Mālama Kumu in South Africa

November 20, 2015

Cape Town is a city of contrasts. From majestic Table Mountain to the frigid waters of the Atlantic AND Indian oceans. (uhhh... Penguins hang out here, so you know it's colder than our beaches!)

From the glitz and glamor of the elegant hotels and shopping mall at the waterfront to the humble shacks and recycled shipping container hair salons of the township we visited. (By the way we've seen so many cool hair weaves that some of us may come back looking different?)

From the heart-stopping stories of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment on Robben island to the breathtaking vista of the shark-infested waters over which prisoners dreamed of escape ...

From the ubiquitous singing groups gathered on street sides sharing their rhythmic harmonies-- or the awe inspiring music of the pipe organ in St. George's cathedral to the joyful singing voices coming from the temporary revival tent in the dusty township to the gum boot dances that harken back to the farmers stomping and slapping the mud, snakes and scorpions off at the end of the day ...

From the gentle and loving giggle from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the gentle and hopeful conversation with our Muslim bus driver ...

From the ingenious and creative learning environment of one school (Imhoff Waldorf) to the afternoon we spent with "the least of these, my brothers and sisters" (at Fikelela safe house) - children whose stories break your heart even as their smiles light your spirit.

From the incredulous looks on the students' faces when we showed them the path Hōkūle'a has traveled to come halfway around the world (yup, those blow-up globes were a hit) to the constant reminders that we have so much in common: Africa and Hawaii. (I've been telling a story of Hawaiian 'opihi because I found some shells here - and love the metaphor of clinging to the "rocks" of family, faith and friends- especially when the waves of affliction or challenge shake our hope.)

Cape Town is a city of contrasts, but then again, so is Honolulu. And Paris. And Syria. And ... (fill in the blank.)

The message of our canoe is that we are all connected in this wide and wonderful world where bad things happen, but where you can always find the ones quietly working to mālama hōnua: the land, the air, the water and each other.

Submitted by Chaplain Lauren Buck Medeiros