Friday, October 22, 2010

Info for Sending Packages

Hi friends. Just a quick piece of information for those of you who were wondering about sending packages....

I can definitely receive them, however, a few things to consider:

1) Don't send it if you can't stand to lose it - corruption is a big deal here including with mail at the post offices please don't send anything extremely valuable unless you want to potentially give it to a South African.

2) Customs - you will be required to fill out a customs form - try to include the word "Used" (yes even for a toothbrush) with a listed item - this I have been told is a good deterrent for theft when it arrives in South Africa.

3) Cost - be aware that what you send me (if it is much bigger than a regular sized card) I will have to pick up at the post office - I also will have to pay a customs fee to pick up these type of packages so please beware that I am living on a budget and as much as I would love to receive goodies...please be sure they will not be extremely costly on this end as well.

Thanks for the continued outpouring of love and support! Keep checking back for further updates from my time here.

Peace and Love,

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yes, I'm Still Alive...Here's a Quick Update

Helloooo Blog World! Sorry you have been neglected since my arrival in South Africa but internet has been sketchy. Please find below a brief update of the things going on in my life here. It really is just a quick overview but I should have more reliable internet from here on out so there will definitely be some analysis of things that have been happening in the last 6 weeks coming soon! I miss you all. Don’t forget to email ( and Facebook me updates in your lives. Here also is my mailing address if you want to go the old fashioned way and send me some love. (Jessie Fairfax, 3 Pansy Street, Pescodia, Kimberley, 8309, South Africa)

It has been wonderful hanging out in the Southern Hemisphere. I am living in a township called Roodepan just outside the city of Kimberley, South Africa. Roodepan is pretty much an entirely Coloured (mixed-race) community so they don’t fit in the mold of White, Black, or Indian. While some of the YAGM here will encounter Coloureds, I am really the only one living in a community that is entirely Coloured so that should provide some interesting discussions when we meet up for our first retreat at Thanksgiving.

I am living with a host family that I absolutely adore. The siblings are all around our ages (my sister, Ilse, who lives at home is 22, my brother, Ralph, is 29 and lives on the next street over about a 2 minute walk from where I’m staying, and my brother, Shane, just turned 30 last month and is married with a 5 year-old and a 14 year-old and lives a 5 minute drive from our house in Roodepan) so that has been really awesome to connect with them and meet a ton of their friends. I already have a list of weddings to go to in the next few months. Crazy.
The primary language here in Kimberley is Afrikaans but most people also speak at least some English. I am working on my Afrikaans though so I don’t wind up quite so left out of some conversations and all of the sermons at church. Haha. Having a family to keep watch over me and feed me like 10 meals a day has definitely made it easier for me to adjust and to keep any homesickness away. My parents have been able to call my really ancient South African cell phone via Skype when they get the chance although we’re still working on the whole time difference thing but it’s been nice to be able to catch up with them. If you have a Skype calling plan and want to call me sometime – let me know and I’ll get you my number!

The pastor that I am working through here is very big on getting the church he serves part-time more involved in the greater community and is using me as a springboard into some different organizations to find ways to start including them. Mondays and Tuesdays I am working at a children’s home/orphanage and since most of the kids are at school when I can be there, I spend my days hanging out with the 6 babies (ages 5 months-3 years). All of the kids who live there are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and most of the caregivers don’t seem to have a lot of training, so it is definitely an eye-opening experience. Wednesdays I am working with a home-based care NGO that is literally a team of mostly women who go out into Roodepan and walk to visit different patients that they have, every single day during the week. Most are helping to deliver meds for TB patients or giving elderly persons sponge baths and other things but sometimes they are just visiting with people as well. Most of the women carry a 12-15 patient load and are walking long distances through the township to visit each of them each day. Thursdays I am spending working at the church Creche which is like a day-care/pre-school. I am also involved with the Youth program, Young Adults League, and Confirmation classes, and whatever else someone grabs me and tells me I just have to be a part of at St. Luke’s and beyond. It’s busy, but I’m loving all of the different types of people that I’m getting to know through these various ministry opportunities.

Things I’m learning – the list is very long but really I would say the main thing is just learning to listen to the people around me. Everyone has a story or something that they want to share with me and although I may be exhausted some days, it is still important for me to listen and participate in the conversations and activities that I am invited to. I can’t say that I’ve been disappointed yet by putting off sleep or time to myself for the people that God has placed in my life at this time.

Weirdest Food so far - I did eat pig’s feet the other night for dinner. I told my host family just not to tell me until after I’d eaten things what it was so I usually don’t ask questions. It was kind of weird but definitely not bad but I’m sure my opinion would have been different if I’d known from the start. For the most part though, they eat things that we would consider pretty normal which has been really nice.

Prayer Requests:

My country coordinators (Brian and Kristen Konkol) are expecting their first child literally any-day now. She is officially due the 21st I think, but when we saw her at the end of September she was ready to go at any time and they told Brian he wasn’t allowed to leave town as he had been planning with us. They are a bit nervous so just be praying for the safety of mom and baby boy (who was dubbed “Creature” by the last YAGM crew and that name has stuck since they won’t reveal the name they’ve chosen) and the peace of the Lord to be with all three of them as they wait.

Other than that, my biggest prayer is for my community and placement sites. I’m am 99.9% sure I am the only white person living in Roodepan and that attracts lots of attention and when I tell others where I am living they kind of scoff at me. I gave a talk at Youth this week about living our lives in such a way that we are striving to be the image of God that we were created to be. I pray that this is something I am doing everyday as I walk the streets and ride the crazy taxis in this place and that I am taking the time to truly see the people that have been placed in my life these days.