Blog

Feb./Mar 2017

February 22, 2017

We have arrived!

The trip was blessedly uneventful and punctuated only by the gifts of Life caring for us perfectly. We arrived in Johannesburg and spent Tuesday night, opening the door to our hotel room at 7:02 p.m. South African time, 9:02 a.m. Pacific time, just in time to flip open the computer, fire up the (iffy!) wifi (good giggle with that one—iffy wiffy) and tune in to the Project Joy radio show. The wonders of technology! The support and pleasure of hearing Sangha voices live cannot be overstated. Thank you!

Turns out South Africa is having parallel weather with ours in California. They have been in a severe drought with stringent water restrictions and are suddenly having torrential rains and flooding in many areas. Though they are having unusual days-on-end of rain, they, like us, are not complaining! We were pretty soaked by the time we sat down to listen to the show. However, unlike February in California where rain brings a chill, the late summer temperatures here are heavenly.

Hard to capture the steady rain on camera, but the grey streaks in the photo are the precipitation that continued through our entire 15-hour stay in Johannesburg.

We got a great night’s sleep and were up bright and early to catch the flight to Zambia.

In several interactions in the course of travel, we talked about the rare gift of attention—attention in all of Life, and in particular the role attention is playing in the Living Compassion work in Kantolomba. We are at a pivotal, exciting moment in the project. The first group of girls in the Girls Program are in grade 12—Sylvia, Mirriam, Esther and Rachel. By staying in school and focusing on their education, they and the 32 other girls in the Girls Program are blazing a trail for their peers. They are pioneers for their entire community.

The next step for these girls—graduating from grade 12 and enrolling in university or vocational training or a professional training course (e.g. nursing)—will require upping our game in funding. But it is clear from our experience in the last several years that attention is the most precious commodity for supporting these girls to be successful. It is understanding and being able to attend to the individual circumstances of each girl that gives the team the ability to encourage her, to pivot when another form of support is needed, to recognize when further intervention may be warranted.

This seems so true for all of us, everywhere in our lives. Truly attending to something is the only way to make a difference. Being present to whatever is, is the portal to possibility, insight, creativity, inspiration.

So imagine our delight when we sat down in O.R. Tambo International Airport—named after the great anti-apartheid hero Oliver Tambo who carried the torch as president of the African National Congress for more than two decades while Nelson Mandela was imprisoned—and found this message at the top of our breakfast menu!

In fact, it is not hard to draw inspiration from these great South African heroes and remember that they had no vast fortunes, no political powers in their corner, only the rarest gift of one-pointed focus and the willingness to keep it there no matter what. And, indeed, just as the menu points at, the generosity that is for the entire world!

We had a fun awareness practice moment flying into Ndola. If you are a regular blog reader you will remember that some years back we realized that the flight pattern of the planes coming into Ndola makes the Living Compassion property clearly visible from the right side of the plane. We are always diligent to make sure to get a seat on that side of the aircraft. Flying in this time, we started watching closely as we neared the ground and suddenly could see the giant soccer stadium. Darn! The stadium is closer to the airport than Kantolomba. How did we miss it? The tendency there was to give up. Oh well. But there was a quiet, gentle suggestion from Life. Who knows? Maybe we didn’t miss it. Maybe it is still coming up. So we kept watching. And the plane began to turn to the left, and kept turning and turning and turning… until it seemed we may well have gone 360 degrees. And then, voila!, there it was—the Living Compassion property. Awareness practice has some fun, practical, side benefits!

At the top of the photo are dark green bushes/trees. That’s the Kantolomba cemetery. See the road that runs parallel to that. Then find the two main roads that come toward us in the photo that run off that road, one towards the right of the photo and one about 2/3 of the way to the left. Living Compassion is the first structure to the left of that left-hand road. We look down and imagine the team waving up at us!

Arrival into Zambia was easy, and it is always a gift to be greeted by a world-class Theresa Kapenda hug!

Theresa and Martha awaiting our arrival

Walking across the tarmac towards immigration

Martha, one of the team members, mother of 9th grade twins in the Girls Program, Mary and Susan, drew the long straw and got to accompany Theresa to the airport. It was her second time seeing an airplane land or take-off, the first being when the entire team came to the airport (as a surprise for Theresa!) to see Theresa off when she came to the United States in 2009.

Scott meets Martha.

We are well cared for here. Theresa already had our 5-gallon water jugs and had brought the items we store between trips. We are staying at a new guesthouse this year, and it is ideal. Castle Lodge has been a lovely home for us here for many years, and it is also an increasingly popular restaurant and bar, making it less quiet than we enjoy. This new guesthouse is simple, beautiful, clean and very quiet! We are quite sure we will be well here.

The grounds of Katuba Lodge are exquisite with carefully attended areas of garden throughout the property.

Theresa and Martha took us to buy enough groceries to get us started. In the course of our errands, Theresa laughed as she told us how excited the team is to see us. She noted that Peter asked her who was coming. When he heard that Scott was one of the visitors, he exclaimed, "Yea! A man!" It has been some time since a male visitor has been with us, and we, too, are happy for the camaraderie for the men on the team and boys.

Theresa dropped us back at our new home. We had the energy to get a bit of exercise on a walk in the lovely neighborhood before eating a simple dinner and falling into bed for as long a sleep as the body wanted. The body is boss in these 48 hours!

Can’t wait to be out in Kantolomba tomorrow! Goosebumps as we imagine it!

So, together—we on the ground and you with us on the blog—are launched.

In Gassho and Good night.