Today the group had the privilege to attend Grace Bible Church, a local church here in Soweto. It was refreshing to witness the incredible energy and excitement that saturated the air of the church.
Tomorrow is a national holiday called Heritage Day. Because of this many people in the church were dressed in traditional clothes to represent their heritage. During the service all the South African tribes were announced and members of the tribe screamed, danced and clapped with pride. Also due to the upcoming holiday, the preacher delivered a message on culture and Christianity. The message couldn't have gone along better with our experiences here! So many interesting and true points were given- just to highlight a few that really characterized our trip thus far- God uses culture and works with people through it; God understands how you think in your own cultural context; God uses culture to teach values and beliefs to his people; culture is learned - one is not born with culture; and last - all cultures are unique, dynamic and valid.
It was amazing to see how applicable this message was to our trip. We are in a culture very different from what we are used to, and to hear this message was encouraging.
Soweto is a hard place to understand. It is a traumatized society coping with the recent history of apartheid. This city of around 4 million people is still struggling to regain the hope that was oppressed in previous decades. I have been blessed by my host family placement. My "mother" was a part of the 1976 Soweto uprisings and protests. Through the resilience and joy I see in her I have hope that the rest of Soweto will be okay in time; and the numerous problems that are going on here will start to fade.
I know the entire group has enjoyed and learned a lot from Soweto. As for myself I will miss the people and the lifestyle, but I eagerly look forward to the next step - Lesotho!