Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Daughter, Molly's, Post From South Africa With Belmont Univ.

MAY 17, 2010

Reflecting on Robben Island

Today's post is brought to us by Molly Tarr:

Well, we made it to Cape Town! We spent the first day touring the city and trying to get acquainted with their currency, the Rand. That task was definitely easier said than done for me. While we didn't get to the Team House until really late last night, we were still up and ready for breakfast by 7 a.m. On the drive to our first stop we got a chance to see zebra, which was pretty amazing considering we were driving on a major road. Due to major traffic we literally had to run to the ferry for Robben Island, and the boat was taking off when we got there. Being the friendly people they are, the crew, thankfully, lowered the bridge so we could get on the boat. We took a bus/ walking tour of Robben Island. We then got a chance to eat lunch and explore the Waterfront area. After that we headed over to Table Mountain where we got to take a cable car up to the top of the mountain. In my 21 years of life I have never seen a more beautiful site. I was just in wonder of what the Lord had made and realized how small we, as humans, really are in this world. We were so high up that we were looking down at the clouds in most areas. Definitely an experience I will never forget.

Robben Island became famous during Apartheid for the imprisonment of political leaders such as Nelson Mandela. I have always heard from my friends who have visited concentration camps that when you enter the gates this presence or feeling just overwhelms you. I never really understood what they meant until today. Throughout the tour I felt a heaviness on my heart and felt like the Lord was trying to show me something. The first part of the tour was just riding on a bus, but our first stop is a moment I will remember forever. Robert Sobukwe was the founder of the Pan Africanist Congress in opposition to the Apartheid regime. Sobukwe was arrested and placed in solitary confinement for several years. During his imprisonment he suffered severe punishments, including very limited visitation with his family, and the only time he was allowed to speak was when the priest came to visit him once a week. Through his work for the anti-Apartheid movement, he was a big reason why a change finally came.

As we toured Sobukwe's housing confinements at the prison, we saw a life-size picture of him hanging on the wall next to some letters he had written over the years. A South African woman in our tour group was standing next to the photo to have her picture taken. She looked at me and with a huge smile said, "I am free because of him!" The joy radiating off her is a scene I will never forget. In that moment Apartheid became so real to me. This lady was older and had lived through this time, so I was touched to see how Sobukwe's hard work and suffering really made an impact in so many lives. It is hard to believe that Apartheid ended only 16 years ago, and I am sure those feelings still resonate in the older generations. Throughout the rest of our tour of Robben Island and even on the ferry ride back I watched this woman and her daughter tour this facility. Just to see the look on her face when seeing these sights and hearing the stories of what these leaders suffered through in order to bring about freedom for her made me feel like I got a little insight to how this affected her personally. I feel like I am still trying to process the emotions I experienced today. In my life I have never been in a situation like Apartheid, so to see someone who had and just watch her was truly an eye opening experience. I thank the Lord he gave me that opportunity to see woman in a moment that was so special for her.

MAY 26, 2010

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Molly Tarr brings us Tuesday's report:

After a short flight and a six hour drive, we made it to Gaborone, Botswana! We were all sad to leave the Team House and our experience behind, but during our drive I finally had time to process everything that we witnessed and participated in while in Cape Town. In Botswana we are staying at Modoloki Backpackers which caters to the needs of game hunters, so this is truly a unique experience. At the airport we were met by our new guide Kieffy and driver Patrick. Today was more of a day to rest up on the bus and reflect on our time in Cape Town.

One experience that stuck out the most for me occurred on our second day of working at Noordhoek Educare. While class time had just begun and we were trying to settle down the children somewhat, Pat--the leader of Educare--pulled us volunteers out of class. I was kind of confused at first, thinking maybe we had done something wrong, but those fears were quickly dismissed. She told us that, while walking across the play area that morning, she had felt an overwhelming presence from the Lord. Pat proceeded to tell us how she felt the Lord was giving her a message to give one of us, but she had no idea who. “One of you has been praying for some time about your future but got no response because it wasn’t your season. Now is your season so keep seeking Him,” Pat encouraged us. This really hit home to me because it was the place in my life where I feel I am currently. I am about to start my senior year and know that many important decisions will be soon coming my way, but this word from her gave me assurance. The part of her conversation with us though that struck me the hardest, though, was about the World Cup. “Everyone is excited for the World Cup to come here, but not me. I wish all these people were coming here to help South Africans because there is so much to do,” said Pat. This really hit home because she made such a valid point that people are willing to spend so much money to watch one game of football, but nothing for these people who so desperately need it. Of the children we worked with, one third either have HIV/AIDS, or their parents are afflicted with this disease. Also, two to three children from Noordhoek Educare die each year from preventable diseases. After developing relationships with these people it really struck a nerve in me. I wish there was a way I could help more, but for now I can do one thing: pray. I challenge you to do the same. Whenever you take your time to pray just say an extra blessing for the people--and especially the children--of South Africa.

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