Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

You may have noticed I've been MIA from blogging for a few weeks.  That's because my husband Jacob was visiting me in South Africa!  I celebrated Christmas by spending an awesome 2 weeks with my very favorite person in the whole world!  Recap with lots of pictures coming soon :)

In the meantime, I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year.  I hope that wherever you are when 2013 draws to a close, you are able to look back on this past year and realize that you have probably made someone's life better just by being you.  If you're reading my blog, then chances are you know me, and have made a difference in my life!  I'm not really into resolutions (although I often make them, I tend to not take them very seriously).  So instead of making a resolution to lose 5 pounds or keep the apartment clean or give up chocolate, let's instead take the opportunity a new year gives us as a chance to be more firmly committed to loving the people around us, whatever form that may take.  

I hope everyone reading this had as great a Christmas as I did, as mine was filled with love and time spent with the person who knows me best.  Happy New Year from the bottom of Africa, where it is 85 degrees and sunny on New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A sad day for South Africa

As you all know, former president Nelson Mandela died December 5 following his battle with cardiac failure and a lung infection.  At the age of 95, after a difficult but revolutionary life, I am glad that this great leader's soul may rest in peace.  But the death of 'Mandiba' is a terrible loss for the nation of South Africa.  With the figurehead of the anti-apartheid movement gone, what does that mean for the country?

I believe that South Africa has come a long way since Mandela was chosen as president in the first free election in 1994.  In less than 20 years, this once oppressive country has sought to move on into a new era of freedom and opportunity for all.  The attitudes of South Africans are astounding.  It has been less than a generation since apartheid fell, but I see less racism here than I do in my own city of Richmond.  The progress made in these 19 years is truly astounding.

That being said, South Africa still has a long way to go.  In my position at the care centre, I see the lasting effects of apartheid and racism daily.  I see it in patients who live in squalid shacks, in people who are unemployed (or who are employed full-time but are paid way less than US minimum wage), and in a healthcare system filled with dedicated professionals who lack the resources to provide adequate care to those who need it most.  HIV is rampant in South Africa (a situation that Mandela fought against following the end of his presidential term).  Townships remain as full as ever.  Gender violence statistics are appallingly high.  Despite the enormous progress, these issues remain the daily reality for far too many people in this country.

During my three and a half months in South Africa, I have met some of the most dedicated and compassionate people that I have ever had occasion to call my friends.  I have absolute faith that this nation, which has an extraordinary capacity for forgiveness and Christ-like love, will continue to strive towards resolving its problems.  South Africa is a beautiful place.  It is graced with a stunning natural setting, but the real beauty of this country lies not in the land but in its people.  I am so privileged to live among them, especially during this time of morning and transition and celebration, when their ability to pull together and support one another is more evident than ever.

God bless Africa;
Guard her children;
Guide her leaders;
And grant her peace, for Jesus Christ's sake.