31 Days · africa

#write31days {The Many Firsts}

When I moved to South Africa, I experienced many “firsts”.

Yes, I'm getting ready to ride an ostrich.
Yes, I’m getting ready to ride an ostrich.

Some were pretty comical. Such as the first time I rode an ostrich, fought a monkey, pet a hippo, or battled a tarantula. Who can forget my first multi-language proposal? Or the times I ate warthog, zebra, ostrich, kudu, springbok, goat nose, cow intestine, and chicken liver. Not all at once, of course! And shaving my hair off for the first time was quite an experience!

Checking out some snakes with my newly shaved head!
Checking out some snakes with my newly shaved head!


Some were a lot more difficult to handle.

Such as the first time I heard an Apartheid-era police officer (white officer) describe how she controlled the townships with bullets. Or watching a full-grown man slap my learners with a pair of shoes. And the first time I watched a friend get mugged.


Some were transformative. The first time I stuck a spade into African soil and began gardening. The time I was told that a learner had died, likely from HIV/AIDS. Or the day the teachers at my school told me that one of my own students had been raped, from my fifth grade class.

Moving to South Africa meant experiencing many “firsts”, ones full of joy and ones full of sorrow. Some were shocking, and others were numbing. And still others filled me with a wild joy. And as difficult as life was there, I wouldn’t trade all those “firsts” for anything.

Doing what I loved: teaching gardening
Doing what I loved: teaching gardening

And when I returned to the USA, I once again had to experience a round of “firsts”, as I learned to readjust to a whole new life.



12 thoughts on “#write31days {The Many Firsts}

    1. Um, so…that was definitely one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life. Do you know how fast ostriches run? It’s really fast. Towards very hard looking wooden fences, in my case.

      But hey, most people think I’m kidding when I mention the ostrich ride! 😉

      Thanks for your encouragement all month long, Kristin. You’re such a sweet person!!

  1. Being challenged to live out firsts is so scary, but so rewarding. I’ve loved hearing of your stories throughout the month. Makes me feel like I was there! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Kate!

      It definitely was challenging, and there were a few times when I was DONE and just wanted to go home. But God had other plans!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing. BTW I would Never eat all those things! EEEEWWW:)
    Love the picks. How long have you been back from South Africa?

  3. There’s nothing like living some time into another country that has a completely different culture, food and lifestyle. I think this experiences enrich us and shapes us into more wise and grateful persons.
    P.S. – We don’t have to travel all the way to Africa to have chicken liver. It’s a pretty common food in Romania too. 😀

  4. Wow! You’ve got enough content for a whole book right there! My goodness! Curious, did you shave your head just because you wanted to, or did something else motivate the decision? So glad you decided to start sharing snippets of your experience in this series! I hope you continue .. 🙂

  5. Goat nose is edible?? Seriously, I have loved your series, with all its adventure and lessons learned (and my heart hurts for the tragic things you saw). Thank you for sharing the depths of sorrow and yet fullness of joy.

    1. Well, I wouldn’t consider it edible… 😉

      And my heart aches too, for these examples and many more.

      Thanks for the encouragement Renee!

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