The day before I got sick was a Saturday. I headed out to Diepsloot, via the 511 - that is a Joburg highway - and landed in Diepsloot extention 9. I drove to Portia's shack, since she is one of my best friends here in Joburg, I don't care if she lives in a township...and then expected to pick her up for a ladies meeting in extension 1.
Extension 1 of the township (called Diepsloot for the river next to it) is the most transient area of the township, hence the most rough area of the township. A shabeen (a bar in open air) is found once every ten meters and frequented from Friday tyo Sunday by men that are working and haven't found Jesus... which is most men in Diepsloot.
When I picked up Portia she was dressed all in white, looking like an out-of-place princess in a field of dirt...and she is so beautiful. Barely 29, Portia shines in the township. She lives an upright life, taking care of her two orphaned children, Darrell and Ebeniezer who are the most beautifully dressed and well-cared for kids around a six km radius. We climb into my red Volvo...can I say that agian? My red Volvo...my red Volvo...and head to extention 1 after I hear that her sister in law (another princess) Patricia is not coming, and that Magdalena (a professor and a Biblical scholar, placed in this township like a lily among thorns) will meet us there.
Ebby, Portia's son... (my favorite, if I am supposed to confess here) comes out of his shack and kisses the window, I smile, and then hand him ten rand for a sweetie to purchase while I am gone. Portia smiles, adding to her princess exterior... her children shine like she does.
At the meeting, Sis Bessie (as she is know in Diepsloot) welcomes 12 to 16 women into her one-room shack and we sing with the power and fervor of Mariah Carrey but with the hymns of Diepsloot women. We are led by Magdelena, never a woman out of breath....and we worship. OOhhh, if only women could worship like this around the world!!!
And now we open the Bible and read with great yearning for learning...and we are all sisters who love Jesus... and I am so happy I am here. We talk about the ancient that transcends time to now and breaks through to become wisdom TODAY!! We are happy, enthralled...enlightened.
The next morning I wake up with a baseball in my throat and I call Portia from my bed to tell her. She prays for me and tells me she will be alright because she will catch a taxi to get to church (I usually take her). I apologize profusely...she absolves me from any guilt, and explains she can still reach Max, our friend who arranges taxis from Diepsloot into the wealthy area of Dainfern, where our church is.
As I drift back to sleep I think of her (my poor friend who doesn't deserve to be poor) and her kids who will walk to the taxi rank to catch the taxi that will take her to church to welcome the princess that no one will recognize in this life...
And I wake up to see the clock, after my sweet husband has gone. I see that he has left me to recover, to sleep. Oh, Lord, bless my sweet husband who loves me and understands my need to recover from the world.
Here am I friends. I am better. The baseball has dislodged from my throat and I am here and typing madly, trying to make sense of the pain and hurt in this world. The poverty that knows no personal preferences, the love that knows no bounds...and I am confused by the desire to explain that I am a fluke.... a fluke in a world of hurt. I am cared for by a husband I don't deserve, a best friend I don't deserve and a God who finds His way to show me...the least deserving, a healing miracle.