(I think it’s only fair to warn those who are reading this that this post is long. As in, go-get-a-cup-of-coffee-and-make-yourself-comfortable long. Enjoy!)
It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to update and now, as I’m sitting in winter I can finally take a deep breath and write. The weeks leading up to my departure for South Africa were…chaotic to say the least. Suffice to say, I have a new home in the States. I downsized my belongings in the process which surprisingly made me feel less weighed down. My moving schedule did not have much room for error and I had my plan all laid out ‘perfectly’. (Perfectly as in I need to rent a UHaul, I can’t drive a UHaul, I need to move big pieces of furniture but can’t lift them, and I can’t pay anyone to help me. Yes, there were some small obstacles). Another layer to this whole process was packing for my two month trip to South Africa while packing for my move. Whatever wasn’t packed in a suitcase for SA had to be unpacked and then re-packed for my trip! Needless to say, the move had many moving parts and required much coordination. It is during these times, times when I think I’m in control, when God likes to shake things up. Challenges, doubts, shifts in plans, and moving firsts all forced me to continue to turn to my Father and trust Him. Maybe one day I’ll learn God is in control and His timing is perfect…I am excited for this new chapter in my life: new roommates, living with 3 precious dogs, and experiencing a new location.
My last day at work for the summer was only a few days before my move. It was bittersweet leaving my team at work since we had grown into a tight knit community in the office. However, I was (and am!) ready for a change and left with a big smile on my face.
4 days after I moved I left for South Africa.
I don’t think the reality of my South African summer actually hit me until my friend pulled up to the curb at the airport. It was only then that I said ‘Ok, now I’m nervous-excited!’ I got one wave of butterflies and jumped out of the car. I was most nervous for the long flight. Not because I’m scared of flying but because I wasn’t sure what to do with myself for almost 18 hours.
Oh, me of little faith.
I kept hearing that South African Airways was a wonderful airline but I was skeptical. Can it really be as good as they say? Are there really going to be dozens of movies and tv shows from which to choose? Everything I heard was true and then some! I was completely impressed by the airline. The food, the service of the crew, the hospitality of the pilots, and the variety of entertainment which could be viewed on your own television. Below is a picture from the flight:
Goodies handed out to every passenger
I spent most of the flight sleeping. The busy-ness of the past few weeks had caught up with me since the flight was the longest I had been still. When I landed, the sun was just setting. Nothing beats a sunset from an airplane! I had three people pick me up at the airport Amy, Aimee (Aims), and Jace. I’m living with Aims and Jace in our house pictured below:
My home- thatched roof and all!
We got to Thrive around 10 pm (after having some dinner, dancing in the car, and some laughs on the way from Johannesburg). I have never seen stars like I did on the ride to Thrive. I kept pressing my face against the window, wide-eyed as I looked out at the night sky. The darkness of the night encompassed us completely. I couldn’t make out any of the countryside except what was illuminated by the field-burning fires. When we got to base and I entered my home of two months, I had no idea what the place looked like. It wasn’t until I woke up the next day that I could see the South African terrain.
Yesterday, I got a tour of the base and went into town to get some groceries (and eat some Nandos!). I met some interns and other staff members. I attended a dance party (made available by Jace’s iPod) and played some games. My favorite part was seeing the wildlife which freely roams the base. Below is a picture of one of the more common animals, so common in fact, there is a road on base named after them:
Zebras are found all over Thrive's base
As I’ve said before, it is winter here. Alece told me that during the day, the air is cold but the sun is hot. She also said that inside is colder than outside since the sun doesn’t shine directly into the houses. I didn’t really understand what she meant…until I got here. While thatched roofs keep things quiet, as in really quiet, it doesn’t quite keep the cold air from seeping in. However, right after stepping outside, the sun instantly warms your skin in a way you can’t get inside. Outside really is warmer than inside in winter. I’ve also learned that the grocery store has more variety than I thought it would. I’ve learned that lasagna can, in fact, be made with cottage cheese (and a special thanks to Jace and Aims for making dinner last night!). I’ve learned that Mai means Mrs. or ‘mother’ and Tati means Mr. or ‘father’. I’ve learned that light switches don’t always make sense as mine is in my closet! I’ve learned the importance of quality space heaters. I’ve also learned that photos take a long time to upload and that patience is important!
I’ve loved every minute of my time here so far. I have love the community, the warm welcoming, the interest people have in each other, the landscape, the animals, my roommates, my house…the list goes on.
I think that’s it for now. God is good and following Him is a wild ride!