Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Trips and trips

It has been a long time, but I am happy and healthy here in Cape Town. I honestly wouldn't have been able to remember my last post without looking it up, and it has been a long time (that was November, oops!) I'm sorry I have been so terrible at the updates! Now there has just been too much since the last one and I need to keep it up or I'll be writing forever!

Quick recap. I really wanted to post about the multi faith activities at the National Cathedral on November 14, 2014. I even wrote about it, but I just couldn't find the right words to publish. However, it did not flee my mind. I have been thinking about it, a lot, because that is inherently something that is able to happen on a year like this. I have never had so much time to foster my thoughts, which has continued to be a wonderful thing, even through some of the hardest days. I know that I have been growing and am slowly wading through what I can think and what direction I want to follow. Even if that may be circles most of the time. I think that the multi faith activities in the Cathedral are wonderful and are really the most Christ-like demonstration possible. One thing that I really have found to be true in my own journey is that what matters is the way we treat one another, and that really is the most important way to build relationships and be with one another. Isn't it much easier and more helpful to build each other up, welcome them into our spaces, care for them, and be hospitable than to point out our differences, and be standoffish simply because the person uses different words, may look a little different or simply is a stranger? If you did not read it as it came out, here is the article from the Episcopal News Service.

In a similar note, I also have been able to vaguely follow the happenings in Rapid City that have come to a head after the police shooting of Allen Locke and the hate towards those 57 kids at the Rapid City Rush hockey game, be it mostly is from Facebook and online articles. Why not raise each other up, with a welcome smile and a warm heart than shun and tear one another down because we have a couple differences? We are all brothers and sisters, and I think the most important thing is to look and treat each other in that way. I think that is why it is so marvelous that we were able to offer space and be a companion as our friends were able to lead their prayers in the Cathedral.

The Free State Youth
In December the Green Anglican office was able to go to the Free State in South Africa and Lesotho to offer our services to lead a workshop and presentation. It truly was a transformative experience. There is so much excitement that surrounds the Church and what it can do to make a difference in our environment. Even though we were surprised with about 300 kids at the Lesotho presentation and not an executive board of about 15, quite the practice of flexibility! Here are some pictures of that week. 

So many people showed up for our presentation in Lesotho

This beautiful girl warmly thanked us for our presentation and insisted on our picture together!

However, I got some very saddening news on that trip as well, which completely shifted the itinerary and goals for me. And that was that my beloved gramma died in her sleep. When I found out, it was more of a race to get home than being present at the workshops. After a 14 hr drive (I had to drive all the way back, no cruise, totally exhausting!) and four planes I was able to spend about two weeks back in MN. It really meant the world to me to be there. I grew up at the side of my grandma, she taught me so much about this world and I could always count on her being in her chair at the house, reading her newspaper or just resting her eyes. I am so thankful for her presence in my life and the care she always showed me and everyone else. Anybody up for some lefse or apple pie? My brother blogs, much more regularly and better than I do, you can find a great tribute he wrote on his blog. You also might want to follow his blog, he's always got good stuff to say, and is probably much more creditable than me!

On that trip home, I was able to be with friends and family, and had a wonderful time seeing everyone. I slept on a lot of couches and air mattresses and was able to share many meals and drinks with some great people. Thank you to those people for keeping me as I was there.

As I returned to South Africa, it was on to a great trip with some amazing people! Fellow YASCers Ryan Zvacky and Carolyn Hockey came to Cape Town. It was so much fun to get away and explore with them, we did as much tourist stuff as possible. From New Years at the Waterfront to relaxing on the beach, taking the cable car up table mountain, hiking Lions Head (I've only done it like a million times now), seeing the penguins again, wine tasting, heading to the Eastern Cape to see the life at Addo, me bungee jumping off the highest natural bungee in the world from the Bloukran's Bridge (sorry Mom), and great white shark cage diving (sorry Mom, again), there was never a dull moment. Here are just a few pictures of our shenanigans.
We may have gotten a little carried away with selfies, but there's a lion there!
YASC Team Africa in Cape Town!
New Years at the V&A Waterfront, so many people!!
You know, just watching some wildlife at Addo

Never had so much fun being shark bait!

This big guy surprised us on the side of the road!
On another trip to the 'guins with my friends Ian, they always look like they're having so much fun!
I was able to be in Grahamstown for our first friendsversary and to welcome Carolyn to South Africa for her new work at the monastery! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Eco Bishops and Lion Heads

Hey crew, I know you have been waiting with bated breath to hear from Cape Town. Now you can breathe easy, because here is your update.

It is just a few days shy of being 2 months spent in South Africa for me; the Green Anglican office has been really running lately, pressing for the end of the year. I have been busy writing Eco Bishop articles  chronicling the Anglican and Episcopalian Bishops coming to Cape Town this February for a conference called by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, look it up on Facebook (Anglican Eco Bishops) and like our new page! It really has been an eye opening experience for me, as much as sometimes it seems just as the next task in the office, the excitement and enthusiasm behind the action of these environmentally forward churches exemplify the next step in what has to be done in our fight. The audience reading my posts, (hopefully!) are the ones that make a difference. We live in a way where if the numbers of caring individuals are great enough, the change must be made. We are the ones with the voice and the ability to keep the Earth.

The biggest challenge to our Eco Bishops conference is the youth involvement (here the term 'youth' can encompass everyone from teenagers to adults up to 30 or 35, but everybody can participate!). If you feel moved to make a message and want the bishops to receive it, send me your message in a creative way: sign, video, pictures, whatever and it will be presented to guide the conference!

We must all change the mindset about what we are doing and remember the ramifications of our actions, and in return, take action. The environmental movement is generally a new one, yes, we have seen environmental change for decades, but we really are living in a great time. I know I will look back and take pride in the changes we are making now. The numbers of supporters and people making moves to see the change is more than ever. We can make a positive difference in our environment, a little care goes way longer than you and I will ever see. If this analytic and biologically thinking guy can manage social media and a little office work, we can all work together and see the action.

If you know anything about me, you might know a little bit about my mentality, and that isn't one that sticks it out behind a desk, a cubical would be the death of me. Luckily enough, this wonderfully beautiful town of Cape Town allows for one to breach the walls of the office and enjoy the sun and breeze off the oceans without having to leave the city! Is there a better way to have a little change of pace than hikes in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? Here are more pictures from my adventures around the city- another perspective from Table Mountain and the iconic Lion's Head.
The view from Woody Ravine on Table Mountain

One of the many great views from Lion's Head, this is Camp's Bay again

Obligatory picture from the top of Lion's Head, a beautiful hike!

The "chain route" to the top of Lion's Head. Made for quite the adventure

Monday, October 6, 2014

Getting Published (and other thoughts)

I recently wrote an article
 for the Green Anglicans and it has been shared on many different websites and pages, and it even made it to the Anglican Communion's News webpage. Read it here.

There have been many experiences that I have had recently, and it has got me thinking. I have never traveled internationally alone before, and I have already learned a lot about how that will continue to work and how I may dread that, and also revel in that. I have always had someone to explore with- my friends and classmates in Guatemala, Katie in Peru, family in Norway. Now is my chance to be who I am traveling and learn what it means to be on my own, I do have plenty of great people here and around the world supporting me, but I hope you know what I mean. I came across this article on Facebook and it kind of explains what I hope to get out of this year, on that level at least. I have not grown into many of the points yet, but I feel like it is something I should keep in mind while experiencing South Africa.

I am excited to say that we already climbed Table Mountain! It was something that definitely was immediately put on my list of things to do right away when I found South Africa was my YASC placement.  As part of the Feast of St. Francis the Green Anglicans organized a hike up the iconic mountain which drapes many pictures you see of the City of Cape Town. It was an absolutely beautiful day for 103 of us to make the trip. The group had a nice service by one of the reservoirs at the top, which tied in the environment and all the environment around us. My day was capped by a very cold swim in the ocean with two of my fellow Green Anglican officemates, Johno and Nina. I think my timing to come couldn't have been any better, I left the Northern Hemisphere just as it was
turning fall and now I get to experience a whole new summer! I am looking forward to many more beach days to cool off this season.

Watch out Cape Town, I now have a car! Still trying to figure out the whole right hand drive, and driving down the left side of the road. I'm sure it will become second nature soon enough.
And this is just a great sunset over Camp's Bay

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Getting Settled

I have now been able to have about a week of perspective on the very beginning of my YASC year, and I am happy to say that it has been very busy, while I am trying just to take everything in and smooth the transition as much as possible.

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First off, I have to say I was very wrong about feeling adjusted to the time. This weekend I think I was still feeling the effects of the jet lag, which made it very easy to sleep through the rowdiness at camp! The camp was the first ever event like it put on by the Green Anglicans, which is the team that I am working with at the Church in Southern Africa. The campers (I feel like I was a camper even though I was staff) represented three different Dioceses in the Western Cape; Cape Town - which has become my adopted diocese, Saldanha Bay, and False Bay. Everyone was exposed to and learned about what challenges and problems the climate is facing and some of the ecosystems that are close to where we live. The team was also able to clean up the beach and surrounding areas to join in the Climate March held  in NYC this past weekend, and then plan strategies that can be implemented in their own churches and dioceses to raise awareness and action for climate and environmentalism. By far the biggest take away I had from the weekend was being able to get more comfortable in the South African culture and have a ton of laughs and a good time. I showed the campers a simple card game I remember playing with my cousins and grandma as a kid called golf, which was quite the hit! Guys stayed up practically all night just to play it. I was also given a Xhosa clan name, Madiba; you may recognize it because Nelson Mandela was referred by it on a regular basis, a huge compliment in my book! The Rotary camp, where our camp was held, now boasts the largest labyrinth in South Africa, and our group was the first to break it in. At 3km it was by far the longest I've ever done and the best workout I think I will ever get from walking prayer!
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I hope many of you are familiar with the UN Climate Summit, if not, please look it up and familiarize yourself with it. This is the chance for the most influential leaders in the world to make a difference in the way we are acting on the changing climate and to take a stand for our planet. In a parallel effort, the Green Anglicans were able to be a presence for support while a letter and petition were presented to the South African Government to change the practices in regards to the climate. We were one of many groups there to talk about the demands to the people with direct decision making power, and were presented with many talks about how we are affected, what is happening, and what needs to be done in order to green our planet.

And I got to see the penguins and seals in Simon's Town, I am beyond excited about that!
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As I have had a little time to get situated, I am excited to fully join my Green Anglican team now for our regular work!


Arrived in Cape Town

Displaying IMG_0628.JPGI am sorry that I have not posted for a while, I was kind of on a nomadic style, couch surfing at multiple friends' houses and apartments. I was hoping to get an update out, but the whirlwind around me and constant movement didn't allow my life to sit down and control my thoughts onto a blog page. And now it has taken me a while to get my laptop connected to the internet. Anyway, I would like to thank those people again, that housed me and took me in between moving out of my apartment and all the way up to my flight. I am very grateful for your hospitality and the space, time, food and laughs we were able to share together before I undertook this journey.
And what a journey it was to get here. The longest flight I have ever been on is Minneapolis to Amsterdam, which my family took last summer on our way to Oslo to start my mom's sabbatical there. Well this time it was the first leg again, but the shorter of the two. I spent 20 out of 24 hrs in the air to get here, I arrived in the night, was so absolutely tired that all I wanted to do was fall into bed (even though it was just about 2pm Minnesota time) and here I am so confused about what time it should be and when I was actually sleeping that I actually almost already feel adjusted to the time!
I am delighted to be here already, it has been a long time coming and feels great to actually step foot in South Africa! I was able to wake up this morning to some tea and breakfast in the house overlooking the harbor and all of Cape Town. It is just a beautiful view from our house, and I get the same one out of my window from my room!  I am sure I will be posting much more soon, when I can get reliable internet, and I am told I will be hitting the ground running with a camp this weekend, stay tuned!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

All Trained

And I have a flight date! I'm officially leaving for Cape Town on September 16, I am so excited! 
Last weekend I returned from my official training, held mainly at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY with a couple days in Manhattan and at the Episcopal Church Center. It was truly two weeks full of new best friendship, fellowship, fun and flexibility. All f's of missionary experiences. And I guess we learned a little too.
Everything that we could possibly cover was discussed, and I learned a lot about dealing with new cross cultural experiences, history of mission work and what mission of the Episcopal Church means, security, and health and wellness.
By far, the biggest take away from training was the relationships that were built in NY. There is a great group of YASCers and the other missionaries in Episcopal Volunteers in Mission. These are the relationships that we will rely on next year, and I can say with confidence that I hopped on the airplane back to Minneapolis with many more friends than I had prior to my experience at the monastery.From our "great silence" trips down to the Hudson River, and catching subways in the city, all of us became so close and it really was great to know that I will have an international support system for our years and in the future as well!
Here's a picture of our group after Eucharist in the chapel at the Church Center in NYC.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Time has been something that I have been contemplating lately, and more specifically the concept and perception of it. It is amazing what a little perspective can do to the way we will describe something, and how something that we believe as so permanent and finite can also become so indescribable and imaginative.

I have been thinking about this post for a while, actually ever since I visited with Fr. Chris at Emmanuel Episcopal Church while at home in Rapid City (Emmanuel is one of the other Episcopal Churches in Rapid City, Downtown). I kept on talking about some events that I had experienced, like traveling to Guatemala, Peru, and Norway, graduation, etc., and using statements like "just last summer" or "just last spring," but in fact it had almost been a year since my graduation and our trip to Norway. Something that really seems like it should have only been a couple months ago, at least. In the English language we do not really differentiate between permanent and temporary in our verbs, but I have always kind of thought of time being temporary, in the way that it really is never the same and changes constantly. However, just from English to Spanish there is even a disparity in the way we talk about time. The verb 'ser' is used to tell time in Spanish, the permanent version of 'to be." Who knows how it really is.

As I started to become more aware of my perception of how quickly the time of the past year, my mind started to wander to the then present timing of the Easter Season and Holy week, and now that today, June 2, marks the year anniversary of my graduation from Gustavus, I became sentimental once again and couldn't keep this "time" concept from my thoughts, and decided I should share, as I really have been thinking about it since the beginning of the season. Believe me, this can be tied into my trip in some way.

As many of you know better than me, the Easter Season is preceded by the very dark time of our Holy Week, a time that is dark and full of despair. It is a difficult time, as is intended, but there is something very joyous to look forward to at the end of it all. The light of our faith. Additionally to all the usual Holy Week thoughts, I want to take this a little different way. As an outsider, as in not physically being Jesus, not literally going through the same pain as he, can we even start to understand how long those moments were while he was persecuted, crucified and left in that tomb? We can never know, it is read as a certain amount of time, a measurement we can relate to and still measure. However, time may slow, or time may be sped depending on the perspective. We can never know if that time he spent in that stone prison was a enlightening trip, joyous and filled with relief, as I hope death should be; or was it an arduous journey, still burdened by the sins of the world and lamenting the words and action of the people. It can never be known, all we know is the way we can step through the journey ourselves and read the words of the story. Seconds can speed by for one, and click. by. for. the. other. like. the. last. droplet. of. water. at. the. end. of. a. drain.

The last year for me has been an interesting one, filled with amazing excitement, and very stressful and difficult times, where it has been difficult to keep myself intact and wondering how those things can possibly fit into this beautiful way of life I choose to perceive- a roller coaster ride as the metaphor states. Unfortunately for me, and I believe for the most of us, those peaks do not last nearly as long as we always hope, and those dips seem to linger on our minds for much longer than seems fitting. I usually make the decision to keep the joyous occasions as long as possible, but ineptly enough, it never seems like it ever lasts long enough.

As I am preparing for my trip, the weeks go by so fast, but the days slow. I am so very excited to make the transition into a year of the unknown, of something different and something huge. It seems like when I feel like I am waiting for September to come, the days draw longer and longer. I check my phone, just to count the weeks until I leave, the minutes just can't move fast enough. But when I think of all the things that I have to do before my trip I start to feel stressed but anxious and excited, I know the 3 months will be here in a moment, whether I like it or not. How has it already been 6 months since I applied to YASC? It has already been 6 months since I applied to YASC? Somehow, even though a we may understand time differently at different moments, it all adds up the same, and South Africa will be here before I know what to do with myself.

Wait, it has been a year since the Gustavus Class of '13 graduated? Was it all of 3 days or really only 3 days?