Monday, September 27, 2010

hogsback, gospel rock, and a talk

My weekend turned out to be so eventful that I had to do an entry solely dedicated to these few events. Thursday night, we received a call from a woman we met at church inviting us to go on a day hike for the holiday. The place she wanted to hike in is called Hogsback and having heard incredibly good things about this place, I jumped at the opportunity to go there. Linda Smith came and picked us up at nine o’clock this morning. She loves hiking and backpacking, directs choral music, and has hair that reminds me Cruela DeVill. As we drove inland, we noticed more and more clouds gathering in the sky and decided it was going to be a wet misty hike in the mountains. I started to get worried at this point, being in shorts and not having a slicker. And the best I could do for hiking shoes were canvas lace up vans. I decided that my lack of waterproof apparel wasn’t going to stop me from having a good time. As we approached Hogsback, I began to wonder what this place actually was going to be like. The mountains had clouds rolling off them, giving them an eerie, mysterious look. Up until we actually entered into the mountains, the landscape had been mostly bush. But as we got into the mountains and clouds, the trees seemed to spring up out of nowhere. It was lightly raining and it was cold. But there were still a lot of people around the town—it was a holiday after all. We stopped at a cute little inn to use the toilets and I decided I was going to freeze to death in the middle of our hike. We drove out to the starting point of a trail called Amathole. (I think this means place of the weaned calves…?) This place is absolutely incredible and I am at a loss for words as to how to convey it anywhere close to accurate. To say it is beautiful is an understatement. And I cannot call the foliage green. That color just doesn’t apply there. The trees are beyond green. The trail we were on started out uphill along a trickling river with waterfalls every few hundred feet. They were so gorgeous! I just couldn’t believe the beauty and peace of it all. Interesting fact about this place: JRR Tolkein is actually a native South African and it is said that he drew much of his inspiration for the Lord of the Rings from the forests of Hogsback. As we walked along, I kept having visions of hobbits and elves hiding behind the trees and expected to see Gollum at any moment playing in the pools of water collecting from the waterfalls. I warmed up the more we hiked uphill, but as soon as we got to the top of the mountain and started down the other side, I realized how cold I was. My poor vans were filled with water and my lousy pullover was drenched. But we kept on trekking at an increasing pace and by the time we made it to the car, my feet were frozen. It was so worth it though. I would do it again in a heartbeat. We warmed up for about 20 minutes as we drove to another place to hike. This forest was different from the other one and was not as cold (although this could also be due to my abandonment of my soaked socks). After hiking around in there for a while we decided to warm ourselves with a cup of hot chocolate in town before heading home. That was one of the best cups of cocoa I think I’ve ever had. And of all the natural parks and reserves and what what I’ve seen in my life, Hogsback is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to.

On Saturday, we were invited to attend an event at Auntie P’s church. Not really knowing what the event was, we showed up to her home in Parkside without expectations. We left Parkside around half past 5 and drove to the opposite side of East London where their church is. It’s an enormous church built for hosting large congregations and events. There were certainly a lot more white people here than on the other side of town. It seems so odd to me whenever I see large groups of white people now. We walked in to find that this event was in fact a Christian youth rock concert called Goodstock. I don’t really know how to describe this experience in words. It started at 7 and was still not over when we left at half past 11. Some of the bands that played were really talented while others were almost unbearable to listen to. But when you’re worshiping and singing your heart out for Jesus, I guess it really doesn’t matter what you sound like. There was also some gospel rap (something I had never heard before) and dance crews with names like Extreme Jesus Freaks. We danced around to the music and what what with everyone else and I just felt so contented to soak it all in. As a person who enjoys watching and observing other people’s behavior, this was paradise. Ah the goodness of Goodstock...Thank you Jesus.

I returned home late that night to find myself preparing a talk for church the next day that I had neglected to write during the week. As tempted as I was to quote from the songs I had just heard, I felt like it would be hard to incorporate “shake, shake, shake it for the Lord” into my topic of service. I don’t know exactly how Diana and I got roped into speaking in the ward. I’m really good at keeping a low profile in my BYU wards and avoiding any form of calling or talk-giving. I guess I stand out a lot more here or something. Diana and I ended up giving very good talks and I made it through to the end without shouting “Praise Jesus!” like I really, really wanted to. I used an article written by Rachel Naomi Remen for the bulk of my talk. It’s called “helping, fixing, or serving?” and if you’re bored (which you probably are if you’re taking the time to read this) or are looking for some thought provoking reading, you should look her up. I believe this article was originally published in her book called Kitchen Table Wisdom. Anyways, I just really like what she has to say on how we approach serving the needs of humanity.

Tomorrow we are finally leaving for Cape Town and I’m ├╝ber excited! Our trip had to be cut down a few days but I think it’s still going to be incredible.

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