Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm a Joburger!

Note: Internet is pretty difficult. VERY few people have wifi. Most people either don’t have internet, or if they do, it’s basically a flash drive, modem thing you stick into your computer that has a certain amount of internet time on it. I’m working on getting one, but they are fairly expensive. (So please be patient with me if we’re trying to skype – I have to plan that and be at other people’s houses.) For blogging purposes, I have written an entry on my computer and then uploaded it to a computer with internet, via flash drive, when I can. I’ll try to keep posts consistent, but just be forewarned that they might not be. This post was written two nights ago.  

I have to start off by saying that I am listening to “Circle of Life” while I write this. It totally doesn’t seem weird listening to it here…it’s totally appropriate!

So, I am HERE! I am living in Johannesburg, South Africa and have been for a few days now! I’m not actually a Joburger…that would be someone whose from Joburg…I just liked the name.  I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll just ramble off everything I think of:

It is BEAUTIFUL here! Really, that is the first thing I have to say. And all I hear is that Capetown is un-earthly beautiful…cannot wait to see THAT! The weather is just warm enough to get toasty (and a nice golden tan!), but not humid. No one has AC, everyone just leaves their windows and doors open all day long and it is plenty cool and breezy inside; absolutely ideal to me. It is just divine! (As everyone says here…anything at all wonderful is divine.) I have yet to see one of the theatrical thunderstorms I’ve heard so much about, but I’m sure they’ll come. (Or maybe I don’t want them too…I’ve heard when it rains, Rain Spiders come out and they’re as big as your hand. I might just faint when I see one, if not die, if I see it in any of my stuff.) My usual routes to the university, church, and friends’ houses include panoramic views of the city and mountains. I need to get you pictures.
I am living with two women in the church, in one of their houses. Almost all the houses that are at all decent have a giant wall around the property, with some sort of other security feature on top of the wall: an electric fence, barb wire, or shards of glass and metal. The house I live in has an electric fence around the top. It also has a bar-door in front of the actual front door. It really is a charming house though, in a good neighborhood. I am grateful to be able to live here and have never felt in danger. (I actually haven’t felt unsafe anywhere.)
The people have been WONDERFUL; absolutely delightful!  I honestly have yet to meet someone who wasn’t nice or helpful. (I had heard that South Africans were like that…it’s true, they really are.) The members of the church I am interning for here, especially those that I am working directly with, have overwhelmed me with welcome and generosity. I have felt so taken care of, and so wanted! Irene, who picked me up at the airport, exclaimed when we first saw each other at the airport, “I feel like I should cry! You’re like a long sister!”  (She was partly referring to all my visa troubles…see previous posts.) I have told a number of people here, and I am completely serious when I say this: of the four major moves I’ve experienced over the past four years, this has been the easiest transition. And I’m in AFRICA!
 I’ve been doing pretty well with the time change. So far, I’ve only had one night where I had trouble sleeping…it took me a couple of hours to fall asleep. Other than that, I’ve been sleeping more than soundly every night.
I will be getting a car here (provided by the church), but I have yet to drive…on the OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD. It’s been scary enough riding in a car that is driving on the other side of the road; I don’t know what I’m going to do when it’s my turn to drive.
Everywhere you go, at every intersection, there are people selling things and begging for anything you can give them. People sell everything from cell phone car charge to inflatable globes to bouncy balls. (I can’t even remember some of the crazy things I’ve seen out there.) You just get used to ignoring them…or if your window is down, actually saying “no thank you” over and over. Most parking lots have an unofficial security guard that you’re supposed to pay. By unofficial I mean, not paid by anyone, and by pay I mean, give money or food.
Like I said earlier, I’ve felt safe the entire time I’ve been here. Part of that is because you learn what to do and what not to do. Everything ends early here. I am pretty much always home between 6 and 8pm, simply because it’s not wise or safe to be out much later. Shopping malls close around 4/5pm. (There are always exceptions to all of this of course.) And because everything ends and closes early, our days start that much earlier. I’ll be out of the house by 9/10am. For anyone who knows me well, you’re probably thinking the same thing I’ve been thinking since I got here: “This is my kind of country!”
So the whole reason I’m here is actually to work with the campus and teen ministry of the Johannesburg Church of Christ. I’m doing this because I want to (obviously) and because they need help. It has been overwhelming the number of people who want to study the bible. On UJ (University of Johannesburg), we had our first bible discussion of the year (they don’t do semesters here) this past Thursday and had 30 visitors! People are definitely just more pleasant here and don’t like to say no to an invitation, but I do think they are also very open and looking for God. Realizing firsthand how many people need help knowing God in Joburg is opening my eyes to how many people need help knowing God everywhere! The couple that leads the church here in Joburg also oversees the churches that are a part of our sisterhood of churches for all of Southern Africa. That is quite a large responsibility. And even within South Africa (which has three capitals…Capetown, Pretoria, and Bloemfontein) major cities don’t have churches at all. There have been so many times in preparing to come here, and even since being here, that I have felt unequipped and plainly, not the best person for the job. But I do feel so needed. I’m reading a book by Max Lucado called Outlive Your Life, and in the chapter I just read, he says: “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” This statement stopped me in my tracks when I first read it because it humbles me and encourages me tremendously, at the same time. Even though, yes, I wanted to come here on my own, God planned this for me; therefore, I am qualified to be here.

Has something ever felt too easy to be right? I’ve kind of been afraid of that since moving here. Granted, I’ve been here less than a week, but it has been such a comfortable transition. I guess life just doesn’t feel THAT different yet. I always told people, “I’m not moving to the bush, it IS a big city”, but maybe I’m actually taken off guard by the fact that Joburg REALLY IS a city with roads and houses and showers (well, baths…very few showers. :/ ) and movie theaters (which are apparently very cheap –yes!). I’m a little nervous that I must be suppressing emotions of sadness and missing people, and that sometime this next week or the week after, I’m going to have a meltdown. And actually (I think I’m writing to myself here), that could very well be true. I also could just have a meltdown over the mosquito that won’t leave my room. But I also could be getting a lesson in the fact that sometimes God just lets things be easy for a time. I believe he really does. It’s like a time to rest and enjoy life before more refining times come again. Maybe that’s what I’m in right now; and I’m happy with that.

Oh, also, two notable things:
1.       I blew up my hair dryer. I bought an adapter, but I don’t know what happened…I plugged it in and was using it for a good 20 seconds and then – POP! There it went. The red reset button on my hair dryer looks like it melted. Oh well, I like to air-dry my hair anyway.
2.       Here in South Africa, if you have health insurance, gyms are FREE. FREE I tell you! AND, you get a card that you swipe every time you go to the gym or buy healthy foods, and you start to get discounts off your food and other things! Irene and her husband Justin have worked their way up to gold members, and get something like 75% off their food! The US needs to take a few lessons from these people.

Well, it’s 10pm…I am up far later than probably anyone on my block. I don’t have pictures yet, but hopefully I’ll acquire some soon…like, if I go to the Lion Park this weekend. 

Cheers! (That’s what we say here.) =)


  1. WOW! Looks like things are going great! :D I'm excited to be able to read your journey in South Africa! I'm so encouraged to hear the bible talks are going so well with tons of visitors and people are being super open to learning about God! Your adventures are making me really excited for my upcoming summer internship in Barbados! Have an amazing time! Cant wait to read about your next adventure! :D Glory be to God!! Love you Elizabeth!!!
    - Ariel Lee

  2. Yay! I am so glad that you got there and are loving it! It sounds amazing and I can't wait to see pictures. I miss and love you so much! -Maggie

  3. Thank you for taking the time to write the blog. It is definately helpful in keeping up with you (as if I could!). You write like you talk :) I can just hear you "Here in South Africa, if you have health insurance, gyms are FREE. FREE I tell you!". And along with all the important stuff you wrote, I love you already consider yourself a Joburger ("Cheers that's what WE say here") :D God is certainly keeping watch over you!

  4. Ah! this is so cool. i honestly feel like you really are the perfect person to make a move like this. im just sooo inspired by your heart to serve and grow. like wow! i love getting to hear about your adventures and cant wait to read more. miss you and love you liz! -jojo

  5. Enjoy the down time and take things as they come...because no matter where you are - States or Africa - they always do. I'm so proud of you and I knew you'd do great. God's speed to you!


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