Start as you mean to go on…

Lots of people have warned us that this is going to be hard.

Specifically, they’ve warned that a year of medical mission in a township with hardly any English speaking people, and none of our normal support around us, will be emotionally, physically, spiritually draining.

Just as we were getting better, Joen decided to spend an entire night vomiting. I got to sleep on the floor next to him, ready with a bucket.

I think we expect that, and we’ve tried to sensibly prepare for it. What we weren’t prepared for was:

  • Our children barely sleeping the night before we flew.
  • wpid-img_20140821_230151.jpgThen barely sleeping on the 15 hours of aeroplanes – Joen woke after 3 hours sleep and decided he wanted to play Angry Birds at 3am!
  • The evening we arrived, I spent all night feeling sick. Then vomited the next day, quite a lot of times.
  • Despite this, we had to find a car, so we spent our first day with me sleeping in the car between dealerships, blearily examining cars, and generally feeling awful.
  • Then our lovely hostess Fran got ill (thanks to us).
  • And so did Kat.
  • And then, just as we were getting better, Joen decided to spend an entire night vomiting. I got to sleep on the floor next to him, ready with a bucket.

It is now Wednesday. We’ve been here for 5 days, and yet we still can’t start to settle, we still haven’t left Gauteng, and we haven’t even seen our new home yet!

wpid-img_20140826_141935.jpgHowever, hope is in sight, because we have bought a car – a blue Jeep Cherokee – and are waiting for the service and roadworthy to get finished today, and hoping to get on the road early tomorrow morning.

In the midst of feeling tired, grumpy, ill, unsettled and frustrated, both of us have wished for home; it hasn’t felt like we have had purpose or value (or any fun!) during the beginning of our “great adventure”.

There was a moment, in the midst of our worst day, where I was reminded why we are here. We had stopped to buy an ice cream for the interminably grumpy Joen. Whilst in the supermarket, I tried out a little Zulu conversation with the cashier.

Sawubona, baba. Unjani?”
(“Hello, respected male. How are you”)

He just started laughing. At first I wondered if my pronounciation was wrong (it was), but then I realised why he was laughing: its crazy rare for a white person to speak to black people in their own language.

And suddenly, a lightening happened to my awful day. Because that’s why we are here. To live out an upside down gospel…

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Matthew 19:29-30

wpid-img_20140824_095824.jpgIt is ridiculous to leave a comfortable life in England to be living out of suitcases in a hot, dusty land, trying to love, heal and make friends in a culture and language we don’t understand.

I think our first step to settling in is: acknowledging that what we are doing… is a little bit mad.

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