Adjusting to the Kitchen

There have been many adjustments that we’ve had to make since our move to South Africa, but one of the biggest for me, Hilary, has been grocery shopping and cooking. Back in the States Bridge and I had varying work schedules and days off, so I would usually do the grocery shopping alone and since I got off work earlier than him, I was able to have dinner on the (coffee) table by the time he got home from work. Here, buying and preparing our meals is a much bigger process.

Since I have yet to learn how to drive our manual car, Bridge and I do all of our grocery shopping together (which is not a bad thing!). In the US I did the majority of my shopping at Trader Joes and Aldi. Here, our grocery shopping usually consists of 4-5 different stores, one for meat, one for produce, one for dry goods, one for nuts and snacks, and then our weekly stop at Bread Ahead for a pastry treat. The whole ordeal takes about half a day, although we seem to be getting a little quicker with each passing week.

Cooking has also been a major adjustment. Not only are we learning how to cook with new products, but we are also adjusting to using Celsius, faulty kitchen appliances, and trying to fit cooking into our busy schedule. I no longer have the luxury of scouring Pinterest for new recipes and spending an hour or two in the kitchen preparing dinner; though sometimes it takes significantly longer to cook certain things here than at home. We’ve learned to greatly simplify our meals, but no worries, thanks to the help of our little grill and some amazing spices we picked up in Durban we are still eating well!

Surfing Lesson #1

Surfing is very popular throughout South Africa, so being only an hour from the beaches in Durban, I naturally want to give it a try. Fortunately, one of my South African coworkers at Lily has been surfing most his life and is willing to give me lessons. It was a cold and rainy day, but lesson #1 was a success. Starting on small waves, I learned how to get into a wave, stand up and balance properly. Despite the intense shivers, it was a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to lesson #2 (preferably on a warmer, sunny day).

Reading Tent

On weekends, we’ve been making an effort to have reading time with the kids, and for the past few weeks the sand pit has served as our venue for story time. While it was a great short-term solution, we knew that it was important to come up with a quiet, less distracting space so the kids could better focus on reading and listening.  Last week, we came up with the idea to build a basic A-frame reading tent that would be easy to set up, take down, and move around. We picked up the supplies on Thursday and had many eager hands to help us build it over the weekend. The kids were so excited about the reading tent that they couldn’t even wait for it to be finished before getting in. I would say that this project was a success!

Autumn Fires

We had a bit of excitement the other night when a large brush fire went right past Lily. Fortunately, the maintenance crew here at Lily burned a fire break around Lily’s perimeter just the day before to protect us from such a fire. The cattle farmers around here burn the fields each year to stimulate growth for next year. Unfortunately, the fires are not controlled or planned so they can cause serious damage if you don’t take precautions ahead of time. Below is a video of the maintenance crew burning the fire break right by our house which felt exciting enough. The second video is the large fire that really surprised us, but we were protected from by the fire break.


We were quite excited to find a chameleon on our fence the other day because neither of us had ever seen one in person before. We have gotten used to seeing bugs, spiders, frogs, and the occasional gecko, but finding a chameleon was a pleasant surprise. I’m a little ashamed to admit that we took it on a photo adventure to see if we could get it to change colors, but we had no luck and it just looked grumpy in all the photos we took. We returned it to its original spot on the fence and left him alone. However, we found him again later in new spots and were amazed that he could not only change color, but also the pattern on his skin. So cool!


Chameleon Chameleon

Holiday Club – In Pictures

At the beginning of the month, the kids had the whole week off school. When this happens, we do what is called Holiday Club, which would be similar to Vacation Bible School in the US. We wanted to use this week as a teaching opportunity for the kids, so in the afternoons we planned workshops such as construction, sports, arts & crafts, and baking. Below are just a few of the many photos we took throughout the week:

Happy Easter!

Carrying the cross.Lily’s Pastor, Nkululeko, was responsible for planning Easter activities for the kids this year. He said that his goal was to create a “revival” here at Lily of the Valley, and with that in mind each day was filled with services and activities that aimed to teach the kids about Jesus and what He did for us on the cross.

A stop on the walk with the cross.Good Friday, was jam packed with activities such as a kick-off church service, movies for both the little kids and the teens, a bonfire, and of course snacking on chocolate marshmallow eggs. One of the most meaningful activities took place in the early evening, when we walked across Lily’s campus with the teenagers, reading the story of Jesus death, and carrying a large wooden cross. Bridge and I, both took part in reading scriptures from the book of Luke. The views surrounding Lily are stunning which made the cross walk the perfect opportunity to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice while also enjoying God’s beautiful creation.

On Monday, we had an egg hunt for the kids. We hid a couple hundred chocolate marshmallow eggs (pretty much the only Easter candy here… oh how I miss Peeps!) around the village, and tried to help monitor to make sure that all the kids were able to find at least 1 or 2. It was pretty chaotic as 109 kids ran all over the grounds looking high and low for chocolate eggs! This was also the hottest day we’ve experienced so far, and those eggs didn’t stand a chance against the sun. Melted eggs and all, the kids had lots of fun. We hope you had a great Easter. He is risen!

The Drive From Johannesburg to Lily of the Valley

Off to LilySince we first began to plan for South Africa, the 6-hour drive from Johannesburg to Lily of the Valley was something that excited us and made us very nervous at the same time. We were anxious to see the beauty of the scenery we had heard so much about, but the nervousness of driving on the opposite side of the road, and concerns about safety with all of our belongings being in our car stayed in the back of our minds. When it was finally time to make the drive, we loaded our car up to the brim, said a prayer, set the GPS and took off. Bridge quickly picked up driving on the left, and the beauty of scenery overshadowed any of our prior concerns.

Our view while we ate lunch.

Our view while we ate lunch.

The terrain seemed to drastically change every 100 kilometers, so our views were constantly changing. While most of the landscape was new and different, there were a few moments that we could have sworn we were driving in Ohio, West Virginia, and Colorado. Sometimes we had to remind ourselves that we really are in Africa! Once we pulled off the highway we were surprised by how hilly the surrounding terrain was, but it is breathtakingly beautiful. At that point it definitely started to feel like we were in Africa.

One of many beautiful rock formations seen on the drive.

One of many beautiful rock formations seen on the drive.

Below is a video from the last leg of our drive through Mophela and into Lily. It’s kind of long and there’s no audio, but you can get a view of the beautiful landscape and community around us. At the end of the video you can also see our “welcome committee” who greeted us with big hugs as we got out of the car! After nearly a year of preparation, it feels really good to finally be at Lily.

Buying Our Car

Our little Ford FigoPriority #1 after stepping off the plane in Johannesburg was to purchase a car, so we could get on our way to Lily as soon as possible. We spent our first two days in South Africa traveling around to various used car dealers, and trying to remember to ask about kilometers instead of miles, and petrol mileage instead of gas mileage. On Day 2 we decided to go back to a dealer and test drive a white Ford Figo we had seen the day before. It was in near perfect condition, great on petrol, and the perfect size for the two of us. Ding, ding, ding…we had a winner! Unfortunately, the process of purchasing the vehicle was much longer than actually finding a vehicle. It seems God was teaching us a lesson in patience as we sat in Johannesburg and waited for the transfer of funds to go through.

The boot is full!Finally, after five days we were able to pick up the car, and first thing the next morning, we packed our little Figo to the brim, and hit the road. This car might be tiny but it has a surprisingly big boot (trunk). As you can see in the picture we fit 2 large bins, 4 suitcases, 2 backpacks, pillows, towels, blankets, groceries, and 2 people for our drive from Joberg to Lily.