Where Passion Collides with Burden

Two weeks without posting a blog can cause a long post. Brace yourself…
The last week and this coming up week are so full of so many emotions that I can’t even explain it, but I’m going to try super hard to give a run down. For the past four weeks, two of my teammates and I have been working at the disability center. Sadly, Friday was our last day. So much growth and precious moments have happened since starting there. One thing I really struggled to grasp the concept of was the “building relationships” part. In the beginning I was like ‘Okay.. We build relationships. We’ll get attached. Then we leave after 4 weeks and not see them anymore? Wait… I don’t understand the good part of that.’ I struggled with that concept more than I probably should. I wanted to immediately see how I was being beneficial to the people. I wanted to see how my building a relationship with the little boy that can’t hear me or understand me, or the lady that sits in the kitchen that makes our tea. But I didn’t see an immediate change. I more so got a gradual understanding of the importance of us being there.
So let’s be real for just a second. How many of us have gone to do some volunteer work for a couple of hours on a weekend once a month? (I’m being super general right now, by the way.) I’ll go ahead and raise my hand because I have. I’ve gone to places so I can do my feel good action for the day, week, or month. Thankfully, my heart started to change long before this trip more towards a “I’m actually passionate about this” mindset … So I’m going to call out the obvious of what trips like this look like. Group of white people go to an impoverished town, play with the African kids and take pictures. Right? It’s okay, we can be honest here. So at the center they get a lot of people to come and donate stuff which is great! At the same time, one day Hillary and I were sitting in the garden picking beet root and sweating a ton when some people came to plant fruit trees. It’s such an awesome organization. There were a couple of people though that were dressed up only for the occasion a followed around by a man with a camera. Hillary and I look at each other and we say, “who are those white people?” That’s become a common question amongst both parts of the team. Whenever we see “the white people” come in we always ask “who are those white people and why are they here.” So it actually hit me in that moment that we are doing so much there. It doesn’t matter that we’re just picking beet root, swinging kids on the playground, painting tires, or just eating the food. The thing is that we’re showing that we wanted to be there in the first place with a grateful heart. We wanted so much to show them that our passion is to be with them, that we left our homes for 3 months. We left our comfort zones to spend everyday doing this. We enjoy showing up at 8 and spending so much time with these people until 3:30. But my understanding is that we show them we can come and build those relationships. We can show them the love of Christ by helping out in any way that they need. We don’t have to be building something or bringing food and clothes. We can be there and show them that we care to hear about their lives. That’s all. Spending time with them and showing them you care. We’re not there to get our “feel good” moment in. We’re there because we want to be. I really hope that made sense. I know I rambled a lot. Oh and there’s the fact that we had a lot of down time so we’ve gotten close. I’m excited for the group from the school to experience the same thing.
Then there’s Monday. We swapped our places. We started at the school and the group at the school started at the disability center. It’s going to be a change for all of us. I’m kind of still nervous a little. I mean we’ll be working at a different pace and have to learn dozens of foreign names. Excuse me for being a little anxious about that last part. But I’m also super excited to see how this next week is going to go there! SEGWAY. This next week is also the last week at our current host family homes before we switch to our new host families. Like what I did there? I pointed out the Segway for you guys.
This next week is going to be probably the hardest so far. We are going to be pumped about starting at our new places. It’s going to be awesome experiences to share with our host families. Our host parents had Abbie in one place and I at the other. They’ve heard our stories for the past 4 weeks and now we’re about to swap and share our new experiences from a different perspective and they get to be a part of that. However, in the back of our minds, this is our last week with them. Each day we get closer to having to pack up and say our goodbyes. We’ve gotten so close to our host families. By this point we’re part of the family. I mean we sometimes call them mom and dad for goodness sake. It sounds like a pretty close relationship to me. And now we’re about to leave? It doesn’t seem real. Honestly, this would be easier if we were leaving South Africa altogether. We’ll be in South Africa with a new host family knowing we can’t continue the previous relationship we started. What?! It’s just going to be a hard week and exciting at the same time. Bittersweet to the max!
Enjoy some of the pictures from the past 4 weeks.