Saturday 11 Feb
By 8am we were on the road again. This was one very long horrid day’s driving. A 7 hour drive took us 10 hours – with us only having 1 stop. There were so many road works and hold ups that it just felt like we never actually got going at all. There were also no free toilets and many messy rundown towns we battled our way through. We knew we had friends waiting on the other side and that kept us going. But it was hard!
I could feel God needing to speak in that moment but I was too near to the moment to hear anything. After 5 hours of stop –go. No loos and tired children. We were getting desperate. We happened to pass a farm with a campsite sign upon the gate. I yelled to Neil to stop and I frantically phoned the number. A dear sweet voice heard the plaintive cry of one very frantic mother. With the most beautiful words she explained that she was out but still welcomed us onto their farm to use their loos and let the children run around. As we twisted down to the campsite I could feel the panic of the busy roads somewhat ease. Then we rounded the corner to the most serene dam. With cranes walking along the water edge. What a blessed, soul restoring 15 minutes those were. A tiny reprieve on paradise amongst the crazy busyness of reality just a kilometer away.
As we wound our way through a myriad of different landscapes and passes we journeyed further away from the comfort and reassurance of our beautiful community in Hilton.
Feeling the nostalgia of my childhood I could not simply speed past a quaint little town of Cathcart but instead I had to drive past my grandparents’ house. As no one is living there now I was able to take my children through the old rusty gate and share with them a tiny glimps of my childhood that has been literally frozen in time. They were able to see the old railway station we had played upon as tiny children, the stump of the old plum tree and the hill down which Tanya and I would let our poor dolls go flying down in their prams. In 30 years nothing much has changed and somehow when you are upon an unknown journey such as ours a place such as roots one with a sense of family and heritage.
We are also learning that it’s not only the planned highlights that make a trip special It’s those little unexpected treats that makes everyone perk up and feel loved and apart of this amazing adventure. Today an unexpected ice-cream stop did just that for us!
As I stop now and consider that trip…. The hours of struggle and toil… I do also recount the books I read to the children about the Eastern Cape through which we travelled, the wind farms we saw for the first time and the awe we felt as we gazed upon their mighty arms sweeping through the mist, I recall the apples we shared with the men on the back of a bakkie in front of us. The funny cow dog audio story we all listened to as well as jokes we made about hardware stores we passed and funny sign boards we encountered. So it was a battle – one of the hardest trip days we’ve ever had to face and yet within that we remember that there was a battle of sorts but there is also beauty that would have been missed had we less time together or had we raced faster past those places. We would never have sought out that beautiful farm dam to take refuge at – as we would have had no need for refuge and so we would have missed out on one of the unplanned highlights of this journey. So sometimes in the tough times life looks like things will never straighten out and we will only ever remember hardship. The truth however is that – yes we’ll remember the battle – but the golden memories that this battle allowed one to create is what we will truly remember and hold to our hearts forever.
Aaaaah Then at the end of this hard long day we were embraced into the home of our beautiful friends Cath and Si. I had forgotten Cath’s zest and flair for amazing food – and the abundance there of. From the moment we entered we were fed platter after platter of amazing snacks and dishes and meats and pies. I’m sure Jesus knew what he was talking about when he spoke of eating together as that evening we felt so loved. By 1am everyone seemed to have found a spot to sleep and we spent a night – not fretting or stressed about the day we had had, but rather a night full – of the satisfaction of love and an open home to the weary traveller.
I must say that if there is one thing I’m learning from this trip is the importance of opening one’s home – at the drop of a hat – to practice hospitality whenever someone is in need. When you are tired and weary and spent beyond your capacity for the day and someone offers you a loo or a coffee or a warm meal or a bed oh as your basic needs are met in that moment you know that no matter what has passed on that day – someone has seen you, they have recognised you and are loving you in a way that reaches deep into your soul.