Saturday, April 6, 2013

Warmth




It's not spring yet. Not here, anyway. I woke yesterday to snow blowing sideways which is never a good way to start the day, never mind the first week of April. I wanted to find something to do but I couldn't settle into my work. I'd finish one project and then my mind would wander - forward to the coming weekend in which I'll be speaking about Hands at Work at our church service on the 14th...and back to actually being in Africa. I perused some photos from our trip last year and my recent travels with Dean. I came across this photo of hydrangeas from Oshoek, a small community on the edge of the Swaziland/South African border. We stayed in this community for a few nights in the home of a beautiful family. Mavis, the mother, is a care worker in her community and we walked with her up and down the hills and valleys of this beautiful village. I've never seen or felt or tasted poverty as I did in Oshoek. It took the pieces of my broken heart and ground them into dust. It took everything I thought was logical and completely turned it on its head. Nothing made sense in Oshoek to me. I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the senseless.  And yet, in every way, it was the most beautiful of communities. We stayed with Mavis and her family which meant a safe place to land at the end of each day. It was restful to come in to a warm wood stove, much laughter and friendship, and our kids all played together despite the language barriers. One morning, I woke early, and grabbed my camera as the fog was lifting and revealing the colours of Oshoek one by one. Mavis came out and was surprised by the sight of me in my pyjamas, snapping photos of her chickens and her hydrangeas but she just laughed. I explained that they are my favourite flowers (as if one could have such a thing!) and that these were the first I'd seen since being in South Africa. She told me that she loved them too.  We said we'd think of each other and pray for one another when we saw them in bloom.
My hydrangeas are still buried under about three feet of snow, and yet, I think of Mavis often. Her hydrangeas have probably just finished for the year and are shedding their petals. Yesterday, I had a message from our mutual friend, Vusi, who passed it on from Mavis. That she was thinking of me and passed on her greetings to our family.  It made a cold day in April feel a whole lot warmer.

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