Monday, March 2, 2015


February came and went. I know it’s the shortest month of the year, but how can two or three days seem to make such a difference? I guess it was a busy month for us, but it’s still weird how quickly a month can fly.

I spent most of the month getting to know people. Matthew was away for 10 days, guiding ritzy birders from Johannesburg. While he was gone, I stayed with five different families from church and made the most of independency with lots of socializing. Friendships are sprouting up and I feel loved and cared for, and I’m starting to feel known. The repetitive conversations (like: our story; what I do (because, what do I do?); what I think of South Africa; ect), are coming to an end because I’ve finally met about everyone I need to meet at this point. Most of my friends I know through Malelane Baptist Church, but these friends have also introduced me to their friends and neighbors. So while Matthew was birding, I bonded with a handful of young adults who are like-minded and super intriguing people! I also spent a couple of nights at the home of a dear couple that just celebrated their 49th anniversary. They are godly grandparent figures for me.

Even still, I’m often homesick for my friends and family in the States. The last two days have been rough. I’ve stressed over small things and made a big deal out of cultural differences. Amidst the joys of new experiences, developing friendships, beautiful creation, and daily adventures, I still battle to be fully present. I miss the conveniences of life in the States. I miss big gluten-free sections at the grocery store and seeing things written in American English and driving an automatic car. I miss organic coffee with raw milk cream and Chobani Greek Yogurt. I miss picking up the phone and calling mom or Kristen or a friend without wondering if there’s descent reception or calculating the time difference. I miss trips to Barnes & Noble. I miss lunch dates with people and church where the worship is sometimes folksy hymns. I miss people just understanding me, people who come from the same context that don’t need an explanation of things, such as what Wisconsin is like. I miss talking about things other than why I’m in South Africa. I even miss being ignorant of the difficulties many people face in this part of the world. It’s like I’d rather be blind, because at least then I had an excuse not to do something… but now that I know, I am responsible.

It sounds awful to say those things, but in my selfishness they can be true. My nature’s tendency is self-concern. My capacity for evil is huge. I need the grace of God.

And when I experience His grace to believe the Gospel and glory in it, there’s no where else I’d rather be than here in South Africa, facing new challenges daily and learning the ways of new cultures that will forever change me.

That’s the thing, I’m being changed. So if I were in Wisconsin I still wouldn’t be content because people would still not know who I am and what my worldview is really like.

But the fact of the matter is that life is not about being understood. So to strive for normalcy or being known is not my aim in life, though some days that is all I desire. The reality is that nobody will ever be home on this earth, though we most often think we’re home or at least that’s what we work towards. So, for me to be misplaced and forced to understand a new cultural context is actually grace, because it allows me to be constantly uncomfortable and challenged and learning and thinking about the fact that this world is not my home.

I’m also responsible for what I’ve learned and to make Jesus known among the nations. I’ve learned about the rampancy of HIV/AIDs, teenage pregnancy, and the fact that ¼ of South African men have raped a women or girl. That’s over 5 million men in this country. This must change.

The realities of humanity remain consistent from place to place to ever corner of this big world. People are sinful and separated from their Creator. But Christ has bridged the gap and offered a way for reconciliation…forgiveness of sin and new life. These are the real facts. The “other” facts – like Wisconsiners like good cheese and the Packers and are tough to deal with long winters; and South Africans love sunshine and braaing meat outside – these add interest to life but don’t distinguish souls.

Unlocking the Treasure Box

Thursday, January 29, 2015

becoming home

After a few requests for pictures of our daily life I snapped some with my ipad. I'll work on getting pictures of the rooms once they are more furnished. We're happy with our little place nestled in the woods. We don't see the elephants from our doorstep (unfortunately!), but we often drive past them on the main road through the reserve on trips into town. We're about 40 minutes from Melalane, the nearest city. There is a slight mountain range that makes the scenery beautiful and so I don't mind driving one bit. It's been a month already since we moved in! Matthew is enjoying his job and I'm finding my feet. Most of my time is spent reading or writing. I'm trying to write about my year in Cote d'Ivoire, which is harder than I'd imagined. We go to church in Malelane and there are many lovely girls around my age and also great families. Many of them are fruit and sugar farmers in the area. We are blessed by community and work and ministry and quiet living. We're thankful! 

porch swing

my all-time favorite creatures

GF banana bread

sunrise on the reserve

mosquito net we imagine as a royal canopy; great view to outside

faithful tea + teapot

homemade key holder with hooks I bought in India 5 years ago. thanks love!

a portion of our beloved books


papaya on woven place-mats; and zinnias in bloom

hand towels from mom

current workspace 

a pair of bikes for regular rides

fridge photos