The Lost Treasure of Storytelling

Women drinking tea

My Weekly Musings #13/2017

 

I am from the lucky generation who still grew up without a TV. Well almost. TV arrived in our town in South Africa in 1976, when I was in Grade 2. Or it might even had been a year earlier. I can’t remember. My dad didn’t buy one, “because they didn’t show the rugby”.  Actually that was his way of saying that he didn’t have the money to buy one. Not that I held it against him. We never had money, but we always had food, shelter and clothes. And love. We, television-less children had to gather at a house that had a TV every Tuesday at six to watch Haas Das and Heidi. I had to wait until my oupa sold his second-hand TV to my dad years later to have the privilege of staying at home to watch it alone.

I only realised much later in life that not having a television set in the house was actually much more of a privilege than having one. We ate together at the kitchen table, where we talked about our days and then listened to the aandgodsdiens (Bible message) and the ten minute story on the radio. And then we washed the dishes and we all retreated to our rooms to read.

Don’t get me wrong – I love technology to a point where I have to admit that I am addicted. I struggle with it and hope that when our living arrangements change in a year or so, that I will be able to be less dependable on social media and will thus use my phone in a more constructive and balanced way. But for now, I have to live with the addiction, because when you live abroad, that piece of electronics is your life-line to family and friends back home.

One thing that technology killed in our day, is the treasure of storytelling. It’s no shock anymore that when you go to restaurants, you find that people are there to work on their laptops. If they aren’t working, you find big or small groups sitting together, but conversing inwardly via their phones with other people than the ones they are physically with. The same thing happens when children visit each other. They ‘play’ with each other through phones and gaming equipment. Parents prop iPads and tablets into two year olds’ hands to keep them busy, instead of teaching them to play and use their imagination. We had become a strange lot.

When we grew up we still knew boredom. We had no entertainment at home or at school. If we wanted to be entertained, we had to do it ourselves. I came late into our family, so I didn’t really have siblings to play with. My dolls became my friends and all the trees in our garden had names. I could sit for hours in my tree and watch people in the neighbourhood go by – without them spotting me. I loved it. I even packed rations to spend afternoons in my tree. I also made a ‘saddle’ for my tree trunk ‘horse’, because otherwise my bum got numb. And I always had a kettie (slingshot) with me, because the Sering tree (I don’t believe the word I found in English is the correct one) provided me with green, round, hard seeds as ammo. (As the only young girl living in the street I learned to be prepared at all times.)

In that tree I dreamed up stories by the hundreds. My mother was the busy sort, so I don’t remember her ever telling or reading me a story. But there was a lot of storytelling around me – not as much as I wanted it to be, but nevertheless. I went to the farm on some Tuesday nights with my grandparents, where my grandfather, grandmother and uncle played cards. Nothing fancy – just boring Rummy. But they played while drinking very, very strong coffee. I drank with and was always sorry afterwards when my stomach cramped. But I loved it, because I loved sitting there, listening to the old people talking.

My brother, Willa, was the first one to read me stories. He read to me from the Bible and he preached to me and my dolls after school in the sitting room. I loved listening to him and the stories he told me. I think I became a Believer because of him. He practiced so well, he became a pastor in real life.

My Grade One teacher, Juffrou Ieta Boshoff, was the first of the great story tellers in my life. She had the most soothing voice and some out-of-this-world stories. She would let us lie down on the carpet in the classroom and tell us a story. And if some fell asleep, she let them. But I never fell asleep. Stories awed me too much to let my brain go to rest. Instead, it triggered my imagination and I would later play out the stories in my room or in the garden with my dolls, my trees and characters who eventually took permanent residence in my head.

Both my primary school teacher – who later became my sister-in-law, Hessie (De Clerq) Breytenbach, and my high school teacher, Attie Saunders, were good enough storytellers to get me interested in history and to this day I still love the subject and it had quite an impact in several of my life choices.

I started writing my own stories and in high school a few of my friends and I even had our own little ‘library box’ with self-written stories, which could be borrowed by others. I’m not verbally good at storytelling, so I am in awe by people who are natural oral storytellers. But they had become very few. And if they still exist, there is no real place for them to practice their art in everyday life anymore, because story time is now watching-TV or spending-time-on-our-phones-time.

Today, we live in an instant world, where entertainment is literally at the tip of our fingers wherever and whenever we want it. We don’t have to go somewhere to a social gathering or wait until it is dark. We push a button wherever we are and have choices. Too many choices. We actually have so many, that we can’t always make up our minds.

I’m not against it. I do it too and I enjoy it, but I think that we have lost something very important with the way we are entertained in our day. We don’t need our imagination so much anymore, because all the imagining is being done for us already. That book that we should have read and the world in it we should have imagined, is now a movie and we don’t have to go through the trouble, because someone else have decided for us what it looks like. We just have to sit back and watch without any effort on our behalf. And then forget it again. Because tomorrow I will have some more choices and I will be bombarded with some more special effects and I’m getting so overly stimulated, that my brain didn’t have any time to enjoy and process the last thing I’ve watched, watching the next.

Our friend, Abri, is a good storyteller. He can entertain one in such a way in telling one about something happening to him that it feels as if you have experienced it with him. He also tells his sons stories. One of the ‘series’ he tells them is about Buks, a farm dog. Buks is an awesome dog. He can make plans and fight lions and nothing ever gets the better of him. The stories are entertaining and get made up as Abri goes, which sometimes are very, very funny. When he goes away, he records a few stories, so that his sons can listen to them. They love it! And not only does it stimulate the boys’ imaginations, but it tightens the relationship between a father and his children.

In South Africa, as I believe in other cultures too, we still have a few storytellers. They are mostly humorous and are limited to a few TV shows and yearly cultural festivals and people have to pay to hear them, but at least they still exist. Are there still people telling ghost stories for fun and for free around a camp fire like we did when we were children?

God is a great storyteller. He created billions of characters throughout history and has ‘scripted’ their stories for them. I wonder how many of us live out our stories as He has originally plotted it out. Or how we deviated from His script for our lives to instead live our own, ‘better’ versions through the choices we make? He also made sure that a lot of His stories got written down for us, so that we can learn from the lives of Adam and Noah and Esther and ultimately, Jesus, and that we can have a ‘compass’ to live our own stories by. Luckily it is also electronically available…

I sometimes ponder on how much we miss out on because of the entertainment we choose thanks to our technologically advancing lives. I wonder how many unsaid words there are between us because we choose to live virtually with our eyes glued to a little electronic devise in our hands, instead of looking around in awe at the world and playing out the ‘scripts’ we have with our loved ones.

Unless we switch off that little device every now and then, we will probably never know.

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ek bepeins dié week in Afrikaans

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Foto’s: OFM News

My Weeklikse Bepeinsing #12/2017

So, gister was die groot ‘It’s Time’ gebedsbyeenkoms in Bloemfontein en daar was ‘n mag der menigte Suid-Afrikaners wat gaan bid het vir verandering in Suid-Afrika. Hier is net drie Skrifte (van die baie) waaruit Vader ons uit die Bybel leer oor gebed.

…en (as) my volk, oor wie my Naam uitgeroep is, hulle verootmoedig en bid en my aangesig soek en hulle bekeer van hul verkeerde weë, dan sal Ék uit die hemel hoor en hulle sonde vergewe en hulle land genees. (2 Kronieke 7:14)

Waak dan en bid altyddeur, sodat julle waardig geag mag word om al hierdie dinge wat kom, te ontvlug en voor die Seun van die mens te staan. (Lukas 21:36)

…terwyl julle met alle gebed en smeking by elke geleentheid bid in die Gees, en juis daartoe waak met alle volharding en smeking vir al die heiliges… (Efesiërs 6:18)

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So is ons land al vir baie lank al op die afdraende pad en toe hoor ‘n gewone, onvolmaakte  man (soos wat die Mosesse en Dawidde en Elias van die Bybel ook maar was) dat hy ‘n gebedsbyeenkoms moet hou waar mense van Suid-Afrika hulleself kan verootmoedig, Vader se wil vra en bid vir die omstandighede in die land. As ‘n mens die boonste Skrifte lees, sou jy dink dis heel  eenvoudig. Bid vir almal en oor alles en te alle tye is die basiese boodskap. Maar o, wee! Ons is mos (Suid-)Afrikaners en oornag was die land in rep en roer!

***

En so analiseer en kritiseer en oordeel dit te lekker vir ‘n klompie weke lank.  En dit gebeur toe gister:

Een groep gryp die geleentheid aan, ondersteun dit en gaan bid. Die wat nie Bloem toe kon of wou gaan nie, het op hulle eie gebid of byeenkomste gereël waar hulle saam met ander kon bid – selfs in die buiteland.

Sommiges het gewonder of hulle kerke darem vandag ook vol sou wees en ander het die inisiatief uitgekryt as “nie van Christus nie”, as ‘n “die mekka van satan” vanweë “die oorvloed vals profesieë” wat daar uitgespreek is en so meer. En die onvolmaakte man wat dit gereël het, was volgens baie onder andere “geldgierig”, “net agter getalle aan” en “die anti-chris”.

Dan was daar die natuurlike reaksie van die ateïs dat mense net gaan om goed te voel oor hulleself en dat niks gaan verander nie.

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Ek reken in ons quick-fix wêreld sal baie die hele gebed-ding as ‘n flop sien as daar teen môre niks verander het nie. Ek wens ons kon almal saam met dieselfde energie saamstaan wat deur sommiges gebruik is om te kritiseer en verdeling te veroorsaak. Dink net! Maar ons is nog hierdie kant van perfektheid. En dis hoe dit is. As ons dit tog net kan onthou.

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Gister se gebeure het my beide hoop gegee en hartseer gemaak, maar dis maar net nog ‘n teken dat ons in onvolmaaktheid leef. Deur Vader se genade is ek nie deur al dié dinge verwar nie, maar ek dink die optrede van baie Christene die afgelope tyd kon tot redelike verwarring by jong/nuwe gelowiges lei, wat ‘n jammerte is.

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Die Skrif uit Openbaring het weer gister telkens by my opgekom. Leef ons reeds in dié tyd?

Wie onreg doen, laat hom nog meer onreg doen; en wie vuil is, laat hom nog vuiler word; en laat die regverdige nog regverdiger word, en laat die heilige nog heiliger word. (Openbaring  22:11)

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As jy ‘n gelowige is, besluit maar self volgens die Skrif oor gister se gebeure. Te veel ‘geloof’ word in ons dae op opinie gebou.

 

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Uprooting

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My Weekly Musings # 9/2017

Recently, we have been visiting our friends who now live in New Zealand. They might or might not stay there forever. Or they might. I don’t know. They don’t know either. They live in an area to where a lot of Asians had emigrated to. And a lot of South Africans too. (I think for the South Africans, the choice has to do with the weather, because the north island’s weather is much warmer than the south island’s.) They live in the Auckland area which looks a lot like a mix between the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. That might have something to do with it too. In recent decades a lot of South Africans have immigrated to especially countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada. Very few had returned to their ancestral countries of origin, which were mostly The Netherlands, France and Germany.

The reasons for South Africans emigrating is mostly the unacceptable crime wave which are causing people to look for safer places to calm their nerves and also because of work opportunities, due to many people being laid off after becoming BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) victims. It is not only white people who emigrate though. The world is full of young black South Africans making their mark elsewhere in the world too.

We South Africans had become used to ‘losing’ friends to emigration. It is a touch phenomenon to get used to, because parents have to let their children go, adult siblings get separated and, with young children and new-borns growing up in a foreign country, young South Africans become estranged with their families back home. It is indeed a challenging situation. But, thinking about it, I also realise that migrating is sort of a ‘natural’ thing throughout history. It was after all how we got to South Africa. Our ancestors from The Netherlands sought new trade opportunities and the Christian French Huguenots fled from religious persecution, just as some South Africans now leave the country’s shores in fear of their lives and/or looking for jobs.

And of course the uprooting of families is not unique to South Africa. South Africans are at least still doing it by choice (although I blame no one who emigrates due to the fact that they had been high jacked in their own drive-way three times, or whose parents were brutally murdered on a farm or in a city house or whose daughter were raped and murdered when she went for a jog.) Our TV screens are filled daily with displaced people who flee for their lives from places where the blood hungry murderous make it impossible for them to live. One of the drivers we use when we go to Jordan told us that he is Libyan. He spent a few years working in South Africa (nogal!) and then ended up in Jordan. His brother lived in a few other places and currently stays in Israel. Across from our house in Cairo is a small Catholic church. The congregation is made up of expats working here, Egyptians – I presume and Sudanese and various other refugees. The international working force of Egypt is from all over the world. We lived in a displaced world full of displaced people.

So back to my pondering this week after a very long start. While we were in New Zealand, we saw lots of Afrikaans speaking South Africans in the streets, malls and on the beaches. Within ten minutes’ drive there are three shops selling South African products. We had wonderful boerewors (sausages) and biltong (dried meat – like jerky, but better)! The South African numbers are so many there that Browns Bay is referred to as ‘De Bruynsbaai’. And all the time we were there, I tried imagining how it feels to uproot yourself – knowing that it is going to be forever – and go and live in a strange place, building a new life so totally different than the one you had, away from your family and your friends.

We are only temporary living abroad. We are now here in Egypt for three out of a four year period. It had been wonderful and crazy and difficult and frustrating and emotional and a lot of other things too. I really miss our pets, our country, our food, our language, our culture, our ways and especially our people. Whenever we go through passport control at OR Tambo, I want just want to hug and kiss the person behind the counter, but I know I would probably be arrested for it, so I refrain from doing it.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone deciding to emigrate to New Zealand – just because it was the country many South Africans choose and we were visiting it. It is a wonderful, first-world, effective, beautiful place with nice, warm, down-to-earth people. It is also a very, very, very expensive country where some of the products are just plainly over-priced. I think it must be difficult in the beginning especially. I wondered if you ever stop missing the rugby fights, the fact that there is a joke minutes after any bad thing happening, the Nando ads, the excellent and the poor Afrikaans songs, the biltong, the South coast beaches, the clean, unique smell of Cape sea air in your nostrils, the shenanigans of politicians (okay, not really that, because now the rest of the world had caught up with us too) or the smell of fresh beskuit and bread of your aunt’s house. I wondered.

We met a young South African girl our son’s age who worked at the supermarket we went to. She heard us speaking Afrikaans with each other and immediately started a conversation. While ringing up our things, she told us that she was living  there with her parents for twelve years now. I commented that she must be full blown Kiwi by now, seeing that she was so young when the moved and probably didn’t remember ‘home’.  Her smile vanished and in a soft voice she said:

“I dream of Cape Town all the time.”

We met with quite a few emigrants from different countries. They told us that the divorce rate under uprooters is quite high. Listening to them a few things came out for people to consider before they make the decision to emigrate. These are:

  • Don’t emigrate to run away from your personal problems. If your husband has a wandering eye, it will be going with him. If he is an alcoholic, he will still be one on the other side. If your wife has a money spending problem in South Africa, you’ll have bigger problems living in a country where the currency is ten times (yep!) stronger.
  • Sort all medical stuff out before you leave. A lot of medical issues can get your visa delayed or even cancelled.
  • Don’t lie about anything on applications.
  • Plan. Plan. For everything.
  • You need a lot of initial capital to move to and settle in another country. (Hundreds-of-thousands-a lot.)
  • Moving countries causes immense stress – for every member or the family. Don’t underestimate that factor. Prepare for it. Change is never easy. Uprooting is up-there on the stress list. This counts even for ‘short’ stays abroad like ours.

My hope is that we will always have the choice to live in South Africa. I love my country. I miss my beautiful country with all its ups and downs. I hate the violence and the corruption. I hate it to be scared at night. (I sleep like a baby in Egypt – and everywhere else we go.) So, I know I will have to face my fears again. I will worry about Michael driving alone at night. I also realise that he might be forced to seek greener international pastures and leave us behind.  I’m not blind for all the challenges. But I miss the good of South Africa. The good things as well as the good people. And for that I hope to stay.

We will just cling to our Protector and remember that ‘Elohim has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of self-control’. I hope our faith and love and self-control will be enough in the end.

 

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship

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My Weekly Musings #7/2017

There is something as precious and beautiful as gold and very often as rare. It is free and yet it costs much. It starts with the utterance of a single word and yet is not to be found in every easily spoken one. And like gold, the real thing only becomes better when tested. Other than family, it might just be the most important thing us humans are being blessed with while we live our earthly lives.
Friendship doesn’t always come easy. Not all friendships last. Not everyone calling themselves ‘friend’ is one. Sometimes friendship comes from strangers or people we don’t consider friends. Some friends betray, let down, lie, don’t keep their word, walk away, fade, can’t stand the heat or just don’t care enough. They hurt you, but when the hurt subsides, one realises that it happened for the better.
There are friendships though, that last. They are formed between people who never stop caring and never will – no matter what happens or how difficult circumstances become. Because real friends never quit on each other. They always make time. They walk the extra mile. Sometimes friendship takes hard work, perseverance, forgiveness and being forgiven. It takes unconditional love, keeping secrets and speaking harsh words if it means helping and not contributing to a path that leads to destruction.
This week we are visiting friends who we haven’t seen in a few years and who (literally) live on the other side of the world. We have made many wonderful memories together in the past and we have shared quite a bit of heartbreak too. And it is when the conversation just continue as if we saw each other the previous day, and you still laugh at each others’ silly jokes and have made a new worth-to-remember memory within the first few days together, that one realises how blessed and fortunate and lucky you are to have real friends. And to be called someone’s friend. And that’s how they say you get real friends – by becoming one.

Thank You, for giving us friends.

Ointment and perfume gladden the heart. So one’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
(Proverbs 27:9)

©  Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Keeping One’s Word – a Trait Extinct

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My Weekly Musings #6/2017

This is not a post about the new American president or on how good or how bad he is, so you can keep on reading. In order to get to my point though, he has to be mentioned indirectly. As I was writing something else this morning, the TV news was on in the background. I must have had finger trouble, because it was another channel (it wasn’t FOX though) as the usual (BBC). There was a panel on video call discussing the subject that I won’t mention in this post only due to the fact that you might already suffer from fatigue on the topic.

I wasn’t focussing, so I wasn’t sure if the three men were supporting the above non-mentioned person, or if they were making tongue-in-the-cheek comments. All I knew was that my head bobbed up by the one man’s words.

“He is doing everything he promised.”

Now, I know about the jokes going around about that same sentence, but it wasn’t until this man said it on TV this morning that the penny dropped.

I suddenly realised that I was ‘participating’ in something that I really thought I wasn’t involved in. I was accepting lying as ‘normal’ behaviour. Oh, I realised it somehow, but I don’t think it had ever really sunk in, because I thought that I was above that.

We are so used to people making promises when they are running for office and when getting elected, they do the opposite. And we accept it without much resistance, because – well, we knew it would happen! I heard the above non-mentioned person also making promises, but thought by myself, “Meh, he won’t do it.” and “He can’t do that!” and “He won’t be allowed to do that!” Now he is starting to do everything he promised and the world (me very, very included) is shocked!

We got so used to people promising us the sun, the moon and the stars, but instead delivering garbage to our front doors that we have accepted it almost with thanksgiving! We have learned to pardon it. Even those under us who see ourselves as not ‘foolable’, have gotten so used to being fooled that we accept it as the norm. And in the world we live in these days, we are being fooled by almost everyone  we are suppose to trust – politicians, business people, religious leaders and of course every person working on the other side of  an enquiry who promises to call you back.

So, when suddenly someone comes along and keeps his promises – how far reaching the consequences might be – we are suddenly reminded that we are not used to living in a world where people keep their word anymore. And we are fooled when they do. (Like the media and the pole analysers were after the particular election that the non-mentioned person above won.)

Thankfully, we learn from the Word of God that ‘whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim (God) has been perfected in him’ (1 John 2:5). And we also learn that there is One who will always keep His Word.

“I shall not profane My covenant, neither would I change what has gone out from My lips.”

(Psalm 89:34 from the Bible)

 

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

46 Is not an ‘Appropriate’ Age to Die

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My Weekly Musings #5

This was a difficult week to be away from home. Our friend died. She was only 46. She had health problems since long before the 14 years that we knew each other. She had more than 30 operations and had been in and out of hospital all the time. We knew that her body took strain that no human body can sustain on the long haul. But we never wanted to acknowledge it. We got used to her being in and out of hospital and life going on in between.

So last week she was in hospital again. On top of her ‘normal’ problems she was fighting a resistant bacterial infection for over a year. She was sent home after treatment with strong, long-term antibiotics. But on Monday morning when her husband woke up, she had left this world quietly next to him during the early hours of the morning.

We were of course, in shock. Still are.

We were still trying to come to terms with Adri’s death, when I got a message from home that my loving godfather went into a coma and not long after that, that he too went to heaven – on what would have been my father’s 90th birthday.

Although any death is always difficult, I’ve learned in life that loss feels different when people die at different ages. My dad died at age 73. That is an acceptable age to die in my books, although it doesn’t make it any easier that one’s father dies at an appropriate age when you stand next to his bed watching how the artificial life orchestrated by machines, leaves his body. Two years later I learned that 49 isn’t an acceptable age for someone to die, when my beloved ouboet (eldest brother) was taken from us in an instant.

We were expecting Oupa Koos’ death. Both he and Ouma Mienie, his wife, was/is very sick. And they were nearing 90. Still, when he died he didn’t only leave a person that would be missed dearly in my and his closer family’s lives. He left and took a whole part of my life with him. A whole part of my history was intertwined with his. Fortunately, as long as I stay mentally healthy, I will have those memories to cherish. He was one of the few left of their generation in our family. And now we are becoming that generation. That is life. What a sobering thought!

We didn’t expect Adri to die young. 46 is an inappropriate age to die. But then – life and death isn’t in our hands. It isn’t ours to give or to take. God gave Adri a wonderful life, in spite of her struggles and she leaves a testimony of His great glory behind through the many lives she touched. She sang like an angel on earth and I believe she is having a ball worshipping the Living God with the real angels now.

Until we see each other again, my friend. Sing your heart out.

And say hello so long to Baas Wynie and Ouboet Piet, Oupa Koos. Tell them they are in my thoughts. Every. Single. Day.

 

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I return there. יהוה (the LORD) has given, and יהוה has taken away. Blessed be the Name of יהוה.”

(From the Bible – Job 1 verse 21)

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.

Living outside of One’s Comfort Zone

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Just before having to get out of the way

My Weekly Musings #4

Last week, our American friends invited us to visit the camel bazaar outside Cairo (on the Giza/Sakkara road). We’ve been living here now for just short of three years and I have never been outside of my comfort zone so much in my life. It is literally a daily thing. It is good for me – especially for spiritual me. Not only does it teach me plenty about the world around me, the people of this country, their strange culture and their fanatic religion, but it also teaches me a lot about myself. Living in a culture where you do not understand the language and isn’t even able to read their alphabet or have the same traditions and customs or worship the same God, things can get quite uncomfortable.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing being out of your comfort zone. It confronts one’s own beliefs, upbringing, culture, customs, world view and lifestyle when you are thrown into a world where nothing is familiar or make sense to you. Not only do you question the behaviour of the people around you, but you question your own. It is not a once off thing, but an ongoing everyday introspection. And not only do you learn to value what is ‘own’ to you, but you also learn to embrace and appreciate diversity. Very early on in our stay here, I have decided that I don’t understand much (not even a reasonable bit) of this culture, but that I am not even going to try to understand it. It makes life here a little bit easier and less complicated to observe rather than to label.

Back to the camel bazaar. I’m sure that this place wouldn’t even exist in a Western country. It’s a raw experience. Camels, by their hundreds, maybe even more, are brought together on a Friday morning to be sold I was told, mostly for meat. Men and (some very young) boys herd the animals – hopping along on three legs as one of the front legs is tied with rope to keep the animal from running away – towards the various ‘auction stations’ with long bamboo sticks. It isn’t a pretty picture to see. On the surface and in the viewpoint of a foreigner like me, it is a harsh place for a camel to be. And also for the people involved.

Upon arriving there, we were only four females in a sea of males – something that already pushes the discomfortometer into the red. The sticks hitting the camels’ bodies – be it on the humps, legs or head – is another difficulty to deal with. Furthermore, none of the camels looked like they had the potential for dinner I would want to see on my plate.

But I realised that it wasn’t my world. It wasn’t my place to judge. With that I don’t condone the behaviour of the people or the suffering of the animals. Sometimes in life things just are what they are – people making a living, surviving the only way they know how to the way they did for centuries – maybe even millennia. My disliking it, my discomfort and the fact that I might disapprove of their way of doing as a foreigner in their country, is not going to change that. I’m not going to alter a country’s culture, customs and actions which are way older than my own culture. What I should do is learn to appreciate it for what it is.

I realised that I would probably be out of my comfort zone many, many, many more times in the period we have left here in this interesting, phenomenal country. How I handle my discomfort is what is important. If I can’t change people’s behaviour or world view, I can at least work on my own. I can learn to value the diversity of this place and the other countries we are visiting, as well as that of my own country when we go back. Hopefully, when we are back in our own culture – which is just as diverse – I will be able to feel less uncomfortable in the mixture, while still staying true to my own upbringing and beliefs and being more tolerant towards people who are different from me.

In the end, when one sees the bigger picture from a forever-living-worldview, we are reminded that we who confess Him as our Saviour are one body in Messiah (Romans 12:5). One day we will be immersed into His culture and all the discomfort of worldly customs, poverty and illness will be something from the past.

PS: I spelled necessarily correct without using spell check or a dictionary.

© 2017 Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock

Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.