Notes From: South Africa

In our family, the year that a child turns twelve they can choose anywhere in the world for a trip with just me and them. Cole chose Bolivia. Will chose Japan. Samm chose South Africa. 

Well, here we are 10,319 miles away from home. (A new record if you’re tracking from the last post.)

And in customary Samm fashion, she’s happy to share it with the whole family.

Wide Open Spaces

After many weeks in Asia, it can feel a bit claustrophobic. Lots of people and buildings and cars. It turns out that the cure is a week in the Mpumalanga province

Our home for the week was absolutely perfect. There was a ton of space inside and even more outside. Glass walls were everywhere and yet it felt totally private. One of my favorite details was the way the glass wrapped around the whole kitchen wall. It made it feel like it was outdoors. 

The sunrises were amazing. As were all the tiny African details.

But the most surreal moment was looking up from my book to see 8 giraffe staring at me through the window. It takes a minute for your eyes to convince your brain what you’re really seeing.

We went outside to say hi to our long friends. One thing is clear: when you’re staring at giraffe they will stare back and have no chill. 

The best kind of roadblocks

As we made our way around the town, around the neighborhood, and around Kruger National Park, there always seemed to be plenty of roadblocks. But it’s the best kind of barrier and waiting was always fun. Elephants, zebras, monkeys, giraffe, and many more. It felt surreal.

South Africa Highlights

On Sunday morning we joined a very small branch in Mbombela. They are currently meeting in the basement of a church that was purchased from another denomination. As the chapel and exterior is renovated, we lined up chairs in the small room below and worshipped with these faithful Saints. One sister talked about her mission call to Provo, UT and how excited she was to “serve and teach on the other side of the world.”

One day we drove up to the Misty Mountains to ride a single track toboggan across the fields and through the clouds. The area was gorgeous. It’s hard to explain but it’s very similar to the greenery of Washington with the fields of Scotland. 

The ride was quite a thrill. (Look closely in the picture below to see the track going down the hill.) 

It didn’t make sense that our plastic carts were staying on top of that little pole and speeding down the hill. Thankfully Jane had her cart attached to mine so I could mask my screams with hers. 

For the last few years, I’ve been searching for a good bran muffin. Or any bran muffin at all. (Yes, I know how old that makes me sound.) I would always take a look when visiting bakeries but you’d be surprised how few places sell bran muffins until you’re looking for one. Anyway, it took traveling to the other side of the world but I finally found a great one. 

(I expect that I’m the only one that will be excited about this announcement. That’s ok.)

Learning and Growing

From time to time, Candace and I sit our kids down and do a recorded interview. We add it to our yearly video recaps. We ask them questions about how they’re feeling in their lives, about some of the things they’re working on, and what they are hoping for in their future. These interviews can feel mundane in the moment. You’d be surprised how quickly they become cherished family treasures. How much would you love to see five minutes of you talking from your own childhood? Highly recommended.

Anyway, we decided to take advantage of the nice backdrop and record some new videos. These kids are so wise, inspiring, faithful, kind, and grateful. Candace and I are very proud of them.

Notes From” is a series where I share observations from recent adventures. You can read more of these in the “Notes From” category.