We imagined, we would leave Nelson Mandela Bay around the 21st.
We’re heading to the Far East.
For a while.
For an experience.
Not for a vacation.
To live amongst people.
To learn from them.
As a Tribe.
What we imagine & what eventually happens isn’t always the same.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
On Friday we got word that our visas are sorted & ready. Zuko’s. Mine. And Beate’s.
I’ll tell you about Beate in a moment.
The children’s visas are somewhat more complicated though.
We need to be in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
We need to prove that they are ours.
Or rather of us & in our care.
And so suddenly we wrap-up what needs to be wrapped, relying heavily on friends who come alongside us, as we prepare for our journey.
Melvin will sort the last stuff at the little house on the not so little hill, getting her ready for the tenants who will enjoy her splendour while we are cavorting in unknown places.
Danie & Xandre will look after the horses, for a few weeks, until they’re ready to make the journey to Thinus & Iris, who will look after them until we’re back.
Zuko’s dad will sort some fencing, so they don’t make a journey of their own makings, while in the departure lounge of Klein Uitvlug.
We’re overwhelmed by the love of friends who embrace us & enable us, as we brave this new adventure.
Wouter gives us their Fortuner to get around in Nelson Mandela Bay for the last few days & then get to Johannesburg via Bloemfontein, where we will meet up with our newest Tribe Member.
Nietsche believed the strongest man is he who stands alone.
We know this is not true.
We experience how we are stronger, in the good kind of way, as we gratefully accept what each friend offer to us in these days.
Perhaps our lives are too well organized?
Robbing us of the opportunity to come alongside and need at the same time?
We see grace.
We are anchored to Africa, to Nelson Mandela Bay, not by patriotism or birth or family.
We are anchored to Africa and to Nelson Mandela Bay by relationship.
By all the people we love and by whom we are loved.
This journey, this Asian Adventure, it is a gift we receive from many hands.
Dolf & Adriaan at Yales’ s Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa, from who we receive the opportunity to study happiness, guided by the world’s greatest kinds.
Mei Han in Jiamusi.
Xandre, Alan, Joy & the rest of the Kingfisher FM- tribe, from who we receive the releasing, so that we may move towards this new chapter, knowing what we’ve spent the last seven years of our life on will be nurtured & grown.
We receive it from the hands of everyone who wishes us Godspeed.
Who prays for traveling mercies & tell us that we will be missed.
Perhaps their hands, are the hands of the Creator who created us to be an us?
Perhaps their love & grace & kindness is the kindness of the Origin of love & grace & kindness?
So we leave Nelson Mandela Bay almost a week earlier than planned.
We meet Beate in Bloemfontein.
We’ve known her almost 20 years.
She has traveled the world.
Not as tourist.
As explorer and adventurer.
She’s lived in Germany, The Netherlands, North America and the United Kingdom.
She’s been to Japan, Botswana, Lesotho & Spain.
She knows international flights & travel documents & settling into new worlds.
She understands very well that our geography determines our proximity & that our proximity determines who we meet & who affects us through their affection.
She guides us through the process of re-completing the children’s visa applications & to the Chinese Consulate in Johannesburg where we meet the officials who accept our parentage & files the four applications, before informing us that we could collect all seven passports, with visas on Friday.
We are relieved.
Our journey has begun.
Now to reduce what we each own into one suitcase containing 30kgs & one piece of hand luggage containing 7kgs.
And book the train from Beijing to Jiamusi.
For on the 29th we will board Etihad flight 601 to Beijing.
And in between we will celebrate Christmas with more friends who love & embrace us, not despite who we are, but because of who we are.
Perhaps that is the journey we all should seek?
Less alone in the Nietscheian-sense.
Perhaps in this, there is happiness as well?