October 14, 2008

Delft ~ a continual journey of joy, serving & learning

an exciting experience happened yesterday in Delft. i had let the friends there know that i would come at 10am to sell clothes which would raise money for the classes, even if only a tiny bit was offered for each item. this was a suggestion by a Bahá'í and then welcomed by the few people who i had informed. i came while the children were in school. when i arrived, a group of children (some of whom should be in school) started jumping up and down and telling people i was there. they were sitting outside this empty, but new, metal container (the kind used to ship goods around the world, but here it is something valuable to be used in various ways) where i was to set out the items. the mamas started coming and naturally and appreciatively took interest in most of the things available (really nice stuff!). i let it be up to them how much to offer, and one of them who supports the classes was responsible for collecting the money. i was soooo happy to see it happening -- i was outside enjoying the children while the mamas spoke Xhosa and seemed to be negotiating amongst themselves, with moments of laughter, who would get what.

after it settled down, 4 of them sat down on the edge of the container and we all shared some snacks together that i had in my pocketbook. this sounds like a normal happening, but it’s so different because i seem to bring foods they have either never had or they haven’t had in a long time. today it was oatmeal shortbread (cindy ravines’ recipe) and some dried apricots and almonds. i can’t understand what comments they are making, but i can see they are having an experience of discovery and enjoyment. the children receive their portion and eagerly wait for more until one of the mamas says something to make them all immediately step away.

during our conversation, they told me 2 women took a lot but only paid a little -- they felt it was unfair and that next time i should put prices on the items. this felt presumptuous to me so we consulted and agreed that they themselves would put the prices on. they assured me that they know who can and can’t afford a particular price, and would make sure everyone paid what they could afford. this was amazing to me. they know the money is for the children’s classes. they know it’s a good deal to receive all these clothes and linens, and they want to establish a sense of justice about it!

a little later Siboleke came by -- whenever i see him (the community leader) i feel like something is progressing or developing between us in terms of understanding and mutual support. today he informed me that he’s been talking with the people of the community and they all feel this is a good thing for their children (!). i was so happy to receive this confirmation. he feels more parents should be involved so they can further encourage their children with what they are learning, so now i know how he responds to them when they discuss what’s happening on Saturday mornings.

at one point i was sitting in the middle of the road with 3 children on my lap while the one in front of me just started singing song after song that we’ve learned in class!! it was so sweet. so we sang, did hand movements, and even learned a couple new ones just with her (i tested them out on her to gauge whether or not the class would learn them easily or not).  hanging out with the children leaves me wishing i had endless time, means and energy to help develop their inner and outer faculties. it’s simply love.

before i left, i asked Nthombekhaya (it took me weeks and weeks to learn how to say that name before i finally wrote it down and could phonetically see it in my mind) if she wanted to learn how to drive. she is an adult in her 30’s but has never been behind the wheel. at first i drove and explained what to do (it’s a stick shift!), and then she practiced on her own (while nearly crashing into property off the street a couple of times!). i was like, ‘brake, brake!’ at one point, but we had so much fun i can’t wait to do it again sometime. there’s another mama who wants to learn as well, so i said, ‘little by little we’ll make sure you learn how to drive’.

i thought a lot about this the rest of the day -- they cannot drive; they may not have the means to purchase a car; i learned as a youth; i have had the privilege of exploring and being free to take myself places for 23 years…but i keep wondering what i haven’t experienced, what i do not have the means to discover or be able to do as they have. i know they have a rich, rich sense of culture and history, of connectedness and support, of music and knowledge of survival… in many ways our lives are full of contrasts, without similarities. yet, of course, our spiritual oneness connects us like no other force in this world, so i continue to enjoy the camaraderie in what we do share and enjoy together, especially when we can joke together!

when i left Delft today i wanted to come right back. i want to begin a Bahá'í school, a place of growing food and learning nutrition and practicing permaculture, of learning English and the sciences, holding it all together within the Bahá'í framework of the oneness of humanity and world peace.

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