I ‘met’ Jen online earlier this year through the fabulous Five Minute Friday community, and was immediately drawn to her writing as she shared of her experience living in South Africa for two years.
Jen has been writing along with us for 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, using the prompts found here. Her #write31days series and mine have overlapped quite significantly, as she is writing through 31 Days of Moments in Africa. It’s been so much fun to read of your experience! You can catch the rest of her posts on her blog.
For now, enjoy Jen’s five minutes of free writing on life in South Africa.
“Don’t have expectations.”
That was the main thing our trainers tried to teach us. Even before leaving the country, I was told time and time again not to have expectations.
But really, I don’t think that’s possible.
After two months of in-country training and bumbling through various awkward cultural differences with a host family, I found myself on a bus, heading out to the Kalahari Desert, where I would live for two years.
And though I really had no idea what to expect, somehow my brain still made up a few things. How I would teach these kids, and what I would do on the weekends. What my garden might look like, or how I would sit around with my host family, chatting the evening away. The idealistic world of “Peace Corps Volunteer Extraordinaire”.
Then reality hit.
People tend to expect good things, and reality sometimes throws a few kinks into the plan.
Like the fact that I wouldn’t have a bed for a month.
Or that my host family didn’t speak a word of English.
But the funny thing about life is that our expectations often are wildly wrong. They come crashing down around us when an unexpected reality hits. And yet, there’s beauty in the unexpected. There’s room for growth and joy there. And some of the best things in life come from the unexpected.
Even if, in that moment, you’re left grasping for anything familiar, wondering what in the world just happened.
Jen is a twenty-something single woman, learning to navigate this crazy thing called life while leaning into the Lord. A lover of good books, great coffee, and long conversations, Jen has embraced her creative side through writing and photography. In 2011, she followed the Lord 8,000 miles from home to South Africa, where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She blogs about faith, photography, and modern day homesteading at Growing in Faith.