Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hi to everybody! I made it safely with all my luggage to Lily in Mophela Township outside of Pietermaritzburg in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. I got to spend a few hours with Rachel, my sister, in London during my 11 hour layover which was a lot of fun even though the weather was completely bizarre. Harry Potter alert: There is, by the way, a Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station. I got about halfway through but then decided since everyone had been so supportive I had better go on to South Africa :). I have photographic proof of this for those of you who doubt me!!!
The first interesting thing that happened when I got to Johannesburg is that the customs official and I had the exact same birthday. He got really excted about it! I think he was the first friendly customs official I have ever met. The area that Lily is in is very rural. As we were driving up the roads turn to dirt and we were met by about 30 children running alongside the van. A lot of them knew my name already and were yelling "Miss Sarah!" and waving.
Lily has about 20 houses with 114 children total living in them. The permanent house mothers are hired from the community, and raise these children together. The children call them their "ma" and the others in the house with them are their sisters or their brothers. It seems like a really stable situation for them, especially considering the situations some of them came out of.
My internet access is going to be more sporadic than I thought, so I think what I'm going to do is type blogs on my computer and then post them when I can. So if you see I've posted a new blog, check and see if I've put more than one!
And now to leave you with a typical story: my first day here I was walking around and a few of the children were yelling my name and waving me over. So I was over talking to them and they asked me what my last name was. I told them and they gasped and said, "Sarah Underwear?". So it took about 30 seconds for that elementary school nickname to follow me halfway around the world. Hah.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

i lost my driver's license again

This time, in Walmart. Ugh, walmart. I haven't been in there for so long but my mom and I spent 3 HOURS there yesterday getting stuff I needed to take with me...I got a long list of suggestions from the people at AIM last week and I was not exactly prepared. Also, I wanted to get some medical supplies to take with me based off suggestions from the nurse who was there before me (also named Sarah). I bought gauze, antiseptic, bandages, tape, and alcohol pads, my favorite.
BUT when I got home I realized my driver's license was gone. Again. I usually am not a loser (of things) but my Tennessee driver's license escapes me on a regular basis. Naturally, it took me about 20 seconds to be convinced of the worse case scenario. I have lost it. It is gone forever. I will not be able to get a new one, because I no longer live in Tennessee. All of my paperwork is based off of my TN license number. I will not be allowed to leave the country because I don't have my identification (somehow, in this scenario a US passport was not sufficient). Etc. Etc. My mom calmly suggested I call customer service at Walmart (where I had my license out, because I was having to return stuff for my mom, who has returned so much stuff to Walmart without a receipt that she has been blacklisted and can't do it again for 6 months or something like that. They probably have a picture of her face behind the cash register.) where they informed me that it was sitting there waiting on me. Thank God. Again.
Another exciting thing about this week, which I keep sort of forgetting about, is that I'm going to get to spend Saturday in London with my sister! Rachel's in school right now in Swansea, Wales and I have a 9 hour layover so we're going to see the sights. Or at least a few of them. I've never gotten to see London so I'm pretty excited. And in true good sisterly fashion, the very first place she's taking me is Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station so I can get my Harry Potter fix for the next 9 months. Hooray.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

t minus 5 days...

i'm looking forward, and looking back

That is the main thought going through my head right about now. I am five days away from moving to Africa. Almost everything is done, except for the small issue of packing. I really should be more concerned about it than I am, but all I'm thinking about is eating. Hibachi, pizza, Cock of the Walk...I'm not sure that should be my main focus before I leave for a 9 month mission trip, but I just love to eat! My roommate at orientation, Lydia, was going to the southern Sudan and was going to be surviving on lentils, beans, and rice for the next 3 months. I'm not sure what I'm going to be eating but I think it'll be more variety than that. Regardless, after this last week of gluttony I'm saying goodbye to all my horrible night shift eating habits!
This has been an emotional week. Today was my last Sunday at Grace Bible Church till Christmas. Tonight was my last night to work at MHBC in the nursery which made me a little sad (but my favorite snuggle buddy Sarah Marie was there!) I have said goodbye to my dear friends and have had the beast of bad timing bite me in the rear. This process has been long and oftentimes frustrating, and I think God is teaching me more and more about patience and trust. Neither of these are particularly fun lessons to learn, and I'm pretty sure I have more coming to me in the next few months.
A year ago, I was at the Vatican on Palm Sunday and got to hear the Pope speak. It is amazing to see what direction my life has taken since that time and how quickly it has flown by. Standing outside St. Peter's Basilica hearing everyone wishing each other God's peace in so many languages stands out in my mind as one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. (I took that picture to the right on that same trip- that's the Berlin Wall behind me.) I'm so excited to be heading to Africa, but sad for the things I'm leaving behind.
Thank you, everybody for all the love you've shown me. That has been the best part of this journey so far.