Today there was a magnificent thunderstorm that lasted for hours. Sometimes the jolts were so loud it startled the boys and me. There was a strong and beautiful downpour that took the edge off the morning heat.
It was a great day! We picked up the puppy, Teia, this morning. She is a delight! She is friendly and playful and will be a fun companion for these boys growing up. We took her to the mall with us for some shopping and dinner, and she just rested peacefully in our arms or in the stroller.
I’m having such a fun time with the little Ward boys! They are so sweet and funny. I’m also enjoying Verne and Rachel’s company. Today we had a great talk about faith and the journey and questions that go along with it. They are open and easy to talk to.
It’s been an interesting transition to come from the winter cold into summer! Rachel’s vegetable garden is in full bloom, and today the neighbors were out doing yard work and hanging cloths on the line. Big, vibrant flowers and trees are blooming all over the city. I’m having a hard time getting used to seeing Christmas trees and decorations in this weather! They seem out of place.
What has been really hard to get used to is the driving on the opposite side of the road! Still freaks me out sometimes – and I’m just the passenger! I’m nervous to drive stick on these hilly and windy roads while trying to get used to the different system.
I saw several men standing in the road at intersections advertising or selling products. Clusters of people sit on the roadsides, hoping someone will pick them up for work and odd jobs. Unemployment is a big problem here, Verne said, creating tension between the locals and the immigrants who are willing to come to South Africa and work for low wages.
We went to a big mall that was fancier than ours in Boise – not what people think of when they think of Africa, Verne said. The response I often got when people heard I was moving to Africa – even South Africa – was “Don’t get Ebola!” In America we often overlook the complexities and accomplishments of this continent and the people here.
I’m witnessing what I had been told about Johannesburg: There’s a strong contrast here between rich and poor. The two coexist right next to each other. There are expensive cars, marvelous buildings and fancy homes, but also many people along the street looking for work or charity. Verne and Rachel said they don’t know of any homeless shelters here because the community mindset is that family members should take care of each other, regardless of the situation. But of course, there are still those who have nowhere to go.
These are only my first impressions. I have much to learn!