Many of you know that when I am not writing at my computer or doing story times for orphans and vulnerable children at after-school programs, my favorite activity is ice skating. Believe it or not Africa has rinks in Joburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Nairobi and Cairo. There may be more, but those are the ones I know about. Addicts like me check out places on the Internet.
Mud. Our spring-like temperatures have exposed a lot more of it the last few days. Thawing snow has revealed things in the ditches that died sometime in the past four months and have been buried in the Northwoods deep freeze ever since. Until now.
When we lived in Indianapolis, spring was my favorite season. Blooming dogwood and redbud reminded me of my mother who used to take outings to the family cabin in Brown County just to enjoy the flowering trees on the way. But here in northern Wisconsin spring is more about mud and accumulated debris left by the snowplows. And mud. Did I mention mud? The lake is still solid enough to drive on, but there is a layer of water on the surface—a layer that refreezes overnight as does the layer caught on the walk between the piles of snow on either side.
I learned a new way to eat marshmallows my last day at the Tembisa Baptist Church. Put it in your mouth; chew it; spit it back in your hand; stir to a paste with your finger and lick. Fully half the children ate their marshmallows this way. To make it last? my daughter suggests. Maybe. But I think next time I bring sweets it will be hard candy. (You will appreciate that this blog does not include a photograph for your edification.)
As you have probably figured out by now, things in Africa don’t always go according to plan. As they say, the three most important qualities in a missionary after faith in God are flexibility, flexibility and flexibility.
Wednesday was my last day at Arebaokeng. “When are you going to bring the children some sweets?” I was asked. My last day seemed like a good time.
I figured out last week that it wasn’t going to work. In writing workshops I have often used an exercise with three groups writing dialog to tell the story of Jack and Jill going up the hill to fetch a pail of water. In one group Jack and Jill are pre-schoolers. In another group Jack and Jill are an old couple who have been married for 50 years. In the last group Jack and Jill are a brother and sister who fight all the time.
This time the chaos was at Tembisa Baptist Church, the second location I visit.
I tried the dramas. Without a translator it never would have worked. It was hard enough to make the children understand that I didn’t want a speech but a drama, and that I didn't care what language they used. No one got the idea of showing the plans needed to reach the goal of becoming a nurse or teacher or police. I had to talk about that after the presentations.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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