiser version sounds good too. Great animal pics by the way!

Jim and Kristin

Dave Thurston said...

Things are still going well. Sore muscles abound. Re: spending the night, I opted out - the apple that I didn't wash got me in a bad way. When Titus said that some people might have to use a pot in the middle of the night (as it was too dangerous to use the outdoor toilet) -- I decided to opt out. Re: the donation, yes you are correct, we were able to donate about 137,000 Rand which I guess it about US$22,000.