A letter to South Africa

Dear South Africa,

I can't believe that I have been with you for eight months. I would definitely describe our relationship as  love/hate.

You have seen me cry in these past eight months more than I ever have in my nineteen years of life. You have witnessed my extreme frustrations with the way you treat women and leave them so vulnerable. I have become so angry at how unsafe I have felt and how many times I have lived in fear. My heart has broken over and over and over again as I listen to the brokenness and helplessness of so many of your people. Their faces will forever be burned into my heart.  I hate how I've heard "the only way to discipline a black child is to hit them" and I often find myself sick of your cultural excuses even though your laws say it is illegal. I'm tired of switching lives... I can feel so 'first world' in your country on the weekends and so 'third world' on the weekdays. That has been one of the biggest struggles for me personally and I only see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. I question how you're going to deal with this because in the future the gap will only continue to grow.  Getting use to Zulu time has been another struggle and I've often been frustrated when every plan I make changes and if I ask to meet someone at 2, if they show up at 3 it is not even something to mention. Having mentioned your time factor I am sick and tired of everything taking three times as long and I'm worried that as globalization increases and our world becomes 'smaller' you will never keep up with the demands of a Western world. I am tired of showering outside and fighting for hot water - you had them start over on the bathrooms five months ago and yet it's still not finished. I see such a generation of laziness.. or will you just blame me for saying that  "it's your culture." It gets under my skin that I can't run with my ipod because everyone around me is convinced someone will jump me and steal it. I hate that I have to run with hundreds of cars and make my asthma even worse just because it is unsafe to run by myself as a women any where else. I am getting fed up feeling like I am in prison all the time with bars over my windows, gates on the doors and barred wire lining the fences around every house.

However, I can't thank you enough. You have moulded, tossed, stripped away so much of selfish "Maddie" and are in the process of creating a beautiful bold women who is desperate for God's heart in every situation. I love how you have let my tears fall in your soil as I try to discover who I am and who I am designed to be. I thank you for letting me share my hopes, fears and dreams in your country. You really have helped me so much as I've finally gotten over my past relationships and forgiven myself for the hurt that I've caused so many people. I have learnt that I can't love my children until I learn to fully accept God's love for me. I have learnt that I can't love with my own strength but that I need to be filled with God's love and his love will overflow into every circumstance I am put in. I have learnt these lessons in your beautiful country. Speaking of beautiful, I have never been in a more beautiful place. I love that your mountains are only an hour drive from where I live but drive an hour the other way and I get the privilege of swimming in the warm Indian ocean. I adore swimming in a warm ocean and jumping waves until I'm exhausted. I have loved frolicking in the ocean and seeing God's beauty all around me. I am so blessed to be worshipping the one and only God in your country with thousands of other people. I have enjoyed going to NCF and that will honestly be something I will miss so much when I return back to my homeland.
I have seen beauty in the broken more than ever before, but goodness you're country is filled of beautiful people. They love unconditionally and have taken such good care of me. I am so blessed to have met so many amazing South African's who have sacrificed so much to make sure I am okay and not just surviving in this country. I have been put with two amazing host parents who I don't think I could love any more, they are just such beautiful caring people. Through all my hospital visits this year I have learned to appreciate Canadian health care but realised how your trying to become competitive and I think in many of your hospitals you have succeeded. I fear that if I was anywhere else in Africa I would have died and not been writing this so I honestly can't thank you enough for having medicine to save my life. I am forever grateful to you.
And the most important thing that I feel the most blessed is to meet your children. My South African children are the number one reason why I love you and your country so much. They are my everything and through these eight months I have only been able to love them more and more. From having dance parties to reading Snow White (91 pages last night!) to the children my heart is so full of thankfulness. I have been given an opportunity of a lifetime and I refuse to let these last months slide by. Hearing that they love me before bed and holding their hands while we pray to the giver of strength has been such a blessing. I love them and they are moulded and shaped by you.

Through our love/hate relationship I am 100% sure that I love you more than anything, even if there are a lot of things I can't stand. Happy eight months! I look forward to spending the next 3.5 months learning to love and serve deeper and appreciating everything you have to offer me in your country. I hope to be able to look back and say that I gave something to you as well.


Madeline Charnuski

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