30 days. That’s all I have left in my beloved country, with my beloved people. In 30 days I will say goodbye to people that I thought I would serve alongside for the majority of my life. In 30 days I will say goodbye to the man I love for an indefinite period of time. In 30 days I will use a one way ticket to board an airplane to re-enter a life that I don’t know anymore. In 30 days I will have to embrace a great deal of uncertainty and live in that uncertainty until…well…I don’t know until when.
And there is great grief in each of these things. A deep grief that few people truly understand.
As most of you know, my time with Bethesda is coming to an end and I have been trying for literal weeks to figure out how to write this update. Weeks. And I still don’t know what to say. I can’t summarize. I don’t know what to share and what to keep in my heart. So here’s what I will do. I will share with you some of the joys from the last 3 years. Because I need to start to heal. Because I need to re-learn how to focus on the joy. Because otherwise, the option is bitterness and remaining wounded. So. Help me focus.
- “Family dinners” with some of the older guys at Bethesda at Ben and Megan’s flat on Friday nights.
- Seeing the excitement and curiosity in my student’s eyes as we learn about the moon.
- The relationships that I was able to build here, the people that became my family.
- Meeting my guy and starting to walk through life together.
- Witnessing countless sunrises and sunsets – some of the most breathtaking ones I have ever experienced.
- Having the privilege of diving into God’s Word each morning with my students.
- Heads of kids here popping out of windows to greet me as I walk past.
- Spending Thanksgiving with my RSA family at Blyde River last year.
- My parents coming to visit me and getting to show them the country I love.
- Hearing ‘I love you, Ma’am!’ as my students leave for the day.
- Random Friday dance parties with my kids.
- The simple pleasure of finding an American treat – like Dr. Pepper – in a shop here.
- South African thunderstorms – one of my absolute favourite things.
- Walking out into the township across the street to buy some Kotas, South African street food, with some of my favourite people.
- Making a tent/fort in my classroom (2 times) as a treat/surprise for my kids.
- Making thumbprints on my ‘Student Family Tree’ each year.
- Games in the courtyard with the kids.
- Long talks and colouring at the stone table or in the lapa.
- The ‘Door of Wonders’ that led from my flat to Ben and Megan’s flat so I didn’t have to go outside to get to them!
- Meeting my first snake with Gabby and Megan one night in the team center and Megan jumping up onto the countertop while Gabby says, “we can handle this…”
- 4:12 – a Bible study group we had for a little while with the older kids at Bethesda and the joy it brought to learn and grow and worship together.
- Mama Dorah and Elvis – A married couple who work at Bethesda – my dear friends.
- MaPhiri’s Magwinyas – delicious fried dough
- New Year’s Eve in Hammanskraal.
- Saturday morning grocery shopping with Megs and Gabs.
- Being given my African name – Omphile – by some of the older guys here.
- Learning about the culture here and the moment that I recognized my first Tswana word in conversation. It was ‘Cow’!
- Stargazing every night. Finding Orion’s Belt and the Southern Cross – the two constellations that connect both my lives.
These things might seem small, or confusing to you all, but each of them comes with good memories, laughs, and smiles for me.
I wish that I could thank each of you in person for the ways in which you have supported me in both prayer and finances. You have sacrificed much for the gospel to be shared here in South Africa. And I am deeply grateful for your partnership.
I would appreciate your prayers for me as I transition into whatever comes next. Pray for healing. Pray for peace in uncertainty. Pray for direction. Pray for a heart that is open and ready to hear from God and follow his guidance.
Love from South Africa