To South Africa and Back

Hmmmm…what should I tell you what should I tell you? (drumming my fingers on my chin.) 

I’ve actually been back in Conakry for almost a week now. Each day since has been one where I tell myself ‘today, I will blog about South Africa.’ But the task before me is daunting because it requires capturing TWO WEEKS for you, which is hard when you have as much to say as I usually do, combined with the fact that I recently read that successful articles/posts are brief because readers these days have a very short attention spans. In fact, we have now surpassed the limit of words (110) most people are willing to pay attention for, so those of you still here can give yourselves a little pat on the back for having particularly adept concentration skills. Welcome.

So…it’s not all going to fit, but here are this year’s nominees for best moments in South Africa, 2013:

1) I was able to be there for almost every bandage removal following the 51 cataract surgeries done during Mercy Vision’s outreach at Zithulele Hospital in the Eastern Cape:

Mr. H

I was there – – I watched as this man opened his eyes and saw for the first time in three years!

Moments like that are indescribable. It might compare to: watching a parent hold their newborn for the first time…watching a family welcome home a loved one in the armed forces…watching when the minister says ‘you may now kiss the bride’…you get the idea – assorted Hallmark moments.

These are moments where your spirits are uplifted and are so magical that you aren’t really thinking, your mind is just sort of delightfully wordless and you are smiling in spite of yourself because you are so happy for the person in front of you. Or you’re watching an episode of Extreme Home Makeover.

But I have to tell you that the moment when Mr. H had his bandages off was special in a unique way that all of those other moments I just mentioned can’t match. You want to know why? Because all of those comparable moments have one thing in common…you have to be able to SEE to experience them.

So when I got to SEE a man SEE, it wasn’t just remarkable because he was blind and now he isn’t…but because he has been missing those moments for years, and now he doesn’t have to anymore. I watched the beginning for a man who I hope has many sweet, hair-raising, delightfully wordless moments ahead of him. I’m even smiling at my computer screen like a total goob right now.

Ok, enough happy talk, our attention spans are at stake. And someone might see me.

2) I got to do lots of South African things that were very South African-y. This included using the phrases ‘hectic’ or ‘just now’ whenever I could, eating some cookie-type things called rusks, eating some donut-type dessert called ‘Cook Sisters’ and drinking a lot of rooibos tea. Amazing. All of it. If you haven’t made a trip there yet, don’t miss out on South Africa. Maybe even stop by Hole in the Wall:


3) I took a lot of photos (1,156…)


& I met a lot of incredible people. Here are some of their lovely faces:

DSCN6240 DSCN6670 DSCN6033

In Conakry, cameras are not really welcome, but the cultural setting in South Africa was different. I love the question ‘may I take your photograph?’ A camera has given me opportunities for interaction with locals I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Thank you, Nikon.


Many, many great moments. More to come soon.

With all of this traveling around Africa (I’ll have to dedicate a separate post to African airports…) I realized that the next time I get on a plane will be in just a few months to fly to New York then Houston for a visit home before my next adventure begins in Congo-Brazzaville!

In June the ship will sail to Tenerife, Spain for routine maintenance before our next field service begins in Pointe Noire. I’m heading home while the ship goes into dry-dock (‘the shop’) and then coming back in time to sail from Tenerife to Congo. This outreach will be the Africa Mercy’s first time in Central Africa; we ‘set sail’ in July.

When I made the decision to come to Africa in March 2012…I think I said something like “hey I’m going to Africa for 6 months, bye!” Well, I’ve committed to stay until December 2013. So by 6, I actually meant 18.


Which is why a trip home this summer, which will be my first time back to the states in more than 10 months (where does time go? where?) is going to be such a treat. I can’t wait to indulge in Mexican food Every. Single. Day. while throwing around the word y’all as often as possible and driving an automatic-transmission car around in effortless circles between meals at El Tiempo on Washington.

There are also some dear friends I can’t wait to hug in Manhattan, where I will no doubt undergo some culture shock not unlike that portrayed by the character Mimi-Siku when he visits the Big Apple in the major motion picture Jungle 2 Jungle (1997) starring Tim Allen. Stay tuned for that post sometime in June.

Great few weeks behind me, and much to look forward to with Mercy Ships. I’m not done telling you stories from South Africa, but I’m approaching 1,000 words (!) yikes.

Also, my lunch break is over.

Adios =) 



2 responses

  1. Akways happy to read your post and see the pictures! Whitley and I would love to buy you one of those Mexican lunch are dinners when you are back!


  2. This girl can’t wait to hug you and eat Mexican food with you and drive in effortless circles with you! Counting down the days! Hurry home, Kitty!


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