It's the evening in Durban.
The smell out of the airport was NOT good ... hot garbage perhaps. But it got progressively better. I think it was a combo of parking lot heat and humidity. Oh ... and hot garbage.
We made it to our bags, met up with Glenda (the director at iThemba Lethu) and loaded our bags into two cars. Tami, Kinsey and I went with Mark, and the rest of the crew went with Glenda. We dropped Kinsey and Tami off at their host family's house first - the home of Jill and Raul. Their home was beautiful. It was set on a hill which overlooked the entire city ... the downtown Durban lights were breathtaking. Such a beautiful 1st sight of the city.
Jill and Raul were not home at the time, but they left a really sweet Welcome Basket in the girls' room ... complete with Africa trinkets and calling cards to call home with. Our South African host families sure know how to host short-term missions groups. We were SPOILED!
We left the girls, and Mark drove me to my house family's house - the home of Gill and Jonathan!
The roads we drove were lined with high cement walls and doors. Doors leading into private homes of people fortunate enough to afford a house. Every cement wall is lined with some sort of burglar deterrent: barbed wires, spikes, electric fences, etc. Additionally, each house has a security system. The wealthiest people hire a guard to sit in front of their door. Some neighborhoods all pitch in to hire a neighborhood security guard who walks the streets and patrols for people trying to break in.
When we pulled up to my host family's house, there was guard sitting out front of their door. We parked on the street and were buzzed in.
It's like an entirely new world on the other side of the doors. I felt like the little girl in "The Secret Garden".
(Looking at the inside the front door, leading to the street)
A beautiful home. An intricately manicured lawn, budding with flowers of all colors. Two dogs. A pool. A house you'd expect to see in the states.
It was all quite a shock.
I was instantly greeted with warm hugs, happy smiles and excited people! Jonathan and Gill could NOT be more nice. Their daughter Robin was still awake, so I got to meet her. Natalie, Jodie and Glenda were already there, after dropping Jonathan and Kelly off at their host family's house. Natalie and I were shown to our room. We shared an ADORABLE room all to ourselves, with air conditioning and our own bathroom. We felt spoiled, guilty, and undeserving of such a beautiful place to stay. We each had our own twin-sized bed. It was all so sweet and quaint.
We briefly unpacked and settled in for dinner. Jodie and Glenda stayed for dinner. Gill treated us to a beautiful salad, chicken dish and rice. I was remarkably hungry from all the traveling. The food was delicious!
After dinner, Jodie and Glenda left and we stayed up talking with Gill and Jonathan. We talked about everything ... from politics and South Africa to apartheid. Natalie had about a thousand questions ... but I was super tired. So I mainly listened instead of talking (a rarity for those that know me).
Natalie and I gave them our gifts from America, which the LOVED. Food only found in the states, a Christmas ornament and many other things. We took showers, packed for our camping trip and went to bed.
The morning will be coming early. We will be taking a group of students to a camp for the weekend. For many of them, it will be the first time they have visited the beach. I'm full of anticipation, energy, excitement and wonder.
Can't wait to meet the kids.
For now ... sleep.