I can’t wait for you to meet, Alece.

She’s the shorter, green-eyed, cool-tattooed version of me. And she’s spent more time in my homeland the last decade or so than I have. I try not to hold that against her.

When we met the first time she shocked my socks off by dropping some serious Afrikaans in our oh-so American surroundings (I’m looking at you, Starbucks).

And since I’ll be hanging out with her in person tomorrow, I figured I’d spread the love and invite her to hang out with you guys first.

The Gypsy Mama and I have been living each other’s lives.

Well, kinda.

I’ve lived in South Africa for 12 years. Just about as long as she’s lived in America.

She’s a South African married to an American. I’m an American married to a South African. Or at least I was. But that’s a whole other story for a whole other day.

South Africa has become home for me, although it was certainly an adjustment. Things are just different. Like the common practice of not refrigerating condiments. And grown men grocery shopping in their bare feet. And the fact that jam means jelly and jelly means jell-o.

We drive on the wrong left side of the road in cars that are more ladylike than they are in the States. They have bonnets and boots instead of hoods and trunks.

There’s no central heating (even though we get snow where I live!) so I’ve had to learn to build fires in my fireplace the old fashioned way. I’d make Bear Grylls proud. The windows, which are permanently open in summer, have no screens. And I hate bugs. ::shudder::

I’m still trying to understand the difference between the South African phrases now, just now, and now now. Because basically they all mean I’ll get to it when I get to it. 

Speaking of… Things happen slower in Africa. Which often causes a flare-up of my Kinko’s-quick American impatience, but has taught me some valuable lessons: Faster isn’t always better. God cares more about the missionary than the mission. Relationships matter.

Nuggets of wisdom lace every contrast between my here-home and there-home. And I love that. There is a unique joy in discovering more about God and myself in the tapestry of cultural diversity.

I love my altogether different and altogether beautiful Africa.

In all her grit and glory.

Alece blogs at www.gritandglory.com

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