"I will go to whichever Circuit or Station I am appointed..." (Laws and Discipline of The Methodist Church of Southern Africa, paragraph 4.17.3)
While the stationing for 2009 still needs to be confirmed by the Conference of the MCSA in September, which means that there is a possibility that it may change, I have been informed "unofficially" that I am headed off to the Eastern Cape in 2009!
While I don't want to disclose the exact Circuit I have been pencilled in for until officially notified (although I admit that I have done more than my fair share of blabbing amongst friends and family in my own Circuit), let me say that the posting will provide me with the best opportunity that I am likely ever to have again in my life, to learn how to speak an African language. Being the Eastern Cape, this would naturally be Xhosa (with all it's complicated clicks - or should that be Xhlicks?).
One of my fellow candidates from Central District, Jenny Hillebrand, is also headed for the Eastern Cape, so at this stage I can look forward to seeing at least one familiar face! But like Jenny, I have received rather strange reactions from some people when telling them where the church is sending me next year. I shared some of my experiences as comments on her blog, but I thought I'd include them here as well:
- "So far away!" (Yup - when you live in Jo'burg, the sea IS some distance!)
- "Is your family going with you?" (Not at this stage - my son is in Grade 4, and my wife and I were not excited about the idea of potentially changing schools four times in the next three years)
- "When are you putting your house on the market?" (Probably closer to ordination, Lord willing)
- "How do you feel about being posted to a black township?" (Exhilarated - the best opportunity I'm likely to ever have again to learn how to speak Xhosa)
- "Can't you ask the MCSA to send you somewhere else?" (I COULD, but I don't want to. Why should I? I made a promise on the floor of Synod that I would go wherever I am sent. Jesus ministered to people where they were, not where the "larneys" thought He should have ministered, so what gives me the right to want to do otherwise? I rejoice that I AM in fact stationed - better than NOT being stationed. Besides, my thus far limited experience of ministry has shown me that many (if not most) of the people living in townships are salt of the earth, and I have been deeply enriched by them.)
- "How will you cope with meals, washing, etc.?" (Hey, I was a Boy Scout for 11 years - I can cook, iron, and sew on buttons. You don't need a degree to drive a broom or press the little knob on the top of a can of furniture polish. I'm thinking of buying a basic twintub washing machine (about R900 of you shop around) so that my shirts meet basic sanitation standards. If nothing else, I'll probably have a greater appreciation of what my wife does for me!)
- "What was your first reaction when you heard where you are going?" (In this order: Cry, silly grin on my face, thanked God for a station, 'phoned my wife to let her know, contacted iBurst to make sure I will have e-mail and Internet access [I'm serious about the last one - I've set my whole family up on Skype so that we can chat every day without breaking the budget. Besides, how else will I be able to update my blog, do my assignments, etc?])
I'm hoping to visit the Circuit for a "reconnaissance trip" shortly after exams, so that I can find my way around, locate the Phase One centre, establish what furniture I'll need to take next year, test the Internet connectivity, find the shops (little fat boy needs to eat!), and stuff like that. I'm also hoping to preach - I'll need to clear this with the Superintendent first, but hopefully I'll be able to share my ghastly pronunciation of the Xhosa liturgy with the folks down there (and give them an opportunity to ask the Church for someone else if my smatterings of Xhosa don't pass muster - just kidding!).