Tuesday, May 1, 2012

10 Thousand Miles Away

It is almost 10 thousand miles from San Diego to Cape Town. That is pretty far. 

We are finishing up our semester this week. Actually, tomorrow is when everyone is is leaving on a plane to go back to the states (I am staying a week later).  So it has finally come time to say goodbye to everyone :( It is going to be the hardest part of this whole trip.  I have realized how close I have become with this group.  We are truly a family and I am going to miss each one of them so much.  We are the only ones who understand what we all went through these past 4 months, and that is going to be one of the hardest things about going home and being separated from everyone. But I am so excited to go home right now and I wish I could hop on the plane with everyone else. 9 more days and I will be back in the states and reunited with the fam!! 

My friend shared with me a Jason Mraz song the other day that so perfectly fit all the emotions flying around right now.  

These are the lyrics:
93 million miles from the sun
People get ready, get ready
Cause here it comes, it's a light
A beautiful light, over the horizon
Into our eyes
Oh, my my how beautiful
Oh my beautiful mother
She told me, son in life you're gonna go far
If you do it right, you'll love where you are
Just know, wherever you go
You can always come home

240 thousand miles from the moon
We've come a long way to belong here
To share this view of the night
A glorious night
Over the horizon is another bright sky
Oh my my how beautiful, oh my irrefutable father
He told me, son sometimes it may seem dark
But the absence of the light is a necessary part
Just know, you're never alone, you can always come back home

You can always come back

Every road is a slippery slope
But there is always a hand that you can hold on to
Looking deeper through the telescope
You can see that your home's inside of you

Just know, that wherever you go, no you're never alone, you will always get back home

93 million miles from the sun
People get ready, get ready
Cause here it comes, it's a light
A beautiful light, over the horizon
Into our eyes

And my parents just sent me a verse that was really encouraging :) 

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." I
Peter 5:10 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More Cape Town Adventures

My time is Cape Town has been so amazing and packed full of activities! This past Sunday some friends and I went into the city to go to a dutch reform church where the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu was supposed to speak because we knew this was a one in a lifetime opportunity.  We thought we would not make it in because we were running a little late and we were sure the church would be packed.  But to our surprise we got to the church about 10 minutes before the service started and the church was only about half full. The setting was a little more formal than we are all used to as we struggled to open the pew doors and find a seat, but we finally made it! I'm sure the message was great, but unfortunately is was all in Afrikaans so we didn't understand a word of it, but it was still really cool! And afterwards we actually got to meet him and get a picture with him which was so crazy! If you don't know much about Desmond Tutu, you definitely should do some research because he is an amazing man with a really cool story, but basically, he played a pivotal role in ending the Apartheid. And now he is considered the "moral conscious" of South Africa. I still cannot believe that I got to meet him!! It would kind of be like meeting Martin Luther King Jr. in America.

On Tuesday we had a tour of the peninsula where we went out on a boat to seal island, drove around the gorgeous coast, saw penguins at Boulder's Beach, and went to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point (the most south-western point and the the most south-eastern point of Africa). It was so beautiful and a really relaxing day.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays we have classes in the morning and then we have the afternoons free. This week after school I have visited Muizenberg and Simon's Town, two beach towns close by. 

Coming up soon is shark cage diving this saturday!! I am soo excited!! I have been watching many youtube videos to get pumped up! Hopefully after this I won't be too scared to swim in the ocean! And then we have our last few days of orientation for re-entry into the states! AHHH!!! I am still staying an extra week longer but I cannot believe this whole thing is coming to an end!  I don't want to leave this amazing country but I am excited to see everyone from home again! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Home Stays and Table Mountain!

This past weekend was spent with our home stay families. On Saturday they took us past an ostrich farm where we fed them through the fence.  And then we went to Boulder's beach where they have the penguins! Penguins... in South Africa! It was really fun! We walked along the trail where they come up and lay their eggs. Then on Sunday we went to church with our family. It was a Pentecostal church and it was very different from most of the churched I have experiences. It was very small- I think only about 30 people including all the children.  After worship, the next hour or so people from the congregation came up to speak just what was on their hearts or a message they wanted to share with the church. It was really cool and made it feel more community based instead of just one person speaking at everyone. Then the pastor (also our Grandma) came up and also spoke her message. Me and Yvette also had a little surprise- they asked us to come up and speak too! We were taken off guard a little but managed to say a couple of words :) After church we went to Ma's house for lunch and had a feast! She cooked so much food for us and then we passed out on the "coma couch", as they call it. It definitely lived up to it's name :) After a long nap we went for a walk on the beach with our family.  

On Monday we were reunited with everyone for class. I didn't realize how much I missed everyone after only 2 days of being apart! I don't know how I will survive this summer! We had class at the Bible Institute of South Africa in Kalk Bay.  It is a beautiful campus that overlooks the ocean. John Wallace (the president of APU and basically celebrity), was also there! He spoke for our chapel. After class we explored around Kalk Bay, had lunch, and then walked back to Fish Hoek to relax for the rest of the day. 

The next day we hiked Table Mountain! It is the beautiful backdrop to the city of Cape Town and recently named one of the 7 wonders of the world!! The hike was pretty tough and extremely steep but we made it! It took my group about 1. 5 hours.  But, of course, the second we reached the top we made the wrong turn.  Instead of turning left to the cable cars and restaurant (a 15 walk), we turned right going to the whole other side of the mountain! It took us on a 1.5 hour detour! Woops! It made for a great adventure and story! We eventually made it back the right way and caught up to everyone else. The view from the top was spectacular! (when the dense fog was not in the way). Some of us took the cable cars down, that was also a beautiful view! But the 2 minute ride down made our long hike up seem like nothing! 

View from Table Mountain
Today we had class again and John Wallace even brought us doughnuts!! We had lunch at a little place on the bay and I had my first ever fish and chips! I really liked it! And they were only R20, which is only $2.50! The rest of the day has just been relaxing and then later will we get picked up to go back to our home stays :) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Travel Week

I finally made it to Cape Town!! Our last three weeks will be spent here finishing our last class, living at the Bed & Breakfast, and staying with our home-stay families.  We had five days of travel before we got here, which was so much fun!! It was like spring break for us.  One of the best weeks here in South Africa!

Last Saturday we left AE, which was really sad because it has been my home for the past three months. It was hard to leave all of that behind. We all prayed together and then got onto our buses for the longest leg of our travel- a 9 hr. bus ride! I love car rides so it was great for me! On the bus we watched movies, listen to music, and attempted to play a game of Monopoly Deal. We finally got to our beachfront hotel around dinnertime.  After dinner we walked down to the beach and it was so beautiful! The tide would go our so far you could run out towards the water forever until you actually hit it.  Also, there was a lightening storm and a strong but hot wind! It felt like a heater was blowing on you. It was a great first day, just hanging out with friends walking long the beach.  In the morning before we left it was Easter and so we also went to a sunrise service right on the beach! It was a great experience!

The second day we drove 5 more hours to Port Elizabeth and stayed at another hotel, again right on the beach! I seriously felt like I was on a really nice vacation- and I get to spend it with all of my friends.  Port Elizabeth is such a cute little town! We went out for lunch and dinner to some cute restaurants by the shore and had amazing food! The rest fo the day we walked around the shore and the pier. It was just a fun and carefree day!

The third day of travel week was bungee jump day!!  It was such a great experience! I felt like I was flying! I have never felt so free…..

HAHA just kidding mom and dad!

I actually didn’t go because I couldn’t risk it with the screws in my hips. Bummer. But it was so much fun to watch all my friends go! They all had so much fun! It looked like a blast!

That day we drove to Carmel, the last place we would stay during travel week.  We stayed at a Christian Conference Center that was on a beautiful campus.  It was located up on a cliff/mountain and you could see the ocean from my chalet. I had four other roommates and we put all of our beds together to make one big marriage bed.  It was lots of fun! The first thing we did when we got there was hike down to the beach.  The hike was about 25 minutes down and 45 minutes up. We got to the beach and it was this gorgeous little cove.  It was unbelievable! That night we all bonded over watching TV in the lounge room. It was so much fun! We haven’t watched TV since January! There was also a yellow lab staying on the campus named Zack that reminded me of Boomer! I was so excited and gave him lots of lovings!

The next day was possibly one of the best days of the whole semester! Two of my roommates and I decided to wake up early and go on a hike down to the beach for sunrise. We left at 5:30 and when we arrived at the cove, we were the only ones at the beach.  It was breath taking! The sunrise was so spectacular! It was amazing to watch it rise over the ocean and it lit up the sky pink. My friend Ashlyn and I also decided to get in the water. It was the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences swimming in this beautiful cove that we had all to ourselves! I was on cloud 9!!! I cannot begin to explain how happy I was at that moment. It was so surreal. And to top it all of, we ended up getting a ride back with the speaker who was staying at the conference center for Easter weekend, so we didn’t even have to hike back up.  It was truly the best morning ever. The rest of the day I never even got tired and was just pumped up and ready to take on the day.  That day we also went on the Cango Caves tour. I went on the adventure tour where there were some really tight spaces we had to fit through.  One was called The Devil’s Chimney where we had to climb straight up through a small tunnel. Another one is called the Post Box and the opening we had to crawl through was only 27 cm tall! After the cave tours we went to a small zoo where we had the chance to do animal encounters.  I chose to pet and play with the 3 month old baby white tigers!! It was so much fun and one even sucked on our fingers! It was an amazing experience and I am so glad I was able to do it! We drove back to Carmel that evening where we stayed for one more night.

The next day we arrived in Cape Town!! Driving in was so beautiful!! We are staying in a small little town outside of the city called Fish Hoek.  The Bed and Breakfast we are at is only a five-minute walk from the beach! It’s heaven! WE are here for the next three weeks but half the time we are doing home stays, which is where I am now. Our first day in Cape Town we did a walking tour of the city.  The architecture of some of the buildings were beautiful and most people said it reminded them of San Francisco. We also walked down to the waterfront and that was really fun. Our second day we had all free so I went to the beach in the morning and then about 20 of us went to go see the premiere of the Hunger Games (well, South Africa’s premiere)! As I said before a lot of our group had read the books together this semester so it was so much fun to see it all together!

Now I am staying with my home stay family, which is great, and I will fill you on more later!  My mom is named Althea and her husband Rueben.  They have three wonderful kids named Simone, 14, Joshua, 9, and Hannah, 2.  I am also staying with my friend Yvette. We live in a township called Ocean’s View that is about 10 minutes away from our B&B and is all coloured people.  They are so welcoming and I really feel at home with them!

Sorry this post is so long! It has been a big week! Our internet is not very good here either so I will try to keep this updated as much as possible. This means that I also might not be able to post pictures until I get home! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Goodbyes :(

I am sorry it has been so long since my last update. I have sat down with my computer several times in the last week getting ready to blog, but I seriously just didn't know what to write. I don't know how to summarize what I have been feeling/experiencing/learning during my time at RivLife.  It has been an emotional whirlwind and it is a lot to absorb in only a couple of weeks. I am still trying to comprehend everything myself. Today was our last day of service sites and leaving was a lot harder than I could have ever imagined. Almost our whole team was in tears as we were giving our last hugs and goodbyes to the kids we have had the blessed opportunity to hang out with and love on. I didn't realize how much of my heart these kids had a hold of until today.  They are all so special to me, more than I can ever explain.  One of the sweetest moments today was with a kid who had been really violent in the beginning, but has slowly opened up and become more loving and gentle. He gave me a huge hug and said, "I will always remember you. I will always love you." That didn't make it any easier to leave! Goodbyes are so hard. All I have left is the comfort that God is holding every one of those kids in his sovereign hands and also the amazing memories I have with them. And those will never leave me. 

Just to catch up on last week, on Tuesday me and my friend Michelle (who also wants to be an Occupational Therapist) got to visit the Disabled Center that is located on RivLife's grounds. They were all adults and most of them had cerebral palsy, polio, handicaps from injuries, and other things.  We just got to sit down and talk with them and learn about their stories. Disabled people in South Africa, as in most third world countries, are looked down upon and not given any help or support. Most of the men there were single and all they wanted was a wife who loves them for who they were, but it is kind of a lost cause.  Still, one of the guys that I talked to the most was telling me he doesn't let his disability (polio) get in the way of anything he does. He even taught me some ballroom dances! Working with these people made me so pumped up for my career path and motivates me to get through all of those terrible science classes! 

We went to the HIV/AIDS support group again on Tues/Thurs and made jewelry with them.  We also had the opportunity to go to the Gogo (grandma) support group at Nomvulu's house.  Nomvulu is an amazing woman who works at RivLife as the cook for the drop in center, but she also has her own creche in her home, runs the Gogo support group, and has a soup kitchen at her house for kids in the community. And she is HIV+. She does so much for her community and is really inspiring! She also made Zulu bread for us which was delicious! 

This past week we also finished our project in the creche. We deep cleaned the whole place (which was desperately needed), washed the sheets, replaced the mattresses, and painted a big chalkboard on the wall with a verse above it- Colossians 3:14 "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony". It has been great to see the progress and the creche has really transformed! 

This whole experience has really changed me and opened my eyes and my heart to many different things. The time has flown by and I can't believe it is over.  Now we have to say goodbye to African Enterprise and Pietermaritzburg too as we leave for Cape Town this weekend. Only 4 more weeks of the semester!! I am going to miss South Africa so much!! <3 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I am Responsible

In light of service sights almost being over: 
Brooke Fraser-Albertine 

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
Her mothers voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
There in her eyes what I don't see with my own

Now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
And the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet

I will tell the world, I will tell them where I've been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine

I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine


Sunday, March 25, 2012

God I Look to You

This week we continued service sites! I am loving it more and more each day if that is possible :) I don't even know how to summarize this past week so here is a little taste of what has been going on. 
  • At the HIV/AIDS support group we did crafts with them! We made jewelry, friendship bracelets, and some of them sewed and knitted. 
  • On Wednesday we got to visit the Drakensberg Boy's Choir. It is the #1 children's choir in the world! They were amazing and I am so glad I got to experience that. We also had a huge lightening and thunder storm that night!  It was the craziest lightening I have ever seen! Sometimes it would light up the whole sky pink or green. 
  • One of the girls at the creche has open sores all over her body.  It is so sad because her mom won't take her to the clinic, she will only take her to the sangoma (Zulu medicine man) and that is obviously not working. 
  • There is a boy at the creche, who we have given the nickname of Chunks. His is so cute and chubby and he seriously has the same facial expression all day, so we work really hard to try and make him smile :)
  • The nurses came to our site to do their community project.  They taught the kids how to wash their hands properly and how to brush their teeth. 
  • Another little girl at the creche is so precious and once you get her singing a song she never stops! It is so cute!
  • When we brought our cameras the kids LOVED it and they run up to you shouting "shoot me! shoot me!" haha 
  • Friday was our last day working at the creche because the kids have 2 weeks off of school now for easter break. It was very bittersweet. We had a great day with the kids, but it was so hard saying goodbye :(
It is crazy that we only have 2 more weeks of service sites. I feel like so much has happened in such a short time already. These kids and the women we work with are so inspiring.  Many times when I am playing with the kids I forget where they come from and what they deal with everyday- parents with HIV/AIDS, abusive parents, absent parents, having HIV/AIDS themselves, living in a small mud house, or getting only one meal a day. All I can give to them is my love, but there are times when even that doesn't feel like enough. I know this experience is going to be challenging- physically, mentally, and spiritually. Please keep me and my team in your prayers. We need strength and wisdom to get through these next few weeks. And personally for me, I am needing to constantly remind myself that it is not through my hands and my power that this work is being accomplished, but it is God working through me. 

Some song lyrics that have been on my heart lately and my prayer for the next 2 weeks:

God I look to you, I won't be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like you do
God I look to you, You're where my help comes from
Give me wisdom; You know just what to do. 

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see