My Experience in Cape Town

Chelsey (the brunette pictured above with a pilot and her mom/coworker) is a flight attendant based in New York City. She and Julie attended high school together in a small town in Tennessee and reconnected at a Yebo Life retreat in 2014. Chelsey is one of our faithful sponsors, and she served with us in Cape Town for almost two weeks in September 2015. It was super awesome of her to write about her experience!

I’m a flight attendant, used to traveling on a whim. Imagine how my world was turned upside down when my doctor told me I’d be sidelined for the remainder of 2014. To say I was bummed was an understatement. I was ailing from 1) a broken foot as a result of a beverage cart falling on it mid-flight, 2) a cat bite to my hand, and 3) two pulmonary embolisms, thanks to the time I spent immobile during my hospital stay. I was a living disaster and proof to the naysayers that God does, indeed, have a sense of humor.

Disappointment followed me around like the dirt cloud surrounding Pig Pen, and there seemed to be no end in sight. When the opportunity to travel to Cape Town presented itself during my tumultuous three months of injury, I began to suffer from a severe case of the ESFJ’s F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out). Side note: If you know Julie at all, you know Meyers-Briggs is her thing, and she opened my eyes to my personality type’s tendencies. 

I realized I would be unable to travel with my two friends who were making the trek to South Africa in January 2015. I was fretting over unmade plans and the beaucoup of excitement everyone (but me) would be having. 

I was walking through a season of learning to be obedient to God during my wait. 

Even now, I look back with pride at my accomplishment — because anyone who knows me knows that waiting isn’t innate to my personality. You see, when the opportunity to go to Cape Town presented itself, I’d only recently recommitted my life to God. Growing up in church, I knew all the “Christian” ways. I had memorized all the key verses. 

God loved me. I loved God. John 3:16. Now let’s go eat. (I grew up Southern Baptist, what can I say?)

With no depth to my personal relationship with my Creator, I veered off the ancient paths as I journeyed into adulthood. The airline job I took after college introduced me to a whole new lifestyle, and initially, sin was enticing. I was deep in the very epitome of a fleshly world.

As exhilarating as the idea of hopping on a plane to Cape Town was, God wasn’t opening the doors… and so began my crash course lesson in waiting. 

Since I’d been out of church, I had no community. The only encouragement I received regarding my new faith walk came from my family. I studied the Bible. I prayed and journaled for God to bring me a community of solid believers. And often, I lamented because I wasn’t receiving the instant gratification I desired. 

I finally gave up and started showing myself grace. I met God everyday, in the here and now, and I began to make some important changes — including walking away from unhealthy friendships and being more intentional with my time.

For the first time in a few years, I allowed God to guide me. While I wasn’t where I’d planned to end up (are we ever?), I finally understood what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him. I pursued my Creator with reckless abandon, and He proved faithful when another opportunity arose for me to serve in Cape Town. This time, I’d be traveling by myself and staying with two people I greatly admire and respect. I was exuberant! 

Cape Town represented the end of a very long waiting season. It opened my eyes to what I’d been unable to see while I continued, and failed, to make my own plans happen. By not allowing God to author the details of my life, I was robbing others and myself of seeing God’s wonder through my testimony. 

Rather than head to Cape Town with the mindset of “fixing” people and things, I went with the intention of pressing into the lessons God would be showing me during my time there. I surrendered the reins and the details to Him… and boy, was He present! 

I spent ten days with Tony and Julie — two sold-out-for-God Christians who are surrounded by others who live the same sold-out kind of lifestyle. It was refreshing and encouraging to share life struggles with other young adults and to be given Biblically-based counsel. I got to see, firsthand, what living with a Kingdom-mindset looks like on the mission field. The field can be anywhere, anytime — not just in a foreign country.

I experienced what having a solid community does to encourage our faith, and God has allowed my new friendships with people in far away places to take root and flourish. I’ve gotten to know two lovely South African ladies who I chat with regularly, and we’ve become sources of love and wisdom for each other.

My trip to Cape Town involved me stepping well outside the boundaries of my comfort zone. But in the hop, skip, and a jump across my comfort line, I found serenity in the uncomfortable. 

The struggle to be a light in the darkness had been overwhelming before my venture to Cape Town, but that’s changed. Though a few months have passed since I was in South Africa, my coworkers and passengers still ask about the details of my trip.

It’s opened so many doors for discussion when I tell them that, like the wind that whips through the vibrant city, God’s Spirit is also sweeping through Cape Town. 

Ironically enough, I only became comfortable sharing about all that God’s been doing in my life after I left my comfort zone and spent time in another country.

Yes, I saw situations and heard stories that broke my heart. I hugged on children who just want to be loved, shared my testimony with young teens, and served soup to people who are hungry. I did missionary-type activities, but it’s my heart that’s been forever changed by the people I encountered. Bob Goff said it best when he wrote, “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.”