Friday, October 18, 2013

Power of Color 2

Hello friends and family!
Recently I wrote about an experience relating to the Power of Color. It's been on my mind a lot and the fact that I am exposed to this visual divide in SA and that I am very much the minority here - keeps my curiosity and concerns at the forefront. 

Racial separation is very apparent in the places that I have visited thus far and it is evident in the conversations with my new friends. I am just beginning to understand the depth of pain and adversity that they are up against and I wonder - how different is this from home??   
As I move through this year, I'm sure I will discover much about myself - especially as it relates to thier struggles, and even more so as I build in relationships with others and as I grow as a person.   Documenting this growth will be a challenge.  I'll try my best to put into writing some of the prominent experiences that I have as it relates to this topic.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I have very limited access to send any emails, or get on  facebook etc... I go to the University of Limpopo (UL), which is about a 20-minute kombi ride from Masealama. Anyways, when I get to the University, there is a very gracious biochemistry professor,  Prof Moss, who allows me access to his office and to get  internet.  During my time in Moss’s office, I have met many of his current and former students, a few of which I have become friends. One of these friends is a graduated law student from UL, Ferdie.
I have spent a lot of time talking to Ferdie in Moss’s office and at choir practice. One day after choir practice we were talking and  I asked him about his law degree and what exactly he wanted to do with it.   He told me that he thinks he has to go back to school and get a different degree because,  in his words there was “not much future with it (his degree)”. I was puzzled because in my head anybody with a law degree is pretty intelligent and I haven’t heard much about the field of law not offering promising opportunities. So I asked him why, and his response was that in South Africa a good portion of the law firms are owned by whites and the fact that he was black and went to a rural, all black university meant that he would have a very slim chance of getting a job. I was stunned and so curious that I kept asking him questions about it. He could tell that I was interested and upset about what he was sharing, and he stopped me and asked “is everybody where you are from like you?”  I wasn’t expecting the question so he probably thought I was confused and he rephrased the question. “You are so accepting of blacks. Are all white people where you are from like that?”
I immediately got a pit in my stomach for two reasons. 
- First being that it made me emotional to think that he probably was so surprised at how I act around him because he has been treated so poorly by whites in the past.   

- The second reason  it made me upset was that if  I were to answer Ferdie, in complete honesty, the answer would be NO. The reality is that not everyone, I know, in America is practicing racial acceptance.
Ferdie certainly put things into perspective for me on this day. Not only did he make me more aware of the injustices here in SA, but he also made me remember that we have a long way to every part of the world.  I  can only hope and pray that my journey of accompaniment here will help me be a better friend and neighbor wherever I am.

“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality,  as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 2Corinthians 8:13-15


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Be Still

Hi Hi!
These past three weeks have revealed that I  moved from the “windy city”, to the “windy village”.  Pretty frequently Masealama has windstorms. These incredible storms, which seem to be isolated to ONLY Masealama. (ask anyone around here they will tell you that we have our own weather up here)  These heavy winds sound like waves crashing on a shore, and can cause so much havoc along the way.  I would say that about 50% of the storms knock the power out. Lets just say...the headlamp and candles are always ready to be put into use.
When I was little I use to LOVE when the power went out. We would light candles, read books or play board games. It was my favorite. Unfortunately, when the power goes out here I don’t have anyone to play Yatzee  with :) - so I listen to music while reading, or watch movies on my computer. The last time the power went, I had just gotten back from a long hike and all that I wanted to do was lay on the couch and listen to music.  But when I opened my computer my battery was very low and I didn’t want to waste the battery just in case the power was out all night.   Not going to lie, silence when I am all alone - can be scary.  In my everyday, I usually have background noise so spending an unknown amount of time in silence seemed unnerving.  So I sulked a little bit and then realized I was just going to have to deal with it.
I tried to keep myself occupied. I finished the last chapter in a book that I was reading, flipped through my bible a bit but but most of the time I just laid there, in deep thought. I thought about the beautiful hike I had just gone on and all of the interesting wildlife I saw, some of the terrain reminding me of Wisconsin and I thanked God for these things....  A few hours later the power was restored and I went right back to my noisy life.
As I hopped into bed the next night I took a quick glance as the pictures and cards that I have on my wall. The one that caught my eye was a small card made by my friend Lo that says :

Be still and know that I am God. Pslam 46:10

Reading this, I became aware of the little God moment that had just occurred.  Being powerless allowed me to be still and thank God for the experience that I just had and reflect on all He has blessed me with.  Without this series of events, I would have been too distracted in the noise of my life to be grateful.
Then I went to my bible to reread the passage.  The Message says;
“Step out of the traffic! Take a loving look at me, your High God.”

This version spoke to me. It gives me more clarity as to why God may have called me to South Africa, and more specifically Masealama. I believe that God needed to take me out of the traffic of not only Chicago, but MY LIFE. This time of silence and being still has allowed me to take time to look at Him and all the blessings He has provided me. For the first time in a long time - I thanked Him!   Now I’m excited to see what I else I am bound to discover during my year of “stepping out of the traffic”.
Beep Beep...
Toodles my friends! :)


Monday, October 14, 2013

Power of color

Racial inequality,  it’s real and has been at the forefront of my mind since the day that I found out that I would be moving to South Africa. The apartheid was a topic I had studied in several classes in college, but never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought that I would be living amongst the effects of this horrible period of South African history.

Since stepping off the plane in August, the number of times I have witnessed the division is far too many.  It's most visual in the larger cities where blacks and whites populate the same area. I live in a rural village where I am the only white person. When I first arrived in Masealama, I thought that because this was a same race village, they must not have first hand experience of this divide.

Well, I will own up to the fact that this was my ignorance talking. Quickly I was brought back down to reality when I was confronted with talk of this inequity. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of having my country coordinator, Tessa, come for a visit. She came with me to the crèche one morning and was introduced to the principle of the crèche, Lischen.  The two women were talking and Lischen mentioned how much she enjoyed having volunteers and asked Tessa to send them to her every year. She made the comment that they love having white, American volunteers so they can take them to their quarterly meetings hosted by the government. Her words were, “Having a white person makes our crèche look so good!”

I was so taken back by this comment. Why?! Why does the color of my skin make me, or the organization that I work for, more or less legitimate? I have absolutely no training of preschool education, but the fact that I am white supposedly gives the Masealama Play Center more credibility.

Needless to say, this comment has stuck with me and really made me more aware of the power of color in this country and the privilege that goes along with it.   .. or not.


'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:31


“Journey well.”     “Have a safe journey.”       These are two VERY common phrases that I hear from the people as I am about to say goodbye.   I hear this both from people I have just met, as well as those I see every day.  To be honest, it caught me off guard the first couple of times, especially from those I knew I was going to see the next day. In my head I would think “I’m just going home, sleeping and coming back here tomorrow. It’s really not much of a journey!”

As the days pass, I have find myself continually pondering on  this term journey and what really defines it.  Before arriving in SA I would have explained a journey as a long trek or an extended experience.  And now, as I reflect on my daily life, I have come to refine its meaning.  Walking home or going to the grocery store in Masealama may not seem special, but it is PART of my journey - My journey of life.

I have come to embrace these parting words…  They make me excited, and I feel like life is just one big adventure no matter what I’m doing!  - And it is!

Journey well my friends,


“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”     Psalm 119:105 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Hello from Masealama!

I am not sure when I learned this, but at some point in time I learned that sometimes the best way to confront a big challenge is to set a series of smaller goals. I would be a big liar if I said that living in rural South Africa , by myself,  wasn’t a challenge. When I feel overwhelmed I have to take things one step at a time. With this knowledge about myself,  I have started to make a list of goals that I would like to accomplish throughout my time here in South Africa.    So why am I sharing these goals with you? I am hoping that by posting my goals it will  hold me more accountable, and give you a little idea of some of the things that I do here.


A smile from Adolph-   My first day at the crèche if I said that I was feeling overwhelmed that would have been somewhat of an understatement.  The kids were all over the place and I had no idea what was going on.  I was actually scared of the kids and their excitement around me.  When everything started to settle a bit, I was immediately calmed by and drawn to a little boy sitting by himself. He was gazing into space and not interacting with any of the other children. This little boy is Adolph.  I went over to the sweet boy and made some funny face to try and get him to smile. He kept that frown on his face. Everyday I would see him sitting there, not interacting much with the others, just looking so sad. I decided that this boy needs some smiles in his life. I  worked very hard at this, and after many days finally figured out a number of funny faces to get this little boy to show his pearly whites.   Since that day, I have made it my goal to not leave the crèche until I see Adolph smile at least once.  I am happy to say that Adolph now smiles each day when he sees me in the morning!


Journal- While I wish I could say that I have an unbelievable memory, I am my mother’s daughter and I do sometimes forget things. It is my goal while I am here to document the things that I am doing, but more importantly how I am feeling. I hope that I can do this daily, but if not, at least catch up with it by Sundays.

Read Scripture- I am happy to say that this is one goal that I have kept up with. I read Jesus Calling every morning, and before I go to bed I find myself flipping through the bible referring to scripture.  These readings have been a continual source of  encouragement and strength over these past two months.

Eat Healthy- Cooking for one is not a motivating situation, and being a guest in a community means I am being FED ALL THE TIME.  I wish I could say that all the porridge and bread that they are feeding me won’t go straight to my butt, butt the reality is that it will!

Stay Active- As much as I wish the carbs would just burn themselves off, they wont. Surprisingly I don’t move as much as I thought that I would here so I need to get a bit creative in motivating myself in the limited surroundings ... even run around my house if I have to.


Write 3 letters a week- I want to keep in touch with as many people at home as possible, but with no internet and phone reception it makes that very difficult. Snail mail seems like the best remedy to this situation.   Although mail may take a while ... feel free to write me if you'd like.   I'd love to hear from you!
Kelly Mack
P.O. Box 938
South Africa


Read at least a book or two a month- I have never been much of a reader, except for when it came to schoolwork. This is one thing that I hope to change about myself.   I feel the joy of reading coming on….You will be happy to know that the first month has been a success!

By the time I leave

Carry a baby on my back while carrying water on my head- I have been told on multiple occasions that this is what a “True African Woman” does. I can’t leave here without experiencing that one.

Learn Sepedi- For those of you who know me, you know that language has never been a strength of mine. I am reminded of this everyday that I am here. I hope by the time I head for home that I feel confidence while trying to communicate… or at least more confident than I am now!

See a monkey in my backyard- This is actually more of a life goal! My obsession with monkeys has become more apparent since arriving here. I keep my eyes peeled for them wherever I go. I have been told that when it gets warmer the monkeys will come and hang out in my backyard.  :)
I will wait for them - and they will be my friends! :)

I know that some of these goals may be difficult for me accomplish all the time, but I pray that I can give myself enough GRACE SPACE to start fresh the next day!