Day Fifteen

St. Francis Peace Prayer (Adaptation ) Oh God of all creation Make us instruments of your peace Where there is hatred Let us bring love Where there is injury ...pardon And where there is darkness Only Your light As You love us Let us love one another! As we reflect fondly on our days with our family in Malungeni, the rural community in the Eastern Cape we will share memories and quotes from some of the delegates: Photo Feb 28, 8 07 09 AMJulie  Andberg For me, Malungeni was a place of respite and peace. Even though we were busy, the beautiful rolling hills, the slower pace of the people, the sounds of the cows, chickens, and goats were a calming  influence. The people always greeted me while I was walking, asked me how I was, and paused to show genuine interest.  It was easy to feel a connection to everyone, to feel embraced by them.  I hope I can find a way to incorporate some of the serenity I felt here into my life in MN. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Marcia Kurtz For me the time in Malungeni was both the most difficult and the happiest.  It was gut wrenching to see the deplorable conditions the people of Itipini are forced to live in with no toilets and only one source of water for all of them.  The food distribution here gave me a roller coaster of emotional feelings from complete joy as I watched each group take their allotment to feelings of outrage at the inhumanity of the situation these human beings have bee forced to live in.  It was heartwarming to see the smiles on the faces of the children when just taking their picture let alone when we actually gave each of them a Friendship bracelet and a teddy bear. They have such joy even under the terrible conditions of their young lives.mTaking the walkabout and actually going into people's homes was amazing. It was beautiful to be able to personally visit with each of them, in their home, to hear their story. Sunday is a stand out day beginning to end. From hearing the stories of the continuing hardships from the elder women to seeing their absolute joy at being pampered with manicures and pedicures.  Their giggles and joy were infectious!   - [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Julie Vogl I am always overwhelmed with the extent of poverty in the Itipini village. The environment is not fit for human habitation; run down buildings housing two families each, dirty floors, leftover furniture, a sad collection of clothes and dishes scattered about. The grounds are littered with garbage, building materials and clothes that have been washed in a dirty river are drying on a barbed wire fence. Many children run about with no shoes and torn clothing.  We were told their four toilets were taken away as no one would clean them.  There is a water spigot for 200 people to share. Yet, in spite of this, we saw joy in the children's faces, all of whom received a friendship bracelet and a Mother Bear and hope and relief in the eyes of the adults who received food parcels from our group. The village is the poorest of the poor and therefore a blight to the surrounding townsfolk of Umtata. Even the medical center refused to treat them as they should be treated so their medical problems are ignored and worsen. Arm In Arm In Africa will not ignore this group as we continue to support them with food parcels We have arranged for medical support with a staff who will use the medical supples intended for the clinic who refused to serve them properly. We pray for improvement and hope in the lives of these men, women and children for the future of their families. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Pat Murphy After 16 visit to this community it has become "home".  The family of Rev. Spiwo Xaplie, Olga and Gwena in the kitchen.  Sam in the yard.  It definitely is like visiting your family at Christmas.  I hold all of these family members in my heart, as well as all the people and children in Malungeni, who, although living in poverty, have such hope for the future and always, always have a smile on their face and embrace every day as a blessing to them and those around them.  Who are the "poor"?  I have learned so much of what is important in life and hug and cherish all these memories, learning experiences and warm, warm hearts of Malungeni. May God continue to bless them with a future of hope, and may their spirit live on in all of us. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Jean I Mills For me, Malungeni was the the embodiment of what the trip was all about.  We truly were among the people, interacting with them each day.  They were not just faces on the street, but individuals with stories, hopes and dreams, which they were more than willing to share with us.  They welcomed us into their homes, without caring that they didn't have the latest furniture, technology (fill in the blanks). They have nothing of material value, but their love and gratitude shown brightly.  As we visited with families in their homes and the women who came for the food distribution and spa day, we learned that their hopes and dreams are not that different than ours-an education and better life for their children.  As I embraced some of them with tears of gratitude in their eyes, I realized how blessed I am-not just because of what I have, but because of how they have touched my life by their brief presence. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Jill Pistulka I don't know how to add onto what's already been said but to say that when you look into the eyes of another person you can almost see their heart.  When I touched my new friends hands and feet it warmed my soul and when we shared food, it  fed me in many ways.  So many in Malungeni have so little and I hope life will get better for them, especially the children. They are the hope for their people--our new friends.  I will pray for peace and justice for all. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Nancy Lynch The highlight of Malungeni for me was the walkabout through the rural area. At one home we met an especially delightful older women, the mother of two older adult children, one of which was her invalid son. She was dressed in this once beautiful blue and white pinafore, so old it had rotted into strips. None the less, she looked regal in her dress and to me was the epitome of love...she really touched my heart. Jim kissed her and out came this delightful giggle. What a moment. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Teigen Staloch Spending time in Malungeni was fun. My favorite part was playing soccer with the kids and giving out friendship bracelets. I had fun helping out with the food distribution and it made me feel food to help people who didn't have as much food as they needed to have for their families. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Tate Staloch It was amazing to help people. The looks on peoples faces when we could help made their lives easier was unforgettable and unexplainable. I felt like I was making a difference and the people of South Africa that I met made a difference in my life. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Trisha Harvey During our first meeting with Father Jim about the trip to South Africa, he told us to be prepared to be homesick for South Africa for the rest of our lives. And as we left Malungeni, the homesickness set in! The compound we stayed at is named ELalini, the Village, a place of tranquility, love and community - these amazing people have a piece of my heart. As I reflect, the spa day with the women was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Massaging the hands of these hard-working women and washing the feet that have travelled so many miles was a beautiful moment. It was a gift being able to share a few moments showing love, doing service, and building relationships in ELalini. I know I will be back! [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Teri Staloch Compassion, joy, gratitude and love define the human spirit and have no limitations, no barriers and no boundaries. Although I have always felt this, I have also been the one to limit the potential of myself and those around me by putting up barriers and boundaries. Spending time in the homes of families from Malungeni provided a beautiful reminder to me that the boundaries I have created unintentionally and perhaps even unknowingly around race, wealth, power, gender, privilege, and judgement have kept me from fully being in relationships in the most pure  and honest way. I was able to simply be present as I sat in the modest home of a mother and her child who were still deeply mourning the death of her husband and the child's father. I prayed for her peace, I cried for her loss, I held her hand during Father Jim's prayer and I felt such love for this woman and her family. I couldn't comprehend her grief, but I could feel it. I couldn't erase her pain, but I could let her feel for even an instance that she was not alone. I may never see her again; however, I can pray daily for her healing, for her ability to provide for her family and for joy to slowly return back into her life. I pray that I will continue to learn lessons about compassion, joy, gratitude and love by breaking down barriers and limitations. I pray the the spirit of Malungneni will live in me and I pray that the families of Malungeni will live in abundance. [divider scroll_text="SCROLL_TEXT"] Maureen CannonThe welcome of Olga and Gwena was so warm and welcoming, it was so good to see them again.  To be embraced and called "Mamma" again is like no other!  There were so many outstanding and memorable moments...  but standing out in my mind and heart was the candor, honesty and simplicity of the village women in  a gathering under the trees, with  Spiwo translating, and their talking about painful experiences with white people and asking us questions.  Our walk-about with Olga, meeting some of the village people and being invited into their homes, the joy of the villagers at our Sunday Spa event and supper!  What courageous, loving, beautiful people!