Divine appointments and coincidences

Teens in South Africa are just like teens everywhere.  They are so focused on their friends, so worried about what other teens will think of them.  That focus tends to scare off a lot of adults.  Because teens are so focused on other teens, they seem disconnected and uncaring about anyone older than about 20.  And that can be intimidating.  But they will listen, if you have something to say that they resonate with, and if you can say it in an engaging way that they connect to.

Martin is a natural at this.  I usually sit back and let Martin do his thing.  My style is quieter and less rambunctious and energetic.  It’s easier to let him be the one on stage, frankly.  However, Martin was sick for about the first 24 hours of camp.  So when he was sick and there was no one else and I realized that I was going to be talking to this group, there was a moment of panic (okay, maybe more than a moment).

Ordinarily, at a YOU rally, the teens would be the ones doing the talking.  I get to sit and listen and learn from teens.  Which is pretty cool.  They can go deep.  Deeper than some adults I know.

But this is not rally.  These teens don’t have the benefit of weekly YOU meetings and Unity teachings and four- or five-times a year events to give them the skills and the language and the basis in metaphysics that teens in YOU in the US get.  We were planning to present the material to them, even though that’s not how we would be doing it in the states.  Actually, what I mean to say is that we were planning for Martin to present the material to them.  Or at least I was.

But it went fine.  Better than fine.  They really listened.  At one point I suggested that Lena translate into Afrikanns for me, and she just looked at me and said, “No, they get it.”  And they did.  I was mistaking the steady gazes I was getting as blank stares, thinking that I had lost them.  But they were right there with me, absorbing like sponges.  Such focus was a little unnerving.


I learned some things about myself at camp–that I am more capable than I give myself credit for, for one, and that I can lead too, and I’m pretty good at it.  I think of this as a divine appointment with my inner leader.  So maybe there will be a little less wallflower in my future.


In between sessions with the teens, I was doing healing touch on Martin, and he perked up and was feeling a lot better by Saturday afternoon, and we shared leadership of the rest of the event.


This camp was, by a set of divine coincidences, being held in South Africa on the same weekend as the major summer rally of YOU in the South Central region.  And that rally, like most YOU rallies, was planned by teens, for the teens in YOU.  So we asked the planning team for the rally if we could use the same material, seeing as how we’d be doing the same type of event on the other side of the world at the same time, wouldn’t it be cool to be using the same material?

So they said yes, and sent it to us.  And it was the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra.  Which blew us away.  Because

Thirteen months ago, when this whole saga started, Martin and I had just finished a small-group book study of this very same book, along with a few people from our church.  This little book has been responsible for so much growth and so much openness and so much change in our lives.  I don’t think it’s exaggerating at all to say that, thanks to The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, we have handled that transition and all that has happened since with so much more grace and balance than we would have otherwise.

So to have it come back around again in this way was a ringing endorsement from the Universe, “YES!”

Deepak Chopra writes in some of his other works about synchronicity and how those little “winks” from the Universe show up in their playful way to lead you toward your dreams, your purpose in life, your dharma.  And of course, I’ve written at length about some of the coincidences that we’ve encountered on this journey.  And in some sense this was just another one.

But in another sense it was not just one in a long series of coincidences, to be marveled at and filed away for future reference.  In order to explain why, I need to tell you a little story about myself.

I have an angel.  I mean, a literal angel.  I have physical contact with my angel, she rests her hand on my right shoulderblade and I can feel it, and I know that she’s with me.  There are times when I feel her presence regularly, and then, inexplicably, I won’t feel that sensation for a while.  But then she comes back, and I’m kind of relieved and grateful for that attention again.  Because sometimes, when she goes, I worry that that’s the last time I’ll know she’s with me.

So having this coincidence show up again, in the way it did, was a return of my angel, so to speak.  Last summer we were having all these amazing experiences, divine coincidences so thick you had to brush them away.  And then things changed, things got more peaceful, there was a fallow season when not much was happening.  And those amazing coincidences seemed to come to an end.  We were still trusting, still knowing that we were loved and supported.  But like with love, you can know someone loves you, know it with every fiber of your being, but you still glow with happiness when they tell you.

So this divine coincidence was the Universe, telling me it loves me.  I already knew it, of course, but it’s great to hear and amazing to feel back in the flow again.

The Long-Promised Camp Post (Part II)

More camp photos!



This is a photo of Martin holding up an iPad.  Everyone is looking at it because it, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, is connected, via the Internet and Skype, to a YOU rally in Oklahoma, that is taking place at the same time as camp, using the same source material.  The kids in the US and the kids in South Africa were, for a short while, able to see and hear each other as we did a joy song and a prayer, and they did a joy song and a prayer and the classic YOU blessing: “We love you, we bless you, we truly appreciate you, and we behold the Christ in you.”

IMG_2757Pretty cool!

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Playing games


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These photos just make my heart well up.  Such open, happy faces.  They had fun, and I think they learned something.  We talked about a few concepts from Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success–the Law of Intention and Desire, the Law of Giving and Receiving, and the Law of Dharma, or finding your life’s purpose.  We’d talk about the concepts in big group, then they’d break into small groups to process and talk and do some activities to help them apply the theories to their own lives.

All mixed in with games, joy songs, camp fires, jumping on the trampoline, and plenty of good food.

Yeah, it was a success.  But we didn’t do it alone, not by any stretch of the imagination.  Major thanks go to Unity Church of the Hills, who raised funds to pay for this camp, and who helped pay a portion of our expenses to get there.  Major thanks also to John Jacobs and Joan Johnson, who work with the Riviersonderend Community Foundation to help make camps happen.  And Pieter and Theolene Baartman, who took us in, made us family, never let us wash dishes, and came to camp and worked all weekend to make sure there was food and adult support and supervision.  And to Wiena, who cooked such beautiful food and always with a smile, we say thanks.  “Blessings on the meal, and on the cook!”

We owe a great deal to the teens who planned the Oklahoma rally and allowed us to use (and adapt) both the material for the event and the t-shirts to be appropriate for our milieu. And countless others.  You know who you are.

Just one more picture.

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This is Martin and I being blessed in the closing circle.  Look at that grin.  This is why I do this.  This is how it makes me feel.  Loved, blessed, incredibly happy.  It takes a lot of hard work to make camp happen, but it’s worth it.



The Long-Promised Camp Post (Part I)


Camp was awesome, exhilarating, peaceful, fun, nerve-wracking, busy, cold, colder 🙂  In short, it was a full expression of the human spirit and cooperation between adults and teens, between American and African energies (with a little bit of Indian thrown in, thanks to Deepak Chopra).  It was great.

So on to some photos!

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 7.52.46 AMAs always, we start off with some joy songs.  Looking for a baby shark.

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A tootie tot!  Knees together!

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More tootie tot!  Pictures (and singing) with tongues out are so much fun and get everyone in the spirit of fun.  We did a ton of joy songs and even tried to put a different spin on one.  The song is called “Purple Soup” and we sing about adding purple tomatoes and purple potatoes, but in South Africa we sing about adding purple tamaties and purple artaples instead, since that’s how those vegetables are called in Afrikaans.


Large group, me talking.  I wound up doing a pretty big amount of the presenting (which is one reason for the “nerve-wracking” in the first paragraph of this post).  But it was good, and all worked out great.


More large group.  Check out the bare feet!  The facility requests that we remove shoes in this space.  Martin and I were layered up like nobody’s business, and some of these teens were barefooted, perhaps by choice or perhaps by necessity.


Family groups.  We had some pretty amazing family group leaders, who stepped up and led groups, presenting unfamiliar material in what is for most of them their third (or fourth!) language.  More reasons for the “nerve-wracking”, but they handled it well and we were proud of them.

Small groups make these experiences, like camp or a YOU rally, more powerful.  They allow for more intimacy, forming closer bonds.  They’re also, by design, intended to break up teens that would ordinarily stick together like glue, allowing them to get to know and appreciate new people.  Even though this is a small town, and I assumed that everyone knew everyone, teens shared with me that they met new people and formed new friendships, especially across ethnic or tribal lines.


Good food is a must at camp!  We ate very well.  Lots of meat.  Some of these kids, the adults tell me, don’t always get enough at home, so one of the highlights of camp is the meals.  The cooking is done by a few of the adults from the Riviersonderend community, Wiena, Joan, Theolene and Pieter.


What would camp be without a campfire?  Warmth, companionship (and a whole bunch of the cooking for camp) are all to be found around the campfire.  And yes, we did s’mores again.  That was a big hit.



More to come in part II!

Taking Our Leave

We’ve had some fun the last few days…getting to play tourist.  Our wi-fi has not been working well, Martin’s computer got some kind of glitch, and isn’t feeling well.  He took that as a sign that he needed to spend less time on the computer and more time present and conscious.  I like that.  That also meant less time for blogging and writing, but there’s plenty of time for that when we get back to the States.

Which will be very soon.  As of this post, we are headed to the airport.  Our flight departs in just over three hours.

My thoughts on leaving the Mother City–I feel torn.  I love it here, love the energy and the vitality.  The scenery, both natural and of the human kind.  I love the accent when the South African people speak.  I love the food.  Like last trip, I think I ate my weight in chips on this trip, followed closely by fish.

I’m missing it already.  I feel like we could have done so much more on this trip, I think of all the mornings I slept in.  I should have gotten up earlier–I should have spent more time soaking it in, visiting, meeting, learning, serving.

I’m letting go of that.  Regret doesn’t serve me.  This trip was what it was, and I cannot go back and change it now.  I need to respect the decisions I made in the moments that I made them and not go back and second-guess them now.  I need to respect the balance that was struck between activity and rest; self-care and care for others.  I’m trusting that I did the best that I could.

On the other hand, I’m ready to be home.  I’ve missed my stuff–my space.  I’m looking forward to the Austin heat–it’s been cold here and I’ve been layered up like crazy.  I’m looking forward to getting up and putting on a t-shirt and jeans and having that be enough.  No layers of long underwear and wool socks and taking gloves and hats with me everywhere to be warm enough.

I’m predicting it’ll be quite a while before you hear me complain about the hot weather.  I’m craving it.

Our visit has been wonderful: everyone we have met has been so lovely and kind and has made us feel welcome.  We are so blessed to get to do this.  We are so blessed to get to do camps with the kids.  We are so loved and so at peace.

I PROMISE to get the camp posts up ASAP.  I will probably be up at 4 am writing them due to jet lag.

Asking your thoughts for peaceful, easy and safe travels.  We are blessed.  See you on the flip side.

Back in Cape Town

I know, I know, I owe you a post (actually I’m working on a couple) about camp.  They’re coming.

But I wanted to post tonight about being back in Cape Town.  Or actually, about leaving Riviersonderend.  Like so many things here, I am torn in two directions.  I was ready to leave RSE, but not ready to leave my family that lives there.  Pieter and Theolene Baartman, and their son Raymonde, who generously and unstintingly opened their home, their hearts and their lives to us, became family to us and we to them.  I miss them tonight.  I can still hear their voices in my head.  I want to talk to them some more.  I want to eat some more of Theolene’s delicious home cooking.  I want to sit in the small living room and watch South African soaps or rugby with them.  I miss them.

And yet we’re having new experiences.  We’re staying at Timour Hall, a 200+ year old mansion.  Our room here is huge.  We had a nice dinner out, fish and prawns, and a nice evening in, trying to get caught up on events at home.  We’re together, and I am, as always, content and peaceful with Martin.  But I’m also lonely for Pieter and Lena and Monde.

I cried when I left them, and I’m fighting tears now.  I am so grateful for all the love I receive in this life.  Part of me stands back and questions–what makes you so special that these people love you so openly?  How do you deserve such love?  Rationally I know, I’ve been told and sometimes I believe it, that I deserve love just because I am.  But those old tapes have their say sometimes too, and especially when I am loved so deeply by people who honor me with their high regard and give of everything they have, I do question what makes me so special.

In my mind, I am just me.  Human, fallible, always falling short of my own judgments and always trying to do better.  I guess I’ll feel like I deserve love when I get to perfection.  Which is a trap, because I know I’ll never achieve it.  So I hold it at a distance.  But then comes along Pieter and Lena and Monde, and I see the love and regard in their eyes, and I struggle with my gremlin mind that wants to make me undeserving.  Sometimes growth is so hard.

So I’m content and I’m lonely.  I am loved and struggling with self-love.  I am happy and I am sad.  But above all, I am grateful.  Grateful to be loving and loved, grateful to be having the experiences I get to have, grateful to be broken open again and again.

Love someone today.

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