I’ve been back from Africa for over a week now, and am very much back to the grindstone here in New York City. It’s been a busy week, with not much time leftover for processing all of the things that have happened and the things that have changed in me since leaving for Johannesburg. I’m still struggling to find the words for what I experienced (much to the dismay of my friends here, who are very tired of hearing me describe everything as amazing and incredible). There are other things that I enjoy holding close to my heart and just don’t feel ready to share yet. And that’s OK!
But pictures exist. I may not have words, but I have hundreds of pictures – and indeed, I shared a handful with friends and family while I was on the road. Here’s an overview of my trip, from the perspective of my Instagram feed.
Our trip started out in the most relaxing and touristy way possible: With back-to-back safaris in Kruger National Park. We spied ALL of the Big Five (lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, leopards), which is apparently very rare for spending less than three days – thanks Jesus!
The next day we drove into Swaziland, which I have to say is one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I’d heard from others who had been that the landscape was stunning, but you really just have to see it for yourself.
We visited our first carepoint with Children’s Cup and saw for the first of many times how happy you can make a kid with a lollipop and a selfie.
The next day, we went into Madonsa – a village of Manzini, the largest city in Swaziland – and my heart burst (with joy!) into a million pieces (most of which are still lying around Swaziland somewhere). This beautiful little girl is Hlob’sile, and I have the great honor of sponsoring her through Children’s Cup. Meeting her in person and seeing her life firsthand was absolutely a dream come true.
After Madonsa we visited New Village, where our local missionaries spend most of their time. We were able to help prepare and serve the kids’ daily meal (including a live chicken slaughter, which was… interesting). The kids at New Village were so very joyful – and some got very attached!
On Saturday we were in a rural village to put on a family fun day. I helped lead a group of 6-12 year olds (120 of them!) in games and Bible verses. Oh, and a lot of them didn’t speak English. They were crazy well-behaved, though – as were most of the kids we encountered throughout the week,
This is Monkey, and she lives at an orphanage called the I Am Not Forgotten Home with six other children and the woman who is raising them. To be honest, I don’t remember what day we visited. It’s all a blur. But I do remember Monkey clear as day: She did not utter a word to me the entire time we were there, but as we were getting ready to leave she ran over, scaled my body to perch near my shoulder, and grinned for the camera. I guess that’s where the name comes from!
Sunday was a rest day, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I was struck down with food poisoning. I still managed to drag myself to church and then out shopping though – this marketplace was right behind our hotel, and can you imagine a more beautiful setting for picking up some souvenirs?!
Finally, on our last full day, a few of us snuck off to visit Madonsa and our sponsor children one last time. Leaving was not easy.
I’ll be back with more words as they come, but for now, suffice to say: I love Africa, and I don’t think it will be long before I’m back again.