Saturday our family needed to get a few things done around the house, like laundry and washing dishes and letting the kids sleep in, etc. We headed to Pretoria at 4 for a traditional braai, which was made even more South African because there was a Rugby World Cup game that night; South Africa vs. Scotland. The venue for the night o’ fun was casa de Jager, also known as Annelien and Morné’s house. We arrived before everyone else, including our hosts, so we let ourselves into the backyard and Tyson and Jori swam for a bit.
|Singing, or pretending to sing, the South African National Anthem|
Once everyone else arrived, the food started pouring out of the kitchen; chips, popcorn, chicken skewers, steak with cranberry and camembert, crackers and cheese and so much more. This was BEFORE the main meal! While the adults were watching Rugby (Go Bokke!) the kids were either swimming, trying to play Rugby, playing dress up or just running around like kids. After the game, we had the main meal; lambchops, boerwors, salads, stuffed mushrooms, and then we still had to make room for coffee and dessert, which included melktart, cape Malva pudding, koeksisters and brownies. Yum.
|Learning how to play Minecraft|
|Totally Platonic Buds|
While the food was good, it wasn’t the only thing that made the night special. We have been able to see, time and again, how when God is at the centre, friendships are able to grow so quickly. This was only the second time we have met Crystal, the first being in January, and it was the first time we met her husband Jesse and manager, Brian. Yet we all share this passion, for God, His mission, and specifically what He is doing in South Africa and what our roles are in His story. Our children have also had friendships grow quickly with other children whose parents are doing things similar to us. They share common experiences with these other kids; sitting in the hot sun, helping hand out oranges, playing with children who don’t speak the same language and realizing that doesn’t matter as kids are kids and seem to speak their own language that doesn’t need words.
|Friends and FOOD!|
It was a fantastic night, with a lot of laughter and card tricks, kids making friends, American’s learning the rules of Rugby and so much more. We got home around 12, with both kids having fallen asleep almost as soon as we got in the car and tumbling right into their beds as soon as we were home. This was good as we had another long day planned for Sunday!
We all slept in as long as we could, then got up and got ready for church at Maubane. Usually church at Maubane is hectic, with 400+ children present, but this week was quite a bit more subdued as it was the start of school holidays and most of the children weren’t there. Our family arrived first and joined in the singing and dancing under the big roof. It was nice to be out of the sun. Everyone else showed up, Pete gave a short message on how we are all unique and made for a purpose and then our kids handed out candy to the rest of the kids.
|Wanda, Crystal, me, Annelien|
Then we started packing up to leave, after making a few changes to the rest of our plans for the day. We were going to be heading north for an elephant experience, but one of the elephants had delivered a baby the day before and the whole place was CLOSED! So, instead of a leisurely lunch, we made a pit stop at the petroport instead. Thankfully we were able to book reservations at another elephant sanctuary near Haartebeespoort Dam, so we headed west instead for our big adventure.
|Jori and I on a wild ride!|
It is always amazing to me how even when our best laid plans go awry, things always seem to work out. It’s just not worth getting stressed, although I often forget this at the moment. We obviously don’t know what we missed out on at the other elephant place because we’ve never been, but we had a great time where we ended up! Our day was FULL of elephants; we touched them, fed them, walked them, rode them and some of us were even kissed by them! It was an amazing experience and it was even more fun experiencing it with a group of people we enjoy being with. Tyson and Jori loved being so close to the elephants. Darin and I split up and each took a kid on the elephant ride with us. I was with Jori and it was fun to experience being on an elephant with her. We were so high off the ground and even for me, as an adult, the whole thing was kind of overwhelming and awesome. Hearing Jori talk about it and seeing her face light up was just one of those special times for me as a mom. I know Darin also enjoyed riding with Tyson and hearing his comments. After all of the elephant fun, and walking through part of the monkey sanctuary, we sat down to have a cool drink and talk for a bit more before it was time to pack up and head home.
|Tyson getting his face sucked off by an elephant. Also known as a kiss.|
|Remnants of the kisses|
|Jori also braved the kiss. Darin did not....|
|Walking an elephant, just like a dog, right??|
Goodbyes are never fun, but we feel pretty confident we’ll be seeing more of the Paine family and the other people from the states that we have become friends with through our work with Take Action Ministry.
|Love from the Feys|