Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Day 23 Thanks Everyone

25 January 2005

Greetings everyone! These are your profs speaking.

What a great experience!

There are several people who deserve our thanks for making this trip so wonderful. So, in order of closeness to the trip (but not importance):

First: the students. We will never forget your enthusiasm, courage, commitment, openness, willingness to learn, flexibility, good humor, thoughtful devotions, academic presentations, cooking, singing, photographs, wholehearted embrace of the variety of people we met, and laughter.

Second: Matt’s mom Alice and our son Mark who were with us. You bring joy to us every day. You brought your love to the students throughout the trip. You brought joy to Emmanuel, Nico, and Stefan. Thanks for being a part of this with us!

Third: the people of South Africa. Your hospitality and generosity made everything possible. Here’s a partial list: Wayne Herman, Nathan, Emmanuel, and the Cornerstone College administration; JL Zwane and Bandile and Thobile; Lionel and Sandra Davis at Robben Island; Ntobeko at the Amy Biehl Foundation; Ron Bussinne and Mani at A-Gas; Fanie DuToit at IJR; Daniel Maluleke in Mamelodi, Percy Msimang in Soweto; Rudy Rudolph at Anglo Platinum; Mama Clara, Peter, Kujo (sp?), and the others at Kgautswane Development Center; Aubrey johnston in Kgautswane; and Nico and Stefan at Emerald Guest House.

Fourth: the parents. Thank you for trusting two profs with your precious children for a month half way around the world.

Fifth: the Calvin administration. Their support for off-campus experiences at Calvin is outstanding. I think the administration know that there are so many more “teachable moments” when students are out of their comfort zone. Interim was made for experiences like this.

Sixth: Calvin’s IT department and Scott Admiraal. Thanks to John Niedzielski from CIT for setting up the blog which allowed us to share pictures and our experiences with parents and friends half a world away. Thanks so much to Scott for taking the time to faithfully upload student entries that were composed on busses, in kombis, and in bed.

Seventh: our great God. What a fantastic world you have made. We saw it all on this trip: poverty, wealth, beauty, penguins, lions, elephants, despair, triumphant human spirits, sorrow, and joy. Our world belongs to God. From the contemporary testimony: “The faithfulness of our great Provider gives sense to out days and hope to our years. The future is secure for our world belongs to God.”

Finally, here is a picture of the group taken in GRR upon our return. The genuine smiles and tears made it all worthwhile for us.


God bless you all!

—Matt and Tracy

Posted by Matthew Heun on 01/25 at 12:12 PM
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Monday, January 24, 2005

Day 22 Goodbye South Africa

24 January 2005

I am sitting in the Johannesburg International Airport to submit the last entry of the South Africa Interim 2005 during our trip. Our plane is boarding shortly so I must be brief but we hope to see all our friends and family tomorrow at around 11:40 EST.

This morning was relaxed. We packed, enjoyed some time in the warm sunshine of South Africa (and the pool at the bed and breakfast) and most of all enjoyed eachothers company.

Our feelings are mixed. Most of us eager to see folks back home and have some days off before seconds semester. However, all of us have loved the experience over the past three weeks and will be sad to leave a country we have come to love. I speak for all the students on the trip in thanking Tracy and Matt for their incredible leadership and allowing us to share the experience!

Thank you for everyone who has supported us during the past weeks through pray, thoughts, and following our time on this blog.

Cape Town, Jo-berg, Kgautswane, Kruger and South Africa: Goodbye.

~Scott Admiraal

Posted by Scott Admiraal on 01/24 at 12:44 PM
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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Day 21 Kruger, Worship, Emerald

23 January 2005

—-Grandma’s Birthday!!!!

Eight eager adventurers wake up for a 4:15 departure on an early morning walk through the wild Kruger National Park wilderness.  Two park rangers drove them to their walk in darkness before the dawn.  While walking, they stumbled upon a juvenile elephant that almost charged the group.  In fact, the guide had to #### his .50 caliber rifle and try to scare the elephant by making loud noises while the second guide lead the group the opposite direction.  Most hearts were pumping at a rate higher than normal.  Fortunately, nothing came of the event besides a good story.

Later the group fell upon a breeding herd of elephants – another dangerous situation.  There were about 10 mother elephants that would have become very aggressive if they felt threatened.  The group decisively moved on in another direction.  The other animals seen on the walk included some baboons, some impala (antelope), and a neat looking spider.

The early morning walkers were not the only ones who woke up early.  About when the sun rose at 5:08am, five more adventurers departed for their own drive through Kruger National Park.  These explorers were fortunate to see 12 lions, 5 hyenas, an elephant, tons of wildebeest & impala, an iguana, a leopard tortoise, some baboons, and some kudu.

The group packed up and met for breakfast at 9am at the lodging grounds.  After breakfast, there was a meeting from 10-12 where Neil presented his paper on Conservation and South African Game Parks.  After the presentation, the group had their own church service organized by Allison, Janae, and Christine.  Then there was a discussion on what the response to Kgautswane should be.  Throughout the meeting everyone was entertained by baboons jumping, chasing, tumbling, and falling in the trees.

At 12:30 the kombis and Grandma’s car departed from Kruger amidst sweltering heat and humidity.  During the car ride, there was much napping, laughing, talking, and being silly.  The top dogs of laughing their heads off about nothing in particular were Melinda and Allison.  The caravan arrived at Johannesburg at 6:45pm with much elation.  To be back in a familiar environment at the bed & breakfast was like being back at home.  Seeing a familiar face like Niko’s was pleasant.  Dinner followed with much laughter and high spirits.  The cooks of the food were warmly applauded by everyone from Calvin.

At the conclusion of dinner, we proceeded to take Grandma Heun outside and the guys hoisted her up in a chair while everyone cheered in African style and sang happy birthday to her.  What a joy it was to celebrate the birthday of this wonderful woman who has given us so much on this trip from just being with us.

After a brief meeting at 9, everyone proceeded to finish their day however they wanted by going to bed, playing games, or talking.

~ Jonathan Langdon

Posted by Jonathan Langdon on 01/23 at 12:37 PM
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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Day 20 Wildlife Up Close

22 January 2005 (Happy Birthday, Dad!)

Today we lived out our childhood fantasies.  At 4:30 AM about half of us crept out of our thatched-roof huts in the lower Sabie camp of Kruger National Park and into the darkness of a ranger’s jeep.  Driving along dirt roads leading deeper into the park’s wilderness, we ducked our heads to avoid being hit by birds and came to abrupt halts to avoid an elephant and a pride of lions.

As the sun rose, outlining acacia trees and languid giraffe limbs, our guide Gerard stopped the jeep and we piled out to prepare for our three-hour sunrise hike.  Exiting one’s vehicle is not allowed in Kruger and only a handful of visitors get to take these hikes through the park, so we were thrilled to be standing on the park’s soil.

Gerard leaned against the vehicle door, lit his pipe and began to tell us the rules: single file lines, silence, and NO running away in case of an emergency—his rifle would be there to allay our fears.  Suddenly, he hushed us, alert, listening.  “Did you hear that?” he asked, pausing dramatically. We heard nothing. He exhaled a cloud of pipe smoke, “Lions roaring.”  And with that, we were off and tromping through waist-high grasses, pausing to spot hyenas, sifting through the dung of a black rhino—and all before breakfast.

By the end of our hike we had seen plenty of zebra and impala, but no rhinos: a big disappointment.  Piling back into the jeep, we headed back to camp. Gerard startled us by slamming on the breaks and pointing into the hills. Two tiny black dots moved slowly—these were white rhinos.  Despite running late on our tour time and pushing the limits on checkout time, Gerard allowed us to try and sneak up on the rhinos.  Through the brush we approached the enormous horned animals from behind, putting two or three bushes in between them and us.  After somewhat of a stare down, the rhinos ignored us and we reported back to lower Sabie with muddy scratches on our legs and satisfied smiles on our faces

Later on, we all drove three hours through the park on our way to the next camp.  We tried to stop every time there was a possible animal sighting—this produced pictures of elephants, zebras, kudu, buffalo, wildebeest, gazelles, rhinos, klepspring, and several rocks we thought were animals.

Throughout the day the scenery and animalia reminded many of us of Disney’s “The Lion King”.  Several song renditions occurred to various degrees of success and we had a competition to see who could find the best Pride Rock look-alike.

In the evening the whole group got to go on a guided night drive.  After the sun set, we parked next to two adolescent male elephants and watched them fight.  They snapped a tree in half and repeatedly charged each other, small tusks clashing.  One of the elephants turned toward our spotlight and positioned himself to face the front of our vehicle, flapping his ears in anger.  Immediately, our guide started the engine and threw the jeep into reverse—we then knew to be scared.  Lightning flashed in the distance and there were several audible gasps.  After a few breathless moments, the elephant lost interest and ambled back into the trees.  Our heartbeats eventually returned to normal as we came back to camp and we were able to enjoy a delectable late meal together, reveling in our recent adventures.

-Allison Taylor

Posted by Allison Taylor on 01/22 at 12:30 PM
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Friday, January 21, 2005

Day 19 Kgautswane & Kruger

21 January 2005

In addition to Mark’s entry I thought I’d add a few notes about the day for the rest of the group.

Our day started with a breakfast of eggs, toast, and a tomato dish in Kgautswane. Though a few took a hike up a nearby mountain in the very early morning to see the sunrise.

After breakfast, we packed up and pilled into the vans to visit the village chief. Unfortunately, his wife was having a baby so we instead met with three of his counselors and presented them with gifts we had brought along. We were greeted by traditional dancing and presented with some gifts of pottery, mats, and bundles of sticks used in the dance.

From there we visited a successful small store sponsored by the community development center and sang for the owner (it has become a very frequent occurrence). He showed us his business and offered us some cold drinks. Finally, we briefly visited the home of a local priest before saying goodbye to the rural village.

It took us a couple hours to drive from Kgautswane to Kruger National Park. We stopped at beautiful Blyde River Canyon on the way to enjoy the spectacular view of the landscape.

En route to our first rest camp at Lower Sabie, we saw many herds of antelope, a buffalo by the water, and a small lake filled with Hippos (and a few large baboons who were patrolling it). The gates closed at 6:30 and Grandma and Mark still hadn’t arrived which, but fortunately they were able to get in late at around 7:30.

We ate burgers at the take away place in the rest camp and went to the thatched roof huts, which were our rooms. Fortunately they were air-conditioned since the heat and humidity was quite intense. For most of us, their were five in a room. Today was an early night for the half of the group who have a morning walk at 4:15 AM. Goodnight.

~Scott

Posted by Scott Admiraal on 01/21 at 12:24 PM
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Day 19 A Day in the Life of Mark

21 January 2005

(This is Mark’s blog entry. He’s describing a few of the things he did with Grandma Heun. They visited Gold Reef City, an amusement park, and they drove to Kruger Park and saw a few animals on their way in. They also got lost in Kruger Park, but Mark didn’t know that.)

Dear friends and family,

Grandma and me went to a circus place and saw a movie and people were playing fake guitars and stuff. And we had lunch on posts near the show theater. We saw a squirrel climbing a tree.

When we were at the ocean we saw a star fish, an it got sucked up by the ocean.

We really saw an elephant. And we saw like 4 lions – 7 females and 8 males. We also saw a girrafe and a rhinosarous. We saw a lot of birds. We were in a lot of storms that were so terrible. We just rode through them.

I miss you and we are going to be back to Michigan in a few days. I’m writing on the blog.

Love, Mark Heun

Posted by Matthew Heun on 01/21 at 12:21 PM
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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Day 18 Kgautswane Tour

20 January 2005

Hello World!!

It is finally my chance to write the blog!  Well we woke up morning at a bright 6am. We had gone to sleep the night before to the sound of a goat and woke up to many roosters, but the goat was silently hanging from a tree.  The news was brought to us that tonight we would have a feast and goat was on the menu!  A few were lucky enough to see the slaughtering, and a few more saw some of the preparation.  They even had the liver and soul cooked up in time for breakfast.

After breakfast we began our full day.  Our first stop was a secondary school.  Here we met with the principal and other faculty and learned all about the school.  There was an assembly where we had the chance to greet the 200 students.  They were excited to meet us and those of us with cameras were swarmed; they all wanted their picture taken.


(This was for all of you that may have been worried, proof I am still alive J)

We managed to leave the flock of students and headed out to meet Aubrey Johnson, a local farmer.  Here we were greeted by another group dancing; they were amazing!

Then Aubrey told us about farming in that area and showed us some of his crop and animals. (He was the one that donated the goat for our coming feast.) 

Our last stop was the cultural village.  Here we got to see presentations of some cultural traditions such as seeing the chief, the witch doctors, and boys’ initiation into becoming a man.

We then headed back to Clara’s for the night.  A pickup soccer game began equipped with tire goals and all.  As the evening went on, more and more people began arriving.  Chairs were brought out, and…. And as the saying goes we had to sing for out food.  Our group sang a couple songs, some of the Kgautswane folks sang a few, and we even got to sing one together that they had taught us the night before. (Let’s just say, their performances were much better than ours. :-P)  After a couple people spoke, including our professors, the feast began.  We had tons of food and of course goat prepared different ways.  The night came to a relaxing end with a lovely fire, a gorgeous starry night, and lots of time building relationships with some amazing people.

Well that’s all for now, email me cause I love you bunches!

Melinda Dornbush

Posted by Melinda Dornbush on 01/20 at 12:14 PM
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Day 17 To Kgautswane

19 January 2005

Some of us early birds got up at 7:00 for a morning jog around the neighborhood.  At 10:00 we were all loaded up and ready to roll to Kgautswane, a rural village.  It was about a five-hour drive to Kgautswane, but it didn’t seem to take long because of the beautiful scenery of lush green mountains.

When I heard we were going to a rural village I pictured straw huts and people with body paint in loin clothes. To my surprise Kgautswane was nothing like that.  The first thing I noticed was the landscape. Kgautswane rests in mountains covered with desert plant life.  There were no straw huts but rather small brick houses with flat roofs and fences around them.  These fences were not for the purpose of security, but rather to keep chickens and goats penned in.

When we pulled up to the Community Center there were women dressed in bright colorful dresses doing a traditional tribal dance in our honor. After a couple of dances the women plunked Tracy in a chair and hoisted her up in the air and danced around her.  As part of the culture we sang two songs back to them.

We met with our host Clara, a quiet and peaceful woman.  Over tea we learned Clara was the head of the Community Center.  She explained the Center’s main goal was to do development projects in the village.  The Center provides an after school program for orphans, seeks to preserve Kgautswane’s cultural heritage, is involved in agricultural development, and has recently assisted the government in bringing electricity to the village. 

I should note that Kgautswane is not small village, but rather is very large.  It expands 55 km and has a population of 95,000.

After our tea with Clara, some of us played soccer with some of the local boys with a homemade ball that surprisingly worked quite well.  After that we went to Clara’s house to settle in.  Our dinner was eaten in candlelight because electricity had not yet been connected to Clara’s house.  There was also no running water, which meant the toilet was a little shack out back.  Sleeping arrangements consisted of beds and foam mats on the uneven floor.  I think what I noticed most that night was the peaceful stillness of being isolated from modern civilization.

~Neil Bruinsma

Posted by Christopher Wieringa on 01/19 at 12:05 PM
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Day 16 Anglo Platinum Mine

18 January 2005

The Underworld of South Africa

Today was the day of the much anticipated visit to the Anglo Platinum mine.  Last night we set out our good walking shoes and packed our change of underwear, as instructed.  We were off to an early start this morning when Roben, our tour guide, picked us up at 5:15 am.  We were also accompanied by Betsy from the Chamber of Mines.  With only guesses as to what lay ahead, we set off to explore the inner workings of South Africa’s Underworld.

It was a sleepy drive, around 2 hours, to Rustenburg where the Merensky and UG2 platinum reefs were discovered in 1907.  From the surface it is impossible to tell that the surrounding 6000 square km of land cover a layer of rich platinum ore.  We were welcomed by second breakfast at the sporting club on the mining compound.  After a sandwich and tea we met with Rudy Rudolph, the mine manager.

Rudy and his team filled us in on all kinds of interesting platinum facts.  For instance Anglo Platinum employs 44,000 people, 7,500 of which work at the Townlands shaft (where our tour eventually took us).  South Africa is the leading exporter of platinum.  Forty percent of platinum produced is used for jewelry (sparkly!!)  Industrial uses include catalytic converters and fuel cells.  We also learned about some of the social programs provided for miners.  There are education programs as well as treatments for HIV/AIDS. 

But, on to the exciting part…  Eventually they put a halt to our never ending questions and we loaded in a bus to travel to the shaft.

Upon arrival to the Townlands shaft, we were showed to the changing rooms.  Our mining gear was waiting for us in neat little piles labeled with each of our names.  We donned our knee high socks, coveralls, hard hats, rubber boots, belts and ear plugs and were extatic to see that we looked like real miners.  We made our way over to the shaft where our outfits were completed with a head lamp attached to a good sized battery pack.  We were ready to go.

We climbed into the lift as our guides informed us that the lift travels at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour or about 36 miles per hour… There’s no need to worry about falling over however, because there is no wasted space in a lift.  We switched on our headlamps, and off we went 600 meters into the earth.  We arrived at level 15 where we piled into a battery powered tramcar for a ten minute ride to the section of the mine we would be visiting.  Packed into the tram we realized why the gigantic cooling and ventilation systems on the surface pumps 550 cubic meters of air into the mine each second.  It’s a bit like a blast furnace down there.  Without the cooling system the underground temps would be well above 100 deg (F).  The cooling keeps the mine at a balmy 80 or 90.  (and when I say balmy, I mean the ceiling drips and there are trenches of water alongside the walking paths in the tunnels) 

Following the tram ride, we discovered that although there’s no skiing in South Africa, they still have chair lifts.  To reach the working level of the mine we hopped on the miner’s version of the chair lift.  It looked a bit like a tricycle with no wheels attached to a cable.  We zipped off down the inclined shaft (about a 17%) grade. 

Despite a few struggles with loading and unloading procedures we made it from level 15 to level 23, near the bottom of the 900 meters of mine.  Our meeting had informed us that the temperature underground goes up 17 deg for every 100 meters of depth.  We experienced this first hand today.

On level 23 we learned a bit about the safety measures, the daily schedule, and the tunnel structure.  The day shift is manned by drillers, who use large pneumatic drills to drill a series of holes in the stope (work area).  The then use compressed air to pack explosives into the holes.  At 3:00 pm when the mine is cleared of first shift, the explosives are detonated.  Then the next shift comes in to clear out the rock.

To see the drilling up close was a bit of a challenge.  The major platinum reefs are less than 1 meter thick, so the mined out area near the stope is about 1 meter high.  That wasn’t enough to stop us, we crawled right in.

After quite a bit of crawling, sliding and crab walking through the muddy gravel we realized why that recommended shower and change of clothes was going to be welcome and necessary. 

We made our way back to the ski lift, onto the tram, into the lift, and back out into the daylight.  We were dazed by the bright sun, and the fact that the mine we were in produces 290,000 tons of platinum ore per month.

Our adventures were not over.  After a quick shower, we were off the condensing plant.  After a brief presentation we received our new set of safety gear including steel toed boots, safety glasses and hard hats.  The plant is like a small city.  Sorry, no photo’s allowed.  It was built two years ago and process 400,000 tons of ore per month.  It’s a fascinating process that takes 1 ton of ore and produces around 240 grams of platinum.  There are rock crushers and vibrating separators, cyclones and float tanks and kilometer after kilometer of pipes for clean water, dirty water, different slurries, all the chemical reactants, the lubricating oil system…

For those of you who can think in Mega Watts, the rock crushing mill requires 9 MW of power!  They also use a machine vision camera to optimize the mix of large ore pieces and gravel entering the mill on the conveyor (there’s a future for team HEXFIRE).

The rest of the day was pretty anticlimactic after walking the scaffolding above the plant.  We were served a delicious late lunch and enjoyed a nice history of South Africa from Roben on the way home.  And so concludes the underground adventures of the Calvin College miners.

Before the whistle blows, I will just send my love to all the uncers and buxtons.  I will see you soon.

~Dawn

Posted by Dawn Svenkeson on 01/18 at 11:54 AM
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Blog Update (and Day 16)

Hi All,

I hope you have enjoyed the recent update to the blog. Sadly I wasn’t able to get all the pictures up I wanted to (including some additional ones from past days) but it provides a great update on our interim.

We are going to the rural village of Kgautswane for two days followed by Kruger National Park so we likely won’t be able to update for a while. Hopefully we can do one or two more posts before the return flight.

Today we went to the Anglo Platinum mine which was an incredible experience. The full entry for today hasn’t been written yet but here are some “teaser” pictures.

-Scott Admiraal

Posted by Scott Admiraal on 01/18 at 01:19 AM
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Monday, January 17, 2005

Day 15 Johannesburg and Soweto

17 January 2005

Greetings from Johannesburg!

The day started out early for a group of us who decided to go for an early morning run.  The elevation here is comparable to Denver, but the exercise helped us start the day out right.  After eating breakfast, our tour guides for the day, Percy and William, picked us up at our B&B to show us around Johannesburg and Soweto. 

To begin, we drove through downtown Johannesburg and saw some of the rougher areas.  The towering apartment buildings offered glimpses of a better, safer time for Johannesburg.  We made our first stop at Constitutional Hill, which is the home of the Constitutional Court and an old jail that both Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi spent some time at during their resistance campaigns.  We got a chance to walk through the cells and see what the conditions were like for the prisoners.

After seeing the jail, we walked through Constitutional Court, a place where many important decisions were made by the eleven judges who work there, such as abolishing the death penalty in South Africa. 

Our next stop was one of the most interesting ones thus far. We paid a visit to the Faraday Medical Center, but it isn’t the typical medical facility.  It is the site where traditional healers (a.k.a. witch doctors) set up booths with all their roots and skulls so people can come to them and be healed.  The healer we saw had a wide assortment of ground up plants and animal skins and bones which he uses to help people with a variety of illnesses, ranging from cramps and headaches to sexually transmitted diseases.  Let’s just say we weren’t really expecting to see what we saw at the Faraday Medical Center.  It just added to the multitude of eye-opening experiences we’ve had here in South Africa.

We then got back into our bus and drove to Soweto, a township outside of Johannesburg, which is the home for about three million people.  The name comes from South West Township because millions of blacks were moved there during apartheid.  We ate lunch at a restaurant there and enjoyed some more traditional African food, including pap, rice, and chicken.

The restaurant was located on Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world where two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.  We partially saw their houses from the street, but high gates and guards kept us from looking too closely.

Soweto was the site of many uprisings during the apartheid years.  One of the biggest was the youth revolt against learning Afrikaans in schools on June 16, 1976.  Thousands of students marched the streets on the morning of the 16th until the police began throwing stones and striking back against the kids, resulting in the death of over seventy students.  One of the first people killed was Hector Pieterson, a thirteen year old boy whose death represents the brutality and hate from that day.  We also visited the museum that tells the story of the Soweto uprising.

We made a stop at the Regina Mundi church which was a center of political opposition during apartheid and site of a police shootout.

After leaving the museum, we drove through other parts of Soweto, only seeing bits and pieces because of its enormous size.  On the way back to Emerald Guest House, our tour guides introduced us to some South African popular music, providing us with a peek inside the youth culture in South Africa.

We made it back safely in time for dinner and then listened to two presentations about mining and industry, preparing us for the next day.  We tried to turn in early so we would be able to wake up for our 5:30 departure to the mines.  Yet another exciting day in Africa, exceeding our expectations one day at a time. 

Goodbye everyone and I can’t wait to see you soon!

~Laura

Posted by Laura Boersma on 01/17 at 12:51 PM
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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Day 14 Worship and Pretoria

16 January 2005

Dear Blog,

The trip is over halfway over and none have lost a limb
So I thought I’d spice things up a bit with this little poem

At half past seven, leaving behind no one
We met our affiliate at the nearest Engen Station

After several resolutions, we hurried up to wait
Not wanting to be at church too early or too late

The Mamelodi Church exercised our heart, soul, mind, and strength
All in three languages and in quite a reasonable length

The hospital was next, but thankfully not for need
Our friends at church gave an unforgettable tour indeed

Next stop was church headquarters to learn how money’s spent
Finally to the Union Buildings, a major player in government

When all was done we went back home and some went in the pool
A nice time of relaxation in the breezy cool

The nighttime proved more presentations and a time for thought
We are certain to come home with much more than what we brought

New resolutions and higher goals to aspire:
Never-ending knowledge, inspiring passion, and a ceaseless desire

For the people of South Africa, it is plain to see
Pressed with poverty, crime, injustice, and disease

I ask you to fold your hands, bow your head, and pray
(Other than that…Hi Mom, I’m OK!)

~Wes

Posted by Wes Hoekman on 01/16 at 12:44 PM
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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Day 13 - Apartheid Museum and Market Theatre

January 15, 2005

Hello all our faithful blog readers.  Today started out pretty relaxed for us.  It was our first official day in Johannesburg and we all woke up rested, appreciating the pillows and blankets we lacked in Cape Town.  After breakfast courtesy of our hosts at the Emerald Guest House we had a group meeting and heard presentations on “Afrikaner Nationalism” and “The Dutch Reformed Church and Apartheid.”  We had lunch at the guest house (PB&J and cheese puffs) and drove into Johannesburg for our 2 p.m. appointment at the Apartheid Museum.

The Johannesburg Apartheid Museum was opened by the government in 2001 and it comprehensively chronicles life in South Africa during apartheid.  Starting with South Africa’s early history and ending with the first democratic elections in 1994, the museum’s exhibits showcase the sights and sounds of the apartheid era including the National Party’s rise to power, the pass laws, Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and eventual release, the Sharpville Massacre, the Soweto school riots, and South Africa’s struggle to write a Constitution and build a democratic nation.

Our group had a 2 1/2 hour guided tour of the museum, which was very interesting, but the general consensus was that we could have spent many more hours looking at all the exhibits, there was so much to see. 

After the museum we headed to the Market Theatre where we had tickets for the 8 p.m. showing of “Green Man Flashing,” a political thriller with a cast of five.  First we had to find a place for dinner and we ended up right next to the theatre at a restaurant called Moyo. 

Moyo served authentic African food and we ate on their outdoor patio.  The ostrich burger was a group favourite.  During dinner we were treated to authentic African music played on the mbira.

After dinner we attended the showing of “Green Man Flashing.”  This drama told the story of one woman who gets involved in ANC politics.  She is raped by her boss, a powerful man in the party, and has to make the difficult decision whether to demand her right to prosecution or to sacrifice her rights for the good of the party.  While not a happy play, this drama gave us all something to think about.

We returned from the play late and called it a night, as we all have to get up early tomorrow for church.  Ok guys, that’s all from Johannesburg for now.  Thanks for reading!

~Christine Holst

Posted by Christine Holst on 01/15 at 12:37 PM
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Friday, January 14, 2005

Day 12 To Jo-berg

14 January 2005

Sorry for the delay, the incomplete thoughts, and incoherent sentences.  Moving on…

Good morning Cape Town.  Bright and early, post-6:00 AM, we woke up for our final morning in this beautiful city.  We quickly ate breakfast and then finished cleaning the residence, Cornerstone College was spickin’ span by 7:00 AM when we left for the airport.

Before we departed, we bade farewell to our ABBA-loving Nigerian friend.  Emmanuel was a wonderful addition to our group.

He opened our eyes to an African perspective on the many issues we discussed.  He will definitely be missed in Johannesburg.

Our flight to Jo-burg lasted about two hours.  I slept the whole way so I cannot say what went on during that time.  I do know, though, that we arrived safely and all of our luggage made it too.  The only thing that did not come with us to Jo-burg was the sun.  It was drizzling as we navigated our way through the big city to the Emerald Guest House Luxury Accommodations. 

Our Luxury Accomodations are owned by Nico, an Afrikaner (he talks to us about being an Afrikaner later in the week).  Although there is some scurrying going on in the roof and ants in the bathrooms, our accommodations truly are luxury (we had pillows).  It is located within a nice suburban area, and the airport is within view from the Guest House.  Now the take-off of 747s is our gentle lullaby instead of the sirens, beeping, and drag racing that soothed us to sleep in Cape Town.
After dropping off our luggage, we headed out to the Bruma Market.  It was still raining when we arrived, and the Market was near closing time.  We were to the only customers for the venders, and as a group of twenty white students we did not blend in well with the scene.  We could not escape the coaxing to view their crafts.  At every booth looking was free, and all were willing to give this sister a very good price.  Most of us found curios we liked and many of you will probably receive some.

We returned to the Guest House for dinner prepared by Nico and his children.  It was nice not to have to cook for ourselves.  After dinner we celebrated Matt Heun’s birthday (38 years of living it up).  And there was cake!  Grandma searched Africa for cake, and she succeed.  We sang, we ate cake, it was a good time.  And there are sure to be more good times to come in South Africa.

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika  
peace,
Margaret
P.s. Ernie was busy, but Dawn and I went golfing with Denver.  The south easterlies were rough, but we managed a sub-par score.

Posted by Margaret Tassaro on 01/14 at 01:08 PM
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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Day 11 – IJR and Green Market Square

13 January 2005

Today provided us with another day to sleep in a bit.  We left the residence at 10:30 and arrived at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) around eleven.  The IJR is the successor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is working towards economic and racial equality in South Africa through extensive surveying and data collection.  Their surveys inquire about both economic situations and individual race relations.  From the data they gather, they often recommend policies to Parliament to try to improve the situation.  After listening to the IJR speaker we headed downtown to Green Market Square, which is near St. George’s cathedral.

This cathedral is the church where archbishop Desmond Tutu, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, held his services, and is where the current archbishop of Cape Town preaches.  We had a bit of free time around the market to shop around, eat lunch, and watch a variety of street performers.

There were many people sporting their traditional cultural dress, like this guy.

Performers of various types also frequented the street corners and open areas.  This group was doing a dance similar to the one we saw while visiting the Amy Biehl foundation.  Several groups of very skilled musicians could also be found around the market.  Until today, I never knew that a kazoo could be played to sound like an alto saxophone.

Finally, there was the marketplace.  One small city block, the market was a tangle of shops selling all sorts of curios from Africa, America, and even Nepal.  Bartering is the way to get good prices at Green Market Square and most of the group got the hang of it by the time we left.  In the end we came out the end we came out with an assortment of goods ranging from African masks to wood bowls to spears.  The night came to an end as we cleaned the rooms of the residence, played cards, packed, and enjoyed a feast of spaghetti and some leftovers of Emmanuel’s tasty Nigerian food. 
Good-bye Cape Town. 
We’ll miss you.

- Tyler Voskuilen

Posted by Christopher Wieringa on 01/13 at 12:12 PM
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