Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Saturday, January 21, 2017

There's A First Time For Everything

We first met Danki in 2013 on our initial visit to Mokhotlong.  We didn’t have a place to live here yet and we had only come to visit a colleague, Jayne, and survey the town.  Jayne took us around Mokhotlong, showing us where we could find some groceries and to show us what a rental house might look like.  Along our tour, we met an elderly lady who sat on her front porch and chatted with us for a while.  Sound familiar?  I blogged about her on Christmas Eve.  There were a dozen young kids around, understandably curious of the outsiders who had come to their little part of Mokhotlong.  Jonathan, Kyle, tiny Ellee, Lacy, my mom and myself were there and in our pictures, Danki was there, too.  We didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that we moved in next door to that elderly lady, MaTopi, and she is now our neighbor.  Because Danki rents a room from MaTopi, he is also our neighbor.  He first moved to Mokhotlong in 2009.  The youngest of ten children, he was born and raised in a village until age ten.  At that point, he moved to Mokhotlong to continue his education in the better town schools.  Eventually, he began renting a room from MaTopi and started high school nearby.  He recently graduated and has since been doing odd jobs around town.  He hopes to go to college and study engineering.  He will have to work to pay his way through school.

Around Thanksgiving, he told us in conversation that he had never been to South Africa.  He said he had a passport, but it had never been used.  He wanted to see the ocean.  We asked when he turned 18, since it’s much easier to take someone across the border once they are an adult.  He said his 18th birthday was the first of January.  So, we told him we’d take him along sometime when we were going to the coast.  When we decided to fly Lacy home out of Durban, we determined it would be as good a time as any to take Danki with us as well. 

Typically when we go to Durban, we’re there for doctor’s appointments and necessary shopping.  We usually stay with friends and oftentimes don’t even make it to the beach.  For Danki, however, the beach was first priority.  Thus, I found a condo right on the beach for an absolute steal and booked it for a couple nights after Lacy’s departure.  Danki was counting down the days weeks ago.  He told us he could barely sleep last week because he was so excited.  On Sunday morning, we packed up and embarked on a trip of firsts.  We knew seeing the ocean would be a first, but it hadn’t even occurred to me exactly how many firsts he would experience during a few days in South Africa.

First ride down Sani.  First border crossing.  First passport stamp.  First monkey sighting.  First ride on a freeway.  He couldn’t believe how fast the cars were going.  First automatically opening doors.  First time in a mall.  First time ordering from a menu.  First meal at a sit-down restaurant.  First shower.  First time seeing a small dog.  First McDonalds.  First traffic jam.  First view of an airport.  First look at the ocean.  Second, third, forth, fifth shower - he’s hooked.  First night in an air-conditioned room.  First time seeing a poodle.  He roared with laughter.  All the dogs in Mokhotlong are mutt herd dogs.  A groomed poodle was just a hilarious sight to him.  We enjoyed his reaction.  First elevator.  First escalator.  He went up and down a few times just because he could.  First time to a movie theatre.  First swim in the ocean.  First swim in a pool.  I couldn't believe he knew how to swim, but he did!  First milkshake.  First parking garage.  First air hockey.  First soda fountain.  I should’ve counted the number of refills he got!  First water fountain. First drive thru.  His reaction was priceless.  He couldn’t believe there was a person behind the screen taking our order and that the food was going to magically appear out of a window.  Jono explained the headset concept.  First bumper cars.  First zebra.  First ostrich.  And I'm sure many more I'm forgetting!

While we were out, the monkeys got in and made a huge mess!  The housekeeper left the window open and this....

It’s so interesting how commonplace all these things are to me.  In fact, for us, coming to South Africa is comforting because it feels like home.  It looks more like America than anywhere else nearby, and the sights, smells and sounds are much like those from home.  It’s still different, but it’s a whole lot closer to American life than we find in Mokhotlong.  Danki, on the other hand, knows nothing of life outside of Lesotho.  Excluding a very short school trip to the capital city, he barely knows life outside of Mokhotlong.  Needless to say, he’s intrigued and maybe a bit shell shocked by life there.  And it was so fun to watch him experience it. 

I don’t know where his bright smile and kind heart will take him in life.  I hope and pray he makes wise choices.  He has the potential to have a bright and successful future.  I suspect this won't be the only trip to South Africa he takes with us.  It really couldn't have been more fun for any of us!



  1. OMGoodness!! Such a JOYFUL post :) THANKS for sharing :) SO MANY firsts for this wonderful young man, and you made it happen! I'm sure God was SMILING too :)

    <3 Debbie Hard

  2. Loved reading every word of this. Such a sweet young man he appears to be. Reminds me alot of my youngest brother. I'm so thankful that you guys were there to experience so many first with him. I'm sure it's a trip he will never forget. This is true every day life for Christ and letting Him use you to reach out to big and small ways. Thanks for sharing this. It made my heart happy.☺

  3. I am touched. Things we take for granted are priceless to others. I wonder how many are like just in church. God continue to use you guys.