Hello from Cape Town!!!
I cannot express how good it feels to finally be back to this beautiful country. In fact, I cried when my plane landed at Cape Town International Airport. I arrived in the most beautiful beach town, Muizenberg (a suburb about 30 minutes south of Cape Town) late Tuesday night! It feels as though I have never left, and I think that is telling of how much this little corner of the world feels like home. I am 8000 miles from most everyone and everything that is familiar and comfortable, but something about Cape Town and my work at S-CAPE makes me feel more whole and more myself than I sometimes feel back in Nashville.
The first day I was back I learned that one of the residents at our safe home was still there and was doing amazing. She has moved into the second stage house, which allows a lot more freedom and comes with more responsibility. It is designed for women who are ready to transition back into society. She is just waiting for a job so she can be self supporting when she leaves the safe home. This resident, we will call her Buttercup, wrote a book about her story, I would highly recommend, I can bring it back to you upon my return if you are interested 😉 When I was volunteering at S-CAPE last June-August, I saw Buttercup grow immesley. She is so full of joy, passion, and love. The best moment of probably my entire life was seeing her reunited with her father after ten years. I won’t give all the details here due to the amount of space it would take me to write about that beautiful day, but ask me more if you are interested. What I will say is that it was the most incredible, divinely orchestrated moments I have ever witnessed. We had no idea if her family still lived in the same house and we were just hoping someone would be able to point us to where we might find her father. And by a series of outstanding events, we ended up on her father’s doorstep. And it was the sweetest embrace, there was not a dry eye in the house. All that to be said, Buttercup has seen her family several times since then, she has gone on to do a DTS with YWAM and has written this book about her tragic and simultaneously redemptive story that is currently garnering her some income. So that was the best news to me. And when we were equally as excited to see each other when she showed up to the office on Wednesday morning.
There has been also some sorrow, as one of the residents I love dearly left S-CAPE recently. It is so hard to see the people you love dearly hurting, especially when it is completely outside your control to help. That has been really tough, but so is this work and a sweet friend wrote a beautiful quote in a card for me before I left that says:
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” -Desmond Tutu
And that is my attitude heading into my first week of work! I am so excited to start running workshops and getting to know the current residents better. I met all of the residents the other day at the office when we made stroopwafels (a Dutch cookie of sorts). They think it’s funny how Americans “sing” their words and I am amazed by their dance skills. It was so fun sharing little bits about ourselves and learning how to make these very intricate desserts together.
Together. That is the overarching theme in my time spent in South Africa. This philosophy of Ubuntu is so alive and intertwined into every aspect of my day. I think part of the reason I feel so at peace here is because my days are slower and filled with meaningful interactions. Perhaps some days are not the the American standard of productivity, but I find some of the “least productive” days to actually be the days when I learn the most and feel the most fulfilled. And that is what the past three days of acclimation have been! I have not had a to do list to check off to convince myself that I am doing something, instead, I have had profound moments of realization about just being. I sat on the plane listening to many languages be spoken, everyone excited about their trip and I was just in awe. Then I get to South Africa where there are 11 national languages, and countless foreigners in very close proximity to me and everyone is singing and dancing and speaking in their own language and I just had a moment of sonder! Each of these individuals has a story as complex and intricate as my own and that is something to be celebrated because I am not who I am without them. And shoo I barely even know them! Interconnectedness is a wonderful thing!
All this to say, I am very grateful to be back. I was welcomed with a giant avocado, I ate breakfast on the beach, I had lunch with an old friend, I saw seven people I knew at the mall, I ran in 22 mph headwinds on the beach, I have been reading a lot of Mary Oliver and I have been struggling to jailbreak my ancient IPhone 3 so I can use my South African number.
Thank you for all your kind wishes and words over the past week. I am so grateful for everyone back home for all the support and love!!
Oh, I did forget to mention the water crisis that some have been asking about. Yes, it is indeed real. We are limited to 50L of water a day per person so my showers are 1.5 minutes. And to flush the toilets we use the shower water we collect either in the tub or in buckets. It has made me very aware of how wasteful I am. I do love sustainability, so this is quite a nice exercise in that practice.