30 December 2007


An article I wrote about my friend's struggle with AIDS and the battle to obtain ARVs has now been published by my university's newspaper. See the below link to read the pdf version.


peace & joy in 2008.


17 December 2007


Well, after 36 hours of travel during the holiday season, I finally arrived in San Diego! I'm still quite overwhelmed by the mass amounts of people, traffic, holiday decorations... the list goes on and on. The London airport was a rude awakening to the Western world (see below post) but I am so glad to be home. There truly is no place like home!

Thank you again for all your prayers & encouragement. I look forward to catching up with many of you in person!

Warmest blessings this holiday season.

14 December 2007


Well here I am in the London Heathrow airport, sitting at my laptop with my Starbucks Gingerbread Latte in hand. I’m back to the land of commercialism and over-stimulation. As I passed through the hour-long security line into the terminal I was bombarded by duty-free shops. Channel, Burberry, Border’s, MAC, all the big boys. I’m back. I was just short of bursting out in tears as my senses were attacked by masses of people, adverts and overfriendly salesman. I’m back.

And then it happened. My great fear. I started looking at those Marc Jacobs shoes. Oooh those are the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. I noticed the tall Londoner pass me with her designer purse and to-die-for boots. And then another one. And suddenly I felt so inadequate. If I just had that bag. Oh or those books!

This is not happening. Yet another attack of tears. Oh God help me!

Suddenly I was flooded of pictures from my last 7 months. Handing out soup to that little boy with no shoes in the middle of a rainstorm. I’m thinking about that lovely pair of leather boots. Pleading with my HIV positive friend to eat lots of vegetables and take care of herself while I am gone. I’m enjoying my $5 dollar coffee. Holding a little Zambian orphan who was fascinated by my fat. I’m eyeing the skinny blonde across from me. My beloved coffee shop staff who were thrilled to accompany me to the airport because they had never been to one before. This year I have been in 11 airports.

I think I’m going to be sick. I wanna go home. To Paarl.

Oh God, help me. Flood me with your wisdom and compassion. Make me more like your son.

13 December 2007

homeward bound//week31

Well I cannot believe 7 months has already passed. In some senses it's flown by. In other ways, it feels as if I've lived in Paarl forever. I run into familiar faces at the grocery store. I discuss politics at braais (bbqs). I'm in churches' "family pictures." I'm referred to as auntie by all the staff's children- even sister by some of them. I'm one of them.

Just the other day my pastor introduced me as an African American to a new friend. And there's some truth to that! In some ways, I've become very African. I'm always late. I take hot milk with my tea and coffee. I say "is it?" and "ja." I complain about our 10-cars-on-the-road "traffic." I watch soccer. I don't wear shoes. I've become South African. Yet, it's very obvious I am American. I like email and lists. I demand my rights. I barely speak 1 language, let alone 4. And I want to fix everything, on my own.

And now as I prepare to start my journey home tonight, I look forward to many things about America- Mexican food, Starbucks, fast Internet and excellent education!

On a serious note, I do crave the community that APU has generous given me, the wise words of my mother and the humor of my father and siblings. I look forward to returning home. But I approach the return with caution because of the dreaded word- "reentry."

Many questions come to mind. Will I be overwhelmed by the fast paced society? What have I forgotten? Will I be able to enjoy the same things I did before? What will frustrate me? Will I be understood?

I think those questions stand as my prayer requests. So as you think of me, along with the safety of my 36 hour journey, be praying for the great reentry process. I'm expecting beauty within the pain of leaving one home for another. And I await the even greater lessons God has in store through this transition.

Thank you all for standing by me through prayer and encouragement. My 7 months here was a collective effort. And I will be forever grateful.

May God shower his peace and warmth upon you this holiday season.

10 December 2007


Well I’ve returned from the wilds of Africa yesterday. After driving about 3,700 miles up the middle of southern Africa, I know understand why South Africans say Africa starts beyond their borders. It’s a completely different world out there.

To recount all that I experienced in my short 10 day road trip would take pages so I’ll share just glimpses of this crazy adventure. On day four, while driving through Botswana we had several elephant citings on the side of the road. They are such beautiful creatures, even while flapping their ears and threatening to charge you.

On the way to the Zambian border, we passed kilometers of semi trucks, which wait for days, often weeks, to get clearance to cross from Botswana to Zambia. Because of the long days of boredom, abundant prostitution takes place here and along most African borders, which only aids in the rapid spread of HIV across the continent of Africa. It was a sad reality to see first hand.

Just past the Botswana border, we crossed the famous, hippo and crocodile infested Zambezi River on a “ferry.” As I shared my wooden raft with a semi truck, there were many prayers said. Once we reached the Zambian border, it was chaos. All at moments you had to be aware of everyone around you for fear of theft. After our cars were cleared to pass through the border, we had to go through on foot. I was quite blown away by their immigration system, which consisted of writing our own information on a piece of paper once we got our passport stamped. Yes, we had arrived in Africa.

On day five, after visiting the beautiful Victoria Falls, we finally made it to the Dykstra home in Lusaka. They are a family from Minnesota working with World Vision for 2 years (check out their blog). They graciously turned their backyard into our campsite for the week.

The following morning was a day I’ve unknowingly waited years for. When we pulled up to the school, about 10 minutes out in the bush, I was overcome by emotion. As we drove down the red clay road, we were greeted by neat rows of singing children. Never before have I seen so much joy. As children immediately mobbed me, I realized a vision I’ve had for the last 4 years was finally coming to fruition.

For the following three days, I had two children on my lap and at least four hanging on my limbs at every moment. It was precious. It's amazing the power of touch. These children just wanted to be touched. And they wanted to touch me. At one point at small boy was pinching the fat on my arm and not much later a little girl began to examine my fat as well. At first, I thought, "I know, I know, I've got some extra fat on me. I've been trying to shed it, okay?" I was annoyed. And then it hit me. These kids are not used to fat. As I looked around the place, I couldn't find one child or teacher that seemed to have any excess fat on their bodies. As the 10th poorest country in the world, their diets consist of mangoes and millie pap (a sort of more substantial and bland cream of wheat). Meat is an occasional treat seen on their plates maybe- just maybe- once a month. The children have one meal a day, which the school provides. There isn't an opportunity for fat. Yes, opportunity- it's a privilege, a luxury, that I have some extra chub. Later on, as I trudged thru the red clay mud to the truck, for the first time, I found myself thanking God for the extra fat that has frustrated me often. Now there's a lesson to be learned.

It’s been a whirlwind adventure and I’m still processing through a lot. But one thing I am sure of is my heart continues to wrap itself around the people of Africa. Seeing these two beautiful countries has only confirmed that. I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness for the opportunity to see God’s people across the world. I’m reminded that my life has little do with me. God’s driving the car. And it’s been, yet again, another crazy adventure.