This post was originally written on 21 October 2013. 

I’ve been in Cape Town for over six weeks, but in so many ways, today felt like Day One all over again. Last night, I moved in with a host family and I recently started at a few placement sites. In honor of these changes, I’ve decided to dub this phase of my YAGM year, “Chapter 2.” So, here is my (lengthy) first day of Chapter Two.


Day One: The Beginning

6:25 AM: At the sound of the alarm, I sigh, turn it off, and sit up. Before I even get out of bed I do the Celtic Benediction Monday Morning Prayer and read my devotional. (I’m reading the same devotional as my parents and some fellow YAGMs, and I love feeling connected to them in this way!) I get up, get ready, and head downstairs. I eat breakfast with my host family, and within minutes they pack into the car to head off to school and work. I sit back down with a strong cup of instant coffee and a book and enjoy a few minutes of solitude.

7:30 AM: I leave the house, punch the code into the electric gate, and head out onto the street. It is cool and windy this morning, and I’m thankful that it isn’t hot yet in Cape Town. My walk to the train station is about 35 minutes. After 10 minutes, I catch my first glimpse of the ocean. After 20, I cross the street to walk along the pier. It is a bit out of my way, but worth it. The smell of the ocean almost overwhelms the smell of exhaust from rush hour traffic, but not quite. I cross another street, head down some stairs and up some other stairs, and enter the train station. “One Metroplus Return to Pumstead, please,” I say to the man behind the ticket counter. He hands me my change and ticket with, “Here you go, my dear.” I head out to the platform to wait.

8:20 AM: The train comes. At this time of day, it is almost solely full of college students. It reminds me so much of the lightrail that I took to ASU every day last year. Granted, the lightrail wasn’t notorious for crime nor did it include ocean views…

8:45 AM: I get to my stop and continue my walk to work.

9:05 AM: I arrive at St. Michael’s Child & Youth Center- one of my placement sites. St. Michael’s is a home for teenage girls who have been removed from their families. Their motto is, “Reclaiming the true essence of being a young woman.” My patience in waiting for a placement site has more than paid off, because I love St. Michael’s. I buzz the electric gate, enter the building, and head upstairs to the computer room. The computer room houses 15 donated desktop computers. Most days, about 10 of them are working and connected to the internet.


Day One: The Middle

9:30 AM: I spend Monday-Wednesdsay at St. Michael’s. My most common technical job is “Computer Literacy” with the girls not currently enrolled in school.  I spend the next 4 hours in the computer room. The actual “computer literacy” I help with is not complicated- how to add a picture in a powerpoint, how to change font, how to find a certain website. Most of my time is spent playing educational computer games with the girls, and getting to know them. They are slow to warm up to me, but I’m pretty slow to warm up to people, so we’re well matched.

1 PM: Lunch time! At this point, three of the girls are home from school, and we all eat lunch together. My host dad makes the family’s lunches, so every day I bring a sandwich and some fruit. Plus copious amounts of water (I’m a desert girl, after all).

1:30 PM: Back in the computer room! Now more girls are home and the room is buzzing with activity. Sometimes the girls start singing (they LOVE Celine Dion and Chris Brown). Sometimes they look up pictures of their favorite celebrities and then joke about marrying someone rich and famous. Sometimes they yell at each other, sometimes they fall down in a communal heap of laughter.

4 PM: We gather in the “Hall” for a Program (dance, crafts, group therapy, gardening, or any other group activity). The people coming to work with the girls are late, so we use the extra time to play a game. The Child Care Workers (staff at the Center) and I pretend to be judges while the girls play “St. Michael’s Got Talent.” They sing and dance and we all laugh and joke around. It is fantastic and the most fun I’ve had in weeks. While we’re playing, one of the girls decides to do my hair. It ends up in ridiculous braids piled all over my head and she can’t stop laughing. I accidentally stay late because I don’t want to leave. But alas, I must go.

5 PM: I say good-bye to the girls and get a precious hug from the one who did my hair. I head downstairs and out the electric gate (like most gates in Cape Town, it is topped with electric fencing and barbed wire). I begin my commute home. Back to the train station. Back on a train. Back to Muizenberg (the suburb I stay in).

5:40 PM: Now in Muizenberg, I start the long walk home. I stop on the pier and sit on a bench, take a few moments to see, hear, and smell the ocean. I feel God’s presence intimately and overwhelmingly. I am so blessed.


Day One: The End

6:15 PM: I arrive back at my host family’s home. My 8 year-old host brother, Reuben, runs into the house, slides across the floor, does a flip onto the couch, and says hello. Then he runs back outdoors.

6:30 PM: My 11 year-old host sister, Jade, and I sit down to watch 7 de Laan, our favorite TV show. It is mostly in Afrikaans, but has English subtitles. By the end of the show, my host parents have returned home from work.

7:15 PM: We all sit down for dinner. My host dad is a fantastic cook. Tonight, we have a spicy mince curry, rice, and steamed vegetables. I’m in food heaven in this house.

7:45 PM: Reuben and I read the book he brought home from school about underwater predators. I help him sound out the big words and we both do impressions of sharks.

8 PM: Jade and I bake chocolate muffins for the big event: she turns 12 tomorrow! It’s the first time I’ve baked since leaving Arizona, and my heart is singing.

8:30 PM: Bedtime for the kids! Renee (my host mom) and I decorate the house for Jade to wake up to and each have a hot cup of tea.

9 PM: I shower, stretch, and get into bed. I write about my day (hence this blog post) and do my Journal of Daily Gratitude. Today it is shockingly easy- I write 10 things I’m grateful for without pausing. Then I end my day just like it began- I do the Celtic Benediction Monday Night prayer and re-read my devotional, taking extra time to pray for my loved ones across the globe.

10:30 PM: Lights out for this tired, content, blessed YAGM. I know every day won’t be this good, but as I fall asleep, I marvel in the glory of a good day.