Monday, November 9, 2009

Kimberley wasn’t all bad, the dinner invitation, praying twice, and those crazy Americans…

I did find this lovely, lovely St. Cyprians Cathedral two blocks away from my Dr.’s appointment in Kimberley. The Cathedral had a lovely grotto with a divine garden where I ducked out for several hours. It offered a peaceful retreat and I felt very safe there.

The monument is of a Sister Harriet Stonedale.

Had I more time, I certainly would have gone inside, but as it was, I could not. So I don’t have much information to share and maybe I’ll have more at another time, or you can google it. And then you can tell me the historical significance of this Cathedral in Kimberly. J

Also nearby, I found a SYCAMORE tree, and the find was thrilling: it was like seeing an old friend. I didn’t almost start crying, so perhaps my homesickness has waned just a bit. I also saw one of these palm-y kinds of trees I have yet to identify fruiting. I thought the strands of beads of fruit pretty. And a bougainvillea TREE. It was gorgeous, just gorgeous!

Also, on the drive into Kimberly, we passed, unbeknownst to me, Kamfers Dam whereby the Lesser Flamingos were reintroduced and have made a lovely comeback. I saw only waves and waves of pink set against the sparkling back drop of their water habitat. They were beautiful, beautiful birds, even at a distance. It was beautiful sight to see so many of them flocked together, and I was thrilled, and sure to watch for it on my ride out of the city.

The dinner invitation:


Me: Um, the library?


Me: (At this point I burst out laughing, which is an improvement, because before I would have felt irritated and defensive), I’m sorry. I’m not sure what it is you are trying to ask?


Me: (Still laughing), I’d love to come to dinner. Thank you for the invitation.

I went to church yesterday. I was reminded of two things. When my youngest son was still a babe in arms, I was holding him during a church service. We, in the congregation, were standing and singing a hymn. My son, wasn’t yet one year of age, but he dropped his little chin and began to “sing.” Of course, he wasn’t singing, but sort of humming along. But his mouth was open and a singing sound was coming from his chest and I was convinced that he knew to sing with us. I was impressed with the power of music and it as serving a universal language.

So yesterday, the hymns were in Tswana, but I could drop my jaw and hum along.

The other is, I’ve heard that if you want to pray once, say the words; and if you want to pray twice, to sing them. I hope I was praying twice; it felt so.

I’ve found this PC brochure that was developed for the South African host families who invite us into their homes. It is written in Setswana, but an English translation accompanies it. I found it amusing to see how Americans are described here and thought you might be too:

“America is a very big country and its inhabitants are people from different races. Many people think that Americans are white people only, but that is not true. There are people from various racial descents, white people, black people, colored people, Indians, Chinese, Jews, Hispanic and many other races. Americans do not refer to each other according to color or race. We, as South Africans, know that we refer to one another as whites, blacks, coloreds, Indians, Chinese, etc., but they just refer to one another as people. In other words, they do not use a person’s race to classify them.”

“Americans have what they call personal space. This includes being afforded time to be on their own, either to write letters or to meditate or simply to rest. When we see one of them locking themselves up to be on their own, we think they are sick or have a problem, but it is acceptable in the American culture to frequently have time to themselves.”

“South Africa has many religions, but Christianity dominates over other types of faith. Americans practice many other religions that may not be available in our country and others do not practice any religion at all. Host families should let volunteers exercise their own free choice to join any religious activities. Religion according to the Americans is a private matter.”

“In terms of relationships, it is acceptable for same sex people to be in love whereas for us, this is something abominable. In the US the same sex relationships have been common and societies are tolerant of them. For many years there has been initiative to teach people about the rights of Homosexuals. The host families should be cautious about discussing sexuality as it is a sensitive issue to Americans.”

“South Africans have different kinds of domestic animals. Some of these animals are used for labor/transport while cats are kept to control the spread of mice and other unwanted bugs, South Africans deep dogs for security purposes. Americans keep different kinds of animals as pets. They commonly keep dogs and cats as pets, but may also keep birds and many other different animals. They love their animals a lot, put a lot of effort into caring for them, and also spend a lot of money on them.”

“Most Americans like traveling and meeting people of other countries. Another thing is that they like to travel around the whole world, seeing different places and learning about other people’s cultures. They like mountain climbing and game reserves.”

“The Americans are time conscious and they keep time. Families should try to clearly communicate with the Volunteer that people come first in South Africa, and that it is not so much as when one arrives, as it is that they arrive at all. In America, five minutes literally means five minutes and it is not their culture to wait for long hours before an event or during meetings.”

“It is the culture of Americans to exercise and keep themselves fit all of the time. They do it by running or jogging a lot in the morning and afternoon hours. They normally wear sportswear. The family should let them know what is acceptable to wear when they go out jogging in the community. Volunteers should make sure that what they wear does not draw unwanted attention.”


Soon, Karen

PS. I'm trying to post photos which may or may not upload today... If not today, tomorrow perhaps!


  1. Thank you for this information! How different we truly are. It is good to hear that you survived your trip and learned some more about your surroundings. The next time, it won't be so hard, although, it sounds like it will take as long to do everything. Maybe you will be more confident about filling the hours waiting for a taxi. 4 hours waiting for the taxi for a 3 hour ride? That's a lot of time to wait! Look for your calendar and letter soon. Love you

  2. Be sure to see the Bernheim Fall pictures!

  3. Wow that was really interesting to hear that perspective on Americans. Karen you are going to have to write a book some day with all your experiences. Miss you Tam