Vacation? What Vacation?

Ladies, we don’t live in a goldfish bowl…I’m afraid it’s more like under the microscope.

This quote came from a thought-provoking, humorous discussion I was in recently with other BMWs (Baptist Missionary Women) when a lady shared the criticisms her family received over spending “missions money” unwisely to get away for a day. The irony is that the missionaries were given the day away for free! Many other women shared how they had lost support or been threatened with dropped support because of sharing pictures of a vacation they took while on the field. Honestly, I’ve not experienced criticisms of misused funds for personal use before, and I feel sorry for missionaries who have supporters like that. Who needs enemies when you have “friends” like that, right?

Vacation?

It got me to thinking about how I have often struggled with, and never fully adjusted to, the lack of privacy here on the field. But I didn’t take into account that we can also be closely watched by American supporters (at times–we would actually like more input and friendship from our supporters–an uplifting kind of friendship!)

How ironic that a lack of privacy would be a culprit on both ends of the matter: It can make you feel like you’re dying to get away from the village for a break, but then deliver criticism from across the ocean if you do. (Again, thankfully, I’ve not experienced this!)

So in the spirit of solidarity with missionary women who have experienced this, I am posting pictures of an amazing vacation we just took to Durban (a coastal city thirteen hours south of us)!

Disclaimer: A wonderful friend here has a few vacation places she offers to us on occasion, so we got to stay in this place for free. We only had to pay for the tolls and petrol to travel there and then for food and activities there. πŸ™‚

On a hike with friends at Johannesburg's Botanical Gardens.

On a hike with friends at Johannesburg’s Botanical Gardens.

Because of the distance this is only the second time we’ve gone to this holiday place, though it is so beautiful and relaxing when we’ve gone that we’d love to go more often. We plan to be gone almost two weeks to accommodate the travel. Usually we’re in Durban about nine days with two days travel on either end. We had good fellowship with other missionaries in Johannesburg on the way down, and at a church in Durban while there. We were encouraged to hear of some church planting endeavors they’re making in the rural Zulu villages. South Africa has many missionaries in the cities, but the rural areas are perishing for want of Gospel-preaching churches.

View of the Indian Ocean from our apartment window!

View of the Indian Ocean from our apartment window! The dot on the beach is me and the kids.

We stayed in our friend’s apartment on the 14th floor of a high-rise apartment building right next to the beach. Just take the elevator down, walk around the block, and you’re basking on the beach! We slept to the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore and woke up to sunrise over the ocean, a view straight out of our living room window. IMG_2853

A little scared of the ocean, but he mostly enjoyed it.

A little scared of the ocean, but he mostly enjoyed it.

The surf is very high and scary–not really for swimming. But we had fun playing tag with the waves and wading in the edge of the water. I was especially excited to go to Durban this year because we just finished studying Apologia’s Swimming Creatures elementary science course, so we got to hunt for shells and see some coral and fish right on the small stretch of ocean we explored. Durban also boasts “the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere,” so we made sure to go see the exhibits. It was an excellent field trip for the end of our school year! IMG_2902

The aquarium also had a "dangerous creatures" exhibit with venomous snakes, lizards, and spiders.

The aquarium also had a “dangerous creatures” exhibit with venomous snakes, lizards, and spiders.

An exhibit of the exact coral that we found in the rocks in the ocean right by our apartment building.

An exhibit of the exact coral that we found in the rocks in the ocean right by our apartment building.

At the dolphin show--lots of Durban school classes around us!

At the dolphin show–lots of Durban school classes around us!

There was a bowling place just a few blocks down the street, and we had a great time introducing the kids to bowling. We also got some time just to read and rest.

Fun climbing trees at a nearby small jungle gym.

Fun climbing trees at a nearby small jungle gym.

Naptime--"leisure" reading is a classic novel on South Africa, Cry the Beloved Country.

Naptime–“leisure” reading is a classic novel on South Africa, Cry the Beloved Country.

Really, the vacation would have been ideal if not for 2 1/2 things. πŸ™‚ First, the car needed a repair. Thankfully, there was a place within walking distance that could handle it well, if not too expensively. Second, I took Caleb to two eye doctor appointments that ate into some of our family fun time. That’s the “half,” because I was alternatively very thankful to be able to see a specialist in the city, since we don’t have a pediatric optometrist by us.Β  Third, the kids got stomach flu in our second week! That was not fun and caused us to return a day early.

A loooong visit at the optometrist!

A loooong visit at the optometrist!

A real wagon used by the Voortrekkers in 1854! We were so excited to see this at a petrol stop on our way home.

A real wagon used by the Voortrekkers in 1854! We were so excited to see this at a petrol stop on our way home.

New melamine dishes I found at a plastic store in Durban! Only 5 plates were stock, but I got 10 cups and bowls, just when our cups (wedding gifts) had all broken.

New melamine dishes I found at a plastic store in Durban! Only 5 plates were stock, but I got 10 cups and bowls, just when our cups (wedding gifts) had all broken.

The silver lining: a double rainbow after an incredible storm.

The silver lining: a double rainbow after an incredible storm.

What a wonderful time we had! I wish you all could have enjoyed it with us. And now it’s back to the races!

Playing soccer with church members the day we got back.

Playing soccer with church members the day we got back.

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About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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9 Responses to Vacation? What Vacation?

  1. Jan Carlson says:

    Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed the pictures. The ocean looks beautiful and the double rainbow was awesome. I bet it was exciting for the kids to see things they had recently studied. I enjoy your posts. We pray for your family regularly! Hope the kids are feeling better!

  2. Ann Bedford says:

    So happy you could get away. I do not understand why anyone would not want only the best for our missionaries who work hard to spread the gospel to those who have not heard. God bless you.

  3. Tori says:

    Wow, what an amazing vacation! The botanical garden photo was amazing! So glad you got to get away. I can relate though, when we went on a trip for our 23rd anniversary I was surprised that the criticism we received was from close friends. I’m sure a lot of it comes from wants in their own lives.Anyhow, it’s a fringe benefit to being a missionary, I’m not complaining!

    • Amy says:

      Yes, the botanical garden wasn’t what I was expecting after being to two in the States! It was really a hike, but so beautiful in parts! Hard to hear the criticism since it can dampen your relaxation from the get-away. Glad you got to get away.

  4. Kathryne says:

    So glad you guys were able to get away and enjoy some time as a family! What a blessing! Miss you, friend!

  5. It all looks terrific! The aquarium looks awesome, and the picture of Callie is so cute! I’m also glad Caleb was able to get his eyes checked. Are they okay? I just had my eyes checked for the first time in 9 years and need to order glasses for reading and the computer. Almost 40.

    • Amy says:

      Caleb needs at least reading glasses to help him with the up-close duties in school, possibly all the time glasses, depending on a “cyclographic test” they want to do to determine exactly what his far vision capabilities are. He may need vision therapy as well for different tracking issues, like “eye teeming.” We’ll see!

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