The South Africans have a wonderfully gracious way about them. When they greet you they always ask how you are. "Good morning, Ma'am, how are you?" When people call the mission office they always start with "You are speaking to_________ from _______. How are you?" It is so commonly done that if you don't ask them how they are they automatically reply "I am fine thank you". (and I say to myself "Oops, I forgot") Most of our non African missionaries have adopted this courtesy but for those who haven't it is a glaring omission, almost seems rude, when they call and get right down to business. I've really noticed a difference.
However, I don't think I've heard "you're welcome" from the people here. Now that's not because they are rude, but when you thank someone the most common response is "It's a pleasure" or just shortened to "pleasure". It's not only what they say but how they say it. I can't duplicate it but it is very gracious and with the accent it sounds so charming. Little children and young people also have this upbringing. If you ask a child how they are they will say "I am fine Ma'am, and you?" I just want to give them all big hugs!
Yesterday before church started one of our young single adult young men was sitting by a little two year old in the back of the chapel and was polishing the little boys very dusty shoes with a shoe brush. I asked Brassington, the young adult, if he had brought the brush with him. He said he always carries it in his back pack because he has to come far(he has to walk quite a ways) and when he arrives his shoes are dirty. It was such a sweet picture I had to take one. What a fine example this young man was being to little Tholithemba. There are many lessons we can learn from these wonderful people!
Brassington and Tholithemba