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I Am Transformed

          I look in the mirror and I am still me. Amber. Five foot tall. Brown hair. Hazel eyes. Freckles that I try to hide and glasses slightly askew. If we could somehow peek inside and put my heart and mind on display, however, we would all see that I am not the same woman I was ten months ago when I began this journey.           Transformation. It is in the program’s name even if I never really considered it. I am only now starting to understand how large a component transformation is to this journey. I came into this wanting to be the transformer! I wanted to be a catalyst for change, as embarrassing as it is to admit. I had no idea that I would be the one changed. That is how it usually goes, right? Every time…

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Music: The Heartbeat of Africa

When many people think of Africa, they think of poverty and hunger and sadness. Although there is a strong presence of poverty and need, I have yet to see the sadness.

I have now been in Africa for over five weeks. This is the longest I’ve ever been away from Canada, and it is quite incredible to settle into a “normal” routine in a place so different from anywhere I’ve ever lived. I could stay here forever.

The truth is, there is a joy that flows through the culture here. There is a constant rhythm, a constant song. It is so beautiful. I see it on a regular basis. Kids randomly break out into fluid, joyful dance moves and song, even in the middle of a random place or activity, like a basketball practice. When we visit certain churches, such as the one at the Bocaria (garbage dump), there…

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Worker Justice?

Meeting with workers at the Madison Workers’ Rights Center. Photo by León Carlos Miranda.

Before serving with Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), I thought it was people without jobs who experienced economic problems. From my perspective, once you’d secured a job, you could at least reach stability.

At the worker center in Madison I meet workers every day who fall into the category of “working poor.” Low wage jobs and day-labor are typically places where workers are at risk: At risk of not getting paid for all the hours they worked, at risk of injuring themselves in a dangerous job, at risk of experiencing discrimination based on their age, race, national origin, gender, and a number of other factors. The real kicker is that most workers do not know their rights, so when they experience one of those violations they don’t know their employer broke the law and don’t know the…

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The Blue Sheep

I remember as child, looking out the window just after heavy rains to see if the rainbow has appeared. I would think, how come? Where does it come from and how far should I go to see it closer or maybe touch it? Its beauty was beyond my imagination.

Last October, we were helping to organize a worship service and the theme happened to be “rainbow.” We reflected on the rainbow in terms of the differences we found within our communities as gender, religion, culture and race. Looking at the rainbow, we wondered how we can also be united to bring such a beautiful structure in our diversity communities.

Differences often shock us initially. Last year I went to Basel for a meeting. Just arriving outside the meeting building, I saw statues of sheep and, to my surprise, they were blue. Is this type only in Europe? I decided to…

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Home

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” – James Baldwin

I’ve been thinking a lot about home recently. Where is my home? Is home made up of human beings, the people who know you best and the expectations that come with that? Is home a place, an actual location that you make your own, the place you grew up, or the place you lived the longest? Or is home your happy place, not necessarily an actual location, but a state of being? Maybe home is all these things and more. I wasn’t quite sure until today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what home means because during midterms (the gathering of a Global Mission Fellow cohort by GBGM about halfway through our service for a time of debrief and reflection) my cohort and I attended the Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference in Arlington, VA. At the conference, we…

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Greater Things

Some of my favorite scripture is found towards the end of John’s gospel. After Jesus washes the disciple’s feet, but before the crucifixion, Jesus shares so many wise words with his friends. Much of what he shares at the time the disciples do not understand but they will later realize the importance of what he is saying. In John 14:12 it says, “I tell you the truth, whoever has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater because I am going to the Father.”  Jesus tells his followers that if they have faith in Him that they will be able to accomplish even more than Jesus did. Greater things are yet to come.

In just over two months my time as a Global Mission Fellow will be complete and while I am discerning where God is calling me to, unsure if that is to continue…

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Last Winter

Almost two years ago, I said no to love. You won’t like it there, I told myself. That place is too far. The news has some opinionated words about this place. How do you pronounce that word and why is winter 9 months long?

Last year, there was fear. We headed up the mountain after a night of songs and celebration. Our relaxing vacation was ending with a literally breathtaking view. A snow mobile, tea in the café, and horse-back riding made me reconsider my worries.

Last spring, living was impossible. We were sitting outside, air was full of springtime allergies. My eyes were so red and I had to wear a mask, but I didn’t mind. Sitting on a park bench, a book in my hands, thousands were around me and a concert could be heard in the distance.

The winter was engaging. There were many people in my life now and the feelings for all…

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Normal

Many people ask me if what I thought Cape Town would be like is how I am actually finding it.  South Africans will usually ask me, “Did you think that there would be lions and giraffes freely walking around?”  To which my sarcastic side sometimes gets the best of me and I bluntly respond with, “Well….no…because I at least did a quick google search before I decided to move here for two years!”

I know, it’s terrible and probably isn’t the most loving response.  I’m working on it, I promise.

The thing is though, no matter how much of a google search I did or no matter how much I talked with people who had lived in South Africa, it still wasn’t enough to prepare me to up and move to a foreign country.  And even though many South Africans, and Capetonians in particular, are proud that this city is…