On Friday I had one plan, to pick up my good friend Dan Sellers from the airport! Finally, after a three month tour of East Asia Dan had safely found his way to South Africa. Dan and I are working together to help Reaching Out 2 The World reach its full potential. We’ve been in contact while he’s been traveling but I hadn’t seen him since May and we still have a lot to discuss!
At half past 10 myself, Papa Zulu, and the girls from the Netherlands took the trip to fetch him at the airport. The night before we had prepared signs to welcome him back to Africa but we still had the challenge of finding him. Airports are huge, and when you arrive in a new continent with no cell service and no internet it can be tricky finding someone. I was thinking back two weeks ago when I arrived and was supposed to meet someone named Albert. I ended up having to wait a couple hours before the Zulus came to pick me up.
On a previous day I had talked to Dan about a meeting spot. A place I was familiar with in the airport because it had been where I had waiting for some time. So when we arrived that’s what we did. We didn’t wait too long before I spotted him heading up the escalator that would bring him right to us. With our signs ready, he looked right past us! Haha, he completely missed seeing us at first as we were standing right in front of him. I called his name and we were finally all together.
After getting back to Kayamandi Dan and I both were hungry and needed to head into Stellenbosch for some essentials. Mieke and Hanneke both joined us and we took the mini bus into town. It had been a year since Dan had last been in Kayamandi and as we traveled I could sense him taking it all in. He kept saying how surreal it felt to be back. Since he had also just come off of a 5 flight 2 day journey I think he was just happy to be on solid ground.
Like myself, Dan is a big fan of McDonalds. I’ve had snacks there but never a proper meal while I’ve been in SA. After hitting up the ATM our first stop was straight to the Mickey Ds. It may be terrible for you, but it is sooo good.
Our other errands included buying ice cream at the grocery store, adding airtime to our phones, and eating dessert at the Cinnabon, also located in the mall. Hanneke had never ate at a Cinnabon and that was more than enough reason to stop and indulge. Feeling very satisfied after our delicious meals, we went back to Kayamandi.
The kids knew that Dan would be arriving today but when we got back to Mama Zulu’s no one was there. I was a bit shocked but knew it was only a matter of time. Next, we decided to take a walk around the township.
What started as a walk with just Dan and myself slowly grew to an entourage of followers. At the first corner in our walk we were joined with the students I had worked with in the past week. We walked a loop almost around the entire township slowing adding to our entourage. Still, we were missing the students that Dan had known best. Again, I was surprised to not see them but knew it was coming.
Before walking back to Mama Zulu’s I showed Dan the BMX track and introduced him to Songo. His riders were busy creating paintings that would be auctioned off as a fundraiser. Some of the paintings would also but used to decorate the new building that had just been erected for Songo’s program. I’m really glad I got to meet Songo and look forward to working with him over the next few weeks.
When we got back to our flat Dan told me he had bought something for me while traveling through East Asia. I had no idea what to expect but quickly began unwrapping my gift. He asked me to be careful not to shake it too much while I was opening it, but it was really wrapped pretty well! Finally, after using a pair of scissors I broke through the multilayer wrap job to see a glass bottle with something inside. Inside was a poisonous snake, with a head like a cobra, and it was holding a black scorpion in its mouth. How cool is that?! The liquid surrounded the snack and scorpion, and holding it in place is a white wine, meaning you can drink this bottle of death! Obviously, this bottle will be staying sealed for some time but day, when the time is right, I may just pour myself a drink.
I also had a gift for Dan, although it was a little less outrageous. My gift to him was one of the South African bracelets I had been working on. These bracelets are no quick task to make so I you are a recipient of one you better cherish it, haha.
While this exchange was happening our entourage of followers had begun playing games on our ipads. That’s right, two ipads. Now that Dan was here the kids would have double the video game stimulation.
Mawande was the first to show up that Dan had been waiting for and not far behind him was Ski and Riri. Before long Chester and Aphiwe arrived last but not least was Atha. I knew it was just a matter of time. At this point we had the 6 kids that had followed us throughout the township and the 6 kids I just named, making our room very much at capacity. When Lelethu called us in for dinner I asked the first group of kids to make a move on. I’m alright with a few kids playing games while I’m at dinner but 12 was far too many, especially because I didn’t know some of them.
Among the list of donated items was a book. “The One and Only Ivan,” had been donated to our cause with the strict instructions to share it with as many people as I could. That night after dinner I decided would be the perfect opportunity to begin reading this book with our friends. With Dan back in SA and all our students together we joined back in our room and I explained about the book and the importance of the book. I told them we would be reading a few pages each night but I really wasn’t sure how well it would go over. A few of the students really struggle with English. As I began reading I made sure to practice everything I’ve learned over the years. We talked about each page, and I asked lots of questions along the way. After reading a few pages Riri asked if he could read. I thought it was a great idea and was thrilled in the interested levels that were peaking. Next Mawande wanted to read! At this point I decided that everyone should just read at least one page. After first some of the boys were shy but I was happily surprised to hear them read. Both Ski and Atha, who struggle the most with speaking English could read it quite nicely. It seemed as if some of them just didn’t like to speak English around their peers. I was extremely proud of them as we read through the first 20 pages of the book.
Next, I gave them homework. These guys all love to draw so I decided to give them a task in which they could put their drawings to work. Our book needs a bookmark and that’s exactly what their homework was.
After story time the boys went home and Dan and I got settled in. He still hadn’t unpacked and I had a lot of writing to do. While I was writing I looked over Dan had passed out. I think all his traveling had finally caught up to him.
The plan for Saturday was to participate in an ultimate Frisbee tournament hosted by the Stellenbosch team. Chris came to pick us up at 10 and Mawande, Ski and Dan joined me for a day full of ultimate.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect but had no idea that I’d end up playing 6 games! The tournament really took almost all day! I gave Mawande and Ski a couple Frisbee uniforms so they could practice with my team and Mawande even played a few points. After our third game I could tell they were starting to get bored and hungry. The tournament supplied snacks but not enough for a full lunch.
At one point I told the two boys that they could go off and explore the surrounding area. There were a lot of cool trails, and heavy flowing river. 15 minutes later I look across the fields and see Mawande and Ski half way up the side of a small mountain. I was a bit concerned because I know how challenging it can sometimes be to come down after hiking up an unmarked path, but Dan insisted they would be alright. Every time I looked over they were higher and higher. When I waved to them they waved back… at least I hoped they were waving back. I thought for a moment that they may also be waving for help, but again Dan insisted they were okay. Together they worked their way across the ridge towards the field I was playing on. From high up above they watched my game before beginning the decent back down to ground level. I was definitely glad when they made it down safely.
My team ended up getting second place overall for the tournament. I think we were the better team but we didn’t play a strong final game. All day my hamstrings limited me and I was never able to run at full speed. I tried my best to help but could only do so much.
I got home just 30 minutes after them and entered my room to a group of new faces. While I was off played two new volunteers from Germany arrived. Gisa and Clara would be joining Eric, Mieke, and Hanneke for a year in Kayamandi. That means there will be 5 volunteers living with the Zulu’s and working here in Kayamandi. Now I just need to get them all connected with the students!!
We hung out for some time before Lelethu called us in for dinner. This was by far the most people I’ve shared dinner with while here in Kayamandi. It was pretty great to go from having dinner’s by myself to being joined by 6 other people.
Mieke had prepared a dessert, and it was specifically for me because of a bet we had made. She didn’t think I would be able to beat her in Catan… Anyway, there were still a number of guys back in my room and I wanted to go check on them between dinner and dessert.
When I got back to my room they all wanted to read more of the book we had started the night before. There was no way I could miss out on this opportunity. These children were asking to read a story with me and I wasn’t about to deny them. Unfortunately, I missed out on my dessert but I think it was worth it being able to read with the guys. The reason I didn’t get dessert was because it was freshly baked cookie dough covered in ice cream. They informed me that the only way to eat it was when it first came out of the oven. Looks like I’ll have to wait another night before I can try it.
Reading tonight went even better than the night before. They each wanted to read 2 pages tonight rather than 1 and when I asked them questions about our readings they were all able to answer them accordingly. I’m so proud of them and so thrilled that they are enjoying the book.
Later in the evening Eric, Hanneke, Dan, and Clara played a game of Catan. Mieka, Giza, and I watched and took bets on who we thought would win. After a quick start Dan got out to an early lead but in the end Clara was victorious. Eric is still searching for his first victory but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before it comes.
Before going to bed we played a few new card games. I taught them the game President. In this game if you are president 3 times in a row then you get to make a rule. There aren’t really any limitations to the rule, but the rule is only good for the rest of that night. After winning more than enough times in a row I made a couple rules. My first was that every time someone played an 8 they had to follow it up with saying something nice about me. Eights are typically good numbers to play in this game so it was funny hearing what they had to say. My second rule game right before I left for the night. I’m not sure how it came to me but I’m glad it did. My rule was that before I left the girls had to brush each other’s teeth. I figured they are about to spend a year together so what better way to spend their first night. Hahah this of course proved to be hilarious!