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South Africa Update by Sara Coyne

June 25, 2012

I like fire; most of the group would even say I was a pyromaniac, all though I disagree. So when I heard we were going to be burning fields at Enkosini I was ecstatic. After the rather tightly packed truck ride down to the main gate, we set the tall grass aflame, and the excitement on my face was rather apparent. While walking along the makeshift road, entranced by the flames engulfing tree after tree, I heard my group mates calling for me to turn around. To my surprise, the wind had carried the raging fire across the road, and I was supposed to help put it out. Rather naively I ran to my friends aid and tried to help put out the fire. I managed to beat out a small section of the flame before I felt the heavy smoke burning and filling my lungs, as well as making my eyes fill up with tears. It was a sensory overload; it was painful to breathe, I couldn’t see, and for the first time in my life I actually felt fear. Not the oh-crap-I-just-failed-my-latin-quiz-my-parents-are-going-to-kill-me fear, which I coincidentally am quite accustomed to, but the paralyzing fear that freezes every muscle in your body. I was afraid of the flames, and the immense heat they were giving off. I didn’t want to help anymore; I stopped liking this chore, and wanted to give up. I admit it; I was terrified of the pain the smoke brought my body. But for some reason, still unknown to me, I decided to get back up and help my friends. I ran in, wife beater at the ready, and tried to put out all of the flames. My efforts, however, were not very successful, and I a pretty sure I looked like a raving lunatic while doing it. But, after much help from Moses and Leonard, our group managed to get the flame back onto it’s designated course. Although I wasn’t very helpful, this moment represents a major lesson I have learned on the trip thus far; you are capable of so much more than you know. During this trying task I wanted to quit, but I kept going. I pushed threw the terror, and helped out my friends. I surprised myself. I did not know I was capable to fight threw this, and never would have if I did not try… Regardless of my effectiveness during the fire extinguishing, I accomplished more than I believed was possible. I took a chance, and it paid off. This minor task set upon me had made me realize I am more powerful and capable than I know, and you must try things first to find ones limits. My limits were much farther than I had realized, and I now I wonder what I have missed out on because I assumed I couldn’t do it. This trip has taught me that I have been given all of the opportunities in the world, and it is what you do in defining moments like these, that shape who you are. Moments like these make you learn things about yourself you never knew before, and enable you to see the world around you from a different perspective.

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