You can tell I'm an English graduate because I couldn't resist using alliteration! Anyway, I've now been here nearly two weeks. I found the first half of this week particularly hard, because I started to feel very homesick, mostly in the morning for some reason. I really miss my lovely family and friends who I'm so close to and love so much, and I miss being with people I know and love, who know and love me. But the positive is that I know I'm really blessed by God to have special people in my life. Thankyou to everyone who has emailed or commented on my blog- your encouragement and support means such a lot to me.
Another challenge out here is one that I didn't expect. Being in an entirely different place away from all that is familiar can bring to the surface quite a lot of insecurities and fears (actually, loads)! At times I've struggled to believe in myself, or have doubted that I'll be any use to anyone, or have painfully compared myself to others and their abilities. But God, with all his love and gentleness and grace, is slowly showing me that for each person He has a specific dream, and that I have to trust that He has given me a completely unique path which only I can walk. It's hard to trust this when I feel lacking in qualities which I wish I possess, but I know that God is working in my heart to change the way I identify myself, so that I can love and trust Him more. As well as this, I know that ultimately it's not what we do, but what we allow God to do through us, that really matters in the end. And that belief is the heartbeat of the Village of Hope.
Yesterday I went along to a club called Rainbow Smiles which is partly run by the Village of Hope. It's a group run every Friday afternoon for children between the ages of 9-15 living with HIV. Another volunteer who's just left has done a fantastic job with it, producing an educational programme for the children and working with the local counselling centre to provide a place for them where they feel accepted and loved. I don't know whether I'll play a role in this, but it was a priviledge just to come along and spend time with children who are so brave and who keep smiling even though life can be so hard for them. Tim dropped about 10 children home on the way back from Rainbow Smiles, which meant driving for at least 45 minutes round the wiggly windy roads of the townships. I was staggered by the strangeness of it all to my own eyes, and the normality of it for the people who live there. It's almost beyond words to try and impress upon you the reality of it if you've never seen it. I'll try and take some more pictures!
Today a few other volunteers, myself and Tim and Maz went wine-tasting, as Western Cape is renowned for its vineyards. The first place we went overlooked a beautiful view, and it just once again impressed upon me the extremes of South Africa- there are two entirely different worlds sitting side by side.