Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reverse Culture Shock

I have held dying babies and seen abject poverty and now I'm back in the States and having to choose between 201 breakfast cereal choices.

I don't know how to process this.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

First Impressions On Returning Home...

1. There are so many lanes on the freeways (and no potholes!).
2. I feel like a foreigner in my own country, like I'm entering a past where I no longer belong.
3. Actually, I feel like I've just run into an ex-boyfriend: it's a civil encounter, but awkward.
4. Taco trucks - oh, how I've missed you!
5. I can't believe it's 19h30 and the sun is still out.
5. Sitting on the couch, sinking down into the brown leather and enjoying a summer evening with family made the 32-hour journey worth it.
6. Taking off winter clothes and pulling summer clothes out my suitcase is just... jarring. I think it's going to take my brain a few days to catch up.
7. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Springboks are the national animal of South Africa. They are a type of gazelle - quick, agile, graceful and beautiful.

The Springboks are also the name of our national rugby team. The Rugby World Cup occurs later in the year, and I am super excited. Our Springboks are also quick, agile, graceful and... well... if not exactly beautiful in and of themselves, their game is beautiful.

World's Largest Blanket

The ladies at our church decided to take on the project of knitting blankets for the needy in the community. They decided to make the project more fun by seeing if they could knit all of the individual blankets into one big blanket and make the Guiness Book of World Records for the world's largest, hand-knitted blanket.

Their goal was to knit 250 blankets. They ended up with 360. The total size of the blanket (all 360 individual blankets knitted into one giant blanket) is 530 square metres. It weighs 332 kg! If Guiness accepts their entry, they will have beat the current record by leaps and bounds. Either way, the ladies of Hatfield Christian Church are amazing! And just so you know... even the South African flag is knitted.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Sense of Belonging

Last night Dan and I went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary (16 years, in case you wondered). We went to one of our favourite restaurants, which is in a shopping mall on the other side of Pretoria. While there we ran into two different people that we knew, stopped and had a conversation, and then continued on. On the way home, it suddenly hit me:

We made it. We belong here now.

This might seem like a random fact to you but consider the following:
  • When you move to another country there is nobody who knows who you are or what your name is. You are completely anonymous and alone.
  • Pretoria - the city proper - is a city of 1.5 million people.
  • It takes time to build relationships and even longer to make lasting friends.
  • I think it was five months before I went to the shops (near my house) and ran into someone who greeted me by name.
But now... here we were on the other side of a large city and we ran into TWO people we knew. I know this sounds silly to most of you but I felt so blessed. When you get to the point where you can go just about anywhere and realise that people know who you are, accept you, are happy to see you and are there if you need anything... that's huge. And it makes me feel like we're finally home in South Africa.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday Quote

"Hate is bread baked in the oven of our narcissism and eaten with such haste that we devour our hands and never notice till we reach to touch what we adore and find our fingers gone." - Calvin Miller

Monday, June 6, 2011

Silent Retreat, Part 5

My day ended with a warm bowl of butternut soup at a cafe nestled in the heart of the Botanical Gardens. It was time to rest and just enjoy the beauty around me (while filling my tummy after a long walk). I was done contemplating, and tucked all my "jewels" of revelation away for later. Right now, it was time to just... be.

As I was finishing and preparing to leave the Botanical Gardens, I asked God if He had anything else to teach me. This is what He said:

"Don't let this be a one-time thing, Annie. Will you come to Me every day? Will you stop labouring? Will you be still - as the stagnant pond you saw - and let Me clean and restore you? Will you accept whatever I choose to make of your life - as you saw the rocky, barren landscape - whether I remove the rocks or not? Will you take My yoke upon you, knowing that to obey Me is pleasant? Will you submit to Me and let Me teach you? Will you remember and choose to believe that I do not condemn you? Will you trust Me to supply you with all things? I will restore your joy and your song. I will console you. I will encourage you. I will assist you. I will never leave you. I will carry you because I made you and I love you. Will you come?"

Yes, Lord, I will come. Amen. I will come.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Silent Retreat, Part 4

I continued walking and came to a section of the Botanical Gardens which contained plants from Madagascar, mostly cacti. I thought they looked more like Dr. Seuss plants than cacti, but I was mostly impressed with the amount of thorns on any single plant.

I wish I had that kind of defense system, I mused. Sometimes life hurts, and it would be nice to have a little protection.

Once again the Lord spoke to me: "Annie, you don't need a defense system because I am your Defender. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. I have purchased you with my blood. You are Mine. I will assist you. I will encourage you. I will protect you. I will even console you, because I love you."

And that's when it hit me - I do not need to fear the yoke Christ beckons me to take upon myself. His yoke is lined with love (whereas mine seems to chafe and cut and is rather ill-fitting). To submit to Christ and obey Him with complete trust is... pleasant. Yes, pleasant! And that was a revelation to me.

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:29-30