Reflections on 2011 part 1

urgg... how I love technology! So I have been working on a VERY long blog to sum up such an amazing 2011 and somehow.. even though I saved it I can't find it! So this will be a very short version and when I get back from my little camping get-a-way I will re do it:)

 Yesterday I was reflecting on 2011 in my journal ( I wrote 16 pages and I'm still not done) and I realized that many people love to make New Year's Resolutions at this time but I adore just re living moments in 2011 and trying to capture them on paper so that I won't ever forget. It's a fun process but it's hard. All the massive mistakes I've made and the people who I hurt come to mind just as much as the incredible lessons I've learnt and friendships I've made. The one thing that I kept writing and re-writing in my journal that God's grace is never ending. When I look back at 2011 I see God's hand over my life, I see the Spirit moving and it's such a humbling experience knowing that the God of the universe takes interest in my life. A new lesson that I've learnt this year is grasping that God delights in me. That I'm his and nothing is going to change that. I love the title of my blog- Forever His. It is a reminder every time I sign onto my blog that I am God's. Eternity is hard to think about but I guess that's where faith comes in.. knowing that I am with God forever and ever.. 

Something I haven't reflected on in a while but something that I should reflect on more often is the fact that I am alive. That being on earth today is a gift. I had a scary wake-up call on Christmas day. Around 6pm on December 25 I got itchy all over. Than my fingers started to tingle and I lost feeling in my face. I was on this beautiful property and we were out for a walk after our lunch. I realized something was wrong and started heading back to the house. When I got to the house my face was a white pasty colour and everything on my body was swollen. My host sister Catherine ran and got Anne (my host mom) and before I knew it I was in the back seat of the car, freaking out driving to the hospital. I car ride was a blur- my eyes started shutting and my throat started closing. It is honestly the scariest thing that has ever happened to me- it was terrifying. I could feel my throat closing. Than I went unconscious and I don't really remember too much. Than a wonderful miracle happened- I threw up in the back seat of the car. It was my bodies attempt to stay alive. Looking back now if I didn't throw up I probably would have died on the forty minute car ride to the hospital. But God is good. I was rushed to emergency and hooked up to an IV within seconds. By 10pm I was stable and the drugs had made me twitch a lot and my speech was still blurred but for the most part I was ok. When they told me I was stable I just wanted to go home. Sooooo baddd.. there is no way I can put into words the intense desire that I just needed to be home. However because of the severe reaction and the fact that I almost died I was told that I had to stay the night at the hospital. 

Let me remind you what day this all happened.... Christmas night. Once that clicked in my head that I would have to sleep overnight with no one on Christmas night I was a mess. I just couldn't stop crying. ( I am blaming my reaction on the drugs) This moment has been the lowest of my trip this far. I am so happy that I stayed overnight because I was watched like a hawk and given drugs throughout the night but at the time I was not ok. Writing this sense shivers up my spine... I still can't accept the fact that I almost died because that is just too scary to grasp. Also I feel like I am exaggerating when I say that " I almost died." The doctor told me that given another few minutes I wouldn't have made it.. that scares me too much to believe it.

Physically I am ok- mentally I am dealing with it. To be honest I'm not sure how much more mentally I can handle on this trip and I'm not even half way. First my laptop and pictures were stolen, than I got sick. Than I got pneumonia and my lung collapsed. Than my job didn't need me anymore and I was stuck finding new work and lastly on Christmas night I had an allergic reaction. 
Mentally I am exhausted and I 100% know that without God's strength I would be on a flight home

I am leaving right now to go away for a few days camping for a bit over New Years. I promise to write more once I get back and give you some of my favourite highlights of 2011 so stay tuned!

but for now I'll say HAPPY NEW YEAR:)

all my love coming your way.



A year ago

I've never re-read my blog posts before. But this morning as I'm doing my devotions I remembered that last year at this time I started my blog. I looked at my December 24th post and it really is the same thing I am thinking and praying about this year. Thought I would share it with you.

Plus it's fun to think that I wrote something a year ago and it still rings true! 

I love Christmas! Maybe I should write that again just to make sure this is clear. I love Christmas! From seeing my family to the birth of Christ, Christmas is def. my favourite time of the year. Ever since I was a little girl I would race downstairs and see what Santa had in store for me that year. Christmas has always brought a joy in my life. I love to celebrate Christmas and love the thrill that it brings!

But this afternoon my heart aches for so many precious people that tonight and tomorrow are just another day. These people won't know if they will live to see the next day; nor what it holds. For me my night is all planned out. From church service to playing cards with the family, opening our novels before bedtime to putting out cookies and milk, (even though I'm 18) the night is simply magical. But for too many tonight is just another night. For over 27 million slaves in our world right now, its another reminder that they have no control. For the millions of girls in the sex trade they know that tomorrow will be like any other day: being raped and sold, time and time again. Throughout all the busiest that Christmas brings, I'm taking this half hour to pray and remember these precious children, adults and elderly all around the world that won't be able to celebrate the birth of the Saviour. I pray so dearly that I would learn to think less of myself and more of others. I believe in the power of prayer and I hope my prayer touches the life of someone tonight. That maybe tonight one girl trapped in the sex trade won't be rapped and can try to sleep for more than a few hours.
I hope that my attitude will reflect nothing that is selfish this Christmas but only a selfless heart. There are so many people in our own community that needs someone to love on them. We all have gifts. We all have things we are good at and the Lord really wants to use us to reach the hurting. I realize that every Christmas, millions of people will not celebrate it, but I have a goal that I can touch lives through Christ throughout the year so that Christmas 2011 there will be a few more smiling and rejoicing.

So to all the ones that are hurting right now, know i'm praying for you and that the maker of the universe loves you.

Where has December gone?

Merry Merry Christmas!

It has been so long since I have blogged.. (okay only two weeks) but it feels so much longer. December has been a CRAZY month! Since I am an extremely dramatic person let me repeat again- December has been unreal. The emotions I've felt this month have been intense.. so many amazing emotions and so many life lessons that I am starting to realize and uncover. I had such a precious moment a few nights ago where Shawnti and I just sat with our feet in the pool on a warm summer's night talking about our lives and how much we have changed. From our thoughts, to the way we feel about our situation, to how we interact with family and friends.. the list goes on. I'm cherishing this moment because it gave me another chance to reflect on these last 4 months.

I really want to emphasize how much I love it here. These 4 months have been the best 4 months in my short life and I am so blessed- beyond blessed to be here and to be able to learn. The kids that I live with have stolen my heart. I have put everything that I have emotionally into those relationships that it's been hard to make time to get connected with people my age because I feel emotionally drained most days. I am so excited to be working in an NGO. All the craziness of switching jobs has been one of the most rewarding parts of my experience so far. I feel content knowing that this is what I want to do with my life and it's amazing that I can get experience in the field I want to go into. I get to see/experience and feel the "in's and out's" of an NGO- the daily problems they face and the incredible miracles that keep continuing to happen on a daily basis. There is still talk about me going back to the school to teach PE classes in the New Year however I am not entirely sure that is what I want, or what God wants. I am still praying about this all.

So the kids are back at their "homes" for Christmas and I am at my host families house for Christmas. The NGO (Project Gateway) closed on the 15th and will re open on January 9th (i think?). I move back into the boarding house on the 16th of January. On December 16th Faye (one of my co-workers and dearest friends here) invited me to spend 5 days at a beach house with her family! It was unreal!!!! I ran on the beach most mornings, woke up at 430am to watch the sunrise over the Indian ocean and hung out with people my age! There was a hot-tub on the roof and we would sit in there for hours just chatting and enjoying our time. I haven't felt relaxed since being here and this weekend was just what I needed. On our way home from the beach we picked up Shawnti who will be spending Christmas with my host family! It is amazing to have her here and have someone understand my situation. Christmas is a time all about family and celebrating and when you're family isn't here its really hard to focus on Christmas being positive. Going through this hard time is SO much easier with her around!

Other super exciting news! MY SISTER IS ENGAGED! Liv and Jason are getting married! And you think I was obsessed with weddings before.... essshhh... I am SO excited for both of them and can't wait for them to get married. It makes me so upset and restless that I can't be experiencing the excitement at home but it's just another thing to deal with.

so that's the update on my life!



Casting Crowns Loving!

I just can't get enough of their new cd! Every song speaks right to my heart and I just feel like quoting all the lyrics all the time. So I decided to write a quick blog post to encourage you to listen to their new cd as well.  The messages are amazing.

& guess what! they wrote a song about birthdays... this relates directly to my bitter about birthday's blog post.. something I've been struggling for a while.

Casting Crowns - Come to the Well

Here are a few of the songs I adore (but I like them all!)

I have been working very hard this past week! The children are gone and so is a piece of my heart but God is good all the time.
The Pennels are off to Jo Burg so I've had the house to myself- freaking amazing!!!
Here's to a relaxing weekend (I hope) from a very emotional week:)



what I wrote in my journal...

here's a bit of what I wrote in my journal this morning.. thought I would share with you all.

*sigh*.. today is the last day @ the boarding house with the children. Although I have been very very emotional leading up to this day, I personally thought I would be crying by now but I'm not- not at all. It's weird- I'm totally at peace. For a moment I thought I was feeling this way because maybe I don't love them as much as I thought or because I've had a headache these past few days etc etc but I realized it's because God has put a peace in my life. A peace the the bible talks about having- a peace that goes beyond our human understanding. For the first time in a very long time (maybe the first time ever?) I am experiencing God's peace. Nothing I could have ever gotten from this world. 

The kids are leaving and the bags are packed. JP students (5 of them) don't need to go to school today and two have left already and the SP students are just planning a party and than their concert tonight- yipee! I am not looking forward to January when the kids come back and I realize that some of these kids won't be coming back but like stated earlier- I have peace. It is the coolest feeling in the world! Jesus, thank you for always looking out for me. It's so sur-real to not feel worried or anxious. Thank you for answering hours of prayers! These kids are not mine- nor will they ever be and although I love them like they are my kids, I am so blessed and privledged for them to have an opportunity to impact my life and for me to impact theirs. You never fully know the impact you have one someone - good or bad and I know that I touched these kids lives but to what extent I don't know.

I've really realized that we do go through seasons- a lot of different seasons in our lives. This season I'm going through is hard- but what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger and I know 100% I am stronger for this season. New kids will come and go, people will come and go in my life, situations will come and go in my life- that's just the way life goes. I guess I'm starting to realize that if I am on this earth for a vapour according to eternity that I shouldn't worry if I see these kids again or not. I was blessed to be with them for a season in my life and now that season is passing. This is all part of God's plan and I want to live out my faith knowing and believing that God has it all together and He is always in control. Yes I know I will miss them 100% but missing them is ok- being sad is ok- as long as I know that God's plan is taking them elsewhere and I need to be excited about that, rather than upset that I don't get to see them- that's just a selfish way of living and I need to get over that. okay, I better get back to playing uno with the girls.. no sense writing more on my last day with them- time is precious.
so thankful to be a peace today. thank you Lord. xo

so yes, that's some of what I wrote this morning! It is the last day! On Monday I put on a party for the kids- it was great!!! Yesterday was the JP concert and tonight is the SP concert. Around 9 tonight I will be back at the Pennel's for 5 weeks and spend Christmas with them. I am stoked :)
Hope your week is going amazing.
Sending you lots of love from Africa



Happy Saturday:) What better way to celebrate the weekend than a few pics of the past few weeks!
Scroll down to the next blog to read the recap I wrote of November also.


COP 17- I went to the opening rally. Unreal experience. 

Yes that is Desmond Tutu!!!!! Yes I saw him live. Yes I am excited:)

Got my Christmas package in the mail! Hurray! I'll have presents to open on Christmas morning

Kelly and I went to an orphanage and brought sweets to make with these kids- it was an amazing experience!


Enjoying the sweets! Tres cute. 
Working at my "new job" DMPR! (I'll keep you updated on what my job description really is another time)

I climbed this! - up to the ridge on the right

"Farming" in Lesotho!

Rainbow in Lesotho- tres beautiful hey?

Shawnti & I.
I really love this girl

Enjoying God's creation. Love the shadow on the mountains.

Our group hiking up the mountain. Such a precious moment I will always remember

SALTers! Our team for 2011-2012

Taking on PMB together:)


December already?

Hey Loves:)

I can't believe it's December. Time can go by so fast some days and the next day I am super depressed and just want it to be July and be home. 

Christmas is coming and I don't feel "Christmasyy" at all!! & I so want to! I am such a festive person and love planning parties and yet I feel so out of place and not sure what to do with myself. However I did get a package from my family together with little Christmas presents in it and I am stoked. 

November was a month of growth. ( I think every month I could write that but this month particularly)

Here's the recap:

I watched a girl get beaten and thrown into the street, I got to hear stories of girls who have been raped and beaten - their self worth shattered.
 I witnessed people living in homes with electricity and water on one side of the street and directly across the street (legit- across the street) people were living in nothing - (does a mud house count?) 
I got to visit another African country and meet beautiful people from Lesotho. 
I got to hang out with Lesotho SALTers and realize that even though we are in different environments we are going through a lot of the same thought processes. 
I got so much closer to my amazing host family. 
I learnt more about the country I live in and people that make up this diverse country. 
I finished being sick and my first week back realized that the school is no longer needing a volunteer there.
I started a new job and found out another way I can help out this NGO called Project Gateway
I got to be a judge at a dance competition (girls vs boys at the boarding house- my kids can dance!!)
I attended a vintage 20's dress up night with my homegroup from church
I visited a new orphanage called Sunshine and brought icing sugar and sweets and made crafts with the kids- I've never experience children being more thankful in my life
I realized that I don't fit into 3 pairs of my pants anymore... and everyone in Zulu culture vocalizes my weight gain.. (suppose to be a compliment.. eek!) Samp and putu diet .. o boy how I love.
I got to sit on my bed with the girls and have bible study together, sharing our hearts with each other
I experienced Toblerone and loved every minute of it!

Okay that's my VERY short version of November.. can't wait to see what December holds! 


Bitter about Birthdays

(( FYI:  I struggle a lot with knowing what to say on my blog that anyone could skim through. It is my utmost desire to keep these children's stories private for the most part but paint an accurate picture of what my experience is. If I only blog about my weekend activites and the good in the day, you will get a completely wrong picture of my experience. However I never know how much to say and I wrestle with this in every blog entery))

Birthdays =  a time to celebrate you. From what I'm use to this follows with a few presents, cake, family and friends getting to celebrate another year of my life. Last night through tears I was reflecting at my past birthdays. I took the time to try and remember each one and realizing very quickly the mood on each one of those birthdays: happiness. I was happy. It was about me that day and people came to see me, sent me a card or told me they were thinking about me on my birthday. I was recognized. I wasn't being forgotten.

Since living at the boarding house birthdays have been the opposite (not always, but most). I buy the child sweets (gummies) and write them a birthday letter. That's really all I can afford to get them to make it fair for each child, whatever gender. Coming into this I assumed (stupidly) that birthdays would be a happy time to celebrate another year of their life and also have a present to go along with it. I never thought my present would be the only present they got. I didn't know that for some of these children their birthdays aren't really recongized- the child isn't acknowledged. I'm frustrated with this and it often leads me to tears and venting to God trying to find his inner peace. (which He always provides might I add)
The past 3 birthdays I've experienced at the boarding house have always been linked with tears and sadness. These 3 girls each had their individual reasons to cry on their birthdays but the general theme was missing something. They missed their families. They missed feeling loved. They wanted someone to care.

 I watched as one  mother promised for 4 weeks that she would come and bring her daughter a birthday cake- she never came. I texted this mother twice asking her to be honest and say if she would actually come because I watched this girl wait and wait and wait and wait... this mother promised me she was coming on two different occasions and never showed. I had to watch this precious young girl realize after a month that her mom wasn't coming and whatever reason she had linked with it wasn't good enough.

I got to talk to her last night again about her birthday and she told me that most of her immediate family had died and that birthday's are so hard for her as it is. It broke me. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit was speaking through me because last night was all a blur. I feel terrible sometimes asking God for strength because there are so many people who need that strength more than I do, but I am blessed that God is WAY more than enough for the 7 billion people living on this earth. God gave me strength to get through 3 very difficult conversations yesterady- ending in this one with this girl about her lost family and forgotten birthday. As I tucked her into bed I grabbed both of her hands and prayed that she would feel God's love- that she would feel part of His family- knowing He is her heavenly Father and His desire is to take care of her.

(Pause with me for a sec). Why am I talking about birthdays? because I've realized that they aren't always the happiest time of the year- but one of the low points because they are forced to reflect on their life, who is taking care of them and what they have. I am also talking about birthdays because it was another beauitful girl's birthday at the hostile yesterday- she turned 8. 

She came running to me telling me it was her birthday yesterday and I pulled her into a huge hug and sang happy birthday to her! Her face lit up at the beginning of the day trusting that it was going to be a good birthday. I was excited for her. 8 is a big deal for a little girl like herself. Her Auntie brought her cake at the school and she celebrated with her class and teacher. This little girl cherished this 5 minute birthday party so much that she took all the used cake plates  (paper plates) from the kids and took them back to the boarding with her. I asked her why she wasn't throwing them out and looked at me and said happily "Auntie Maddie, they are my presents!! I have presents!!" 

I didn't have the heart to tell her that these weren't presents but belonged in the garbaged and prayed that I would see used paper plates as presents. They were memories to this girl, that she had that many friends at her birthday party. She wanted a memory of her 8th birthday.

However after a few hours passed the excitment she once was carrying slipped away. Her face was sad. I was watching her trying to figure out what was going on in this precious girls heart and mind. Finally once dinner was over and we were semi alone I turned her to face me, looked into her eyes and asked her "whats wrong?" Without one word said between us tears started falling on her beautiful cheeks. I could tell she was embarassed at the fact of how easily she was crying and looked down at the floor. When I told her it was alright and that it was a good thing to cry and tell me how she felt the tears came harder. She hadn't said a word yet but she climbed into my lap on the kitchen chair and rested her head in my neck, sobbing. I didn't know what was wrong but this was one of my short prayers to God reminding Him that I can't handle this and that I'm not strong enough and God replying right away that He is more than enough.

 The other girls were around and realized how sad she was on her birthday. After a few mintues had passed I asked her what was wrong. It took another 5 minutes before a response but she had said kids teased her and made fun of her on her birthday. ( I wanted to punch those kids - don't they know birthday's are hard enough as it is.. why do stupid children have to ruin it more for this girl.. urg... i was mad! but don't worry.. those were just some of the thoughts running through my mind- they never were vocalized or showed in my emotions)

The girls and I decided to put on a concert for her to help make her birthday a good memory, rather than a memory that led to tears. Since we were in the kitchen the spoons and forks became our micraphones and was started dancing around the kitchen singing justin bieber on the top of our lungs dancing around the table. Her smile started to appear- we stood her on the kitchen chair dancing around her singing happy bithday. The other girls got it. They understood far more than I ever can. They were doing everything they could to make her feel loved. I had to sit back and make a mental picture in my mind promising that I wouldn't forget the atmosphere of last night. The tears went away and turned into laughter. After about an hour I declared it was time for bed. As soon as some of the girls left the birthday girl stayed back tears once again falling on her cheeks. "O Lord, please give me your eyes, show me what you're seeing" - this is a simple prayer I pray ALOT. God knows what is in each one of these children's hearts and I so want to be on His team - seeing what He sees to know how to approach each situation.

As I grabbed her hand and led her upstairs to bed the tears turned into sobs and by the time we reached bed with all the other girls she had reached the point of crying that is just all pain. I asked her if she needed a moment and with a shake of her head yes- I carried her into my room and sat on the bed. Another girl came with. I put a pillow on my lap and told her to snuggle up! With lots of tears, filled with pain and exhaustation she told me how much she missed her mom. How much she just wanted her mom to see her. (Her parents both died when she was younger, 2 years apart, both of a sickness) Anytime these girls talk about how much they wish they had parents or about missing their mom I cry. Usually I would excuse myself go into my room and let the tears sob, chatting with God about how thankful I am for my mom and how hard taking the burden of these girls lives onto mine is. But she was already in my room and there was no where to go. I tried to be strong but the tears still came. As I rubbed her back, I started praying outloud over this girl asking God for strength and to realize that she was part of a family. I told her it was ok to miss her mom and to know that her mom was so proud of her along with other things. I don't know the whole story but this little 8 year old has been through a lot. ALOT.. more than I can write on blog.

I let her fall asleep in my bed the whole time just praying over her. I know God heard me and I know He is in control. After tucking her back into bed last night I realized that I hate birthdays here. Yes, a bitter thought but I'm being honest with you. I am thankful there are no more birthdays for a little while and I'm determined that when the next birthday comes up I will do everything I can to make it specail, but God reminded me that I can't fix that pain- only He can. Even if I throw the greatest party, all she wanted was a hug from her mom and I can't make that happen.

It's been a really emotional time and I'm sure it will only continue into next week. Most of the kids are leaving the boarding house and moving on. (some to highschool, one to Capetown and four children are transfering schools) This means a new batch of children are coming through but I think it will be less than 17. The dyanmaic is changing in the house as the mood starts to swing into "good-byes." Coming into this week I told God that there was no way I could handle this and He reminded me that "He always can!"

I am so blessed to have this experience to be used- to serve a living and Holy God. Even though these nights are hard I am so greatful to have this opportunity to live in the moment, to learn and to love on these children. God is always in control and I trust in Him for that. 


Still Processing

What a crazy few weeks its been!

I went back to the boarding house and to my job at the school and found out that the school has different plans than what I had expected. Long story short- seems like my job is being re-evaluated at the school and for the rest of this year I am no longer working at the school but in other areas of the NGO that I work for called Project Gateway... it's been an interesting week processing all of this and I'm happy to have left the country for a week and had the chance to visit Lesotho. In these next few weeks I will try to figure out my job and don't worry- I will keep you updated on all of that when I know more.. my position of living at the boarding house with the kids remains the same however:)

As mentioned above I travelled to Lesotho last week- it was great to get away from the city and from South Africa and spend time in a completely new culture but it was hard to see.  Have you heard of this country? Do you know that most of the country still doesn't have access to running water or electricity? This country is in the top 3 highest countries of HIV/AIDS in the world? Seeing this all up close was hard. It broke me and it takes a while to process these things. Trying to balance what to do about seeing this and meeting the children and hanging out with the locals and accepting the fact that they know nothing different and are happy with certain things..

so basically i'm processing and will write more when I've had time to let my thoughts sink in a bit more!

Hope your week was amazing:)

The Invitation

I was read this poem last week and it hit home- thought I would pass it on!

The Inviation- by Oriah
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.


"We were meant to live for so much more
 have we lost ourselves?"


failed video blog!

Hey All!

I have tried three times to upload a video to you! I realized you haven't seen me since settling in and I wanted to say THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!

I am just on a inhaler now for my breathing- God is so good. I will try to upload it again but I am frustrated with it.. but I want you to know I am doing great.
This week consists of me being back at the boarding house and being back at the school - a full week!

On Saturday I am heading to Durban to see a pre school graduation that my dear friend and fellow Shawnti is helping run. (that's where she works)

& on Sunday I am leaving nice and early to travel to Lesotho for a week (different country) and I get to visit 2 of the SALTers there and also do some manual labour.. .awe yea.

I hope you had a restful weekend. Mine was very busy but great to be social again:)



Against the Grain.

It's the little things in life that matter. Time and time again I am reminded of this because I so often forget.

The kids at the boarding house have an option to go home on weekends if they like. If their parents or guardians or whoever takes care of them wants them to leave they are more than welcome too. This often leaves half of the boarding children there on the weekends. I don't stay at the boarding house on the weekends but I have a pretty good idea that it can get very boring being there all the time.

It has so been on my heart to take the kids to church with me on the weekend. When I brought up this idea at the bible study I attend I was reminded of November 6 - make you famous day. This church service was going to be designed for the children - it was perfect! Dani, Kelly + Nathan (the coolest people ever!) all volunteered to pick up the kids from the boarding house and take them to church. It makes me so emotional typing this because I was so overwhelmed at how excited these kids were. When we got into the church they were amazed at how big the powerpoint screen was and how many people were at church. They were also so thankful. I have never seen these kids behave better. It was such a precious moment that I will forever cherish and hold with me.

Instead of taking the kids home after church Kelly and Nathan had a surprise for them. MCDONALDS!!!! Again, its the little things that make life so enjoyable - so valuable. Kelly and Nathan with the help of Dani's family bought the kids a happy meal! It was soooooo cute- we sat the kids down at a long table right outside the jungle gym area.. and they looked at me with a face that said "are you kidding me- you're going to make us sit when there is a jungle gym 5 meters away!" Silly me! Within seconds the giggles started as all 9 kids raced towards to jungle gym. They could have played in that thing for hours.

A simple outing like church and McDonalds has changed me. 

We live in a society that is "go go go" "want want want" "consume.. there is always more we need" "it's all about me and my gain" and I'm sick of it. I refuse to live like that any more. There is so much more to life than this way of living.

It's not all about me. It never was intended that way nor will it ever become that way in the future  no matter what society tries to say.

We are all made equal. Christ loves us each the same and has a Kingdom calling over each one of our lives. Why do we continue to sell ourselves short?

Why do I continue to look past the hurt and suffering in this world? On Sunday I got to see 9 beautiful children light up. I got to see their hearts filled with joy. I got to watch these kids feel loved. Is that not what life is about? Is life really about climbing the social ladder... getting the most expensive car and being accepted in society?

I know going against the grain is hard and I'm not saying it will be easy. What I am saying is that I will fight with everything that I have to continue to go against the grain. I refuse to be quiet any longer. People are hurting. People need to know that their is a God who is crazy about them and accepts them right where they are at. People need to know their is hope - there is a reason worth living.

My heart is heavy and my passion is strong. I can get so overwhelmed with the problems in this world. 7 billion people live on this earth - unreal. But for those 9 kids on a Sunday morning it made a difference. It made a huge difference to them.

God has put you right where He wants you. You don't need to solve poverty but you can make a difference in the people that God has put you with. I promise you, it will matter to the person you send a letter of encouragement too... it will matter to the homeless person you invite to Tim Hortons to have coffee with and listen to their story. It will matter that you said a girl looked beautiful and meant it when inside she is struggling with an eating disorder. It will matter to that child who you pick up and put on your lap and read them a story. It will matter- you're actions matter.

I am asking you to stand with me. To look past the constant selfish desires and to seek God's desires. I am asking you to live simply. I am asking you to go against the grain and help empower those who can't. I am asking you to pray for the girl who gets raped 15 times a day. I am asking you to become educated on the atrocities that are constantly being ignored while people talk about Kim Kardashians wedding. You will fail, I will fail but that should not stop us from trying. & if you can't - I'm still going against the grain. One of the biggest lessons I've learnt is that I'm no different from a girl living in poverty around the world- so what makes me think and act like I am?

I changed and when I come back I hope you see a different Madeline.
I thank those 9 children who reminded me what life is about and what matters in life.


Spoken Word.

On March 25 I blogged about attending a slam poetry event . I have been interested in poetry and spoken word poetry for a while now and this past week I stumbled across one that inspired me and had an outstanding message. I read it so much that I decided that people needed to hear this message as well.

I did not write this poem called 21st Century Girl - I was just inspired but the words and really believe in this message.


I linked the original in the description but I want to re link it here just so all the credit goes to this girl and not to me! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UjA6phhqDgA

I believe in change - do you?


A new outlook

I want to share with you what's been on my heart lately. It isn't any crazy story or something that you will laugh at while reading.. its just what's been constantly on my mind this past week.
So as you all know by now I've been sick. Since coming to South Africa there has been a constant feeling in the back of my mind that I am useless while being here. That feeling rises up whenever I loose my patience with the kids or when the school tells me they don't have any work for me to do for that day. It's been extremely discouraging thinking this way and I've tried so hard not to let my thoughts of "uselessness" surface for too long or even verbalize what I've been feeling. However lying in bed for 2 weeks has only increased this feeling making it a constant thought in my mind. I've had so much thinking time that I've almost convinced myself at one point that I wasn't doing any good and I was just acting like a tourist here. I shortly realized how destructive this thinking was over my life and my situation and how Satan could totally take control of these destructive thoughts and run with them.

I gave my thoughts over to God and asked Him to do something awesome with this "down time" in my life. I just adore how God looks over me in His special and unique way. God reminded me ( like He has to do many times when I get side-tracked) that one of the main reasons I'm living is to bring glory to His name. Also that my main purpose is to get to know God- that's one of the reasons that I am meant to live. He reminded me that even if I did nothing but spend time in His word and get to know Him better this year that that would be one of the greatest things I could do.

I was floored! What a foolish young woman I was to forget that profound truth. God used my sickness to remind me to continue to fall more in love with Him. & by getting to know Him better my year could never be useless. This week has been a blessing- I'm not saying I'm happy that I've been sick but I'm happy that I had the opportunity to spend hours on end just falling in love with my Saviour. Our lives can get so busy, so hectic and I loved the fact that I was bed rest in a foreign country with nothing more to do than read my bible for the day. It's been awesome!

A verse that I've been so consumed with is 1 Corinthians 2: 9

"but just as it is written, things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him"

We can't begin to understand the great things that God has for those who love him. Why are we not so excited about this truth!! It goes on to say that we have received the same Spirit that knows God's thoughts. vs 16 goes on to say that

"but we have the mind of Christ"

Un-real. God has such a great plan for each and every one of us and wants to share it with us- but we need to get to know Him and His Spirit in order for us to be used to our full God given potential.

I am stoked to go back to school and see the children again- but I have a new outlook on this year. I am here to serve but I am also here just to fall more in love with Christ.

So yea- that's what has been on my heart!



a little comfort

Since being away from home for (almost) 3 months I have started to miss certain comforts.
The last SALTer who was living with the Pennels brought them Tim Hortons mugs... whenever I need a little lovin' from home I ALWAYS grab this mug... it's one of my comforts.



Strength in Christ

Sweatpants: check
Hoodie: mhmm
Tea: sitting right beside me
Snuggled in my bed: of course!
Hair up: check
Makeup: ..what's make-up again??

I headed back to the hospital this morning for another round of fun (physio, xrays, doctor's appt). The xray shows significant improvement in the lung but my doctor still wasn't too please. She said that we would do 10 more days of heavy antibiotics and breathing through that terrible thing and than back for more xrays in 10 days time- to which everything should be back to normal.

If you haven't picked up on it yet... this means I am bed-rest for another week. I even asked her nicely if there was any way I could head back to work earlier - she said no. It gets very lonely doing nothing all week. I'm hoping this week will be better because I actually want to do things now rather than just sleep all day long.

Like the above description..my life will continue that way for another week. Please continue to pray that this week I can get 100% better and not get any worse

Yesterday I had slept in (like normal) but I also attend night church which is great at 6pm on Sunday evenings. Anne, Mark and I thought it would be best to get out for a few hours. I agreed. I was so desperate to hear a preach and to be around other believers. Although I couldn't keep up with the songs (that takes a lot of oxygen) and the preach was more or less how to overcome temptation with adultery and things it was awesome to get out and sit in the presence of God for a bit. (not that I can't sit in his presence anywhere-it was just nice at church)

I want to share a verse that I found this morning- it was super refreshing for me to hear and I pray that as you read it you will also be refreshed:

"How blessed is the man whose strength is in You" - Ps. 84:5

I want my strength in God.. not 99.9999% of it but all of it. I want to be filled with His blessing. Even in this season of my life where I am stuck in bed away from home I want my strength to be found in Christ. This week will be an awesome opportunity for me to have my bible open and be able to read for hours on end- I also bought a Beth Moore book called Breaking Free that I am super stoked to read as well this week.

I hope you find strength in Christ this week:)

 this is my Sunday night church - NCF:)

 This is me being teacher for the week.. I've always wanted to write my name on the blackboard and be a "real" teacher- it came true!

 My class for the week

 There was a fairly intense hail/thunderstorm and the kids were very scared. I didn't know how to keep them calm and than I remembered my camera! They love taking pictures and instantly wanted to smile when the camera came out. I loved this one. She snuggled on my lap and wouldn't let me go for over an hour but smiled SO big when I had my camera.. so sweet hey?

 This is the day before I got sick but also a very special day- Anne's Birthday!!! I had to get our waiter to snap a picture of us at dinner so I could remember this awesome birthday outing.

 The morning before I got sick. Jared and I headed down to Durban for the day. We had breaky at this gorgeous rooftop restaurant overlooking the ocean

 Chillen at the beach
 I love this girl so very very much!

I'm sure I'll post more this week because I'll have internet all week long.

Loads of Love


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