South Africa - Before the Trip and Departure

For those of you who have been waiting to hear about my actual journey to South Africa, wait no longer!  I have been wanting to write about the amazing days that led up to my departure.  If you've been reading long, you'll know I had committed to this trip a long time ago.  If you want to know the story about how God confirmed this to me, you can read about that here

I have been excited about this trip since then.  But in the weeks and months leading up to the trip, to say I was NOT excited would be an understatement.  I know Satan works on those that are doing the Lord's work and I know he especially kicks into gear for those that are about to leave for a mission journey.  And intellectually, I knew this lack of excitement was straight from Satan.  In hindsight, I had no idea just how hard he was working on me.

Each meeting we had, I left with a feeling of disconnect and dread.  At one point, I told my friend Katelyn, if there were any way I could back out right then, I would have.  And the only thing that kept me from it was that several folks had donated towards my trip and I knew if I backed out, I would have to tell them that I'd forfeited their generosity.  And I just couldn't do that.  Thinking of how close I was to backing out breaks my heart now.

At any rate, I determined that I would go no matter what.  The very day of our next to the last meeting, my brother died unexpectedly.  I knew it would be the perfect opportunity (read: excuse) to back out.  But at that point, I was MAD.  I was mad at Satan for pulling that on me.  I was determined to go no matter how miserable it might make me.  By the next week, I was really dreading the whole thing.  Satan was in overdrive.  Tuesday before I left, I was just about in a state of depression.  I had multiple friends and family who, even in their good intentions, were acting like I was never coming back.  Due to the recent death in the family, I think everyone (including myself) was on edge.  But while Satan was doing his best to steal my joy (and was doing a bang-up job at it), there were others who were going to the throne on my behalf.

That Tuesday, Steve came to visit with me at work as he was killing some time before picking up Jenna.  As he left, he knew I was in a state.  Over the next 2 hours, I received random and unsolicited encouraging texts or emails from about 5 folks at church.  Most of them knew I was leaving soon, but none of them knew the extent of my distress.  Then, the sweet lady that cleans our offices during the day time came by.  She always stops to say hello and had noticed a few months earlier when I was gone for a few days on vacation.  It was then that I told her about my upcoming journey to South Africa and she had known I was leaving soon.  That Tuesday, immediately following my influx of emails and texts, she stops by my office, walks in, and takes my hands in hers.  She looks me right in the eye and told me God told her to tell me to not be afraid that I was in God's hands and He was sending me to do His work in South Africa.  It was all I could do to hold it together.  This woman had NO IDEA how much I was struggling.  But at that moment, she was my lifeline straight to Jesus.  It was like He was holding my hands telling me how I was His child and to not be afraid.  Later that night, Steve shared with me that he knew when he left me that I was struggling, so he got in the car and prayed for me.  Immediately after that prayer is when these emails and texts started rolling in.  You will never convince me that God wasn't sending His words of encouragement through friends and loved ones.

However, when Wednesday came and I was at the airport, I knew it still wasn't over.  I determined not to cry when I left Steve and I didn't cry when leaving Jenna at school.  However, when it came time to walk away, I broke down.  I managed to keep it from turning into an ugly cry (girls, you know the one I'm talking about), but just barely.  I am glad to say I wasn't the only one.  There were other sweet women of God (and mothers) there who wept right along with me.  I was SO thankful for them.

But once the goodbye was done, I was totally fine and I know it was the grace of God that got me through.  I'm happy to report our flight to Detroit left on time and was quite uneventful.  There was a short layover in Detroit and then on to Amsterdam.  It was about an 8 hour flight and I must say the most uncomfortable plane I have been on.  I prefer the aisle seat because I like the option of getting up and walking around on long flights.  But they (who is they anyway?) tell you to try and get on South Africa time as soon as you can.  So, we were supposed to sleep on that flight.  But there was NO WAY.  The seats barely recline and the head rests are useless.  I guess I slept maybe an hour at best.  I watched Letters to Juliet and talked some to my neighbor, Beth, who was enjoying the flight about as much as I was.  But let me just give a quick shout out to the stranger on the plan who realized that Beth and I were in the same group and considerately offered to trade seats with me so we could sit together.  I mean, is that just not a pay-it-forward moment?  I digress.
This was prior to the sun going down on our way to Cape Town.

The flight to Amsterdam, though uncomfortable at best, was uneventful.  We arrived in Amsterdam with a few hour layover. 3 of the team opted to take a quick jaunt around Amsterdam, but I'm too much of a rule follower for that.  Finally we boarded and were on our way to Cape Town.  This plane was a lot nicer.  Somehow I ended up with a window seat and that was perfect for me.  I slept a good 5 hours or so.  However, somehow they got a special note on my account that I wanted only a fruit platter for meals, so for three straight meals, I got fruit.  And not just fruit, but cooked fruit.  UGH.  Anyway, I watched another few movies, slept off and on and before I knew it, we touched down in Cape Town.  I think I speak for all of us when I say we couldn't have been happier!

This picture was taken by some very sweet American ladies also traveling to South Africa for a mission trip.

It was probably 10pm at that point and by the time we got our luggage and cleared customs, it was 11pm.  We met our staff leader, Amy, our other team member (who'd gone on ahead with Amy), Casey and the Team House manager and tour guide extraordinaire, Clynton.  Clynton gave us some brief instructions about the Team House and away we went.

This is Clynton.  Several ladies thought he looked like Rob Pattinson from the Twilight movies.  I agree, but like Clyton a bit better because of the sweet South African accent. :)  Also, it was quite chilly at the time of our arrival.  Turns out, it would be the last chilly-ness we'd have.
Our luggage.  15 travelers x 2 suitcases each x carry-ons = A LOT OF LUGGAGE!
By the time we arrived at what would be our home for the next 2 weeks, we unpacked a bit and headed to bed.  The next day would be training with the Life Skills Educators (LSEs). 

All the rooms in the Team House are named for books of the Bible.  My roomies were Jaina and Elaine.  Love both these sweet women!
More to come...Stay tuned for Day 1 pictures.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

That truly was the hand of God working through that cleaning lady. Amazing.