Thursday, September 22, 2011

Katelynn update from South Africa

Update from our Friend Katelyn Hiett pictured with 
Serving her Deaconness internship in South Africa

Sabona! (Hello in Zulu) 

Zulu is just one of the many official languages here in South Africa. The country boasts 11 different national languages, including Zulu, Afrikaans (a muddy mixture of German and Dutch) and English just to name a few. I, unfortunately, only know one of the eleven, and though I like to think I have good command of English, I am often not its master.

One might suspect that with so many different languages, progress and partnership may be a little inhibited. Those suspicions prove true when observing the complicated history of South Africa. Communication is essential to building relationships and especially building a country. That is why the major work of mission work is building relationships. Different language and different culture complicate this task greatly. Mission work is about relationships and communication. I am learning the delicacies of building and maintaining partnerships across that vast cultural line that is often so hard to bridge. 

The team I have joined in South Africa has done an excellent job of bridging that gap. For two years Shara and Julia have been working alongside Pastor Thwala of Shongweni, Lutheran Church building outreaches and programs that the church sees as its own. Their method is one that I will surely take with me back to Sudan. 

Much of my work here in South Africa is focused in Shongweni parish. My role is assisting Pastor Thwala with making visitations, teaching the youth when needed and especially ministering to women in the community. South Africa has never really ever had the advantage of a “deaconess” so my job description is often made up on the fly and is uniquely African. It is my daily challenge to shed my western predispositions and trade them—if momentarily—for African sensitivities. 

But there is one thing that I can be sure of and rest all of my confidence in. No matter our differences of speech and culture, we are united by the universal and eternal Word of God. The love of God spoken to us through the incarnation of Christ is a Word every heart can understand. It would seem that the gospel needs no translation, except for when it is mistranslated through the imperfect actions of imperfect people. 

Vigilant of my sin and shortcomings, I pray that as I share the Word—my highest task as Christian and missionary—God will use the weakness of my words and the failure of my flesh to sow good seed into ready hearts

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