Walk in the Light is a beautiful ministry, filled with beautiful people, serving a beautiful community. It is one that I know many APU students before have worked with and I hope many will continue to for the years to come. I have only spent seven days here and already it is changing me…. How that is even possible is absolutely beyond me.
Day one was spend gardening. The ministry grows vegetable crops and gardenia’s to make money to support themselves, and employ’s people from the township to harvest and sell the veggeis. We spent the day weeding, battling giant spiders (the size of my fist!), and planting gardenia plants. Everyone here is hilarious, and gorgeous. How such a large concentration of incredible people got all put on the same ministry site is puzzling. We are turning into a true community excited to serve both each other and the community of people in Haniville (the township we are working in with Walk in the Light).
Day two was spent walking through the town, meeting some people, including a paraplegic man who we are building a new house for (that right, I’m building a house!). The man was stabbed in the back by his daughter’s boyfriend, and he now spends his days in what is essentially a mud hut, where his daughter takes care of him.
Week two has been spent chopping down trees, digging trenches, wrestling with about sixty little rambunctious children, singing with the Gogo’s (grannys), sharing life dreams with the college group…the list goes on and on. Our team is focusing on empowering and engaging the community in hopes of learning who they are and where they are coming from. We have NO desire to “fix” them or “give advice”, we just want to be in relationship with them. It’s quite the challenge, and four weeks will only be enough time if God works in supernatural ways (which I trust he will).
One of the most precious and heart changing moments I have had thus far happened on Wednesday. We were all sitting with the Gogo’s singing Zulu worship songs, their voices perfectly harmonizing, with absolutely no need for instruments (I have no doubt I was in the midst of angels). It was so beautiful, and deeply moved me. After they were done we jumped into our community engagement session, and I was over come by the intense need to relieve my bladder. Slipping out the back door I took care of business and on my way back, I was suddenly tackled by about thirty little munchkins. They had all had so much fun playing with us the day before (which was more like run around us in circles with their never-ending supply of energy), they thought they would come back for some more play time . I knew there was no way I was going back into that room to sit and talk to grown ups when I had thirty little ones all vying for my attention and demanding entertainment. As tiny little pairs of eyes scanned me I felt a buzz of energy flicker among them and I decided that A. I was about to be attacked, unless B. I could find something to entertain and occupy them with.
Channeling my inner child I gathered the troops and had everyone pick some tall grass growing out in the field. We all climbed up into the tree house and tied together grass crowns and necklaces and sang some Zulu songs I have been learning. Once the boys reached their fill of sitting still and making jewelry they left us females to go play soccer and the little girls decided they just had to braid my hair. They insisted I had the softest hair in the whole wide world and that they would just die if I didn’t let them play with it. Before I even had a chance to respond seven pairs of hands descended upon my head from every direction and about ten braids were underway. Their adorable giggles mingled with the breeze rustling through the branches around us and it delighted my ears and softened my heart. My eyes suddenly registered what was in front of me, a pair of knobby knees revealing the early stages of HIV. My softened heart ripped into two. There are a select few times I can honestly say I was completely broken-hearted, this most defiantly was one of them.
I could try to find a way to wrap this memory in pretty paper, attempt to tie a shiny bow around it and make my heart a little less raw because of it, but I just don’t know how to. I am still processing this event, as well as the hundreds of other memories I am compiling here, and thorough it all I can honestly say I have seen more hurt, but at the same time more hope in the last two weeks, than I have in a long time. This time spent here at Walk in the Light has become a season of life full of beauty and joy starkly contrasted with pain and confusion. All I know to do is cling to the Kingdom and the grace that Jesus offers, otherwise I would be completely lost amongst my experiences here.
And. I have a cold straight from Hades. Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, no voice, body aching, cold. So inconvenient. It makes me more irritated than anything, but pray that I get better and don’t spread these horrid germs to others.