Today was not a day I necessarily expected, but regardless, I have learned so much about things I never thought I'd learn about in South Africa. Today I have realized the power of voice, and even more, the pure raw information and different viewpoints and outlooks from simply opening up one's ears and listening. I think it is just human nature to be able to voice one's opinion and make your voice be heard, but shutting up and taking it all in is most worth our while. I may regret saying this years down the line and may someday completely think differently, but I have learned more here from the individuals I've listened to than any time spent in a classroom taking notes on lectures or doing homework. People are fascinating, and as cliched or corny as that sounds, every person (and that does not just mean traveling thousands of miles to SA to meet random people) has a story, and from that you can open your eyes and truly believe that there is a HUGE world out there and there is SO much we don't know. That open-mindedness is not always easy, since most of us our content in the ways we live or simply don't care enough dig deeper and feel how others are feeling. I always considered myself a good listener, but today definitely tested my patience and ability to perceive the information given to me.
Today at MaT we were split into groups to finish up the weeding in the garden, cut vegetables for the soup kitchen, and go to another soup kitchen in the township to help out. I was one of 6 who walked down the road a bit to the other kitchen. Here we were greeted by a few men and took a look around the place. Inside was a decent sized kitchen, a small daycare that just opened today, and little did I know until arrival, a mosque. A man (I'm awful with names) introduced himself and quickly asked where we came from. I don't know whether he continued talking about the Islamic faith, history of South Africa, and the way he lives his life because we were American and the past we've had that seemingly conflicts with extremist Muslims, or if he just wanted to talk, but either way I was definitely in for a treat and a new aspect on Apartheid and positivity within the practice of Islam. The three others I was with and myself were going to blog on the experience together because we all had to take in so much information, but it didn't happen tonight so possibly look for that post in a few days. I won't go into detail now, but he was one passionate, caring, interesting man and I am so incredibly lucky to be able to listen. One thing that really stuck out to me was when he was when he was talking about being comfortable. He said to only do what is expected of you because if you go above and beyond you'll never be satisfied. This comment made me think a lot, because in our American culture more is kind of always better, and it kind of ties in with the greediness we see in America day after day. I've always thought of overachieving as being beneficial, but I understood this way of thinking because it leaves more time and effort for things in life that matter. Even though this man taught me so much more, I'll try to wrap it up. The hospitality of this family was evident when being invited into him and his families home where grandchildren were running all over the place. He said it was custom to invite us over for food, so his wife is cooking us, all 25 of our group, an entire meal tomorrow. That kind of thought and giving is beautiful, but was definitely not expected. One more thing! His wife has had seven kids and the oldest I believe is in his upper thirties, but she just took in a child who is 10 days old and was born to a mother on meth. If that doesn't tell you the type of person she is and they are as a family, then I don't know what does.
My second experience today outside the Muslim community to listen was with Nate's friend Mark who I was drawn to because of his just...how do I put this...his life in general. He was just fascinating. Until then, we didn't really get the white male perspective of growing up during the apartheid, and his ability to be influenced by wonderful people has changed his outlook on life and continue changing other peoples' lives in the future.
I'll just leave you tonight by saying give the people around you every day a chance to talk and just listen.
Love and miss you Mom, Dad, Bin, and Audie :)