Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I chose South Africa

For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Ruth 1:16, The Bible

I've been asked many times, "Do you think you could live in South Africa?". This is a question I attempted to answer long before anyone started to ask me. My personal perspective is that you shouldn't marry someone if you are not willing to live in their country. This is why I chose to visit South Africa before getting engaged (you can read about that trip in the travel section of my previous blog). For me, choosing Dave was choosing South Africa.

Since making that choice, I've had many conversations with ex-pats here in Australia. These people have left much that they love in South Africa due to things they find frightening and frustrating. This has led me to feel challenged about my own choice. At times I've felt judgmental and angry with ex-pats. I now see this as a result of insecurity about our own choice to remain open to living there. I now feel secure in the fact that God has every person on a different journey. He is working different things in each family, and that is OK!

I can't know what it would be like for us to live in South Africa - no one can unless they do it! I do know that I have many limitations that could make it hard. These include only speaking one language, being a cautious driver, and seemingly having a learning disability related to keys and locking up houses! I have always lived in Tasmania near my family.

Whether we live in South Africa or not, I've already lived out some of the consequences of my choice to marry someone who comes from another continent. We've spent two months in South Africa since our first trip together in January 2007, on two separate trips. We've together pursued the adventure of taking a tiny baby overseas. I've seen townships, tribal lands, bullet laden security guards, spectacular scenery, and lots of elephants! Friendships have multiplied.

More than that, the problems and joys of South Africa have captured my heart in ways I never expected when I said "yes" to my husband. I've found that I love the place, yet wondered if I am crazy for not dismissing it as a basket case. I want our son to somehow be both South African and Australian, to remain connected to both places, but wonder if it will work out like that. I've felt smidgen of the despair of yet another political disappointment, and a touch of the fear of crime that many cite as the reason for their departure from the country. We've longed to do more for those who are suffering, particularly orphans, but found the obstacles to this discouraging.

We are content in Australia, but remain willing to trade it in for a more unpredictable continent. God will be working his purposes in us wherever we go. Where we are physically is not as important as the relationship we have with God. Wherever we are there are opportunities and difficulties that we are called to make the most of, with God's guidance. God is at work in South Africa, and it is exciting to remain open to the possibility that he may have a role for us there.


  1. Hi Sherrin,

    A great blog and an interesting post, when you marry someone you also join with more then just the person, but their family, interests and in this case the country where they come from.

  2. Hi Luke,

    Good point about family. I think this aspect is often overlooked! You've got to be willing to accept someone's family as well as the person, and this can be hard.

  3. Hi Sherrin ~ I think when you're open to God's leading (wherever that may be!), you're in for a great adventure!