I can’t believe that David and I have been here for one year already! It’s been a wonderful, exciting year–sometimes difficult, but always good. Here are some moments I have loved about being in South Africa and working with iThemba:
- The moment when kids stopped excitedly waving and shouting “Mlungu, mlungu” (white person) when I drive through Sweetwaters, and instead shout, “Steph! Steph!“
- Also, that one time when I was at kids club and a new child said something about “her mlungu” (meaning me) and this other four-year old very primly said, “No, that’s not your mlungu, that’s Steph.”
- Speaking of my name, I always enjoy people calling me “Steve” because they can’t pronounce Steph. And when iThemba staff call me Thandi, my Xhosa name, that makes me smile, too.
- Every day that I get to drive in these beautiful rolling hills— whether they are green in summer or brown in winter, they are just amazing.
- Finishing a project: Whether it’s the new volunteers manual and prezi, or writing a really good thank you note to a funder, or updating the iThemba blog…I love that feeling when I’m done with something and can be proud of what I made.
- The first fifteen minutes of every day when people are all arriving at the office, laughing and chatting and finding out how everyone’s husbands, wives and babies are doing.
- Any time I get to work with my buddies Thulani and Sizwe— they really are like the big brothers I always wanted, and they always are so encouraging and make me laugh. Their commitment to their work and to the kids is so inspiring. And also Wendy, Gugu, and Mashinini and…basically, all the iThemba staff are amazing!!
- Worship on kids camp. Hearing all those kids singing is just…wow.
- Hearing from “iThemba team alumni” who are now doing cool things with their lives, or hearing how working in South Africa with iThemba has changed them.
- Seeing God working. Seeing hope planted. Seeing slow changes in people’s lives.
- Seeing how God has provided every step of the way…I had 4 months of mono, David had 4 months with out a job, we had car-break downs… and yet it when we were going through it all, it didn’t seem to be a big deal. It’s more like looking back I’m astounded at how peacefully and joyfully we came through those challenges– and I know that is only because I was surrounded with the love and prayers from people like you all!
- I love getting to tell people about iThemba, and just how cool what they are doing is. That is one of my favorite things.
- I love that I can just be me. I often feel like I don’t quite “fit”– I didn’t feel like I “fit” in college, and sometimes now with my Hilton friends, I don’t feel like I “fit”– but when I’m hanging out with iThemba staff, playing with kids in Sweetwaters, getting to totally embarass myself doing silly dances, getting to sing with people who actually sing louder than I do– I just feel so comfy and so happy and so content.
- I love that I can be a part of a group of people that I am so, so proud of. I love that I can go to work and KNOW that I am going to do something that will help bring Jesus love and hope to the kids in Sweetwaters, and kids lives really are being changed. I love that iThemba is not perfect, but is committed to growing better at doing community development right.
Lastly, I just want to thank everyone, once again, who has given, or is still giving, so that I can be out here and help iThemba. I don’t even know some of you personally, yet you have donated your money so that I can continue to assist iThemba in this work. Thank you for “running with me”.
This list does not include the wonderful times that we’ve had with family (both US family, and family here) the fun that David and I have had in our first year of marriage, our great small group and church, getting to eat avocados….it’s been fantastic!