It’s a gorgeous sunny afternoon and we have just enjoyed a nice lunch at an outdoor cafe, feeling full, refreshed and peaceful. Dirk says something about feeling relaxed now that he is mostly off duty, and a little light goes on inside my head and slowly grows brighter as I remember why we have the extra days in Cape Town in the first place: so I can capture an interview with Gerhard and Trudie and some footage of the city, the home of EMI’s newest office.
I am most definitely not off duty, but somewhere between the zebras and this morning’s warm sun on my face I had completely forgotten.
Since the extra days here were planned for my job, the rest of the team was given the option to return home after our closing time in Pilanesburg. The South Africans all did, but the Americans all chose to stick around, because palm trees. Gerhard has lived in Cape Town his whole life (they’re called Capetonians) and he was ready to play tour guide. Also, it’s summer there right now.
Our three days was really a bit more than just playing to role of tourists. We were there to get an education on South African culture and society and its unique needs, and how EMI can help meet them. We did so much it felt like we were there a whole week. One of our first stops was the District Six Museum. It is a small collection of household and personal effects that once belonged to families who were forced to move from here during apartheid. The stated goal of the museum is not so much to tell the story of apartheid but to preserve the memories of those who lived through it.
We also toured the Slave Lodge and strolled part of the botanical gardens. Later in the day we did some shopping in Green Market Square, where I bartered (successfully! for the first time!) for a little warthog, then celebrated with a Stony, quite possibly the world’s best ginger beer (#notactuallybeer).
On another day we took a drive around the peninsula to see the ocean, the penguins, and to have some serious fish and chips at a dockside joint. We took the cable car up Table Mountain and had a couple of nice walks on the beach. There was all the touristy and picturesque stuff, but the conversations were the best.
When you’re seeing all this history and a new country after a week of aiming to serve it, you end up with a head full of questions. Normally we are on a plane by now, mulling through it all alone. But this time we had Gerhard and he had answers. Thoughtful answers. He has the perspective of a lifelong resident: one who has grown up privileged but has chosen to grow closer to those who have not. He comes to this new role as South Africa Office Director having given much consideration to how EMI can best serve the country. His ideas are great, not because they are huge, but because they about real hope and real change. If I were to try to paraphrase any of them here I would goof it all up. You’ll have to wait for the video, the one I nearly forgot to shoot, and hear it straight from him.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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