Living in South Africa w/Scarlett Miskin

The beginning of 2006 marked the beginning of a new calendar year for millions of people worldwide. New resolutions were made, relationships formed and broken. But there was perhaps no greater seismic shift than for the Miskin family, who moved back down to South Africa as missionaries. We’ve had the opportunity to meet up with the Miskins before, and wanted to check back in with them. So we asked TDI Affiliate Scarlett Miskin if she would be willing to do an e-mail interview, and she agreed. She wanted to remind me that these are “only the perceptions of a 15-year-old girl.” However, her viewpoints are still well-informed and fascinating to read. Here now is the full next of our interview.

TDI: Thanks for doing this interview, Scarlett. How have things been?
Scarlett: Hmm… Well, things have been busy, with my grandparents being sick, and oupa’s passing away. Also, we have had issues with our container, which I think are pretty much resolved. Otherwise, we have a normal life of going to school, doing nothing at the rental house and going to church. Things have gone well, the Lord has been with us, that’s for sure.

TDI: In your new home, South Africa, how different are things in your neck of the woods, compared to America?
Scarlett: Well, our new home is different from Grand Rapids, but not how most people think of Africa. We don’t pursue antelope for our daily rations, hide from lions in trees, and dance around a fire at night in leopard skin skirts. Haha. No, South Africa is a lot busier than Grand Rapids. Life is just way more fast paced. People drive faster on the highways. People aren’t as friendly as in the states. And, of course, there is WAAAY more racial diversity than in Grand Rapids. Way, way more. And I think the last difference that I’ll mention is, Grand Rapids was much more conservative. Kids here aren’t like the kids there, they aren’t as sheltered as kids in Grand Rapids are.

TDI: Has it been easy to cope with the cultural changes?
Scarlett: Bearing in mind that we are South Africans in the first place, it wasn’t a big adjustment like it would be for an American straight off the boat. There were things that we had to get used to again (Africans aren’t as efficient as Americans), but it wasn’t a cultural shock. So not hard at all.

TDI: What kind of work are you guys doing down there?
Scarlett: The three of us [Scarlett, Gordan, and Morgan], school work. My Mom and Dad, a lot more than that. Mom does the Project Nakekela, a little hospice where she is the doctor (she and Dad). They care for six very sick AIDS patients, either until they’re well enough to go home, or, well, die. They not only provide the medicine, but the gospel as well. Mom and Dad are very busy there. Dad has more on his plate, though.

Apart from the hospice (Mom is more involved there I think), he also gives lectures as the college which takes up his time. And he also is the minister of our small English service. So Dad not only does hospice work, lectures, sermons, but pastoral visits, bible studies, confessions of faith classes and a prayer meeting (every Saturday at 7:30 am). Yes, we are busy. I play piano at church, if you want involve that in “what kind of work are you guys doing down there?” I think that’s about it in a nutshell…

TDI: How’s the family?
Scarlett: The family… I assume aunts and uncles? Or [the] Miskin family?? I’ll answer both then! Our aunts and uncles are doing well… We just went down to see my Mom’s brother and sister in Cape Town about a week or two ago. They are doing well, they all have good jobs and such. They’re not Christians though, so in that sense, not doing well. My Dad’s brother has a job that he goes to Ireland for a few months, and then returns to South Africa, which I think he is doing well in. He is a doctor. My only grandmother is doing better than before. She’s still very sick, but considering what she’s been through, I think she’s amazingly well. Also considering her age. Us Miskins, we’re fine. Moving soon and very busy, but healthy, happy and blessed. So what more could we want?

TDI: There is this stereotype in America that African countries are all dirt roads, with corrupt police constantly killing the starving, famished locals. What is your perception of the nation, as you see it?
Scarlett: Hmm… Well, the nation has it’s problems, that’s for sure. AIDS is a big problem here, and so is poverty. The poor people are really poor here. In the states, you don’t have poverty like here. But the nation isn’t “going downhill,” like I’ve heard it described. People are doing well for themselves here, and the poor aren’t as poor as they were before. (Mom said that. [They] still look poor to me.) But the government is putting up better housing for the lower class people, so things are being done. And I think the Christians in this country can have a massive impact if they would minister the love of Christ to the poorer people. But another thing I’ve noticed is the country is not as Christian as in the states. There isn’t persecution or anything, but a lot less people here bother to go to church. And the racial differences aren’t a big deal here anymore, but the country is more divided in the sense of status difference. I love this country… It’s great here, but it does need it’s work, like every country in the world.

TDI: Can you briefly describe the differences in schools, from America to South Africa?
Scarlett: Ohboyo… Wow. The schools here… um… weeell… There’s a lot less Christian schools, and most of the Christian schools are A.C.E., which is the kind of school we go to now. The kids all have little “cubicles” and learn their materials by themselves. It’s a well laid out system, and requires more work than I ever put in at Plymouth. I’m not really sure what the big public schools are like here, since I’m not in one, so I don’t want to say what they’re like, and be totally off the mark. But they are pretty Godless, I would guess. All school kids wear uniforms, and that’s the biggest difference. Oh, school in America was really easy, academics wise. I didn’t have to study, EVER. But I think you need to put in more of an effort to do well at school here. I definitely had more fun at school than I do here… Not saying schools not nice. But I don’t go to school to socialize nowadays, like a did at Plymouth. (Shame on me.)

TDI: Finally, what can we expect on your blog in the future?
Scarlett: My blog… Ha! I hope to keep posting on anything worth noting that would amuse you guys, even though it might seem ordinary to me. Of course, once we’ve been here a long time, there will be less… quirky things happening, especially after we move out of the rental house. Haha. But I do hope to keep posting, as long as I have an audience that wants me there.

TDI: Scarlett, thanks for doing this interview. It’s been a pleasure.
Scarlett: No prob… It was fun.


Related links: Read Scarlett’s Blog
Listen to exclusive podcasts that include Scarlett
Photo Spread: A Night at the Miskins

Previous e-mail Interview(s): John Sikma Speaks Out

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4 Responses to “Living in South Africa w/Scarlett Miskin”

  1. Nate Says:

    Thanks for bringing that to us eChuck. Maybe some more missionary interviews in the future?

  2. scarletta miskinivitch Says:

    help!! those are horrible pictures!! no one told me my picture would be on this interview!! hope that was a goon one..:)

  3. Erika Says:

    great interview…so typically scarlett!! Good job.

  4. scarletta miskinivitch Says:

    what do you mean so typically scarlett erika?? tell me…:D:D

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