Sunday, October 8, 2017

Three-And-A-Half Weeks in South Africa

Good morning friends! The Ballet Magnificat Alpha Company is back in Jackson, Mississippi again! We flew through the night boarding our sixteen-hour flight out of Johannesburg on Saturday at 8:00pm which arrived in Atlanta, Georgia at 6:20am earlier this morning. There we caught our second plane to take us the rest of the way home landing us in Jackson at 10:30am. It is wonderful to be back home. We had such a wonderful time in South Africa and I can't wait for you to hear about it! I SO desired to provide you with live time updates during the trip, but it just didn't happen. WiFi was somehow extremely limited everywhere we went, not to mention free time being just as limited as well. Our time in South Africa seemed to fly by SOO fast! Did I dream up that I visited South Africa for three-and-a-half weeks? Nope! Ministering in South Africa was such a remarkable experience and for those of you that have sponsored me financially and in prayer; Thank you SO much! 

Three Things I Loved About South Africa:

#1 The Scenery:

South Africa is a sight to behold! From all of its unique vegetation including wild succulents, which are all the rage these days, to the beautiful mountains and coastlines that I fell in love with; the beauty in South Africa will take your breath away! Don't let my poor photography skills fool you!

A post shared by Lillian Marie Ortiz (@oqpiedoptimist) on

Even before our plane landed I could tell I was going to fall in love with this place!

Rolling Hills; This picture was snapped in East London, South Africa

A Hibiscus flower; The first plant to bewitch me upon arriving in East London at our sponsor's house.

Aren't these succulents charming!

Looks like aloe to me!

What pretty colors!

We called these Bottle Cleaners

Striking a pose, though not more beautiful than this mountain itself; Me atop Table Mountain in
Cape Town, South Africa

Roaring waves heard at Nahoon Point Nature Reserve in Buffalo City- East London, South Africa.
Whale sitings were a common occurrence for us here.

...And don't even get me started on how cool the animal wildlife was in South Africa! 

#2 The People:

We met some AWESOME people in South Africa!

Pictured here is my host family in East London.

The two ladies book-ending us Alpha Company dancers in this photo were so servant-hearted! They drove us around everywhere and were so much fun to get to know!

These two sweet ladies sporting their Shweshwe aprons that Taylor and I are posed with here
are the baristas at a coffee shop called Lavender Blue that we would frequent almost every day during our stay in East London! We loved it there!

The following pictures feature just a few of the many faces we fell in love with seeing during our time in Cape Town! - Maggie, Ivor, and I

These ladies and their friends were an out-of-this-world blessing to us!

This young lady did an outstanding job sponsoring Ballet Magnificat in Johannesburg.

It was in Johannesburg when I met these wonderful children during a time of community outreach.

#3 The Culture:

I fell in love with the colorful exuberant culture of South Africa. "South Africa’s culture is one of the most diverse in the world and has given rise to the term 'Rainbow Nation'. With 11 official languages and 8 other recognised languages, the rich culture of each of these groups brings its own vibrancy to South Africa's diversity", as stated at Visit the link HERE to learn more. Being that I am craftsy myself, one of the things I loved the most about the South African people is how crafty they are with their hands and how making stuff just seems to be apart of their culture! It was never difficult to find a unique handmade souvenir made by the locals!

Our Sponsors in Johannesburg took us to this really fantastic restaurant called Moyo. It offered delicious food and made for an excellent authentic traditional African dining experience.

Getting your face painted at Moyo is a "must!"

After our meal, we were serenaded with some traditional African rhythms beaten on drums accompanied by clapping, laughter, and loud voices singing the words of some unknown beautiful language.

...then things really got good when the dancing started!

Typical beaded works that can be found all over South Africa
Image Source:

Handcrafted animals made from straw and some crafted wooden spoons are a few of the things I brought home with me. And thank you Lois for the blanket. ^_^

This special piece that came home with me is actually a necklace that my very own host from East London crafted.
I just had to have it!

Though I am fighting against jet lag right now as it is currently evening in the country I left behind, I am refusing to nap or fall asleep too early. My desire is to acclimate to this new time zone here as quickly as possible thus explaining my attempt of forcing my body to stay awake. Spending the first couple of my hours back in the States reflecting on this past month in South Africa, organizing photos, and preparing this blog post to share with you, are all perfect projects to keep me awake! My heart is warmed reminiscing on all the precious memories I am about to share with you. Please continue reading on in this blog post if you are interested in the day-by-day, blow-by-blow, synopsis I've prepared for you about our trip. It includes some more fun pictures of our time in South Africa you don't want to miss! ENJOY!

Day One-

Flying through the night September 12th, we arrived in South Africa the next evening and stayed the night at a quaint little place called the Airport Inn Bed and Breakfast.

 Day Two-  First  Day in East  London

Early the next morning we catch a flight to East London and arrive there at 8:40. After having a wonderful brunch hosted by our sponsor, we waste no time and get to sightseeing right away! We visited the Indian Ocean and got to hang out with some elephants for a little bit!

We pass by some informal settlements driving away from the airport, aka. Squatter Houses.

The Indian Ocean

(Ballet Magnificat) Messing around in the sand!

We got to feed the elephants!

The Ballet Magnificat Alpha Company...and the newest South African member?!!

Day Three, Four, and Five-  

Over the weekend we had our first couple performances!

Our first performance was relaxed, at College Street Primary School

School performances are my favorite!

Ballet Magnificat Alpha posing for a picture with our amazing sponsor after our first show at the
 East London Guild Theatre. 

Day Six-

We held a dance workshop in cooperation with the Christian Dance Academy.

I enjoy teaching the little ones.


We had another school performance on this day at an all-girls school.

performing 'The Arrival' at Clarendon Primary School 

We were given this dear letter in response to our performance there.

 Day Eight- 

Our last morning in East London before flying to Cape Town we arranged some time for playing with spider monkeys. It was a highlight for me!

Week Two-  Cape Town

We had a fantastic time in Cape Town. Partnering with the Royal Priesthood Christian Dance School, we held a one-week long dance intensive workshop modeled after the Summer Dance Intensive Ballet Magnificat holds each year in Jackson. It was a real success! Several students surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ that week.

Cape Town was beautiful. No matter where we went the Table Mountain Skyline could be seen.

The Global School of Theology is where we stayed.

Our rooms at the Global School of Theology were small and drab but it was like heaven to me
having my own room on tour; an introverts dream!

Pictured here is a very excited me at a smoothie shop discovering their wifi hotspot!Another thing that was heavenly was whenever free wifi was made accessible to us
since connecting to it was not an option in our living quarters. 

The UCT dance facilities that we used for the workshop each day

The dance studios were beautiful!

The students taking their placement class before the panel

Each morning we had a time of devotions with the students in this room at the Global School of Theology.

Some of the students and I as we wait for our evening activity to begin

Catching up with Ballet Magnificat Alumni Andrea who is from Cape Town, South Africa; One evening to celebrate her birthday we had a Crepe making and eating party! 

Pictured here is Margo and I with our level one students. We worked together with them all week to prepare them to perform some company repertoire on the last day.

Pictured here is the entire Ballet Magnificat team, The Cafe Town Staff, and students from all over South Africa!
I love each and every person in this photo SO much!

We did manage to get some sightseeing in. The first day we visited Table Mountian there was unfortunately not much to see because of all the clouds.

The second time we went was much better!

We took a cable car to the top of Table Mountian one day and they prepared this picture for us! 

A picture does not do it justice.

The clouds blanketing Table Mountain as the sun sets in Cape Town.

Week Three-  Johannesburg

We finished our time in South Africa in Johannesburg with one workshop and a set of performances at the Roodepoort theatre.

    Photos of Ballet Magnificat's 'Deliver Us' taken by Madeleine Chaput

    Photos of Ballet Magnificat's 'Deliver Us' taken by Madeleine Chaput

    Photos of Ballet Magnificat's 'Deliver Us' taken by Madeleine Chaput

    Photos of Ballet Magnificat's 'Deliver Us' taken by Madeleine Chaput

    Photos of Ballet Magnificat's 'Deliver Us' taken by Madeleine Chaput

    Talking and meeting with people after shows is always a delight!

    The following couple of pictures are from when my friends and I got to partner with Project Ngonyama to do some kids community outreach in Windsor. We played with them, got to know them, and even taught them some ballet moves!

    My little friend!

    I think she's got a knack!

    All of us together!

    Before leaving Johannesburg we got to visit Nelson Mandela Square
    and go to the Mall for last minute souvenirs and things

    Nougat Ice cream from Sally Williams with Abby Jean is the best!

    A fitting hotspot ad... good thing it is time to go home soon!

    Alpha heading to the airport.

    THE END.

    If you have reached the end of this blog post, I congratulate you, AND thank you!
    I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and hope you enjoyed reading about it.
    South Africa is like no other place I have ever been before on this earth! I hope you get to experience it someday! What places do you dream of visiting?
    Comment below!

    Faithful readers, please receive my sincerest Thanks!
    and until next time my friends...
    ~ UThixo akysikelele ~
    (which according to google translate means "God Bless You" in the African Xhosa language.
    can I have one of my South African friends confirm that?)


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