"Have you thought about writing your family history, but found yourself stuck from the start? Writing a family narrative can be a daunting task, but Karen Jones Gowen found a way to bring her mother's story to life." (Homespun Magazine)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Report from Capetown

This is from an email I got this morning from my son Travis who is serving a mission in Capetown:

Good morning. It is freezing cold here, raining and I can’t feel my feet. Winter in Cape Town is nice.

Well, the world cup has begun. It makes missionary work exciting. People started blowing their vuvuzelas Thursday night till late, and started blowing them again at about 6 on Friday morning and they went all day long. If you watched the opening match you probably heard that trumpet horn noise throughout the game. (That must be the buzzing sound so many commented on in their twitters!) Thats a vuvuzela. We were on our way to a teaching appointment when South Africa scored their goal and the whole township exploded (figuratively speaking). Everybody ran into the streets cheering and shouting. Old mamas and tatas were dancing, cars were hooting their horns. I’ve never seen such madness. It was fun. I keep telling people that USA is going to win and they always laugh at me. It is a good way to start a conversation. The work hasn’t slowed down because we haven’t let it. Those that are willing to turn their TV’s off really show a lot of commitment. Everybody thinks that we are a couple of tourists exploring the township to see what it is like.

Happy birthday Mum! I hope it was nice. I still don’t know your age. You stopped ageing for me around your 40’s so that is what you’ll always be.

Picture of this young missionary before he left for Africa nearly two years ago, with his "mum" who is clearly over 40:

Okay, besides the fact that I thought this was an interesting email considering the big match going on there, I am reminded of how many stories lurk just under the surface of everyone's daily events, wherever and whatever. An observant person who wants to write can find the stories everywhere.

In Travis's email, there's the story of these tall white Americans on the streets desiring to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and people thinking they're tourists there for the World Cup. There's the story of the people in the townships, and the food they eat, the homes they live in, the sports they follow, and that horn they blow that sounds like buzzing over the TV. There's the story of this tall young man with a name badge (who is he? why is he going to Africa? why is his mom so short? what's with that smile? why does he look so happy?)

Anyway, you get the point. I love writing from life. There's no end of material to choose from. In fact, no one writer can live long enough to get out all the compelling stories. If the path you have chosen is to write stories, then time is of the essence. Write, write, write on!


  1. Amen! Karen. You are so right.

  2. There are a lot of threads in one e-mail. How interesting to be there with the World Cup going on. And so sweet of him to compliment you. Good son!

  3. So THAT's what those noisemakers are called -- vuvuzelas!

  4. Lovely, Karen and what a wonderful son and I have heard that buzzing on the tv watching the match, guess the 'world cup' does wonders in uniting the world. And you dont look a day over 40!

  5. That is a son to be proud of, and as for stories, I couldn't agree more. Everywhere we go there are story ideas waiting for us to scoop them up and take them home.

  6. I love reading/hearing someone read e-mails from missionaries wherever they are around the world. This one is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it! It made my day.

  7. Such a nice post Karen. You must be very proud of him!

  8. Oh those horns! Like it or not they're the sound of the summer... I'm still undecided :)

    I wonder if he's going to bring one home?!

  9. Awww your son is gorgeous!! And what a proud mum you are! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

    And USA drew to a really awful England side - not bad, not bad! :-)

    Take care

  10. I'll give you 41 max!

    You gotta' be so proud.

  11. So true! You can get inspiration from just about anything. :)


I don't post very often, but if you leave a comment I'll know someone is out there reading. And then I will post more! Bwa ha ha!