Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Home Again

Home again! We’ve logged in more than 40 hours of air time in the past two weeks and countless more hours in three airports. Days and nights have exchanged places. I’m writing this blog at 4AM. Probably sleep will come and days will normalize after awhile, but how can I ever be the same person as before I left?

It will take weeks and maybe months to fully process all that I’ve witnessed: unshakeable faith in the midst of abject poverty, Africans singing on street corners and in classrooms, the children of Mapetla fluttering around us with extended hands waiting for their Donald Duck stickers, the horrid conditions of the government run hospital where we visited the children’s ward, and by contrast, the Soweto Hospice, so clean and welcoming.

One evening, sitting across the dinner table from our host, Dr. Patrick Mashele, I peppered him with questions about the work of caring for so many impoverished lives. Helped along with a bottle of South African wine, the conversation had turned philosophical. “We are put here,” he said, “to be someone’s ladder.” It was a surprising image that made an immediate impact. It’s not just about lending a hand. We are meant to be ladders, to invite a stepping up, to give someone a foothold and help lift him from his circumstance.

In leaving Soweto, I like to think that our team has done some laddering work. We’ve worked closely with the hospice staff as trainers and consultants while their organization undergoes major change in a desperately struggling economy…..far worse than ours. Maybe we have added a rung or two, or maybe we have simply fortified an existing rung so that more patients can be served. I hope so.

And it has not been a one-sided relationship. Not at all. I came to Soweto wanting a new life experience, yes, but more than that. I came seeking a deeper response to life, a truer sense of my humanity, and a closer relationship with God. I have been lifted too.

Roxie Smith

1 comment:

  1. I knew when I started reading this passage that you had authored it. And when I read the last sentence, I was certain. Thank you so much (to all) for making this trip. JEK