May 1, 2011

Awake, O sleeper,
     rise up from the dead,

     and Christ will give you light.
Ephesians 5:14

April 30, 2011

A (relatively) short list of what I have learned in Africa.

Do not judge people based on first impressions. I’m always wrong anyway. There is so much more to Your creation than I can understand from my limited and narrow human perspective. Plus, I could be missing out on great relationships simply because of untrue assumptions.

Do not have expectations. They only get in the way of Your plan for my life and cause unnecessary frustration and disappointment when they are not met.

The people of Africa are far more similar, and far more different, from myself than I could ever imagine. Although they have such joy, they also have such despair. This is a despair I simply cannot understand coming from the culture and wealth that I do. Yet this despair can also give them a deeper joy than I can understand or experience.

People can love so quickly. The women that I worked with at Walk In the Light loved me. I love them. Too much for my heart to handle, it seems. My heart hurts for the specific trials they have been through. For the fact that they have such a hard time simply keeping their children fed, let alone themselves. They work every day to survive. I am honored to have been able to love them and give them relief from their hard work and even harder lives even if it was for only a short time. That was my purpose here, to love those women as Jesus loves His believers. To serve them, even pamper them, to just exist with them. God, thank You for giving a job that comes so naturally to me. I love Your people and they will always have a piece of my heart.

I can’t always be in control. I can’t control the future. It is all in Your hands. You carry my softly. So why should I worry?

There are some aspects of life that I will never understand. I will never understand why AIDS exists, or rape, or hunger, or countless other injustices. I have heard many sermons or points of view on the problem of pain, but none of these human answers are sufficient. I don’t think they ever could be in this earthly body. I don’t know what to do because there’s no way I can have total understanding of this. But I also don’t want peace to just accept it, because that would feel like complacency. You hold all knowledge and I must realize that You will ultimately end the suffering of those who love you. But what of those who don’t? I have to leave justice in Your hands as well.

Others are far more important than I. The African people’s concept of ubuntu is beautiful. These people care for one another no matter what. A friend told me about a woman she met at a AIDS support group. She had been taking care of her sick sister, who ended up dying. What she didn’t realize at the time was that her sister was HIV positive. She contracted the disease from her beloved sister…not through any sexual immorality or other poor choices. The amazing part of it is that she is not upset or angry with her sister for not telling her. She would have taken care of her anyway, because that’s what you do here. That kind of love and concern for another human being before yourself is unfathomable to me.

God is in Africa.  Seems obvious, I know. What I mean is that I met God here like I never have before. He is so present. When I was removed from everything I was comfortable with, He revealed Himself in new ways. He is my Savior, my Father, my best friend, my stronghold. I can never again be an apathetic Christian after my experiences here.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my blog. I come home in five days! I am confidant that God will continue to teach me lessons and transform me as I return to the States. All of your prayers and encouragement were completely God-sent and lovely.

April 30, 2011
joy at my fingertips.

joy at my fingertips.

April 29, 2011
I hiked Table Mountain, folks. And I will never again do this. It was beautiful at the top! But it was such a hard hike…especially for myself, in all my un-athletic glory. I noticed that people sure like to give advice. It’s always those super intense hikers with their Camelbaks and neon colored shoes.
Oh don’t sit!! No no no, do this, watch me. You get up one step and breathe deeply. Then the next. KEEP GOING!
And this is me.
Thanks! *still sitting*
Another guy took it upon himself to yell instructions at Micah and I for about ten minutes on his way down the mountain. I’m not exaggerating. He kept telling us to stop and breathe ten times and then keep going. And he wouldn’t let us keep going at our own pace. It was quite humorous.

I hiked Table Mountain, folks. And I will never again do this. It was beautiful at the top! But it was such a hard hike…especially for myself, in all my un-athletic glory. I noticed that people sure like to give advice. It’s always those super intense hikers with their Camelbaks and neon colored shoes.

Oh don’t sit!! No no no, do this, watch me. You get up one step and breathe deeply. Then the next. KEEP GOING!

And this is me.

Thanks! *still sitting*

Another guy took it upon himself to yell instructions at Micah and I for about ten minutes on his way down the mountain. I’m not exaggerating. He kept telling us to stop and breathe ten times and then keep going. And he wouldn’t let us keep going at our own pace. It was quite humorous.

April 20, 2011
home: n. a place of refuge

We toured a township in Cape Town today called Langa. It was surreal being in a township again and it made me miss Honneville. I miss walking through the streets, greeting everyone I come across, even the lady who was always angry and cursing. I miss playing with the kids, especially Priska. I miss Tembahlihle. I miss Beatrice. I miss Beauty, Sylvia, Temba, Benedita, Phindile, and Paulina. I miss singing with them or listening to their beautiful, harmonious voices. I miss feeling that I was exactly where God wanted me. I miss serving and being with those people, sharing air and space with them.

I realize that Pietermaritzburg had become another home for me. It was a safe place, so to speak. I recognized how bittersweet going home to the States will be. Here, I’m homesick for America and all the people there. But when I go home, I know I’ll be homesick for Africa and all the people I love here.  It’s odd being in Cape Town, because it’s this weird in between. I miss the other Africa that I know. This feels like America. I think I would be falling apart if it weren’t for the George’s. I love them and they are the reason I like Cape Town.

But what was encouraging today was realizing that, ultimately, I’m homesick for a place I’ve never even been. I’m homesick to be with You. To talk with You, to touch You even. We will have eternity together, but sometimes it feels like that won’t come fast enough. In the meantime, I’m going to feel stuck between two homes down here on earth, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now I know I will never be satisfied staying in one place. I will go wherever You call me.

I give thanks for the transformation You’ve allowed me to go through. It’s been painful at times, but I don’t want to take it back for one moment. I can only hope these changes will remain. I want to seek after You every second. I don’t want to forget how great You are. I don’t have all the answers, not even close, and sometimes I feel bitter towards or frustrated with You now that I have seen such suffering. But You still love me.

April 20, 2011
feeding da squirrels

feeding da squirrels

April 20, 2011

It’s crazy how quickly people can bond. I feel like I’ve known Paul, Corinne, Jordan, Luke, and Parker for a long time and it’s only been three days. I can see their sincere care for us through everything they do…cooking meals, giving hugs, spending time with us, teaching Afrikaans songs, calling us daughters and sisters. They truly care about us and I care about them. The other night Paul was quizzing the boys at dinnertime about different facts from or about the Scriptures. He is such a good father. It reminded me of my dad and how he would lead our family in devotion every morning while I was growing up. Although I didn’t take much note of it then, I appreciate it tremendously now. Corinne has already talked with me about very personal things…her family life, for example. She’s very close with her family, but they have had their fair share of rough times. I’m honored that she feels comfortable to share this with me. She also talks about the other students that they have hosted in the past and her love for them is written all over her face and wrapped around the words she speaks. I am so thankful for the George family.

April 18, 2011
kitties

kitties

April 18, 2011

I am safe and sound in Cape Town with my host family. They are the sweetest. Renna and I are staying with them. We are supposed to be moved out and at the Bible Institute by the end of this week on Saturday. But they invited us to come back to their house for Easter Sunday! I love them already. Paul and Corinne are the parents…Paul is hilarious and calls us his daughters. Corinne is a seamstress and incredibly sweet. Then there’s their two boys..Jordan, 13, and Luke, 8. They call us their sisters and are giving up their rooms so we could be with them. Finally, there’s the smallest member of the family! Parker, the 1 year old baby girl :) She follows Paul around everywhere and whenever she can’t see him she just shakes her head and says, “no no..” over and over again. It’s adorable. On Sunday, they took us to church with them and then to a market on the beach in the late afternoon. They told us all about how they go there every single Sunday and all the other family outings they have. Ren commented how great it was that they spent so much time together. Corinne simply said, “We love each other’s company.” It made me think of my family. I miss all of you and am counting down the days until we see each other!

April 13, 2011

TRAVEL WEEK

consisted of riding along the Garden Route, visiting a gorgeous beach/jungle, cave exploring, and my personal favorite….bungee jumping. In all seriousness, if I could do it all again I would leap off that bridge and fall those 216 meters (about 708 feet) again in a heartbeat. Absolutely thrilling. I literally wrote about three pages in my journal about how fantastic it was. I’ll give a little summary…

First of all, the walk to the top of the bridge was probably the most terrifying part of the whole fiasco. We were in this little grate iron bridge in which you could clearly see the ground and just how far away it was. 216 meters of free fall, plus plenty of space between you and the trees. But once we came to the bridge I calmed down. It was surreal watching person after person simply disappear over the edge. And then it was my turn.

They got me all bungee’d up, only connected by the feet people. You wear a harness, but only for when they pull you back up. Two guys helped me wobble my way to the edge, my toes curling over the empty space below. I glanced down, put my arms out, head up, and waited for the countdown. Then I let myself simply fall over the edge, head first. It felt like I was flying, not falling. Completely weightless. At the bottom, I bobbed around looking at the stunning scenery around me. It was trippy looking down at the sky and up at the treetops.

Man, it was incredible. I wasn’t even too nervous. A couple butterflies here or there, two slightly clammy hands, but that was it. I honestly think I was more panicked at the narrowest part of caving the next day. You should bungee jump. Please do it.

WELL now that I’ve talked about that for far too long, we are finally in Cape Town! We arrived this afternoon. It is such a different feel from Pietermaritzburg. Much more of an urban place, similar to San Francisco kind of. I love it. Feels like a little taste of home. Tomorrow we are touring the city. On Friday, I start living with a family here for about a week! I’m excited to see what they are like and cook with them :)

That’s all for now. I will post more pictures as soon as I have better internet..