Monday, June 16, 2014

Nappies, Humor, and Hard Work

When I first announced that I’d be going to South Africa and explained what I’d be doing for 6 weeks, the most common response I received was something to the effect of “aww you get to hold cute babies for 6 weeks, you are perfect for that. It will be so much fun!” and I pretty much nodded my head and agreed.
Now, halfway into this journey, I’m not sure whether to nod my head in agreement (because it is a lot of fun and the babies are way cuter than you could imagine) or to laugh sarcastically and rattle on about how this trip is a whole lot more than cute babies and I’m so not perfect for it (which is all the more reason God has to show up, because without Him, I do not have this under control).

~It is countless sleepless nights begging God to prove Himself strong for the baby I just held moments before he was rushed to the hospital.

~ It’s not realizing any more that spit up has become a permanent accessory to my wardrobe, dried into essentially every article of clothing I own, because I have 13 babies to help care for, feed, change and prepare for their forever families and they are far more valuable than those jeans were.

~It’s only lasting until 3pm on my days off before going for a visit to the babies because I “just had to check really quick on so and so’s cough or runny nose” and then spending an hour giving hugs and kisses and wiping snotty noses because I just can’t help it.

~It’s catching myself referring to everyone as “Auntie” and using South African terms like “fetch”, “shame”, “nappie” and “sure” all the time in regular conversation.

~ It’s crying for no apparent reason except that they are perfect and I am homesick and tired and I love them more than anything I’ve ever known.

~It’s seeing God’s promise of redemption worked out in front of my eyes and praying for each one of their sweet “redeemed” stories as I watch them come to be.

~It’s trying to explain what biscuits and breakfast sausage are when no one has ever heard of either here. (Btw, they call cookies biscuits here and as of yet, I have not found anything comparable to a real biscuit to use as an example)

~It’s threatening not to share my “American” brownies and baked goodies that I made if my roommates make fun of my “American” accent or terms again ;)

~It’s wondering if the people who design baby clothes have ever actually dressed a wiggling baby in a 17 snap pajama outfit and tried to unsnap 17 snaps every time a diaper needed changing…the answer has to be no. Zippers my friends, zippers!

~It’s developing 72 new ways to make chocolate chips because we refuse to pay R30 ($3) for a bag of chocolate chips when you can buy a chocolate bar for R9.9 (99 cents). (FYI: My least favorite method so far? Cutting an entire chocolate bar with scissors…not good on the hands)

~It’s facing the fact that the sizes are different here and while your shoe size may have dropped 2 digits, your jean size has not. On the same note, it’s learning that very unlike America, people call one another “big” here as a compliment and not wanting to go on a binge diet the first time it happens to you. Big=blessed here- though certainly not in America.

~It’s realizing that, suddenly, I am the “foreigner” and there is no disguising it. Every single time we go out, someone stops and asks where I am from. They love my accent here which is so funny to me!

~It’s suddenly realizing how integral pepperonis are to a good pizza only when they aren’t a regular commodity and then being filled with loads of joy (and carbs) upon discovering the pizza place that serves pepperoni pizza.

~It’s reconciling different cultures and senses of humor to become friends with my roommates and realizing my flat encompasses people from all over the world and how, while incredibly difficult, it is equally an incredible blessing.

~It’s the first time my hands bled from constant washing. And the fact that today I hand washed well over 50 bibs and that was just one round.

~It’s the amount of prayer and spiritual dedication that goes into every worker and volunteer’s life in order to produce the patience, love and gentleness that emanates from them.

~It’s praying together, in different languages, from different cultures and spiritual upbringings, and trusting that The Lord hears every word just the way it was intended.

~It’s the fact that while I get to hold cute babies, it’s also a lot of hard work and yet, I love every single minute of it. What a blessing!

So… while a lot of my day looks like this

A good bit of it also looks like this

And this….

And this…

I have a pretty good feeling there will be a part two to this post as even I haven’t yet figured out everything that this trip is about. I’ve got a lot to learn still my friends….. Thank you for patiently and graciously supporting me and taking the time to read my thoughts. Your Facebook messages, emails and letters have carried me through and provided daily and sometimes hourly encouragement. Love you all!!

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