Our six years in South Africa were coming to a close. Johannesburg had become our home and now we were going to have to say goodbye. We had made so many good friends. We had also accumulated a lot of stuff; a whole houseful of furniture, clothing, toys, books and kitchen utensils. Most of it had been given to us. Once our tickets were booked, we started to give things away. We managed to sell some of our big things and that money was going to be what we lived on when we got to the other side. All we had left was a big box of Tupperware, a few boxes of books, photo albums and a few other sentimental things. Friends offered to store them for us. At that point we had no idea when we would ever see them again. We weren’t planning to be back any time soon.
The big question was, “Where will you be living in India?” Somehow we knew it would be in the North, somewhere near the source of the Ganga. While it was something, it still left a lot to the imagination. India was huge and there were needs everywhere. How was it going to be possible to pick a spot? Closing our eyes and pointing at the map wasn’t an option but at least we knew our starting point.
When Tony got back from his survey trip, things were a little bit clearer. At least there was a plan. We would stay in Goa for six months to learn as much as we could from the NFI family. Tony felt that would be the softest introduction to India for all of us. That was settled. We were going to take one step at a time. Goa was in the South and we were going to live in the North. How we were going to get up there didn’t enter our minds.
God had also spoken to Tony about children of influential families. He was reading Ps 45:9 which talked about daughters of kings being part of God’s household. Tony started to cry and pray for those children and had a deep burden for Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter. He had no idea if he even had a daughter.
People thought we were radical. We didn’t feel we were being radical. God told us to go and we were being obedient. We both knew that if we chose to stay anywhere else, no matter how “safe,” we would be miserable. Our biggest desire was to be in the will of God. His will was going to be home for us
I didn’t know much about India. Most of what I knew, I had learnt from Tony, and he wasn’t the best at giving details. We didn’t have a TV so I hadn’t watched any programmes featuring India on National Geographic. Because we didn’t know where we would be living, we didn’t know which language we needed to learn. We didn’t even think about it. There was no preparation other than preparation of the heart. During my YFC and O.M days we had been taught to be R.F.A. Ready for anything. We figured that as long as our hearts were ready, we would be ok.
We chatted to Phil and Linda Maxwell who had started a community and school in Hout Bay. Their advice was that we home-schooled our girls. That sounded like a good idea. They also talked about what an idol formal education had become. They helped us to see how much our girls were going to learn just being on the trip with us. The advice we got from Rob Rufus was “Go in naivety and childlike trust. You don’t have to know everything for everything to work out.”
It became more and more obvious to me that our children were happy and secure, all the time they were with us. They didn’t mind where we went or for how long, as long as they were tagging along. The concept of another nation, another city was just not an issue for them. It had to do with family. Geography has little meaning when you are 2 and nearly 4. We decided then that if it wasn’t an issue for them, we weren’t going to make it an issue. There was going to be no suggestion of “shame you poor kids, having to tag along with us and give up all your friends and family.”
They were part of our call to India. Whatever we were going to face, we were going to face together. We were burning all our bridges and there was no plan B.