On afternoon, on our recent trip to South Africa, we drove to the Horn of Salvation After Care Program.
We were a number of days into the trip and I was beginning to feel the affects of the time difference, the long days, and the different-than-my-usual foods we’d eaten. My stomach was completely out of sorts, my head was pounding, and my body was worn out.
I just wanted to go back to the lodge and crawl in bed for a few hours. But we’d planned to go to visit this new After Care Program, so I tried to set aside how icky I was feeling and just focus on being fully present.
As we got out of the van and went to meet the leaders of this After Care Program — Pastor Robert and his very-pregnant wife, Mokgadi. They were beaming with joy and so thrilled to have us there.
I looked around for a building or tent or something where they would be running their program… and then I realized that the program for all the children in their community was being held at their small house and in the small yard area right behind their house.
Mokgadi told us how she just loves investing in these children and teaching them to read — something that they often don’t learn at school because most teachers in this area do not have the skills to really educate children (they are more just “child-minding”, they told us).
Because of her efforts in this community, the educational levels of the kids of the community have gone up significantly and they now have a 95% pass rate — which is incredibly high for this area!
I also felt so inspired in just the first 15 minutes! Then we went to the back of their house to see the children and their After Care Program.
You guys. I was so humbled by what I saw.
Here is a couple who doesn’t have much money, a woman who has her own children and is pregnant, and yet they are literally giving their lives away and throwing open the doors of their home to make a big difference in the lives of these children.
They don’t have much at all, but they are giving what they have. And it is making a huge impact.
It wasn’t just in test scores, though.
At the end of our visit, they said the kids wanted to dance for us. I figured that meant one dance or something… forgetting that this is South Africa and there’s really no such thing as one dance or one song. 🙂
Pretty soon, all the girls had changed into adorable grass skirts made out of recycled grocery sacks and bread bags. They brought out an old drum. They set up chairs for us. They circled around us.
And then, underneath the hole-y tarp on the dusty South African ground in the middle of a community full of great poverty, these children BROUGHT IT.
They danced and they sang and they danced and they sang.
It was loud, it was lively, and it was L-I-F-E to my weary body.
Their joy was contagious. I forgot all about how tired I felt, how my stomach was queasy, and how I just wanted to crawl in bed.
Instead, I was on the edge of my seat, soaking up the way these kids were celebrating and singing and dancing their hearts out.
I want to forever hold this moment of time in my memory. When — in the midst of so much poverty and need — there was celebration and hope.
We can all learn so much from these kids. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to dance through it.
Let’s stop waiting for perfect and start savoring and celebrating right where we are.
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