Living an American dream are probably a dream for many people out there in the world. The Americans are truly living that dream. Nice food, nice cars, nice about everything. But what makes the USA so different than other countries that are also beautiful and also have a lot to offer for its citizens?
Well here are my insights as a South African living such a dream for the past 6 months:
I've made some observations about the USA during our stay and what I've seen is that the USA are really a giant in this world and nations will bow to her. The reason why the USA are so blessed is because for what they stand for and also because they are allies with the people of Israel. God said in His Word that He will bless those who blesses Israel and He will curse those who curses Israel (Gen 12:3 God made a promise to Abraham) and you may also read Numbers 24: 9 (GNT) - "The nation is like a mighty lion; When it is sleeping, no one dares wake it. Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed, And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.” Many other Scripture attest to that like Micah 5:8, Revelations 5:5, Romans 15:27 (NIV), Isaiah 62, Psalms 122, and many more...
Well. Let me not preach to you but rather teach you what I've learned in the process of our stay in the USA. And also remember you should read this article with the understanding that God send us to the USA to learn and to teach the Gospel of Christ and the ministry outside the walls of the church.
For one I've learned that people in the USA are very private and conservative especially in the South. Well I cannot even try to speak for the North, but most are very kind where we've been and traveled.
When myself and my 3 daughters landed in the City of Orlando (FL) we were so excited. Trying to rent a cart or trolley to carry our luggage my Standard Bank Card were flagged by my bank. Would you believe I choose to pay the $3 with my card because I didn't have change. So when we wanted to take a rental out of Orlando my Card didn't work and the Rental companies do not take cash.... So we had to take a taxi and off we go and found us some lodging at Econolodge. Then sparky got a better plan than a rental. To buy my own car cause we will be here for some time and we need some reliable transport. Excellent Idea I thought and even gave myself a pat on the back and got some praise reports from the kids. I even sang Hallelujah songs...
So the next morning we started to look for a car. And by foot we found an Dodge Grand Caravan at a dealership which they bought for me at a Auction because I could only afford $1500 (he also charged me $400 for registration and handling). So when I climbed into the car with my three daughters we were at first shocked because of the looks of the car, but thought we need the ride and we don't want to stay another day in Orlando and we can probably fix the paint job as well as the upholstery. The salesperson also said he knows a person and so on and so on who may fix the upholstery real quick. Remember now. This gentleman already paid for this car with the cash I gave him to buy me a reliable vehicle.
Let me cut to the chase: I drove off and the Transmission light came on and with much expense I found out that I need a new Transmission. I looked for the salesman and he was nowhere to be found and we needed to leave for Cleveland, Tennessee. After some calls he said he will sell the car for me, but it will take time having a bad transmission and all. He picked up the car and we left for Tennessee with a rental. MMMM so my wife said: 'I told you so'. But we men never listens.
The guy phoned and said he only got $600 for the car. I replied 'Wow, really that's all?' He said 'yip the cars' got a bad transmission'. 'Ok, I will take', that was the only thing I could get out. He said he'll pay the money and its been close to 6 months, no money. I decided 2 months or so back I will forgive him and that's were it ended. Some people along the way asked why didn't we stay longer in Orlando to wait for the money. See I needed my kids in school. They didn't go to school in South Africa at the time because we were prepping them for the transitioning to the USA school and motels cost a lot of money.
So that's how my entrance to the States looked like. Little bit dodgy or what? This is enough to question our Mission to the USA, but we didn't lack faith. We complied to the call of God.
Now the real fun starts. Excited and truly waiting on the Lord ever since we did our utmost best after school in the afternoons (myself also in the mornings) to find ourselves a place to stay. We also had to stay in The Econolodge in Cleveland, Tennessee for about three weeks. We came in faith to the USA, and we trusted God every day.
F - Father
A - Answers
I - In
T - Timeously
H - Harmony (or Hysteria)
In South Africa we left all behind and we came with a vision on the Mission to the US of A.
So we were so blessed finding ourselves a nice 3.5 bedroom house to stay in. A brother named Graham (I won't say his surname to protect his privacy) helped us to locate this home after 3 weeks of searching for a house. Myself and Graham met at a prayer meeting at the International Offices of the Church of God. At this Prayer meeting I also fell in love with the prayer time with fellow brothers and sisters (of whom I'm the youngest at 40). These men and women of God are like Giants in the Church of God. Most of these faith giants planted churches all over the world and many had 40 years and above years of experience in the ministry. I grew to love them and to feed from their faith. God truly blessed me with this people. We also found ourselves a home church where we started to fellowship always keeping in mind the lovely congregation we left in Pretoria, Sinoville FGC. We had some history with this congregation in Hopewell when I had the opportunity to do 3 months volunteer service with the Church of God Chaplains Commission, Community Service Chaplaincy, in 2013, July through September. Crying many days for what we left behind and for the challenges heading our way we trusted in the Father. He never left us nor forsake us. Thank you Jesus.
Everybody told me we must just speak out what we needed, but our three daughters and I decided not to, but rather pray and wait. For the first few days in our new home we slept on pool inflatables.
We still have those inflatables and are much better to use in water. We bought 4 twin mattresses and at least we could get a better nights rest. We were also very fortunate to have rented a car from USA friends of ours. We used this car for most of our time here.
Maryke and MJ were still in South Africa because she needed to finish some of our business in South Africa before coming to the USA. So the feeling I got at the time (as a minister of faith) was that people thought you got the mission so you're on your own. And that's how it's been for most of our time in the USA. I couldn't really reach out to my associates and colleagues in South Africa at then for I was heartbroken and completely dismayed by the transitioning to the USA. I missed my wife, my boy, my family and my colleagues. This wasn't easy at all. When fasting 2 days I got sick and couldn't pick up my head for a full week. I remember how I just wanted to go back to South Africa. My three daughters cared on me and prayed with and for me. Also the prayer warriors at the prayer meetings on Wednesday mornings filled the gap. My friends and brothers in Christ in South Africa also interceded constantly. This was war on the Mission. I understood that and kept the faith.
So my wife with her folks arrived in the USA April 1st, 2016 and us reunited as a family were such a blessing and like balm for the pain. During all of this I anticipated a response from God, but some days I didn't even get a 'halloo'. God never fails. He's always on time and never too late. Things at our congregation didn't work out as we anticipated for. We needed to be sponsored to live in the USA, Immigration regulations. The church to whom we belonged to before arrival in the States should petition for a Religious Worker Visa and that will help us to stay a bit longer completing and living out the Mission we've been called to.
Anyhow enough of all of that. if you wish you can check my blog "With only two weeks left" you will feel the sense of desperation of our need to remain in the USA for at least two years more as missionaries.
You probably want to know how much the USA impacted our lives. Truthfully speaking, there isn't a more organized environment we've lived in for all of our lives. Kids are primary and are under serious protection of the USA government. A traffic light do not have the opportunity to be out of order too long. Streets are clean, water is safe and shops are well managed. Customer Care of the best things we've seen.
About the things Americans appreciate?
I personally think more Americans think an other place on the planet will be much better to live at. Many with whom I have spoken too do not appreciate their Country. Complaining about Government on all levels, about prices, sports, security, etc.
People complaining about the Security in the States should just go and visit some destinations in South Africa or even in the middle east. Yes in all places in the world there will be places you feel unsafe. Whilst we're in the States there's no burglar bars on our house. Doors are open most of the times (I mean closed, but not locked only to keep in the cool air). Americans do not know what burglar bars are. We South Africans know how to survive in tough times. We know how to survive when the economy has us at the throat. Americans respect one an others belongings. If you lost something you will probably get it back soon.
My lawnmower, pressure washer and some other stuff is just outside not even locked up. My neighbors have their barbecues and a lot more just outside the house with no locks on it. Even your car isn't locked up. Here in the USA, especially where we live, garages are like more place to put your belongings you don't want in the house. Even the local shops have their hardware and garden soil, etc outside in large plastic bags without being locked up. These things are out of the ordinary for a South African, believe me.
The Police are generally respected, but some people choose to always put bad tags on officers. Just watch the news. These officers do a great job. My point of view - these officers put their lives on the line and that's why the USA are one of the most safest places to live in the world. You will always have at least one patrol car parked at every school and every church (when services starts) here in the USA. The officers are proud of their uniform, cars and their job. This is a calling for these people in uniform. Those who speak ill of LEO, well. Lets rather pray for them. They are the people who runs towards danger when others run away from danger or a perceived danger.
I've also noticed another thing - Americans do not like to greet strangers. You may try to get the persons attention in an appropriate manner, but they will kinda not notice you at all. I understand they are private, but people need one another. I told my kids try to greet as many people you can, but try not to look silly. People react in the most surprised way, but never turns down a smile or a wave by hand.
They truly care. Nobody or no restaurant will send you away should you ask for food. That's what a homeless person told me and many times I've seen the kindness of people in that way.
Service with a smile - that's what you get at every shop, industry, restaurant and public sector. It's amazing to see the kind of friendliness demonstrated here. Customers are always right and not wrong is the rule. Not satisfied with what you got for your money. Ok. No problem sir, here's your money back. They make your visit worth the money you pay for it. I've seen in many ways how South African Service delivery companies small and large and even in the public sector looses their cool for customers and even sometimes attack 'difficult' customers. I say, give the people what they paid for. If you don't want their money by showing bad or horrible service just give it back.
Not to talk about the cost of fuel (gas) my friends. People of the USA. You pay less for fuel. Appreciate that. In South Africa the price came down (what I've heard today was 90 cent on ZAR per liter) meaning Americans still pay 100% less for their gas.
It doesn't stop there. Let me try to relate it back to dollars for you. Our Utility bill were never less than $220 and then you use your electricity wisely. One Small air-con running only limit times, maybe just before we go to bed at night. Here in America our Air-con is centralized and full time in the ON position and our Utility Bill was never larger than $220. Not even mentioning the price I paid for our GMC Safari Van, $5500. For the same Van I probably would've paid $7000 or more. Should I have had Social Security and qualified for a car loan that Van would've cost me in America say roughly $100 per month, but in South Africa that same Van would've cost me about $250.
Food the same thing. You get more for the money. Now let me ask you - 'Do you appreciate your current situation or are you happy with what you have?' Maybe not. But that's something in this world that people will hardly be content with what they have. In America my 6 people family would survive with $3000, but in South Africa it will be like impossible to have the same life with that amount of money.
The diversity of people is somewhat a issue in the USA like in any place in the world. I guess it's not about politics, but rather about diversity in the workplace and in the marketplace. To know if a person is Latino, European, Black or any other race probably isn't important but this question futures everywhere. What I like about that (research purposes) is that the USA maintain a fair balance in their Country. The disabled people are having true advantage, which is good because they need a push. In all fairness government also try to balance out Social Security support to its citizens. I just loved what happened to us the other day. Myself and my kids are having darker complexions and when we are to much in the sun even more so. So we had to enroll our children in school and the lady said: 'I'm so sorry to ask you this, but are you from the Hispanic community'. Wow, that was so funny. Actually so cool that she was most apologetic about that and thought she offends us. 'Certainly none taken mam', was my answer. I'm that kind of person, I will be for the Jews an Jew and for the Romans a Roman. No problemo! For those out there just to let you know - I'm a white Afrikaans speaking South-African. Maybe I will have a better job when I return to South Africa with the BBBEE (Act - Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment).
Also where in the world can you play outside with your kids in the street and still be safe? Only in the USA.
Maybe Canada (if you don't freeze yourself to death) and some other countries like Switzerland, etc. As I am writing this article my 12 Yr old Daughter, Shaney, is sitting on the front porch with her cellphone and doing whatever kids do this time of night (8:30 PM already dark). Nobody is harassing her with anything. This is a crowded suburb we're living in and everybody mind their own business. I have appreciation for that kind of respect. As a child in South Africa we had that experience the Americans have right now. Walking in the streets of Cleveland, TN are like a walk in the Park. Try that out in a smaller suburb in Pretoria like in the East of Pretoria. I'm not talking about the bigger Cities like Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas or even New York. The bigger the City the more difficult it becomes to completely crush crime. You leave your car next to the road and you walk to the river for some fishing and when you come back you find your car where you left it with everything still inside.
I do hope this article is like a eye opener for you and that you would appreciate what you've got as an American Citizen.
Let me say in conclusion, It's such an honor to be part of this country even though only for a little time. Thank you that my kids are able to see what we had as kids in the early 1980's. Without the technology off course hehe. Thank you that they may enjoy the safety in the schools, the protection of teachers and police, and also the blessedness just being a child without a parent always over protective because of a high crime rate and murder and violence. Let me say this then I close with that:
To be part of an environment driven by vision and great leadership for this time of our stay was to us a personal gain that we won't forget. We appreciate the kindness and the reaching out to us as a South African family on a Mission to the USA. We love the USA.
God bless the United States of America!!!
Thank you for reading. I appreciate that.