Friday, July 16, 2010

World Cup Holiday Clubs!!

We did it!! I cannot believe that the World Cup has come and gone and that everything went so well with the Holiday Clubs. Our goal for the clubs was to give kids a safe place to be during the day, feed them at least one meal, show them the love of Christ, and to have fun; it was a complete success!!

I remember worrying and praying, "how will this ever happen? It's too much..." And now that it's over and done, I am in awe of our amazing volunteers, the parishes and the communities and our partners who made it happen! Once again, I am reminded to trust God with everything -- My friend was right, we didn't do this, God did this! And, it was amazing!!

The Anglican Church had 16 Holiday Clubs, almost 400 volunteers and over 3300 children in the clubs. That means that those children all received at least one meal a day, stayed off the streets, and were surrounded by loving adults leaders.

The affect has been HUGE! Not only on the children who participated, but also with the volunteers, who cannot wait to run a holiday club next school break.

Check out a few pics.
In line for lunch in Sir Lowry's Pass

Face paint in Sir lowry's pass

Singing grace in Faure

Eerste River Kids at Fun Day put on by the City

Snow on the top of the mountains - driving out of the club in lwandle

Lavender Hill Club

Friday, May 14, 2010


So much has happened since my last post, I'm not sure where to begin!

The World Cup Holiday Clubs are moving ahead at full speed. I can't believe the World Cup is almost here.

I am so excited for the camps but also very anxious about everything that needs to get done before June 11th. We currently have over 20 Anglican Churches signed up to do Holiday Clubs and all of the clubs are getting food from Peninsula Feeding Program. Our partner, Scripture Union, is hosting almost 100 more clubs. God is good!

Our contact at Scripture Union, Nigel, keeps reminding me that we will not do this, God will do this! Again, I am reminded to trust God.

Despite the anxiety I am feeling now, one of the most valuable gifts of this year has been having the time to be quiet and be with God. I am constantly praying that I will have the courage to put all my trust in God. And, slowly, am learning to do just that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


In Queenstown, which is about 2 hours North of East London on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Hope Africa and Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), work together to support a project called The Tshwaranang Resource Center. Tshwaranang is a Sesotho word, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, meaning, “joining hands” or “let’s hold each other”. The mission of Tshwaranang is “to facilitate and support local responses to community needs in support of HIV/AIDS, poverty, gender based violence, and child abuse through training and human rights advocacy and building of partnerships and alliance”.
Tswaranang has a number of different projects, including: home based care, orphans and vulnerable children, food security, job training, AIDs/HIV care and advocacy, and computer literacy.
A group of ERD staff and board members came to South Africa for about one week to talk with their partners, learn more about South Africa, and to visit the Tshwaranang sites. I met up with the group in Queenstown, and was lucky enough to visit some of the work sites. The group was divided into 4 smaller groups for the visit. Many groups visited the homes of people, who are receiving home-based care for medical issues such as, HIV/AIDS, strokes, TB, and much more.
My group visited a church, community gardens, an after-school program, a school and a soup kitchen that feeds the school. At the church and school, we handed out wheel chairs to people who were in great need, who could no longer get around on their own. One woman announced proudly that she would use her new wheel chair for church. She then showed the other woman receiving a chair how to maneuver it.

At the same church, a group of women and one man were out in the hot son working in a garden. They told us that the food they were growing was going to orphans and vulnerable children in the area.

I was particularly impressed with the after school program. They have a large staff that work together to create a safe, fun, learning environment for children in the community.

Finally, we visited a local school, where many of the children who go to the after-school program attend. At the school, we passed out more wheel chairs. Many of the recipients had lost one or both of their legs due to diabetes. One man was so depilated from the effects of AIDS, that he could not walk on his own.

After the wheel chair ceremony, school children sang a couple of songs for our group. Everyone was very impressed with their beautiful voices, and we got a laugh from one of the songs that refers to them as being communists!

The following morning, before the group left Queenstown, we met with Fr. Michael Lapsley, the director of the Institute for the Healing of Memories. Fr. Michael gave the group the opportunity to reflect on their visit and think about the challenges they have moving forward.

The Institute for the Healing of Memories is an incredible organization that gives people the opportunity to tell their stories for healing. They run workshops where people tell their stories from apartheid and in having someone acknowledge what happened to them, people have been able to start the process of healing. Over 60,000 people were displaced from their homes during Apartheid; however, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not hear any of those stories. Fr. Lapsley is doing his own kind of tswaranang; he is bringing people together and letting them hold each other’s pain, so they no longer have to be alone with their memories.
Tshwaranang has many meanings. Tshwaranang is a living faith; it means, holding and supporting those who are suffering, as Christ did. Tshwaranang is also the bonds we make with one another has a human family; it is the bond between Hope Africa and ERD and their bond with the Tshwaranang Resource Center.
Before coming to South Africa, the Young Adult Service Corps group met to discuss what it means to be a missionary in the World Wide Anglican Communion. One conclusion we came to is that we are all one body in Christ – that the suffering of one member of the body hurts to the entire body.
As an American I cannot propose to come into South Africa and try to “fix” the problems of South Africans, rather, I have to acknowledge that these problems are not South African, but problems of the entire world. Because we are bound together in Christ, because we need to hold one another, as Tshwaranag suggests, these problems of suffering and injustice can only be solved when we work together. We cannot abandon our brothers and sisters; we must work together for peace. This is exactly what ERD and Hope Africa are trying to do in their partnership.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Camps during the World Cup

As many of you probably know by now, the main project I am working on during my time in Cape Town, is creating camps that will be run by Anglican Churches throughout South Africa during the World Cup. I wrote a proposal for a camp that I will help to implement in the Diocese of False Bay. I am presenting the camp to the Archdeaconry of Kalk Bay this Saturday. This is some of what I will be presenting:

Children will be on holiday from June 10th until July 12th and, with the influx of soccer fans coming to South Africa, there will undoubtedly be an increase in crime and violence during this time. We are hoping to create a fun, engaging program for the young people at our church and in the neighborhood.

The camp is intended for 8 to 12 year-olds and will begin the second week of school vacation and last for one month. The general approach to each of the four weeks of camp is as follows: activities will be based on a different theme, and the young people will come to camp every Tuesday to Thursday. The first two days of camp (Tuesday/Wednesday) will include games and activities that have integrated the week’s theme. The last day of camp (Thursday) will be dedicated to an outing or a visitor that is also based on the week’s theme.

Here are some of the themes we will be using:
Soccer, music, animals, the sea, AIDS/HIV, social justice, drama, science, etc.

I am really excited about the camps and the safe-haven they will provide for children, hopefully throughout South Africa (if other churches decide to implement them!). At times the project seems incredibly daunting and overwhelming but this is forcing me to learn a really good lesson about trusting God.

I've discussed my anxiety and concerns with the woman I am living with, and she keeps telling me that I need to trust God and pray. Well, I don't know about you, but sometimes it is frustrating to hear someone say trust God, what does that even mean??

That's what I'm trying to figure out. For me, that literally means saying to God, I am putting this in your hands, I trust you. I trust that You will be with me in my planning for and running of the camp, that volunteers will appear, that the word will get out, that kids will show up, and that everything will run smoothly and everyone will have a fun time. The more I say, I trust You, the less anxious I feel.

Part of learning to trust God, has been working on my relationship with God. Like any relationship, the people who you really trust, you trust because you know their character, you are close with them. I'm praying that God will be at the center of everything I do. One of the best thing that has happened during my time here in South Africa, is that I have finally made time to sit and pray and read and journal and it feels awesome!

I went to the opening of the stadium in Cape Town - there was a ceremony, with singers and different religious leaders blessing the stadium, including ArchBishop Thabo, followed by a local soccer match. I want to add pics but i cant upload right now!


Bradley and my mother came to visit after Christmas -- I got to do some of the regular touristy things in Cape Town - Like the Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain, Robben Island, winelands, etc AND, we went on a safari. I had such a wonderful time and wanted to share a couple of pictures from our adventures. ENJOY!
Me and Maford at the Cape of Good Hope

White Rhino Mud Bath
Zebras for GG
Me and Bradley

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Are you related to Amy?

That is the number one question I have been asked since I got here. When people hear that my last name is Beal, they want to know whether I am related to Amy Biehl. I can't tell you how many times I have been called Amy since I arrived. It's funny, at home people want to know if I am related to Jessica Biehl, and here Amy!
Anyway, I thought I would tell you all a little bit about Amy Biehl. Amy came to South Africa when she was 26 years old as a fullbright scholar on exchange from Standford University. Amy came to South Africa at a time of great change. She was here in 1993 - right before the first democratic election. A little history:
1984-1994 South Africa was ruled by the white minority under the Apartheid government
1950 - The Group Areas Act- forced people to live in certain areas according to their race - From the 50's to 70's there was forced removal of many black and colored people from their homes. As I'm sure you can imagine, the nicest areas were reserved for whites only, while many blacks were sent to slums - which still exist today as formal townships.
1953- The separate amenities act - this meant that certain areas could be reserved for a particular race -- for example, when I first arrived in South Africa, the woman I was staying with took me to the beach - first she showed me where the white people went to the beach - a long, wide, safe beach. Then, she drove me down the road to where she, as a colored woman, went to the beach - a rocky beach that now has signs saying it is dangerous to swim. Then she said, I don't even know where the black people went to the beach but it must have been worse than this.
People were only allowed to marry people in their race group - this caused many marriages and relationships to break up. People were forced to carry passes with them indicating their race. If you were found without your pass or in a white area after a certain time, you were sent to jail. One person told me that often people would be arrested for not having their pass and then when they were released from jail and on their way home, they would be arrested for the very same offense.
In the years leading up to the time Amy arrived in South Africa, there was a lot of opposition to white rule and the racist, violent tactics the used. Many people were preaching about black conciousness - particuarly Steve Bicko
Obviously, another famous activist was Nelson Mandela. Nelson was released from prison on July 11, 1990, after serving a 27 year sentence for his anti-apartheid activism. From 1990 to 1993 there were many talks and negotiations between the government and anti-apartheid groups, such as the ANC. The African Nationalist Council has been the governing political party since 1994. So, the negotiations culminated with the first democratic election, planned for April 1994.
Amy was working to register black South Africans for the election. One night, when driving co-workers home to Guguletchu township, she was attacked and killed. Her attackers were yelling, "one settler, one bullet!". This was the slogan used be the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) during their fight against apartheid. A "settler" was defined as a white person who was active in the oppression during the apartheid. The attackers saw a white person in their community and were swept up in their anger for the white oppressor government.
The amazing thing that happened was that Amy's parent's pardoned her killers during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Amy's father shook the hands of the men who killed his daughter and said, "The most important vehicle of reconciliation is open and honest dialogue...we are here to reconcile a human life which was taken without an opportunity for dialogue. When we are finished with this process we must move forward with linked arms."
Since then Amy's parents have gone on to form the Amy Biehl Foundation , that has created many programs that work to empower youth in townships. Some of these projects include: an after school program, a reading program, music and arts program, sports program, HIV/AIDS peer training, CPR and First Aid training, the creation of a golf driving range, and much more. Some of the men who killed Amy, not work for the foundation.
I am so impressed with Amy's parents ability not only to forgive but to continue the mission their daughter started, a mission that took her away from them. Truthfully, I don't know if I could ever be so forgiving. But, I also know that with out forgiveness, you will never really be able to move forward. I hope this story will inspire you to let go of the grudges you have been holding and to really forgive. I know that forgiveness has been hard for me, but is something I am praying about and continuing to work on.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, "Our Lord would say that in the end the positive thing that can come is the spirit of forgiving. Not forgetting, but the spirit of saying, 'God, this happened to us. We pray for those who made it happen, help us to forgive them and help us so that we in our turn will not make others suffer.'"

Forgiveness is more than saying sorry...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November Highlights!

It's been way too long since an update -- I'm not really sure where to begin...I am going to share with you all a couple of highlights from the last month!
1. I was very blessed to be able to go and visit Robby, a good friend and fellow YASCer.

It was SO nice to see a familiar face and to be able to talk with someone who is having a similar experience as I am. Robby is living in Grahamstown, which is about a ten hour drive away (or 13 if you take the bus, which I did on the way home!).
We spent the afternoons at an after-school program, where Robby volunteers, helping kids with their homework and playing games. The After-school program is up in the mountains at an AMAZING monastery.
Here are some pics from the after-school program and the Monastery.

We spent Saturday night at the monastery and went to their church services in the evening and then Eucharist in the morning. I loved all of the services -- their chapel is a square room with big windows that over-look the mountains, with an altar table in the middle. The view is breath-taking and it was incredible to worship there. The morning Eucharist was full of so much life; You could feel the holy spirit dancing and shouting for joy! The children from the after-school program came to church, along with the wonderful woman who looks after the children. She lead the church in song and response while the Eucharist was being passed around the group. Three people played the drums and everyone sang and danced. I left the Monastery feeling renewed and excited.
While I was visiting Robby, I got to spend time exploring Grahamstown and meeting a lot of wonderful people. And, I got to hear Xhosa for the first time -- this is the South African language that uses a series of clicks while you talk - it was incredible to hear the children at the afterschool program speak so quickly with the clicks and the singing at church sounded so cool when everyone clicked at the same time. One of Robby's roommates made me a traditional Xhosa mean while I was - It was veggies. meat and beans-- it was delicious: check it out!

2. Before I left for Grahamstown, I went to the Grassy Park Golf day! Walking around on the gold course was fun (I was caddying for Fr. CLiffy!), but the best part of the day was learning to Braai or grill-out. Now, I know how to grill at home, but I am telling you it is much more intense here. First of all, when I think grilling at home, i first thing hamburgers and hot-dogs, but not here...they think, chicken, sausage, steak, prawns, etc. and in incredible quantities. The grills have a grate that you can close around the top and bottom, which is then used to flip all the meat at once -- no spatulas needed!

3. I returned from Grahamstown the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving, I lead the youth group in a program about blessings. We played games, talked about the meaning of thanksgiving, and wrote cards to people we were thankful for and ate pie! I spent almost all of the day baking apple pie and it was worth it! It was so nice to have a little piece of a traditional thanksgiving.

4. I've been learning more Afrikaans and am hoping to take a class soon! Some of the words/phrases I know so far:

Lekke or lekker -- good, nice, lovely -- the meat was lekke, I'm doing lekke, it was a lekke day

Hoe Gaan dit? How are you

Goeie More - Good Morning

Goeie Naand - Good Night

asseblief - please