I've been back from South Africa for two weeks now (how is that possible?), and I've been wrestling with what to write about it. There's just so much, you see.
This was my third time visiting the country (2 weeks when I was 15, 2 months when I was 20, and now 17 days), but I was going to a different area, doing different work, this time. I was worried it wouldn't feel like home (South Africa has always felt very much like home to me), that it wouldn't fill up the same space in my heart as before. I've never gone in the capacity of leadership before, with responsibilities towards my kids and also as the official photographer of the trip. I wasn't sure what God was going to teach me, what to even look for.
My worries and concerns were silly, of course.
We arrived at the airport and were greeted by Neville and Veronica Walker, the couple that runs Aurora Primary School. Neville handed out water bottles and hugs, and I knew I was home. He greeted us like 19 of his long-lost children.
And then when we finally got to the school Monday morning, not knowing quite what to expect, the second I glimpsed the students' faces, eager to check out the big group of Americans, the feeling of home settled even more firmly around me. Kids are kids, after all. The quick and easy way they loved was the same as I had experienced before, and it felt normal and natural to fall into their chaotic rhythm.
There's so much to tell, so many stories to share. There are things that God is still working out in my heart that I can't share yet, but will in time.
So I'll break this up into parts, and for now I'll just tell you that I'm back in America and starting to gear up for my busy fall wedding season. It's going to take a concentrated effort to get my mind back in wedding space - I'll be perfectly honest. My heart and thoughts are very much still in South Africa, with the children of Aurora Primary School and the amazing family that follows God's leading every single day to keep it running. So maybe if I share some of that with all of you, it will help me release some of the ache in my chest.
Until next time.
P.S. There will be elephants. And giraffes. And zebras. And a leopard. Stay tuned!