I have said it before, I am sure - immigration is tough. It takes away your identity, your history, your family, your network of friends, everything that is familiar to you. It is makes you a nobody with nobody to call on in a crisis. Of course there is the sense of adventure, the growing into a new community, a new identity, new joys and blessings....but then years later when family visit you, you are hit with the reality that as close as you have been to family from overseas, as much as you love them - your children barely know their own family. They have lost a part of their own identify, their own culture, a sense of well being and of being loved and prayed for by family ... you can only weep. In giving for them, you have taken away more than you ever imagined. And you have to make do with 3 weeks out of 16 years of being apart. And pray that in that moment the children may grasp a glimpse of how much they are loved by family in another land, of how much you love them to give up 'home' and your own family for them. And you pray that memories of your precious 3 weeks together would be sweet and long lasting.
Doug's Mom and his sister, Hazel, have just been to visit us. Mom we have seen once in over 16 years (about 5 years ago.) Hazel we have not seen since we left South Africa in 1994. We have never been back as we have not been able to afford to go with a large family. We left when homeschooling was illegal in South Africa, and someone had been imprisoned for homeschooling. We left to be able to exercise our freedom to educate our children in this manner. Of course the violence must have scared us at the times: my sister was in the St Jame's church massacre, we had lived in Jo'berg for a number of years, where we heard gun shots regularly from the near by township of Alexandra. I remember the despair of a continual stream of beggars at your door, of Monday morning statistics of how many were dead due to violence - to the point that I no longer listened to the radio on Monday mornings. One's biggest fear is for the protection of your girl's purity. I think when you immigrate your South African community here in a sense exaggerates it's fears- subconsciously guilty at leaving behind their homeland and in need of justifying their guilt. For we have family and friends who live there, the same as before, not that it is easy - but one just gets on with life if you are there.
As I flew out of Cape Town nearly 17 years ago now, I prayed I would never forget the women and children who suffer in South Africa, for they are an intricate part of my love for my home. There is a lot more than that that I have not forgotten, not least a sense that I have another home, another identity that belongs to another world that my children do not understand or know.