Our First Day in South Africa… not at all what I expected!

Our First Day in South Africa... Not What I Expected!

Someone snapped this photo on the first day of our trip to South Africa and it aptly depicts how I was feeling when I got up.

It had been a hard morning…

  • I lost my really important bag with my medicine, supplements, glasses, and contacts at the airport. (They never found it and we can’t figure how or where it disappeared.)
  • I had been up for a few hours in the middle of the night with very cranky, jet-lagged kids.
  • I had tried to blow dry my hair and burned up the motor my blow dryer + flipped the breaker to a bunch of outlets.
  • I was tired, couldn’t see (because of not having contacts), and my head was throbbing because I didn’t have my allergy meds.

We finally all got out the door to our first destination and then Silas threw up.

Honestly, I was trying so hard to choose joy, but wondering if maybe we’d made a big mistake in coming to South Africa. I was so excited to be here, but it felt like everything was falling apart at the seams.

I decided that instead of being frustrated over things I couldn’t change or fix, I instead was just going to trust God and rest that He was going before me in this. And it was beautiful to see how the day ended up being so much better than I could have ever imagined!

Our First Day in South Africa

This was our first stop of the day. This picture might not look like much to you, but I could barely hold back tears when I walked into this workshop.

You see, when I was in South Africa in January, we had many discussions about the possibilities of helping the locals learn more marketable skills (most can’t think of jobs outside of being domestic workers or security guards or gardeners).

It was just a dream in January, now they have a real live work-working workshop, suppliers, trainees, and customers!!

And they have big, big visions of how this small operation might someday be a big scale operation making a huge difference in the lives of this very needy community!!

(This photo was taken just moments after Silas threw up all over the floor of this new workshop. Poor little guy!! Gratefully, we had plenty of wipes on hand + the South African equivalent of Gatorade and it wasn’t long before he was feeling as good as new! We think the time change and new foods just made his stomach out of sorts.)

Our First Day in South Africa

This is Peet. He is spear-heading the new wood-working shop. I wanted to stay and talk to him all day long!

I was so inspired and challenged by his passion, compassion, and vision. This wood-working shop is located in a very poor area of South Africa (Hammanskraal) and the long-term goal is to train and equip young entrepreneurs and provide a desperately-needed source of income for this community.

I wish you could have met Pete! He not only wants to teach South Africans craftsmanship, but he wants to help them develop a strong work ethic, a commitment to excellence, and an entrepreneurial spirit — three things that are not commonly taught or exemplified to the young people in this area.

As we left the shop, Pete handed me this beautiful tray that he had made especially for me. I was touched beyond words and cannot wait to display this new piece of South Africa in our home. It will serve as a constant reminder to me to pray for Pete and his family for God to richly bless their self-sacrificial efforts to make an impact in this community.

Next we went to Reagoboka. I’ll write a separate post about this whole experience after I get home because I don’t have enough wi-fi or time here to upload all the photos and write everything out right now, but suffice it to say, it was an absolutely incredible experience.

Our First Day in South Africa

There are no words to adequately describe the emotion that this picture and standing here invokes.

In January, we visited this center and I saw how all of these children were being taught out of a tiny little classroom. (They would rotate classes — one class at a time — in order to accommodate all of the children with the little space they had.)

The local chief had given them land for a new building and they had building plans, but there was no money, since every penny (rand) that this center receives from government grants goes to provide food and basic necessities for these children and the running of the center.

Each of you who bought a copy of Make Over Your Mornings the day it launched helped pay for the bricks and the concrete and the local labor and the classroom supplies to build this brand-new two-room classroom!!! And we got to unveil it to the teachers and children this week.

It. Was. Amazing!!! To think that all of us together are having a little part in making a BIG difference in this community of very vulnerable children — it’s surreal, humbling, and goose-bump-inducing.

THANK YOU for partnering with me to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this project!!! I wish you could have been there to share in the excitement and see and hear the gratitude they expressed to us.

Also, y’all: I’m just so madly in love with this country that my heart just might burst. The needs are so great, but there is so much hope and so many amazing opportunities for us to make a difference!

Our First Day in South Africa

This photo was my favorite from the first day.

My boy, Silas, was very nervous about this trip. He doesn’t do new or change or different very well. He’s shy. He introverted. And he would usually prefer to be right next to his mama when we’re in unfamiliar situations.

So when I looked over and saw this, my mama heart just about broke in two. These boys put their arms around Silas, held hands with him, and embraced him — like they knew he was awkward and shy and they wanted to make sure he felt welcome and one of them. It was beyond beautiful.

By the way, Lisa-Jo’s parents, whom we were staying with that night, were so, so amazing to not only help me track down contacts from an eye doctor here, but also the meds I needed (that was an interesting experience — Googling, talking to the pharmacist at the drug store, and having our pharmacist and doctor friends here help us figure out what would be comparable to what). I am so grateful — and it was so amazing to see the different ways that God provided so that I could get what I needed so I could function well on this trip!


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