Can’t Say Goodbye

Challenge & Revelation, Photography

Wow. The past year and a half has been quite a whirlwind! Thank you to you all who try and keep up with the small notes I have time to put up (as you can see, it’s been a while!) I’ve missed blogging about the events and people that I meet here in Africa but God has been teaching me a lot this season about living  in  the  moment.

Some of you may know but I’ll summarize for those of you just jumping into this quirky girl’s life of adventure. I have been with Impact Africa for a year and a half as an intern. My job is a bit of a catch-all but in my time spent in South Africa I have not only made friendships that will last a lifetime as well as organized trips for the orphan-vulnerable children we have at our schools in several communities and planned weekly crafts, stories, and picked up the large amount of food that feeds all (close to) 200 children! I’ve learned much about blog writing as I wrote blogs for the organization as well as leadership through leading mission teams and coming back to “guide” this year’s interns. (I say guide in parentheses because there were definitely times they were guiding me!) I’ve helped teach an English class we set up for people in the community to help provide better job options and battled through wanting them to desperately know English as well as questioning if teaching was in my future. I’ve grown in compassion as I watched people try to hold their lives together without Jesus and then turn to Him and begin the journey of learning to trust how great He truly is. I’ve also struggled with the thought of never leaving and keeping these people under my wing forever, but I know that’s not God’s plan.

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Today I am returning to the States to prepare and begin college at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Part of me can barely contain the excitement, the other can barely hold in the tears. As I alluded to before, this season has been a bit of a tricky one. I feel that every time a season ends God’s grace seems to pull back a teensy bit so you can see what living life outside of His will is like (just in case you decide to change your mind and do something else.) Even in the moments I wanted to run away from the situation at hand, God always provided strength. While I was humbled, He was exalted and that is what I live my life for: His glory.

Some people say when God shuts a door He opens a window, but I believe God gives us the choice at times. Both will work just fine, but one is closer to His heart. These past six months have been difficult, but God refined me in so many ways. He gave me the choice to come back or to go back to comfortable Ol’ America and I didn’t come back because it was easy. I came back because I knew this is what God has planned for the rest of my life: missions. In whatever aspect that may take. Thanks for journeying with me during my time in South Africa. So this is not good-bye. Missions is an overflow of the heart and that’s how I live my life now. And for South Africa? It’s just a, “See you later :)” Can’t wait to see the new adventures that await us!

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Botswana Adventure!

Missions

It was 5 am. I woke up to do my devotions and started beginning my day. 5:45am our leaders pull up into the driveway with a bullhorn to announce we are going on a surprise trip to…Botswana! We have 15 minutes to pack and fit whatever we can in our backpack. The house becomes ablaze with activity, girls scurrying from one room to another, gathering toiletries, sleeping bags, and clothes off the line from doing laundry the night before. We finally make it in the van and start the 5 hour trek to the South African/Botswana border. We finally reach it and go through customs, then walk the border to Botswana!

Impact ME 2013

The first afternoon spent there we get to know our hosts, Michael and Heather Walker. They are missionaries with Word to Africa and specialize in discipleship (bible study) with those who have a hunger for God. They drive us through some of the “neighborhoods” essentially that they work in. We spend the rest of the day getting to know them and understand the ministry. The next morning we wake up and ride up to one of the mountains, clearing a picnic area for Word to Africa’s 21st anniversary picnic! With blisters quickly forming, we finished the job and broke for lunch. After lunch we set out to clear a field and pitch a tent for church. It was sweaty, hard work but with teamwork we accomplished it with enough time to go back to our rooms and clean up for a big dinner with all the local missionaries working with Word to Africa! Many of them poured years of experience into us, opening our eyes to see the different strategies and many different viewpoints of a missionary.

 The last day of ministry we went out into the neighborhoods to get to know the people in this culture and it was so good to talk to them! As we approached three woman washing dishes we began to talk to them and they opened up to share they all needed healing. When it came time for us to pray and we had finished, one woman spoke up to say, “We are blessed because you came to visit us.

“It was like a place where people had lost hope.” Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Jesus went to the place of no vision, no hope, spreading the truth to all who would hear it. When we went out to do ministry that is exactly what we did. It was such an anointed time! We were able to share with several people, learning about their community. We poured into one woman who by the time we left she not only understood God’s love for her but also acknowledged his ability to heal her!

God did amazing things in Botswana and Impact ME not only made a difference but I personally saw how it changed me as well!

Almost There!

Life updates, Uncategorized

Just a couple of weeks till I leave for the internship in South Africa!

I am so excited to begin this next chapter of awesome ministry and growth!!

In the past two months, I’ve already raised 4,805 dollars. WOW –  thank you to all my awesome supporters!

(if you have not sent your pledges yet, please send them so that I may effectively calculate how much more support I need)

However, I still need $11,195!!!

Some of you may not know about the internship, so here are the most commonly asked questions I receive:

What exactly will you be doing down there?

So many things!! The purpose of the internship is to learn how to more effectively minister and spread the gospel cross-culturally. Just as I did on my last missions trip, I will be going to the communities and sharing God’s love with them. So many churches and ministries have a script that you read to people and at the end, they receive the Lord. It’s not very effective, and while it may push you out of your comfort zone, it’s not equipping them for the journey of a lifetime.

With Impact Africa we create relationships. Instead of preaching at someone telling them they’re going to hell, we sit down and take the time to get to know them. The purpose is to create disciples and world changers instead of “converting” someone and leaving them to figure out their faith alone. As interns we will also train other groups (like they did with me last time) to effectively share the Word of God. Impact Africa also has daycare centers in the communities (both Kya Sands and Diepsloot) that I will also be helping with. They have a kids outreach in each community once a week where we get to share the Love of God and love on the kids.

Where will you be staying?

All of the interns will have houses to stay in 11 girl interns in one and between 5-6 (i can’t remember how many) guys in another house.

What do all of the finances cover?

The funds will go toward housing, air fare, visa, food and living expenses, as well as international health insurance and any unplanned needs that may occur.

How can I help?

Please prayerfully consider partnering with the Lord’s vision by enabling me to carry out His work. You can do a one time gift (if writing a check please write it to Impact Africa) or even sponsor monthly (by clicking here , reoccurring donation, using paypal and typing my name in the notes). If you have any other questions I would love to answer!! Email me: ashleybbridges(at)gmail.com

You guys have seen the change and growth that was implemented in the last trip and I would love to partner with you in this awesome ministry opportunity!

God bless and happy New Year!

Blessed Mouths, Mighty Works.

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

Today was another awesome day! I just wanted to take a moment though and thank all my supporters who helped send me here. Words cannot express my gratitude and I am so excited to see all the blessings God does in your life because of the great seed you sowed!

Once again in Diepsloot, we headed out early this morning, around 10ish. (This would be 3 a.m. your time.) Our group leader, Lynae informed me I would be the one choosing who to talk to and have most of the conversation time. After a day like yesterday, I was so fired up, I became even more excited! God was going to give me an awesome opportunity to lead someone to the Lord today and sow into their life. After walking for a minute we saw a shack where a woman was strumming the guitar. Intrigued by the music drifting through the air, we approached the shack to say hello. We asked if they were busy and they invited us in their one room shack, welcoming us into their small home. As we exchanged names we discovered there were three brother and three sisters all living in this one room shack. They came from Zimbabwe to find work and talked about how the conditions in Diepsloot highly contrasted the conditions in homeland. “The shack we live in would be for chickens,” They tell us, “It’s much cleaner in Zimbab, here people walk outside and throw sh*** in the streets.” We listen, intrigued to hear someone tell the truth so vividly. We exchange more, them asking us how America is different (most conversation include this question), what do we like here, etc. As the conversation lulled, I asked them if I could tell them a story. They nod their heads and even the brother, who seems to be somewhat of a jokester, turns and begins to pay attention. I tell them of the story of Joseph and the trials he faced.

As I open the story, I tell them of how this man had eleven older brothers. He was his father’s favorite, and his brother despised him because of that. Joseph had a dream that he told his brothers, telling them, “I dreamed that you will bow down to me!” They began to hate him even more saying, “Are you going to reign over us or are you going to have us as slaves and work us hard?” But Joseph told them another dream later, jealous and envy began to build inside of them. Joseph’s father sent him to take care of his brothers one day and when they saw him coming from far off they came together and created a plan. “Let’s kill him and throw him in the well, tell Father a wild ferocious animal devoured him, how then will his dreams come true?” An older brother stopped them and pleaded for his life. As he explained that they should not touch him, he secretly wanted to save his brother. Once Joseph approached the group, they stripped him of his coat and threw him into the well, sitting down to lunch. A caravan of sellers passed as they were eating and they decided to sell Joseph because there was no gain in killing him, but it would be more profitable to sell him. They took Joseph’s long coat after he was gone and killed a young goat, spilling it’s blood on it. Sending it back to their father they said, “Is this not your son’s coat?” The caravaners sold Joseph to Potiphar, the man in charge of overseeing executions for Pharoah.

Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and put him in charge of everything over his own house, even though Joseph was just a slave. His wife began to long for Joseph and would call after him to be with her. But Joseph fled and refused to listen. When he ran, she grabbed his coat and lied to husband, telling him, “He tried to be with me!” Potiphar was furious and threw him into prison. But God was continually with him and gave him favor, the prison guard promoted Joseph to be in charge of the prison and all that was done there. Two men were in the prison with dreams, but they were sad because they had no one to interpret it. As Joseph saw their long faces, he asked what was wrong and they told him their situation. One man told Joseph his dream and he interpreted it saying, “In three days you will be restored to your position with Pharoah, but do not forget me when you do.” The next man’s dream interpreted that he too would be reinstated with the Pharoah, but would die after three days. Even after interpreting the dreams, these men did not remember Joseph. Two years passed and Pharoah had a dream with no one to interpret. The man remembered him and they sent word to bring him out of the dungeon, and as Pharoah requested an interpretation Joseph replied, “It’s not in me but God will give you a favorable answer of peace.”

Joseph gives Pharoah the things he needs to do to prayer for a famine, exactly what his dreams call for. He tells him to find a man wise and proficient, even describing the containers needed and portions. Pharoah asks his advisers, “Is there anyone like him that we could find that match his character?” To Joseph he says, “Your God has shown you all this, there is nobody as intelligent and discreet and understanding and wise as you are. You will be in charge of my house and you will govern everyone.” Joseph prepared for the famine and once it hit, he distributed the food to everyone. Joseph’s father sent his brother to find the food in Egypt –The sister cut me off and finished the story with a smile, explaining she had forgotten the story but remembered it from 1st grade. (If you want to finish the story it goes all the way to chapter: link) They told us how they went to Salvation Army church in Zimbabwe. As we continued to share, the brother (who once had been a little smart-mouthed with us earlier) began to pour questions.

“It says in John 3 we are to be born again of water and spirit to enter the kingdom of God. Does that mean I have to get baptized in order to go to heaven?” We explained to him that “of water” is of physical birth, spiritual birth the second. Baptism is a public declaration of your relationship with God and laying your old self dead to sin, waking up a new person in Christ. It was such a divine appointment, God destined us to be there today, I know it. Sorry, no pictures for you guys today! Hope you enjoyed the update, “see” you guys tomorrow! Have a blessed rest of your day!

Don’t Give Up.

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

Today we visited a squatter camp called Diepsloot. There are over 200,000 people that live in the length of just three miles. Although the shacks are nicer, it’s also more expensive than Kya Sands.

As we started out our morning, we were full of hope. The first two groups of people we talked to didn’t really connect with us. I left feeling so discouraged and disappointed, I wanted to leave right then and go home. –But that would have been just what the enemy would have wanted, wouldn’t you say?

We took a lunch break and hung out with the rest of the group, sharing our own testimonies and encouraging one another. Having the personal time helped. As our team headed back out to talk to more people, I was a little more hopeful. We met up with a large group of people from Zimbabwe and began to learn more about them. They were all brother and sisters, coming from a family of 16 children. The brother moved to this camp in ’99, the others later followed in order to find work. One of the sisters we met was the eldest and I related to her that I was, too. We continued conversation and the brother, Thunga, recognized our Bibles and asked why we had them. We began to share why and he continued asking questions. “Why does it cost money to buy a Bible when God gave it to us?”, “Why are there people who read the Bible and still commit crimes?”, “Do soldiers kill because it is their job or because they believe in God?” I jumped right in without hesitation. “Does food cost money?” I ask him. “Yes.” He replies. “But you need that food to eat, right?” He nods. “The Bible is the same way. It feeds our spirit, and we need it to grow and stay healthy. But it’s a sacrifice, it cost something.” He nods excitedly, he understands. Then he asks the next question, in response I say, “People are born with evil in their hearts. Some go to church for the wrong reasons and don’t have a relationship with God. They do the actions but don’t talk to Him. Without a relationship with God, He can’t keep cleaning our hearts when we mess up. People are like that in America, too.” I explain, “They think if they do good then they will go to heaven, but God says in His word that people will come to Him declaring all the good things they did for Him but He will say “go away, I don’t know you.” That is why it is so important to have a relationship with God and talk to Him. That is key.” Thunga nods his head and proceeds to the next question. Neil speaks up and explains, it’s their job, it’s not right to kill others unless we’re defending our country. We continue our conversation and feed Him verse after verse, at one point Thunga jumps from his seat and runs to go get his Bible. He was welcomed into the kingdom of God today and I am so excited for him! Our interpreters will continue to follow up on them and minister to him.

Don’t despise the little things and don’t get discouraged when things look rough!!! Persist and push through opposition, God has a plan for your day today and an amazing destiny set before you!

 

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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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