Exactly five years ago I was sitting on an airplane that was headed to South Africa. My heart was full of expectation and nervous energy. I had never traveled by myself in my entire life, and here I was on my first international trip headed to my destiny.
I spent three months in a small town called Grahamstown teaching, learning, and growing into a world class teacher and human being. My primary purpose was to complete my undergraduate degree in Education by student teaching for three months at a private boarding school. But little did I know God had much bigger and more long term plans for me and South Africa that would soon change my life forever.
Not only did I have the most amazing and unique teaching experience, but I also had the privilege to get involved with some of the locals and volunteer two afternoons a week at a children’s non-for-profit called the Lebone Centre. There I tutored and played with 20 amazing children who were not nearly as fortunate as the children I taught at the boarding school, but taught me more than I ever could have taught them.
I had the opportunity to travel throughout South Africa to the west coast city of Cape Town. I was also pushed even further outside my comfort zone when I made the brave (or maybe crazy) decision to bungee jump off of the highest bungee jump bridge in the world! I still can’t believe I did it…but that physical jump was a precursor to a spiritual jump of faith I would be making only a year after returning home.
My steps were being divinely ordered to pursue a purpose that is and was much bigger than me, and much greater than anything I could have imagined on my own. When leaving South Africa, I knew that it would always be a part of me and God willing I would return again someday for a short visit, but never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted someday would turn out to be only two years later and a short visit would turn into something much more!
Here I am back where it all began. Back in Grahamstown. Back at Kingswood College working with children in the junior school. Back at the Lebone Centre with many more responsibilities. Celebrating my third year in South Africa, I am right back where I started. Talk about full circle.
Last week I ran into some of my old students I taught during my student teaching at Kingswood College. Five years ago they were in fifth grade, but now they are 10th graders that tower over me and smile at me with recognition in their eyes of the time Ms. Williams took them for many lessons a few short years ago. I could not believe five years had gone by already, and it is still hard to believe I am celebrating year 3 of saying Yes to God and living full time in South Africa.
I can still remember all of the stress, tears, and many nights (and days) on my knees preparing to move to South Africa. All of that was more than worth it and if given the chance I would do it all again.
God has taught me so many lessons and brought me so far. I look in the mirror and I don’t see the same Sarah that traveled to South Africa five years ago. That girl has grown into a woman I know God is proud of because He has done some great work to get me to this point. Now with only 21 days into the new year and all of the business that has become my life, I know that God has even greater adventures in store. Whether here in South Africa, the United States, or some other amazing place. I trust Him and His guidance. I may not know exactly what my physical address will be next year or even what I will be doing, but I know it will be great. I live a surrendered life, so I get excited knowing that my destiny is in good hands. The adventures of this school teacher are only just beginning! Five years in and a lifetime to go!