Olivia Shaw
Olivia Shaw
South Africa, 2021
My name is Olivia Shaw and on January 13, 2021, I will be hopping on a plane to Cape Town, South Africa to begin work in Woodstock at a group home for immigrant and refugee children. I will be living in Cape Town for about six months and am so excited to see how my work will develop in my time there! Read More About Olivia →



This week felt different than the last. I think I can attribute this to my continued adjustment to my environment. I’m beginning to recognize locations, contribute to directions (except when I managed to get my house mate and myself lost as we were looking for the shop to purchase electricity for our house), and walk places on my own with a little more confidence.



through a series of events-

I’ve found myself surpassing the month mark of residing in the city of Cape Town,

that sits on the coast of the country of South Africa,

that belongs to the continent of Africa-

an ocean away from what is known and comfortable

and an ocean away from home.


There is something however about moving to another continent, losing all of your friends, all means of comfortable transportation, and all sense of independence that makes you realize how dependent you might have been on routine, dependability, and predictability. I’ve found myself wedged in such a a new and unique place of functioning completely independently- i.e. living alone, and feeling totally and utterly helpless sometimes.

I thought that planning to move to another country in the midst of a pandemic was challenging- as it turns out- the actual post-move “trying to make friends and meet people and experience your new home”  in a pandemic is the real challenge because I haven’t been able to do most of these things due to Covid-19 restrictions.

I’ve begun learning that especially in times of transition, my body reminds me that it deeply craves a sense of homeostasis. I am in awe of how often I am unaware or completely disregard blatant human condition to seek out what is known, predictable, and comfortable. We seek safety. I say this as a reminder to myself and those who have been following along with me as I’ve learned: amidst blessings, amidst good seasons of life, amidst gratitude- you have permission to feel sad and acknowledge hard things without feeling guilty. This is something I’ve been learning to grant myself.

What I’ve gathered thus far is a series of challenging truths: that maybe in this season I’m learning less about South Africa and more about myself. Maybe it has everything to do with the culture, the work I’m doing, or the Lord’s presence amidst it all- yet I continue to try to find a way to make it about myself. Maybe the truth is I will always inherently try to make everything about me because I’m human. I think that by sitting with these truths and continuing to process my experiences, I continue to chip away until I find the parts of my character that have long remained unchecked and asleep to the world around it- the same parts that, if left unacknowledged, become one’s hamartia. Maybe the truth in this season is that- as important as the work that I’m doing is- maybe the work that South Africa is enforcing me to do inside myself is equally important.

Enjoy this picture of me with even more mountains and beaches in the background!

In your corner,


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