One Step Closer!

Just wanted to let you all know that I officially have my VISA!
South Africa can finally start to feel real... not that it wasn't already.

Here are a few pictures of me outside the South African Consulate in Toronto- Visa in hand:)



So I have a new camera now... if only I new how to use it! I have been reading manuals and taking lots of pics to figure that out.
This afternoon its great:)

Africa- here i come!


Packing is the worst!
That's what I'm up to today.

Hope your Monday is great:)


I'm Restless

This is such a beautiful worship song.
It's been on repeat for the past week so I thought I would share it with you.



South African Reality.

AIDS is often a disease of gender inequality. Particularly in Southern Africa, young women frequently don't have the power to say no to unprotected sex. Teenage girls, for example, often become the baubles of middle-aged men, and so HIV spreads relentlessly. As Stephen Lewis, the former UN ambassador for AIDS, puts it: "Gender inequality is driving the pandemic."

One test of a program should be how it handles the challenge of a fourteen-year-old girl like Thabang, who lives in the village of Kwa Mhlanga in the northeastern part of South Africa. Tall, flirtatious, and liberal with makeup, Thabang is a rebellious adolescent who would be a challenge for any program. Thabang's father, an electrician, died after a protracted battle against AIDS that consumed the family savings. Thabangs's others, Gertrude Tobela, tested positive, apparently after getting the disease from her husband, and than infected her youngest child, Victor, during childbirth. Gertrude had been the first in her family to go to high school and college, and the family had enjoyed a middle-class standard of living. But soon Gertrude was too sick to work, and the family had to survive on $22.50 a month government payments. The atmosphere in the shack in which they lived was despairing.

Thabang is smart and talented, and like any teenage she yearned for fun and warmth and love. She dreaded the misery of the shack, so she began to hang out in town. She had her hair done fashionably and wore sexy clothes, seeking the diversions of boys to escape the claustrophobia of her home. She also wanted more independence, yearned to be a grown-up, and resented her mother's efforts to rein her in. Thabang also has the misfortune of being strikingly attractive, so men flattered her with their attentions. In South Africa, successful middle-aged men often keep young teenage girls as mistresses, and many teenagers see such "sugar daddies" as a ladder to a better life.

When Thabang began flirting with men. Gertrude screamed at her and beat her. Thabang was the only member of the family who didn't have AIDS, and Gertrude was aghast at the possibility that Thabang would contract the virus as well. But Gertrude's beatings infuriated Thabang, confirmed the girl's suspicion that her mother hated her, and promoted to run away. Thabang also seemed to feel embarrassed by her AIDS-ridden mother, weak and frail and poor and all their fighting left Gertrude even more exhausted and depressed. Gertrude spoke in a composed way about her own imminent death and Victor's, but she broke down completely when she spoke of Thabang.

"My daughter left me because she wants liberty," Gertrude said, sobbing. "She is so sexually active, and she stays in bars and rental rooms." Gertrude looked upon Thabang's fondness for makeup and tight clothes with horror and couldn't bear the thought that the cycle of AIDS would be repeated in the next generation. For her part, Thabang insisted that while her friends slept with men for cash or gifts, she herself did not. 

"I'm a virgin, whatever my mother says." Thabang said, and she began to cry as well. "She never believes me. She just yells at me."
"Your mother loves you," Nick told her. "The only reason she scolds you is that she loves you and cares what happens to you."
"She doesn't love me!" Thabang replied fiercely, tears trickling down her cheeks as she stood outside her home fifteen feet away from her mother, who was also crying.
"If she did, she would talk to me instead of beating me. She wouldn't say these things about me. She would accept my friends."

There is no question that the local schools should encourage abstinence for girls like Thabang. But those programs shouldn't stop there. They should explain that condoms can dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission, and they should demonstrate how to use condoms properly. Governments should encourage male circumcision, which reduces HIV risk significantly, and should encourage free screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Testing for HIV should become a routine, requiring people to opt out instead of opt in.  That way, nearly all adults would know their AIDS status, which is crucial, because it's impossible to contain an epidemic when people do not know whether or not they have been infected. That kind of comprehensive approach to prevention would be most effective in reducing the risks to a girl like Thabang. And these prevention methods are much cheaper than treating and AIDS patient for years.

Half the Sky
 page 136-138


More African Thoughts

Proverbs 28:5
      "Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the Lord understand all things."

This verse has sat so strongly on my heart. I'm trying to prepare myself for this coming year and nothing seems to be working. For those of you who don't know I'm spending a lot of time at the school empowering women through physical activity. I'm spending a huge chunk of time showing/teaching (who knows?) these precious girls that they are loved and that they are equal. Pietermaritzburg accepts gender inequality. Basically girls are less than boys. Girls don't measure up to anything a boy can do, therefore they are worth less.

Obviously this is a lie and is false and my job is to show that to these girls. I'm not sure how to show this and as I mentioned before I really have no idea what I'm doing or how to prepare for this crazy adventure. Currently at Project Gateway (the school I am working at) the boys play sports and the girls watch. They watch because they do not feel equal to play with the boys. There is a huge lack of empowerment.
One of my main jobs over the course of the year is to integrate both the girls and the boys gym classes together. The plan is to start with separate classes and focus on empowering the girls that they can run and play. In the boys gym class I hope to establish a level of respect for the girls. After 6 months (or whenever) the goal is to than put the classes together and see what happens. To teach fairness and equality.  What an incredible challenge this is! I'm already so humbled and blessed that I have an opportunity like this before me. I can't wait to get started however I'm more nervous than I ever have been in my life.
Scripture is so powerful and so true, so I'm clinging to many verses as I prepare for this journey. One verse I want to share with you is found in 2 Corinthians 11:10  "As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia." I can't wait for my feet to firmly be planted in South Africa and just as Paul writes I desire for my boasting to continue about the Lord! The challenges ahead of me are huge and the devil has a plan for my life as well but I know that with God all things are possible and I get to rest each and every day in the fact that he knows best. Yes, to be honest I am a little worried about the experiences and challenges that will come my way. Maybe the boys will hate me, what if the girls don't care? What if they don't listen or believe?  However, every time I step back and take a look at this coming year I feel so blessed that I have the opportunity to affect change. Just like the verse says about boasting in Christ, I honestly can't wait to talk about how much God loves each and every one of these children, no matter if they are male or female. I can't wait to tell the girls that God loves them just as much as he loves the boys! In such a broken culture I can't wait to see how the Lord is going to use me when it comes to abolishing years of gender discrimination at the school.

So I realized how much I am rambling on this post! But now that I've started I guess I'll finish my thoughts..

I don't know what my future holds this next year. I may never see the girls and boys treat each other like equals by the time I leave. The girls could still sit at the side of the field and watch. That is a very real reality that could happen. But at the same time, what would happened if I could empower one girl, if I could show God's love to one young boy. My trip would be worth it. In preparing for this trip my heart is already so content because I know whether I see it or not that the Lord is working already and will continue to work once I get there. I fully know that God does his thing. What God wants to do he does. When he speaks things happen. I know the Lord doesn't need me to do anything, but because he loves me, delights in me and has a plan for me, he wants to use me. I know the Lord is doing big things at Project Gateway and I am so ecstatic that the Lord has called me to be apart Kingdom purpose!

A final thought I want to leave with you today (or whenever you read this) is something the Lord has put  on my heart HUGE- that sometimes we want to change circumstances, we want something to go smoother or work faster etc etc.. but what the Lord is teaching me is he doesn't want those circumstances to change but wants me to change. He wants my attitude to change, my heart to change. Linking this back to the first verse in Proverbs, the Lord wants to change us and transform us into his likeness so that we will understand all things. What an amazing promise that is to cling onto.

I know I am called for the rest of my life to fight injustice. I can't wait to leave in 23 days and hold children who have been robbed of their childhood and hear their stories. I desire to seek the Lord so I can understand all things and understand how to show his love to a world so desperate for it.

I leave so soon!!
Love Maddie


Summertime Love.

I've been having a difficult time trying to balance out my two passions in my life. My main passion is helping others and raising awareness on social justice issues. More specifically my heart is to educate myself and others about the sex trade and take action about it. Hence why I'm leaving for South Africa!

My other love in life has to do with planning parties, weddings, and fashion! I posted earlier this month about some of my favourite blogs dealing with social justice however I have many diy + wedding blogs that I follow daily as well! I stumbled upon a Beautiful Mess http://www.abeautifulmess.typepad.com/ blog a few months ago and just LOVE it. Elise blogs every day, mostly about her love for vintage! She owns her own boutique and is a fashion designer. One thing that she does it takes pictures of parts of her favourite day- this has been contagious as I have started taking pictures of everyday simple activities!

I only have a few more weeks of summer left before I leave! I love sitting out on my front porch and writing. It's honestly one of my favourite things to do. Today I decided to drink pink lemonade and added blackberries for a super awesome taste.

My summer essentials have been:
1) Something super tasty to drink
2) Def. sunglasses are a must!
3)I love pink lipgloss in the summer
4) Super cute wedges that don't break the bank (Target) and after walking in them for a full day still don't hurt my feet- hurray!
4) & of course, my journal- where I write about everything!

I hope your enjoying your summer as well!


Just a thought?

Meet Emmanuel Jal.

He was a child solider.
Instead of shutting down from his past He believes he can make a difference.
He is doing something.
He is standing up for injustice.
He is fighting.
He is one of my heros.

He produced a music video called WE WANT PEACE.
I so want peace- do you?
I think this video is so sweet and one of my thoughts running through my head includes making a version of this video.
Anyone interested in holding a "we want peace" sign for a music video?
I think it would be sweet to collect footage of Canadians of all ages and when I leave to get footage of South Africans to re create this music video! Just an idea- who knows where it will lead!

Be sure to check out the video here either way:

Blogs I love

So i'm starting to get to hang of this whole "blog thing."
I always have spelling mistakes, my pictures aren't great and the general feel of my blog definitely needs to be updated in the near future.

But I love that I can vent and write whatever thoughts are consuming my mind that week. It's one of my favourite things to hear people say that they connected with a blog post. I even love it when people say that they are reading my blog.

My whole inspiration for blogging came from a few things.
1) I love to journal
2) I'm leaving for a year and want to connect with family and friends back at home
3) I LOVE reading other people's blogs. From fashion tips to sex trafficking and women's rights.

So this blog post I'm dedicating to other blogs. Blogs that I love and read daily.

These blogs have something to do with my greatest and deepest passion: social justice. 

1) Hope for the Sold

Michelle Brock is the author of this awesome blog. She is pictured here with her husband Jay and author Benjamin Perrin who wrote Invisible Chains.
This blog is focused on education about sex trafficking and exploitation of women. I have met Michelle and she is incredible! Her passion to serve is amazing. I learn so much about the sex trade through this blog.

2) Nicholas D. Kristof

If you haven't heard of him you must check out his blog. He writes for the New York Times and travels the world. He wrote my favourite book to date which is called Half the Sky.

He writes on current and relevant issues going on today in the world. His blog inspires me to be better and encourages me to fight for justice. I encourage you to read his book or check out his blog. You will not be disappointed- I never am!

3) Saskia

I maybe love this blog so much because she is fighting human trafficking in South Africa and if you aren't aware I'm heading to South Africa in 33 days!!!

She is honest and real. Who doesn't love that?

There are many more blogs that I love to read but this is a good start.
I hope you have an awesome weekend.



More Birthday Pictures!

Here are just a few more pictures of my awesome evening!
Out for dinner for Olivia's birthday with the parents. Tessa was mia because she is up at camp!

Happy July 5!

This day has been special ever since I was born! It's my sisters birthday. I love celebrating- really anything and I'm so excited to celebrate her birthday tonight! - If only she didn't work all day!

What is super special this year is that my man's birthday is also on July 5th. Because he is super awesome and is leading worship all this week we went to the Keg for lunch for his family. It was such a special afternoon.

Can't wait to celebrate Olivia's birthday tonight with another birthday outing!

Hope you're having an awesome day!


What really matters

The question of "what really matters" has been flooding my mind this past weekend. I got to celebrate the long weekend by hanging out at my best friends cottage. It was a blast! This relaxing time let me ponder this more and more.

Sunday Morning I had my own mini church service. This included tanning in the sun with my bible and heart open to what the Lord wanted to teach me.

I read Galatians yesterday morning and read over this verse.
Galatians 5:6b
     "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" NIV

2 things that I clearly learnt this past week.

1) God knows our thoughts and hears our prayers and wonderings
2) God answers in his time. One of the main way he answers is through his living word. What a blessing that is for such a screwed up young women like myself.

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