Thank you for all of your love and support I am so excited to share this experience with all of you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A South African Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are having a blessed Christmas season. South African Christmas is different than anything I have ever experienced, most notably the summer weather! I miss you all very much and know that I am thinking of you often. I'll be celebrating Christmas with my South African hosts with Christmas morning church and lunch. My Christmas present will be landing on a flight from the United States landing at 5 pm Christmas Day. My boyfriend, Josh, is coming for a 2 week visit! I am beyond excited. We'll be spending time in Soweto as well as traveling to Cape Town! I'll be back in Soweto on Jan 10! I'll be back on the blog then :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thanksgiving and Beyond

When I first arrived in South Africa I knew that the time I spent here would fly by. I knew that there would be events that would seem far away and then suddenly in a blink of eye would be here. Thanksgiving was the first of these events making the holiday and our first volunteer retreat. Leaving orientation with the other volunteers in the first week of September we knew that we would not all be together again until Thanksgiving; it was 12 weeks away. Looking at the calendar and first adjusting to the new surroundings it looked like the end of November was ages away. Now Thanksgiving and the retreat have come and gone.

Our first retreat was exactly that a retreat. It was a great time to spend together, have fun, and reflect on our first months in South Africa. As we came together that first night it was clear that the 11 young adults who left in September where 11 different people than who gathered together at the same hostel. We laughed, we shared stories, we just enjoyed being together. Through the retreat we were able to spend time in Pietermaritzburg were we celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the Konkol family. It was amazing how being outside of the United States you can truly experience the spirit of Thanksgiving. Following Thanksgiving day we traveled into the Drakensberg mountains and did quite a bit of hiking. The mountains were beautiful.

Following the retreat I had the opportunity to travel with 3 other YAGMs. Our first stop was to Bloemfontein. We spent 3 days working on a farm, there are pictures to proof it :)! We also were able to accompany the 28 orphans who stay at the farm to a day at a waterpark. These kids did not know how to swim but had a great day gaining confidence in the water and by the end of the day they were all able to hold their breath and go under water! I was also able to travel to Kimberly to serve with another volunteer. After being on the road for almost 2 weeks it was great to come home to Soweto.

The chance to serve with other volunteers is such a gift. See what a day is like for them. Seeing a totally different part of South Africa. While we are all in South Africa the experiences each of us have are so different. I loved being on the farm and being able to sit outside and see the thousands and thousands of stars while fighting mosquitoes after a long day of hard work outside. I also loved being in Kimberly and seeing how this community was shaped by the mining of diamonds that continues today. Being away made me appreciate being in Soweto so much more. The old saying of absence makes the heart grow founder is so true. Soweto is busy and loud and something is always happening I love it all. I know that each volunteer is partial to their area and I know that each of us is exactly where we are suppose to be. Coming home I truly realized that Soweto has become home and that simple statement makes me so happy. I know that my time here is short and will go quickly but I know that come July when I do have to pack my bags and leave I will leave part of me here in Soweto.