It’s been a very long time since we have met in this space….my deepest apologies! We have had some requests to lay it all on the line and tell what African living is really like so this is my attempt to explain life here. I will preface this by saying we are right where God wants us to be, its not always easy but living the life He has called you to does come with a lot of peace even in the difficult days.
South Africa is such a strange place to live because you have the poorest of the poor living next to wealth. It’s a first and third nation all wrapped up into one. This fact alone has caused some issues for us in adjusting to this culture. It’s easy to find things that you need: food, clothes, house items etc. But living a “normal” life is kinda out of the question. This dichotomy of poor and wealth creates a huge opportunity for crime, petty crime and violent crime. Yes we knew that before we moved here but knowing it and living it on a daily basis are two totally different things. This sign that you see is just outside of our complex. So when we leave our house we are on high alert. Hijacking here is common, very common. We will be doing hijacking drills with the kids this coming week, as we found out that if this situation does occur you need to have your children come up to the front with you and everyone must exist out the driver’s door. This is to prevent them from driving off with your kids.
Our family is most vulnerable when we are in our car, this reality causes us to be on high alert while driving, therefore little tasks such as running errands, going to and from places means we have to be alert and prepared. Driving has become a defensive task in which we are always looking out, at night you actually don’t even stop at stoplights you just roll through, as a stopped car is a vulnerable car. People sell stuff or beg at each stoplight so there are always 10-15 men walking between the cars tapping on your windows to get your attention. Its mostly harmless, more annoying than anything else but its also where the most smash-and-grab hijackings occur. And then there are the house break-ins, we have been fortunate so for to not have an attempt on our house. But again its common a team member just had someone smash his daughter’s window in during the night. No one was harmed because there were bars on the window but it’s a concern. We actually may get a dog for our yard to have more security for our home; Scott is really into this idea
especially since it would need to be a big dog. We don’t live in fear we just live cautiously. We are relying fully on God’s protection for our family.
It’s a different kind of life here. We are slowing and surely finding our way. We are beginning to see that this Rainbow Nation is very complicated. Since Apartheid this nation has been attempting to heal wounds, but there is still fear, anger and distrust between the black, whites and coloreds (people who are half black and half white). In some places this isn’t an issue like the Christian community, and some parts of schools and extra-curriculars. Other places like out in the Townships being a white face brings skepticism from the community: they wonder why we are there, if we have an agenda. Once they get to know us they are a little more open but more because this is a very “polite” culture not because they actually are ready to let us in. Our family is also in a unique place because we are a mixed family….and while there are a few more mixed families around we definitly are the minority. Which means we don’t naturally fit with the white (Afrikaners) or the blacks cultures. The biggest lesson we have learned in the past month is: its going to take time: time for people to begin to know us for who we are and not outside perceptions, time for us to really understand this very complicated culture, time for all groups of people to trust us and allow us to be part of their culture and lives. So we will take the time, we will invest and pray through our cultural frustrations!
Click here to read a little about South Africa’s unique history.
Watch Invictus the movie: We actually live close to where the movie takes place; it’s a very good depiction of life here.