On the second-to-last day of our YAGM Orientation in Chicago in August, I woke up feeling good. I felt secure, confident, and unbelievably happy. I realized, with a shock, that I felt like I had found my footing.

That day, the ever-inspirational Pastor Heidi Torgerson-Martinez (Director of YAGM and all-around awesome woman) asked me how I was doing. I said, “You know what, Heidi? I finally feel like I have my feet on solid ground, like I have found my footing at YAGM Orientation. And in 48 hours, I leave the country.”

She chuckled and said, “Yep, that’ll happen” and continued to say wonderful and supportive things. (In all honesty, I think I remember this interaction so well because it was the only time I managed to speak to Heidi without making a complete fool of myself).

About mid-way through our in-country orientation in Pietermaritzburg, I had the same shocking realization. I had found my footing, not only with our schedule, but also with the YAGM-SA crew (whose unconditional love is one of the best parts of my life).

During my 1:1 that week with Pastor Tessa Moon Leiseth (YAGM-SA Country Coordinator and all-around awesome woman), I made a similar observation. It went something like this: “Tessa, I felt this way in Chicago, and here it is again! I have finally found my footing, and in a few short days, I have to leave! I can’t believe I will have to start all over.”

In the last few days, I’ve had familiar feelings.

I know things about my life in Cape Town.

I know what time to leave to catch the train. I know that the handle to the bathroom door sticks. I know that it is time to wake up when I hear my host brother singing. I know that if I am hanging laundry on the line, my host sister will come outside to talk to me. I know the patterns of speech of the people I spend the most time with. I know to never have expectations for my days, because they are completely unpredictable. I know that the weather is also completely unpredictable.

I have begun to find my footing in Cape Town.

 

And tomorrow, I am leaving.

I will be spending the next few weeks traveling this beautiful and complex country. I will visit three other YAGMs at their placement sites and spend time at our first YAGM-SA Retreat (we will be hiking, processing, learning, reflecting, worshipping, and celebrating Thanksgiving together). This experience will be transformative in allowing me to see new communities and different cultures. It will be wonderful to see my YAGM-SA family and feel their unconditional love. I cannot wait for us to share our stories thus far. I will learn, I will be challenged, I will feel joy, and I will grow.

But… I fear I will lose my footing.

 

However, I look back and take comfort in knowing this has happened before.

And I take extreme comfort in knowing that I have a place to return to.

In early December, I will return to the place I am starting to call “home” and the people I am starting to call my family, my friends, and my community.

I may slip, I might fall, and I will stumble. But it is a beautiful comfort to know that I have a solid place to land when I return to Cape Town. A place where, against all odds, I am beginning to find my footing.

Please keep the YAGM-SA crew in your prayers as we travel in the next few weeks. Also, please keep the entire community of YAGMs around the world in your prayers as we spend a Thanksgiving away from our families, and please keep our communities in your prayers as they accompany us through a holiday away from home.

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Just for your information, here is a map with all of the YAGM-SA placement sites and the Leiseth family (our “home base”). See the 10 dots in one section of the country, and then that other dot way far away? I’m that dot way far away in Cape Town. In the next few weeks, I will be visiting four of those other dots. I will also spend a ridiculous amount of hours on buses to get to/from these locations.

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