These past few weeks I have felt as though I have been in a constant state of saying goodbye. Two and a half weeks ago I said goodbye to my closest friends and family at home, a week later I left an amazing group of 60 new friends, and tonight I will be saying goodbye to 13 other amazing individuals that I have bonded with during orientation both in Chicago and throughout orientation in South Africa. It will be hard to leave this amazing support group, but it is comforting to know that we will be seeing each other in just a few short months.
As I am getting packed up for the last time, my head is spinning and I am feeling a whirlwind of emotions. Here are just a few things that I have learned, seen and felt this past week in South Africa.
Last Friday, the 10 of us began our long journey across the world and landed in Johannesburg, South Africa. I arrived feeling jet lagged, adventurous and to be honest really cold. I mean I was told that it gets cold in SA, but it really can get cold! I was fortunate enough to be running on pure adrenaline that the brisk air was masked by my excitement. While in Johannesburg our schedule was pretty packed with sessions about what this year may entail and some important ways to deal with that. The most memorable part of my time in Johannesburg was going to a local ELCSA church in a township called Wattville. It was not until I arrived in that church that I really felt as though I was in South Africa. The service was in three languages, English, Zulu and Sotho and the energy inside of that church was energy I had never experienced before. Singing. Clapping. And more singing.
On Tuesday we made a 6 hour transport to another large city in South Africa called Pietermaritzburg. Our time spent here was a lot of learning about the culture of South Africa. We learned how to spend South African money (Rands), how to shop on a stipend, and how to use a common form of transportation called a kombi. Those bus/taxis are quite the experience! There is no doubt that I am going to stumble in some ways, but spending a good portion of this week practicing with everyone here I at least feel a little bit more confident about being on my own. Oh my goodness, so soon!
I am sitting here trying to think of more to tell you all, but I am so distracted by God’s beauty in this country through this amazing sunset and the wonderful people I am surrounded by as we begin to eat our “family dinner” together.