9:34PM Greetings from South Africa! I will quickly try to post an update on my travels here as I "purchased" internet time (what a concept) and don't want to get halfway through the post and have my internet turned off (again, what a concept). There simply is too much to report so I won't even try. South Africa is an amazing and beautiful place with amazing and beautiful people. It is also a place of great pain and struggle but a place of great resilience and great humanity.
As our group of pilgrims experiences more and more of the history, present, and future of South Africa, I grow increasingly aware of the distance between me and my family. Especially under current circumstances (with Nannie's rapid decline), it is very, very difficult to not be with those I love. I have been able to speak with Susan almost every evening, and have spoken with Elisabeth and Sophie about once each in the past week and a half. We will all have lots of catching up to do once I return!
A little bit of news that Susan shared with me last night--being a "single parent" of two children is far more challenging than being a "single parent" of one! Elisabeth and Sophie continue to be typical siblings, which means for some frustrating parenting exercises. I know that Susan is already under a fair amount of emotional stress, so it must be even more challenging to try and manage both girls at once. I hope to get in touch with Susan tonight and maybe she's had a better day of it. We've noticed in the past that when Elisabeth goes away for a while, she comes back with extra attitude. I don't think it's a matter of mom spoiling her too much (although there was probably some of that, right mom?), but a matter of Elisabeth growing ever-so confident because she has traveled by herself and had all these wonderful experiences without mom and dad around. She may also be working through the pain of seeing Nannie slowly fade away. In case you can't tell, they're all on my mind!
Being away from the internet, I haven't had much chance to catch up on e-mail. I did get word that Diego Santiago passed away on 8/2. I'm very, very sad for that family, because I know that Diego fought very long and very hard, and I know that many, many people held him and his family in prayer for a long, long time. There are no easy answers and no easy words for a time like this. It was a special thrill for me to see Diego at Annual Conference this past year and to visit, however briefly, with Cookie (Diego's mom). I will continue to pray for Diego's family during this difficult time.
Well, I haven't talked about South Africa much, have I? Well, aside from the powerful witness of people of faith in this country, two days ago, I got to see two lions "in the wild" and today, got to see penguins wandering around, also "in the wild." Where else on earth can you see lions, rhinos, elephants, hippos, giraffes, AND penguins all in their natural habitats?
I'll share more on this experience in the future, but there is still more to be experienced and I'll need time to process much of what I've seen and heard. Continue to pray for Nannie and continue to pray for our whole family through these next few days.