We have now been in South Africa for 5 days, and in those 5 days I have felt the whole gamut of emotions:
Awe: As we drove in from the airport and looked out over South Africa for the first time.
Excitement, then some frustration, then some disappointment, then some longing, followed by resolve: As we entered out new house for the first time, then spent a little more time getting to know the house and all of its quirks. The good thing about a new house is that as each day goes by, it feels more and more like a home. Our house is beautiful, but there are some things we are going to take a little time to get used to–which is not necessarily a bad thing.
White-knuckled fear: Driving on the left side of the road for the first time. I’m afraid that I wasn’t particularly kind to my husband the first time he drove our rental car. I may have yelled at him a couple of times when he was driving on the wrong side of the road. Then when I drove for the first time, a few expletives may or may not have come out of my mouth as I swerved from the right lane to the left lane to avoid oncoming cars.
Joy: Going to church on Sunday. I felt at home again singing the familiar hymns and hearing the scriptures that I love some much. Though they sound very exotic when sung and read with the local South African accents. I can tell already that we are going to love our new ward and the South African Mormons.
Cold: I know that cold isn’t an emotion, but I have felt cold a lot since arriving. Currently, the southern hemisphere is in the midst of winter. Pretoria has beautiful weather and the days have been mostly in the 70’s. But at night the temperature drops and our house gets really cold and the heater currently only works in two of the rooms. My blood is still thickening up from the summer we left in the US and I will admit that I have been a little whiny.
Delight: As Elizabeth and I visited her new school, the American International School of Johannesburg–Pretoria campus for New Student Orientation. The campus was beautiful and the school had a nurturing atmosphere. Jason and the boys had a similar experience when visiting the school’s Johannesburg campus where the boys will attend high school.
Frustration: When I learned that, though our air and ground shipments are in country, we can’t get them until we have been granted diplomatic status–which could take up to three weeks. In Taiwan and Jordan, we had immediate diplomatic status, so this whole process is new to us.
Gratitude: For our social sponsors (a family who are assigned by the embassy to take care of newbies like us) who had our house all set up when we arrived; beds made, food in the fridge, toilet paper in the bathrooms, flowers on the table and a delicious hot lunch of authentic Mexican fajitas. Then on Saturday morning they took us to an amazing international food fair. And if that wasn’t enough, they then invited us over for a dinner party on Saturday night where they cooked amazing paella. And they have been incredibly kind and generous answering all of my dumb questions.
Sadness: Verging on tears when I realized that my tradition of making chocolate chips cookies for my kids arrival home from the first day of school (which I’ve done since my oldest was in kindergarten) will be virtually impossible.
Hope: Probably the strongest emotion that I’ve felt in the past 5 days. Hope that our kids will have a good first day of school tomorrow. Hope that they’ll make good friends and be assigned good teachers. Hope that they’ll find acceptance and that they will quickly acclimate to this new home. Hope that Jason’s work will be fulfilling and that he will be appreciated for all of his wonderful qualities and skills. Hope that I can quickly figure things out so that I can hold this family together and provide all they need at home. Hope that we will quickly come to love South Africa as much as we loved Taiwan and Jordan. And hope that I won’t lose my mind in the process of it all.
I think that we’re off to a good start.