I heard from my baby girl! Yay! Best Mother’s Day present ever!
I hope I am sending this to the right email address, if not I’ll read it to you when I get back 🙂
It has been about a week and a half since we’ve been in South Africa and we have spent all of this time at Bethesda Children’s Village. It has been such a joy getting to know the children and the parents here. They have
been so welcoming and sweet-hearted. We have been paving the entryway with bricks, and we finally finished yesterday! It looks pretty good, considering we are not at all professionals. I think it is more special because we worked so hard on it. I’m all sore and sun burnt (it is hot here!), but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
The language barrier has not so much been a struggle as a challenge. It is amazing to see how much communication can be done without words—smiles and hugs and laughs and animated faces. South Africans are SO animated. You would love the people here. They are just like you; they love to sing and dance and goof off. I could see you moving here and using all of your talents to make this a better place.
One day we worked with this hospice ministry that went into homes in this little shanty district. I took blood pressure and pulse and temperature for these poor shut-in men and women. It was crazy walking through the little neighborhoods. It is exactly what you expect South Africa to look like. Tin walls and everyone has a huge fence and gate around their little piece of land. One house I went into smelled so strongly of gas that I could hardly stand to be in there. The family spoke no English, but they were so sweet and the old man only knew how to say “I love you” and he kissed our hands and told us “I love you” over and over. I have been on the verge of tears every day since I’ve been here.
Saturday we did a bible club/feeding ministry at one of the parents’ church. They went around the neighborhood and got kids to come and we played games with them and sang and told a bible story and did a craft. The craft was just a tracing of their hands with a bible verse written inside, but every kid was so proud of their artwork. While we were singing, one little girl walked up to me with this grimace on her face and pointed to her mouth. She was so hungry and she wanted the white people to feed her. Later we were able to feed them some crackers and bread, and they were so thankful. I have never been so sad and happy at the same time. After the snack we were all sitting around and one girl touched my hair and said “so fresh” I let her touch it again and smiled. Then a swarm of girls came and started playing with my hair and my face. They were braiding it and pulling it and trying to make it fluffy like theirs. It was an amazing bonding moment, I think, because I was freely giving myself to them. All I could do was smile and touch and try to show some love. When we were leaving they all gave me long hugs over and over; and I kissed them and told them I love them because it was all I could do. One girl who had been aloof and skeptical the whole time (until I touched her hair back and told her it was pretty) hugged me and looked into my face and told me “I will never forget you.” I said I would never forget her either, and it’s true. I will never forget her beautiful face that had too much wisdom and heartache for a girl so young. I pray that God never lets me forget her.
I cannot express how in love I am with this culture. Everyone is so friendly and open and happy. Obviously there are still problems of racism and sexism that arise from their recent transition to democracy, but there are also things that we need to learn from them. In South Africa every greeting goes, “hello, how are you?” “I’m fine, and you?”
It is considered impolite to not ask this of people, because people are more important that whatever business you are about to conduct. One family told me that whenever you make a meal, you should make more food than you need, just in case someone drops by for a visit.
We have been scheduled down to the minute and I wish we had been given more time to spend with the parents. They are so wise and they have given up everything to serve God in Bethesda. I hope that I am able to make God as proud as, I am sure, they make him.
There is so much more to say, but I cannot find the words to say it. I have attached some photos, trust me I have taken so many more.
I love you! I will see you soon.
(P.S. tell Grammar that my hiking boots are perfect for this)