Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Irene Village Market

Here in Jozi places close early. The only place that stays open later is the movies. While I'm all over that I miss evenings on the patio, live bands and good restaurant venues. Needless to say you gotta do your exploring in the morning, afternoon and weekends...

If you happen to find yourself in Johannesburg, SA, be sure to make your way out to the Irene Market. It's a blasty blast!

Food, crafts, antiques, food, jewelry, food, Irene Market has it all. Did I mention food? Some things seem pretty reasonable. Then there's some things that aren't reasonable by any means, aka I'm an American and they know it so they ask for a higher price. No worries friends. Two things, 1) I'm cheap and 2) I'm getting good at bargaining.

I did get this really sweet poncho imported from Nepal for $43 usd. I know that seems like a splurge, and it felt like a splurge at the moment, but winter found it's way into Jozi and it's cold all the day long. I saw the poncho and needed it immediately.

Miscellaneous things I saw:
-muscular baker men serving gourmet muffins and bread under the pseudonym "Baker Boys"
-a dog wearing overalls
-a camel try to throw a lady off it's back (I was going to ride that camel till I saw that happen...)
-a man wearing some rad jeans with flower patches (see below)

Pretty pleased with my venture to Irene, I left with a few fun items and a belly full of Pumpkin Fritters. Delightful!

These kind of markets aren't open all the time, but when they are, they're so worth going to! It's a nice break away from the sometimes-dangerous atmosphere that seems to linger amongst most South Africans. It's a breath of fresh air.

Yes, the city has a lot of crime and there's electric fences, barbed wire and not so good people everywhere, but there's also a lot of good people and a beautiful culture(s) beyond all that stuff. And I've found that I like to see the good because it always outweighs the bad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


A few miles outside of the city there's a broken road leading to a bunch of broken houses that hold a bunch of broken people. I know because I went there.

When we drove into the township I knew I'd entered a different land. Poverty pictured all around me: bare feet, ripped clothing, women with pails on their heads, trash lining the dirt-cracked streets. Their shacks sat lopsided on a foundation of dirt and their safety fences leaned past protection. A dog with a rope tied around it's neck ran by me sniffing out scraps.

I situated my jacket so it covered my camera and moved my purse around to the front of my body. The pastor, looking over, said, "If someone tries to steal something people will chase and beat the thief." I grimaced because someone in this shack-filled place had been beaten before.

Three small children passed me laughing. I thought they were making fun of me by they way they laughed and pointed. I smiled at them and waved. They laughed more. I became shy. The pastor said, "some of them have never seen a white person. Most of them have never left their homes."

I looked around but not too hard because I feared my eyes looked intrusive.

I sat on a broken chair, in a shack of one of the few believers in the town eating bread, fried egg and hot tea. I looked up and saw saw flies scattered around the ceiling. My eyes moved from the flies to the holes in the roof that leaked light. I wondered what it was like in a rainstorm. I lowered my eyes back to the table. Across from me sat J* and he looked from the flies to my eyes. I scolded myself inwardly and then gave him a small smile of appreciation. "Thank you for feeding us," I said. I pretended like I wasn't looking around but I couldn't help it.

J told us all about the area, the people and the lostness. A big task sat before him and in his 22 years of life and over 11 known and spoken languages he sought to know more so that he could share more. He wasn't discouraged, though he could be. The church sat catty-corner to their home and when J took us over to see it, my heart melted. Nothing special. It was just another shack with a few wooden pews, dark, cold and simple.

I tried hard not to look sympathetic, because that's not what J sought. This place was home. These people were the people God gave him. These circumstances, though an obstacle, did not determine their eternity. I looked around humbled not by the place but by the people.

I can't seem to get Isaiah 66 out of my mind.

Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
    and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
   and trembles at my word. 

I came back broken. It's not about comparison, but perspective. Their congregation had been given so little and yet they give so much, because of the Word.

I can't help but fall for these people and their hope. It's contagious. Hope is contagious and brokenness is inevitable in this place.

*name changed

All images by Me

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mail Time! Mail Time!

For those who wish to send me mail and/or packages (completely not necessary, but always fun) here's the DL (down low).

All of our mail is delivered to the office compound via PO boxes. I can receive mail at the following address:

c/o Heather Moss
PO Box 1759
Edenvale 1610
South Africa

Know that it takes a while to get here. Expedited mail usually takes 1-2 weeks to arrive from the States. The normal system takes several weeks longer.

If you're in the states you can send me mail at anytime, but there are some guidelines that you need to follow (and highly suggested) when sending packages to me in South Africa. Here they are, deep breath:

1. MARK THE OUTSIDE, "UNSOLICITED GIFTS": Clearly mark the following somewhere on the outside of the package: "Unsolicited Gifts." It's also a good idea to write "For Personal Use - Not For Resale" on the customs sticker that is included with the package.

2. YOU NEED A CUSTOMS / INTERNATIONAL STICKER: You can get these from the post office. This gives you a place to give a general list of items included in the package and how much each item is worth. Do NOT list the actual (paid) price of items on the outside of the package or on this form. You will have to pay 1/2 of what is listed as the worth to the customs officials. For example, if an item is listed as costing $20... you will have to pay $10 to get the package from customs. The price listed should be the garage sale price of the item. Once an item is purchased and removed from its original packaging, it is no longer new. The resale (or garage sale) price is sufficient and truthful. 

3. TAKE IT OUT OF IT'S ORIGINAL PACKAGING: Anything included in the package needs to be taken out of the original wrapping/container. For example, a CD/ DVD should be unwrapped/ opened, any original boxes for items should not be included, etc.

4. SENDING FOOD? Please remove the items from their original package/ box/ bag and put them in a sealed Ziploc bag. The reason for this is two-fold. First, it will appease the customs officials for not looking like you're importing goods from the States. Secondly, the sealed bags will also seal the smell of the food and protect it from rats. Many individuals have received packages with holes in them... and the food half-eaten by rats. 

5. MAILING BAGS / ENVELOPES: Large mailing bags (no matter the size or weight), manilla envelopes (even the thick padded ones), regular letters or envelopes, postcards, etc, are easily received and rarely opened by the customs officials. I may have to pay a small fee for receiving large bags/envelopes, but it is usually only a few dollars. Letters are not read - whether they're in an envelope or a package, but packages (boxes) are almost always opened by the customs officials. Usually there isn't a problem with receiving all that is in a package (unless an electronic item is included), but keep in mind that there is a slight chance that something could be confiscated. No one should send me anything electronic in the mail. It will NOT get to me.

6. SECURITY: There is no problems with sending Christian materials or items. Because I'm an American, it is assumed that I am a Christian and expected that I will receive Christian/ spiritual types of things. Don't worry about that.

If you have any questions or concerns, 
just shoot me an email.

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