Finding Home

I have been in South Africa for coming up to two months now and if I am being completely honest, it feels like I have been here for a lot longer. If I think back to what I thought my first couple of months here would be like, I was completely wrong on so many levels, but right on so many more. I knew I would be worked hard, and I am, but I also knew that I was going to enjoy my job and again, I was 100% accurate! I thought I would make some pretty good friends quite quickly, and of course, I have (considering I live with one of them it has made things a bit easier!). 

But there was one thing I was completely wrong about; I thought I would be crying non-stop for the first three months or so because I would be so desperate to go back to the UK to be in a comfortable environment for me. This was just a lie going round and round in my head. Needless to say, I have found home.

I am aware that in quite a few of my blog posts I have been saying that East London, South Africa is beginning to feel more and more like home everyday I am here, but in all reality, I do feel like it is now my home. And there are multiple reasons why this is the case:

  1. My Bedroom.
    I know that to some people this will seem like a silly little thing. When I moved into the de Bruin household, my room was lovely and they had put in a load of effort to make sure that it would be a place that I would want to spend my time in and not just a room in a strange new house. And that was so helpful. But they also told me that I could change things around and put more of my stamp on it so I felt like it was mine. So, with a bit of help from Chloe, we moved my bed and my bench, Arno found me a desk and I put up photos and a chalk board. I have made my stamp on my room and I love it! It is a place that makes me feel like I am at home here.IMG_1376
  2. My Second Family.
    I definitely feel part of the family. There is no way that I couldn’t! Arno and Claire have made it so easy for me to just slot in and find my place, so much so that I am on the family chore roster! But seriously, more than that, they look after me like a mum and dad would. As well as this, Chloe and I have this seriously weird mix of sisterly love and best friend-ness that we gel well. I couldn’t have asked for a better sister! As for the boys, I know I have been welcomed into the family by Josh as we do well at winding each other up and can have a laugh quite easily and Keagan has told me that I am not very good at cutting bread. I feel very at home! 

     

     

  3. Directions.
    I feel like I am much more at home now because I know where things are. From home I can get to church, Vincent Park, the beach and a variety of other destinations. Now that I feel like I have got my bearings a little bit more, I feel like I am settling in and have made East London home.IMG_1365
  4. This Past Week.
    I know that Arno and Claire were away until Friday but there was something about that time that made me feel like I was at home here and, more than that, I was a responsible person! (I know that is going to be hard to believe but I honestly do feel more grown up.) I just began to feel more at home than I have done for a very long time. As well as that, I have caught myself referring to East London as home. As something I didn’t think I would do until I was almost ready to leave this place, it has been a welcomed change! But yesterday was the day that I really began to recognise this place as home; I went out with Jess, to the beach and then exploring different parts of the city (there are some very weirdly designed roads, I have to say). But when we got to Plymouth Drive, I really felt like I had a little bit of Plymouth here with me and that I was able to fully make East London my home.IMG_1372

So, after a month and a half of feeling like I didn’t know whether I was coming or going, but more that I just wasn’t fully settled, I now feel like I have found home and that for the next year, and maybe more, I have a place that I know I am loving living in and can make a place for myself. Also, I know I am home because I have just got a message from Chloe asking me to fetch her from school at 14:00!

Welcome home CJ!

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When The Cat’s Away, The Mice Will Play…

So, this is the week where Arno and Claire have gone away and have left Chloe, Josh, Keagan and I to fend for ourselves. This is a true tale of survival, with that splash of adventure thrown in, of course. 

Let’s start with Sunday, the day before the big day came around. Claire was recovering from this awful flu that has been going around so decided not to come to church and spread her remaining germs to everyone there. Josh also realised that he had a geography project that he needed to get done so he, too, stayed home from church. This meant that it was Arno, Chloe and I heading out to church first thing in the morning, jamming out to some classic music and listening to the most entertaining story from the Olympics this year. For those that know me well, I will struggle to explain this but I feel I have to give an explanation to what I just said so I will leave a link here.

Church went down with a bang, what with Arno speaking on Revelation 20 (basically the apocalypse) and having to use very mathematical diagrams to explain his point! I have to say, I learnt a lot! 

After church, Chloe and I finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy. At this point, I must mention that I did manage to quote more of it than I anticipated and I am not ashamed to admit that I can do so! Although I am sorry if I injured Chloe in the process of getting way to excited/emotional whilst watching. Also, I have to add a quick apology to Brad, Josh and Sango who I may have scared with my over-excitedness… Oops!

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Monday came round with the blink of an eye; it was the day when Arno and Claire would leave for a week and trust that the four of us would be responsible enough to keep the house functioning! The admin meeting went by really quickly and efficiently – in fact, we were done by 9:30am. But it was the worship meeting quickly followed by the youth meeting that kept me there until 13:20pm! I was so hungry by the time I got home but only had enough time to make a couple of ham sandwiches for Chloe and I before I picked her up from school to take her to maths tutoring. This was made all the more difficult by realising that I had run out of airtime just as I text her where I am parked. All part of the adventure I guess. Proudest moment of the day though was when Chloe realised that she knew how to direct me to Beacon Bay… this in itself is a miracle! 

We made a cheesy pasta thing for supper and chilled out with a couple of movies to end a very eventful and enjoyable first day at home alone!

Yesterday involved me procrastinating so much I had cleaned the entire top florr of the house by 9am. I then worked until Josh and Chloe got home from school when we just chilled and watched movies. It was a delightful day, topped off by having pancakes for dinner! Yummy, yummy in my tummy! (Yes, I am a responsible adult who encourages her siblings to eat healthy dinners…)

Today, Chloe is home sick from school. She too has caught the flu. But, yes, I am that sibling that makes her sister do some studying when she is sick because studying is important. But, sleep won and she succeeded in sleeping of the majority of the bug – back to school tomorrow, me thinks! But I also watched ‘The Martian’ all the way through today. It is an absolutely fantastic film and if you haven’t watched it then you should because it is awesome. 

I went shopping to get some groceries (don’t worry Arno and Claire, we will always have milk as long as I am here so that I can have endless cups of tea!). But also to get some supplies to make dinner for life group tonight. Yes, life group is at our house tonight – that is all 6 of us that aren’t dying from the plague. So, games night it is! But there is no need to fear! Although I am a highly competitive person, I aim to keep the house in one piece as I do not want to be the one responsible for curtain poles falling off the wall or tiles breaking or creating holes in the floor. I will make sure that we are all mature adults who can calmly play a game of spoons…

Tomorrow is when Arno and Claire should be worried though; it is party time! (No, I am joking and anyone that knows me well enough knows that I would love to avoid awkward social situations where people are required to dance.) Tomorrow is a day with nothing but work planned – all exciting stuff!

So really, there is no need for anyone to be worried about coming back to a broken home because there are four very responsible(ish) people living inside it and making sure that everything remains in one piece. When referring to the phrase ‘when the cat’s away, the mice will play’, you are literally referring to mice who eat pancakes for supper, live for the movie channel on DSTV, and are most active when a game of spoons is suggested. These mice are hard core!

P.S: I passed all of my final exams!

Q&A Time!

I think I am just going to crack on with writing this post because there isn’t really much of an introduction I can make; people have asked me a bunch of questions, I picked the top 10 most asked generally and now my plan is to try and answer them! This could be highly entertaining…

  1. What does the ‘J’ in CJ stand for?
    Good question! I get asked this a lot actually, so it is probably a good one to post on the blog. The ‘J’ in CJ stands for Jasmine. It is my middle name and I chose to shorten my name from Chloe Jasmine to CJ when I was about 6 because I knew way too many Chloes and always happened to be really good friends with them. And it also makes it a lot easier to work out who is being spoken to in the house, considering I live with another Chloe right now!
  2. Why South Africa?
    That is something that requires a bit more thought… Basically, I was planning on going to university in the UK, preferably somewhere close to home because I thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with being too far away from home. Whilst I was doing some final revision just before my AS levels (year 12), I felt like God was saying to me that this was not the right path for me to take. University wasn’t for me and being a history teacher suddenly lost it’s appeal. So after that bombshell was dropped, I literally had no clue what I wanted to do. I was considering opening a bakery, going to do a year with a church in Brighton, doing an apprenticeship in pharmaceuticals. But everything just fell through and I didn’t think that this was the way forward for me. None of them appealed to me like teaching once did. Nothing felt like it was what God wanted me to do. 
    That was when Arno came to preach in the UK and stayed in my house. We got talking about what my plans were after I finished school to which I then explained that I had no idea. His response was: “why don’t you just come and spend a year in South Africa?” I prayed about it and suddenly all of the pieces just slotted into place. The next thing I knew, I was applying for my visa, I had saved up enough money to last me the year and I just knew that it was what God wanted me to do. So, here I am.
  3. What are you planning on doing after your year in South Africa?
    I literally have no idea is the short answer to that question. I have a couple of options: either apply for another more long term visa for here in SA, go to another country to serve God and all he wants to do in that country OR go back to the UK. At the moment, I have no clue and I am praying and praying about what is next for me. If I don’t have a clear cut answer from God (like Him audibly telling me or a prophetic word etc) then I will just go back to the UK and see what God has planned for me there. But right now, I am not sure what is going to happen; I think the best idea is to put all of my efforts into focussing on this year, rather than constantly thinking about what is next.
  4. Did you ever cut classes at your school and did you ever get caught?
    The only time I ever cut classes was in year 11 when I was studying music. I cut both Phys Ed and Compulsory Elements to be able to do my music work instead, something I found much more interesting! However, I am such a teachers pet, I asked permission from my teachers to cut their classes, leading to me getting a permanent removal from my CE lessons! So, even when I cut classes, I asked permission to do so… I know. I am seriously hard core.
  5. What has been the most eventful thing to happen in the last week?
    I don’t know what it is about Fridays but they do not seem to like me. It was on Friday that Claire mentioned that she could smell burning. I looked out of the window to see a LOT of smoke coming in our direction. Claire went outside to see what was going on and came running back in telling Chloe to ring the fire brigade and for me to wake up the guys to get them to come and help. Next door was on fire and was quite literally melting. I t was terrifying; there was so much smoke and at one point there was a serious possibility that this house might burn down too. Chloe and I had to make sure that we had got all of the important things out of the house just in case. Never in my life have I prayed so hard. Praise God, no one was hurt but the house is now just a shell with hardly anything left inside; the whole house just burned. So, I think that was the most eventful thing to happen in the last week!
  6. What is your dream job?
    My dream job is (don’t laugh) to be a school librarian. I did it in my last two years of school – I was the Learning Resource Centre Assistant and I absolutely loved it. I would quite happily do that for the rest of my life. Hence, my answer to the question is that I would be a school librarian. The link below would be my dream, I think!
    http://www.lipsonco-operativeacademy.coop/Learning-Resources-Centre/
  7. What has been your highlight of the week?
    I was saying only this morning to Abby and Jess that my week highlight has been getting buy one get one free on waffles at breakfast this morning! Was awesome!
    But in all seriousness, I absolutely loved seeing a new part of South Africa this week after spending Sunday at Kidd’s Beach with the Monaghans’. It is such a beautiful place and the people I was with were equally as lovely!

    KB

  8. What is your favourite thing about East London, South Africa?
    I know that I have been here for 5 weeks now, but I am still not 100% clued up on where everything is and what is on offer here in East London. But I have to say that I love the beach. It actually has sand! Plus, it is not the type of sand that is secretly shingle; it is real sand! That makes me happy, paired with the fact that it is quite often what us Brits would call ‘beach weather’, which is awesome! Thus, my favourite part of East London is the beach.

    Nahoon

  9. The first thing to your left is your weapon in the zombie apocalypse. What is it?
    A bottle of water. Great.
  10. What are your plans for this next week?
    Well, to finish off today, I have a youth leaders’ meeting, followed by Life Group. But for the rest of the week, I don’t have much planned. I guess, work, youth and church. I am sure it will get much busier when it comes around!

That rounds up my Q&A this week! T’was a good bit of fun, I must say! I am looking forward to this next week and I am sure it will be a great one, making my adventure even more exciting! 

Never A Dull Moment…

Since I last posted, a number of things have occurred which have made this last week VERY interesting. Now, when I say interesting, I don’t just mean that I have had a little bit more work than normal, or that I have been out a couple of extra nights this week. I mean, adventures that are quite unbelievable/unexpected for someone to go on after only a month in South Africa. So buckle up and prepare yourself for what is going to be a pretty exciting blog post!

Let’s start with Friday. Well, that was fun! Calmness radiated off of me when I woke up; quite literally oozing! Needless to say, it was not long-lasting. Of course, I had much fun eating chocolate brownies and ice cream, drinking a lovely milkshake and having awesome conversations with people. Yet, my serenity was snapped suddenly by angry ladies and small parking spaces. This was only the beginning, believe it or not! 

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Now, Chloe and I thought that leaving for Shine (junior youth) at 4:40pm would be fine, it would allow for a little bit of traffic but it would be a good amount of time to get across to Greenfields. Unfortunately, the ANC made it very difficult for anyone to get anywhere by having a street party on the busiest road in East London at the busiest time of day. This meant that a journey that should have taken only 20 minutes ended up taking an hour, making us 40 minutes late for Shine! Apparently I was incredibly calm for someone that was told to reverse on a main road for a stupid taxi driver, into traffic. They obviously had no awareness of what was going on in my head!
As well as this, I had been holding in a lot of emotion for the past three weeks. People that know me well know that I cry really easily and it is not difficult to make me emotional. So, to have held in all the emotion of leaving home on top of all the emotional baggage that comes with watching copious amounts of romantic movies, I was holding in a fair bit! So after a hectic day and being told just as I had picked up Chloe that 2 of the 4 youth leaders were sick and unable to make it to youth that night, I broke down in tears and required endless cups of tea to make me feel better. This is where I am thankful for amazing people around me that can make me feel better (a shout out is necessary here for Chloe, Brad, Cebo and James) and have learnt how to make a pretty good cup of tea at a moment’s notice.

Saturday allowed for an oozing of calmness to be restored. At least, for the majority of the day, anyway. 5pm came around and Josh was getting ready to leave for his matric dance with Sango (his BFF) when a message came through that Sango’s date had pulled out on him! She literally told him right at the last minute – how very rude! Chloe was going on a date with Brad that evening, meaning she was unavailable as a stand in date. This is where I come in. Everyone then looks at me and says “you have nothing planned for tonight…” Next thing I knew (10 minutes later), I was all dressed up, make-uped and all beautified, ready to go to the dance. Flip me! It was a whirlwind! To say it was eventful is an understatement. 

Rolling out of bed on Sunday morning, I took a little bit longer than 10 minutes to get ready. I was woken up all the more by church and had an awesome rest of the day (more chilled than the last two!). But this Sunday night was no ordinary Sunday night; it was girls night! Our evening began (I say our, I mean Chloe and I) with some light exercise in the form of yoga. I have never realised how inflexible a person could be until the moment I had to try and be a pair of scissors. Yes, it was recorded on video. No, you can’t see it. If I show you, I will have to kill you. I realise now, that people will happily die for a moment of hearty entertainment, but I will save you the hassle of dying by never showing anyone, ever. Also, if anyone has not seen ‘The Good Dinosaur’, I would highly recommend you watching it, only with a full box of tissues situated directly next to you. It was beautiful. Well done Disney. Sleep was highly anticipated after the excitement of the last few days, but sleep was deprived after Josh and his friends decided that 11pm would be a great time to start having a pillow war. You may think I am exaggerating, but lights were broken, beds were broken and so was someone’s face after blood was found on the pillow case. 

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Monday morning began with an admin meeting, as every Monday does. It was good fun – although Cebo’s game proved to be dangerous when there ended up being a pile of people on the floor. Ouch! After that, I came home and watched Chloe bake, because as she put it she “liked baking on her own”. It’s fine, I enjoyed watching actually – it was quite therapeutic! The evening saw us travelling to the farm (Claire’s parent’s) as well as singing The Script songs at the top of our lungs. Man, I love The Script! 

Tuesday came around and we stoked the fire, went to a dilapidated house and saw the graves of the people that once lived there. Chloe decided that it would be a good idea to not wear shoes so there were thorns a plenty in her feet by the time we got back. We also went out across the farm and the men went hunting. They were rewarded with two duiker for their efforts. By the time we got back, we were all tired so we ordered some pizza and then I went to bed. 

That brings me to today where I have been out at CMF for breakfast, which was in Gonoubie. Then, before we could leave, Joe and Greg wanted to hunt some Pokemon, so Jess and I were made to tag along. Unfortunately, we did not find Pikachu. We were too busy driving down roads with dead ends! Once I got home, I did some work and that brings me up to the current time. I am sat here, after three cups of tea and have finished updating you on my week. 

P.S: I am going to do a Q&A next week so if anyone has any questions they would like me to answer, feel free to leave them in the comments etc. 

A Week In The Life Of CJ!

I know, sounds like exciting stuff! Apparently, this interests people, discovered by the fact I have had so many people ask me what I do with my days now that I am here in East London, South Africa. So, as each blogger has to listen to their readers every once in a while, I have caved in to your requests; please get comfy, grab a nice warm cup of tea and get ready for the excitement that is my average week!

Monday.
This is a busy one. It starts with an admin meeting at 8:30am and there could be a few other meetings after that one if it is a super busy day. Take this Monday, for example. After the admin meeting, there was a 30 minute youth chat followed by a preaching meeting. Needless to say, I was hungry when I got home at 12:30pm! 
Once home, I tend to do a few little bits and pieces whilst they are in my mind. Either that or I do the things that I know I won’t do unless I do it straight away.
I will tend to chill once everyone is home from school though. Except for this Monday where I had ANOTHER meeting to go to in the evening. Plus, Monday is my day for making supper, which meant that Monday can be a hectic day! But, good fun – that is for sure.

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Tuesday.
I find that Tuesdays are much more relaxed than Mondays. I begin my day with a Bible study – I pick a random verse from the Bible and break it down, exploring what it means for me and how I can use it to grow my relationship with God. 
Afterwards, I will begin some of the more hardcore tasks I have to work on that week. Endless cups of tea assist me and I find that the morning goes by in the blink of an eye.
I will also tend to just chill out on a Tuesday afternoon with nothing to do, which is a wonderful feeling!

Wednesday.
On a Wednesday morning, all of the youth pastors across the city tend to meet up for breakfast and to spend time just chatting to each other. It is an awesome platform to be able to meet some new people that share the same passion as you and are super friendly. 
When I get back in from that I will do another Bible study and carry on with a few of the tasks I have to get on with. 
After lunch I will Skype some friends and just have a catch up with them, asking them what is going on back in the UK and how they are doing. I have to say that this is one of my favourite times of the week.
By the time life group comes around in the evening, I will have had a fairly full on day. It’s almost as if I will need another day to recuperate!

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Thursday.
The structure of a Thursday tends to follow the same sort of pattern as a Tuesday. Do I need to say anymore? It is closer to the weekend?!

Friday.
This is my day off! Although, me being me, I do find myself doing a few things to keep me occupied. I do a Bible study when I wake up but I do try and make myself do nothing (harder than I think!). I do also find myself drinking more and more cups of tea on days like these… 
Evenings are a bit busier, however. Youth beckons and we have a blast! We play games, talk about Jesus and sing a few songs. It is marvellous.
Chloe and I also tend to stay up a bit longer just chatting when we get in from youth. If anyone was listening to our conversations they might think we are a little crazy. If they also saw the face swaps, they might be genuinely terrified! Oh well; what can you do?!

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Saturday.
Saturday sees me just chilling out and making the most of the fact that I don’t have to do anything. I will try and make sure I read my Bible in the morning as well (good habit to get into) but I do just enjoy spending the day lounging around. It is awesome. 

Sunday.
Church day! We tend to get to church for about 8:30am so we can pray before the meeting starts. Then we crack on with the meeting and are done by 10:30am, 11:00am at the latest! This is all new to me as church in Plymouth didn’t start until 10:30am and we were lucky if it finished by 12:00pm! I guess it is just different cultures doing things in different ways. I have to say that I prefer the South African way of timing it because I like early mornings. But that is just me – quite literally. I would get looked at funny if I said I liked early mornings in the UK! 
Chatting to more friends and family seems to be my plans for a Sunday afternoon as well as just chilling out. All in all, Sundays are my fun days. Always have been. Always will be.

So, that just about sums up my week. Obviously, I won’t always stick to this schedule because life happens but this is pretty much it. 
Also, I am up for going for milkshakes with people in the afternoons and on my days off – in fact, I think that is a pretty good idea! So feel free to ask to do things – I may just say yes!