Some Reflections on Being a Home Based Care Worker for a Day

*Or*

Some reminders for future Tori

  1. Gogo Deborah can GET AROUND, don’t let the crutches fool you.
  2. Taking someone’s blood pressure is still a mystery to me, and I have so much appreciation for nurses.
  3. Blood Glucose Meters are NOT EASY TO FIGURE OUT (there’s only 2 buttons gosh dang it!!)
  4. Plastic aprons look about as flattering as you think.
  5. Massage oil is much more slippery than you think.
  6. Grandmothers will always try to feed you, regardless of country and culture. Choose the path of least resistance and eat.
  7. Always remember to bring a hat when you leave the house in South Africa, because invariably the sun will be in your eyes.
  8. Accompaniment isn’t just about walking with people (although that can happen), it’s also about talking, and more importantly, listening to them.
  9. Growing old is a process (just like life) and it can be beautiful, messy, joyful, and bittersweet (just like life). Don’t be afraid of it.
  10. The times I feel closest to God seem to coincide with the times I feel most uncomfortable and hopelessly human.

The Journey Begins

**Check out my next post Update! The Journey Continues for an update on why I am in Atteridgeville South Africa instead of Swaziland!**

Thanks for joining me! Hopefully this blog becomes a place to share my experiences with you as I go through a year with a new community in Swaziland.

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The flag of the Kingdom of eSwatini, also known as Swaziland!

I don’t know my host family or my placement yet, but as I’ve learned the past few years, God tends to work into the in-between spaces, the times of not knowing, and the times of uncertainty. I look forward to learning, to being challenged, to being uncertain, and most of all to walking with both my new community and you all at home.

Please feel to reach out to me with questions and comments, and if you want to be updated when I make a new post, put your email into the subscription box at the bottom of this page!


May the Peace of Christ go with you,

Tori ♥

 

I’m Still Blogging (Yeah, Yeah Yeah)

Firstly, I hope you read the title of this post while singing along to Elton John’s classic I’m Still Standing.

Secondly, it’s been a while (95 days to be exact) since I’ve posted on this blog. You might have heard from me more recently in my newsletter (if you want to receive my future newsletters which come out every 2 months, send me an email at toriyagmsa@gmail.com), but on the whole I’ve been a bit absent from the internet. This isn’t exactly a new thing for me, but being a YAGM has forced me to reconsider a lot of things about my life, including my aversion to posting things.

This, of course, doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with everyone. I check in on Facebook whenever I have the WiFi, and I’ve also been reading (stalking) my fellow YAGM’s blogs and newsletters. In fact, it was because of a blog post by my friend Annika, who is serving as a YAGM in Madagascar right now, that I felt moved to write this post.

Part of the reason I’ve resisted posting anything (to this blog, to Facebook, social media in general) is that it’s hard to talk about how I’m doing, and that’s the most popular question for people to ask. What I’m doing is pretty easy to cover in my newsletters, but “how” is a much trickier question in general. As Annika put it, you have “lots and lots of types of days” as a YAGM (or maybe as a human), and it’s an incredible challenge to try and sum up the lived experience of being a YAGM.

The easy answers to “how are you” (or rather, “howzit”), or “how is Africa/South Africa/Atteridgeville?” are always along the lines of “fine/nice/good”, which doesn’t really answer the question. Although I am fine (don’t worry Mom), and Atteridgeville is a interesting, and South Africa is pretty alright, and Africa seems like a really large continent that I’ve seen relatively little of, those kind of words are an escape route. Anytime we ask each other how it’s going, we expect one of two types of answers; it’s either the social pleasantry that is mostly true (maybe we don’t disclose having the stomach flu to everyone, and instead say fine! or better!), or it’s the start of a conversation about life choices, emotions, hopes, plans, etc. etc. (Of course maybe there is a happy medium somewhere, but I’ve yet to find it.) 

Nowadays, when someone asks me how I’m doing or how it’s going, I think a lot longer about what type of response I’m going to give.

Maybe that’s an advantage to the whole blog thing; I get to write out the entire spiel, then edit it, possibly delete it all, write some more, and then post it. It’s like getting to have that long conversation without worrying about the time or where you are- we both get to choose to interact.

Tangent aside, the truth is that life is indeed full of lots and lots of kinds of days. And it totally depends on the day, and the hour, and the minute that you ask me how I am actually doing. Sometimes I’m overjoyed, conducting the veterans choir in singing a hymn from home. Sometimes I’m annoyed, when I realize I’ve walked to work without my umbrella and the African sun will take no prisoners. Sometimes I’m at peace, when I get to go for a hike in the great outdoors and reconnect with nature. Sometimes I’m a bit harried, after a taxi ride to the shops (taxis in SA are an experience). 

I get frustrated and angry, homesick and sad. I get sick (I wasn’t joking about the stomach flu), and then I feel better. 

I feel blessed, privileged, loved and cared for. 

The truth is that the long story of how I am is really the long story of who I am, and the short answer to both is that I’m changing, that it’s complicated and messy and beautiful. 

Maybe this post won’t have a satisfying conclusion (at least to me), because I feel like the question is still unanswered, but as my friend Marissa likes to say, trust ambiguity, and as YAGM is teaching me, the place we feel the tension and frustration of  uncertainty, is also the place where we grow and learn.  

Peace and Blessings,

Tori

Update! The Journey Continues…

Hello friends and welcome again to my little corner of the internet. I bring to you this fine evening some news about my year of service in Southern Africa. If you read my first post, you might be expecting me to be learning some siSwati for my time in Swaziland… but the Spirit works in very mysterious ways (as does the South African Embassy).

Turns out I’m the only one in my cohort who managed to get a South African visa, so our group will be a liiiiitle more spread out than normal- I’ll be in Atteridgeville (near Pretoria in South Africa), while 3 of my cohort members will be in Swaziland, and 3 will be in Tanzania!

There’s been a whole roller coaster of emotion this past week to accompany this news, and I could not be more grateful to the wonderful humans in my country cohort for walking with me and lifting each other up.

Hopefully I’ll be able to share more with you in coming days about this journey and what lies ahead, but in the meantime, may the peace of God go with you!

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