18 August 2010

stroke, kick, breathe... or was it breathe, stroke, kick

Many of our friends don't know how to swim. In fact, the house we've been living in has a small pool in the garden and our friends look at it, mill around it, but won't get too close. There is a healthy fear for that much water when you haven't experienced it.

South Africa is surrounded with coastline - but Johannesburg is completely dry. There's no community swimming pool to hang out in every summer afternoon. There is no extra money to join a gym - or enroll your kids in the little ducks program at the ymca. A lot of our friends haven't even felt the water surround their bodies in a bath tub - bucket tubs are just large enough to get you rinsed off.

So, back in April, a friend of mine asked if I'd teach her preschool son to swim. Now, I'm not a swim instructor, but I do have three kids and they all do fine in a pool so we must have done something right... so I said yes - but it's easy to say yes to something when you know winter is coming and there is lots of time before you'll have to think about it again. "Great." she answered "Because xxxx and I were talking and we want all our kids to learn."

Hmmmm... all our kids. Between the two of them there are five when you add in cousins and such - and we always add in cousins and such in South Africa.

I hear myself saying... "Maybe we can organize a little swim class." and we smiled and nodded and I thought - "wow - how am I going to pull that off?"

Later that evening, I got an email from a college student in MI looking for a place to come do some short term missions for a month of her summer break. "I have helped in sunday school classes and worked with special needs children. Oh, and I'm a lifeguard and have taught swim lessons for the past three years."

I kid you not. The very same day.

So, I figured - we were going to be putting together a little swim class.

A friend of a friend happened to have an indoor pool we were welcome to use (remember, it's winter here) twice a week we loaded up our car with 11 little ones - all wiggly and laughing and singing and stepping all over each other. We'd get to my house and quick change into our swim costumes and eat oranges before we drove to the pool, lined up on the edge with feet dangling in the water and braved the water. Madyline and Lauren were in the pool - I was on the edge with the kids, rescuing the ones that wiggled too far and fell off the edge - which happened often.

All the bravado and horseplay from the edge of the pool melted once they were in the water. They faced the task with bravery and focus. Kick - scoop your hands - blow bubbles. It's a lot of work. And each one did fabulously. We focused on basic strokes. floating. not panicking. No one actually knew how to swim on their own at the end of the month, but many of them were so close - and all of them were so much more comfortable in the water than when we started, which was really the goal. The season ended. We celebrated with cupcakes. Lauren went back to university. I was once again amazed at how things like this just seem to put themselves together sometimes.

Now, it's nearly two months later. Billy is driving a friend home on Monday - snaking his way down the crowded lanes inside Zandspruit - when a group of little girls - little girls he didn't know - come running to meet him.

"Hey! Hey! Hey!" They are calling after him- and they all begin at once "When are there going to be swim classes again? Khatlego says she can swim now. I want to learn to swim too. Tell Auntie Trace to let me come this time. Tell her to pick me up on September 1. It will be warm then."

hmmm... I think I might need to be a swim instructor now. Wonder how I'm going to pull this one off?


  1. LOVE IT!!
    God is showing me more and more that he is in the details!

  2. it's so true, isn't it? sometimes the smallest things matter more than we know.

    if I was being sassy I'd say "sure wish he'd show us he was giving as much attention to the big stuff" but I know it's not true - just impatient of me.

    congratulations on the scholorship btw! been thinking about you in this summer of possibilities. -t

  3. looooooooove this
    love it

    And that first photo could be a billboard. I want it to be a billboard on the side of our house. It's amazing.

  4. it's the thought of 11 little kids and two adults in my one car - isn't it? that's what you love.

    Chaos is always halarious when it is someone else's for once - huh?

    Funny you should say that - apparently, Lauren is on the front cover of every piece of marketing Aquinis college has this fall. She is a billboard!

  5. Love this! And love hearing about your adventures :) Praying continued peace and provision over you guys. Be blessed!

  6. Sarah - I was just on groundswell today catching up on all I'd missed while we were away last month. So excited for Ghana - and for your hearts as well!
    Thank you for the prayers - maybe ours for each other's families will bump together somewhere across the ocean and reach God together in harmony.


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