5 Lessons I Learned in Africa

Anastasis Faith

 
UPDATE: If you would like to see more pictures of the children (where you can see their faces), leave a comment with your email, or message me through the comment form at the bottom of the page and leave your email. For security, I cannot post any pictures of the children's faces.

 

Two Fridays ago, after close to twenty-four hours on a plane, I got back home from my trip to Johannesburg, South Africa.
I was volunteering at a baby home. We had five children total—all of whom had been abandoned. The stories were heartbreaking.

Two of the children had been abandoned in a field as newborns. One of which was at least eight weeks premature. Two others were taken by the government because of unsafe conditions in their homes. The last one—a tiny premature newborn only three weeks old—was left at the hospital by his prostitute mother who wanted to keep her sinful habits instead of her child.

There were so many things I learned while I was in Africa. I definitely cannot make a complete, exhaustive list in this one blog post. Perhaps there might be another one in the future, as I continue to process all that I learned there, but for now, these are a few of the lessons I learned while I was there.

1.      I am blessed

It definitely gives you a perspective on your blessings when you see the level of poverty in another country. South Africa is, as someone put it, the “America” of Africa—yet it is still a disaster. Once we drove by a “squatter village,” which is like a shanty town, but worse. The shacks could be made of cardboard, it was so poor.

I was born into a loving, American family with two parents. The children that I cared for day after day were abandoned. Two of them, as I said, were left in a field. It’s one thing to leave a baby somewhere where they will be found. It’s another thing to leave them in a field to die. It was only by God’s mercy that they survived and were found. 

2.     The value of a simple life

I went from a 90 mph life to a very simple, restful place. Now, for the people living there it was very crazy and hectic. Typical fast paced life for them. For me, however, I was just helping out with the kids, and working on homework or reading the 300-page book someone loaned me. I had time to think, pray, meditate on Scripture and the things I was learning. It was peaceful and it was restful. There is such a value—a pricelessness—of living in simplicity. Day to day routine was made glorious through the extra time I had each day to spend with the Lord.

3.     How precious the little things are

I would give anything right now to have one of those children on my lap right now. The girl would probably talk my ear off about something. The oldest little boy would probably last about five seconds before he was up and chasing after something else. The middle boy would contentedly snuggle up with me. The youngest actually probably wouldn’t even sit in my lap! And the new baby that we got would make me laugh with his funny expressions as he explored his new world.
I miss them teasing me and calling me “Hannah” instead of “Anna.” I miss their little giggles and the games we would play. The little things are the things I miss the most. Like when I was saying goodnight to them and one wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed me on the cheek and told me he loved me. When you only have two weeks with five precious little children, you learn to treasure every moment—because every moment in this fleeting life is a joy.

4.    The safety we have in America is a privilege

I stayed in an apartment—or flat, as they called it—that was attached to the house. Every morning, to get from my room to the house, I had to unlock five doors. My roommate had been held up at gunpoint right outside of the gate. In fact, in Johannesburg, it is so unsafe that there were not many single shops or facilities. Everything was inside something else. We went bowling one night, and the bowling alley was inside of a casino, along with many restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

The safety we experience in America is a privilege, and something we should NEVER take advantage of.  

5.     My biggest problems are so small

The sign on the pole reads, "Abortion."
Under it is a phone number.
These signs were everywhere. Abortion is
more rampant in South Africa than America.
I was not abandoned in a field as a newborn. I am not being raised in a squatter village. I do not live in a place where it is unsafe to go anywhere alone.

Soon I plan on posting about how, the day I got back from Africa, my purse and phone were stolen and the things I learned through that. But during that whole big fiasco, I kept thinking, “If my biggest problem is a stolen purse and phone, then I am very blessed.”

The truth is, someone is always suffering more than I am. I am SO blessed.

My African experience was life changing, to be honest. I pray God keeps continuing to teach me these lessons, and the others that I learned so that I do not forget. If any of you get a chance to go overseas, definitely take it. I did not want to go to Africa in the first place, but I am beyond thankful for it. And if you have the opportunity to work at an orphanage, DEFINITELY go for it. ;)

Have you ever been overseas? Have you been on a mission trip? Share in the comments!

Anastasis Faith / Author & Editor

Anastasis is a Texas girl who enjoys writing, blogging, and music. You can connect with her here on her blog, or at morningglorypursuingjesus@yahoo.com

3 comments:

  1. While I've never been overseas on a mission trip, your post was highly inspiring. We as Americans take the things that we have for granted. We have everything that we could ever ask for, yet we still let things consume us. Today, your post reminded me that even though the homework piles up, I have a debate on Thursday, and a math test Monday, these are little nothings compared to the problems that others face. Before I read your post, I was complaining about how the teachers give too much homework, that kids suffer too much at school. Truth be told, these aren't even problems! They are amazing opportunities that thousands of kids don't get to have. Like you said, Anna, if my biggest problem is studying and homework, then I am highly blessed. :)

    Thank you for the reminders Anna! This was a lovely post and it seems that you had a lovely trip. :)
    ♥♥♥ Laura

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Laura! It really blessed me to read. :) Even though I have a lighter semester since I'm (Lord willing) graduating this December, I know all too well how consuming and stressful school can be. It's hard to see beyond the stack of books in front of you. ;) It is a blessing to hear you say that if your biggest problem is studying and homework, then you're very blessed.

      I'll be praying for your debate and test! Let me know how it goes!

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  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So glad you and Liza had this experience. Love you, Aunt Debbie

    ReplyDelete

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