I feel as though this blog should actually be titled something to the extent of, The Brief Memoir of a 21 yr. know-it-all. However, that was too long and a little hurtful, but I digress.
This journey in the Western Cape of South Africa has been absolutely life changing. This country is breathtakingly beautiful and it is filled with people who are even more so, people who we have been privileged and blessed to work alongside of for the last three weeks. As mentioned in our previous blogs we have had the opportunity to work with various organizations who are helping to make a difference in the George area, as well as do a little work in a local township, called Blanco.
Blanco, is where we find ourselves every Thursday, and it is the highlight of my week. As you may have gathered from the title, I have been to South Africa before. Therefore, in my mind, there was nothing that could surprise me, nothing that could throw me off guard, and nothing that could render me speechless. But, when it came to our first Thursday in Blanco I was proven very wrong, which surprised me to say the least. During my last stay in South Africa I lived in a township, so I figured visiting one once a week would do nothing to my know-it-all self. However, upon our very first visit I met the ladies of the town, the ones who are the rocks for the community, the care takers of the sick and elderly, and the parents for all the children who find themselves without. When I met them I was shocked by their care and dedication to and for Blanco, and that has not changed in the least as we are now coming up on our fourth visit. Slightly after I met the ladies, I met little Mario, a small child who I met while helping at a local Creche, or as more commonly known, daycare. Our connection was instantaneous. From the first time his 5 year old little eyes locked onto mine and he climbed into my lap, I was sold. His family life is not perfect. He comes from a home with an alcoholic mother and absent father. He is rarely clean, often hungry, and always starved for attention, but he is my heart. With each visit he becomes aware of our presence in the township and it takes him little to no time to fall into my arms and rest his head on my chest or shoulder. It takes all that I have to not break down and cry for him, every time. Unfortunately, Mario’s situation is not uncommon. Rather, it is the everyday reality of so many Blanco children. It causes me to wonder where God is in all of this. It causes me to wonder why God chose to place me in a loving home with an OUTSTANDING grandmother, and yet little Mario lives in a home filled with unrest and fear. I wrestle with these questions EVERY Thursday, this last Thursday included. However, I also realize something every Thursday in Blanco as well. It usually occurs while my little Mario is resting in my lap against my chest. I realize, God didn’t create the township of Blanco, we did. Through acting out of pride and selfish ambition and fear, by the hand of man townships were made, not by the hand of God. I also realize, that if my heart is breaking for Mario, God’s heart is breaking even more. It is a disturbing realization that also brings complete peace and an absolute hope, that if we, humans, can create Blanco we can also do away with it. We have a choice to destroy or build up, to pursue justice or create corruption, to love others or love ourselves.
These are things I never thought of and never worried about until my visits to South Africa. Last time, in Kwazulu Natal, I spent my days in the township in a perpetual state of anger and confusion and I was prepared to feel the same. However, as usual with life, the more I think I know, the less I actually know. Thus, I spent this Thursday the same way I spend every Thursday, with little Mario in my Lap, thanking God for not giving up on us, for allowing for opportunities for change, and for Blanco.