My trip to Johannesburg was difficult. By day we were out trekking around seeing Rotary projects, but by night we dined, made new friends and got to know each other across international, cultural and financial borders.
I will always remember the teachers who worked so hard to bring literacy to a huge population of very poor children. I will remember the teachers who were teaching poor day care workers to read and teach reading so that they could improve the lives of the very young children in their care.
I will remember the kind hotel maids who picked out anything we had thrown away that looked like it might have gotten into the waste basket by mistake and laid the item on the desk on a clean piece of paper so that we would know it had been found. The things we threw away must have amazed them! They greeted us smiling morning and night as they worked through an incredibly long shift. They managed to keep our room tidy although it looked like an explosion in a J.Peterman catalog. Clothes, bags, books, boots nearly everywhere. They thought that we might want to sit on the furniture instead of using it for storage.
I will remember the women who rescue orphan children and the women who mother those that are dying. The women who taught other women how to sew and plant gardens. Bless them all.
I will remember all the Rotarians who were our guides, drivers, nanies, translators and newly found sisters and brothers.
I will remember the songs, the smiles, the hopes and the plans for the future of a country that has so much and so much to lose.
I will remember the dreams of Mandela. I will not let the darkness overcome me. He will be remembered by history as one of the most remarkable, talented and wise leaders in the world.
I will remember all the South Africans who wanted us to be happy there, to have a good time, to eat well, to drink good wine, to see the penguins and to return.
As I being to plan a return trip to South Africa I find that I really miss the place and the people. It's a long series of flights from Texas, but I anticipate that it will be wonderful. A homecoming to friends and relatives. I'm going further afield, out into the Velt and along the Vaal River as I seek to discover more of what there is to see and enjoy under the Southern Cross. I am eager with anticipation.