Monday, September 24, 2012


I don’t know why I continue to believe that I can make a seamless transition from the Western world to here. This place is changing daily and growing and amazing things are happening in this nation, but it is still so very different. I am excited to be home and am back where I belong and I am certain the life of living in someone else’s house by the sea and walking the streets of Simon’s Town would have eventually gotten old. It was the perfect amount of time and a glorious rest.

I had time to sit and think and quiet my mind and spirit. As I listened to myself talk and I felt the bone tiredness of my mind, body and spirit I realized that I could not continue at this pace. As I looked back over the past few years that now all seem to be a little blurred together, I realize how drastically my life has changed in really a short period of time. I have been running full speed. It is hard not to catch the vision, see the need and run with it. During my quiet time I asked myself just how I planned to continue at this fast pace. I sat across the table from a wise man at dinner who already knew the answer when he asked me if I worked too hard and took on too much and planned to just run myself to the ground for the next year and then crash and spend a year in recovery. His question and the other voices I had been hearing woke me up to the truth. I cannot solve every problem. I cannot make everything happen in a day or a week. I can’t create something new overnight. And I am of no good tired, ragged, worn out and exhausted.  I need to slow down. I need to live out of a place of peace and rest. I don’t need to spend my life constantly reacting to all that is being thrown at me. I don’t want to lose my peace. 

My kids were excited to see me and I them. Two asked me for money. They applauded after my English lesson. I think this means they missed me. We had our last Alpha course class on Saturday. I took the students to the hotel down the street for refrescas. The lesson had been on knowing what is sin, right from wrong. So we had a discussion on discernment and Holy Spirit. I asked them about how they are tempted and if it is difficult to be a Christian in a Muslim town.  They told me everyone believes in God but most people don’t believe in Jesus and they scoff at Him and don’t want Him. 2000 years ago. Today. America. Mozambique. So the boys got out their tiny little New Testaments and showed me scripture about being salt of the earth and the light of the world. I see them as being set apart, so blessed and so different than others around them, full of joy and life, trustworthy and honorable. I envision them studying their New Testaments while the Mosques broadcast chanting prayers throughout the night. I ask Sebastian how he knows that Jesus is God. He tells me he has seen the lame walk because he prayed for them in Jesus’ name. He prayed for a guy in the hospital who could not stand up and now he can run. 2000 years ago. Today. America. Mozambique. One boy starts to tell me the story of Zaccheus. I am not sure where that fit in and only understood about 50% but I went with it. We talked about how the Kingdom is upside down and how to die is to gain. I felt my little lessons and testimonies paled in comparison to what these boys know about dying and sacrifice. The boys gawked at the hotel and its’ beauty and the stuffed wild game hanging in the bar. I took them on a tour of the hotel and told them that everything belongs to God and everything belongs to us, His children. I want them to take dominion over this nation and ownership of what belongs to them as Mozambicans. I want them to see in the spirit who they are in Christ. Princes not paupers. 

Afterwards, I went to the beach with friends. I only go about once a month and want that to change. We sat in a clear tide pool and laughed, little wooden d’hows and children gathering mussels and fish surround us. Every time I see this vast expanse of Indian Ocean I remind myself to soak it in and soak it in good. I know I won’t be here forever and I want to drink it in. I got pink on my thighs and tops of my feet and shoulders. We pulled out sandwiches from our bags we have left with a guard. I ate and watched this massive scene in front of me. Mozambicans unaware of my presence comb the beach, women carrying baskets on their heads. No one stakes an umbrella in the sand and opens a cooler. They are all working. They are going from one place to another or gathering food to eat or sell. No one applies sunscreen or pulls out an In Style Magazine. A few women rested in the tide pools as we had, with their catch in baskets beside them. They chattered. I wondered what about. 

I “scooted” home to a cold shower, excited to have running water. A few hours later I discover Scoot had a flat tire. The following day and $20 later, it is kinda sorta fixed. 

I got to see whales on Sunday, slapping their tales over and over on the surface of the water and spraying way off in the distance. I just stood and watched for a very long time as they played and I shook my head at how huge they are. There was more than one and they continued to flap their massive tails over and over. In class this morning we read a book about Jonah and the Whale. We only have 4 books so we don’t have a lot of choices. We talked about how crazy that would be, to be swallowed by a whale and vomited onto dry land. We have made that story such a story for children. A parable almost. But surely it is true and someone somewhere has researched this and Jonah's whereabouts where marked in some form or another. I am glad God chose a different route for me. God loved Ninevah and really wanted someone to go and tell them so. God loves Mozambique. America. 2000 years ago. Today. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the sea and me

I must start at the beginning. I just want to reiterate, I HAD to leave the country. My 180 day visa was no longer valid as the guy at immigration decided he would no longer illegally stamp it. The nerve. They also decided they would no longer accept 180 day visas or so I understand. I had purchased a 30 day visitor visa but was unable to renew it so I had to go. It was an absolute miracle that Alpha contacted me and asked me to fly to Zambia at their expense. Miracle. I knew I would have to stay until my visa expired which gave me an extra week to spend out of the country. I had acquaintances in South Africa. I sent out an email and had two sweet, generous people graciously answer me. I met Hilary and Lisa in 2011, when I was in Cape Town studying the Warehouse and looking at their organization as a model for sustainable development and how to do it within ministry. Hilary was in London and offered me the room in her house. Lisa offered to collect me at the airport. I knew then quite clearly that going to Cape Town was simply what I was supposed to do. Little did I know. I knew I needed a time of rest. I admit that the more I thought about going to a modern city to rest, the more impatient I got with the heat and lack of water and days of intermittent electricity in Mozambique. I longed for a hot bath and deep rest. I knew I needed to get away and I knew I needed deep, peaceful, good for the soul, rest. 

Through a friend of Lisa I was given the cottage on the hill in Simon’s Town. Just like that. “Hey I have a friend here who needs a place to rest”. “Ok, sure I will take her there”. And within less than 24 hours I am standing in the living room, enamored by the view. Upon arrival,  I can spy a full size bed out of the corner of my eye. It has a down comforter. I can bet money there is a bath somewhere in this house. The owner leaves and I walk straight to the bed, remove my shoes and fall face first onto the bed. I wake two hours later. Then, I hit Simon’s Town. I had seen lots of colorful storefront windows full of antiques and clothing and displays with postcards on sidewalks. I pulled on my boots and grabbed my backpack and went to town. I hit up every single shop, even those that looked junky, just to go inside and have something different to see. I don’t know why living in the middle of nowhere makes me so insane but it does. I miss architecture and pretty things. I miss reading magazine covers at the checkout counter. I miss checkout counters. I went into the quaint little pharmacy where they only have a limited stock of supplies and a girl insists on helping you and I let her. I got Vaseline (eye make-up remover) and fingernail polish remover and cotton balls and little tins of lipgloss for Catherine and Emma Grace. I went into the antique shop and touched vintage linens. I love linens. I went in a great gift shop called Craftart. I normally would never just stop and look and touch and stare at every little single solitary thing, but I did. It was so blissfully entertaining. Everything seemed so pretty, artistic and creative. I chatted it up with the owner. Most of the time  I try to hide my American accent. I don’t talk and just look and don’t make eye contact, but she asked a question and the American accent fell out. She and her staff were friendly and genuine. I bought a set of cotton/linen blend towels that are soft, durable, quick drying and absorbent. Sounds impossible to be all of that in one towel but they are that good. I saw a Chalkboard sign that said Veggie Burgers 39R and went up wooden steps to a large bright white restaurant called The Meeting Place. All in all this place was just okay. It is your quintessential lunch spot with large sofa and magazines and whitewashed walls. There are pastries under glass domes. But they didn’t have the veggie burger. I ordered a salad with hummus but they were out of hummus. Instead they sent a really bad dip that looked like it should have been pimento cheese but it was not. Don’t put a Southern staple in front of me and mask it with cream cheese and who knows what. I wasn’t impressed. Downstairs they have a gift shop but I saw nothing I could not live without and even the pastry menu was not appealing and that says a whole lot because I am a sucker for dessert. 

I stopped outside a Postcard carousel and picked out a variety. Sweet Granny McCarley still has a postcard of a sheep in a green field from my 2008 visit to Northern Ireland on her fridge. I figured she needed a replacement. I then went into a little convenience store that advertised stamps and asked where I could find the post office. A sweet little old man with a newspaper tucked under his arm who addressed the old Indian checkout lady as “Honey” told me he was going there and he would show me. It does not get more quintessential than that. So idyllic. Not to mention this whole experience is underneath a bright blue sky, beside the expanse of a bright blue sea and echoed by sounds of bleating PENGUINS. As he escorts me across the street he hears the American accent too and tells me how much he didn’t like Bush and how much he does like Obama. I smile and nod and thank him. Everybody has an opinion about pretty much everything, even little South African men about US Politics. By this time I have broken a little sweat and am anxious to get back to my cottage. I open the door and have to sigh out loud. This view is just amazing. This little cottage glistens and I am so incredibly undone that I get to stay here. I run a hot bath and real tears come to my eyes. Absolutely incredibly mind-blowing amazed that I get to stay here! Everything about this house just feels normal. Dishwasher, washing machine, normal bed, electricity, hot water, bath tub, TV! I didn’t realize how the lack of these things impact me. And I am not quite sure it is their lack that is the problem it is just their presence that leaves me completely happy. So blissfully happy. So I hope I don’t come across as being the most unlikely missionary ever but more like the most appreciative.  Over and over I ask, “What did I do to deserve such love?” and each time I hear a vacant pause and then, “Nothing”. 

That night a friend of a friend came over, we went to a local sushi place. It was on a very touristy little corner and is above a very family friendly blue carpet touristy restaurant called Bertha’s or something like that. It looked like a Shoney’s in a really good location. So the sushi dive won out. I can’t say I recommend it either. The service was odd, atmosphere confusing. But the sushi was good and that is what we where there for. 

All the mornings were the same, me waking up really early, running a tub bath. Fixing a huge French Press of coffee, poached eggs and toast, rye, with rocket and tomatoes. I sat on that front porch and stared at the ocean and breathed in and out and drank it all in.  I put on Rita Springer and blared it from the kitchen. I took my Bible and Kindle and read as the Spirit moved. 

I went back to town to pick up where I left off. There was not much else to see. I was looking for the perfect place for lunch. I bumped into a man on the sidewalk outside a coffee shop in a white chef’s jacket and asked him what he had and he asked me what I wanted. I told him and he made it. I sat there and read chapters out of books until I found the right one and ate spinach with such passion that the chef noticed and asked me if I wanted more. 

About the third day I discovered the big screen television in the corner of the living room and kept it on E! entertainment TV and got filled up with all the celebrity gossip. It’s a guilty pleasure. It is a brainless, beautiful escape into another world.  

I spent Saturday morning with the Penguins! African Penguins! It was surreal, stunning, amazing, beautiful but also kinda loud and stinky. But hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The penguin is fascinating. They are monogamous and take turns taking care of the children. There are no words to describe the beach. I got a lunch special of fish and chips and a little beach side restaurant with linen tablecloths. 

I went back to the Craftart gift shop and bought another linen cotton blend towel because I dyed my new one purple because although my pajama bottoms have been washed a whole lot they have only been hand washed in cold water and I didn’t even think about it and threw them in with everything else.  Anyway, I learned that the owners have been to Mozambique and her husband, an engineer, is coming there to work on a dock at the hotel in a few weeks. He bought me a cup of coffee and showed me pottery he had purchased in Pemba. They are a handsome couple in their late 60‘s. She is blonde and beautiful and he is tall with big hands and bright blue eyes. He said he would look me up when he comes. She told me I could take pictures of anything I wanted when I told her I wanted to start a gift shop. She showed me local products and gave me ideas. It was a fun random connection and I am curious just what will come of it. 

I spent my last day on the porch still enamored with the view. And that this happened to little me. Always undone by the kindness of our Savior. 

almost home

I am in Johannesburg for the night and leaving early in the morning for Pemba. My sweet friends Mark and Jen are here and I am with them now. They are coming to Pemba too! It will be so so good to have them there back home with all of us where they belong. They were missionaries in Pemba for three years and are in Asia now but coming for the school. I drove to Pretoria today and got my Visa! So I am all set and will be able to renew it in 30 days and will be back in Georgia on November 11th as scheduled. This break has been just heaven. I am ready to go home though. I miss the kids, my friends, my routine and have a lot of work to do. XO

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

leaving simon's town

I left Simon's Town this afternoon. I am flying out in the morning and will spend two days in Johannesburg. I will spend a day going to Pretoria to get a new visa and arrive in Pemba on the 19th. A full sermon on Simon's Town is in me. I will deliver when I can. I've been told there's no internet in Pemba today.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shopping Simon's Town

Apparently you aren't supposed to take pictures, but how else am I supposed to show you?

Simon's Town

So I was so blessed with the bursary at just the right time to pay for me to leave the country. I had to leave. And I still don't know what will happen after my 30 day visa expires next month. But I knew I needed a rest. I knew very clearly that I needed to come back to Cape Town and sleep. I needed quiet and fresh air and hot water and a bath. I am still quite in awe that this is what I found here.
Not to mention that a friend of a friend just gave this to me. The house is brand spanking new and she has only stayed in it twice herself.
I am whale watching as I write this and out to find the penguins after I finish my coffee. It's instant. If not, I really would think I had died and gone to Heaven.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Scoot is back. $320 later. :(

an unexpected day at Il Pirata

Il Pirata Lodge and Restaurant. Now open on weekends!

leaving murreubue
while i am at the beach, mom and dad have natty and buddy

i ask for pictures and they send me these. i look at them over and over.

ali took this. could this BE more adorable?

purchased this in a very quiet transaction in natete market. apparently illegal. deadly stuff. and yes, i have a rat problem. :(

working on the restaurant and market! opens october 1st!

Monday, September 10, 2012

alpha and table mountain

The Alpha conference is being held in a large cathedral. It is mostly concrete with tall multi colored glass windows. The pastor is called Father Frank. The conference is for all southern African nations to gather together and learn more about the Alpha course and share best practices. There are three of us in our Mozambican delegation, Sergio, Ezekiel and me. They do prison ministry and I, youth.

The more I hear about the Alpha course, the more I am impressed.  And apparently so is Prince Charles. (

I was the only white girl representing an African nation and that was just surreal. So honored. Other than the Alpha workers from SA so they didn’t count. I am just in awe of how I am being equipped to do what I do. It sounds silly that a little course can change a life but this one does and it has had great impact across the world. The Alpha course is bringing people together and revealing Christ to all the nations. And the more insane thing is that it has been dropped in my lap. I know it is God at work, equipping me with what I need. Once again, I don’t really need to DO anything. I just show up and He shows me and takes me to Zambia and trains me. I am sure I will share more about it as we walk it out practically. We are in week 6 with my students and plan to do more courses with various groups in the future. I want to do one with my Hartwell friends when I come home. Email me if you want to join. 

Being the only white girl was a bit awkward. I never pretend to be African, although they are rubbing off on me. But I am not familiar with being the minority. And when I am put in a place of all black, I feel so all white. It is not really a bad thing, I just realize how white I am.  Or maybe it is just how American I am.  Even though, I spend a good part of my day trying to show my kids how we can connect and how I am not that different, I feel so so different. Culturally, there are so many contrasts. It forces me to dig deep into relational things that only we as human beings could share. I have to shed my casual conversations of fashion and media and food and share my stories and human emotions. So I think it is why I find it exhausting. I am not used to having to dig so deep and share with such intention. The Africans don’t let me off the hook. That, and I really struggle with the accents. English was spoken the entire conference and the conversations I understood most clearly were the ones I had in Portuguese with my Mozambican brothers.

So I think it all just forces me to take a look at my place in this culture and in this country and find out who I truly am. 

I met with a friend of a friend who is a missionary there, a beautiful blonde 23 year old girl who in the process of adopting a precious Zambian 3 year old. That whole experience was just incredible. As a childless woman in Africa where there are so many orphaned children, this is something I do think about and can remotely identify with the needs. You can’t help but think about it. You cannot help but feel something. Riding in the car with Sophie I just sat amazed. God told her to adopt this child, the doors opened and now this little black face is in the back seat. At 35, I can barely take care of myself and certainly not a squirmy little girl. I simply just cannot imagine.  I cannot imagine one day, plane hopping and doing life so independently and then one day getting this child that fully belongs to you and needs you for everything. I understand pregnancy. I understand your body goes through all the emotions and hormones function and men are somewhere in the mix to help. But I can’t get my head around just getting this little human being and taking it home. Especially here. I could maybe do in it America. Maybe. With a nanny and a babysitter and my sister and my mom and dad and nieces and friends and if I didn’t have to have a job. But here? All I know is this girl is amazing and her sweet little girl stole my heart a little bit. And I still just sit here and shake my head it total amazement of the whole experience of meeting Sophie. She is just incredible, intense, strong, amazing and lovely. 

Sophie was also my hook up for Zambian shopping. She took me to the mall and local shopping center. They were both just bad. The mall is pitiful. It is way worse than South Rand. It is newly built and a huge facility but full of tacky stores. There is a huge store called “game” that is owned by Wal-Mart. It was full of way over priced electronics. It was actually closed when we went but I don’t need overpriced electronics. The other stores were just bad clothing shops, with peculiar mismatched mannequins in the windows. I don’t even know where this stuff is made or designed. It was like China meets India meets Dollar General. I was excited to see what looked like a proper frozen yogurt shop. It had large posters of fresh kiwi and raspberries. I chose the medium so I could get two toppings but the toppings were bad. They were bad stale cookies and  bottom of the tin canned fruit. I got a plain yogurt. The girl at the checkout counter claimed to not have change but after a long back and forth debate about how that was all the money I had and she could keep the yogurt and as I turned to walk away, she miraculously pulled change from her register. I hope that living in Africa will make me a little more patient and a little more understanding. But there are endless situations that I do not understand. I want to see this nation strive for excellence in all things. I hope I don’t appear to be judgemental or critical. I am just telling you what I saw and what happened. This no change thing and bad customer service is a theme in Mozambique too. And it doesn’t need to be that way. I don’t want to see Africa Americanized. I want to see them just walk in the fullness of who they were as a nation created to be and I just think this means greet customers with a smile and have change for a 50000 kwacha. Even writing this sounds insensitive. You have to know that I am not. I have had two cups of strong coffee and just have no where else to go. The sun is shining. I am wearing boots and a sweater. I have a view of Table Mountain. Music in my ears and a full belly. And a hand drawn map to the nearest pharmacy!

Sophie also offered to take me to the local market on Sunday morning. I had heard there was a local market at the Arcades on Sunday and was happy to learn that she was going anyway and invited me to come along. The outdoor market was about three rows of maybe 40 venders. Many had the same things and many were typical african wood carvings and primary color simple paintings. You have to dig and be alert. I found a really cool bow and arrow that I wanted to get Carson. It was very hand crafted but ultimately looked dangerous for a 9 year old and complicated to bring home and still overpriced at $40. They had typical paper and glue necklaces that are bright and colorful and sold all over Africa. I bought 4. They also had gem stones and silver. I bought Carla a bracelet in a rainbow of cat's eye and a set of pale lilac gemstones set in silver, earrings, ring and pendant, all for less than $120. I could have probably bargained more and been more selective, but was pressed for time with a plane to catch. I later went into a more proper jewelry store and was able to give myself a small education on what all they have there and an idea of prices. Apparently you can find jade and coral and all sorts of stones in Zambia and prices are decent. The jewelry store was packed with Asians buying stones and pearls. I also bought a painting from the market from a nice guy in dreadlocks named Jeff. I rarely see African art that I like but this one was different. It spoke to me and I knew this vibrant oil painting of mama's breastfeeding their babies needed to go with me wherever I go as a remembrance. 
Praise God neither lady at neither South African Airways counter looked long and hard at my immunization date and I was able to board my flight. The first lady did look at it and she even looked inquisitively at the date but as soon as she furrowed her brow, someone handed her something and she was distracted and I just reached out for my yellow card and she gave it back to me. Later, two people were taken off the plane because of invalid yellow card documentation.

I landed in Cape Town last night. It was cold. 
It feels good to be in modern. It feels good to have internet. The house I am staying in is cold and drafty and I pray I don’t catch a cold. I found wool socks in the drawer and have them on. My nose is cold. 

I came to a little coffee shop for a breakfast of toast and poached eggs, tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms. It was delicious. Now it is almost time for lunch. I have been told there is a pharmacy nearby and I need to stock up on basics, vitamins, deodorant, cortisone cream and shampoo. But for now I don’t want to leave this little spot. I am perched on a stool with all you can drink mint and lemon water. I have a great view of the back of Table Mountain. I am in Cape Town. 

I have plans for a cut and color this week. Also to go to a farm for a night of sleep and rest. There is a difference. But for now I am elated to be in a modern city. I also have plans to meet my friend Marie at the waterfront. Get dressed up, hair and make up, meet, hug, talk, eat. I am looking forward to it. I could cry. This is the stuff I miss. And I miss it so deep down that I almost don’t feel it any more. I miss meeting friends for coffee. Although, I rarely did it to be honest. But I miss it just the same. I miss all things Atlanta and all things city and friends and normal and shopping and sights and colors and smells. Someone stole my perfume Carla gave me out of my suitcase. Bummed about that. But if there is anything I have learned in my life of 35 years, it's that all things come from God. Freely give, freely receive. Someone stole my perfume, it just means I will get some back. I don’t even have to seek it out, it will come back to me. In some scent or another. A little sad because Carla gave it to me and picked it out for me and I incredibly sentimental. So now some Zambian man at the airport smells like Grace. And I smell like my $9 wool sweater I got in the South Rand mall. 
Ezekiel and Sergio

leafy greens and dairy

On the way home from the Alpha venue tonight my poor unsuspecting driver was taking me home and I spotted a pick ‘n pay. I asked if we could stop for me to run in “for ten minutes”. I practically got out before the car stopped. I grabbed a trolley and sped right to the vegetables. I found a rocket mix and a yellow peppers and cherry tomatoes. Leeeleeeleee as they say in Mozambique. I had no idea the exchange rate. I just got whatever I could find that looked good. Beets and carrots, my Moz staples, made my stomach churn. I bought; yogurt, mozzarella, basil, balsamic vinaigrette, apple cider vinegar, two bags of mixed greens, tomatoes, muslix, a half gallon of 2% milk, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, okay two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, water crackers- for the salad and cheese,  a bunch of bottled water, a bar of Dove soap (the lodge didn’t have any of any kind), I got a Lindt bar but put it back. a whole bag of golden delicious apples, I spent 624000 whatever it is they use here. I don’t have a clue how much that is but I don’t care. I had salad for dinner! A huge fat delicious full of roughage salad and my whole body inside and out is completely satisfied and happy. 

Now I am sitting outside at this little lodge under an amazing low thatched roof, listening to music coming from iTunes writing this with one hand and eating salad with the other. 

getting a "jab" or a shot as we call it

In all my little research of Zambia I saw some mention of Yellow Cards. I have one. In the basement of the cabin in Hartwell. When I finally get to where I have decent internet I discover that the yellow card business is no joke. Bolivia says you have to have a yellow fever vaccination but they don’t check. I don’t need it for Joburg or anywhere in Mozambique and have carried it all over creation and this trip decided to leave it behind. Yet, in this scenario, they check. So I needed an immunization. I was mad at myself for forgetting my yellow card but then realized that my immunization expired anyway. It only lasts ten years and I had mine in 1999. So before boarding the flight this morning, I got a shot in the arm. There is still a chance they won’t let me on the plane when I try to leave on Sunday because I have not been immunized for ten days but I am praying they won’t look too hard. 
airport breakfast at the mug & bean
praying on the way to the clinic/dentist

Wish you were here

Monday, September 3, 2012

dear hartwell

i rarely have proper internet and am in joburg for the evening before going to zambia for the week. here is an update just for you:

When I last wrote to you I was leaving. I was moving to Mozambique to start a vocational school.  I had just experienced a blissful 8 weeks living back in my hometown.  It was glorious, wonderful, amazing, beautiful, and inspiring.  After 6 months of blazing heat, high humidity, limited water, electricity, and food varieties and general lack of all necessities, including the internet, I came home, to rest and renew my visa. It had been a hard 6 months but I didn't even know it until I began to look back. I had jumped in with both feet and started something from nothing. A beautiful little English school is now in existence and Baptista and John have jobs and internships are in progress and two small businesses are beginning to take shape.  I would rise early and days were always full on, with little room for breaks or rest. The need around me intense. The poverty extreme. The great lack apparent. Yet the opportunity endless. I love what I do. 

I flew into the ATL and every fiber of my being was elated to be home. I had not said two words in 16 hours to the lady beside me, but when we got in view of the Atlanta skyline I beamed when I told her, "I'm coming home". I strained to see little East Point (where I lived in Atlanta) and spotted the Gold Dome.  I rushed to the nearest bathroom at the baggage claim inside the terminal to brush my teeth and change clothes. I knew I smelled. And not like Chanel. I anticipated my parents being at the arrival gate awaiting me with open arms, but they were late. No offense, but Hartwellians don't know how to drive in Atlanta. All the lanes intimidate them and even at 7am on a Sunday morning they were late. I waited impatiently, but immediately forgave them when I saw my dad's bald head bobbing toward Delta Baggage Carousel 5 and my mother's face with tears in her eyes. 

I then got to spend the next 6 weeks in absolute heaven. Hartwell, which I often described as a little cardboard town, suddenly seemed like New York City with all it's buildings, air-conditioning, performing arts center,  shops, paved roads and vegetable market. Christine came over with Whoopie Pies. Dad gave me the keys to his little semi-retirement reward, The Convertible and I got to scoot all over Hart County with the top down in perfect Spring weather. My old college roommate came to visit and we hiked along the trails at Watson Mill Bridge. We went into the little coffee shop on the square in Bowman where I was "recognized" as "the girl in Africa". My friend and I walked out giggling. I am not used to being a celebrity. I was flattered. Laura was impressed. 

I was blessed and welcomed home with open arms by the community of Hartwell once again. I loved going to Ingle's to get most anything one could ever want, although they didn't have arugula! But I was elated, leaning on my buggy filling it with dairy products and berries which are non-existent at the Pemba market. I loved not having to bargain or speak a foreign language, just hand over Mama's Ingles Advantage card and Voila! a discount.  There, I got to see Hank and Derek. Little boys I once read bedtime stories, now charming young men. I ordered TakeAway regularly from the Thai place, coconut, ginger and tofu are among my favorite things. I recommend the Panang Curry. I scoured Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree and Home Depot for all the must have items that I simply cannot get in my world; duct tape, drawer pulls, tacks, Ziplock bags and containers, Starbucks Coffee, a shower curtain, and a can opener. I got to see my very best friends from high school, including Nathalie from France,  as we all gathered at the Glenn's for a girls' weekend and picked up where we left off somewhere around 1995. 

I loved being able to share my life with the Bible Study Women, Hartwell First United Methodist Church, Cokesbury United Methodist Church, and Hart County High School. So much more has happened since then and I am excited to come home and share new updates on the school, our businesses and our students. Your words of encouragement keep me going. Knowing that I have you to come home to brings me peace. My story is quite simple, I am just doing what I feel I am supposed to do. I simply said yes and everything else fell into place and very suddenly I find myself sitting at my tiny kitchen table in the semi dark, waiting on the electricity to return, during my lunch break in Africa, barefooted, writing you.

The longer I live here the harder it is to come home and back into a life in the Western world, but Hartwell could not be more gentle and patient and kind. I hope you will bear with me when you see me walking barefoot in public places or greeting you in Makua or Portuguese or eating with my hands or sniffing your neck because you smell so incredibly good. I am no longer used to exchanging pleasantries and would be an utter failure at small talk.  My knowledge of recent news is that the white man with the salt and pepper hair who ran for president the last time is running again and recently picked a kinda cute guy as a running mate. I tried to download his bio online but the internet was too slow. The news in my community is that the witch doctor came into our primary school and was wreaking havoc. Sophia is her name. It was all just a rumor and apparently it wasn't so but evidently Sophia does exist and so does the fact that she is notorious for terrorizing children in really horrific ways.  The other news is that the road is out again and you have to drive all the way around the town to get to any place and that has halted traffic and is keeping me homebound as my scooter barely makes it out of the driveway as it is and would never make it all the way around or up the hill to town. 

The little vocational school is bustling, in spite of my still not really having a clue what I am doing. Today we are working on our new restaurant and will be painting and planting flowers and building a bamboo fence. I am working with the sewing girls on making cloth napkins and tablecloths for the restaurant and working on creating a menu. I took two of the students with me to buy paint yesterday. Neither student had ever been in the large hardware store in town. It is full of made in China junk but they gawked and peered and starred. I gave them 500 mets in the village market called Natete and told them to go buy grass mats and they did. On the way home, Twyfa told me she wanted to come to America. I thought, "Honey, America would chew you up and spit you out". Earlier that day Twyfa didn't even know how to unlock the car door. America would rock her little village world. I tried to let her down easy by saying, "America is not as beautiful as this place". I am not saying that her coming to America would never happen. I would love for her to see my country. I just don't want these kids to see America and Americans as the answer to their problems, but to stand proudly in their role as Mozambicans. But then I thought about Hartwell and I thought, Hartwell would welcome you. They'd put you on the front page of the paper and your arrival would be news. Ingles would forego their "No Shirt. No Shoes. No Entry." Prohibition and let the little dark Mozambican girl shop to hearts' content in her brightly colored capalana. And as we rode up the big hill, the long way around the city, Amelcar in the bed of the pickup, me shifting gears, left-handed, windows down, the sea of Indian Ocean behind a sea of mud huts flying past us, I got a little homesick. I smiled at Twyfa. She, oblivious to all the thoughts in my head and me, oblivious to hers. She, oblivious of the world from which I come and I, despite living here, completely clueless about hers. She lives my grandmother's life of cooking and cleaning and walking to school. In a few short years she will have babies under foot. I don't know what I can do with her, in these short moments of her life that our lives intertwine, to help. I know she loves to hug. I remember in 1st Grade at Hartwell Elementary how much I loved to hug Ms. Black. She pronounced her last name with two syllables instead of one. We all stood in line in the morning to do so. She smelled amazing. Twyfa loves for me to hug her. I am really honestly not much of a hugger anymore. But I can do it. I can wear perfume. I can hug. 

As of now I plan to be arriving in the ATL quite early on the morning of November 11th. At one time I would have felt like a dweeb, standing somewhere waiting on my parents! But at 35, you grow up and get over all that, and I couldn't be more honored. I reckon we will continue to ritual of Ria's Blue Bird Cafe for the best breakfast in the world. Despite the jet lag and not having driven on the right side of the road or left side of the car in 6 months, Dad will hand me the keys and we will head northeast for 90 miles into beloved Hart County, Georgia. I am very much looking forward to it.

Many thanks and much love, 


i am trying to get over the fact that i left the yellow card to begin with. so amateur of me. but honestly thought i was just going on a quick 6 month trip to Moz and back again and had no idea i would need it. now i am finding out that i can get immunized at the airport! it is open 24 hours and costs about $80. i am ALREADY immunized but i guess another dose won't hurt? also i have to be immunized at least 10 days before re-entry and if i get immunized tomorrow, it will only be 6 days. but seriously considering going ahead with it and will be there at 6:30am for a shot i don't need that still doesn't meet compliance. this all seems so insane. sorry, Family, for making you a nervous wreck. don't worry. i am not. just annoyed with myself and dumb rules.

on a lighter note, i went to the mall! i bought nail polish to give myself a pedicure tonight. i found closed toe shoes so i don't have to wear flip flops to cape town where the weather is in the 60's and 40's. i also found a sweater regularly $55 for $10.  i went to the pharmacy for my pemba friend and got her a 3 month supply of glucosamine and vitamin C. i got myself eye makeup remover and lip balm.

i had butternut squash soup for lunch and a real strong cup of coffee. a little overwhelmed by so many white people and so many things to look at. walked into Pick 'n' Pay and walked out again. too much. i also bought a nice little stock of supplies for the sewing school!  a productive day.

now i am on the internet reading Garden & Gun, escaping to Nashville and taking a really deep breath.

always something

so when i left to come to moz i never dreamed i would leave the country. i was entering under what i thought was a single entry visa that makes it almost impossible to leave. so i vaguely remember standing in the living room of the cabin and holding my yellow card that always accompanies my passport and thought, "i don't need this". we don't need it to enter moz and i always take it and i never need it. for fear of losing it and not wanting to take 1oz of anything i would not need, i put it back. i threw it back in the rubbermaid bin that holds most all my personal belongings and i put it back down in the basement.

i JUST learned that i need this yellow card to re-enter South Africa from Zambia. like seriously need it. if you don't have proof of vaccination they won't let you board the plane.

now what?

i have sent my poor parents on the chase to go and find the yellow card and to then most likely drive to Anderson, SC to the nearest DHL drop off ( and not today because it is Labor Day) and send it to my hotel with an estimated arrival date of the day before i leave.

it's always somethin'. ugh.  y'all pray. it always works.

God didn't give me a free trip out of the country during the exact time I needed it to train me in how to disciple kids to leave me stranded in Zambia.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

In Johannesburg

I will be here tomorrow, leaving early the next morning for Zambia. Just had a hot bath and since we have been out of water for the last week and when we do, it never comes out hot, it was a very big deal.