It has been a year since last updating. In some ways I am sorry that we have not been in touch during this time. But I think the silence was really profitable in some ways. Practically, we have mostly been living on the farm where communicating easily was a very very rare gift! The South African telecommunications network does not allow great signal at the best of times and on the farm it was a challenge to get to internet connections. But also, sometimes it it good to just be quiet.
The last year has been filled with challenges, growth and learning. Neither Deon nor I had good work possibilities. The market for geologists worldwide is very suppressed, and despite me sending out over 200 job applications across SA and internationally, I did not get any work. We used this time to work on our house, Deon had a few months of work fixing GIS data, and we did a bit of traveling. We have also done a lot of growing.
From the messy soils of deep questioning and regret with which we left Tanzania a great amount of learning about self has grown. We have seen new aspects of each other and our own characters, and have learned what it is to be grateful for what we have in our relationship and marriage. We have been grateful for little things that have blessed us every day, and have cherished a year of ‘retirement’ taken early in life.
We had the great blessing of going to Sweden for my brother’s wedding in September last year.
It was so special to be able to share this day with my treasured little brother (who towers over me!) and to spend good time with cousins and other family in Sweden.
Another big spinoff from this trip, although he was almost dragged into it,was that Deon discovered he is a closet Swede, and he saw that there would be good possibilities for us if we were to consider moving to Sweden.
And so this has been something on which we have both spent a lot of effort this year. We have applied for several positions between us, but my Swedish heritage and English teaching experience were used to get a gap into this country that has becoming increasingly special to both of us.
Unfortunately, there is a moving FROM.
And I do want to mention what we are leaving. Part of this year’s sadness has been a mourning for my home country, nation of my birth and a place about which I am passionate.
There are some psychological factors that I believe all South Africans face. I believe that all South Africans live with a level of PTSD. This expresses itself in various ways – from the aggression that all people show, on some level or another to outrageous expressions of rage and hatred. Just this week the media has been engulfed with stories of road rage, and then there is a constant gushing of stories of violence towards all – farmers are butchered almost daily, children are viciously dragged from cars, a lady had her eyes gouged out when her phone and earrings were stolen on the weekend. This violence has no barriers of age, race, religion. It is simply too much to bear every day.
Another element that I am faced with often, being married to an Afrikaans person, is the persecution that this particular group of people faces. I perceive that they are being targeted as the perpetrators of Apartheid years ago, though many of those suffering the consequences had no part in apartheid’s evils and we live in a society that is purportedly one of the most democratic in the world. From ‘boere’ (farmers) being targeted in vicious attacks, to the less obviously malevolent moving of the news to a far less available public TV channel, there are several ways in which this group is challenged. It is small, pernicious and affects each day.
A disaster-in-the-making is brought about by the country’s policies regarding BBEEE/ AA/ ACI. This, effectively, means that white people, especially white men, have very little chance of finding employment when applying for positions.
Racism is bubbling under, and often not just beneath the surface. I have stopped reading comments on the News24.com feeds on news stories: the clear messages of hatred and overt bigotry have become too depressing. Several messages telling whites to ‘go back to your own country’ (Sorry? SA IS my country!) or using undermining terms for black people are no longer subliminal, but overwhelming, repetitive and simply ugly.
And then there is the matter of unrestrainable corruption overflowing from the top down to all realms of society. Money that should be spent maintaining roads, taking care of poorer people or developing communities is wickedly lining Carducci pockets and Vuitton handbags across the country. You can Google that for yourself… I have depressed myself all over again with these stories. May I stop now?
We have been questioning whether we could remain here indefinitely for several years. Now it is almost unthinkable to remain. It will be impossible for Deon to ever get a permanent job in SA again, and the daily degeneration of moral standards that South Africans flaunt, as led by our leaders, makes it unpleasant to remain.
I weep for the death of all that has been good in our nation. My condolences to all those who mourn the demise of all that worked well in our history.
The great news is that God has given us a way out, for the next year at least (we trust it will grow from there). I have been given a position teaching English in northern Sweden. We will be living in a small town, surrounded by lakes, mountains and wildlife, and within the same monarchy as my brother and his wife, as well as a little more extended family.
This is a very well-considered move. We have deeply thought of the challenges we face: language learning, cultural differences, rather extreme climate differences being among the more obvious difficulties. But there is much to look forward to. I will be teaching again! (I have missed teaching and look forward to sharing from the gifts God has given). It will be interesting living in a ‘first world’ country, after our years in SA, Uganda and Tanzania. There is much nature to explore. The Swedes are very active and healthy people, which will be good for us. All the godis! (candy/ sweets) oooh, yes! All the other great Swedish foods too.
We have a week or so to go, and then we fly. We pray that God remains at work in this nation that we still dearly care about. We know He leads us, and is preparing the way in Sweden too.
As we go from a dry, warm and rugged bushveld to a cooler forested and wild Sweden we look forward to what the future holds. Excitement awaits!