Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward

It's been almost three months since I posted last. I think I still owe this blog one final farewell, but I didn't want to end this part of my life without having first moved on and found myself doing something else. Unfortunately, I'm still unemployed and living with my parents and my dream of independence came and went with every passing holiday. Maybe my Martin Luther King Jr. Day I'll be well on my way towards autonomy.

Before I can move forward physically, whether by getting a new job, a new apartment, or even just new friends, I need to move forward emotionally. I need to be able to see news stories, articles, and movies about South Africa and Cape Town and not cry at the very mention of the country I left behind. I need to be able to look through my fellow YASCers blogs and feel proud for them, not resentful that their placements have all worked well for them. I need to be able to look back on my two months in Cape Town with pride for what I did, love for the people, and with the knowledge that leaving was right. I hate to say it, but I'm not quite there yet.

As for pride in what I accomplished while I was there, I'm about halfway there. I finished the projects I was working on and I know I did them to the best of my ability. I think I contributed to the quality of the office and the quality of some of our productions. But I still wish I'd been able to notice just how far my actions went. I wish I'd seen that in creating a pamphlet on the flooding in Mozambique a year ago, I was providing donors with proof of the fruits of their labor. I was giving them hope that their past and future donations were making a difference in provinces and countries in Southern Africa. I wish I'd noticed that the donated food in the corner of my office could easily feed a small village. I wish I'd seen that the interns working in the office were being given the opportunity of a lifetime by HOPE Africa providing them with jobs and wages. I am so proud of HOPE Africa and what it does for all the dioceses of the Anglican church. I hope I can take what they taught me and bring it with me throughout my life.

As for love for the people in Cape Town, I have it, without a doubt. Not a day goes by that I don't wonder if Iggy and his girlfriend are still going strong and whether or not he kept my Mean Girls DVD, if Fana has finally caught up with his little girl and is supporting her through the death of her mother, if Kholiwe is still rocking her beautiful bald head or if she's hoping to grow her hair back out sometime soon, if Jenny and Nicki still dance with their whole hearts. I miss the students I lived with in Anhouse and always wonder how their summer breaks are going. I saw them in their finals week and I know how stressed out they all were so I can only hope when the grades appeared, they were satisfied. I can't even begin to describe the love I have for every person I worked with and every person I lived with. They cannot begin to know what a lasting effect they had on me and how they've changed me. It's remarkable that knowing someone for two months can do that to you, but that's all it took. I am so lucky to have been surrounded by them and to still feel their love after leaving them behind.

As for the knowledge that leaving was the right thing, I'm nowhere near there. I left behind one of the most challenging places I've ever lived and jobs I've ever worked. I left behind the most culture I've ever seen in one place and the least safe place I've ever lived. I left everything I was scared of to return to where I felt safe. All I can do now is challenge myself to never do that again.

I started this blog as a final farewell and a final explanation to my readers, but for me it's become cathartic. I had to write all this and share it with you. I had to say it out loud and stop avoiding thinking about it. I had to own up to my decision and admit that it wasn't easy and that it wasn't obvious and that I might have made the wrong choice.

After all of the thinking and writing and praying, all I can do now is move forward. There is NO turning back and there never will be.

So here's to 2014. This will be my year to take charge and do things that scare me. This will be my year to move out of my parents house and into my own. This will be my year to find love and support and encouragement and friends that I will have for the rest of my life. This will be my year to find music and laughter every day. This is my year.

Baie Dankie for your support through this journey. I couldn't have done any of it without you.



  1. Emily, I don't know you, but it appears to me, based upon the sentiments you shared in this blog entry, you have grown a lot and have learned a lot about you and about life. I am passionate about stewardship--all that I have has been given to me to be used for God's glory. You were given these experiences. You can use them for God's glory, so long as you look to God for guidance. The thing about seeking God's will is we aren't very good at it. You have learned that it is alright to miss the mark. That's a good lesson because as we seek God's guidance, we will constantly miss it, but, as we continue to seek it, we will gradually get closer and closer. May God continue to bless you.

  2. Emily, what an inspiring blog. It brought back so many memories. We have been back for over a year, and I still yearn for the people and culture we experienced. Though we retired, we are still trying to move forward. Your blog helped me to get in touch with some of my feelings. God truly blessed you, as he blessed us by our experiences in the mission field. Let us get together and talk sometime. Love - Bob Snow


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