Friday, September 26, 2014

Exciting news!

So, I am excited to tell you that I GET TO COME BACK!!!


Hopefully the beginning of next year sometime. I will need to fundraise before I can return.

I leave here November 9th, so I will be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I wasn't looking forward to coming home, at all, because it meant I had to leave. But now I'm coming back! (I'm really dreading saying goodbye to my roommate and now sister, Alyssa...not thinking about that.) So I'm pretty stoked about seeing my family soon. Not so happy about the winter weather back in Ohio. It's just starting to be summer here!

For how long?

Right now, it is a one year commitment. I was desiring two, but I can see the wisdom in one year (for both parties). In a year they told me we will reevaluate. So, there is certainly a chance that I could stay longer than a year, depending on how things work out (and whether or not I decide I desperately need to go somewhere else, but I'm not so sure about that....I'd have a hard time picking Bulgaria or India over here, now that I've put down some roots).


Because I've made family here. Because there are so many chances to work in orphan care. Because although I'm not always the best at determining this, I think it's God's will. (That I was here this year was OBVIOUSLY God's will, it was SO random and ridiculous how I ended up here.) Because I love it here? Because my passion is orphan care - hands on - and I have so much direction here, whereas I was kind of aimless at home.

(What, did you think I was staying for the chicken feet and mopani worms? =) Maybe someday I will get brave enough to try them.)

Fundraising - how much will I need, and what are my expenses?

Ehhhh....I'm not sure yet. We are going to sit down and have this conversation soon. Rent is $250 or so a month. I also pay for internet, food (the food prices here are cheaper than home, I think), and other extra things that I need. I will be on my dad's health insurance for the next year - after that, I will need to buy my own if I want to be allowed to stay in the country. (Thankfully it seems to be cheaper here than at home.) I am looking at buying a (used) car, so that will include all the expenses that come along with it - insurance, gas/petrol (you think prices are bad at home? you should check it out here!), maintenance, etc. (I am thinking about selling my car at home to help pay for one here.) Those are the basic ongoing expenses of life. I will also be buying a plane ticket, and paying the numerous fees that go along with applying for a volunteer visa. I don't have a set goal yet, but I will soon.

I will be opening up my crochet business, Happy Heads Helping Hearts, as soon as I get home to help raise money. I'm not sure I can crochet enough hats to buy a car, but with the exchange rate, every dollar goes quite a ways. =) I will be taking pre-orders in a few weeks so I can hit the ground running.

Prayer requests:

- We are still having trouble with our screening of a house mom. Now they are saying they don't want to screen single ladies at all, even South Africans, even though single moms can adopt and foster without a problem. We currently can't take in any more babies and have to keep turning them away, which is really hard.

- Our Gospel Community has been doing evangelism on Mondays. This prayer request is twofold - for the people we speak to, and for me (the rest of us too, but I am the one who is absolutely the most terrified, hands down).

 My thoughts are not very cohesive as it is, and even less so when I walk up to a stranger on the street. Evangelism is probably one of my worst fears, although I don't lie awake dreading it like I did at the beginning of the that progress? I'm learning to love the Gospel deeply. I'm witnessing to my AWANA kids. (Not very effectively - half of them run around in circles while I talk, and the other half say things like, "But God will forgive you, because He knows you're trying," or "Surprise hit me! Make her stop!") But walking up to random strangers still terrifies me. The culture of evangelism at Living Hope has helped normalize it a little for me, and the culture of Africa is far more accepting of this sort of thing than American culture. Please, just pray for me! I am definitely the weakest link. We go out at 4:30 on Mondays - 10:30 AM back home in Ohio (EST). If you want to pray for us then (or any time!) I would really love it. I would also really love to know you are doing it. Please?

- That God will help me to trust him with this next step of coming back. I like being in control of my future, and although knowing a year ahead of time is great, and way farther than I knew a month ago, I tend to skip forward and say, "What about after that?" I'm also nervous about leaving my grandma again - she's really old (although still alive and kicking...) For someone like me, there are infinitely more things to worry about, as well...many of which are ridiculous.

- Fundraising makes me itch.

- That applying for a visa goes down without much trouble.

- Homesickness - I foresee having some of this.

- Saying goodbye to some of the people here (fellow interns, etc.) who won't be here next year.

- When I go home, I need to learn to drive stick shift. Probably in the snow and ice. Please pray I don't die or wreck the car and that I get really good at it before I come back here with all the super aggressive African driving!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trip to Limpopo

This past weekend Akani and Lerato, our friends from church, took Alyssa and I to Akani's home village. It is in the province of Limpopo. I can't remember the name of the actual village. I just remember seeing it on a street sign and it was spelled nothing like I expected. ;) It is about 5-6 hours away from Pretoria and I think they said about 200 K's from the Zimbabwean border, roughly north of us from what I understand.

It was really neat to see a different part of Africa. We've spent most of our time in Pretoria, although we've made a number of trips to Joburg (so, more city life) and two trips to Megan's family's farm in Mpumalanga (another province - the farm is about an hour away and pretty far out in the country). We haven't really seen what all the Africans refer to as "the rural areas," although we've been in poorer areas - the local refugee community where a number of our church lives, a squatter camp (me) and a township (Alyssa). Everyone here keeps telling us, "Oh, you haven't been to REAL Africa!" They're pretty much correct - urban South Africa is quite Westernized in many ways, but, well, in my humble opinion it's still different in many ways. =)

We left late Friday afternoon, despite Lerato's best efforts to be on time. She always tells me, "Abbie! Not ALL South Africans are late!" She's far more convicted about lateness than this American, although she seems to be more alone in this than she wants to admit. ;) (I'm already always late. I'm going to have a really hard time going back home. I was never on time to start with, and I've probably gotten worse.) We were waiting for her best friend, Makoena. The nature of public transportation - taxis and buses - makes it almost impossible for anyone using it to be on time, anyway!

(I still need to learn how to ride a bus. Every African looks at me rather like I'm a helpless baby when I explain I have no idea how to use the bus system. I didn't even know I was allowed until recently. We aren't allowed to ride taxis, which all the Africans think is absolutely crazy. Since a family in our church was involved in a taxi hijacking, stolen from, beaten up, and held hostage for a day and a half, I've had significantly less desire to ride one. Although I've been told such incidents are rare. If it comforts all of you, it was not in Pretoria.)

This is a hill/mountain thing. Its African name means "God has eaten." Apparently the local story is that no one who climbs up ever makes it down. It's not even that tall, honestly. ;)

Alyssa and Makoena

We've seen her a few times before, but never hung out much. She's really fun!

Us and some of Akani's family in the kitchen of the house where we stayed.

Akani's niece, Ndzalama (it means "Precious Jewel"). She was soooo cute and happy to play with us! She is four years old. No one knew white Americans were coming...haha. Lerato just told them, "We are bringing friends!" We could hear from our room as they hurriedly brushed up on the children's English greeting skills. "How are you?" "I am fine, and you?" Lerato taught us Tsonga greetings as well, but the kids were way better at English than I was at Tsonga, for sure! 

Saturday, we went around visiting various members of the family (there are thirteen children and many of them are grown up and have families of their own). There was a mama hen with some chicks, and Alyssa wanted to hold one. 

She chased them through the yard for a while... 

Evenually, Akani had to help.

Success at last!

Please, no one tell her where chicken nuggets come from. I already had to break the news about lamb chops...

I think he was a little hungry.

This house was INCREDIBLE!!! It was purple inside AND outside. This picture doesn't fully encompass how amazingly purple it was. I would have moved there if they had had an indoor toilet. ;)

Akani's two nieces and his youngest brother. 

They were real characters!

Best friends. Mandie, these two make me miss you so much! 

We stopped at a produce market on the way back. Everyone was selling exactly the same thing, I think for exactly the same they had to be competitive. It was pretty much a banana mob!

It was so cold and rainy all weekend!

All the same colors everywhere made the whole thing look like a patchwork quilt.

This lady was like, "Hey, take my picture!" Or something like that.


Chicken feet, hearts, necks, and gizzards. Thankfully none of these things were on the menu! I am working on developing a strong stomach, though...

Beautiful flowers at the farm

The road leading up to the house

The house where we stayed

More pretty flowers

Random brown dogs everywhere

Alyssa and her little buddy

Makoena and I

There really are these round, thatched huts everywhere. It is a thing.

They are pretty cool.

We visited a local church. A missionary from Chicago moved to South Africa and learned Tsonga (everyone says his accent is really bad! But I was impressed!) This was a special dedication service for the church building. The people of the church gave all the money themselves, and came on Saturdays for four years to build it with their own hands. There were members from four different churches gathered, including an Afrikaans church, so the service was in English and Tsonga - guess we came on just the right Sunday!

Love the baby on her mom's back helping out with choir. =)

The lyrics to "Before the Throne of God Above." I have a really cool video of some girls singing it in Tsonga, but it wouldn't load...

There was a special baptismal service for two children, who shared their testimonies. As Akani would say, it was "powerful!"

This was a little girl named Happy. She totally got up and preached us a sermon in Tsonga...

I'm not sure what this picture was supposed to be. "Look, Makoena has a Bible!"

Akani grabbed my camera and started taking tons of pictures. I'm glad he did!

Sisters <3

We enjoyed a meal with the church family before we left.

Sights from the ride home. Some people might think I'm tacky, but I love the sight of clothes hanging out on a line. Someone probably doesn't appreciate their laundry on my blog for the whole world to see...

We stopped the car and got out to take pictures of the village before we left it.

So this isn't an example of superior photography skills, but I just wanted to share a driving courtesy in South Africa that I thought was pretty neat. Everyone going slow drives on the shoulder when someone behind them wants to pass, in essence creating three lanes. Maybe we're supposed to do this in the States, I don't know, but I haven't really seen it in practice.

A road trip with these four is bound to be fun. 

Akani (jerks the truck quickly around a car that unexpectedly put on the brakes in front of us): I was going to have to start repenting. Um, um, Lord forgive me for eating Lulu's Oreos...
Alyssa: Wait, you're serious, aren't you? I thought there weren't very many left!
Akani: No, no, I only ate one! You were gone and they were walking around and...they just wanted a hug!
Me: So you gave it a hug...with your teeth?
Akani: Yeah, I was like (points to mouth), 'Hop in here, I will protect you!'

We were talking about local government, and Alyssa and I attempted to explain what a county was. Akani insisted "county" was too fancy of a word, even after he kept talking about "municipalities." We kept trying to explain it wasn't a province, it wasn't a town, it was kind of out in the country, or thought of as a "country" type of place, even though it wasn' know, county fairs and all for the rest of the trip, whenever anyone did anything particularly unrefined, they would say, "You must be from the county!" I don't think we quite managed to convey the exact definition of "county," but oh well, it was more fun this way!

We stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn.

The monument was, unfortunately, covered with graffiti, but it was still pretty awesome!

Akani took my camera and insisted on taking GOOD pictures. I was grateful. =)

Looks kind of like Route 66!

These two are fun.

There was a flock of goats, with cute babies. Alyssa and I spontaneously decided to chase them.

Meanwhile, the girls posed for some pictures...

...while I got myself stuck in a very vicious thorn bush and Alyssa tried to extract me. It took a good five or ten minutes. I have battle scars. Lerato and Akani couldn't see what was happening, and kept yelling that they were going to dump all our stuff out and leave us there.

Meanwhile, the goats happily made their escape. Alyssa went to get a knife and I finally managed to free myself, without ripping my skirt. My skin, however, was not so lucky.

Africans aren't shy about advertising. I'm not as sure as they are that this place is famous...

Members of the Zion Christian Church (referred to as the Zed-C-C), a local cult. It's very big in this area of the country. Makoena used to belong to it, and Akani's family still does. It has all kinds of really weird rules and goings on. We heard all about it on the way home.

Driving home into the sunset.