Saturday, April 5, 2008

Durban Homestays

This write-up is written about the events that happened from March 8th – 14th

For one week we partook in the South African Indian experience. Outside of India, Durban is the third largest concentration of Indian people in the world, coming just behind England. It was great to be immersed in the Indian culture, from the spicy curries, to the Bollywood, to the recognition of different religious presences in the community.

We were told a bit of the Indian story; how they came to South Africa as sugar cane cutters back in the 1800’s and about their effort in helping bring the Apartheid to an end. We learned a lot about Ghandi’s efforts to bring freedom and equality to the country through his movement of peace and non-violence and we also learned about where the Indian culture is heading in this new democratic country that is South Africa.

This was one of the roughest weeks for our group due to a strange stomach flu that we picked up at the end of our stay in Mdumbi and the homesickness that comes with being physically sick while away from home, but thankfully we spent the week in homestays with Indian families from the church we working with. Our host families were extremely hospitable and nursed us back to health.

I had an amazing host family this week. They may not have had a lot to offer us, but I’m sure they gave us everything they had. They were so welcoming and I’m pretty sure that I had the cutest little sister that I could imagine.

Looking back at the week, there are a few things that stick out to me that I learned through experiencing this new culture. First is the importance that they put on tight family living. Both sets of grandparents lived basically in the same house as my host family. It was incredible to see the impact on the family’s life due to the close relationship of the grandparents, parents and children. This has challenged me to examine my relationships with my own family and made me realize just how blessed I am to have them.

The second thing came mid-week when my host family as well as many other families in Durban experienced a huge rain storm that caused extensive flooding in many areas of the city. What struck me about this was the way my family dealt with it. It amazed me to see the joy and peace that they maintained as the rain flooded into their house and ruined the little that they had. This honestly left me with so many questions. If they had more to lose then would they have felt the loss more and handled the situation differently? Would a typical family in North America handle the situation in the same way? Are there things in my own life that I am holding on to so tightly that if they were suddenly taken away I would lose site of God and my joy in the process?

I haven’t come up with answers to all of these questions, but I challenge you to think about them as well. God is a great God and He is working throughout the world. I know that this week has further opened my eyes to that truth.

Written by: Stephen Foord

Photos of the flooding

Mei-Lin, Carla and Deanna enjoying the ocean one last time

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