One year ago today, we loaded up our trusty minivan for one last time and headed to the airport in Grand Rapids. We were able to check in our 14 pieces of luggage without any problems and spent time with friends, waiting for our plane to depart. I can still remember tripping over my carryon when Rachel called me back for one last hug and one more chance to squeeze my abnormally small and frail hands. We then walked through security and started a journey that has looked much different than the one we started plotting out on our living room floor on Elm Avenue in 2009.
Today, we are still living just outside of Hammanskraal in what was supposed to be our temporary residence. This farm and the surrounding area has been such a blessing to us. As Laura Ingalls Wilder said, "We who live in the quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those who are keeping up with the crowd". I have found this to be true in so many ways and am so thankful that God in His goodness (and our generous landlords) has made it possible for us to spend this past year in this "quiet place".
Today, we do not live off of the profits of our business, but off of the kindness of people who believe in us and in our dream to live here in South Africa and come alongside people who are already doing a good work in this country. We have been blessed to get more involved at Tshwaraganang (Mama C) and Tshepo Ya Bana (across the road). We have met new people through our work with both of these organizations and, even though we still have a lot to learn, we feel like we have learned how to do good and be a blessing instead of always coming in with our own plans and agendas.
Today, instead of making long term plans for the schooling of our kids, we continue to cobble together a mishmash of lessons in an attempt to keep up their education. This morning we started learning about the Oregon Trail and the pioneers who traveled upon it many, many years ago and remembered starting our own journey to South Africa 365 days ago. With so much of our future up in the air and out of our hands, we don't know if we'll be enrolling them in a local school midway through the South African school year or if they'll be starting 1st and 3rd grade back in Michigan.
Today, my hands are cold as I type. I dread the setting of the sun as we won't be able to pop outside to warm our bodies. I remember arriving here just over a year ago and having these same experiences; mornings that I can hardly drag myself from the warmth of our bed, hanging laundry with gloves on, lugging around a hot water bottle all. day. long. Instead of totally hating the cold I find myself wondering if we'll have the privilege to "endure" another South African winter, or if this will be our last.
Today, we don't have the answers, but I know we'll need to make a decision soon. I'm just thankful that it doesn't have to be today.