I’ve fallen in love. It wasn’t love at first sight but over time i have fallen in love. I’m in love with South Africa. I’m in love with the place as much as i’m in love with what it has to offer. I’m in love with what I get to do and be here, fulfilling dreams I never thought would be possible while living a life so seemingly normal. It’s not Australia. Australia will always have my heart and to be honest, I’ve never felt more Australian than when I’ve been here. I’ve never felt more of an attachment to my “Hometown” as I have since I’ve been here. I’ve never appreciated home as much until I was here. But at the same time, being here has allowed me to find myself, my family, my friendships and what I truly can do in this world.
I’m glad I’m having a baby in this country. I’m glad there will always be a part of me, of us, that will belong here so that we never forget what we were able to achieve. If anything, I long for someone I know to come here to show myself how much I don’t even notice here anymore compared to when we first arrived. I’ve become used to the sights and sounds of life here. I’m used to all the little landmarks on our drive from Durban to Margate — including everything from the view of the ocean, the shanty towns and the people selling food along the freeway. I’m used to seeing poverty everywhere I go and no longer feel out of place walking through an informal settlement where I am very much a “fish out of water” and yet feel at home. I have become settled in to somewhat of a routine — as much of a routine as you can have here.
SUNDAY – is meeting day; the majority of the time we go to Westville but we do try and visit around as much as we can, whether it be going all the way to Margate or just over to Durban. Thanks to the fact that Glenn has had 19 speaking appointments since Christmas, it obviously helps keep us moving around and meeting new people.
MONDAY – is the start of the working week. Max and Huddy go to school from 7:30 to 12:30 each day allowing me to keep busy. Ollie is homeschooling which means he is able to bring his books on the road or get involved with what Glenn or I are doing. Monday morning starts with Brain Gym. Yvette and I teach at a local school in Lamontville (About 20mins from Durban) called Enthukuluweni. We teach the Grade R’s a lesson based on the theme of the week (My body, My home, Summer etc) and then do a craft with them. In turn, we are teaching the teachers to teach and encouraging them on how to bring excitement to the children’s learning. There are 3 Grade R classes with approx 39 children per class. We teach Brain Gym on Monday and Wednesday morning moving thru the 3 classes and then starting again with a new theme.
After Brain gym, we go next door to the Good News Centre and run a baking session with the creche kids, usually based on a similar theme to the Grade R lesson we had just taught.
TUESDAY – is work at Happy’s, a local orphanage for the disabled. The children all have varying degrees of disabilities and the school is a boarding home. However, they have no occupational, physical or speech therapists. We are hoping to employ all these through the school but in the meantime, our plan is to implement our own Occupational Therapy (OT) class on a Tuesday morning for the grade 1 and Grade 2 classes. This is really exciting and makes me anxious to get in there and see what we can do to start helping these kids. I just hope we can be beneficial to their needs.
After finishing at Happy’s, I go with Sonya to Clermont and run an exercise class with the ladies which is then followed by a cooking class that Sonya runs. Both these are new sessions we are running to determine the interest we get within the township. From the reaction of the first session, the women are excited!
WEDNEDAY – Yvette and I head back to Braingym for our 2nd day of the week doing the same lesson and craft but with the next Grade R class. Then we head back to the Good News Creche and do a theme-related craft or excercise (e.g., teaching concepts like colours, shapes and using their motor skills).
THURSDAY – is usually my morning off. Neverthess, I keep busy. I will be trying to get to Margate on some Thursdays. Or I can join the “oldies” Bible class that Yvette runs; or in this week’s case, I enjoyed my baby shower!
Thursday afternoon, Sonya and I run a Sunday School program in Clermont at a school called Christianberg. We work with Meal-a-Day who provide a meal each day for the orphans at the school. This year, we have incorporated some orphans from the school next door which has grown our numbers to almost 50. We leave at lunchtime and pick up fresh vegetables and meat as well as rice and pap; every other week, we take many more food items to the school for them to use to cook with. We then run a Sunday School that includes a lesson, songs, worksheets or games to teach the children about the Bible. When the Sunday School activities are over, the kids are given their meal from the cooks.
FRIDAY – starts with a nice early COPT meeting at 7:30am to discuss our projects: what we’ve been doing , what we plan to change and how we plan to go about it. After this meeting is a “Volunteer Outing”. My name is the first in the alphabet, so it was up to me to organise the other volunteers for a project we could ALL do together (as we generally all have separate projects running at different times). This week, I chose to give my Brain gym Grade R’s a sport-carnival-type morning with obstacle course and races while being squirted with water guns. We finish off with juice and donuts 🙂
SATURDAY – we try to have a family day. However, life things come up like birthday parties, ecclesial days or outreach days that we need to attend.
During the week, I do my best to be home in the afternoons to spend time with the boys. As we also have Bible classes and nights out, that can make for a very exhausting week. Then the unexpected happens. E.g., last week I was able to go with Yvette on Wednesday afternoon to take some of Huddy’s hand-me-downs to a creche boy who was in desperate need. We went into the shanty town; then we walked about 100 metres winding in between shacks and wire fencing along very narrow paths to get to his small shack where his mum, grandmother and 3 brothers live (in a 4 x 4 metre shack). In Australia, you might wonder (as you throw out clothes or old toys) about all the kids in need in other countries. But the amazing thing about being here, is I have the ability of going straight to a boy’s home and handing him directly a bag of much- needed clothes and watching the smile spread across his face and those around him.
This is just one of the many things I love about being here. From seeing the Grade R’s faces light up and the screams of excitement when we enter the room, to the excited hands in the air when we ask a question at Christianberg about the Bible and they know the answer. Or being recognised for my Kingdom of God t-shirt when I walk by. Or reacting to my new name. (The kids at Braingym struggle with saying “Crissie”, as do many kids, so Yvette decided we need to rethink a nickname and came up with CC – CC also means sister in Zulu and one boy who heard this was sooooo excited to hear my name was CC he didn’t want to let go of my hand, saying “I just LOVE your name”). It’s the little things that have made me fall in love with this country. The little things that get me up every morning and thank God that He sent me here and I have this opportunity, not just for me but my family, my children. Words can’t describe the incredible experience I get to have on a daily basis. I love South Africa.