Monday, September 19, 2016


Two years ago, I wrote this post, and I thought it would be fun to do an similar post with new lists.

Please note that things are not listed, even when it would be applicable, in order of importance. ;) That's too much work. Haha!

As someone who travels back and forth between two different cultures, I'm in the unique position to experience the (often slightly amusing) misconceptions these cultures have about each other! Often times these are just innocent people who lack information, but sometimes it still seems funny after being there.

Five Stereotypical Things People Say/Ask About South Africa:

1. Africa's a country, right?

No. It's a continent with, according to Google, 54 countries. I was a bit confused and thought up until this point there were 52, but I did memorize where each one was, at one point.

2. Does Pretoria have dirt roads?

No. I haven't found any yet, anyway.

3. Are there wild animals running around?

No. Although we did hear about this incident, it was a lion that escaped from a game reserve or zoo or something and didn't really have anything to do with this being wild, adventurous Africa. Oh, and then there are my friends who live up north next to a game reserve and the elephants keep getting through the fence and bothering their fruit trees...all of this is undermining my point though...if you walk down the street you will NOT see wild animals! You will barely even see roadkill except for the occasional cat. We do have a fair amount of stray cats, and one Yorkie that keeps getting loose from the neighbor's yard. Oh, and once one of my chickens escaped. Does that count?

4. Your babies look so clean! And they have nice clothes!

Yes. We bathe them! We wash their clothes. And I sneakily go through and donate all the clothing that is ripped/stained/"expired"(looks like it was from 1990)/otherwise abused by babies. We have incredible amounts of clothing in the garage that have been donated to us, so I can pick out cute little wardrobes for each baby. Sometimes their outfits don't always, in my opinion, match, but different strokes for different folks...=) Also, people in general don't wear ripped, holey clothing like you see in National Geographic pictures of Africa. Not everyone has a lot, but they do their best to look nice just like you and me. We don't live in a rural village in the midst of desperate poverty - it does exist, just not for every family. And poverty often looks different than you would expect.

5. Who needs a car! Couldn't you get a bicycle/golf cart? I bet you would save a lot of money!

I suppose I would save a lot of money but I also wouldn't be able to get anywhere or give anyone rides. Public transportation either a.) isn't particularly safe for a white girl (taxis) or b.) doesn't go everywhere I need to go (bus). And biking in Pretoria traffic? My brave friend Emily managed but I'm not as street smart and also more likely to fall over and get run over by a taxi. And I'm pretty sure anyone crazy enough to drive a golf cart would either die/get run off the road.

This was the time I got stuck in taxi traffic in town during rush hour...not for the faint of heart. I don't think I'd even been driving that long, maybe a few weeks?

But while all of you Africans are sitting over there chuckling at the Americans (they think it's soooo funny and I always get asked, "Did you think there would be lions in the streets? Ha ha ha!"), it goes both ways!

Five Stereotypical Things People Say When They Find Out I'm American 

(Usually as soon as I open my mouth)

1. Ooo! Are you from Los Angeles? Or New York?

You realize there's an entire country in between those cities, right? Although admittedly the film industry doesn't seem to understand that either.

2. Take me back with you!

Sometimes cute if you know me (like if you're one of my girlfriends and want to stow away in my luggage). Just weird if you're a random store clerk.

3. Is there wifi EVERYWHERE in America?

Ok, ok, I was only asked this once, but it was too good not to include. We have wifi lots of places. But it doesn't just float through the air like magical glitter dust...someone has to pay for it!

4. Everyone is rich in America!

Ok, not usually said outright, but tends to be assumed. It's true that in general we do have a higher standard of living. But we have poor people too. And things cost more than you would think. And we have to buy things you wouldn't realize (like health insurance). And yes, most of us own cars but unless you're in a big city, we don't really have public transportation so if we want to get to our job we have to figure out a way to get a car. So yes, we are very blessed, but the movies don't show you the whole picture and sometimes things are a bit different than you would think. Kind of like all the photos of starving children in Africa wearing rags for clothing. True, but not the whole picture.

5. What is your staple food?

I guess this one is the OPPOSITE of a stereotype, actually. We don't have one, although if you visited us you might be confused and think it is cheese. No, really, I know it's hard to grasp, but WE DON'T HAVE A STAPLE FOOD. And no, we don't feel hungry all the time because we don't have a staple food. Really.

Five Reasons I'm Excited About My Time Home

1. Friends and family! Visiting people! Traveling to visit people! Enough said.

2. Food! Taco Bell. I had Taco Bell for lunch and supper the other day, no lie. Donuts. Salvage stores. Berries. Double Stuff oreos. Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies. Salty tortilla chips with Ranch dressing. Lucky Charms. Hot Dog Shoppe. The Garbage Can Cookout. Etc.

3. Buying things I need. Actually finding cute shoes in my size. Getting an external DVD drive for $12 instead of $50. Thrift stores. Shopping for gifts for my friends back in SA. Going to Walmart.

4. Seasons. Fall is cool. I haven't seen the leaves turn since 2013. I might get to see snow (although that's about all I want to do, see it, not walk in it, drive in it, or otherwise be out in it).

5. Thanksgiving. I'm so happy to be home for it!

Five Reasons I'm Excited to Go Back

1. My family is there. No, not my biological family, my other family.

2. Babies. Especially one chubby little guy who just learned to blow kisses...if he's still there in November.

3. Christmas! Yes, it would be fun to be home for Christmas, but this year won't be my first Christmas away (that was last year). I'm excited to continue and start new traditions, and we're going to deck the baby home out with least whatever we can find. Last year I hardly decorated at all, just a few things in my room. I'm going to bake with my coworkers, buy a hamster for my friend's boys, and take a big box of stuff back for people.

4. Food. Someday I'll find a magical Food World where everything I like will be on the same continent. I got an intense craving for a mango in the middle of the night last night. And it's fun to have so many meals with people.

5. Meaning, purpose, and structure to my life: Ok, I KNOW I have the first two at home, even if I feel a bit aimless sometimes. But I love my job. You wouldn't think I would have to remind myself to enjoy 3 months off, but sometimes I do! 

Five Things I'd Love for the Baby Home

(This is my personal list - money for caregiver salaries, electricity, formula, and diapers always tops the official MBH list. This is definitely not an officially sanctioned list as I'm pretty sure EVERYTHING takes priority over baby bow ties.)

1. Two new drying racks. They get used 7 days a week and I've had to resurrect the old ones more times than I can count. This one is my favorite. I have one for my own personal use and even though they're quite a bit more than other models, they are incredibly sturdy. Available to buy in South Africa for about $32 USD. I don't think they've bought any more since I've been gone, but I'm not sure. 

2. Bottle bands to slip over Avent bottles, personalized with "MBH" - so we don't lose them at church. 

3. Sock Ons. Although there HAS to be a cheaper place to buy them. They are these little things that hold socks on. Our babies are exceptionally skilled at kicking socks and shoes off and it's hard to keep their toes warm in the winter!

4. Adorable dress clothes, especially for baby boys. I don't really have space to take a ton of baby clothes back, but I dream of dressing our boys in little white button down shirts with bow ties and suspenders....<3 <3 <3 

5. C batteries. Used to power our swings, but we only have them when they are donated to us. Not so necessary with older babies, but a lifesaver with newborns!

Five Hardest Things About Support Raising

1. Asking people for money. 

2. Waiting.

3. Not feeling like I can do anything to move the process forward.

4. Talking to people at churches I don't know very well.

5. Pestering people. "Did you ask this person if I can speak? Did you figure out a date?" 

Five Fun Things About Support Raising

1. Doing things like designing a prayer card and writing blog posts.

2. Speaking. No, really, it's cool, at least after I get the first time over with. It's fun to tell stories and I like to talk about what I love.

3. Having a break from the insanity of daily life and a chance to catch up on things.

4. Watching God provide.

5. Visiting lots of people!

Five Highlights of My Last Term in SA

1. Caring for all the babies but especially baby B! Easily the best part of my year.

2. Making new friends - new 1Hope staff, new church members...those moments when you are like, "instant best friend!"

3. Getting to know old friends better.

4. Really finding my place in the world and at MBH and realizing that I'm happy here.

5. Chickens. I had always wanted them!

Five Unusual Things I Ate Since the Last List

1. Chicken livers. Didn't gag, not a fan.

2. Beef liver. Same. I guess this isn't "unusual." My mom eats it. But it goes outside the bounds of "things I normally consume."

3. Peanut butter with stewed greens. Definitely gagged. Sorry, guys.

4. Chicken feet. The outside is ok, the inside doesn't resemble anything I would like to swallow, but it's a popular dish!

5. Crocodile. It's ok, kind of rubbery, and totally grossed my African friends out!

Five Favorite Foods from South Africa

1. Fresh mangoes

2. Pap with all of the soups mixed together at communion. Especially that beef stew with red sauce.

3. Samoosas. Still a favorite. It's kind of like a little Hot Pocket, Indian style.

4. Meat pies. I get cravings for these at the weirdest times.

5. Grenadilla (passionfruit) pop/soda.

Five Funny Moments

1. That time I saw a beggar whose sign read "Jeraff stolen by ninjas need money for karate lessons." He'd apparently stolen a bunch of local retirement home posters, cut the giraffes out, and pasted them to his sign.

2. This story (since which my driving has improved):

"Mama Linda is the best to drive with because nothing ever scares her about my driving. And I mean nothing. Even plenty of things that should.

Today I was following cars around a right turn, without noticing that they'd been turning on a green arrow (I thought we had a green light and opposing traffic had a red one). The green arrow was no longer there. I get halfway across the intersection and notice the line of cars has started to move. They do see me - they're all blaring their horns at me - so I'm not too worried about impending doom. At this point, I figure it's better to plow forward quickly rather than attempt to back up.
Mama Linda: You have confidence. Is better.
Me: Uh, auntie, I think that's called stupidity, not confidence.
Mama: You are a good driver. 
At least she believes in me. The rest of you can just pray for me."

3. Signs in general. Like the Prophetic Supermarket or the Buy Fish/Get a Surgery Combo.

4. That time my chicken got loose in the retirement community and the older (possibly senile) lady wouldn't let me into her backyard to catch it because "oh no! It's fine!"

5. That time when Lu and I pretended to be flight attendants and were a general public nuisance.

I think that's all for today!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My time at home

So I've gotten a lot of questions about my time at home and ministry in South Africa, and I thought I'd do my best to answer them here for those of you who are wondering.

Do I miss the babies?

Yes. A lot. I've watched this video probably a dozen times. My Sunday work buddy sent it to me.

That being said, all this QUIET is a rare occurrence in my life!

Am I going back? Or do I want to go somewhere else next time?

I am absolutely planning on it. (At least half my possessions are over there now.) I'm not on a short term trip anymore. I'm committed to this specific ministry and at this point I'm as likely to decide to go somewhere else as I was to decide to leave home for Africa in the first place (read: no one has their entire future planned, but not very likely). This is my job now. Also, I really like this place and these people and this thing I'm doing, so, there is that. =)

How long am I planning on staying?

Officially, until my visa runs out in May 2018. But, I just can't see myself leaving then! I'm desiring to stay on indefinitely. Like I said, no one has the future entirely planned out but I love it at MBH and, as I've already mentioned, most of my stuff is there. Ha ha.

When am I going back?

Lord willing, November 29th (Tuesday after Thanksgiving.) Yes, I have my tickets. Was it a good idea to buy them ahead of time? Maybe, maybe not. I guess we'll see.

Am I getting a job while I am home?

No, because this trip is primarily to raise monthly support and visit with friends and family. I'm only home for 3 months (who wants to hire someone for 3 months?) and I'm going to be doing quite a bit of traveling. I'm picking up the odd job or two when I get the chance, and I'm happy to crochet something for you (Etsy - Abbie's Happy Heads or the same on Facebook). I'm also hoping to volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center.

How does support raising work?

Last time I raised support for a year - so I needed a specific total dollar amount that would stretch over the whole year. This time, my goal is to raise long-term support - i.e. support that will allow me to stay as long as God has me here. I'm looking for supporters to partner with me on a monthly basis. Of course, I have been very blessed to receive some one-time gifts as well - they help me with some larger expenses/purchases (like flights, repairs to my room, etc) that are sometimes difficult to squeeze out of a monthly budget.

Why do you need more this time?

There are added expenses, the older I get (like not being on my family's insurance anymore and needing to buy health insurance) and the longer I stay somewhere (car repairs, savings, etc.) Exchange rates fluctuate (so sometimes I get more or less in the currency that I use in South Africa, even if the dollar amount stays the same). There is a potential that some supporters just won't be able to support me anymore at some point, and it's just better to have a small cushion when I am looking at things longer term.

What are you doing while you are home?

Well, when I'm not working on support raising, or traveling/visiting people, I try to occupy my time with things that a.) I don't have time to or can't do in South Africa and/or b.) will make my life easier when I get back. So I'm practicing musical instruments, working on learning the local language that many of my friends speak (Shona), cleaning out and getting rid of a lot of my stuff in my parents' house, shopping for all the things on my "buy in the USA" list, using up my fabric stash to sew baby quilts for the multitude of showers/birthday parties at Living Hope, exercising, writing blog posts, thrift shopping with my mom, eating Taco Bell, and sometimes enjoying evening TV binges. ;) Sometimes I'm a little bored (*gasp!* I haven't been able to say that in years!) as support raising is a funny beast - you work and work and prep and send out letters and speak and wait and wait. But it's good to have some time at home. 

Speaking of home, which place do I see as "home" now?

To which question I quote the old hymn, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through..." Seriously though, don't make me pick. Haha. Your old childhood home is generally always "home,"  but I've pretty much made a life for myself in South Africa, and I love it. Yes, I do miss you all. I always welcome visitors. =)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Upcoming speaking dates

Hi all!

I will be speaking at Fowler Community Church (about working at Muphamuzi Baby Home) on Sunday, September 25th (service starts at 10 am). For those who would like to come but can't make it, I will also be speaking at the same place on Friday the 30th at 7 pm (finger foods/cookies to follow).

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Little Princess

Sweet baby R has been the only girl at the baby home all year! She has more pink clothing than one child could ever wear.

Sweet dreams, Princess!