Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A New Beginning

Ahh, it seems like it's been ages since my last post! I'm sorry! =) Things are beginning to settle here at my placement a bit and I am getting used to the people and the place. SO let me tell you about it!

Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Our South Africa group of 11 flew from Chicago on Wednesday evening to Frankfurt, Germany. We had a long layover and were able to spend a number of hours in the city before flying to Johannesburg on a 10 hour flight! We finally arrived in our final destination, Durban on Friday afternoon with all 21 checked bags and with our country-coordinators, Brian and Kristen waiting to receive us at the airport. The next 10 days were filled with awesome orientation activities and discussions and also left a good amount of time for us all to spend with each other- making dinner every night and generally getting to know each other. By the time Monday came, we were all so sad to leave each other!

On Monday, we were dispersed across the Eastern half of the nation ranging from Durban to Kimberely to the Northern region of Limpopo! Some people were at their sites within 30 minutes of being picked up and others had to travel for 2 days! When I set out from Pietermaritzburg, I was with two other volunteers, Heather and Joy and we were travelling to Johannesburg where Joy's placement site people would pick us up and bring us to Soweto for the night. We had a wonderful time together signing Karaoke with some of the hilarious ELCSA staff people living in Joy's compound. We also went for a drive through Soweto- probably one of the most famous townships in South Africa and the heart of where the Anti-apartheid revolution began.

On Wednesday, my hosts in Bonaero Park were ready to receive me, so Joy and I were driven from Soweto to the compound where I am now staying! That afternoon, I met the ELCSA General Secretary, Rev. Mathe who will be my supervisor for the year. He took me around to the various people working in the ELCSA head office and was kind enough to introduce me to everyone. Along with containing the head office for ELCSA, this compound also contains the Lakeview Airport Lodge conference center owned by ELCSA. So, I was also introduced to the people living and working at the conference center. It was a very exciting day but once Joy left, it was strange to be alone for the first time in weeks!

Since arriving last week, I have become more oriented to the way things work with the conference center and with the office. I have been working at the reception desk for the conference center! Wearing high heels! Haha. Although it has definitely been a surprise, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about how this place works and it's been nice to get to know the people who work here! Everyone has warmly welcomed me and have been more than willing to teach me all about the things I have no clue about. I have been learning how to make pap- a staple food item in most meals here. Also, people have been teaching me Zulu! Although most people speak many languages most people here at least have a general understanding of Zulu. So, it's been very fun getting to know my new host "family", the staff. =)

Soon, I will be working more with the local churches and with a Music education program in Boksburg as well as assisting in the office at times, but for now I am settling in and enjoying the fact that I'm not living out of a suitcase for the first time in weeks! =)

It's wonderful to hear from family and friends back home about everything going on in your lives! SO feel free to write or something at any time! I DO read them =)

Also, if you are interested in sending a letter or package through the mail (hint*hint) My mailing address is:

Amanda Tompkins
P.O. Box 7231
Bonaero Park, 1622
South Africa

I haven't gotten to the post office yet to see how all that works or anything, but I'm assuming it's all set up and ready to be used! Shoot me an email or something if you send something though, so I know to expect it! The post office is a bit of a walk from here.

That's all for now! I'm excited to be here and meeting everyone but I think of you all often and I thank God for your support, love and encouragment that have gotten me this far. Thank you for keeping me in your minds and in your prayers throughout this year! I will update again soon!