Monday, December 2, 2013

611 days later

Right. I suppose I owe this blog a post. It's not like I haven't posted anything in a year and a half. Me? Forget about/get bored with this blog? Never.

Ok, in all honesty, I did both. The thing is, we got settled in South Africa. We got used to life there, so I had nothing to post about  because I couldn't think what to take pictures of.  Everything became normal, and why would i want to take pictures of normality? So I put it off and put it off and then just stopped posting altogether. That wasn't really fair of me, I should at least have posted saying I was stopping.  But I didn't, and here we are.

Where are we? Well, for those of you who don't know, we've moved back home. We thought we might be staying in South Africa longer, it looked like that until two months before we moved,  but God had different plans and so back home we came.  It was really hard coming back. I made great friends in South Africa at Kings College and we were part of a great church.  I didn't want to come back.

Coming back has given me more perspective though, especially about American culture. I find myself so frustrated with the self centeredness and apathy here.  Culture shock was more significant coming back than going.  But I recognize that I'm really just frustrated with the world I'm in. This isn't my home.  Anywhere will seem better than where I am, but once I get anywhere elae, here will seem better.  If that makes any sense.

I believe that God took me over to South Africa for a purpose beyond just staying with my family.   Dad's work may have been the reason we all went over, but God brought me there to get closer with Him. Not only did I have to rely on Him when I had no friends and when I was struggling with the change of moving halfway around the world,  but  I also learned a lot about God that we don't hear about in America.  He showed me the power of His Holy Spirit, and a lot more about how to walk a life trying to follow in His footsteps.  That was part of why it was so hard to leave, because home is where we find God, and He showed up to much in South Africa.

Now God has more plans for us and I don't know what they are. But I'm trusting Him going forward,  because He's proved so faithful looking back.  If you want to follow me as I move forward with my life, I'm very good at keeping my other blog up to date.   Check it out at

So this farewell to this blog.  Thank you for following me!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday, 23 April (Durban2)

As we are now on holiday in between terms, we took the chance to go back to Durban, this time with Dad.  We rented a beach house for the 5 and a half days we were there, and much of the time was spent playing in the ocean, boogie boarding, and getting splashed by the surf.  However, we did have the opportunity to take an hour long surfing lesson.  Teresa's a natural; she stood up on her first try.... and stayed up.  That's where the rest of us struggled :p. However, we enjoyed ourselves.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

5 April, 2012 (Grade 10 Backpacking Trip)

     I've posted about several of my siblings school camps - Teresa's grade 8 orientation camp, esther and ivan's grade camps, etc. My camp this year, as you would have seen if you're my friend on Facebook, was a 4 day backpacking trip through the Blyde River Canyon.  To sum it up in 3 words: it was AMAZING.
     I woke up at 4:15 AM Sunday morning, April 1, to get to school by 5 AM.  I had packed my backpack, tent, and food the day before, and so we set off.  We left the school parking lot at 5:30, with 40 15 and 16 year olds and 3 teachers loaded onto a bus.  Some people slept on the bus, but mostly, we were too excited - we were loud.  After 8 hours on the bus, driving from Johannesburg through Mpumalanga, we took a short break at God's Window to view the view and go to the bathroom - last bathroom in civilization for a while!
     We started a few kilometres from God's Window and hiked 5 kilometres the first day to our first campsite in the Blyde River Canyon.  The campsite was situated near a river and there were about 5 dorms with 4 bunk beds in each, so each dorm slept 8 people.  Theoretically, that is; several of the bunks were without mattresses.  The teachers got one dorm, and the girls got the other four.  Some of the girls ended up double bunking head-to-toe, but I had brought my own tent and slept in that with Jess Otter instead.  Unfortunately, it rained, and the tent did very little to keep the water out - it was a borrowed tent. We left most of our camping supplies in America.
     The next morning we were up bright and early, around 5:30, and we headed out of camp around 8.  The second day was the hardest, hiking 15 kilometres up and down hills.  At the end of that day we were all beginning to complain of bruised hips, strained shoulders, sore legs, and hurting feet, but we made it.  The next campsite was again situated near a river, but this time there was no where to pitch tents.  The teachers got one dorm, the boys got two, and the girls got two.  Everyone inside the dorms double bunked.  I started in a dorm, but I woke up in the middle of the night hot and claustrophobic, and feeling generally sick (I think something in the dinners disagreed with me), so I moved outside.  Sleeping under the stars was much nicer than sleeping in the dorm.
     The afternoon/night spent at this campsite was probably my favorite, if you disregard the waking up in the middle of the night.  The stars were gorgeous - milky way, southern cross, orion's belt.  Also, a short distance from the campsite, there was a waterfall.  The waterfall was about 15 metres high and there was a ledge beyond the waterfall which we had the option of jumping off of.  Originally, I had no intention of jumping, since I really  don't like heights, but I was eventually coaxed into it (ok, my competitiveness may have played a part) and I jumped off.  Unlike many of my peers, I jumped correctly and didn't bruise anything - my only complaint was that I forgot to shut my mouth before hitting the water, so I swallowed river water.  I am SO glad I put aside my fear and jumped - I would have regretted it if I didn't, and it was a lot of fun once I got up the nerve to step off the ledge.
     The third day was also a long day, but the terrain was flatter than day 2, so it wasn't quite as hard.  We had to go through a swamp, with mud half way up to our knees, but that was probably the hardest part of the hike.  There was another, shorter (10 metres) waterfall jump that day, and I again climbed up to take the leap.  The difference, I think, was the cold.  It was much windier, and the water was colder, so although the height didn't scare me as much, the knowledge of the water's temperature did, so it took me nearly as long to jump as it had the first day.  I ended up regretting jumping, whether because of the pressure change, the temperature change, or I landed oddly, my ear got waterlogged and irritated.  I was the only one not in pain that night because the pain reliever I took for my ear (the teachers weren't "authorized" to give me ear drops, so they didn't have any in their first aid kits) took away all the rest of my pain as well.
     We had been told we would be ending the hike near the Bourke's Luck Potholes (google it for more cool pictures), but I think most of us assumed it would be a little ways down the road from where we would stop, like God's Window was from where we had started.  However, we discovered that to not be the case when we climbed up out of the bush with packs on our back, sweaty, sunburned, sore, and stinking into a crowded tourist attraction.  Needless to say, we had some people looking at us oddly!  There was an upside to the tourist attraction though: ice cream, hamburgers, and chips (fries).  When we passed the tuck shop on the way to our campsite, which was on the other side of the potholes, we all felt this strange magnetic pull towards the food.  I had a Magnum dark chocolate brownie hazelnut ice cream bar - small taste of heaven!
     That night, around the campfire, we were given awards for happenings and behaviours on the trip.  Most were funny, a couple were serious, a few were mocking, but it was all in good fun, and everyone laughed along with the person being awarded.  I was awarded the Captain America award, both because of the (duh) fact I'm American, as well as because I was always hiking with the guys - the girls tended to be too slow for my pace!  Mom says I must have my Grandpa Jerry's genes, since he was always a fast walker and hiker as well.
     The third night there were more than enough beds, but very few mattresses, so those who wanted to sleep inside slept on the floor on foam pads and several of us slept outside.  We were up at 4 AM the next morning and hiking (in the dark!) by 5, so we could get on the bus and head home - thankfully, we only had to hike 300 metres.  This time, the bus was silent because everyone was sleeping.  It's really weird to be on a bus with 40 teenagers and have there be absolute silence.  We arrived back at school to pick up our reports and head home by 1:30 PM.

     Physically, I'm sore, but I'm not exhausted.  Emotionally, I was only a little homesick during the hike.  I'm ready to go backpacking again!  I learned that I can face my fear of heights and that I'm moving beyond my struggle with leaving my home.  Now, a day later, I find myself missing my school friends just as much as those friends I left behind in America!  Perhaps one of my favorite things about the hike was the chance for discussion and the way we have to get along with everyone, since we're essentially living with them.  The chance to talk, laugh, and form memories is what builds relationships, and this trip gave opportunity for all of them.  Again: It was AMAZING.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday, March 25 (Durban)

     Last Wednesday was a public holiday here, and the day before it, a half day at school, so we took the opportunity to go somewhere interesting.  That interesting place was Durban, on the eastern coast of South Africa, in the province of Kwazulu-Natal.  While we were there, we got the chance to go on a boat (Mom says it was more like a 10-seater jetski) ride looking for dolphins and sea turtles and fish, snorkel in Ushaka Marine World above sharks, sting rays, and colorful fish, and see a dolphin show.
      We also have a R100 voucher each for a snorkel lesson, but the wind was too strong.  BUT... that just gives us a reason to go back!  The water was SO warm, especially compared to the Pacific, and we spent a couple of hours on Tuesday body-surfing and my siblings spent a few more hours on Wednesday.  Apparently, when the water is a rough and choppy as it was, portuguese man-of-wars wash up into the shallows, and several of my siblings were stung.  According to them (I didn't go in the water) it feels like several bees are stinging you all in the same place.  Below are some pictures of our trip.
The arch on the Moses Mabhida Stadium
from out on the wa

I didn't realize how much I missed the ocean

Jonathon, acting as the goof he is,
behind, a cylindrical fish tank.
On the beach
At the dolphin show

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 27 (Pilanesburg Game Park)

 We visited Pilanesburg Game Park yesterday.  Lots of animals!  Daddy got to see his giraffe and elephants and I got to see monkeys.  We got to see a hippo yawn.  Two warthogs got in front of our car and then refused to get out of the center of the road.  Sheesh! They were acting as if we were intruders! :p Which, of course, we were.  Here are my top 15 favorite photos (out of about 100)