Last week I wrote about one of my adventures in Cape Town, a trip that will go down in personal history as The Best Worst Week of my Life. You can read about getting rescued from Table Mountain here! Well, the events that unfolded during that escapade can be traced back to when God stole my iPhone just 4 days earlier. And also the fact that Vodacom is the worst.
Usually when bad things happen, we’re pretty quick to say, “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s the faithful thing to say, right? And I do think it’s true, but usually we don’t see it play out from start to finish over the course of a week.
Well, two days after I got to Cape Town, I lost my phone to the ocean while leaning over the railing of a ferry to get some GoPro footage. All I wanted was to absorb the political history of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner, in iPhone-owning peace. That dream was short-lived. Coincidentally, “Baba Yetu,” which is the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili, was playing on my iPhone as it floated to the murky depths of the Atlantic.
I was still feeling pretty cheerful, determined not to let a silly phone ruin my day. When I got back from the tour, I left my camera bag (including ID) with a friendly frozen yogurt dispensing professional at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a tourist hotspot. I know what you’re thinking– But Safeena, you just dropped your phone in the ocean and are about to get stuck on a big mountain, so why would you leave your valuables with a total stranger? Your luck sucks.
BECAUSE, dear reader, 45 minutes later I would get mugged in the most civilized exchange, so obviously I felt compelled to leave my valuables with a total stranger. How could it be civilized, you ask? Mr. Mug Man strongly recommended I give him my wristlet with nothing more than a note and $30 worth of South African rand in it. I kindly obliged. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m one to have a problem with authority (I think saying I "challenge" it is more fitting). But anyone who knows me will also know that I run a little stubborn. Normally, I’d have my phone on me, and I’m sure that if he politely demanded it, I would’ve thrown a minor fit with Mr. Mug Man. And maybe ended up less okay than I was.
So thanks, God, for stealing my iPhone.
The note I had in that wristlet was a favorite Nelson Mandela quote I had written myself as a reminder: "There is no passion to be found in playing small– in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
I hope the note impacts Mr. Mug Man more than the $30.
That night, I missed my last sunset at Blouberg Beach to go to the phone shop to get prices. It would only follow, given my luck for That Terrible Day, that I would accidentally throw away the piece of paper (with the wrapping of the donuts I had eaten to make myself feel better). However, the tears for the day didn’t strike until, leaving the phone store, I walked straight into a glass wall. It was honestly worse than getting mugged, for now I had been robbed of my dignity.
I returned the next day with the intention of buying an iPhone. It would have been cheaper to have one shipped from the US, but it would arrive a day late. I walked into the Vodacom phone shop and was greeted with, “Ohhh…I heard about you…you should get a waterproof phone.” Ha.
So I did, and I waltzed out of there with my new, shiny, ocean-proof Sony Xperia. And then the string of problems that came with my Sony Xperia, which included: being given the wrong SIM card so my purchased plan never came through, being told it was 16 GB when it was actually 8 GB, being told that they don’t accept returns, wasting a full day ~advocating for myself~ that the shop mail me a micro SD card since I was now staying downtown. They ended up personally delivering a 32 GB card to my accommodations. Thank you, Lauren Leatherberry, for teaching me about advocating for myself.
All of my plans got pushed back a day, so I climbed Lion’s Head (barefoot, of course) that Thursday. There, I had the great fortune of meeting Josh, Josh, and Amelia, three gifts of favor in my life, on the trailblazer’s path. They showed me a secret cave spot. Yes, I know I shouldn’t follow strangers to secret cave spots on mountains, but it was for the best. Because they let me not hike alone, drove me home, and suggested I do a sunrise hike with them a couple days later with a group of friends for worship at the top! Confirmation that amazing humans exist outside of The Bubble, California that wouldn’t have happened if I’d gone hiking a day earlier.
So thanks, God, for stealing my iPhone.
Josh, Josh, and Amelia had also recommended I not hike Table Mountain alone, and that they would go with me. So the next day, I decided to hike Table Mountain alone, because ~young and wild and free~. And we all know what happened there.
What I didn’t mention in my last blog post was that my much-hated Sony Xperia was key in being rescued. Since I wasn’t planning on getting stuck on a mountain, I had been cheerfully draining my battery by blasting music (okay, just “Baba Yetu” on repeat) and live-updating Jon on Facebook. If for any reason, I had still had an iPhone– whether I had bought one, returned my Sony Xperia, had it delivered, or never lost mine in the first place– it would have been dead within a couple hours of hiking. My blasted Sony Xperia has battery life not to be reckoned with, and that very well may have saved me that night. Sorry for cracking you while thinking I was dying, Sony Xperia.
And thanks, God, for stealing my iPhone.
If God had not stolen my iPhone, I might’ve gotten myself in a sticky situation with a mugger. I would have stayed on schedule and hiked Lion’s Head a day earlier, never meeting the people who would help me get rescued from Table Mountain and spend the days with me to keep me out of trouble. If God had not stolen my iPhone, I would have had no valid means of communication when I realized I was lost on Table Mountain. He basically took my sparkly gold iPhone 6, threw it in the ocean, and yelled, “THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD AND YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHEN YOU’RE OLDER.” Well, a week older.
There are no coincidences. I am fortunate to have seen, even in the smallest, most trivial seeming way, faith work in my life over the course of a week. I’ve sometimes wondered what really “defines” a miracle, but maybe everything is, just playing out over different periods of time. I try not to demand for my faith to be validated through unlikely occurrences, but it was such an act of grace to have been shown so poignantly how well I was protected through every minor detail of that week. Truly everything went wrong on the surface. But I came out with sights otherwise unseen, good people to call friends otherwise unmet, and strengthened faith otherwise untested.
Baba yetu, yetu uliye
Mbinguni yetu, yetu amina!
Baba yetu yetu uliye
Mjina lako e litukuzwe.
Utupe leo chakula chetu
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, muovu e milele!
Ufalme wako ufike utakalo
Lifanyike duniani kama mbinguni.