Only 11 days left……
I have been avoiding thinking about leaving for as long as possible, but unavoidably I now have less than 2 weeks left in South Africa. It is a mixed feeling sometimes. I want to stay, and wish I didn’t have school pressures so I had to come back, but I also don’t want to miss holiday time with my family. To be honest, I miss the U.S. at points. But, I also am going to miss my South Africa family greatly. Now, I am sure you do not want to hear me go on about how sad the prospect of leaving leaves me, so I will get to my point. As I approach my departure I have been reflecting on my whole experience in South Africa. Here are some thins I would like to share.
Someone mentioned to me how missionary work seems like a dream, or an easy job. Let me tell you, it might be a dream job in the sense it gives you so much satisfaction, but it is NOT easy. Leona suggested I share about the difficulties I have had while in South Africa, so that you could see the rosy (which it IS 80% of the time), and the difficult aspects of missionary work. If you are considering doing something similar to what I have done, that is great, but just know it is not all peaches and ice cream.
I have explained what a normal day is like in my post, “Tuesdays With Leona”. Tuesdays are one of our busier days, but almost every day, Tuesday through Sunday is just as busy, and sometimes busier. I love it. I thrive on running around constantly, and having 10 different things needing done at once. That is my personality. Sometimes I feel like I perform better under pressure. It just does get difficult when you are not feeling up to par. I got sick on two different occasions, and developed a yeast infection while here. When you have to keep going even when you feel ill and have a high fever, you realize that you have to just keep pushing forward, and that this is not an easy job. A yeast infection is nasty. Basically, it knocks you out just as bad as a fever, chills, sore throat and nausea, except the special thing about a yeast infection is it does not like to go away. It reoccurred twice within two weeks time. I felt miserable. I didn’t have time to stop and lay in bed. I couldn’t run out and get prescription medicine. I had to resort to pure will and determination, as well as dieting. That is another thing. I hardly see fresh vegetables. We are always on the go, so we have quick, on the go meals. When we do have time to cook, it is usually some meat and starch combo (hence why I developed the yeast infection). The food is delicious here, but let me tell you, my digestive system and immune system took a beating between the new diet, and the new viruses and infections in South Africa.
So yeah, we all get sick, but it is difficult keeping up with a schedule the pace of ours at the same time. Also, we normally skip lunch, or just snack since we are constantly on the raid around that time. We squash many people into one vehicle to transport kids home from bible study. You deal with new smells, such as burning rubbish, mushroom fertilizer, and constant fuel fumes. You have to get used to living completely surrounded by gates or cement walls, and you have very limited places you can walk alone (especially if you are a white female). You go to be very late, and wake up early. One thing I found very frustrating was the fact that you absolutely cannot leave anything unattended or else it is stolen. Now, that happens in the U.S. too, but to a lesser extent. Usually if you walk away from something to go assist someone elsewhere, a person will ask if you meant to leave that item there. Not so in South Africa. I have no idea where my camera or my favorite long sleeved, black, all purpose sweater went, nor do I remember setting either one down at any place in particular. All of a sudden you realize something is gone, and you realize there is no such thing as lost and found in South Africa. It is called lost and keep. Though neither my camera, or the sweater were fancy or expensive, they were items I used every day. So, one lesson I have learned is you cannot be materialistic at all.
One other quick thing before I close. Today was technically an “off” day. Since we work Tuesday through Sunday, Monday is time that Lucas and Leona have set aside to at least try and stay at home. So here is how my “off day’ went (and just for the record, I had an AWESOME day and I feel very productive). I was up at 4:17am and couldn’t fall back asleep so I took care of emails from home and university, and had a chat with my mom till around 5:20am. Then I forced myself to at least try and sleep some more. At 6:30am I was up for good, and made breakfast, then went back to catching up on about 7 different emails. At 9am I started a load of laundry, cleaned my room, and jumped in the bath for 30minutes. At 10:30am I had a break for lunch, then went out to the flat and continued my Sunday school materials/paper sorting that I have been working on for 5 weeks now in my “spare time. I spent three hours doing that, and switching loads of laundry around. We don’t have a dryer, so all the laundry gets hung on the line….a huge task, but I have realized the benefits of it. At 1:30 I came inside and tackled the kitchen. One day I will take a picture and post it, so you can see that it really takes tackling when you clean the Scheepers kitchen! That took about an hour and a half. I put the last load in for the day (since the sun disappears in a few hours), and tidied the house, made beds, and hung more laundry. Finally at 3:45 I sat down and made myself Darjeeling tea with fresh lemon from the tree outside squeezing into it, and started writing this blog. I have been at it for more than an hour now. Next I get to fight with the poor Internet connection to try and upload this. After, I will help make dinner, then we have a COPT meeting to sort our plan of action for the week, and finally we might have time to all play Catan (a really cool board game) together. So that is my off day. It truly IS an off day actually. I never once had to leave the house! You have no idea what a treat that is!
Now you have heard the not so pretty parts about my adventure, but let me tell you this; it was and is TOTALLY worth every second of pain or discomfort I experienced. I am not trying to discourage, but enlighten. This is in no way a vacation (except for the fact I haven’t have to study for university exams!). This was a chance to step out of my comfort zone, make new friends, work hard, and help out the widows and fatherless of South Africa.