Real Time Update: We are in South Africa

Deanna Martin
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September 28, 2017
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South Africa

We're here!

If you’ve ever looked at the “Where Are We Now” page, you will know that I am never caught-up with writing about our travels. But right now, I’m extra far behind and waiting to get caught up seems like a pointless restriction to put on myself. So, I’m just going to break the timeline and update you about what our life actually looks like today.

Kolt and I arrived in Port Shepstone, South Africa on Monday, September 18th. Getting here is not easy and we got about 90 minutes of sleep on the plane overnight. Thankfully, the people are beyond kind and understanding. We are working with an organization called Genesis which is based out of a local church. A warm and welcoming woman from Genesis named Lynn picked us from the airport and walked us through getting SIM cards for our phones and groceries. Then she got us settled into our little flat, which is right on the church grounds, and left us to rest. We promptly slept for 12 hours.

Our little flat.

One of our first tasks on arrival was renting a car. In the US, it’s pretty hard to find a manual car anymore. In pretty much the rest of the world, manual cars are the standard. In Africa, it’s a challenge to find an automatic. In Port Shepstone, South Africa, there are no automatics for rent within a 2 hour radius. We now drive stick-shift. A tiny bright blue Datsun stick-shift, to be exact. We also drive on the left side of the road... at least we try to. We have already killed the teensy battery once by leaving the lights on in a parking lot. But what better way to make friends than to ask them to drive half an hour in the rain to give you a jump? Special thanks to Jordan for taking an afternoon in a Michigan parking lot to give us a crash course in driving manual before we left, it definitely helped. Another big thanks to Steve for letting us practice on his fancy car.

Now taking suggestions for names!

After figuring out the basics we started meeting with people who we’ll be working with here. We weren’t sure exactly what kind of use they would have for us seeing how I am not licensed in South Africa and Kolt is specialized in website and application design. But, we were both excited to find that there are roles for us which are great fits. Kolt has started designing a website for one of the outreaches that offers work experience to unemployed young men in the area. He will also be working on a mobile app. I am rounding on the 40 patients at the hospice center, tracking their condition, collaborating with physicians and making treatment recommendations. I also aid in basic caregiving such as feeding and changing patients. I may also be in charge of wound care on the wards depending on how things go. We are both happy to feel like we have a direction and a solid way to contribute here.

We spent last Friday morning with the pastor of the church, Trevor. He took us to a number of the outreaches they have including a home for abandoned/orphaned/abused infants and young children, a reading room and after school program for children in a rough area of the city, a preschool program for children in a rural area, and a program helping high-school graduates prepare for university or pass their exams. We also heard about a number of other ministries they have, all addressing practical needs within the community and all run by people who seem to truly care. It is so encouraging to see people acting on the needs they encounter.

As we drove from place to place, we passed some stunning countryside full of rolling hills, a massive gorge, and lush jungle. We also passed an animal reserve with zebra and wildebeest casually grazing by the road. On Sunday morning we had a monkey hang around our little patio for a bit. To top it off, we can see the ocean from our flat. And it’s whale season. We went to the beach after working yesterday and actually stood on the shore and saw humpback whales jumping out of the water. Dream come true! We honestly didn’t know we were signing up for such a beautiful place but we’re certainly not complaining!

This is one of the beaches down the road from us. No whales in this photo, sorry

We’re still working on forming relationships with people here and we’re missing all of you back home. Send us an email or a WhatsApp message! We’d love to hear from you. I’ll try to catch up on the travels and then get to work on updates while we’re here. Send prayers, love, thoughts, good vibes, or whatever it is you do, our way as we get adjusted. Thanks for following along!

Deanna Martin

Originally from New England but having spent 10 years in Chicago, I'm a hybrid. A Physician Assistant by profession, I love medicine and most things science-y (not space though, I'm apathetic about space). I also love trees, the ocean, languages, and the vast array of people throughout this breathtaking world of ours.

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