<strong>Calling for a Rustic Re-do</strong>

Calling for a Rustic Re-do

As Community of Christ summer camps wind down for the year, let’s all take a moment to reminisce about sharing laughs with family and friends, singing songs at the campfire, delicious meals in the dining hall, and enjoying the nature of our beautiful campground. If you stayed in a rustic cabin, you may also remember the sore back from an uncomfortable mattress, or the stuffy and dark cabin with it’s tiny windows that never open when you want a breeze, but refuse to close when it gets too chilly. Ah, the joys of camp! 

While of course we have a soft spot for the original rustic cabins that we all know and love, the camp is in the process of refurbishing and updating those beloved cabins. Updates include: new (and more effective!) insulation, bigger windows, new doors, added electrical outlets with USB ports, and super comfortable double beds (no more smacking your head on a bunk bed in the morning!). The refurbished cabins are brighter and more comfortable, as well as more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable, all of which contributes to the longevity of our beloved campground. 

While those of us who grew up attending camps at Samish may have a nostalgic fondness for the rustic cabins, those who attend the campground and retreat centre for the first time as an adult may not understand the appeal. This includes newcomers to Community of Christ camps (or aging C of C campers who don’t have the same tolerance for those rock hard bunks!), as well as many of the new groups that share our gorgeous campground. Did you know there are Buddhist retreats and artist groups that frequent Samish? I can understand why these groups would love our campground, and can also imagine that these groups would appreciate a more comfortable, modern, and accommodating private place to continue the zen and creativity. 

Some rustic cabins have already been refurbished (check out A, B, C, and D 1 or 2 next time you’re on the grounds!) and the next round of refurbishment is set to begin in October. We are lucky and grateful to have had all of the labor done by camp friends who have lovingly volunteered their time, as well as some who have donated or reduced the price of materials. Only $3,600 (USD) covers the cost of a cabin refurbishment, which buys increased comfort, energy efficiency, and appeal to a wider audience. Consider making a donation, either personally or with your family or congregation, to help update our rustic cabins so everyone can continue to enjoy the campground for years to come. Every dollar helps! 

If you would like to contribute to the rustic cabin refurbishment fund, please contact Jeff Cravy (Samish Island Camp Treasurer, siriusandpenny2@gmail.com) or Bill Campbell, (Samish Island Camp Board President, kayzeta@gmail.com) to arrange donations. 

CALLED TO DO . . . . . SOMETHING

CALLED TO DO . . . . . SOMETHING

By Kim Naten

It’s Friday morning . . .  and while the calendar says “late Spring” the sky reflects anything but that.  It is gray, chilly, momentarily dry, and an accurate reflection of my mood.  This has been a tough week.  Or rather, a tough several weeks.  Buffalo, Laguna Woods, now Uvalde.  On top of ongoing concern, sadness and rage over the war in Ukraine, the continued erosion of human rights, and on and on . . . 

Often, I turn to our musical scriptures for comfort, for the words to express all those emotions bubbling to the surface.  This week was no exception, and I found many that seemed to accurately reflect my grief, my anxiety, my plea for God to hear our voices, to DO something, to heal us.  When I opened my daily Sojourners Verse & Voice email, however, I found the words that felt right.  It spoke the words which I’d been trying to formulate without rage and anger, but with a reminder to myself, to those of us in Community of Christ, of who we are called to be.  Because honestly, most of the words and feelings I’ve had this week have been, let’s say, less than “Christlike.” 

As I read and reread these lyrics, my heart started to lift . . . just a wee bit.  I hope it lifts yours as well.  As per the annotation at the end, feel free to use this in your worship gatherings.  Perhaps it will bring a glimmer of hope to you and others during these dark days as we struggle to understand a broken world, and our call to aid in its healing.

A HYMN FOR PEOPLE CALLED TO DO MORE THAN SING AND PRAY

BY CAROLYN WINFREY GILLETTE

Originally published MAY 25, 2022.

God, Our Nation Feels the Loss

PILOT 7.7.7.7.7 (“Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me”)

God, our nation feels the loss
as our children pay the cost
for the violence we accept,
for the silence we have kept.
Rachel weeps for children gone;
God of love, this can’t go on!

Jesus, Lord, we hear you say,
“Don’t turn little ones away!”
May we build a kinder land
where our children understand:
Every child here matters more
than the guns we clamor for.

Holy Spirit, wind and flame,
send us out in Jesus’ name.
May we shout and say, “Enough!”
May we build a world of love —
till the sounds of weapons cease,
till our young can grow in peace.

Tune: John Edgar Gould, 1871. Text: Copyright © 2022 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Permission is given for free use of this hymn for churches and ecumenical services.

Author’s Note: See the reference to the Slaughter of the Innocents: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18). This hymn was written in remembrance of the beloved children of God who died in the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Many of us, as individuals, do not accept violence, keep silence, or clamor for guns. Yet, as a nation, we do these things, and as a nation, we need to repent; we need to turn around and live a different way. All of us are called to do more than sing and pray; please work for gun safety laws in your community and state.


Statement on Recent Gun Violence

Statement on Recent Gun Violence

May 25, 2022 | USA Team of Apostles

The USA Team of Apostles released this statement on the recent mass shootings in the USA.

To Community of Christ Leaders, Mission Centers, Members, and Friends:

Community of Christ actively endeavors to share the peace of Jesus Christ in a troubled world. This call is grounded in the Enduring Principles, including Unity in Diversity, Blessings of Community, the Worth of All Persons, and Responsible Choices.

We join other faith organizations and communities who grieve for those families that lost loved ones in recent mass shootings. We unite in prayer for those affected by recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and too many other locations. Sadly, the New England Journal of Medicine in April indicated firearm-related violence is now the leading cause of death for US children and adolescents.

We denounce needless violence that ends and shatters lives. We pray for wisdom as we consider our individual response as disciples in dialogue and action. We affirm World Conference Resolution 1270 urging firearms be used for sporting and professional purposes only. We uphold the urgent need for “members and leaders (to) discuss the role nonviolence plays in the pursuit of ‘peace on and for the Earth’ (Doctrine and Covenants 165:1d) and in the life and mission of the church” (World Conference Resolution 1319).

Doctrine and Covenants 163:2a invites all to “strive to be faithful to Christ’s vision of the peaceable Kingdom of God on earth. Courageously challenge cultural, political, and religious trends that are contrary to the reconciling and restoring purposes of God. Pursue peace.”

In the spirit of Jesus, the peaceful One, we encourage all to share their perspectives with their state and national representatives that together we might courageously call for peace, reconciliation, and healing in our world.


STATEMENT ON GUN VIOLENCE FOLLOWING THE SCHOOL SHOOTING IN UVALDE, TEXAS

STATEMENT ON GUN VIOLENCE FOLLOWING THE SCHOOL SHOOTING IN UVALDE, TEXAS

Released by the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

May 24, 2022

Today our nation watched in horror as yet another mass shooting claimed the lives of 21 souls. Tragically, 18 of those killed are elementary school students. Our hearts are broken for the lives lost as we stand alongside the grieving.

This massacre follows recent mass shootings in Milwaukie, Buffalo, Palo Alto, Laguna Beach and Chicago. Why is there is a mass shooting nearly every day in this county? We ask this as echoes of the Psalmist ring in our heads, “How long, O Lord?”

The United States of America stands alone when it comes to gun violence. These types of shootings simply do not happen in other countries, let alone with such frequency. In the last five months alone, a gun has been fired on school grounds in the United States 288 times. The next closest country is Mexico with eight.

Something is wrong in our country; most anyone can recognize it. Yet we live in a country where elected officials refuse to take even modest steps to protect the vulnerable. How many more children must die before these elected officials take urgent action? We implore them to do so now. Their “thoughts and prayers” ring ever so hollow and reinforce their cowardice.

Because the all too predictable pattern of outrage and shock has become not only tedious but morally inadequate, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon invites immediate action by supporting the work of Lift Every Voice Oregon (LEVO). Through LEVO, people of faith and good will can pursue with expediency IP17–Reduction of Gun Violence Act.

IP17 is a ballot initiative petition that will reduce gun violence by making gun owners more accountable and ammunition less lethal. IP17 needs signatures by the end of June to qualify for the ballot. Sign the petition at lifteveryvoiceoregon.com.

At least for Oregon, we can make a difference. May we turn our sorrow into hope and actions that will assure the day when gun violence is no longer an everyday occurrence.


Minister’s Blessing

Minister’s Blessing

By Sean Langdon

Responsibility overload. Naomi Judd’s suicide. War in Ukraine. Binge-watching “Heartstopper” (if you know, you know). Event canceled due to threat of violence. Mass shootings. Holding in confidential stories. Fractured relationships.

When I log-in to Facebook, I am asked, “What’s on your mind, Sean?” Well, all of this and more! All of us in ministry carry not only our own burdens but also the burdens of others. Lately, it just seems too much. That so many people are carrying so much. People like to say that God never gives us more than we can handle. I don’t theologically agree with that statement but if it were true, I’m tired of God overestimating my abilities. Can you relate? I have a feeling many of you probably can.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, one of my favorite public theologians, recently posted “A Blessing for a Pastor’s Heart” on her blog. It resonated deeply to me. For this context, I’d read it as “A Blessing for a Minister’s Heart”. And by minister, I mean all involved in providing ministry.

So, to all those who provide ministry… Know this! You are loved. Even when it is tough and exhausting… Even when there are times that you just want to throw your hands up in the air and walk away from ministry but the calling of your heart tugs you back into place…. Yes, even when it feels like the weight of your community is on your shoulders… You are loved! You are loved by your Creator. You are loved by your peers in ministry. You are loved by me and those I serve with on the GPNW USA Mission Center Leadership Team.

I hope that Nadia’s blessing speaks to your heart like it did my own.

A Blessing for a Pastor’s Heart

By Nadia Bolz-Weber

I imagine it was because of your heart that you went into this work in the first place.

So I imagine you have a heart that wanted to extend beyond itself, to stretch to love God’s people.

So may God bless the parts of your heart that receive their stories so openly, and comfort their sufferings so compassionately, and share their joys so thoroughly.

And may God also heal the parts of your heart that have been wounded by the very people whose stories you receive and whose sufferings you comfort and whose joys you share.

And may God revive the parts of your heart that have grown protectively cold.

And may God protect the parts of your heart that are well-loved by those who know you best.

And may God gently place God’s own heart right behind yours so that the sorrow of those in your care can move your heart but find a landing place in God’s.

And may God gently place God’s own heart right behind yours so that the love you give in this work can come through you but doesn’t have to come from you.

And as the love of God moves from God’s heart through your own to those in your care, may your heart soak up all it needs in the process.

Because your heart is a human one too, and it deserves to be well tended to.

AMEN.

To read the original post from Nadia, click here: https://thecorners.substack.com/p/a-blessing-for-a-pastors-heart?s=r&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web


<strong>Discernment Journey Videos Released</strong>

Discernment Journey Videos Released

By Sean Langdon

In the fall of 2020, the Bridge of Hope Strategic Planning Team for the Greater Pacific Northwest USA Mission Center followed a nudge to not just focus on how we were going to raise funds to meet our funding goal but also discern a “Bridge of Hope” to the future of who we are called to be as communities that live into our name, Community of Christ. What came out of the planning and conversations that followed was an invitation to our congregations and campgrounds to begin a journey of discernment. The discernment journey invitation provided a way for congregations and campgrounds to ground themselves in the holy work that was unfolding within God’s invitation for them as a community. To help with this, a discernment companion was assigned to journey with them. Many of our congregations, along with Lewis River Campground, have begun the journey!

At our recent Nuts & Bolts workshops, Kim Naten and I lead a session focused on discernment. As part of our planning, we recognized that we wanted folks to hear from disciples in our Mission Center who have been engaged in discernment. Therefore, three videos were created for this session.

The videos were:

  • “Discernment Within Community of Christ”: In this video, Pastors from Renton Community of Christ, along with their Discernment Companion, share with Kim Naten about their congregation’s response to the discernment journey invitation. Watch here: https://youtu.be/FyHcqvRJQi8.
  • “Discernment that Connects Us To the Community”: In this video, Pastor of Portland Community of Christ shares the journey that his congregation on when discerning whether to participate in a new missional opportunity in their community. Watch here: https://youtu.be/pv076ghQa3A.
  • “Discernment As A Way of Life”: In this video, leaders from Southridge Community of Christ share about a discernment journey that lead to the creation of their labyrinth. We hear their story through the lens as individual disciples, collectively as a congregation, and then how it connects them to the community. Watch here: https://youtu.be/6GcXmHljR5g.

We now share these videos with all of you as we learn from the wisdom shared by these faithful disciples.

<strong>Getting Shameless about Faith and Sex</strong>

Getting Shameless about Faith and Sex

By Sean Langdon

In January 2019, Nadia Bolz-Weber released “Shameless: A Sexual Reformation”. The description for this book reads as follows, “Christians are obsessed with sex. But not in a good way. For nearly two thousand years, this obsession has often turned destructive, inflicting pain, suffering, and guilt on countless people of all persuasions and backgrounds. In Shameless, Bolz-Weber calls for a reformation. To make her case, she offers experiences from her own life and stories from her parishoners alongside biblical theology to explore what the church has taught, and the harm those teachings have caused.” This book changed my life and had a deep impact on my ministry.

Not long after its release, some friends in our mission center and I went to her book tour in Portland. She was electrifying. The truths that she spoke had us clinging to every word. She isn’t a conventional, “cookie cutter” minister which is part of what gravitates me towards her. She’s real and authentic and herself, even when that isn’t comfortable for others. And I love that. And I can relate to that. This book helped me better understand the issues as well as begin healing the parts of me that that have experienced trauma because of how much of Christianity approaches the topic of sex. So much harm has been done because of the messaging and shame that is inflicted on others because of this. Within Community of Christ, I didn’t get a lot of that but instead I got nothing. This was also harmful as the only religious messaging I received growing up were the harmful voices that are out there when approaching this layered topic.

A few months ago, I was invited by Carla Long to be a co-host with her for Community Chat. Community Chat is like an online talk show where we talk about things related to Community of Christ and faith. Our most recent episode was inspired by this book. I encourage everyone to watch it and to please do so with an open mind. Even if you don’t agree or are not comfortable with talking about sex and faith together, it is important to understand why it is imperative for others that these kinds of conversations take place. In this episode, you’ll see a familiar face in Tami Perryman as she lived in Bend, Oregon, for a few years while her husband Craig worked for the congregation there. Joining Carla Long and I is also Jamiann Smith. It is my hope that we can begin to have healthy, open conversations about topics like these in our faith community.

Watch here: https://youtu.be/BNu7MxzDgx8


Jubilee Heralds: Announcing a New Expression in Support of Refugees

Jubilee Heralds: Announcing a New Expression in Support of Refugees

The Sponsor Circle Program is a community-led resettlement initiative that allows  everyday Americans to take on the responsibility of welcoming an Afghan newcomer to  their communities. An emergency response launched to ensure that all arriving Afghans  receive welcome and support, the Sponsor Circle Program pairs Afghan newcomers with  community groups eager to provide support. As a sponsor circle, you and your neighbors  will take on tasks like finding initial housing, stocking the pantry, connecting children to  school, providing initial income support, and helping adults to find employment. 

• Communities Circle Up – Bring together at least five adults in your neighborhood to  form a sponsor circle. Complete background checks, fundraise, and prepare to submit  your group’s application for certification.  
• Members Make a Plan – Check your knowledge of what is needed to serve as a sponsor circle and prepare a Welcome Plan in advance of being matched with a newcomer.  Support in completing your Welcome Plan is available
• Circles Welcome Newcomers – Once certified, sponsor circles will welcome the new comer directly into the community and provide tailored support through the initial integration process

Sign-Up Form to Join Jubilee Heralds’ Sponsor Circles: https://forms.gle/x7qu4wD17DrvswhC9

Donate to Support Jubilee Heralds

If you have questions about how to support or be involved with this Portland-based New Expression of Ministry, please contact Daniel Rose (drose@cofchrist-gpnw.org – 503.257.3175)


The End of Lent | We Don’t Go Back to Regular Life. We Move Forward in the Newness of Christ.

The End of Lent | We Don’t Go Back to Regular Life. We Move Forward in the Newness of Christ.

By Ashley Whitham

At the beginning of Lent, I shared in a “Coffeeshop Conversations” worship with some friends about our Lent journeys. At the end, I was lamenting that I didn’t know what to give up, because the thought of trying to track an addition or subtraction from my daily life would likely add to my personal anxiety. That was when I decided I would give up my anxiety for Lent – a tall order, I recognize, but an honest attempt would be made. My friend, Naomi, challenged me: giving up anxiety would leave space in my life for something – what could it be? I answered that I knew the right answer was courage, but I also knew how very difficult it would be for me to put that into actual practice during Lent.

Now, it’s Holy Week. Our Lent journey is coming to a close. Did I leave my anxiety behind and find new courage? No. At least, not completely. I did have moments when I was reminded of my Lenten decision, and thought about what it would be like to choose courage. Sometimes I did. But what I mostly got out of Lent this year was a self-awareness. In those moments of anxiety, I paid better attention to what was triggering those feelings, and why I was having that reaction.

I have got to have the fastest voice of self-doubt in all of humanity. I was in shock at how quickly a sharp voice in my brain could tell me, “Not you.” I would watch a lovely, empowering TikTok video of someone saying, “You are worth it!” And as I smiled at the thought of ‘being worth’ whatever ‘it’ is, that voice simultaneously said, “Not you.” Or a message of body positivity that a friend would share on Facebook, saying that, “You are beautiful as you are.” For a second, my heart would sing, “Am I beautiful?” Then just as quickly, that voice would say, “They’re talking about someone else. Not you.” Or whenever my son tells me that I should find a boy or girl to date, because he wants to make sure there’s someone who loves me so that I’m not lonely when he’s not home. I know, he’s the sweetest. While I struggle to say out loud, “Thank you, baby. I’ll do that when I’m ready,” that voice in my head is saying, “There’s too much to ‘fix’ before someone can love you. There’s too much to ‘fix’ before you can be happy. The ‘you’ you are now is not acceptable. Not you.”

I have spent more than 10 years preaching about the equal worth of all persons before a loving God. I have spent more than 10 years proclaiming that part of the instructions to love your neighbor as yourself has to start with loving yourself. I have spent more than 10 years teaching girls and women to love and accept themselves as they are. I have spent more than 10 years encouraging people to be authentically themselves because they are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of their Creator!

And never did I once think that included me.

As my self-awareness during Lent grew, I realized two things:
1. I don’t know how to turn that voice off.
2. I want to be happy now.

Yes, I have moments of joy and glee during my daily life. I’ve got two amazing kids, and there’s a lot of humor in our home. We have fun together. I love to laugh and giggle. I am happy sometimes. But being happy with myself is different. Being comfortable with who I am is not something I have ever accomplished. It has always been, “I’ll be happy when…” and, of course, those things never happened. Or when they did happen, they didn’t make me any happier with myself. Even when there were times that I felt like I was acting fully myself, in the moment, expressing my thoughts uninhibited, momentarily unaware of my anxieties about social awkwardness or about my physical body… that tends to come crashing down around me when I say something wrong, or snort too loud, or knock over my cup. And I always interpreted those moments as ‘great forces of the universe’ putting me into check; a system of balances, as it were. I can never fully be myself, because then the pendulum would swing the other way and I would create chaos or disruption for others, or bring negative attention to myself.

As I’ve noticed these troubling things about myself, and knowing Lent is coming to an end, I wonder what is to become of me after Easter. Do I welcome my anxiety back? Do I continue to listen to that stupidly quick voice in my head? Do I continue to hold myself back from being myself? Lent is a season of transformation; it is a cocoon time. If I just go back to the way I’ve always been, what was the point of Lent? Christ welcomes us at the tomb on Easter morning, and instructs us to go out into the world a new person.

I have to find a way to leave my insecurities in that tomb. I have to find a way to silence that voice. I have to find a way to be happy with who I am now. Easter is not the day we all go back to normal. Easter is the day we move forward, a new beginning. Christ didn’t leave the tomb and tell his disciples, “Let’s get back to Galilee.” Christ died and came back new, leaving the wrappings of his death in the tomb. So what will be different for you on Easter? What do you need to leave in the tomb?

I know that voice is gonna be with me for awhile longer, and I know my anxieties will never leave me completely. But that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna keep working on it. It’ll never get better if I keep on as I have been, so I’m gonna try something new. I’m gonna try to find ways to tell myself that I am worthy, and loved, and acceptable just as I am. And I’m gonna get myself a pretty dress that looks like I love my body (even though I don’t feel it yet). I’m not gonna keep hiding myself from the world because of my anxiety. I’ve got to keep choosing courage.

I cannot say, “Not All Christians”

I cannot say, “Not All Christians”

By Ashley Whitham

On social media these days, I see a lot of people angry and hurting from interactions with Christians. Some of it stems from childhood, some more recent. Hate-filled comments online cursing strangers to hell and denouncing their lives as sinful leaves a bad taste in just about everyone’s mouth. And when I see the videos of people crying because they don’t understand why a ‘Christian’ would tell them their life isn’t worth living, I cry, too. And I desperately want to be the ‘good Christian’ that can show them love and encouragement. But every time I want to write, “But not all Christians are like that! I accept and love you as you are!” I can’t.

If you’ve not been aware of the ‘Not all men’ arguments, let me catch you up. Women and men have been more upfront with discussing the ways that men make others feel unsafe, unloved, unworthy; and there are men who are offended by these statements and reply back with, “Not all men.” This is not a new argument, but has been making the online rounds for many years. And while it is true that not all men attack or abuse women (emotionally, physically, etc.), the ‘not all men’ argument is not allowed. Someone who is vulnerable cannot always tell who is going to abuse them and who is not. Just because someone says, “I’m a nice guy,” doesn’t mean anything. Unfortunately, people lie, manipulate, cheat, etc. And yes, all this goes for women as well. And yes, women can also be the abusers in a relationship. And we shouldn’t leave out non-binary, either.

So yes, I acknowledge that even though there are male abusers, that does not mean all men abuse. But here’s the problem with the ‘not all men’ argument: it distracts. Instead of talking about the ways in which women feel unsafe, the ‘offended nice man’ makes the argument all about him. And we’re no longer talking about the problems of abuse, but the hurt ego of the men who don’t want to included in the statement. So while the man who says, “But not me!” may be accurate in that he’s never physically abused a woman, by taking away the conversation and the woman’s power she held in sharing her story, the ‘nice guy’ is now hurting the woman, and any other woman who could have been empowered in hearing the story. While it may feel awkward, uncomfortable, maybe even hurtful to the man hearing it, it would be more helpful to say, “I hear you,” or, “Thank you for sharing your story,” rather than, “Not all men.”

So what do I do when I hear a gay man share about being muttered at in a coffeeshop, “God hates fags”? Or when a single mom with tattoos talks about the blond, upstanding woman who tells her, “Repent from being a whore or you’re going to hell”? Or when a veteran who lost his hearing is told on TikTok, “God is punishing you by making you deaf… Repent and you’ll be able to hear again”? I am so offended by this hate that is spewed in the name of my God. This does not reflect how my church and my church family believes or behaves. It is because of my Christian love that I see the worth in them. I want to scream, “THEY DON’T SPEAK FOR GOD OR ME!” I want to write, “Not all Christians are like that! I’m not like that!” But I realized that I can’t. I can’t write, “Not all Christians,” because then I’m taking away from their story. I’m not honoring the pain that they’re going through – the VERY REAL pain inflicted on them by people who claim to believe the same way I do. If someone shared about being attacked by a Christian, and then is attacked by more Christians, saying, “Don’t lump me in with them,” that is not loving or healing – that is increasing the pain. We cannot say, “Not All Christians,” because we are inflicting further pain on the victim.

I want to believe I’m different. I want to believe the Community of Christ is different. But I cannot let myself be offended for being lumped under the same Christian umbrella as ‘those other’ people. I cannot make it about how there are different branches of the theology tree, and those Christians don’t speak for all Christians. They are hurting, and do not need a history lesson. What I can do: I can share my love for them. I can share the pain that I feel with them. I can sit with them and remind them that this person’s words do not define them. I can use my belief in the worth of all persons to support them while they move through the healing process.

And don’t get me started on people who say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”…

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Cape Town, South Africa