Tag Archive: americaland


Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.

tbV and i have been home [back to South Africa after a three year journey in Americaland starting in Philadelphia and ending up in Oakland, outside San Francisco] for just over a week now.

after a really frustrating trip involving two and  half hours of fighting to try and get me on to the plane i had a ticket for, having to leave a box of paintings behind in SF, having the airline leave a bag of ours behind in Washington, losing movie capability for the last 8 hour flight after the refuel in Dakar…

and after a fairly frustrating week of disconnection in terms of trying to get phones and internet unlocked and set up and working [which we still largely haven’t, besides my dad’s old doesn’t-even-have-predictive-text-capacity Nokia which we have managed to get some air time on]…

we had the most excellent 5 year anniversary celebration at a place called Monkey Valley, which looks something like this:

but even more specifically, something like this [containing my very special someone]:

mv3

while there was both good and bad [and fun and difficult and crazy and amazing and ridiculous] about our time in Americaland, one interesting thing that stood out to me in both Philly and Oakland was the lack of stars… now i’m sure Americaland has stars [and i DEFINITELY got to see them in boatloadsfull on the houseboat trip i got to do on Lake Shasta] but i remember every time i came back to South Africa [which was twice during our stay] it was the biggest thing that stood out to me [besides the edible and tasty mayo, of course] – the fact that i could see a whole lot more stars than when i was over there.

i imagine it had something specific to do with the two places in Americaland we ended up staying, but it was one of the things that i remembered missing a lot when we were over there. and so it is so good to be back – and this weekend was ridiculous because we were high up on a hill and had a huge window next to our bed and so could lie in bed and see an amazing array of stars.

i have my own star constellation called ‘The Horse’ [because it looks like a horse, duh!] which a few of us discovered about 15 years ago on a youth camp [beyond ‘The Horse’ i seriously know Orion, the Southern Cross and on a good day can maybe point out the Big Dipper so not big on the constellations] and as we arrived back from our meal Friday night to the house we were staying in, i looked up and immediately saw it, and even better, the beautiful Val [tbV] looked up and spotted it straight away too.

just so good to be back. still not connected or plugged in or properly transported. and those things might take a while to get right. and missing a lot of people from Americaland for sure. but the stars are back. and so everything seems just a little bit more alright.

It’s true,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine.

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And all the things that you do.

 

troll
today i happened to stumble upon this blog post titled, ‘Simple is the way’ announcing that we had been invited to move to Americaland to work with The Simple Way non-profit and live in Philly.

it’s not a particularly great blog post – more of an announcement for friends and family and just sharing the excitement at the time, but what was interesting, and what was again skimming through, was reading the comments [56 of them, including some responses] from people in South Africa who clearly didn’t think it was the greatest decision in the world:

Morne asked: Will you guys come back after getting a taste of the good life in America?

For Vanessa, it was the financial implications:

How are you going to get the money for the tickets as well as the Visas for such a long duration?

If a normal Christian wanted to go over to America, how would they go about it? Would people help any normal Christian out with cash? Or do you need to be quite high up in the Church in order to get the money?

Warren was on point with: People only have a certain amount of money. A certain amount that they can give. If they give to you, doesn’t it detract from giving to others more in need who are starving?

Joanne was worried about our family members, and the township children: Won’t you miss your friends and family here in SA? What about all the township children? But sounds like a fun opportunity to leave like the rest of the people. If others like doctors and whoever leave, then why not christians also.

And then returned with a statement that backed up the idea that when people use the phrase “Just Saying” they seldom just are: On your way to the airport, you’ll pass thousands of poor people in shacks…. just saying..

Joanne really seemed invested in our well-being, especially when she heard we were doing perilous transcription work to try and make enough money to set out: Why not get a job delivering pizza? Or a both of you work as waiters/ waitresses? This way you will interact with people instead of transcribing things all day which is quite boring I can imagine. You could save up quite quickly and get to go on your trip.

Joanne really did have a lot more to say but it seems like she really got to the heart of our leaving in this comment: If it was just for a change of scenery, then why not admit it. Why make out as if its about the poor in Philie? Are they then going to send people from Philie here and we shift people all over the world, costing millions when this money could just go directly to the poor. Or is it all about your experience, learning, your this, your that? Something like that.

Definitely something like that.

All the while these comments were interspersed with humour from a favourite commenter of ours at the time [Where are you now Brits?] who wrote to Joanne: You must leave that job of yours. Get a job as a bar lady! They pay well and you will be happy as you can suip [drink] and get paid and listen to music.

Filon was a lot more practical and helpful in his recommendations: Africa is a lost cause. Go to USA there are more opportunities.

While MJ was clearly swimming against the current: I like the bit where everyone got stoked for you and Val, and stopped trying to find something to complain about. That was my favourite part.

Jeff jumped in to question our quitting themness: I think what people are really saying is that we have poor here. We have poor there. Why there and not here? I understand that you’ve done much needed work here, but why quit us now? Surely we need more Americans coming to help Africa than the other way round?

[as a side note Jeff, Americaland in many ways could use more Africans of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds to come over here and help out – the grass seems to be of a very similiar hue in many ways over here]

troll2

Brits kept things light with his commentary [including some helpful suggestions for getting sufficient alcohol on the plane]:

Hi Brett I check your blog now and again. But lately not too much because I don’t know much about dating and that bell oke. Maybe some new age minister. I also slipped off the wagon again and took up my sport of drinking beer now I have gained kilos and moved to Aghulus for a holiday. I am starting exercise and am inspirated by your pushups. I am aiming for 20. Or maybe running is better, probably walking at first. must make a start of something.

It is funny to hear that whenever you argue with Christians, they reckons you’re the devil haha. I’m accused of this when I am too drunk and the bar lady says I am a wild devil for not paying the tab for 20 beers. I always come pay the next day or after. Besides she even drank 2 herself haha women are very bad with math. They very good at making shopping lists and spend cash.

I think it’s good that you go there as travel is an experience. I must not to a blog as Christians will moan at my beer drinking and say I must give to the bergies but I often give them beers they don’t understand. When I am more drunk I get generosity and buy takeout then buy for the guy outside also. So beer helps with that. Beer or sobeer haha you must not worry and soon you will be in Amerika.

Christians must not be boring. Traveling is fun and a good experience. The budweiser in Amerika not so good but whiskey is more cheaper than here. Are you going to Bronx. You must please be careful as there us gangsters there and pimps on the alert. Bruce Springsteen sings about the Bronx snd Philadelphia. Listen to that to get in the mode.

On the plane you must drink the wine and the beer. If you see an old lady or someone not drinking you must ask for their wine. They limit you to 2 or 3 drinks.

In Amerika you must tell on a map as they not very educated with geography. Do buy a good map to show them where you from.

But we must drink when I’m back from Aghulus. I will pay as you saving up now. I will try calm down before then. What day you flying?

To get donations you must put your account number up. Or maybe use paypal. You must open FNB account to do that here. Not sure exactly but I know it’s FNB. What amount do you need? I can help as well and leave out beer for a month.

To be Christian is not just misery, you must have fun aswell. I think Keanu reeves in little budda even said we must not just live on bird poo. We must have a balancing act of fun and hardness. The Bible also us sometimes too serious and they must have left out many fun times and jokes Jesus had. Christians must be more fun. We not living in old castles with dungeons and crazy priests.

Nobody wants to be a Christian who is miserable. It must be a fun thing or else people will not join up. Just out up photos on your site so we can check out where you are. Keep up the jokes. Your wife must blog more as she is slacking. But she must keep it easy to understand.

I am back next weekend and we can suip a bit or drink coffee. But ya put up an account or whatever. Check it out. Wish you guys good blessings.

And then a bunch of our family and friends ruined the whole thing by jumping on and saying nice things about us and reminding us that it was a good idea to go. Phew. What a fun walk slash sTROLL down memory lane… and looking back on three years, certainly NOT the easy option.

reading all those comments reminded me of the time i wrote a post on forgiveness [well shared an audio thort i had done] and got 59 comments of which i don’t think any related to forgiveness at all but were more focused on how christians like me hate animals and how i was personally going to be responsible for the closing down of the world of birds which you can read about over here – on the other hand, it has been a long time since i got anything like that as a response to anything i’ve written so i have to wonder if that means i’ve been writing too safe..?

well with under two weeks to go til we head home to South Africa, i expect that will change – last few months have been posting more of other peoples’ thoughts such as this marriage series we did, most of the posts on race [which i am looking to dive into a little deeper when we get home] and these recent series on Porn and Sex, because, well, you know.

if someone is not Troll’ing, are you really speaking the Truth? i don’t think writing to offend is particularly helpful, but writing knowing that it will more than likely offend is completely necessary, especially if you are writing Truth. so sometimes the amount of naysayers and virtual stone throwers can be as helpful, if not more so, than those who are clapping loudly and winking knowingly.

looking forward to a new phase of writing more from me as opposed to simply being a space where i share others thoughts and stories [although hoping to always be a place where that can happen]…

are you ready, world?

truth

in that i’ve been a little hoarse…

my wife tbV [aka the beautiful Val] and myself have been living in Americaland and working with two different non-profits [The Simple Way and Common Change] for over three years now and are in the process of heading home.

to Africa [the continent]… and more specifically to South Africa.

and what i’ve been telling people of late to sum up the feeling is that i am really looking forward to being back home, but not so much to leaving.

the leaving part is almost completely people related [and maybe icing/frosting in a can cos come on South Africa!] and especially the church community at Re:Gen and some of the friendships we have made there as well as opportunities to preach and run youth and teach Improv classes [oh and also the field hockey with the Eagles – Caw! – i have really enjoyed that, although there will hopefully be hockey back home too].

but the whole leaving and transition thing has felt a LOTtle bit like a rollercoaster, and from two months ago already…

and when i say rollercoaster… i am not so much talking about this:

lame roller

 

as much as i mean this:

 

it has been a wild fast crazy ride which included among other things, speaking on a week long houseboat camp on Lake Shasta, a three day visit from my parentals, taking part in a Sikh field hockey tournament and a three week preaching stint at Re:Gen plus work, figuring out packing and trying to set up some things for back home [sorted: place to stay and phone, still needed: transportation, work for me]

so back to this blog and the hoarseness thereof [a word i played in Words with Friends last night although to be fair i just added a ‘T’ onto the ‘Hereof’ someone else had played… HEREOF? Yes, he is one of those…] it feels like for the longest time i have been sharing other peoples thoughts [on relationships and race-related things] as well as Pearls before Swine cartoon strips that i enjoy and i am REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO returning to the blog properly and writing some heart stuff and i imagine that will only really happen properly when i get home and have settled in a little bit [although i do have some exciting thoughts from other people to share in the meantime so that is good] but just wanted to send a shout out to all my readers and if anyone had noticed this trend and was hoping for some more me-thought it. is. on. the. way.

so hang in there and enjoy what delicacies i have in store for you over here in the meantime – but know that i have a post on ‘white privilege’ that is long overdue and probably [finally] some musings on our time at the Simply Way [that might get hot!] and in Americaland in general.

very much looking forward to this space sounding like my voice again. hope some of you are still around when it does. thankx for being patient.

 

2014 brett pool duncs

so today we fly back to americaland and i leave a changed man.

but maybe not in the way you would expect… i don’t feel like i have grown so much as i have regressed, but in a good way though. as in ‘returned to former state’ – or returning at least.

in some Christian senses i guess we have been living the dream – 19 months at the Simple Way [you know, the mecca of christian intentional community… will write something about that sometime], attending Wild Goose Festivals, CCDA conferences and involved in two non-profits… you know, changing the world. or something.

i was having lunch with my new mate Bill yesterday and i heard him say the words… he was talking about living an actively following Jesus life and really taking this stuff seriously and he threw in the line, “But of course you know all this, you’re living it”, which is great to hear of course, but my heart thudded a little bit when i heard it, because i feel i still have so far to go.

AMERICALAND: land of the free… king confused.

oh Africa, who looks jealously across the ocean at Americaland

land of hope, land of plenty

land of money and opportunity and adventure 

land of blockbuster movies and high speed internet and space tourism programs

and really bad mayonnaise. no seriously, i’m talking that stuff needs a new name cos that is NOT mayonnaise.

what the raiSIN-infested-custard were you thinking?

and i will be speaking in generalisations here so please don’t see it through a one-size-fits-all lens, and remember that Americaland is a huge country and our experience of it is largely Philadelphia and Oakland, and the church tribes we have encountered there and online…

but we have noticed that as advanced as Americaland is in many areas [and it is, or maybe developed is a better word because being more developed does not mean more advanced – i remember a glorious time when telephones were not able to be carried around with us and people at restaurants actually looked at and spoke to each other] there are some where it seems completely backward or in need of catchup. mayonnaise is one such area [throw all of yours out and start again] and another is banking systems [so much of backward in many areas of that] and public toilet doors [mind the gap!] and so on.

and your church. while there are incredible church congregations doing incredible things and while we have met some truly amazing and brilliant people and also been super privileged to find a congregation we enjoy being a part of in Re:Generation, your church as a whole [or in large pockets within the whole] feels very confused and in need of a bit of a shake up [and not because it’s not new or post-post-modern or ‘with it’ enough].

the church of Americaland has for a long time seen itself as the Saviour of the rest of the world in many ways – must. save. Africa. [wait, where is Africa? oh, there it is… must.save.Africa] but you seem to largely [remember the generalisations, if this is not you, let it go and move on] be taking your lead from the world and not from Scripture or the Holy Spirit [or the glorious combination of them both].

tolerance has become the big deal where the definition of tolerance has become ‘whatever you want to do or be is fine, anyone who tells you you cannot do or be what you are doing or being is intolerant and judgemental and Jesus who loved and embraced and welcomed all people is sad with those people for not just accepting everyone, however they choose to be. ‘

the church was always meant to be modeling the love of Jesus and the worship of God the Father and the power, love and discipline of the Holy Spirit to the world in a ‘Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Me’ kind of way which feels like it has been largely been replaced by a ‘this feels good’ or ‘this will keep people happy’ mentality which is just not evidenced all that much in the Bible.

there is also a strong sense of 1 Corinthians 1 dejavu going on…

12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Except that we have replaced Paul and Apollos and Cephas with John Piper and Mark Driscoll and Rachel Held Evans and Shane Claiborne… being influenced by people is great [follow my example as i follow the example of Christ – 1 Corinthians 11] but when you start following people, that is when it gets dangerous and the cross of Christ starts to be emptied of its power.

church of Americaland – the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing… once our message starts to make sense and be completely acceptable to all those around us, we need to be checking if it is still the same message of God.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

and so, church of Americaland, there is so much good in you and so many passionate and committed people doing some incredible and amazingly creative things, but as a whole, you do seem quite confused and really in need of plugging back into your source and being led by Him. also it wouldn’t hurt for you to take some time in Africa [and beyond] just simply looking and listening and learning… you might be surprised at the work God has been doing there and what they might have to offer you.

REFUSE THIS THING

so for me, this trip has been so good, and two things stand out:

[1] connecting with people who are passionate about following Jesus – i have been leaning towards staying in Americaland for longer because i love the Re:Gen community we are part of and the opportunities to preach and work with young and older people there. God is doing some good stuff there and it has been great to be a part of it and i definitely feel like i have a lot to offer and hopefully learn from them… but it was one night in Hillbrow [my first, back in South Africa] that changed everything for me and reminded me how African my blood is. and i’m not so sure it was Hillbrow. it was spending time with Nigel Branken and his family, who in the messiest of ways, are trying to re-imagine their faith in Jesus and live where they feel He has called them, as well as meeting some other great people in that community that night. it was reconnecting with my buddy Rob and his wife Nicky who are in the midst of planting a church with some friends. it was breakfast with Bruce and Bex and hearing how they are wanting to have an impact in the community where they are. it was listening to my old youth mate Fezile and how he is wanting to create a program to clean up the township where he lives. and it was lunch with Bill, listening to how he is wrestling with really wanting to follow Jesus completely and how that feels like it looks so different from the regular Sunday church meeting he has been attending and how that affects finances and hospitality and work ethics and beyond. and it was sitting with a bunch of people over a meal discussing how we could give away the pot of money we had all contributed to, to meet the needs of other people we know. and more. conversations, people, ideas, passion for kingdom things and transformation of the world as we know it – seeing the kingdom come on earth and not waiting for the big escape from this messed up world

[2] getting hijacked with worship music – we had an amazing gift from an old youth friend Kerstin and her husband Carl in being gifted the use of their car which has been an incredible present to tbV and me while we have been here. but it took us a while to realise there was more than one cd in the car and until we did, there was this worship compilation that i would just play over and over and two songs in particular stood out for me, the one being by a guy called Ben Howard titled ‘I will be blessed’ [anyone who knows me well knows that that is a unlikely title for a song that would be liked by me] – just a completely haunting song that just overwhelmed me in some ways and the lyrics don’t do it justice at all without hearing it so head off to Uncl Google, but here is the chorus:

Oh hey heaven is the place we know
Heaven is the arms that hold us
Long before we go
Oh hey, heaven is the place we know
Heaven is the arms that hold us
Long before we go

but just the gift of worship and having it around me every time i have been in the car has been so great for me and an even bigger gift than the car itself. it feels like my very soul [the whoness of who i am] has been bathed in this river of just holiness and love and grace and brought me so much closer to God and helped me focus on Him. a reminder of Who and what this is all about.

i have a plane to go and get ready for although i feel like there is a whole lot more to say, but the focus of this post is that for me this trip has helped me to become a little more unsettled than i’ve been – hence the regression [which is usually seen as a negative thing but can also be describing something that returns to a former state] – one of the biggest dangers of life as a follower of Jesus is that we settle – with the way things are, with the routine of life, with the squeezing down of our passion and belief that God and His church can actually make a difference in the world and actually just kind of semi-give up and start to resemble everyone else, in a kind of boring and bland and grey kind of way…

that is NOT what we have been called to – we have been called to live and thrive and be agents of transformation in a world that is desperately in need of God… i am so glad this trip has rekindled some of the fire in me and so expectant [and nervous] about what lies ahead… we have been in Americaland for a reason – it has been both great and hard and amazing and difficult and frustrating and exhilarating and angrifying and more… but it has been good…

and i’m not sure what is next or how it looks or anything like that [we are committed to church and non-profit work til August] but i want to continue to fan into flame the things that God is starting to work in my life.

if you’re a praying person, i can definitely use a lot of that. we both can.

my nickname is FISH which stands for Faithful In Serving Him – i am definitely not worthy at all of carrying that as a description of who i am, but as a path i try to follow and live out and aim towards, that is something i hold strongly to.

i love Jesus. i love His church. and i believe that when the church starts being the church, every one of us, then the world will be completely turned upside down.

which, ironically, is right side up.

One of my favourite topics in life must be Americalanders and Geography.

Brought on in huge part by the majority of the international sports they compete in [you know, things with ‘World’ in the title like ‘World series’] being among themselves, which is quite honestly probably the only reason I know about places like Lahore, Hyderabad and Pallekele [you had to google that one, hey?*].

By now we have learnt on more than one occasion that while they are always excited to hear we are from South Africa, they sometimes still want to know which particular country from South Africa we are talking about.

And we know that some of them were surprised at the low numbers of African Americans present in the country of our country.

But today my faith was restored as i went inside the bank to draw some money on my credit card and transfer it to my local account.

As I was about to leave, the lady behind the window apologises because she made a mistake on my slip – “I didn’t realise that you opened your bank account in Pennsylvania” [where we lived when we stayed in Philly] and so she started filling out the slip again.

Then she looked at me and said, “I didn’t even know Pennsylvania was in America.” And I was like, “Oh?”

So i asked her, “So what country are you from?”

She replied that she was born in Mexico but had moved to Americaland when she was ten [She didn’t use the word Americaland though, that was me]

So I responded in a way that was much less sarcastic and mean than it will come across in typed print, “Oh, don’t they teach Geography in school here?” with a smile.

Without skipping a beat, she replied with a smile, “No, it’s just that I always mix it up with that other one… you know…”

My mind started racing for things that sounded like Pennsylvania and weren’t in Americaland, but i have to admit i was drawing blanks.

“Oh yes, Transylvania!” She replied.

I gave my most serious version of an, “Oh yes, that one” that i could muster, grabbed my slip and left.

Not that Transylvania is not an actual place that does actually exist in Romania and all. But, you know. Made my day. [maybe it was the two tips of my teeth protruding through my lips at the edges that confused the poor woman]

Keep on Americaland, keep on. You bring me smiles… [having tried the label 20 African countries as quick as you can game recently i know that i have to shine the focus elsewhere]

 

 

 

[*yes, i had to google ‘Pallekele’ as well, but i do know it in my head and nod knowingly when it comes up on the news…]

tim hughes

i have not met Tim Hughes personally, but i was once in a room with him [and quite a large room at that]

it was on a trip to visit my sister Sue and her family in a town called Rancho Cucamonga near LA which must have been 2006 or 2008 and i organised my ticket so i could stop over in London long enough to take the bus to visit some friends in Holland before continuing on to Americaland.

when i lived in London for about 6 months in 2000 i had attended and really enjoyed a church called Holy Trinity Brompton or HTB [where i had inadvertently ended up with some screen time on the filmed for ITV Alpha Course that church and its pastor Nicky Gumbel is known for – i also helped inspire at least one third of a relationships preach with my ‘is sex better than chocolate?’ question i popped into one of their panel discussions which they decided to answer as if it was a serious question, but that’s another blog post] and so on the way back from Holland i had made a plan to go and visit a service before my flight to Americaland.

something happened with the bus or my directions and i ended up being quite late for the service and i walked in as this youngish, decent looking dude started to preach and it was a really great preach, littered with references to “my friend Matt” which i didn’t quite get until afterwards when i discovered he was Tim Hughes [a worship leader whose songs i really enjoy] and ‘my friend Matt’ was of course Matt Redman [who i have met and interviewed on radio and asked stupid questions like ‘if you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be?’ true story, i was young]. it was really cool for me that i got to hear the preach and evaluate it on its merits [as i had no idea who he was the whole time he was preaching] as opposed to listening to it through the filter of  ‘ooh, that’s Tim Hughes’ and i learnt that he is a really good preacher as well.

so yes, Tim Hughes, really enjoy his song writing and songs and this is one of my favourites [i really enjoy how real and rough and raw it is, just so honest] , but first the story of how he came to write it:

‘The song, ‘When The Tears Fall,’ was birthed out of a hard time I was going through. One evening I sat with my guitar and poured out my heart to God. I found great hope and strength being able to express my pain, and in the midst of the doubt singing, ‘I will praise You, I will praise You. When the tears fall still I will sing to You.’ Initially, I thought it wasn’t a song that could be sung in a Church context. We don’t seem to sing many songs of lament. However, as I read through the Psalms, I discovered many cries of worship that came from a place of brokenness. Life is full of pain and sorrow. Loved ones die, dreams fail, people get hurt – we are left with unanswered questions. That’s the reality of the world we line in. Yet in the midst of the pain, through the tears God is good. He is and always will be worthy of our praise.’ – Tim Hughes

WHEN THE TEARS FALL by Tim hughes

I’ve had questions, without answers
I’ve known sorrow, I have known pain
But there’s one thing, that I’ll cling to
You are faithful, Jesus You’re true

When hope is lost, I’ll call You Savior
When paid surrounds, I’ll call You healer
When silence falls, You’ll be the song within my heart

In the lone hour of my sorrow
Through the darkest night of my soul
You surround me and sustain me
My defender, forevermore

I will praise You, I will praise You
When the tears fall, still I will sing to You
I will praise You, Jesus praise You
Through the suffering still I will sing

Written by Tim Hughes. © 2003 Thankyou Music/ PRS/ Admin by worshiptogether.com Songs for the world excluding the UK and Europe which is admin by Kingsway Music

[You can listen to it here]

map of oakland

i was asking that question as i walked [by myself!] to the office today as tbV had a meeting at Darin’s house…

and the obvious answer would be 50th street [i’m convinced it’s 51st in my head so have to type it down now or i may not find my way back home] Oakland, California, Americaland…

but i’m looking a little deeper, after 19 months in the ‘hood of Kensington, Philly [where in the city if you told people where you were from they would respond with “you live in Kensington???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] how would one exactly describe this place?

Oakland and San Francisco

it’s not ‘hood. well not in the way that Kensington was ‘hood… but it’s definitely not Bishop’s Court… feels a little suburby, but heard from the people we’re staying behind that they used to live in the suburbs so probably not that. we did get the “you live in Oakland???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] when we visited San Francisco on Sunday so in these parts maybe it’s still seen as ‘hood or ‘hoodish… just not sure if it will get me quite enuff street cred for saying i live here – is there a more ‘hood’ ‘hood than Oakland? will have to ask…

i like it though. only been here about a week [not even] so still got to get the vibe of the place, but tbV and i loved Kensington and i think we will love this place too – not as many people in your face, on your street as there where which was one of the highlights of Kensington but the people we’ve passed have for the most part been really friendly, and then there was the bag lady.

the bag or one like it...

no, not that. walking back from San Fran on Sunday we encountered this African American all-dressed-up-for-a-party-or-is-that-maybe-how-she-normally-dresses woman who approached us and said “Can you pick up my bag?” We looked at the street corner where she was pointing and there was a gold coloured handbag on the ground – so Val says, “You pick it up” but the lady was clearly freaked out and she asks again, “No, No, No can you guys please just pick up my bag?” I ask, “What’s wrong with it?” She says, “Nothing.” so we tell her again to just pick it up and she goes closer and then backs away and then goes closer and makes like she’s going to and then backs away again going, “No, No, No, Please just pick up my bag.”

at this point i’m wondering is there a bomb in there? a deadly tarantula? a bag of chocolate covered raiSINs with all the chocolate licked off [we all have our fears!] and so we decide to keep on walking and hope that wouldn’t-have-passed-the-Tour-de-France-urine-test lady managed to eventually get her stuff and make it home okay.

this is where we currently work

so definitely a taste of Kensington…

and i guess we’ll figure out more as we get to explore more and as we hopefully find a more permanent place to stay [maybe today!] and hopefully get to call this place home for the next year or so…

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