Tag Archive: christchurch kenilworth

last nite i was invited by some new friends we’ve made here to join the Oakland City Watch team in a walk they do around the neighborhood [we live on 61st Ave and we walked around the streets closer to 90th so not crazy far away] that has three messages for the people of the community:

# We care!

# We want to see an end to violence, especially gun violence!

# How can we help you?

so a roomful of maybe 40 to 50 people of all shapes and sizes [although apart from one grade seven boy i felt like the next youngest there so a bunch of 30 years and older people mostly] – black, white, hispanic, korean – from a variety of different churches, put on these white windbreaker identification jackets and armed with fliers that explained to anyone who asked what we were about, we walked the streets for maybe an hour, waving at cars who responded to the “Honk if you want an end to gun violence” signs and engaging with anyone who was interested as we walked past them. No specific message except that of unity and peace in the neighborhood and that we were hoping merely by our presence to make a difference [apparently since they started these walks 6 months ago, murders have decreased in the areas they have walked through]

this brief video on You Tube gives a glimpse into the heart behind the walk and introduces some of the hardcore leaders [mostly pastors from different churches] who are organising this thing.

“we want it to be tangible”

“more than just words from a tv from a pulpit”

“we want to be persistent. this is something we’re doing every week not just for one night”

“we don’t want to fight against the young men but against the violence itself”

as i walked the streets last nite, when i wasn’t engaging in incredibly life-giving conversation with this big African American ex-pastor called Ben who heads up the team [and who i found out lives a street away from me, so hoping for deeper connection there] and our new friend, Matt, i was thinking of Kensington where we stayed in Philly and how something like this could work so well there [and of my friend Derrick Gregory who i have already been in conversation with about the possibility of him thinking more through the possibilities it holds]

as i write this i think of my friends Sheralyn and Sammi who live in Woodstock in Cape Town and of the Pedersens and others who are doing a kind of organic church in the fringes of the city and how something like this might look for them.

i think of areas of huge gangsterism and violence like mannenberg and hanover park and wonder if the church there got mobilised to start doing something similar.

and am brought back to the conversation of stability i had with Ben and those conversations which i’ve been having with tbV for the last two years inspired by the monks of the Benedictine monastery we visited while staying at the Simple Way, and even the idea of incarnation [living amongst the people you are working with and ministering to] fostered by the Simple Way and my time in Kayamandi

i read a quote this week that said something like church is not the place you go to, but the place you go out from and that kind of feels like the strong surgings that i have within me right now [not really anything new, just a new flame being lit on this particular fire] and a loud powerful shout to the church of Cape Town [yes, you Common Ground and Christ Church Kenilworth and 100 others] to take seriously the need for the church to be outside of the building and on the streets if we are going to make any discernible difference at all to the state of things back home.

or wherever you are reading this. this idea is so ridiculously simply and just needs a small group of people to put their hands up and go, ‘hey, that’s something practical we can do right here.’

so we made it home from the ambassador’s youth orange trip yesterday… made it home? sounds like survival talk there? oh wait, it is… the trip for me included a near death experience – or one that felt like it anyway – for me and so i am really glad to be back, and with my the beautiful Val again…

all in all it was an incredible trip – a lot of effort needed at different times for different reasons but a great bunch of leaders, a crazy mad rad bunch of youths, and once again a winning combo of tour guides headed up by the irrepressible Ollie (if ‘irrepressible’ means brilliant leader, cool fun funky guy, and all round winner, which it probably doesn’t – who makes up these words anyway?)

it is impossible to suitably (some might say ‘aptly’ but not me, not this time, i’ve gone for ‘suitably’ – darn, wish i’d gone for ‘aptly’ now) give an accurate summing up of the whole trip cos so much happened, so many conversations, so many moments of humour and blondity and action and so much monty python, marco poloing and new business forming… so i’ll just have to mention some highlights, which are going to be more relevant to those who went than those who didn’t – you really did have to be there [where were you anyway?]

so, near death? nappy running [take off your life jacket and step thru the arm holes thus wearing it like a nappy – jump into river and swim swim swim against current – failed that bit a little – and then get into cocktail position which is feet first with arms and feet in air and let river take you] sjambok which is a level grade 2 rapid and the worst one we encounter on this trip – started off badly when i couldn’t swim far enuff across the river cos i suck as a swimmer and the current was really strong so probly cocktailed too early, but fortunately the current carried me towards the right place anyways – or unfortunately it seems – and the bit where you get sucked under into the whirlpool and then spat out quickly i got the first bit right of and then suddenly i am under the water swimming to the surface… and swimming to the surface… and panicky swimming to the surface… it’s like i see the long tunnel with the light at the end, but the whole tunnel is flooded… [got so bad that Laurie, one of the girls standing at the side of the river who weighs about my hand, at first thort it was Ali playing a joke and then when she realised it was me and how long i’d been under was about to jump in and ‘save me’ – fortunately it was at that point that] eventually the river spat me out and i got a breath and started trying to swim and just had water everywhere again and so tried cocktail and that worked and i started floating down the river and fortunately John-o and my boat buddy Chris made a man chain from the side and caught me and pulled me in cos i had no strength by then… may not have been as close as it felt, and i probly wasn’t under the water for the seventeen hours and thirteen minutes it felt like, but really did feel like a bit of a close call…

so probly not my funnest moment, but if i had to pick some highlights of the trip they would probably be:

* times around the fire challenging the youth with God stuff, choosing this day whom they will serve, Beth’s testimony/sharing, the morning devotion times to reflect and a lot of small group and one on one conversations, especially on the bus on the way home…

* finding out that Marco (who every time anyone said his name i would shout “Polo”) actually has “Paulo” as his second name (so we changed the response to “Paulo” and most of the group joined in)

* standing for about half an hour throwing rocks of increasing size at the spot next to Rosslee having her believe it was firstly fish and then James and then anyone else but the person a metre right behind her doing it and watching her jump surprised every time…

* gondola’eering – cos that never gets old…

* after a shaky start with Chris my boat buddy in terms of steering and power, absolutely owning all of the major rapids, including sjambok…

* business creating in the format of:

me: i’ve got a business
andrew: what business is it?
me: we send out people with metal detectors to african countries that used to be at war to remove mines from the fields
andrew: how’s business?
me: it’s picking up

my alltime favourite though is still:

me: i have a new business
andrew: what business is it?
me: we manufacture make-up that people use to beautify pieces of poo
andrew: how’s business?
me: it’s pretty crap

* video interviews with the finger and other forms of microphone

* the food, which was incredible, for food in a gourmet restaurant let alone stuff the guides had prepared on the side of a river over some coals – the gammon especially, wow, must have had seconds of that (fourteen times!) – definitely makes the trip a whole lot more comfortable

* juggling class and psycho golf (spin around ten times facing upwards holding on to a paddle then run and try and hit a bottle of water, or launch yourself over the edge if you are john) and all the water ball games (except maybe day one’s toe-crushing race against harry potter) and jack handeying and green stone popping and sharing my toothpaste with greg and josh on the last nite…

* oh, and winning… cos after a day of pulling peter and gavin for a while, and then lifting melch, and so being in last place straining against the water for most of the day, somehow boat buddy chris and i managed to find the front after lunch and managed to establish a slight lead and despite some gail force winds we managed to win the whole trip. cos we all know, it’s not a race. but it is.

just an incredible time of connecting with God, meeting new people, re-establishing relationship with old friends and braving the elements, oh and tunnels filled with not enough light and too much water – thanks to Andrew and Ambassadors for the opportunity and Ollie, Abel, Max, Matt and Griffin from Felix Unite for looking after us so well.

and it was all yello….orange…

so tomorrow i join with andrew of vaughan once more (as i did two years ago) and a bunch of youngsters from Christchurch, Kenilworth, to head up to and then down the river of orange (yes, it’s my new thing, deal with it!) and i am very much looking forward to it…

originally we were hoping that the beautiful val would be able to be there but sadly thesising and her old housemate’s wedding will be keeping her away and so we will have to make do with singing and talking and poetising about her as we did last time – when she arrived to pick me up after the previous trip the whole bus of youths felt like she was an old friend and a bunch of them even got out and hugged her…

looking forward to a big reunion with Ollie of Ver who was our river guide, my co-writer and singer of ‘give me hope Johanna people-on-river-trip themed songs (along with daniel of corder who sadly won’t be making it this time) who challenged me (well i don’t know if it was an active challenge but he did it so i kinda had to) to ten pushups which he did on his canoe which i then did (or did we do twenty?) with another guy (andrew winter perhaps?) across two canoes and then he did a headstand on his canoe and i think it was getting late by then… amazing guide, amazing trip, can’t wait…

altho there is this little nagging feeling in the back of my mind that i call stayawayfromthearguscycletourophobia which is the internal wailing scream of “never again!” that one sings to oneself (in a grunge metal combination of merit) for about 103 of the 109km of the Argus Cycle tour due to pain and cramp and wind and what-was-i-thinking (maybe last year’s argus cycle tour was not sufficient training for this one and getting on my bike at least once between races might have helped) and so on. but then a day later someone asks, “so are you going to do the argus cycle tour next year?” and you hear the words, “oh of course yes, wouldn’t miss it” come out of your mouth like some bad twilight zone episode curse…

so there is that nagging feeling… i’m not sure if it was the cold or the wet or the killing my arms by playing gondolier boy to lucy (my most excellent boat buddyess except in the bringing-suitable-snacks-for-brett department) slash showing off or the missing of my future wife or the bugs or the hard floor or the…

oh boy.

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