If you would have asked me two years ago what I'd be doing after high school, I would have told you that I would go to school and get my degree in something. I never would have thought id be in South Africa on a missions trip. I would have conformed to what society tells you is the next step in life. I would have conformed to the idea that getting a degree and a job is the only way you can survive. But it's not.
This past week, I've really been taking some time to look deeper at the community of Olievenhoutbosch. I am blown away by the beauty of the most simplistic life. Yes there is material poverty and crime. But according to the way of life, this is the richest place I've even come into contact with. Most people live off of $10 a day. That's the minimum wage rate for one hour in America. But these people are busting their behinds for 8+ hours of work. They live houses smaller than most garages in America. But you know what? They are satisfied. More than that they are happy and content. They do more than just survive, they are thriving and loving life.
To me, the people in this township have life way more figured out than anyone. Their lives are simple, not clouded with the brokenness that material poverty brings. They live life and live it fully. At first, I was really thrown off balance at the peace in people's hearts here. They seemed to be so content with staying here and not "getting out", I was confused to as why. But then I began to let God open my eyes. I started to see all the richness and all the beauty that the community possessed. I started to see the community as it was, a partnership of people doing life together. Never have I ever seen or met more willing to help you people. They watch out for each other. They take care of each other, financially, physically and spiritually. They are there for each other. And because of this, kids can walk the streets freely, they can enjoy the freedom of being a kid and having the world as their play ground. The kids are joyful and not scared to dream. They are empowered to chase after their goals and aspirations. They are encouraged to be kids.
This community has not conformed to the western world and I believe that it is the smartest this a community can do. They have kept their lives as simple as possible. They don't need people to come here and fix their poverty or give them hand outs. They can live happily without the western worlds ideals about how life should be lead.
This is the single most important thing I have learned thus far.
I keep coming back to something my dad once told me, he said that God didn't create life to be difficult, He created it to be easy. I've made my life so difficult up until this point conforming to what society says my life should look like. But God made life to be easy. Yes there will challenges and hard days, but at the end of the day, it's meant to be simple. Me and Jesus walking hand in hand, through each day. I can not thank Olievenhoutbosch enough for teaching me this. For showing me to stop conforming to the ideas of society and to live simply, with Jesus.