Doin’ the Dishes


Rachel writes about doin’ the dishes:

One of the many blessings of being placed in host family is the daily occurrence of a shared evening meal.  My host sister does most of the cooking each night and although she does her best to teach me her ways, I mostly stay out of her way and let her work her magic.  I am used to shopping, cooking, and cleaning all on my own, so the relatively small amount of energy I have to put into these daily meals sometimes leaves me feeling a bit guilty.  (Especially knowing the effort that other SA YAGM put into each meal they eat!)

I have always despised doing the dishes; far too often letting them pile into the sink until I (or my poor roommates) couldn’t handle it anymore.  This is no longer the case…

I now gladly accept the role of dishwasher — partially as a way to ease my feelings of uselessness in the kitchen, and hopefully as a sign of gratitude for the meals that have been served to me.  I have come to love the time after meals, either in silence by myself or in conversation with another; hand-washing the dishes with a full and happy belly.

Hospitality is top notch in South Africa, and a sign of immediate thanks that I am often inclined to give rarely seems to be expected.  In my experiences, people give and share freely because they know that the gift will be returned to them in one way or another.  It seems to fit right into the Ubuntu attitude of being well in this world because we are in community with others.  Nobody keeps tabs or holds grudges about I owe you’s — people give joyfully and without hesitation.

Over the New Year, six of the other YAGM and I took a holiday away from our placement sites, and spent time together in Cape Town, SA.  We saw the sights, laughed a lot, and certainly did not help out with any dishes.  How interesting and humbling it was to jump into this week of privilege.  The time spent with my beloved YAGM was refreshing and rejuvenating, but also left me a little disheartened.  In our placement sites we are living so close to, if not directly in, the deep poverty of South Africa.  Spending a week much closer to the other extreme of the economic spectrum brought a new light to just how far South Africa (and the world) has to go before reaching equality.

I feel guilty, just as I sometimes do eating meals prepared so graciously for me.  So what do I DO with these feelings?  Mmm, not exactly sure yet.  But I know that I’ll keep doing the dishes, silently lifting up prayers of gratitude for what I have and for what others continue to bless me with.


Hold On

Kyle writes a poem to help express his experience:

Hold On

Over and yonder and
round the next bend
Is the promise of mercy
on this I depend

For life rarely shows me
that which I seek
And so I must wait
as I have every week

Great longing for action
from God in this world
See death greed corruption
into the void hurled

Sometimes it is painful
i so often miss
All that I hope for
sweet promise of bliss

Sweet sliver of mercy
if you I should find
I’ll be deeply thankful
my pain might unwind

I try to be patient
and slow to get mad
At a world that has evil
And makes me so sad

We’re slaves to injustice
we know it’s unfair
God says on each head
that he loves every hair

We’re part of one body
we’re part of one soul
Yet Broken Heart Pieces
are hard to make whole