Well, I made it through my first day here! It was certainly an epic one—one that made me feel very hopeful and excited for my time here, but definitely included some Oh-my-Lord-what-was-I-thinking moments. Certainly a day to remember!
I was glad to be done with the long plane flights; it took me almost 48 hours to make it from Oklahoma City here, and I with my only opportunities to sleep being on transcontinental flights…let’s just say I’m a tad jet lagged. When I got to the airport I didn’t immediately see anyone dressed the way the man from Malaika (the orphange) had described, so I went and bought an internet card at the airport. Then, thankfully, I found them before I had panicked too much.
On our way out of the airport we were stopped by police who wanted to see everyone’s passports. The officer was insistent that both Eddie’s and Godfrey’s passports were fakes (though they finally decided it was a misunderstanding)…and at this point that I had out my phone and my heart was racing. Even though I had talked with Godfrey extensively, I was a little freaked out. By the time we pulled up at an apartment, I was definitely freaking out. I had been told that I would be staying in my own, locking room in the orphanage itself, not in an apartment—and I was not okay with changing. I told the three men that I wasn’t comfortable staying here and they said that because I had been afraid to stay alone this was what they had arranged for me, assuring me that it was safest. I wasn’t sold. I made a very expensive phone call to my mom before I would look at the apartment, telling her what was going on and decided that if I wasn’t comfortable with the arrangements I would be on the next plane either home or temporarily to Cape Town, where I was hoping Emmy and Brenna would take me in. But I went up and looked and the apartment itself does seem safe. My room and the outer door to the apartment have sturdy locks and my room has two comforable beds. Because I didn’t want to share a room with Godfrey and Eddie (just being uncomfortable with men), they sweetly arranged for Mickey, a young woman who also works for the orphange, to come and be my roommate. Mickey is the sweetest girl! She is at University here too and studying to be a teacher. She’s warm and friendly and made me feel much, much more comforable. The other bedroom of the apartment is occupied by a close friend of Eddie and Godfrey, who is wife to someone who works for the center and seems very nice.
Eddie bought me a cell phone today (which any of you are welcome to call me at if your long distance plans are good! The number is 021 073 952 6534) and then I was able to rest at the apartment for a while, where I skyped with my mom (always comforting :), thanks Mama) and Eddie sweetly made me cornflakes. In the afternoon I took a nap and then Eddie walked me over to the orphange center, which is probably 5 minutes away. Some of the kids came with him to pick me up—and the girls are the cutest things!
The orphange center itself is on the third floor of an apartment building that used to be a hospital. Most of the kids live in the apartments on lower floors—some have family members to care for them, but most are taken care of by caregivers provided by the orphanage. The building itself is more run down than my apartment, so I understood by Godfrey said my apartment would be safer for me.When we got to the orphanage all the kids sat in a circle and introduced themselves. then the kids played me a piece they had been working on in their Brass For All Project, which is a big band. They’re getting really good! They’ve obviously thrilled to death to have instruments, too.
The kids themselves are DARLING—the sweetest things that hang all over your legs and climb in your lap and smile up at you. They speak English well, but often prefer to babble to each other in Zulu…and some other languages I can’t understand. Mickey tells me that South Africa has eleven (11!) languagues. She only can understand ten of them, though…can you imagine? Hardly fit to be a teacher in my opinion. Just kidding—that’s ridiculous to me. But Goodness help me with their names. Some of them I can remember well, like Mary and Debra and Cece. But most of have no hope of ever learning to spell or pronounce correctly, and they’ve repeated them to me so many times! Hopefully in a few weeks I can master them—heaven knows I’m trying.
Then I got to meet with the women who I’m going to be teaching to bake in the morning times while the kids are school. This was probably the best part of my day, because the women are so excited. They assured me that they would be ready every day and I can tell they’re going to keep me on my toes. We decided that we would start by meeting three times a week for three hours. Together with Uncle (another sweet man working for the orphange) we decided it would be more important to focus on teaching the women because they will be who are left to teach the children after I leave. I’ll still have baking/heallth class for the kids an afternoon or two a week. Tomorrow, Uncle is going to take me shopping for supplies because we start on Monday!
I’m really, really excited to work with these women. They are so kind to me and eager to learn! Most of them are mothers or caregivers to the children there, and they’re just all around very pleasant people.
Now I’m back in my room with Mickey. She’s studying, I’m writing my blog, and we’re watching Mrs. Doubtfire. Whew. What a day! I know for sure this trip is going to be lifechanging, challenging, and hopefully turn out to be incredible. Right now I’m just so glad to have a bed and able to sleep soon!
I’d love to hear from you all! If you have the time, please skype me or email! 🙂 And prayers for me and all the kids here would be a really big blessing, too. I’ll write again soon!