See You Later

Section: Sports Perf.

2017 Teams: Sports Perf. - South Africa

Sports Performance - South Africa

The last two weeks went by so quickly, but I fell so in love with the country and the people that it felt I had been there 6 months already. Saying goodbye is always a hard thing to do. I realized it was going to be much harder this time when Thursday morning came around and I still hadn't packed. I think part of me was in denial that it was time to go. The other part of me just really hates packing and always waits until the last minute anyways. 

After packing my belongings and doing a last check in the guest house, the team drove up the hill for breakfast and the first round of goodbyes.Our sports performance team had been partnered with the AIA Campus team and we had spent practically every day together. We became so close and we grew together both as people and in the Lord. You don't say goodbye to friends like that, so instead we said "see you later." And we meant it. 

Today was about making the most of our trip and enjoying the last bit of time we had together. We picked up our sweet friend, Jason, and headed over to the Giraffe Park. We looked at all the animals, fed some llamas and goats and finally the big, beautiful giraffe. He let us scratch behind his ears and gave us all big kisses (or maybe he was just trying to eat our shirt sleeves). Upon leaving we held a python (I freaked out a bit) and then we were on to our next adventure.

We drove over to the Waterfront for some last minute souvenir shopping. We spent most of our time in the Watershed, a giant shed full of fair trade items and all things made right there in South Africa. It was amazing to see the craftsmanship that was put into these gifts. I bought all my gifts there and moved on to get one last milkshake (I enjoyed one every day since being there) and sit by the water. One thing I will miss most is the simplicity of sitting back, taking a deep breath, and just looking at the mountain. We all live busy lives and too often we forget to stop and look around at what an amazing life we've been given.

Time was ticking by, so once again we headed out to one last stop before the airport. We ate lunch and said goodbye to Jason, who gave us all a Bar One to take home. I don't think he realized how much that small bar of chocolate meant to us. It was a small gesture, but taking it home would be one last reminder of the kindness we were leaving behind and the memories we were taking with us. I'm saving mine for a rainy day when I need some encouragement.

Our last stop was a speed cricket tournament. Dom, our wonderful guide and friend, was playing and we couldn't wait to see him in his element. He had done so much for us in our time there, including teaching us about the confusing sport of cricket. His face lit up every time he talked about it, so it was neat to be able to go and enjoy that with him. Unfortunately time is unforgiving, and we had to leave early. We said another goodbye, to Dom this time, and headed to the airport. 

We ended up being a couple hours early and so we spent our time discussing the trip and things we would miss. We went in a circle and gave each other affirmations and reinforced how thankful we were to have met one another. This moment was bittersweet. It was a reminder of more goodbyes soon to come, but a promise that we would stay in touch and hopefully see each other again.

Fast forward to the present moment, after spending way too long in airports and on planes. It feels great to have my feet back on the ground, but I have to admit it is a bit strange being back home. I can't seem to find the right words to describe my experiences and what they mean to me. Saying goodbye was hard and even sad, but what excites me is that none of it was really goodbye. I don't know when or how, but I know I will be back. Goodbyes all turned into "see you later", and for that I will praise the Lord.

Sending my love from Kentucky to South Africa,

- Emily for the team

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