Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, everyone! Yep, we celebrate Easter even in South Africa. :) Actually, people really celebrate it here - they take a whole week off! (So, maybe it's more of an excuse to take time off. Regardless...)

I hope everyone has had and is having a lovely day. Just thought I'd post a few pictures today instead of writing a bunch. These were both from my time at Kruger Park.

25"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
                        -Matt 6:25-27

31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
               - Romans 8:31-32
(Always been one of my favorite scriptures; but especially, today on Easter.)

Happy Easter! =)


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Two things I have heard

I think I mentioned before, but we are on another week long holiday. (These South Africans and their holidays...) I'm currently house sitting for a family from church, which allows me to have unlimited internet access! Woo-hoo! :) But this long holiday also gives me lots of time to myself; a good and bad thing. These are the times when I'm aware that this is not home...I don't have a supply of friends where I can always call someone to hang out. I have, however, gotten to skype with a few more people than normal; and, I've had some really encouraging talk with friends here in South Africa recently, that make things here feel more and more like family. What I'm saying is that God amazes me. I look at the friendships I have all over the world, and I am humbled. I have such loyal, faithful, encouraging, and loving friends, and there is no rhyme or reason as to why I should have them. I have felt nothing but support and strength from them, and from my new friendships here. I am overwhelmed and grateful. These scriptures surely are true...

11 "One thing God has spoken, 
   two things I have heard: 
'Power belongs to you, God, 
 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love' "
                               - Ps. 62:11

5 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
   is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families

                                               - Ps. 68: 5-6

29"Jesus said, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.' "
                                                                  -Mark 10:29-31

My BU family

My SA family

My UJ family. 


Monday, April 18, 2011


I have always loved taking pictures. Always. Love(d). For my birthday two years ago, I received quite a fabulous camera, and it was for adventures like this that I wanted that camera. I've taken lots of pictures since I've been here, but I wanted to start writing posts dedicated to just a few snap shots. So, in this first photography posting, I wanted to feature three photos. I have yet to meet someone here in SA that has a dryer; everyone hang dries their clothes. This was definitely new for me and something I wanted to document. Simply put, I just thought the clothes hanging there in the sunlight were rather pretty. The first photo captures that and the next two are just two of my favorites so far.

Hope you like them. There will be more to come! :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Do Things Fall Apart?

Note: When I wrote this blog over a week ago, while I was on holiday in Sabie. Since writing this, things are, thankfully, quite different in the Ivory Coast. Nonetheless, food for thought:

In regards to what is happening in the Ivory Coast:

It is so sad. Heartbreaking, really. And not just because so many people are dying but because it is another country that once again has failed; failed in government, failed in providing for its people, and failed in moving and progressing forward. Do you know what is going on there? Just click the Africa section of the New York Times online and you’ll see.

It is also saddening because it’s another country that only furthers the already discouraging image that most Americans (and I’m guess other non-Africans) hold of Africa. Why does Africa seem so torn by struggle, strife, civil war, revolution? This is not a profound or new question to me, to the world of academia, or to anyone who has watched international news for any length of time. But it just hits me again, as I sit in the bush of South Africa (quite a nice bush, I must admit), reading about the Ivory Coast on my phone…

People always ask me, “Do you feel safe there?”  Half of my major in college was focused on African studies, so I feel like I came to South Africa, already knowing a tad more than the average American about the country and the continent as a whole. I always answer people affirmatively and add that I have never really once felt in danger here. (I know that is also very much in thanks to the people here who have taken care of me and taught me where to go and when and where not to go and when. ) Nonetheless, I find myself questioning the stability and potential future of the country I am living in. South Africa is the anomaly to the trend of governments and history of African countries, but what if it’s not? What if it is just a matter of time till something comes out, till something bursts, till things fall apart? I’m sure those of you who are reading this that are South African may be offended or appalled at that suggestion. But I can’t help but wonder. Time has already spoken a good deal for South Africa, but there is still more to tell. There is still more to tell for the United States. We have only been a country for about 250 years, which is really nothing compared to historical kingdom, dynasties, to the overall frame of time.

So, what am I saying with all this? Nothing specific. I don't want to offend anyone. I’m just stating things that I’m thinking about and find interesting. I do think though, that the overall pattern of countries here in Africa and worldwide, especially those that have been considered failed or underdeveloped should be given full attention. Additionally, history should be headed when looking to the future. As Ecclesiastes says, "There is nothing new under the sun." I suppose through all of this though, no matter what happens to countries or what decisions governments make, we must be grateful that we have something greater to live for than this life. And while we are here, focus on how we can make the lives of other's, better.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sabie holiday part 1 & thoughts on skin color

Hello all! I am back from a fantastic and refreshing holiday in Sabie! I didn't have internet access while I was there but I wrote some post and will be putting them up over the next week. Also, I don't normally do this, but if you want to see pictures from the week you can see them here: Sabie holiday. Hope everyone is enjoying the coming of spring! It's starting to get cool here - it reminds me of "fall" in Miami. :)

Day 1
It is the end of my first day in Sabie. We are staying at an absolutely gorgeous resort, in a two bedroom/1 loft bungalow type thing. We spent the day lounging in the sun, by the pool, reading. It has been divine! Relaxing and refreshing (although, an event like this particularly makes me miss my family because this is something I normally do with them; there’s no replacement for that). The views are just breathtaking here. I am in awe of what God has created here and that I get to enjoy it. There have been a number of times since moving to South Africa that I’ll just stop in whatever I’m doing or wherever I am and think to myself, “I am here. I live here. I live in South Africa. Just capture this moment.” Today, being here in Sabie, in the South African country, is one of those moments.

The more I spend time out of the US and see how many holidays (vacations) most other countries take, the more I am determined that we all need lots of holidays. Americans work too much and Ecclesiastes says that there is nothing better for us than to do good and enjoy life. It is a gift from God. I’m going to start praying now that when I get a job and have a career, that I will be able to take ample amounts of holidays. J  

As I was sitting by the pool today and just looking around at all the people that were there, I thought to myself, “I just love that there are so many different cultures in the world. And I love that every single person is different.” And the more I travel and see this, the more I realize how true it is that kids, especially, are the same everywhere. I sat by the pool and watched the three cutest Indian boys, Afrikaans kids, English kids, and a few black children all play together. They all just wanted to have fun, to be loved, and they did not care a thing for what they looked like, or what each other looked like. That is true for all kids and it amazes me. Think about that: they DO NOT care about what they look like. They don’t look at skin color, hair type, height or weight. It astounds me, and makes me feel so safe.

Skin color is something that fascinates me, regardless of country. But here in South Africa, it is something that on one hand is not a big deal and on the other hand, is still very much a big deal. We don’t always talk about it, but it is undeniably a topic that produces discussion. Supposedly, we don’t look at skin color anymore, it doesn’t make a difference. But, it really does. To be completely honest, I was slightly surprised to see black people on holiday here. That comes more from the fact that here in South Africa, specifically, it does seem that white people are more affluent; also, only black people work at gas stations or restaurants, or take taxis. (The taxis here are not the yellow cab you see in New York City or something…they could have a whole post in and of themselves.) But should I not be surprised? I guess I’m trying to figure out in myself, how much I still stereotype, hold prejudices, and judge. I didn’t/don’t really think I do that (at least too often), but this whole skin color thing is so prevalent and obvious here, that I’m just not so sure. I’m not saying I think I’m a racist or anything dramatic and awful, I’m just saying that this is something that I thought was a non-issue, but it is still very much an issue in our world…and it intrigues me. Thoughts? Comments?

Stayed tuned for the rest of the week…it gets exciting! J

Friday, April 1, 2011


Most of you may not have noticed any particular difference in the last gap between posts and this one, but I sure did. I didn't have internet! It turns out that where I am staying doesn't actually have unlimited internet; we have a certain amount of internet for the month and that's it. And so, we ran out. But it is now April 1st and I'm writing again!

First off, a few updates:
We had our first baptism at UJ since I've been here! A little over a week ago, Alicia, a fourth year at UJ was baptized. It was very exciting and encouraging for all the disciples at UJ and for the church here. It definitely feels like we have a little, growing family here. Here are a few pictures (I tried to upload the video but it took too long):

UJ girls (Irene, Jade, me, Siba, Alicia, Alicia's mom Eudene)

Our UJ family: An, Gordon, Siba, Alicia, me, Obi, Jade, Christian :)

Next...this isn't so much an update as something I have been meaning to say for a while: Did I ever tell you that my car does not have power steering?? I just thought that fact should make you more impressed with my driving skills...and my arm muscles. ;)

I just recently got my transcript from my alma matter, but we are now on a two week holiday. So, hopefully, as soon as school starts back up, I will be able to register for a class. This past Monday, I had a few moments where I laid on my bed staring into space thinking, "I have no idea what to do with myself." Granted,  we are on holiday, so all this time is not the norm, but I've started feeling like I need some sort of intellectual stimulation. I honestly do miss classes (not the tests or the work though) or the kind of research, work I did in internships. I am still so grateful that I have this opportunity to be here in South Africa and help the campus ministry  - helping people know God will always be the most important and meaningful thing I do - but I think I'm looking forward to getting an office type job when this year is over. We'll see though; I've only been here two months, so I can't really make a conclusive decision just yet.

Like I said, most schools and universities are in the middle of a two week holiday right now. And so the family I am living with and (therefore by default) lucky me, are leaving for our own holiday today! We're going to a town called Sabie, near Kruger National Park. If anyone knows anything about South Africa, they usually have heard of Kruger. (Here's the website if you want to check it out: Kruger Park)  I am so excited! I am so excited just to sit by the pool or the river all day and read and sleep, and I am so excited to watch hippos! They have them there and you can watch them cross the river every evening at dusk. I have a feeling what I'll see is much more of what everyone pictures when they think of Africa. I won't be able to blog while I'm there, so stories and pictures will follow soon after we return.

Lastly, I keep getting requests for pictures of my life here; where I live, the UJ campus, etc. So I've put a few below.
UJ - Auckland Campus

Inside campus.
My bed/awkward view of my room

My homemade decorations and pictures, above my dresser (across from my bed).

My "window"

View just to the left of my window/door

View directly outside my room

The Harvey's pool/"garden" (aka, backyard)

I've got a handful of ideas for my next few blog posts, but if there is anything in particular you would like to hear about, know, or see pictures of, please send me requests! We're heading into fall here, but I suspect most of you reading this are heading into spring - I hope it glorious and beautiful and quite refreshing after the brutal the US had. :)

Cheers!   - Ellie (that's the nickname I've acquired here; I rather like it.)