Your Label Doesn’t Define Me.

Challenge & Revelation

A cute guy passed by me today. When we made eye contact, he spoke a smiling hello as he passed by. My heart stopped for a second and two things went through my mind: “he actually noticed me!” and “he probably notices the 4 kids in the stroller, too.” I nodded a shy, “hi” and returned his smile but walked away a little defeated.

Why had I assumed his impression of me was disappointing and let it hold me back? What was it that kept from flashing my pearly whites and returning a flirty smile?

Just as I was pondering my predicament I saw a man cross the street. His high buttoned collar, suit, tie, and big glasses immediately left me assuming he was a nerd. O U C H! We all crave to assign labels onto others. None of us are without fault! 

Who am I

Why are we so quick to judge? What’s the end goal?

Our desire to label and categorize each person we see displays how close minded we have become. How can we change that? After digging deep into why I was feeling this way, I realized it was rooted in insecurity. When I’m not grounded and standing firm in my beliefs, I tend to hold my real personality back.

The struggle begins where we allow our thoughts to go. I’ve recently started reading “Crashing the Chatterbox” by Steve Furtick, thanks to my good friend Cori, and the wisdom of scripture and perspective has radically reshaped how I spend my time and what thoughts consume me. Here are two highlights from the book that I’ll share in today’s blog:

                “When we allow our thoughts to go unchecked, a steady drip of lies cements the wrong patterns within our minds, building a Berlin Wall of bad beliefs.”

                “When lies are not confronted, callings are not fulfilled. How many contributions that God created you to make for His glory are still wrapped in your good intentions because they’ve been neutralized by spiritual hesitation?”

This book is full of lines that challenge and inspire you, saturated with thirst-quenching wisdom.  I don’t have all the answers but I do know that the more of God’s Word I drink in, the more of the world dispels from my thought life. What are we feeding ourselves? Is it negativity and judgement of others? Is it world-wide acceptance and oblivion? Or is it Wisdom and Love that encourages our true, special identity in Christ? 

In the opening story, my habit of judging others was projected on someone before I even met them. I automatically assumed they thought like I did. If my thinking was loving and open-minded, I could have made a friend that day. What is holding us back from our true potential?

Do you know how God, your creator, sees you?

First Day of Ministry and God is moving!!

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Monday was the first day in the squatter camp, Msawawa. I was so excited to enter the squatter camp and minster to the people. As we began to have conversations with those who resided in the community, one of the interns quickly made connections and seemed to easily have conversations with them. I stood in the background snapping photos, feeling defeated. I wanted to interject in the conversation and share His love. That was all, I simply wanted to break mindsets and spread his peace and wisdom. All the courage it takes to live one day here drains me. I’m not homesick. I’m getting along with the girls in my house. The Lord has been giving revelation after revelation in my quiet times in the Word with Him. Why was I feeling bound by a spiritual rope?

As we left the squatter camp for lunch (our house is between five and ten miles away, making it easier to drive home for lunch and rest up) we began to talk about our favorite and worst parts of ministry so far. I didn’t feel the need to interject since I felt that I had barely made an impact on the day so far. It was slightly discouraging, being the fact that I have been here before and yet was left unsure of what to say, how to continue conversations, and effectively witness. I had the head knowledge, but I didn’t have the experience. We were all sitting around the table eating lunch together when suddenly the Lord pulled at my heart, “Seek me for the words to say. I will tell you what makes the biggest impact.” I sat there in the middle of eating my ham and cheese sandwich, heart’s jaw on the ground at this awesome word. “God, you are so right! I have been so focused on seeking you and forgot to ask you be a part of the biggest reason why I’m here!” We prayed before heading out for another 2 and a half hours of ministry and I encouraged my fellow interns. “Listen to what they have to say. They can be talking and go on so many rabbit trails but the important thing is to remember the big picture and bring it full circle. Let them be heard out. They’ll hear you out in return.” With that we locked up and loaded in the car.

I climbed out of the van with a fresh perspective and as we walked through Msawawa and joyfully greeted everyone I came in sight with, ready for God to move through me. The first man we talked to was restoring an old wicker table. With one eye gone from a fence post falling and removing it, old raggedy clothes, and many missing teeth, he was a sight.

But God had intention for us to talk to Him.

Sixty-three and very much present for apartheid, Cori (one of the second year interns) began to strike a conversation with him. As we find out he restores furniture for a living, a skill his father taught him while growing up, Cori and I immediately saw a connection to the gospel. Unsure if I should jump into telling Him God’s Word or continue to relationship build with the man, I left Cori continue to get to know him better. She then began to share the similarities of how God fixes our hearts, just as he fixes furniture – that when He fixes us, we come back a few years later with scratches and dents, asking Him to restore us.

Cori & the man

We then prayed for him for healing and a deep revelation and relationship with God, that He would spread the Word of God, as well as turn a deaf ear to false teaching. When we finished, another man called out to us at a shop next door. He asked us to pray for him and as we began to ask him questions he told of us how his back was in pain. The many children that surround in a squatter camp can be overwhelming. Another girl, about the age of 10 turns the corner with a pile of corn on top of her head and makes eye contact with me. She approaches me, asking what we are doing here. I tell her a little and the group calls me over to pray for the man with pain in his back. After we finish I turn to talk to the girl, {I later learn her name is Beautiful}. In my heart I feel she is supposed to take us to her mother, but I feel a hesitation. Am I being silly? I don’t want the rest of the group to think I’m being weird… Alexa (another intern!) speaks up and asks Beautiful to take us to her house. She quickly winds through the streets and alleyways, each house we pass we wonder if it could be this girl’s mother. When we finally arrive we see an exhausted, frail mother standing with a tiny baby in her arms. Her name is Edith and her two month old baby, Noise.

We learn more of each other, exchanging life and laughter we began to get into the deeper things of life. Edith shares she is trying to start her own business because her husband does not have a job. Families not having jobs are a common thing in the squatter camps so we elaborate on that for a moment. She wants to send her daughter to school but does not have enough money. We learn she is originally from Zimbabwe, where she married her first husband and gave birth to Beautiful. She then explains that when she moved here three years ago she remarried and now has another daughter. We ask why she moved from Zim and she tells that her husband was brutally murdered – six stab wounds by a screw driver in his skull and several kicks to the jaw, knocking most teeth out. “He lived ten days after”, she tells us. Edith continues to share that her first husband’s killer lives in a squatter camp not even 15 minutes’ drive from Msawawa. “Do you see him sometimes?” Cori asks. Edith nods and we’re all in shock as she begins to weep. We begin to comfort and pour God’s love on her and one by one, we start to pull out verses to edify her. Alexa, who has been missing her family and clinging to this verse personally, flips to Psalms 91. V2

“He alone is my refuge, my place of safety, he is my God, and I trust him. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 9 If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, 10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. 11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.”

Cori jumped in and shared (my personal favorite to hear her share) the story from EZ 16. It is the story of a woman who was left in a field to die as newborn. A man discovers her and sees how dirty and disgusting she is, yet believes in her potential. He takes her, nurses her back to health. Adopting her and giving her every desire of her heart, treating her like the princess she is.  She became vain in her beauty and began to give her body to men, prostituting herself to anyone who came along. 16:16 “You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols..” She went to sangomas and gambled, sacrificing to idols. Her father was so hurt that she did those things when her created her to be so much more. Yet he still loved her and wanted her to return to him, repent of what she had done.

Edith, Beautiful, & Cori

At the end of this story Edith began to sob again and began to tell of how she often felt God did not hear her prayers. “We are an answer to your prayers. We are here to tell you God hears you. He’s listening to everything you say.” Cori confirms.  I began to feel a pull to share this: “If Beautiful wanted a piece of bread, would you give her the bread she asked for?” Edith nodded and I continued, “Because she is your daughter, right? God is the same! You are His loved daughter, He wants to give everything He has to you! He hears what you say and has a perfect and great plan for you.” We embrace and all the team comes in to pray for her and her family. She repeatedly thanks us and asks us to visit next time we are there. We promise and take a deep breath as we walk onto the streets of Msawawa. God is so good. Never underestimate the little things.

If that little girl had not stayed to watch what was going on, we may not have been able to minister to Edith and her family and certainly change her life for eternity.

Jeremiah 9:12 “…Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?”

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Hi partners, family, and friends! Hope you are all doing well and God is moving in your lives!

This past week has been the last bit of training sessions, and we finished the week off with a trip to Diepsloot and Kya Sands for kids ministry! It was an awesome time of loving on kids and teaching them about their wonderful Creator. Earlier that week we also went on a trip to Soweto where Nelson Mandela grew up as well as Reverend Desmond Tutu. We learned a lot about the uprising that influenced the end of apartheid and visited many historical spots. It was mindboggling to think it was only 25 years ago when everything changed. Nelson Mandela is still alive today. Most of the time in America, monuments are not resurrected until the death of someone who did something. It did open my eyes that the violence, drinking, and drug addiction that is prevalent here, is not the only idol.

As I was seeking the Lord on verses to pray over the nation, He opened my eyes to so many other things and I would love to share them with you!

{Just as a preface: Monday we went out into the squatter camps to share the gospel with the people who live in the shacks, for many of the interns first time. I was so excited to read these verses that I pray they opened eyes to see all the Lord has promised them and the lies that have been told – and see the real truth!!}

Malachi 3:2

“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.”

One of the ways we relate to the people is while they’re doing laundry. So commonly you can strike a conversation up with a woman cleaning laundry, learn more about her and her family and begin to make connections. One of the ways you can bring the Lord into the conversation is by contrasting how the soap that cleans the laundry is just like how God cleans our hearts. This verse is so true – no one can endure till the rapture occurs and certainly face God with a clear conscience.

V13-15

“You have said terrible things about me”, says the Lord. But you say, “What do you mean? What have we said against you?” You have said, “What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.”

Many of the African people seek a tangible God. They want something to show up right now, they want to hear, see, and hold God. So many cult churches offer a tangible power, but it’s not the truth. I have encountered people who question Christians and the church. “Some men create churches just for the tithes and offerings, preach and drive from church to church all day Sunday, and collect tithes and offerings for themselves.” We have learned from the Africans and many are upset by that. “Does God allow that? And if so, why? Wouldn’t it just be better to do our own thing than sacrifice our hard earned money for something fake?”

This is where I find my answer:

Deuteronomy 7:5b-6

“…You must break down their pagan altars..burn their idols. For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on the earth; The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure!”

His own special treasure…wow. I am called to tear down those strongholds that hold the people of God back from Him.

For that reason I find this scripture so special:

Jeremiah 9:12

“Who is wise enough to understand all this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it to others? Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?”

Psalm 49:6-9

“Let the praises of Go be int heir mouths and a sharo sword in their hands. To execute vengeance on the nations,.bind their legs with shackles…this is the glorious priviledge of his faithful ones.”

Psalm 21:6

“You will capture all your enemies. Your strong right hand will seize all who hate you…”Although they plot against you, their evil schemes will never 12 For they will turn and run when they see your arrows aimed at them.”

What a verse of edification! {encouragement, declaration} I just felt God pouring into me that nothing was impossible through Him. He can do anything through me – I am a vessel in His hands. While the enemy may try to attack me with physical, emotional, and mental pain or scramble my WiFi so that I am unable to communicate with my family for a week, he can’t knock me down because God is my comforter. God’s word and blessing on my life gives me power to resist the enemy in all of his attacks – be it having communication problems with my roommate or a discouraging day on the mission field. Being a missionary is not just when I am out in the shacks talking to people – I am just as much, if not more, of a missionary in my own home.

Sweet, South Africa

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived and am so excited to be here!

I was unsure of what to expect housing wise but when we arrived at our home for the next 11 months, I was in awe. Nice rooms with their own bathroom and a pool in the backyard. We don’t have everything set up yet (we gather groceries on our own for the first time this Sunday!) but it is coming together really nicely. All the interns are getting along and enjoying the company of everyone. Last night we hit the sack early, about 10:45pm and yet I woke up at four in the morning! The mornings are gorgeous here, though (as is most of the weather because it’s summer currently!) Sitting outside and watching the sunrise while spending time in the Word felt so refreshing.

Maybe it was the peacefulness, maybe it was the early hour of the morning, or maybe it was the full-hearted pursuit of God and completing His will – but I had an amazing devos this morning!! As I opened various devotionals, God began to speak to me about praise. Praising God can move mountains – even city walls! {Joshua 6:1-5; 20-21} “And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.” {Jeremiah 32:39} Praise creates hope. Psalm 145 (and the last couple of chapters) brags on God and revives your spirit. “But joyful are those who the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord God.” {Psalm 146:5} “The Lord’s delight is in..those who put their hope in His unfailing love!” {Psalm 147:11} Praise generates peace (Psalm 147) and it also reminds us of His goodness things you’ve come through –He brought you out of- (Psalm 103:2). My favorite is one later on: “Violence will disappear in your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.” {Isaiah 60:18} Praise opens the gates to the kingdom of God – in church, in your home, in your car, and yes, even in another country. How awesome that we can praise God and exalt and He will open doors and grace us with His mercy every morning. Hallelujah!

Since the trip down here can be so strenuous, Impact Africa is breaking us in slowly with briefing and allowing us to gradually take everything in and adjust to life as an intern in South Africa. They took the interns to the first (of many) malls in South Africa and we purchased our phone with air time as well as participated in the third annual Pick N’ Pay Scavenger hunt! {Pick N’ Pay is the equivalent of our Walmart}. I didn’t win…but it was still rewarding to find a few different things that sound like one thing but are actually completely different! “Baby marrow” isn’t what you think it is…it’s actually zucchini!

Pick N' Pay Scavenger Hunt!

Wouldn’t be a trip to South Africa without chicken feet! Notice my grossed out grimace.. and yes this color is just from being in the sun during the morning. It’s so intense!!

Yesterday was our first full day of training which included going to the communities walking through the creshes (daycare) and learning more about the Baby Safe (which I was SO excited about from the beginning!) The more I learn about the programs Impact Africa has, the more I partner with them. Impact Kids is set up so strategically by Michelle Franzen. Based on the statistics in South Africa, she has orchestrated a very effective system. South Africa estimates that 4.7 million of its people are totally illiterate and another 4.9 are functionally illitierate (meaning adults who left school before grade seven.) Three million households, almost eighteen million people live below the poverty line (set at an income of only $35 a month!) Research shows that up to half of an individuals capacity to learn has been established by the age of four. With that mindset, Impact Africa opened up a preschool from ages 2-6. Most African parents send their children off to first grade without any training beforehand. They don’t know how to sit still, their attention span is short, and they lack the motor skills to excel. Impact Kids is well rounded with separate classrooms for the 2-3 year olds, 4-5, and 6 (sometimes 7 depending upon their educational development.) From 8-1 they are being taught with play breaks and gym in between lessons, after 1 they have free time and the cresh turns into more of an afterschool care, making the most of their attention span. Every lesson incorporates Christian values, scripture memorization, bible stories, songs, etc. They go above and beyond the requirements of the Gauteng (how-tang) school system. The school has really taken off and even in the beginning of the year (most of the parents wait to send their children to school till the beginning of February) the creshes are almost at capacity!

Some of the gals and I have shared stories and already encouraged and challenged each other in our faith. We’re enjoying each other’s company. The second evening before dinner we all stood in a circle hitting the volleyball back and forth. There is such peace in the household and we all are meshing so well. After dinner my roommate and I spent some time together and prayed for each other as we begin to settle into our new home here in South Africa. Last night we went to a braai (barbeque) with the Impact Africa founders, Rich and Michelle Franzen. We played games, swam, and at the very end were able to Skype with our families! It was so nice to be able to talk to everyone! Once we arrived back at our home all the interns gathered to pray together for our ministry and unity as a team. All in all, I’m enjoying my time here (you know, in the two days that I’ve been living in South Africa.) I will update you soon on more things that we are doing and how we all grow, as well as stories of ministry (which are in the weeks to come!!) Thank you all for your support and prayers, they are much appreciated and they have (and continue to) made a difference!

BIG Update!

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

It’s been a while since I’ve written to you all. My apologies, settling back into a life with two jobs and no spare time can be a little hectic.

The organization, Impact Africa, whom I ministered with while on my missions trip, has accepted me into their one-year internship program. I am so ecstatic!! I will be dedicating one year of my life to touching these people’s lives and changing the nation of Africa.

I have wanted to do this for over a year now and sitting here writing to you, my spirit soars. I will be ministering to the kids from the “homeless” camps, loving on them, teaching them, sowing into their lives and futures! I will be sharing the love of Christ with the men and women, moms and dads, in these camps.

While I was out ministering to these people, many of their questions were so deep. They cling to the Word of God and are hungry for answers! One man asked, “In the story of Moses and the burning bush, was God telling him to take off his shoes because the ground really was holy or was He talking about the hardness of his heart?”

WOW.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought about that while reading the story of Moses.

With less than three short months to raise $16000 for this trip, I need your help! You’ve seen and heard what is happening in this country, they so badly need the Love of God to be evident. I not only need one-time donors, but also monthly supporters who will largely fuel this expedition to touch the lives of those who have been abandoned by so many.

If you are interested in more information on how to partner with me, comment below and I will send you the information.

Thank you for believing in me and supporting me!

Surprise!

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

We went back to Kya Sands today since we had discipleship with everyone there! Just like last week, we visited the clinic in the morning and then took a break for lunch, going back out on the streets afterwards.

This morning I met a sweet lady named Prudence, who was waiting for family planning (birth control) with her daughter Privilege. Aren’t those awesome names?! One thing that is amazing about the African culture is that every name has a specific meaning behind it. We talked for over an hour, sharing stories of America and South Africa, how she became saved. I learned she was traveling 5 miles with her four month old in order to have a few minutes with the doctor. He never showed and as we headed out to minister at discipleship I saw her leaving.

Discipleship was awesome, we talked about the Tower of Babel and how we all have “towers” in our own lives. What’s a place of pride that can be a stumbling block for you?

Today what impacted me the most was a conversation I had with someone who works with Impact Kids. We were talking about a girl in the program who was a little rough around the edges. As I was teasing her today, she told me, “F*** you.” Multiple times. At first I chuckled out of shock but then explained that’s not what we say. They (the person who works at I.K.) explained she didn’t have a good home life. “That little girl was raped this year by her eleven year old neighbor.” They tell me. I’m shocked. “Her father isn’t in the picture either. Mom is just around the corner to giving her life to God. We are praying for her continually.” They tell me. I’m floored. Things like this happen all the time. Babies are found in dumpsters. It’s never okay, but it’s become a normal thing around here. Women take their children to Sangomas [our equivalent to witch doctors] who put strings around them to ensure health, inevitably bringing curses on them.

Impact Africa is starting a baby drop box, hopefully this year. To prevent mothers from tossing these babies into dumpsters, setting them in the pit of port-a-potties, or putting them in the middle of streets. They hope to eventually take the house in Diepsloot and make it a house for the babies to live while waiting to be adopted. For now half of the house will be dedicated to the babies as just a holding home while they are waiting to be put into the system. The biggest thing I.A. needs right now is favor with the government and wisdom on what choices to make. They need this because they want to purchase more land in order to expand their ministries in the squatter camps. Right now, both facilities are at full compacity! Please partner in prayer for them in that!

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Last Day in Kya Sands

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

God moved today! We had such a great time ministering in the squatter camps. The day started off well and as we were finishing our first trip of the day to Kya Sands, we greeted a young lady. We had an obvious language barrier and decided to pray with her and then be on our way. But the Lord had other plans.

When we ask her if we can pray for her and safe travels as she visits her sons, she just keeps repeating, “Mozambique”, and we’re unsure were to go. She motions to her neighbor who steps up to translate for us [a literal God-send]. We pray for her and turn to the translator to thank her. She nods and just as we are about to ask her if we can pray for her, she points to herself and says, “pray for me.” Beaming with pride. We agree and she invites us in her shack. She tells us how her sband died two years ago and her sons live in another city. She wants them to be blessed and wants Jesus to bless her as well.We grew concerned because the premises for the prayer request is a little off. “Melta” continues to rattle off personal prayer requests about being blessed and forgiving others, sounding spiritual but really having a personal agenda behind it all. Deciding to be late for lunch, we sit down to explain who God really is. As we ask questions we realize she really does want to learn more. I began to explain how it would be hard for her to forgive someone who hurt her family, right? She nods her head and I continue, “what if in order for that person who hurt your family to live, you gave up your son so that they could live with his heart? You see, that’s what God did for us. Even though we hurt Him, He forgave us. And sent His son to die, a part of Him that he treasured, so that He could have a relationship with us. It’s because he forgave us that we can easily forgive others. His grace and mercy gives me strength when I’m upset because I turn it over to Him. He takes my frustration and my worry, and gives me peace. Does that seem like a good trade?” She nods, acting surprised that someone would do this for her. She continues to listen and asks the question of how she can talk to God. “It’s just like you and I are talking. You can tell him what frustrates you or what makes you happy. You can go to Him and tell Him anything.” “oh.” Her eyes get wide. She says the salvation prayer and we celebrate with her. After praying for her, we give her a few verses and head out the door for lunch.

After lunch we did discipleship with a group of people and then visited a young lady who just had a baby three months ago. The baby was certainly full term at ten months. She had gone to a “sangoma” [witch doctor] and he gave her special bracelets to put on the baby and herself in order to “ensure” a healthy life. A week or so later, she had a stroke. [Several women in the camp have had a stroke, we’ve encountered at least 1 in the camp every day since we’ve been here.] We prayed with her and the baby, and as we walked home we talked about how most women at the camps go to sangomas to ensure a healthy life for their child. One woman didn’t go to the sangoma and lost her baby at two years old. After she had another child, she insisted on going to the sangoma and now proudly brags how her child is so healthy.

 

Prayer is definitely needed in these camps. Although the soil is rich here, there is so much false doctrine that misleads them. Pray for truth to be exposed and for a hunger to rise to seek the Lord. Thank you guys for continually following, I look forward to seeing you when I’m back in the states!

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The Conclusion of My First Week in S.A.

Life updates, Missions

Today has seemed to be three days all in one. And so was yesterday! We’ve done so much and I’ve been too exhausted to write about it. [So please forgive me on that note :)]

Yesterday we visited an African church, which was so amazing. The completely different culture was quite a contrast to what I’m used to, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, it was so amazing. They were dancing and just praising God. For people who live in extreme poverty, they sure do have an abundance of joy. We also went shopping to an outdoor mall and just enjoyed spending time together as a group.

Today we got up early and had team devotions before breakfast and after we ate we drove right to Kya Sands to start the day. The medical clinic was open today and we ministered to the people waiting to see the doctor. One of the interns, Sarah, told a story about the the woman at the well to them and afterwards we went around to meet the people, get to know them, and minister. This one lady, sitting off on her own, had caught my eye from the beginning. I was a little nervous to approach her but I did anyway. As I said hello, I realized I needed a translator. When I went to get one, he talked to her and told me there was a language barrier still.

This was a discouraging moment. I felt like someone had told me I couldn’t have kids. I was n’t discouraged or heavy-hearted, I just went to seek out another solution.

Right as we couldn’t find anyone else to help us, a woman entered the clinic who speaks the exact language this woman does, an answered un-spoken prayer. I learned that she had only caught a short part of the story because it was all she could understand. As I finished the story for her, I asked her what her favorite part was. She responded telling how she loved how Jesus told this woman everything she had done and how he forgave her. We continued to talk and prayed together, signing her up for discipleship which we help her grow even stronger!!

After lunch and taking some time to play with the kids, we went out into Kya Sands and did a kids ministry. It was so awesome! The kids jumped right in and partnered with it so well! I have a ton of pictures for you guys today. So enjoy them and I’ll see you tomorrow! We’re back to shack to shack tomorrow with discipleship in the afternoon; I’m so excited!

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Day Two in Kya Sands.

Life updates, Missions

Today was a lot busier than yesterday, but it was also filled with that much more memories and adventures.

After we woke up with only about 20 minutes to get ready for breakfast because we both forgot to set our alarms, we scrambled to get everything together and head over to the dining hall where everyone on the mission team meets. Once we finished our breakfast we packed in the van and drove ten minutes down the road to the “township”.

One of the key things Impact Africa heavily supports is creating relationships with everyone we talk to. Instead of asking if they know about Jesus and turn away if they say yes or lead them through the salvation prayer if they say no, we visit with them and ask them questions, learning more about them. We ask if we can help them with housework, like washing clothes, dishes, or sweeping. One of our team even helped a man paint his house! The priority is to show them God’s love. Especially since most of us are white and because so many of them work for the white man, they’re surprised when a white man comes to serve them. With aparthide only being illegal for 17 years or so, segregation is still common. Many times while a black man charges say, 200[R]and (1 rand is equivalent to 8 U.S. dollars) most people will not agree to his price and bargain him down. A white man can come in, however, and charge the same price and they’ll pay him for it.

We walked through the “squatter” camp and saw the different shops they had set up as well as the children playing in the creek (the contaminated water smells pretty bad), some even filling used syringes with water and squirting them at each other. Some of the kids emptied an old bean bag and Jacob (an employee of I.A.) pulled it above their heads and shook it, the closest these kids will probably ever get to seeing snow in South Africa.

When we begin to walk back to the children’s camp for lunch, Jacob tells us a little bit more about the squatter camps. The term “squatter camp” is actually not properly used for Kya Sands. The government owns the land they live on, they lease to several different people, who then sub-lease it to other people (in smaller portions), who then also sub-lease it (to the people who live there). This results in cramped quarters for those who live on the grounds and the rent for one of these shacks is 300R or more a month. It may seem cheap but for someone who does not have a steady flow of income and possibly even a family to support, this could eat more than half of what you earn that month. How do you buy enough to feed your family?

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Once we get back to the streets after lunch, our group meets a sweet husband and wife enjoying a day off from work. We get to know them better and they tell us they are originally from Zimbabwe, with two children back at home. They are here for jobs to provide for their family back home, living in the squatter camps alone for two years. They’ve been married for ten years and go to a church next door. I ask them what their favorite Bible story is and they can’t tell me in detail. I decide to tell them about my personal favorite story, Job. Once we finish someone else mentions the story of Jonah. I ask them if they’ve ever heard of it and they shake their head. As I tell them the story, I remember watching Veggie Tales as a kid, and I begin to tell the story even more vividly. One of the interns with I.A. chimes in and tells of a moving story in Ezekiel 16. Babies are abandoned often in South Africa because the mothers cannot afford to take care of them; in another squatter camp a few weeks ago a woman wrapped her newborn in bags and left it in the middle of the street. Needless to say, a taxi car drove over it, killing the child. The woman tears up at the story Cory tells her and her walls come down. They want to be in a discipleship group and want to visit our church if we will visit theirs.

The last group we visit are a few men outside talking. They shout out to us, “Sawbona” (meaning, hello) and we ask them how they are, “Kunjani?” they smile and nod their heads. As we ask them about their plans for the day they just explain they are getting ready to go to the store but than can chat for a little while. Eventually, the conversation fades and we’re not sure where to go with it. We ask if there is anything we can pray with them for before we leave. One man wants us to pray for him, the other says no. When we question his answer, he replies, “I do not believe.” Cory turns in response, “May I ask why you do not believe?” He just shakes his head and explains he believes in ancestors, and prays to them.

[There are many different religions in South Africa. Some pray to their ancestors, believing they can change things for their favor and bless them. If they do not honor their ancestors, bad things will happen to them.]

As the conversation continues, Cory asks if he were an ancestor, what could he do to help others. He thinks, and says he would be a good one. She persists, “What would you do to help others?” He shrugs, unsure. She draws a circle in the dirt, explaining this is all the knowledge, everything about the world and space, etc. He nods, indicating he is following her. She then asks him to draw a circle inside the big one she just drew and show her how much he knows. He hesitates for a while but Cory urges him to, so he draws a small one inside of the circle. She begins to explain, if this is all that he knows, could there be a truth that he is missing? Cory draws a cross outside of the circle, pointing to it as she talks about the truth. She explains the hatred satan holds for God, how Adam and Eve were kicked out the garden, how Jesus died on the cross for him. He is compelled, the wheels are turning in his head. She gives him the gospel of John and encourages him to constantly read it. We talk for a little more and he then asks her how long she has been sharing “the good news” he calls it. Impressive for someone who half an hour ago didn’t know who satan was.

It was such an awesome day today. Tomorrow we are going to a church service in a township and we’ll end our day at the mall. A nice “relaxing” day. We are all definitely enjoying our time here!

The Great Vacation

Life updates

What a great past week! Vacation was amazing, northern Wisconsin always takes my breath away. The 70-80 degree weather up there was relaxing compared the 102 degrees we were used to! This year was a lot more laid back than our last family vacation.

We did some tourist shopping our first full day in Hayward..

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I couldn’t help but get a few shots of the amazing architecture ..:)

If you woke up early you were rewarded with a little eye candy.

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You could hear the fish coming up for air, leaving ripples in the water. The loons were calling out from some far off place, and the morning mist over the lake was moving calmly. You couldn’t help but take a few shots and then sit back and enjoy the peacefulness. It was heaven.

We filled the rest of our vacation with little activities like go-karts, bonfires, flea-markets, beach picnics, and plenty of dinners out {of course!}

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My favorite part of our vacation was when we rented a boat for the day and spent it all out on the lake 🙂

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Since we came back on Saturday, my sister and I were able to go to see Gungor at Summerwood. They are such an inspiration to the both of us and we were even able to meet and grab a picture with them! It was such an awesome concert. Being right next to the stage was a great experience!  Can’t wait to see them again! {Excuse the cruddy iPhone image quality}

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