Often times, when comparing two cultures, it is the differences that stand out. When I return from Africa and tell my friends about my experiences there, much of what I relay are the things that separate Swazi culture from my own here in the US. . . and there are plenty of these differences to report.
I have also found things that are very much the same between our two cultures. One of thing I’ve noticed while spending time at the orphanage, and am very glad to report, is that kids are kids!
It seems that whether at home in Michigan, or on top of a mountain in Southern Africa, there are certain aspects of being a kid that are identical . . . and I suspect, universal.
Kids are cool. Yes, even at El Shaddai where clothes are almost exclusively donated hand-me-downs, kids have no problem piecing together a Look. Factor in some tough poses and fashion-model-quality facial expressions, and the coolness of kids in eSwatini cannot be denied. They have even perfected the I’m too cool for you eye roll that I thought American kids had exclusive rights to. Kids are kids and teens are teens, and I wouldn’t want it any other way 🙂
Funny face making seems to be a skill that doesn’t need to be learned. . . I think it may be genetic. Our kids at the Orphanage have no shortage of funny face genes.
It is the right of every child on the planet to be able to showoff a little. I was privileged to have witnessed this impressive display of muscle while hanging with the boys.
Mischief! As adults, we sometimes wonder how much easier life would be if kids simply did what they are supposed to do and never broke the rules. But kids are kids, and getting into mischief is part of being a kid . . . even in Africa (they know they are not to be playing on the water tank). As frustrating as it can be, I would suspect something was very wrong at the orphanage if there weren’t some type of shenanigans going on from time to time.
You can learn more about El Shaddai Children’s Home and Compassionate Life at our website, Compassionate Life.
Like most everyone, after being in eSwatini for weeks, I was ready to go back home. Being as domesticated as any American, I missed my couch, my TV shows, Wifi and a large “Kitchen Sink” from Baby Jake’s Pizza. I guess its the missing of these things and how much I missed them that is so disappointing to me . . . They are all so un-important when contrasted with what is missing in eSwatini.
There is a part of me that has changed since my first trip to Africa. It’s what causes the Ugh when I think of coming back home to my couch, Wifi and pizza. When you leave eSwatini to come back home, you are leaving a land of tragedy and hope to return to the land of excess and arrogance. There is something electric about a land of tragedy and hope. Part of me never wants to leave.
I love the United States. I think it’s the greatest country on the planet. I don’t like so much what we’ve done with it. I don’t blame the country . . . I don’t even blame politics . . . I blame us for what we’ve done to us. We’ve become so content that we really have no idea what things are important in life. Our standard of living is so high, even for our poorest, that it leaves us completely out of touch with the rest of humanity.
We like to sit in our homes and solve the rest of the world’s problems, and that solution usually sounds like this . . . “They should just be more like us” . . . Almost as if we as individuals had done some great deed to earn our lifestyle . . like some decision we had made is what afforded us four TVs, a new car and pizza whenever we want . . . but we really didn’t. Sure, we go to work and earn our money, but that is no different than what most anyone else on the planet does, or wishes to do. The vast majority of us simply utilize a bounty that we were born into. We like to say that our country is blessed by God, and it certainly seems is it . . . but I have to wonder how long that will continue when we don’t truly recognize just how blessed we are.
This is what makes me so sad about myself. I’ve been to Africa and been transformed, inspired and had my eyes opened . . . yet I still sit here thinking, “I need to hurry up and finish this post so I can go get another couple Oreo’s before Dr Who starts”.
Still trying to get my brain back on Michigan time after two weeks in Africa.
Here’s a quick video I took while hangin’ with the boys.
Congratulations to Ayanda! Follow the link to find out a bit of news from our students.
Cynthia and I can’t wait to see them in person. . . less than a week now!
In a little over a week, I will be travelling with nurse/wife back to eSwatini for my second visit. I am excited and anxious.
We will be staying primarily at the El Shaddai Children’s Home to take care of business and see our kids. With Cynthia being director of Compassionate Life, and Compassionate Life being the primary fund provider for El Shaddai, most of our trip will be spent there.
However, Cynthia decided we would take a short break during or time in Africa and visit Hlane Royal National Park, where she signed us up to run a 5K. . . . yes, she signed us up to run a 5K through an African big game preserve . . . .
Now, I don’t run. Cynthia doesn’t run. . . . but for some reason, she felt it was a good idea to sign us up to run 5 Kilometers. . . . through wild animal infested wilderness. Do the losers get eaten?!!! Because I’m a fifty year old guy who hasn’t run a total of 5K in his life. . . I think I’m going to sneak sleeping pills into Cynthia’s coffee that morning. If anyone is going to get eaten by some African beast, it should be the person who thought it was a good idea in the first place 🙂