THE JUST CURIOUS LOVE CONFERENCE: A MOVEMENT PART TWO

Last year I attended the Love Conference hosted by Just Curious I wrote about my experience here–> https://mashdiva.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/the-just-curious-love-conference-a-movement. This year Just Curious organized another Love Conference, I looked forward to it, I was so excited about this year’s one as there were promises of it being bigger and better and as usual Lelo never disappoints. Lelo and team had arranged for Mr. Rob Hill Sr to be the main speaker at the event. I had no idea whom Rob was until a few months before the event. Instagram and twitter was filled with his words of wisdom. I followed him on twitter, I couldn’t help but compare him to last years speaker; Mr. Steven Dixon, Steven and I had a few twitter interactions and I disagreed with him on a number of his ‘facts’ regarding relationships. He had tweeted that the reason men cheat was because there were women willing to cheat on them with and that women must stop being ‘hoes’ in order for men to stop cheating, something to that effect, please note blog post–> https://mashdiva.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/relationship-advice-my-foot. Well anyway, he had made some valid points at last year’s conference and I was hoping that Rob Hill Sr is nothing like him. Unlike last year I arrived a bit late at the venue, I got lost and was frustrated by the time I got there. However my friend and I managed to get there before Rob could take to the stage. In fact by the looks of things we had only missed out the breakfast and the introduction. Hulisani was a great MC, the panel was on point. I have so much love and respect for Mr. Martin Manamela I kicked myself in the foot hore why I didn’t buy his book last year, I ended up buying a book that was badly written from one of the panel and speakers from last year, a certain sex expert. Well moving right along to this year’s love conference. I will not talk much about the panel as I feel that all of them deserved to be there and each brought it their two cents worth of wisdom. Like the previous year’s Love Conference I got a feeling that it was not about getting a man and keeping him, it was not about bashing the opposite sex. For me more than anything, the themes were around self love. All the speakers from last year and this year’s panel reiterated the importance of self love in different ways and in ways that I felt got through to every delegate in that room. When Rob took to the stage he had a standing ovation. I sharpened my concentration levels, I had a feeling this guy was coming with a key to my happiness. I listened attentively, he went IN! I recall a story he told about his young son who was hurt and learning how to walk, he told us about how he kept on falling but stood up and tried again. He kept reiterating “he was fearless cause he’s fresh from God” I related to that, Dr Bonke or Martin mentioned that fear is learned. Deeper and deeper Rob went, he lowered his voice, paused during his speech, he said that he did that to thank God, in my head I figured he was freestyling and probably needed to gather his thoughts. At this point I felt like he was losing me, I needed a breather or else I was gonna fall asleep, and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna sleep on R350. I left the room. I don’t think I missed out much of what he said next, by the time I came back it was time for the Q&A session. I didn’t get an opportunity to ask a question, I wanted to but I wasn’t cut up about it. My query or issue might have been spoken about while I was out so I might have embarrassed myself. Plus this year I promised myself that I’d listen more and talk less.

After the conference we had an opportunity to mingle with the bloggers, tweeples (ake tsebe what batho ba tweeting are called in English) and the speakers. The were many celebrities at the event and they took time to pose for pictures with the other delegates. There was a queue for a photo opportunity with Robza. I believe it was a great event all round. Again, I’m glad I went. My friend Tumi is happy. She enjoyed herself and just yesterday she was telling that though she’s back in to the real world, she feels like her life has changed. Nothing dramatic but just adjusting to looking at things differently and appreciating your uniqueness and your place in the world.

My wishes for next year’s conference are:

1. Longer conference, main speaker could be the honourable Mr Manamela. This guy is legendary.
2. Fewer “love experts” – more ground lay people.
3. Perhaps the panel could include a testimony from someone who had attended the sessions before and he/she could share about what she had learned and how her life changed.
4. A DVD of the last sessions and maybe some goodie bags.
5. A copy of Lelo’s book…it’s about time don’t you think?

That’s my two cents…

The Journey of Faith

On the 2nd of March 2013, ten days before my 29th birthday I visited Ngome. I went to Ngome pilgrimage because there was an opportunity to, I was curious and felt that the trip came at a time when I needed divine intervention beyond daily prayers.

On our way there I had mixed feelings, anxiety, confusion and fear. I was anxious and confused, mainly due to the logistics of getting there. I was frustrated because I felt we had taken the longest route to get there and taken too many pit stops, I doubted we’d get there in time for the Mass. I was confused because being the internet junky I am, I did my own little google research on Ngome and places similar to it. I studied miracles of Marian apparitions and went in as far as investigating the validity of such, all through the good ol internet of cause. I read testimonies of people who had been to such places and the origins and causes of Marian apparitions. I honestly read some fascinating stories and some which I took with a pinch of salt. I listened in on a few conversations from people who had been there before. I secretly wish to see the Virgin Mary myself. I needed solid proof that it were all true, the tsibinki in me needed proof! I started to converse with a lady was sitting next to me, unfortunately, she like myself, was going there for the first time. She shared stories of miracles she’d heard about Ngome, how people lives had turned around since visiting the Holy site and so on. I was too damn curious.

The road to Ngome is absolutely breath taking. The brown and yellow colour contrast of the soil, the uneven landscape, the green forrest of Pine trees, neatly aligned in straight rows and in some parts scattered randomly. I found myself lost in the beauty of the place and my mind began to wander. Kana I’m a Pisces it takes very little for me to go into lala-land mode, I thought of all the beautiful blessings I’d get after my visit. All the money and ‘luck’ I’d have. The fancy car I’d drive and the beautiful house I’d live in. I thought visiting this place would be an instant fix to all my problems. After the 5/6 hour drive to Ngome, we eventually arrived, just about an hour before the 18:00 Saturday night vigil mass. We were traveling with the Sacred Heart Sodality and had gotten a few empty seats that were available in the bus. A few others and myself, who were not members decided to stick together as we feared we’d lose the rest of the group as they wore their uniform and it would naturally become difficult to track them down. They left the bus and went joined their fellow Sodality members and we went about together.

As we entered the Holy land, I felt shivers down my spine. I knew it wasn’t the weather because they clouds were clear. We had joined other groups of people who were coming from the Free State and Swaziland. One lady from the Free State led the group to prayer and worship. We had a ‘normal’ mass and my eyes were all over the place like my five-year old in a toy store. Prior to the mass, we had an opportunity for confession, those that wanted to confess went in, there were about four priests available for that. While that happened me and another parishioner went and bought books, candles, incense, rosaries and other goodies. By the time we returned it was time for blessings and an opportunity to make special petitions and request. I don’t remember the exact order in which things went from thereon as I was beginning to get cold and sleepy as the night progressed. The area was quite dark, though there is electricity, it must be all those Pine trees and the greenest healthiest lawn I’d ever seen. There was a procession to the chapel, a very small chapel were the faithful went for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we took turns going in and as with any conversations with the Lord, time was lost. Frustration was beginning to build from the people who were at the back of the queue and even the priests that led the procession had a slight challenge of getting out of the chapel. However, we had all found a way to calm down and bring order into things and everybody got an opportunity to adore the Blessed Sacrament. I remember standing on a queue and going in, stunned by the calmness and silence in that room. I entered, knelt before the blessed Sacrament and got lost again in deep conversation with God. Shivers ran down my spine as I’d never felt such a closeness to God. I wanted to cry, scream and shout. I didn’t know what was happening with me. My mind and body were in shock. Mentally I tried to comprehend what was happening to me, but to this day I still can’t explain it, I don’t know what happened but as I continued to pray be burden got lighter. My fellow parishioner came looking for me and I was really surprised that I was in there for about 45 minutes, they were worried that we might lose each other, and I was shocked that I’d taken that long because for me, I felt like I’d spent 5 minutes. I walked out of the small chapel feeling numb. Positive kinda of numb. I was in a state that I can’t and couldn’t explain at that time and to this day.

Like I stated I don’t recall word for word how the events of that night went. I remembered that while I was in the bus, I’d noted all the things I wanted to change in my life, I actually took a piece of paper and noted down all my wishes, like I was writing to a genie. Number one on my list was my faith in action. I wanted to get closer to God. I wanted to actively be involved with my church and make a meaningful contribution to my church community. I prayed about many other things, but mostly, the ability and gift to bring God’s people closer to Him. I feared making selfish requests like being rich and getting a fancy job. I felt like that’s all I ever prayed for so for a change let me ask God for something greater. I must have passed out on my camp chair after everything else that was happening around me, I was woken up by early morning chill. It was about 4:30 and some people had started to pack and retreat to their buses and rooms for those that had been there since Friday. Me and my fellow parishioners did the same. I got onto that bus feeling brand new. I promised myself to always invite God in everything that I did. In every decision and it every way possible.

As the days and months went by, I had to train myself to remember to pray, I researched again what I could do for my parish, I felt that I needed to belong to something in the church. In April, I spoke to a lady who was a Daughters of St. Anne aspirant (later she would become my pillar of strength, my mentor and role model). She told me about the sodality, what they do and who qualifies to be a member. Again, I went to my good old friend Mr. Internet and did some google investigation into the Sodality. I found an email address and sent a query to the Archdiocese President and told her of my intention to join the sodality. On the email I attached a doc I have found online (http://www.moyacatholic.co.za/Daughters) about the Sodality, I needed her advise and confirmation that the document was correct. Turns out it was. She was pleased with me and referred me to the nearest parish where I’d enroll, of course I already knew this. I enrolled and found greater pleasure and pride in being a Catholic woman.

While my spiritual life was taking off, my other life was falling apart, my finances took an uglier turn, my car got broken into, I had plans to extending my parents house, I was building outside rooms and a double garage. Things got very unpleasant at work. I even considered leaving this Sodality, at this point my Mom and Thandi encouraged me not to, their reasons weren’t strong enough to convince me but I decided to stick out and trust the process. I felt like God was not keeping to His end of the deal, I was frustrated and wondered if He hasn’t forgiven me for my past sins. I asked all questions nobody, including the Priests could answer. I continued to pray, though more out of habit than faith, things weren’t getting better. I became depressed, I felt like every aspect of my life was hanging by a weak thread. I soldiered on, I stopped receiving communion, I felt unworthy. A few months later in November I received a call for a job, I was over the moon. I remember laughing and smiling genuinely for the first time in the longest time ever, yes,on the 5th November 2013 I smiled! On the 6th of November and I went for my interview, my nerves on edge and I was mumbling like crazy, sometime during the interview I was convinced I’d screwed things up! Fast forward today, been in the new job for about 6 months. A few months back, after I’d already started, I went for confession and spiritual direction. Try to restore my faith and put things into perspective.

Every Thursday the ladies from my Sodality, Daughters of Saint Anne, gather for bible sharing and spiritual support. We basically check in, invite the holy spirit, sing, pray and worship. In all honesty, I’m seeing changes in my life. Positive changes, I find myself in a position where I trust more and question less. Fear is replaced by faith.

Finding my passion and purpose in life is the gift I’m most grateful for.

Girls to women

A *Tumisang Lesole story

 

I was brought up by my grandma in a big-ish house, my aunt and her kids lived with us. Every now and then there’d be relatives coming to stay with us briefly and for long periods, most of them were from the Free State. All my family is from that side.

My sister came to live with us when I was 5 I think or it could have been when she was 5. We had an ok relationship, we’d fight every now and then but we had an ok relationship. The last physical fight we had was when I was 14, she kicked my ass and I vowed (secretly) that I’d never fight with her again. I have always been protective of my sister, she is smaller than all of us (me and the cousins and them).

Crying black girl

At some point in our lives there was a man who was my grandmother’s relative who came to stay with us. He was a “traditional healer, my mother was there too but I’m not sure if she was staying with us or if she was visiting. This traditional healer did all sorts of terrifying things but because the grownups told us it should be done we listened. I didn’t like him.

You see I grew up looking like this, the shape I am now, small waist, big ass, crazy thighs, etc. it’s just my face everyone had a problem with. My sister is much prettier but was always thinner and it seemed then that people (family too) had a problem with her bony structure but loved her face. I don’t remember defending her on this one, I had my own problems.

Now back to the healer, I don’t know why they needed him or why he chose that time to come visit but he was a man on a mission. He’d never “consult” us as a group, we’d be called into a room one after the other. I’d seen how uncomfortable my aunt would be when it was her turn, she and my mother would tell each other “you go first, etc”. he’d make them and us take off our clothes and then smear some ointment that smells really bad on us but like I said this wasn’t a group of us, one by one.

He’d call me and sis together sometimes and put this thing on us, at night, it glowed in the dark. I had a problem with the way he’d touch my privates as he smeared this thing that smelled like old oil. He’d get to my clit and his hand stayed and he’d have this smirk on his face that I just didn’t get. It’s like he was assuring us that it was ok but it didn’t feel ok. He tried to penetrate me once but I had my thighs so tight he simply couldn’t.

I remember he was wearing a blanket, it covered his back, it was grey. I was already in bed, he told my mother to call me and she sent me to him. I knew somehow that this man was being sexual with me and I was not having it, he was very old ok and I was scared of him. He tried but it didn’t happen. He came all over my skirt though, cleaned me up and sent me back to bed.

Fast forward to the present, I was in a taxi one day and this guy sitting next to me had that exact same smell. I threw up, in the taxi, some woman asked if I was pregnant, I said “maybe”. I have been thinking about it since then, I can’t get it off my mind. I wonder if my mom and aunt experienced what I did, why they allowed that man to be alone with us.

Crying woman and child

A question that haunts me right now: did he try the same with my sister? Did he succeed? Could it be the reason that my sister is struggling with memory like I am? I’m not going to ask her for obvious reasons, she’s already too damn fragile. Plus that’s just me, I’d rather she tell me if she remembers.

My sister is going through a divorce and it’s rough on her. She’s been seeing a shrink who recently asked her to give details of her childhood. She asked for my help and all I could remember is all she could. I don’t know her whereabouts from when she was born until she started school in the same primary school as me, she doesn’t remember either. If you look up at the beginning of this “letter” you’ll notice there isn’t much said about our family, we don’t remember much. I struggle daily (especially lately) to remember things, even people’s names or events and experiences – good or bad.

I will get help when I’m ready but I’m not sure what she’s protecting herself from by not remembering and I’m not sure if I won’t finish her by bringing that up. By the way she’s my reason for breathing still. I’ve gone through suicidal episodes and I’ve stopped myself just thinking what it’d do to her. I’m 33 she is 30 and we’re going through some crazy shit separately. I don’t know how to fix her or me…

By: *Tumisang Lesole 

 

*Not her real name