We’ve packed our bags, and bid farewell to summer, today we return to Scotland for the first time in nearly two years. As we’ve explained to friends and neighbours that we’ll be back in March, I’ve realised that Soshanguve has taken a portion of my heart. In exchange, we have been given gifts…
We have found greater courage to be ourselves. Both P and I have doubted ourselves in many different spheres of our lives, yet in this community we have found more freedom. Perhaps it’s the love, welcome and acceptance we’ve found here. Perhaps it’s the way our neighbours celebrate creativity, enjoying one another’s dance moves, encouraging expression. Perhaps it’s the fact that we stand out already, so we care less about the opinions of others. Something has shifted in us, and we want it to stay that way.
We have a much greater tolerance for awkward! Frequently being in situations where we don’t know the language or etiquette means we’ve learned about how to engage when we have no clue what’s going on. Getting to know someone in our community is not a matter of asking questions so much as being present and telling stories. We put so much value on our words, but our silent presence has been appreciated at times when we’ve felt out of place.
This community has taught us that no matter is too small to celebrate or pray about. We often hear people expressing gratitude for ‘waking up’. Another day in this world is something I’ve often taken for granted. Birthdays and wedding anniversaries are cause for thankfulness too, appreciating the years as well as the days. Folk will ask for prayer for healing for a cold, or car troubles, believing that God cares about our whole lives. I can’t say I know how prayer works, but something does happen when we share our burdens, big or small with one another and our good God.
We hope to keep hold of these gifts; celebration, welcome and courage, amongst others. I got sunburnt yesterday, so I’m still a Brit abroad, but I have been changed. And I am grateful.