Saturday, March 21, 2015

 

 

 

3-21-15

Hello again from JoBurg, this week has been packed with interesting events and fun. I have to admit that I have had a bad a bad attitude for most of the week, being tired and moody, all that I can assume is that the novelties are starting to wear off and that spiritual attacks are commencing in earnest. Some of our students have been coming rather infrequently due to the weather, health conditions, and other varied personal reasons ranging from work to being disenchanted with the rate at which they are learning.  

On Wednesday of this week we, the young adults working here, went to a Turkish international school heritage festival. The festival was at the Nelson Mandela Johannesburg Theatre, and was comprised of theatrical displays, song, and dance from 15 different countries. Most of the youth were brilliant in their vocal performances. The point of the display was to promote peace and worldwide unity through the ideals and schooling that is offered by the Turkish schools and learning centers that are popping up all over the globe. The display was awesome, and we were able to see how their widespread view on expanding their “views” is working, there seem to be no qualms with throwing large amounts of free things to local and state gov’s to gain a foothold with the people therein. Here as well as in neighboring countries there have been many building projects as well as community betterment projects.


In the area near the theater there are yet more wonderful little coffee shops, one of personal interest is a little roasting shop called “Double Shot”. This little establishment offers phenomenal coffees from around the world, and are partially owned by the roasters, partially by the farms. There will be some photos to go along with the storytelling. While at this little shop on Wednesday I asked the roaster what I should try instead of simply ordering a random coffee, apparently by asking I was showing that I not only liked coffee I also know a little about it and appreciate more than simply things like syrupy sweet latte’s or cappuccinos. The owners/ roasters/ baristas, (they were all serving in the roles) were excited to have me ask, and to show their excitement led me to inspect their unroasted stock and join in on a cupping of a new bean that they were sampling. I was also given multiple drinks and shots of espresso so that they could show off all their roasts and methods. Needless to say, I think they may have been sampling their stock a little heavily!

Our Thursday experience and Friday was not too eventful, on Saturday morning we went to neighbor-goods market. This market is in downtown Johannesburg and is only open on Saturday mornings. There are elements of a “hipster” atmosphere, with open air music being played in a festive manner, stalls where foodies and chefs are selling hot meals or cold drinks and artisanal meats breads chesses and deserts. The individual stalls were delicious and offered their wares in affordable manners. This market which is located seemingly in an old parking garage is a place for people to go and try tastes of food from around the globe as well as from many of the finest eateries in the city. Of course this is simply my opinion, but the experience was really interesting.



While these experiences are fun to occasionally go out and have, the real reason is to reach out and build relationships here in order to share truth with people. Keep us in your pr@yers as we go out in our weekday job, and as we go about town; that we will be the light in the darkness and the sowers of good seed here in JoBurg.

I am thankful for the safety that my team here as well as I have enjoyed. I am also thankful for the successful surgery that my grandfather went through this week, not all Sp. Attacks come upon yourself, and sometimes those who are loved ones are also attacked in order to stop the work being done in the Kingdom. Thank you for your continued supplication to the father on our behalf here, and I ask you to continue in the good work.

With many thanks and thoughts,

Ethan.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


3-14-15. Pie day!
Hello again as promised yesterday, there is a little more time this afternoon to do some typing and recounting of recent events. This week we had a volunteer team come from the States and work in the different parts of Joburg to see what differing long-term teams do here on a daily basis. The team was large enough to split into several groups so that we only had a handful or so each day.
For the classes, we had the volunteers engage with the students to get a feel for what the teaching was like. The students loved being able to interact with other Merikinkias (Somali for Americans), and to show what they had been able to learn. One of the students that I usually teach has started to ask questions about what we as the teachers believe, in order to classify us I suppose, my answers are totally truthful and said in a way that uses culturally appropriate wording. I am glad that he has begun to question and want to talk, when I tell him where I stand in my beliefs he usually has been puzzled.  This young man realizes that I serve the creator, but I don’t seek the creator through the same path as him. I am hoping that these little comments are the beginning of a deeper seeking that is working within him. Please pr@y for dreams and visions, burning desire for the truth, clarity and the right words and actions to be used. The opportunities that are beginning to present themselves would be wonderful ones to develop further for the growth of the k!ngdom.
This week during the language study time that we had, the volunteer teams went out into the area of Mayfair and Fordsburg to do pr@yerw@lking as well as to interact with the people from all the races and countries that live in those parts of Joburg. We, the students here for six months, are somewhere around 50 hours of quality language study so far. At this stage of learning we are now to start speaking a bit….and boy oh boy is speaking the tongue twisting part! While language learning is mentally and physically exhausting, it is incredibly rewarding to see the reaction when you greet or answer a question in someone’s heart language.
As most people who really know me, know that I have a slight coffee addiction, and I have a weakness of sorts for really good coffees. The place near downtown where we have tended to buy our coffee was a destination that was requested by the visiting team. While there this week I was looking through empty bags that are used to ship the raw coffee from the farms to the roasters, when one of the employees who helps to roast the coffee as well as to make the drinks told me to come back to the area where the raw beans were stored. The man gave me an empty coffee bag from every coffee producing country that they are buying from and currently roasting! Enough bags to decorate a whole room in a house, and completely for free, ha ha! While this story is not important in the grand scheme of our work here, I thought it was necessary to share because it is one of the many little things that I can be excited about.
For the finale of sorts, concerning the post from yesterday, we got the opportunity to tag along with the college team as they went to a nearby animal park. While this park was really neat, it is definitely not one of the game reserves that you see on TV or such! A better description would be one of a farm that is over 3000 acres of pastureland with blocks sectioned off for the predators, but all of the antelope rhinos and wildebeest giraffes and such roam the rest of the farm. There are areas where the most exotic of the predators and herbivores are kept for controlled breeding purposes. I am sure that the place is a privately owned establishment, but they are working to breed endangered species for reserves and zoos around the world. Pretty cool stuff, I find it exciting having worked at a large animal veterinary clinic until just recently. I think that the only critters that were there but we didn’t see them, were the Cape buffalo.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for keeping us in your pr@yers.
Ethan.

Friday, March 13, 2015


3-13-15
hello again from JoBurg, the week has gone well and has been interesting.

This update is going to be a bit in brief, hopefully I ill have a bit more time to up type a bit tomorrow. But for now, I have a few more photos of interesting critters that I had the opportunity to see today.
 
 
This is a 7 month old lion cub that we had the opportunity to pet.

 
This guy is a 12 yea old Cheetah, and the guy in the park talked me into the goofy pose. But hey, you gotta have photos like this at times!
 

 
Here is a White Tiger cub, 4 months old. the place that we went to functions as a park as well as a breeding program for all of the wildlife that they have there.
Enjoy the photos, and soon there will be more to read.


 

Saturday, March 7, 2015


3-7-15 update.

Greetings from Joburg, all has been going well here and here are some of my thoughts.

In the last two weeks not too many mind boggling events have happened. We have reached nearly 50 hours of language study and are now starting to speak a bit. To be able to respond when someone greets you in their own language is impressive, especially when that language is as tough to get out of the mouth as Somali is!

We have had a few opportunities to Share, and these opportunities are almost exclusively brought on by a completely different subject that is being talked about in class or language. I feel as if the majority of our sharing experiences so far have been to explain clearly what we think, believe, and how we are to behave. We discuss issues in the world at large to a degree. I think that all of the people that we help with their language studies are refugees from their respective countries to the north of me. So, when MSN, AL Jazeera, and NBC are in an uproar because of the latest update from groups tied to the Mideast, we can listen and talk a bit as they tell why they had the need to escape in the first place.

Something that ha humbled me in recent weeks is the idea that we back home are afraid of certain hate groups or that there is even real racism in the US, when I get the chance every day to talk to and share life with people who literately have the marks to show what racism and terror really is. I have gotten to be able to listen to and learn from people who were in areas occupied by these groups and had seen the goings on firsthand. Some individuals, and these are from many different countries, would have to be drug back to their countries of origin in chains before going back willingly. This is usually said as a jest, but you can tell that there is an underlying desperate truth to it.

On the more light hearted side, another guy I talked with had turned down an opportunity to get to go to the US in recent weeks. His reasons for this were that the area was too cold and he thinks that he will freeze solid as soon as he gets there! Apparently when they told him of the opportunity he googled the place – somewhere in the north east – and saw the temperature as well as the current snow accumulation. Where he is from the temperature rarely goes below the 80’s on the coldest of days. In talking to this man we were trying to tell him what life was like where we were from, in order to answer his questions and fears about moving into the unknown. One of the fears that is reoccurring is the fear of discrimination because of race or religion, and that fear is a valid one here where it is shown daily and leaves the marks to see.

In the upcoming week there will be some helpers from universities in the states, we here could really appreciate pr@yer$ that all would go well here and according to His plan. Another are of thought is that the season of burning has begun here in Joburg, this means that a nice green city has all of the plant matter burned off because of old superstitions and beliefs, but it also means that allergies and asthma go rampant here. I would really appreciate if you could keep the whole of the team in mind for that as well.

We as a team may have the opportunity to take a small trip within the country in a month to do research on where more of our people group are within other cities, this may have some out of pocket expenses. I am really believing that we can map these cities with purpose for more people to be able to come and start sharing.

The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. More passionate laborers willing to lay aside all but Him are desperately needed for the world. Thank you for reading this update and please keep us and our people in your pr@yers.

Ethan.

 

 

Update part 2.

Since today is Saturday we as the “youth” working here in Joburg as part of the Company, are all meeting together and going to a botanical gardens. Then we are having a potlatch braai. In preparation for this my roommate and I have been doing a bit of cooking this morning, I taught him how to make a peach pie from scratch (peaches are in season here and cheap!) and only stepped in to offer a few pointers. We’ll soon see if I can teach cooking, ha ha! Today is a cool cloudy day, not cold by any means if what I hear about Missouri is still going on. Seeing, or catching up with, other people outside of the team who are our relative age and from home is going to be interesting.

I hope it gets warm for ya’ll soon!

Thursday, February 19, 2015




 
2-18-15

Another week and another update, the work here goes well. Still more men than previously are attending the English classes and I at times seem to need to be learning Arabic as well as Somali! In the language that I am learning there are no “P” sounds. That may not seem to be too odd, but I am also teaching beginners English and the “P” is incredibly difficult, especially the differentiation of “P, b, & t”. Of course the difficulty is returned during my language studies when I try to make rolled “R’s” and hard “Q’s” and “X’s”. It, the language learning, is a re training of the mind as well as a refiguring of the speech muscles.

We have been going out into the community and visiting or talking more in the last two weeks than before, our supervisors just had their third child, and we have been having a loose schedule and riding to and from the English center with the girl team. Last week we got to walk down and around eighth and ninth streets in Mayfair as well as to hang out in the barber shop where our language teacher works. Getting to hang out in a Somali barber shop was an interesting experience, and I made sure as we left to let our teacher know that this week I would be coming back for a trim.

On Saturday we got up and hoofed it back down to Mayfair to gather up some of the men, we were going to a king Tut museum exhibit and using the tour as English practice, as well as a time for hare into lives.  The exhibit was pretty awesome, in that we could see all of the futility that was exercised in hopes of getting a person to heaven through the gathering of stuff. For history and culture the experience was amazing, but it was also spiritually saddening to see where people had been putting their hopes and dreams. Once we were done with the museum tour we headed back to drop the men back off for their afternoon prayers, but the electric had been shut off to a large sector of the town so a 30-45 min drive took us 2 hours of quality talking time! (My “singles awareness day” was spent talking to and building relationships with men and sharing my walk with them. And I think that it made for a great day.)

 Monday we left the classroom after our lessons were over and headed to the barber shop on a mission. That mission was for me to get a haircut in the Somali barbershop. Once there we saw men that we recognized from the classes and the previous week. The haircut wen well and there was more attention to detail than you usually get in a shop back home. When it came time to trim around the beard and neck… he, the barber, couldn’t find a working set of fine trimmers. So the option was given for a straight shave…my first real straight shave. It took to me what seemed a lifetime to make the decision, weighing the options of Sweeny Todd in my mind or to trust this young man with my life. In the end (like 2 seconds later) I agreed and the process began! The trim and the shave were both superb, no nicks or slits, and he even used the straight razor to make the lines of my beard and moustache much more professional looking, I am happy.

Our barber/language teacher has only been cutting hair for 8 months.

We stopped at the little Somali coffee shop on the way back to the classroom, to talk a bit more and because we had seen our teachers brother there eating watermelon and chilling for a bit. The brother is one of several and is now my official tailor, or at least that is what he told me. Last week I took a pair of trousers that had ripped from the button to the knees while in the village outside of Gaborone, and he repaired these trousers so well that you cannot even tell that they were ever ripped. It is amazing to be able to talk to these young men and be at ease around them, the shave went a long way towards easing the conversations!

  I am finding that the hospitality of those who are struggling to live and provide for themselves, towards others, is astounding. Every day that we go out and talk to people, usually an excuse is found to treat us in some way or form. The haircut and shave were free, as was the tailoring job, and seemingly always the tea is as well. We are going to need to return the hospitality as much as possible whenever we see an opportunity! So far I have noticed that to the people the relationship is more important that the buying of a product. Of course this means relationships formed outside of a market sense…if you walk into a shop the buying of products is the important thing, but if you see a student or friend in a shop, the practice in English is an excuse to sit and share tea while talking about life.    

After our language lessons when the opportunity arises we have been sharing as much as we can with our teacher. We tell him about how and why we live our lives the way we do and why we follow our beliefs; and he tells us about his life, upbringing, and beliefs/practices as well. So far there have been many discussions and some tricky things to talk about but we are definantly going to continue building our relationship through language.

This week and recent time has gone well, I ask for your intercession on behalf of the work that we are doing here, and for a larger room (upper room) to be provided for language. Currently there is not enough room to be able to effectively spend time talking to the respective classes without having to be herd over the other groups. I also am Pr@ying for opportunities to arise in which sharing my heart with others would be appropriate and well received. Team dynamics are going well, and now there is a new 5+ lb. addition to the team also. Open our eyes, ears, and hearts to the lost.

Thank you from taking time from your schedule to read this update, and I hope that you keep our team in your hearts as well as thoughts.

Ethan.

Friday, February 6, 2015


 

2-6-15

 Hello again from Joburg!

While a bit of routine has begun to take place, the differences in day-to-day life is what makes every day new and exciting. We have begun to get out more and explore the town and the life in the Mayfair/ Fordsburg areas. On Monday the plan was to take the metro buses home, so after language studies we inquired of our language teacher whether or not he knew of a cab driver who was trustworthy, and then waited in his father’s “café” for the cab to arrive. The café is a place that sells coffee and tea as well as the traditional Somali snacks to go with them. When we got there, there were no fellow patrons at the little shop, but as the men finished with their mid-day prayers at the local mosques they started to fill up the area around the front of the shop. The only people in the whole area that were easily sunburned were us three! The décor in the shop was all from the surrounding area or from Somalia, and the size of the shop was close to 8’x15’. All in all the experience was pretty neat, and I hope to go back eventually, by invitation and with a local. After we left the shop I was told that that little place where we were surrounded by the adult men of that culture, was quite possibly the most dangerous place I had ever been in in my life. Of course while there we encountered nothing but friendliness and greetings, the worst that occurred were that a few of the people didn’t greet us!  If we as white outsiders had gone there and had been impolite, or insensitive to traditions and customs, then who knows what the outcome may have been.




 
The top two are images of where I teach, and the bottom two are of Gandhi square.
 
 
Not to put anyone to fear, I have not come across anything as of yet that I would say to myself, “self, I’m not gonna go over there or eat that because it looks too dangerous”. If anything, things may look dangerous or different, but that is simply because they are different there are not too many places in the Ozarks where you can hear the call to prayer 5 times a day, or purchase a burka for that special gal in your life. Of course the people in shops are trying to make a living and as long as you are not wasting their time they are cordial towards us. Where we are all of the food is made and served in accordance to Halaal regulations, most of it is delicious even if it is served from a street vendor. There is also a massive amount of Indian food and spices around, with some of the flavors being interesting!

After we left the coffee shop and caught a cab, we went downtown to Gandhi square to prepare for the experience of taking the metro bus. The bus drivers like to hassle whites for obvious reasons, but the bus rides went fairly well, we made it across town without incident, and after nearly an hour on the bus made it to the stop where we’ll be getting off the bus when we will be taking it. We were told by our Somali teacher to never get on the cheap cabs, the minibus type that are all over Africa, he told us that there is nearly always a guy in the back and if the opportunity arises that they really profit from robbing foreigners and whites blind.  Occasionally for those unfortunate enough to struggle during the mugging they also are reputed to have no qualms in disposing of bodies as well. So to put it simply, we will only be riding on the metro bus or in personal cabs, if we cannot catch rides with people we know.

So, on Monday our supervisor went to the bus station and rode the bus with us. On Tuesday we were supposed to find our way completely alone. This did not happen completely as planned because our teacher wanted to go with us, and help to get us set up with the routes from mayfair to gahandi and then on to where we live. Of course we agreed with this because the fare for the metro is roughly $1.25 per trip and a taxi would cost $7. After waiting for close to twenty minutes for the bus our teacher (who is our age and just had a daughter born on New Year’s) called his brother to pick us up and take us to the station, he has 24 brothers and 6 sisters. The brother arrived and off we went to the bus station to get set up with the right routes and to board our bus home. The teacher and his brother were exceptionally helpful and friendly, they made sure to warn us against being downtown after dark, not only because of our whiteness – they try not to go there themselves! Everything is relatively safe during the day, but the wisest course of action is to be in a secure area after dark. Do what the locals do, if they are having a good time and smiling, do the same; if they are running in a specific direction, run faster!

We have had an influx in new male students since we have arrived, both people who are completely new to English and those who have a small vocabulary. I am teaching those students who have come from their mother countries within the last few weeks. The difficulties in teaching language to a person who has no preexisting knowledge of that language is a bit mind boggling at times. As I am sure the feeling goes both ways. I know that there are some people who think that the people that I am helping to work with are inherently violent or disrespectful towards our homeland and our beliefs, but those ideas couldn’t be farther from the truth for the average people trying to live their lives.

Questions do arise about whether or not the land of opportunity is as good as the media makes it out to be, and as people who have lived there, what our thoughts on home are. A lot of people have aspirations of eventually moving to America, and they want to know if their lives will be all the better for it, or if they will face the same persecutions there as they do here or they did at home. During these conversations I bring up the topics that there places back home that are similar to where we are now or even more questionable in some instances, like Detroit or Compton for example. Also that there are more freedoms and things are organized differently than they are here, the idea of separation of church and state is an obviously foreign concept. The states are another place where people are still people, with all the flaws and prejudices that are part of being human, they have the freedoms to choose their own religion so most choose none at all.

The main difference that I have mentioned many times is that we have the law and the government/people to uphold that law. While we may see the government and law in the states to be ineffective at times, even at its worst it is still much more structured and good for its people than other governments around the world. While we tend to complain about some minuscule aspect of the law or the personalities of our politicians, at least we have people who are put in place to protect us from our neighbors and others who want to take disrupt our lives and take away the freedoms that we have started to take for granted. One of the simple ones that I have seen here is the right to bear arms, in the Ozarks how often do you hear of carjacking’s or home invasions where the attackers were the only people who could defend themselves with a firearm? Here where it is nearly impossible to possess a firearm legally, the armed crime rate has skyrocketed due to the common people being unable to defend themselves. Another that we take for granted is our water and electricity, when we are without in the states, it is usually because of a storm or natural disaster, not because there is only one provider for the nation and they decide not to produce enough power for all.

I know that I have gone on a bit of a tirade here, but without the liberty of being able to take pictures of where I am at all the time, I feel it necessary to describe in as much detail as I can my thoughts and what I see or talk about. There is much beauty here as well as much to gain from the people and their lives. But to contrast that, home is a great place because of the work that has been done to make it a great place. We as a people have our flaws, but so does everyone else, we just need to work to be able to model the real truth with our lives and share that truth with others. We need to be able to look into the cultures of others and see the good that is present, while looking into our own home culture and cutting away the bad from our lives.

Thank you for taking time out from your busy schedules to read my disorderly thoughts! I hope to be a little more punctual with my posting and updates. As for Requests, I really don’t have any issues for myself to think about, just that the work that we are doing will be effective with all who go through the doors of the learning center, and that opportunities will arise to be able to share into the lives of people. I am pr@ying that there will be seekers who want to learn more and who have a desire to not be lost.

With many thanks,
Ethan

Sunday, February 1, 2015

One of the places we went to in Gaborone, to learn about the religions in the area. This is the group that spent the week learning and preparing together. On the day that this was taken we went to an Ashram as well as a Mosque. While at these locations the persons in charge told us their beliefs and some of the practices that are carried out. The day was very informative and interesting, some things were more than a little odd, but I think it is good to know what other people are believing.