Oh My Tender Skin           

Why Did I Forget Sunscreen?

Now I Am So Red

             Despite my occasional thoughts and feelings of invincibility, I am not nor will ever be truly invincible.  Time and time again, despite thoughts that lift me onto an “ego pedestal” that makes me believe I can do or achieve anything, I am brought back to the sobering world of my own weakness.  At the age of twenty-two and soon to be twenty-three, I often feel inclined to try any daring stunt or, in recent times, go into the blazing Limpopo sun without sunscreen.  I know what you are thinking, “How could you forget that?” right? 

How bad are just a couple of UV rays to my glowing white skin?  Answer: very bad.

            This past Sunday, I traveled to the village of Sekhukhune about three hours from where I stay to compete in an ELCSA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa) Northern Diocese choir festival.  Overall, our group of fifty choristers did outstanding with five trophies won out of seven, including a mixed double quartet of which I was apart.  We had wonderful times goofing off, warming up, and performing in front of the lively, singing, and dancing crowd of about one thousand spectators.  The festival lasted from eleven in the morning to about nine in the evening.  Not only did the audience retain attention the entire time, but also every person was respectful and cheered for each and every choir.  On an aside, the people here have much to teach me about fellowship, patience, and a genuine caring spirit for others no matter the time of day. 

            Okay, back to the story. What I neglected on that day has since yielded a red flush across my face not too different from Santa Claus’ face in the Coca-Cola ™ ads around Christmas-time. 

            I thought that if I applied sunscreen once at the beginning of the day, I would be completely fine.  Besides, the SPF level was 50 and my skin handles the sun very well anyway.  “Whatever, I’ll be fine”, I thought as I walked out of the bus into the blindingly bright sunny day.  “Wow, this is a hot day!” I said to a fellow chorister as we started warming up for the mixed double quartet.  “Hm, I guess I’ll have to stick to the shade today” I thought to myself as I looked out across the cloudless, sapphire blue sky.  Sometimes the “no-brainer” lessons we were taught as kids come to affect our safety and well-being as adults.  Perhaps there was a reason my parents, teachers, and camp counselors told me to put sunscreen on all those times.  What a concept?  From now on, especially because the South African summer is just around the corner, I think it would be a good habit for me to apply and reapply sunscreen every time I walk out of the door.  Lesson learned!

Rhetorical questions for the week (take with a grain of salt):

How does this lesson apply to other aspects of my own life?  Could we be more sensitive and attentive to the needs of those around us, such as how the spectators cheered for each choir at the festival?  How could we do this with a sense of care and understanding?  What if we took small precautions to ensure the safety and fulfill the needs not only for ourselves but also for those around us?  How can we keep both in mind?  What difference could we make if we struck up a conversation with someone, anyone, in the small moments of each day?  You could make someone’s day if you did this!  What could we learn from others if we did this? You could be meeting a celebrity incognito or the person that invented the laptop computer.  Who knows?

Highlights of the week:

            Wednesday (Sept. 26): Traveled to the City Pool in Polokwane with the children from the crèche.  We had a great time splashing around the kiddy pool, playing games, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken ™ (very popular in South Africa), and drinking Coca-Cola ™.  What a great day it was!

            Thursday, Friday, Saturday (Sept 27, 28, 29): Worked at the crèche only on Thursday.  We have a break until the 8th of October.  Friday and Saturday were spent practicing for the choir competition on Sunday.

            Sunday (Sept.30): Spent the day traveling to Sekhukhune, singing, and getting burned under the Sun. 

            Monday (Oct.1): Prepared for a visit from the Lieseths. 

            Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 2&3):  Spent time with the Lieseths playing card games, chatting in light conversation or talking about a diverse range of environmental and social topics, and most importantly, eating food.

 For the sake of length, I will tell more about Masealama, ELCSA, and other associated topics on a later date!

 Until next time,

 Alex

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