Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 11, 2011

June 11,2011

Home, somewhat tired, but back in the swing of things with a search interview this AM. How does one remember and evaluate two compact weeks of travel? Reflect first.

With our evening debriefing, others noted that the tour of Robben Island seemed somewhat tame, perhaps even sanitized. I started rolling through my pictures of Robben Island and noted that there were some changes. The cell [I believe it to be the same] that had contained a sign noting it as a residence of Nelson Mandela, no longer had the sign or the camber pot that had to be cleaned each morning. Instead there was a simple pad and blankets that were the normal offering to all prisoners. I remember a harshness from the former prisoners who gave life to the roughness of their incarceration. Maybe the presenters have mellowed, how long can one maintain an anger? While I had the opportunity to go into the limestone pit seven years earlier, they now want to preserve the area by not letting people go into the pit, apparently for some pictures were not enough, but they chose to gather a piece of history.

While shopping was done sporadically during the trip, the craft stores at the Harbor, captured attention and Rand [dollars].

Tuesday brought the Rev. Deon Snyman of the Restitution Foundation into our lives. In meeting the LTSP at the Crypt coffee shop under St. Georges Cathedral, he introduced himself as the child of an Afrikaner. In ministry in a township church, his father noted that he may not be able to change, but he was offering his son to the congregation so that they might teach the son about being a good pastor and a good South African, and perhaps his son could work on him. The Restitution Foundation, sees its role as first explaining the need for a final phase after Truth and Reconciliation, and that is restitution. It is first to be defined and then to see how it works for individuals and for communities. Finally they work to provide financial support for those who need assistance in development projects. They will work in partnership with businesses with good business plans, but difficulty in securing bank loans. The foundation’s support is that they will guarantee the interest on the loan from a lending institution. Interesting form of support.

St. George’s Cathedral- The Arch Bishop’s Church – the seat of many conversations and demonstrations involving Desmond Tutu. The church celebrates its historic role in the anti-apartheid movement. The church continues to celebrate its role in continuing to serve all of humanity in Cape Town. The church has signs that proclaim it to be an HIV friendly place, with some daily services dedicated to those suffering from the disease.

District Six Museum. What does it mean to do Urban Renewal of stable neighborhoods that are inter-racial, inter-cultural, and the first stop for immigrants to a new country, for the simple fulfillment of a group areas act which said that races have to be separate. Only in the last decade has there been significant development of the area that was closed due to the 1948 Group Areas act. Victims run the Museum, offer the tours and tell their own stories of seeking restitution even today.

Cape Point – not really the southernmost tip of South Afria, but close enough for those of us from the northern hemisphere. Rounding the Cape of Good Hope seemed to be a goal of all mariners, but the reality it was also a treacherous section of the sea lanes for many years. The Baboons poised for pictures, but unlike our last trip did not see food available that could be taken from unsuspecting tourists. The Penguin rookery was as usual fascinating, with babes in dark brown coats who could not swim, to maturing blue grey youth about ready to take the first dip in the ocean and lots of pairs sharing the responsibility of parenting.

Simon’s Town – One of the last hold outs in the Group Areas act resettlement. As a fishing port Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town were places where the races had intermingled and intermarried for over 100 years. Families covered all shades and textures of hair and other distinctions that the apartheid government chose to use as tools of racial identification. We arrived late by the hosts gave us quick access and even a personal story in the half hour we had prior to their closing.

On Thursday, June 9th on a guess and google map, we headed toward the Black owned winery M’hudi. Diale Rangaka - Viticulturist/Export Marketer, shared his personal story of being an English Liturature teacher, who yearned for a farm similar to the one he grew up on near Rustenberg. Though a university professor and his wife were professionals, they chose to go on a family adventure buying a vineyard in 2002. They are the only Black family owned winery in South Africa. Without advance notice he regaled us in conversation and wine tasting for nearly two hours. [I do not drink and drive on the left side of the road.] This true note of hospitality was most appreciated as we ended our time in South Africa.

Four flights later we are back in the US, recuperating and resting for the next educational adventure. Safe travels, thanks be to God.


Monday, June 6, 2011

6 June 2011

6 June 2011

Saturday night was a subtle event at the Hexagon Theatre with Ryan Calder’s band. See Http:// To vote for a good independent band from South Africa. Grey hairs were in abundance, but then our group felt that the music reflected a good deal of their tastes. All except one are over 40, but with peace and love as themes we were hooked.

Sunday after an hour drive to Greytown and another 30 minutes to the township we worshipped in Zulu with another former student, Caleb Ndlovu. Again we experienced “high” worship in a most unusual setting. This is Caleb’s style, but the congregation is happy with his leadership for three years after they had been vacant for five. Hospitality abounded both in the congregation and afterward.

An hour and half drive later we were at the Gateway. Shopping Center north of Durban to meet with Xolelwa Mshubeki. She was the only female in the class during my sabbatical. She is now in her second parish of 9 congregations and she is assisted by two self-supporting pastors [that means that they have other jobs to support their families and preach on weekends.] Every congregation is served communion once a month. That is in sharp contrast to the communion celebration in the rural parish in Zulu land and the Sowetan parish from last Sunday.

A mad dash to the closed airport and the new one made life interesting, but not exciting. After midnight we checked into our B&B in Cape Town. Robben Island came early for those with little sleep, but even for the second time it is a stunning place with in prison tours still led by those who had been incarcerated for political activity. The sharp contrast to a bustling city of Cape Town to the arid township outside of Greytown is stunning. Sitting in a 24 hour internet café two blocks from the B&B seems odd after the other places we have been. It seems odd to be doing this 19 years after our first seminary visit, when apartheid had not been removed and Mandela was still in jail. Till later.

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 2, 2011

June 3, 2011

On June 1 in the am we met the theological faculty at LTI and had a good discussion around the topic of congregational mission, especially after the end of apartheid. It is intriguing that they also raised an issue that the government coopted many of the church leaders from the apartheid movement and thus many leaders of the church felt it more important to lead the church. Social issues became the property of the ‘new government’

The evening meeting with students started with a reflection on the history of South Africa by Mongi Zulu an instructor at LTI. The questions raised by students are not any different than the ones raised by American students. They too are concerned about leading increasingly older congregations. They know that their challenge will be to get their college classmates involved with the church, which many of them have placed on a back burner at best. Calls that make sense in a time of economic downturn, lack of emphasis on children’s ministry, continuing education, workload of congregations and stress on family life. Generally all of us were impressed by their openness in sharing.

Thursday we traveled to Durban and spent time in and around the Indian Ocean, but the afternoon was time well spent with the Council of Churches in Durban and their work on Economic, Health and Social Issues, and Environmental issues challenging South Africa. They were especially concerned the lack of American influence as it pertains to Carbon footprint and Global warming, two especially critical issues in South Africa. We were encouraged to contact our legislative bodies to change the USA stance at the COP17 event in Durban this Fall. HIV/AIDS especially in Durban was a focal point in the work of Health and Social Issues, as was the status of Women, especially in the Church.

Preaching at the Ascension Service was a personal highlight, but the worship was an extreme change from my sabbatical time. Bishop Bieyla is the Chaplain and we had a full liturgical event with smells and the bells of a full house of voices singing praises to God in 4 languages. Good sharing the night before with the students made it seem that we were a part of a much larger family. Conversations continued late.

Today was the Msunduzi Museum which explored the role of the Boer Movement, the English control and the Zulu presence and ultimate control of KwaZulu Natal. The history of an area that reflects immigration of Hindus, Moslems, Christians and Independent African religions was reflected along with the mixing of races that goes back to the 18th century. It’s now down time and I’m posting. TTUL.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

IT took a week to get online

June 1, 2011

A week goes by quickly when one is keeping six people together in a rush to museums, appointments, railway trains, meals, bed and breakfasts, and hoping it all falls into place. Thus far, so good. Oh Yeak, I'm still driving on the left side of the road....

Charles Leonard and Jennifer Soltis arrived right on schedule and we made connections after four of us, Tom Schornovacchi, Altressa Boatwright, David Hoxter and I wandered the halls of the Apartheid Museum which had a stunning special exhibit on Mandela. Though it’s my third time there were elements that I had not seen before, or had not spent time reading all the details of a particular time in my life time that has at least captured my attention. We never made it to the Hector Petersen Museum. There is such a thing as too much information, and we all hit overload.

Worship with one of my former students, James KenoKeno Mashabela was wonderful. If I can find time and space, I will try to post an audio portion of the service. Hospitality overflowed with worship and dreams of the future by congregational members and the pastor as they saw ministry developing in their neighborhood that they could address. Arriving late in the afternoon we spent time the Martin Mabane and his two parishes. These two different former missions are looking at cooperation in being relatively close and served by one pastor. A new vision for a new age. Again hospitality over flowed as we wearily stopped by Mandela Square late in the evening to eat and wonder at the large version of a man who cast a larger shadow on this intriguing country.

Great conversations with Theology Faculty from the University in South Africa [UNISA] along with a few members of the Law faculty. Though the questions were primarily in the area of theology and the issues of government in a nearly 17 year old country, the theologians did not seem to want to deal with questions that came from the Law Faculty. There is a finality about the Law that does not lend itself to the ongoing dialogues that can take place among religionists.

Stopping at LUCSA proved to be both enlightening from the conversation with Kristen Opalinski, who is the Communications Officer. This Reading, PA former missioner and now staffer showed us her work in informing a world of the work of this segment of Lutheran Work. It was stunning to know that she is “Philadelphia Union” fan. Oh we just happened to see along the way Bishop Phashwana, Bishop Buthelezi, Rev. Phillip Knutson and the Executive Director of ELCSA

Rush hour mad dash to the train station to drop the rental car and catch a train to Maritzburg. Cold and rocking until the blankets arrived. A chicken and drinks picnic and interestingly enough a good sleep. Thank God we arrived late, so it was one taxi to the car rental and then a drive to the Lutheran Theological Institute. Meeting with Beverly Haddad and HIV Aids study program and neighborhood activist program that is a model of public theology in the midst of and academic enterprise for theological preparation for ministry is quite stunning. Lots of questions and dialogue with staff.

Why don’t Americans have Teas breaks? The Theology faculty and students were gathered for tea after our morning presentation and good questions and conversations emerged. It was good to see some of the same faculty that I had seen 3 years ago. Housing at Kenosis an AIDS orphanage and retreat center has slowed us down. In our debriefing, there was finally a question of “when do we get some down time.” There is an element of information overload.

This morning, we met with Georg Scriba, Pastor at Hayfields and retired Administrator for LTI about mission and ministry in Southern Africa. He rolled a semester course into a little more than an hour and shared his own story as a South African, and the challenges he sees facing him and the church he loves for the future. Detlev Tönsing has graciously let us use his home wi-fi to get these messages out to you.