Reminiscing a Saint

 

Let me tell you of a saint I met in a township.
A good few years ago I was part of a project that went into the township of Tembisa, in the distant proximity of the international airport in Johannesburg.  I had tagged along so that I could promote my food garden project.   The meaning of the name Tembisa is promise and hope.

Tembisa shacks
We met at the Moya Catholic Church, where we prayed and planned to help the poor people of that community.  Everybody was poor and struggling to make ends meet, and Joseph Kudema was one of the volunteers, a layman of the Church, who carried the Poor on his heart.  He would meet and greet us and welcome us into the community.
We were a group of volunteers under the leadership of the Christian Welfare Council – an agency of the Dutch Reform Church in South Africa, that does marvelous work of restitution among the Poor to this very day.
At that time in our history, it was a time for reconciliation among Black and White communities, and the time had come for not only welfare, but for development too.
We met occasionally with the intention to encourage the people to help pull the wheel of ‘development’  through the poverty gorge that was huge, deep and unending.

Joseph knew poverty well.  He was wise, for he was a man of the Church, and knew the potential that Christians could bring to beat the problem – if only they were willing.
Joseph was a gentle man, a soft spoken man, and a wise man.   He treated us with love, and was more of an encouragement to us than we were to him. We were always enriched at the end of each visit.   And so, I found, it was, with the ‘poor’ Black communities – they were rich in love, and shared it generously with those who would care enough to come and visit them.    The townships were hot beds of tensions in those days, not considered a safe place for well intending Whites to meander in.

One day Joseph shared his African wisdom with me, which I have kept as a treasure.

“Real leadership is when you can get a mouse, a cat and a dog to drink from the same saucer.”    That is real reconciliation.
And
“When the bus begins to move, the dogs begin to bark.    When progress comes, there will always be opposition, restraint, even persecution of a kind.

Joseph was one of those people who were silently great.   He blended into the background of community, and quietly went about his daily convictions, of helping the poor in whatever way he could.    To my mind he was a saint, not of the Catholic Papal kind, but of  humankind.

He would refer us to Matthew 25, which I believe is ever relevant, and needs to be
shared in the obese and ‘gluttoness’ world of our Today.

maneating burger

Poverty, and world hunger is real.
Sometimes it is impossible to consider the poor from our cozy suburban comfort zones,  for we are indeed worlds apart, but that does not alter the fact that hunger and poverty is prevalent, and that we can all do something to alleviate it in some small way.
Let’s look around our communities and share where we can, when we can,  to make that small  difference in someone’s life.
begging cup

White Bread

 

In every generation it is good to revisit Matthew 25.   It brings with it the reason and importance of caring for the Poor, and urges the Church to create capacity for its voluntary members to be  ‘doing their faith’  in practical expression.   Apart from it being a little scary to me, –  as it also hinges on the Judgment day !!

 

I-Care_Illustration


As then, and now, I still believe that the wisdom in Matthew 25 could form the Biblical basis of a welfare and development model for the poverty question.  Any Church, through its members can bring a major contribution to poverty and welfare development in an holistic manner – and through today’s networking power it could be of exponential value. – if only they were willing !

Matthew 25 : 34,35,36
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35. For I was hungry and you gave Me food;   I was thirsty and you gave Me drink;   I was a stranger and you took Me in;  36. I was naked and you clothed Me;  I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Joseph Kudema,  would be remembered well, if we only heard his heart more astutely at that time, and earnestly followed his example of considering and helping the Poor within his reach, and thereby letting his light shine, and honouring God.

lit candle
I would like to believe that by reading this post, his light still shines on the darkness of poverty and will stir the hearts of caring people.  Rest in peace Joseph Kudema,  ‘Saint of Tembisa’ –  Saint of Promise and Hope.

 

 

Stand and Stare

 

I had seen the notice in the newspaper and thought I would make a note to attend the cancer support group, that was to meet at the Church in the village in Durban North. .
Come the day, I had a hesitancy to go.   Not knowing what to expect, and certainly not wanting to surround myself with strangers who spoke of troubles and problems and sicknesses.   My heels were becoming more firmly entrenched in my obstinacy, when I had a sense of the Lord saying to me, with His two fingers pointing at His own eyes :  ‘Keep your eyes on Me’    So the decision was made, I had to go to the meeting.
Talk about self-sabotage  – something I will have to look into at some time !!

However, it turned out to be a lovely day.  I had a lift to the meeting, so I was free to make quiet observations along the way.
One thing I noticed as we were waiting longer than usual at a robot – ( We have power outages in our country at the moment.  It is a national crisis as our electricity generating plants are in a state of disrepair !!)  –  there was a team of municipal ladies in red overalls  weeding and sweeping the gutters in the streets.   One had a long sharp blade type cutter with which she cut the weeds, the follow-up lady would sweep up the weeds, and another two would trim and clean the pavement, sidewalk or verge as some call it.
All very proper, and although very menial it was a form of employment, so very necessary for our people.  But here is the spark that lifted my day.  One of the young ladies looked very becoming for she wore a long curly “weave” or hair piece that made her look like a career woman!   As the traffic began to move and we passed by I gave her an invisible salute, for here was a young lady holding her own, doing a days work on a  hot humid day, looking the best she can while embracing a lowly work.

The scheduled meeting was quite a large one,  and I was welcomed and acknowledged as a newcomer, and escorted to a seat with a companion throughout the meeting.
The people, mainly woman, were cancer survivors gathering to share their stories.   I sat quietly and listened.   I again realised just how good God has been to me through my own encounter with cancer.

There was both suffering and strength in the room, with an open willingness to talk about their survival journey.   There were some who had nursed mothers, fathers, brothers and loved ones through cancer.  These were  the close family members of cancer patients, (often not regarded) who go through their own particular emotional traumas when their loved ones face the cancer challenge.
Tea and cake were served and we huddled together, like mother hens, to talk around everyday normal things and events.  These are things women do best  – apart from surviving cancer !
The scheduled programme of listening to an inspirational talk on cancer was shelved as the electricity was off.  Some of the ladies spoke at random and the rest respectfully listened to their experiences.
There were one or two caregivers, who had a  wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with this disease.  A small group from Reach for Recovery, who do wonderful support work through their volunteers, had also come to the meeting.  The leader of their group later  came over to speak to me and told me of their work.    She was an elderly Indian lady, with a red dot on her forward indicating she was a Hindu,  and had so much empathy. The love was quite tangible, as she leaned in to give me a hug to say good-by.
I came away feeling emotionally cuddled, clucked over, and ‘seen’   It was so good to be with a group of genuinely caring people.

The meeting had finished a little earlier and I had to wait on the pavement for my ride to arrive.   As the Church is right in the heart of the ‘village’ there were car guards hanging around.  The Church has a crèche, and parents were arriving to collect their kids.  A lot of poverty has filtered into this little suburban region, so there is a soup kitchen on certain days.

Methodist Church

During tea I had overheard a Church member lamenting that their church have many elderly people,  little youth activities, needs repair as its 80 years old in the making.   By today’s wealthy mega Church status it may need a boost or two, but I reckon by Heaven’s standard they are right up there with the best of the best.
It’s a place where vibrant community happens, and the church is at its centre.

I was getting a little impatient waiting.   February is our hot clammy humidity season, and we have been having particularly heavy hazy, lazy days.  I looked up and saw the bluest sky I had seen in a long time.   It was a beautiful radiant bluer-than-blue sky.

corn flower
Best described I suppose would be a ‘cornflower blue’.
I sensed the Lord giving me a wink, and knew  He was watching from a clear sky.              “Just wait”,  I thought Him say.

It was then that I saw a beautiful tan and white boxer dog, tongue panting with a dry thirst, coming toward me.  I gave a little whistle, but he turned and bolted on.   Just then a car stopped,  a lady got out and shouted to the car guard to stop and catch the dog.  For just a moment he stood a little gazed then slipped off his tattered sandals and ran after the dog.  ‘Yeah, he’s not going to catch that dog’ I thought to myself.   The lady in the car sat awhile and frantically watched the scenario unfold.
Never underestimate the power of the grapevine !   The car guard shouted to someone on the opposite side of the road to stop the dog.     She then saw the plan and followed the chase in her car.    I will never know if the boxer was re united with his mistress – I hope so.   But it was an interesting way to pass the time while waiting on the street called Community.

To sum up then, my observations of the day, was a well-groomed aspiring street sweeper,  met a cuddle of caring women,  saw a real faithful old church, spied the bluest sky ever, and watched a barefoot car guard willing to go the extra mile – a nice slice of life.

So don’t hesitate when you get the opportunity to quietly observe real life as it passes by.
You won’t be disappointed.

William Davis, in his poem Leisure, said it this way :

“What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare”

 

field of cornflowers.jpg

CARESA CHRONICLES

I am so glad I finally got it – my Chukkit Bukkitt.  Recycling now – doing my bit for the planet.

It happened immediately, when I went with Billy to the Farmers Co-operative Store.   I was told to get up early, so that we could catch the glow of the early morning as we drove the 40 odd kilometers to Umhlali.  There is something special about early morning, you get to see all the “early birds”  –  I’m not one of them.   There was a stream of cyclists riding back from their trip into the rural area.  Runners, probably training for the famous Comrades Marathon from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.  Three or four early morning fishermen who had cast their lines on the Ballito Bay beach – we could see them as the road takes a bend and the beach comes into view.  I also noticed two huge vegetable growing enterprises, one on the slopes of a small hill, and one near Umhlali where row upon row of veggies stretched across the bow of the hill.  What a sight to excite my heart so early in the morning.  Then the little bushes of “curry cosmos” as I call them, brightening up the roadside.  The sky was blue, and the green rolling hills of the Natal sugar cane fields stretched for miles.  It was indeed a beautiful morning, in a beautiful place.  When we finally arrived at the Farmers Co-op my eye immediately spotted the Chukkit Bukkitt –  and I made it mine. !

IMG-20150529-WA0002.jpg Chuck it Bucket         ATT_1432896407532_IMG-20150529-WA0003.jpg Kitchen Herb garden

The Chukkit Bukkit is a new novelty from the Store.  It is a compost maker, using all the kitchen waste to turn into a fertilizing liquid for my vegetable patch.  Our household is still old school, where we buy vegetables, peel them, cook them and then eat them. Maybe old-fashioned by today’s trends, but there you have it.   However, it means I now get to make good compost for my Care Garden – which forms part of my Care Africa Movement project.  Speaking of vegetables, if you have the time please visit this website  www.goandproclaim.co.za  and view the wonderful vegetables growing through the God’s Greenhouse initiative in the Eastern Cape.  This initiative wants to empower Churches and individuals to grow food for themselves and the Poor and Needy folk in their communities.
May there be many more such initiatives following this example in South Africa, indeed in Africa too.  I believe food sufficiency is the pivotal place of social development.   May the Church lead the way.  The Church is in a sense God’s Greenhouse for the soul, why not for food provision too.?

The secret to growing good healthy vegetables is in the soil.  So composting is essential !
Yay then for my Chukkit Bukkitt !  God has provided all we need through the rich mineral deposits of the soil.  However sometimes the soil needs to be replenished by organic compost.  Our bodies are composed of minerals and vitamins that we get from the food we eat, so our food needs to be grown in rich organic soil.  Makes sense.

Growing vegetables is not always an instant success story.  It is only the beginning of getting to know the science of the soil, plants, water, sunshine and then there are the pests… that are beginning to chow on my newly planted tomatoes !  Thank goodness for Google !   But it is amazingly good to be in the garden, beside my growing spinach, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes and basil.  To make it a little easier to get to my herbs I put a few small pots of parsley and green peppers on a pretty stand outside my kitchen door.  Care gardens don’t have to be big with acres and acres of vegetables – nice if you can do that, and for community gardens, but a Care Garden can be growing vegetables in a container.

Why not join me in my Care Africa Movement project, by growing  some vegetables for yourself – and to share with your neighbours.  Take a photo of yourself in your garden and email it to me, with your name and the region and country you live in.   Also add your favourite Bible verse.  Perhaps we can create a photo blog for Care Africa. Plant some seeds in your soil,  Plant some seeds in your soul by reading God’s Word everyday, – and watch how your gardens grow !   Do your bit for the planet recycle where and when you can, and grow your very own special Care Gardens.    Happy gardening !

vegetables-colorful

For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth
before all the nations.                 Isaiah 61:11