Andre Marois said: “a happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.” He may, one could argue, very well have been talking about Amber and JD Mac Millan when he penned those words. Just short of an hour in their company and you’d be forgiven for feeling as though it was simply too short a time. Meet the Macs!
Amber breezes into the Heron Community Centre first and quickly glances over her shoulder. Her smile widens as she links hands with her husband, JD, who lopes in a few paces later. As they sit down, there is an unmissable natural comfort between them, sparked by nose crinkles and stolen glances.
Their love story begins six years ago in Sydney, Australia, where JD was studying at Hillsong College. There, he met Dylan Hibbert, a fellow Ballito gent. “When I came home, Dyl and I connected again and I met his wife, Tasmin,” JD settles back into his chair. “Tas invited me to her birthday party. And there,” his eyes twinkle. “I met Amber.” JD’s ‘yes’ is instantaneous when he is asked whether it was love at first sight. “I still remember what she was wearing!”
Although enamoured by JD’s Aussie accent, Amber was busy with examinations, so, love was not on the top of her priority list. “But my sister kept trying to hook us up,” Amber winks at JD.
And, love won, it would appear.
Amber headed off to the University of Stellenbosch, where she studied for a year before she came home to finish her degree. “I had a good-looking guy waiting,” she laughs.
The couple dated for four years before marrying in July 2019. “We married into lockdown,” JD chuckles. “We had plans to travel, and six months after our wedding we were in a pandemic.” As is their nature, they made the best of it. JD and Amber lived in the Umhlanga village for a while, commuting to and from Ballito. After a while, they considered relocating. “Our community is here, we work here…it just made sense.”
Nestled in their Ilala apartment, JD and Amber live a beautiful life. “After the bustle of Umhlanga, Simbithi is quiet, and I love that,” JD says. Amber agrees, saying she appreciates the serenity of their space. “Whenever our friends and family leave our home, they tell us how peaceful it is.”
Life on Simbithi has its perks for the Mac Millans: they live minutes away from JD’s parents, who also live on the Estate, and just a hop, skip and (happy) jump away from LINC Church, where they oversee the young adults department. Amber works in the creative department curating content and communication, while JD heads up the worship ministry. LINC Worship’s single iKhayalethu received national coverage: a balm for South Africa during what has been a turbulent time for some.
JD and Amber’s hearts are intertwined in their passion building and breathing life into community: they headed to Uganda in February for a 10-day mission trip into Northern Africa. “I love that we get to explore and experience these blessings together,” Amber says. “Coming home to Simbithi every evening is just wonderful.” JD pipes up: “Especially when we have our friendly security guards who say hello to us by name, every time we go through the gates. That is so special.”
When they have a moment to unwind, the Macs enjoy a run on the Estate’s trails. They are also very serious about ‘Wimbledon Wednesdays’: a weekly tennis match with their mates on the Ilala courts. This, they grin, is usually followed by the Fig Tree’s famous curry buffet. “We also have the most incredible neighbours,” says JD. “And on quiet nights, we have owls who pop in for a visit on our deck.” Amber chimes in, sharing that she enjoys the sacred stillness of their apartment: her, with a good book and JD strumming a melody on his guitar.
iKhayalethu’s lyrics encapsulate the essence of Simbithi and, indeed, the soul of South Africa, perfectly:
“I see you, and you see me
Our beauty lies in our diversity
So, raise our flag, and raise it high
It was in us all along
Who we are, where we come from
With one voice
Every nation, tribe and tongue will sing again
With every breath
We’re breathing in the beauty of our land
With one sound
Moving to the rhythm of the ground
It sounds like HOME…
Click here to listen to iKhayalethu: