Days 1 and 2: In Transit

From the plane: 8 hours and 47 minutes to Johannesburg

I am sitting now in the dark as most of everyone is asleep, save for a few night owls like me, and we are nearly halfway across the Atlantic Ocean. Earlier, before the sky had evolved into a pitch black dotted with innumerable stars, it had been a deep, deep periwinkle color that reflected into the clouds and water below me. It blended so well, in fact, that I could not tell where the horizon fell and where the sky began and it made me feel so very, very small in the hand of our Father.

From where I sit, I can see Orion, his belt sparkling brilliantly at this altitude. I looked up just in time to see a falling star streak across his chest in the same manner a hand would to sign the word Lord in sign language and I do not feel so small any more. As I sit here and stare out my little window, I catch a glimpse of the fullness of God’s creation that is awaiting me on the ground. The sun is just barely starting to think about rising; I can see some pink tendrils of light poking through the horizon. The anticipation is keeping me awake. I can merely sit here with eyes closed, burning from exhaustion, unable to do much else but count down the very minutes until I land. I am coming.

After touchdown in Johannesburg, Monday, May 19, 2014.

22 total hours of transit and a six hour time change. An hour-long adventure trying to find out hotel in the dark.

257 songs. 6 movies. 3 meals. 2 sleeping pills. 1 trip to the bathroom.

I do not sleep on planes; I have been awake for nearly 60 consecutive hours. I am tired. The silence as we stood in line at a busy airport in Joburg struck me as eerie as it did one year ago, but is oddly comforting. I keep finding myself smiling like an idiot for being so excited. I’m getting weird looks from strangers and it’s official: I’m a weirdo on two continents. The man who checked me through customs said to me, “You are 18. When are you going to have children of your own?” …what.

Thinking about this time one year ago makes me laugh: I was super salty after being awake for so long. Dinner was great, but I nearly froze to death because I didn’t come prepared for African winter without heaters, which added another sleepless night to my tally; I took a cold shower during a blackout….all within my first 12 hours in Africa. It was not a good start. 

It drastically improved the next day, but I needed to be taken down off my American high horse and Jesus really knows how to push my buttons and he’s doing it again. I watched the movie rendition of one of my favorite books, The Great Gatsby, as I ate a dinner on the plane and during my initial period of almost-sleep and something odd happened: the grandeur and opulence of the Gatsby lifestyle, the attractive nature of 1920’s life that so often leaves me with a sense of nostalgia for a time I wish I’d known instead left me with a sense of disgust. I realize the movie was incredibly over the top and that life was not as lavish for the vast majority of the world in the 1920’s…but I still found myself shaking my head, thinking Really? A strand of pearls worth $350,000? That could send me to Swaziland 100 times with money left over.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The last two days were very long, sleepless days; we have already had our first adventure, as it took us an hour and a half to find our hotel (which is only about 15 minutes from the airport…oh well!). Upon arriving, we stuffed ourselves with pizza and retired to our rooms. It was another long, almost sleepless night…luckily I got in about 3 hours and then 3 cups of very strong coffee at breakfast. I am more than ready for the drive to Swaziland. Let’s do this.

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