I’m about to write something truly amazing.
It is a confession of sorts, painted in burnt orange and brown and bright blue. I am going to write about my new homeland, a place that has mystified me from the moment I arrived here. It is Johannesburg, South Africa.
Jozi’s northern suburbs, I should say. No one from Joburg says I live in Joburg.
We are moving back to the USA on March 15th or thereabouts. We still haven’t bought our plane tickets but we are scheduling the moving company and scheduling the going away party.
For the last two years I’ve been turning my face more and more toward my homeland. I’ve lived with the haunting terribleness of missing my kids, my grandkids and my parents. Sometimes I’ve missed them in utter pitch blackness inside of a lonely night. Other times I’ve missed them as I jealously watched exchanges between families here in church. For a girl like me to be oceans away from her family has been excruciating. God created me with a love for the nations and a desire to serve the poor; but He also created me with a fierce love of family.
So for the last six years we have walked out the deep calling of God to be here and work into Africa. We are based in (live in) South Africa – the France of Africa. All foreigners here are always going to be foreigners and don’t share in the unique camaraderie of all of the others who were born and raised here.
I used to joke with others that I wished the ground would swallow me up and spit me out as a South African, magically. Instead, I am hopelessly American – with an American accent, my American preferences and an American personality. I don’t know how to be a South African woman – I am the American woman who grew up believing women and men had different but equal voices.
Now it’s all happening too fast and I am leaving, after six years of pouring my life into this beautiful and unusual place.
Here’s my confession: I don’t know if I want to leave. I don’t know how to say goodbye to this beloved land; these beloved people who have hosted us for six years. I am a permanent resident now and I proudly carry my green ID booklet with me everywhere.
I don’t want to leave the ubuntu, the gorgeous lovely dysfunctional feeling that we are helpless against the corruption that infiltrates government. I don’t know how to get the music out of my head – the Zulu worship songs that have colored our lives here. I can’t figure out how to gracefully exit a homeland I want to weep over and flip off at the same time.
I am one conflicted woman.
I have fallen in love; been used and abused; been awestruck and left tearful….
And I have to leave Portia.
How do you like that? I buried the lead.