12 Things We Love About South Africa

“She will be with you just now,” said the sister {nurse} taking Jeremy’s blood in the emergency unit.

With a laugh, we knew that meant we wouldn’t see the doctor for a while. Jeremy looked at the sister and said, “An American now or a South African now?”

That began a lively discussion on what the different words are used for and how much time they really mean. There’s now, now now, and just now. Which all basically mean NOT now.

Whether something is getting sorted or someone is making a plan, these new little phrases have worked their way into our hearts.

The hadadas loudly calling at 4:30am as the sun rises, the go-away birds cawing during dinner, or the click of a lizard getting zapped in our electric fence, there are a whole new set of sounds, sights and smells in South Africa that we love. Just ask the girls… they can do a pretty amazing rendition of hadadas and go-aways. And, that click will send Jeremy out to find the poor lizard on the fence.

South Africa is a fun blend of many cultures, languages, people groups, foods, plants and animals.

We can say please in Afrikaans, pastor in Setswana, and yes in Zulu. We love the twist of British words in the mix of many languages.

My beloved waxprint is called shweshwe (shway shway) and of course, I’ve started collecting it!

Pap and gravy, mielie meal, walkies and talkies, mopane worms… the foods have been fun to try!

Ok, maybe just for Jeremy.

As the girls shared in an MK video, Senegal will always be part of what makes home for us and now, so will South Africa.

They both have our hearts.


First, we know that God led us here for this time, this season, this moment. We believe in our team and love the Healthy Pastor, Healthy Church Initiative. Facilitating health in every area of church life from pastor’s kids to church finances to discipleship, we love this work and this place and this national church. We’re so thankful for God’s precious, guiding hand.

We also love South Africa for a few other reasons that we wanted to share with you!

In no particular order…

1} Plants – South Africa has the most beautiful plants! From the purple Jacaranda trees in October to the many varieties of aloes, cacti and succulents to the roses and the flowering plants, I can’t get enough. I’ve slowly been planting, gathering, maybe hoarding succulent babies and watching them reproduce, grow and flower. Love.

2} Views – This country is vast with deserts, mountains, plains, vineyards, forests, valleys, canyons, caves, hills, farms… it has it all and it’s beautiful.

3} Animals – Where Senegal was full of goats, cows, and sheep, South Africa has all the animals. For the nature guy we all know and love, this is a dream come true. We’ve slept in tents while listening to the lions roar, had an elephant walk up to us on a trail, hiked through antelope, woke up to the sounds of elephants at a watering hole, driven up on giraffe and drank early morning coffee next to hippos. The animal experiences in South Africa are epic.

4} People – We’re loving the people we meet each day at the store, the doctor’s office, the hair salon or the cafe. We’re so thankful for the people on our team, the pastors we’re building relationships with, and the new friendships we’ve made.

5} Ocean – Being a Michigan girl, this is something I loved about Senegal and something I also love in South Africa. I’m not very far from water and the ocean is just beautiful. From the western tip of the continent to the southern tip that touches the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, the ocean views, sounds and smells are meaningful to us!

6} Braai – That just means grilling or barbecuing in South Africa. Most houses have some kind of a braai area – a room with a built in fireplace/grill that sits higher into the wall and allows for all kinds of cooking meat. They have special boerewors, or sausage, that is a favorite. The seasonings remind me of Christmas flavors? It’s hard to describe. All the meat is heavily seasoned or sauced so we like to get our own meat and braai it up with some of our favorite seasonings. Jeremy has also gotten into smoking meat with a little Weber grill (called a wee-ber) and his pulled pork or brisket… ah-mazing. Meat was hard to come by in Senegal so having some low-iron girls, we’re enjoying the meat.

7} Medical – As I wrote in my last post, I’ve needed to build a team around me to help with new MS symptoms and other physical/mental healing from the past few years of intense seasons. Each of the girls have had health and educational needs. Jeremy has had a few health emergencies in the last year. We are deeply grateful for access to medical care that doesn’t require flights and long trips. God has provided fun relationships with local professionals that we just love.

8} Ministry – Whether in Senegal or South Africa, we love national church work. Children’s or church health, Sunday mornings or special events, Bible School or district meetings, we love the work of AGWM Africa and missions on the continent. Thank you for partnering in this work with us! For Jeremy, South Africa is lots of travel to different churches and districts. For me, it’s joining Jeremy when I can, helping with admin and all things communication. We truly love our work and our #buggingyouteam that supports, prays, encourages and sends.

9} Bugs – Speaking of our #buggingyouteam… our support team name is still quite valid and Jeremy will be bringing home a pretty fascinating collection for you to see! He loves watching, collecting, pinning, photographing and learning all about bugs in South Africa. As in really, really loves it… there might be a few lost dung beetles in my car that escaped from a recent bug hunting expedition. #marriedtojeremygoodwin

10} Woolworths – This is me. I love Woolies. I really love Woolies. I can grab a cinnamon vanilla latte and browse one grocery store to get healthy produce, good meats, milk in a jug and shredded cheese. What more could a girl want.

11} Seasons – South Africa has spring, summer, winter and fall! That means we get really cold in winter… which is actually very cold in a brick, tile and cement house with no heat. We get pretty fall leaves, spring flowers and hot summer days. We love the weather in South Africa! Although, the weather is backwards. The 4th of July is winter and Christmas is summer. Easter is fall and Halloween is spring. There are some days that I can’t tell what month we are in because everything is just a little off from “normal”. It also makes conversation very interesting. Saying things like, “Last summer… er winter… er July…” happens a lot.

12} Driving – I didn’t drive at all in Senegal. Our big truck plus sandy roads plus manual transmission plus kids running everywhere plus cows crossing busy highways… driving was not really in my wheelhouse. But in South Africa, even though it means driving on the opposite side of the car and the opposite side of the road, I’ve loved getting to drive the girls to classes, appointments, friends’ houses and all the normal mom things. I’m cherishing quick trips to the pharmacy and fun coffee dates with friends. With keys in my hand… it’s pretty wonderful after 6 years of needing a driver. I’m pretty good at the robots (stop lights) during load shedding (no electricity means no working lights) and round-abouts or what they call “traffic circles”… load shedding happens a lot and traffic circles are everywhere. So are speed bumps. LOTS of speed bumps. But, they lovingly call them “sleeping policemen” which is hilarious.

There’s lots of hard here too. Load-shedding, water cuts, poverty, babies begging with their mommas at stop lights, churches and pastors struggling, violent crime way too close to home and constantly being on guard everywhere we go.

There’s language barriers, cultural stress, unknowns, mountains of paperwork and daily challenges to get it all done.

There’s sickness, worries, and missing our girl back in Texas.

But, we wanted to share the joy of South Africa as we end this 5 year term in 2023 and already begins plans for returning in late 2024!

There’s so much joy to come back to, work to be done and people to meet.

Do you have any questions about South Africa?

One Comment

  1. I really enjoyed the video the girls made and all the updates in this post. It always takes me back to my year in Zambia when I read your posts and see pictures, etc. I was blessed to travel some during my year in Zambia (to Vic Falls on the Zimbabwe side and also to South Africa!) and enjoy seeing pictures to see how much has changed while also so much has stayed the same!
    God bless you all as you wrap up this term and I’ll be praying for a smooth transition back to American life/culture. (I distinctly remember my first trip to Walmart upon return to the US and standing in the toothpaste aisle crying because I had too many choices!! Ha ha! Needless to say, rural Zambia is about as far from the US as possible, both in distance and in culture!)

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