Friday, January 23, 2009

The Beginning of an official update:

So I have been in Africa for a week now and a lot has happened. Let me try to catch up:

I left Maryland for Johannesburg, Africa on Thursday, January 8th. I had a layover in Detroit, where I caught my plane to Amsterdam. I was able to sit next to a nice family who had moved from the U.S. to Amsterdam. I was to meet up with Laura and Monique, two other girls in my DTS (Discipleship Training School), on the flight to Johannesburg, but the hour layover only allowed for me to frantically try to understand the workings of the Shipol airport (apparently gates F do not come after gates E). Our seats were messed up, so I did not meet up with them till we got off of the flight. We arrived in Joburg (as it is referred to here) around 11:00 p.m. on Friday, January 9th. Joburg airport is under major construction because the World Cup is going to be here next year. As we were standing inline to get through customs, I heard my name called over the loud speaker: my bags had not left Amsterdam and would arrive in Joburg the following night. They would drive it out to where I would be on Sunday.
Monique, Laura, and I were picked up by the Emerald Guesthouse and taken to our room. We weren’t tired, but we decided to go to sleep- there wasn’t anything we could do that late at night anyway. The next morning, January 10th, the girls let me borrow their shampoo so I could take a much-appreciated shower. After our continental breakfast, sat in our room and read and napped until it was time to be taken back to the airport to catch our shuttle to White River. One thing we had neglected to think about was tipping our drivers, and the room cleaners, but we took care of it. We caught our Lowveld Shuttle and became our four hour trek to White River, Mpumalanga (m-pumba-langa).
Jen Price, our DTS leader, and Song (who is a Korean, his first name is David, but everyone calls him Song), one of our staff members, picked us up at the White River Lodge and took us to the base. Since it is so close to Kruger Park, White River is an interesting mix of African culture and Asian Markets.
When we arrived at the base, there were about 70 people in all. There were three short-term mission teams from New York, Orlando, and Worchester (in Africa, pronounced wooo-ster). We ate dinner together, and one of the girls from the Orlando team, Sharai, gave me her extra tooth brush since I did not have my bags, nor did I pack any toiletries on my carryon. Brittany, another DTS staff member, hooked me up with bedding.
There are seven people in my DTS. Monique is twenty-four, hailing from Minnesota with a degree in some sort of international hospitality. Laura just turned twenty right before we left. She is from Wisconsin but she goes to school in Pittsburg (woohoo!). Stanley is twenty-three and he is from somewhere nearby us. I’m no good with these African cities. Eunice is a single mother with the most adorable little baby girl and is also from around here. There are two other students who have yet to join us. They have to take the DTS before becoming permanent staff, but they are having trouble selling their house in the states.
Sunday, January 11th, we went to a church called Salt, which meets in Salt Restaurant. The Orlando team did a drama, and one of their staff members led worship. Laura let me borrow a skirt since I still didn’t have my bags. Rich, who is on staff for my DTS, gave the message.
After church there was a Welcome Briaa for the new DTS and staff at the Price’s home. We had delicious food and a great time meeting everyone. And luckily- my bags were delivered!
When we got back to the base, I unpacked, showered, and changed for the first time in three days. Sunday nights are left over nights on the base, but I was so full from the Briaa that I didn’t eat anything. After dinner we had our first community night experience. There was a time of worship, and then we had a time to get into groups and confess aloud our sins and remind each other that we are forgiven.
Monday, January 12th, was our first day of class and our week of orientation. Before class we had a community prayer/worship time. We learned some African songs and we prayd for those going out into the communities. We went over the guidelines, the schedule, and did introductions. Brittany talked about servant hood. She made us pair up and wash each other’s feet. It was very interesting- not only because I am not a fan of feet, but also because I had never done anything like that before. She then gave us our work duties and I am on meal prep.
Tuesday, January 13th, we talked about intercession and worship. Laura and I took our first dip in the pool, and I got my first mosquito bite.

I will finish this update later!
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