I was happy when Tony and Chase decided to stay for dinner that first night in Noordhoek—though I'm sure Tony wouldn't have thought so. To this point, my actions and demeanor were communicating an "I could care less" attitude. And deep down, I knew it.
I spent the previous month in Ukraine. There, the Lord taught me a lot about vulnerability. He spent time carefully softening my heart. I was (and still am) thankful for the lessons that came with that Eastern European spring, but despite them all, Tony's presence was causing me to harden again. Instead of being friendly and setting appropriate boundaries, I was reverting to old habits of cynicism and avoidance.
When I saw Tony gathering firewood for the braai, I sensed the Lord telling me I should help him. And for the next several weeks, God would remind me of simple truths about how to build a healthy relationship with a member of the opposite sex.
- Be kind and approachable.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Protect your story, and guard your heart.
I started collecting wood for Tony's man-fire, and Jan joined forces with us. The three of us were standing around the grill when Tony inquired about our stories. I knew it wasn't my time to share, so I kept quiet and stared at Jan until he started talking. (Thankfully, he and Tony are two of the least relationally awkward people in the world.) By the time Jan finished giving his testimony, we were ready to start grilling.
We had a wonderful weekend at the Wynne's house. The next day (Saturday), we went hiking in the Silvermine Nature Reserve and penguin-viewing at Boulders Beach with Raymond. We were rained on, so we went home, took showers and had hot drinks. Then went to Raymond's favorite coffee shop in Noordhoek Village and had Americanos and pancakes with cane sugar and fresh lime juice. Tony, Chase, and some of their friends came over later and had dinner with us. Like Tony said in Chapter 4, they stayed the night and helped transport us to church in the morning.
Greg preached on a portion of the Sermon on the Mount, and after the service, Raymond introduced us to the congregation and spoke about our desire to connect with "unsung" ministries in Cape Town. I was chatting with some of the church's young adults when Raymond called me over to meet Mike and Louise Paterson. "The Patersons own two flats in Simon's Town and have offered to let you all live in them for the rest of your time in South Africa." I was blown away.
Minutes later, I was introduced to a lady named Cornelia. "Cornelia runs a preschool in Masi, one of the townships in Cape Town. You can start work with her this week." Again—mind blown.
We made plans to move to Simon's Town on Tuesday and to start work at Rainbow Preschool on Wednesday. As for Monday, we'd spend it with the Wynnes and the Pampells. Our time in Noordhoek turned out to be more short-lived than anticipated, so we wanted some quality bonding time with the people who were quickly becoming our South African family.
The following morning, we all piled into a van and headed for Cape Point, the tip of Cape Peninsula. Tony was driving, of course.
We toured the peninsula, ate lunch overlooking False Bay, fed ostriches, sang How Deep the Father's Love for Us, drove along the coastline to Camps Bay, ate gelato, and had a cup of joe while watching the sun set over Africa.
It was a day for the history books. Tony will tell you I was stand-offish throughout it, but I will tell you that I was right where I was supposed to be—rather imperfectly trying to navigate my way to a healthy middle ground, somewhere between "too much" and "too little," with God as my guide.
To read our full story, visit our Love Story page.