a blog about the cultural experiences my husband and I have because of our work abroad...what's delightful and beautiful about different countries and cultures...what we have learned from living and working in countries other than our home country...and how those experiences have changed us

Monday, March 15, 2010

new direction in the journey

Things often do not turn out as we plan them. I think for me that is the norm, rather than the exception. Stephen and I certainly did not plan to leave South Africa for at least two years and we hoped much longer than that. We also did not plan for me to get Lupus. And that in the end is the reason we have to end this adventure in South Africa.

It has been a hard decision, one we struggled with for months. But Tugela Ferry has proven to be too harsh of a place for me live at this particular moment in my life. There are places in South Africa that offer better climate, peaceful environments, and more living conveniences. But they are all too far away from Tugela Ferry for a reasonable commute to work. And really, Tugela Ferry is third world conditions. Hard enough for the healthy and strong to handle, but actually quite extreme for me with Lupus.

And while I've loved working with my grade 3 students, for various reasons doing so has dramatically increased my inflammation and pain. My flare has gotten worse since school started in January.

So for now at least, Stephen and I have accepted that our home base must be in the states where I can get the medical care I need and where good self care (good quality sleep, regular exercise, consistent nutritious diet, more readily available stress management tools) is immensely easier.

Once we made this decision and started to pursue this new course in our journey, things suddenly fell into place smoothly. Stephen applied for and has been offered a job with a well respected international health organization based in the states. The American doctor we purchased our vehicle from decided to return earlier than expected to South Africa and has bought the car back. And even that package that we thought was lost for good in customs was delivered to us, on my birthday no less! Stephen said it feels like God is smiling on us.

Though Stephen and I felt so drawn to Africa, to live and work amongst the poor, to relieve their suffering and improve their quality of life, it seems that that is not what is in store for us. At least not in this way. Evidently, there is another direction for our lives. There is no question that this experience, despite being shorter than we were hoping for, has been immeasurably valuable to us. And only God knows how our newly acquired knowledge and skills will be put to use in the future. Even though we were only here for a brief time, we both feel that we have maybe done a little good, maybe achieved just a bit of what we hoped to do.

Today was my last day at the school. Last week we finished the English dictionaries and I completed my final assessments. All the children made progress which I was happy about. Today I just gave gifts, took pictures, and said good bye.

Also today Stephen's staff threw us a surprise going away party. A big "braai" or barbecue. They have all expressed their sadness that Stephen is leaving. And they hope that we will return someday.

Our adventure in South Africa is coming to an end. But we still feel like we are on a safari, a journey, and we still think of ourselves as a crash of rhinos. One major difference being that our address will no longer be an exotic one. :) Although, Stephen's new position will involve up to 40% of international travel. So there will likely be plenty for me to report on the places he visits. And I hope to find a niche in the states where I can use my new passion for teaching students whose first language is not English.

1 comment:

  1. Sabrina,
    What you write is really gracious ... makes me think of how our lives do NOT go as expected but yet somehow things fall into place and it is the right thing. And I loved reading about your new passion for students whose first language is not English. At this point, as a language teacher of Spanish, I sometimes wonder if I could ever enjoy teaching my own language as much as I enjoy teaching my second language. But your post gives me hope that it could indeed be just as joyous.

    Stephen's new position sounds exciting. 40% travel: Wow! Sounds like, really, your guys' adventurous life is just beginning ...

    And Portland, really -- could it get any better? Most everyone I know would live in Portland if their life situations led them to it: a city of art, a walkable downtown, a beehive of ideas and social justice initiatives ... you are fortunate, I think!