8.27.2011

Quick Update

Hey Lovelies!   ( <-- my new fav. word)

I was going to take the time and blog tonight but it's 11:50 now and I need to sleep.. so here is just the boring update on whats been going on so you stay informed! I prob. won't be able to blog much after tomorrow (keep reading for explanation) so I wanted to just quick update you.

Friday during the day I went to a traditional Zulu Village. 4.5 million people still live in huts and live without electricity/water etc. It was such an eye opening experience to see the way these people dress and get on with day to day life. I was fascinated- I even helped the Zulu momma clean the floors... how they clean the floor you might ask? - Cow dung = poop!



Friday evening was spent learning and hearing about spiritual warfare in Africa and what we can expect. My mind was racing with thoughts and questions and the Lord has been doing a work in my heart on this area so I hope to share thoughts with you soon- I've been writing down a bunch of things to remember in my journal..

Today/Sunday/Monday morning is a spiritual retreat. Basically asking super hard questions about our lives and really laying everything out on the line before God and owning up to it before we start our year of service. It's been hard but so rewarding already. God really does want to use his children and has called us to something so much better than anything this life has to offer. It's been refreshing knowing that when I wake up God is already thinking about me and can't wait to just spend the day with me! It has been very encouraging.

I will write more tomorrow with things I've learnt and than that might be my last blog post in a while... why you might ask?

I MOVE INTO THE BOARDING HOUSE ON MONDAY EVENING!!!!! WAHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

this means that I get to meet my girls and not live out of a suitcase! YES YES YES - can you tell I'm excited. than I start school on Tuesday morning! Hello school life in South Africa!!

While I'm staying at the boarding house I will not have internet.. and I live at the boarding house.. so I'll have to figure out when/where I can get internet access... but don't worry - as soon as I do I will def. update you all and show you pictures of my life for the year!

maybe even a video blog for you to meet some of the girls. Wouldn't that be great? Let me know your thoughts on this

Anyways this turned into a pretty lengthily blog- goodness I love to talk/type.

2 Shout-outs before I leave you!

1) Happy Wedding Day to Kevin and Natalie! They got hitched today! Wahoo!! I have a new cousin!! (overload of "!!!":)  )

2) It's my 19th birthday in 6 days.

much love.
xo

8.25.2011

A time to rest.

I've had a crazy week!!!

There are so many adjectives to describe my week but I'll make this post short because I need to be listening to this dvd series now (which is amazing by the way)

Something I have learnt about this week is that rest is necessary and very important. Today we went to see where Shawnti and Jessica will work in Durban. Durban is the busiest port in Africa but they also have such beautiful beaches.. who doesn't love the Indian Ocean?

Here are a few pics of me being silly and resting on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

ps. just incase you forget... its winter here in South Africa.

xox

This is one of the stadiums of the world cup- right on the beach




8.24.2011

Beauty in the Broken



God is everywhere- even when there is suffering.


This beautiful baby girl was abandoned but I know God will never abandoned her. 


What a fresh reminder that God is everywhere looking after me and you. 

8.23.2011

My broken heart.












Yesterday was tough... today is still tough.

















It smelt so bad being in the slums.. looking at the slums made my heart break before we even went into the village. The people just sad on the roads- if you can even call them roads.

A thousand people shared one toilet- imagine that... can you even imagine that? It has been so hard for me to grasp this and I saw it.

God loves these people just as much as he loves me. So why am I constantly so selfish? Why do I try to forget these people and images rather than letting them affect me deeply. Could it be that if I really let these people's stories affect me that I would do something about it - maybe I would stop worrying about buying something and worry about how to empower these people.

I let them affect me. I've been letting people's stories affect me for the past 3 years. It's hard and uncomfortable but I believe it is necessary. I can't really type much more because my head hasn't stopped spinning and I'm not sure what the Lord is trying to teach me from this.. I just know that he has amazing plans for my life and I thank him for showing me more and more of what it means to love.

Than just when I thought my heart couldn't break anymore we went to an orphanage yesterday afternoon. The babies that I held had been abandoned. The most common thing that happens in Jo Burg is that the mother will have the baby in the hospital and than leave the baby. Some of the babies I held where left on the streets and found in dumpsters. Boy o boy did that ever hit me hard. We got to stay at the orphanage for a few hours and that hold time I didn't stop praying. I prayed that these precious children's would one day know God's love and know that they will never be abandoned by him. For a women who LOVES and ADORES children- this was very hard.

Today we drove seven hours to Pietermaritzburg.. getting closer to the time where I can finally move in..

I wish I could write more. I wish my thoughts were clear from yesterday, but they aren't.

I'm heart-broken.
 I'm frustrated and angry.
 I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to see the world in this light.
I am driven more than ever to change the world however God choses.
I am so humbled that the creator of the universe is crazy about me despite my faults.

8.21.2011

Wisdom.

Constitution Hill ( I visited this yesterday)


Learning.

I love to learn.. even if it's hard and uncomfortable. Education is important

Group after an emotional day at the Museum


"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways" - James 1:5-8

I love James 1:5.... its the last part of this passage that the Lord has been working with me on today. In my prayer time this morning I was asking for wisdom. It is so terrifying being in a new country and experiencing everything "new." It's such a hard but humbling experience. & now after dinner (I'm 6 hours ahead of you!) I've upended my bible to James and just started reading and this last part of these verses has challenged me so much. without doubting? double minded man? unstable in ALL his ways?

really?

this is something I need to work on and I am so thankful that I have the Holy Spirit and God's grace to get me through this. I want wisdom so bad.. and the bible doesn't lie.. so God will give it to me generously, but I need to not doubt that he will.

Personally, I like to control things so it's hard not having a plan B... just incase God doesn't give me wisdom for that day- what a stupid women I am for ever thinking God doesn't take care of his children

Anyways this is just my thoughts of the day- thought I would share with you and also challenge you with that! Do you believe you can receive wisdom from Christ?

I visited the Apartheid museum today and that was really hard... the whole day I've been asking for wisdom about what to with all the information I've seen/heard/read...the thing that stands out to me the most is that the people I will interact with daily experienced this.. experienced the torture and dehumanization.. this isn't history for them.. it has shaped their lives and every day experiences and I so want to be sensitive to that- of course they will judge me because I'm white- its hard not too? So I am on my knees asking God tonight for wisdom on how to deal with this.


Thank you once again for your prayers.
Please know that I pray for you too and thank God for putting such amazing people in my life.

8.20.2011

Jet Leg/Video Blog

So I wanted to go to sleep cuz I was exhausted all day and now I can't sleep..

I'm way to exhausted to think of what to type here so I made a video instead.

It took over an hour to upload (its great wifi here!) but I love you all so much so its worth it.

Here's what I've been up to in the last 24 hours! xo


HAHA! so i just started watching this video.. and the sound and the video is totally off ahha but if you wanna hear what i'm up to you can listen to it lol:)

8.19.2011

Safe in South Africa but not feeling safe

So my heart has been pounding and I am scared. I'm not sure if this is my first official "culture shock" or not but seeing something up close tonight hit me very hard.

First the good news. I have successfully arrived in South Africa and I am currently blogging to you from Jo Burg.  I left at 11am Thursday morning and had a 45 minute flight from PA to Washington. Than at 5:40 I was suppose to fly to South Africa for a 18 hour flight stopping once in Senegal but I didn't need to get off and arriving 24 hours later with the time difference. I boarded the flight and just as we were about to take off a thunderstorm rolled on through- to keep it short I sat in the plane for 3 hours waiting for the weather to calm down- once we got the go ahead and were on the runway it started raining again and once again we had to pull off- I sat for another 2 hours after that. Finally by 10pm we were off!

Me and the crew (5 others, 2 going to Durban, 2 (including me) to PMB and 2 to Lestho) arrived just before 9 in Jo Burg. What a beautiful city of about 12 million. James and Joan (my MCC reps) picked us up at the airport and than we headed to a retreat centre to stay at for the first two days and do some touring and orientation stuff.

South Africa isn't that safe.. I know thats a stereotype but its true in Jo Burg and I got a wake up call tonight. James realized that we had taken an exit to late so he just was going to turn around (something we all can do only a daily basis and not think twice about) When getting off the highway we saw 3 men dressed in black, a smashed car, a women crying inside the car and the 3 men running away back down the highway ready to pounce again. I wasn't sure if the men were going to run to our vehicle at first or not- it all happened so fast. We were carrying a trailer behind us full of our luggage from the flight- this would have made us a very easy target. James continued to drive through the red light and back onto the highway- we were watching to see which direction the men where going in to make sure they weren't going to come to us- James said that there was more of us so the chances were slim.

Welcome to South Africa... within the first 30 minutes of me being in this country the car in front of us was mugged and smashed. I promised myself I would be honest with you on this blog. It's sometimes difficult knowing that anyone and everyone could read this and that I don't know who is reading this but I you to be able to connect with me and come on this journey with me so I will continue being honest...

When I saw this tears filled my eyes and I wanted to tell James and Joan that I wanted to go home. I am ashamed to write that because in my first thirty minutes I was questioning giving up and second guessing God's calling. It's been a hard night and that women's face is burnt into my memory tonight.

Currently I am sitting in a fairly cozy room- def. not a four star or anything but it's cute. I don't feel safe from the incident that just occurred but I do know that I am well protected. There is a guard outside the house to make sure and the centre has huge brick walls all around it line with barbed wire- to get in we had to pass the guard and a huge gate. James said we are as safe as we can be. I still feel uptight about everything but as I'm typing this I'm feeling much better. I had to shower tonight in the dark because their was no electricity (but yet there is wifi..hmmm?) and it was cold but it was new experience and I am looking forward to those.

I kno my thoughts are all over the place... I'm sorry... but I am all over the place. I want my mom too. I couldn't help wonder if those 3 men where looking for someone easy to attack.....what I mean is...

-she was a women
- alone in her car with no other passengers
- it was dark out

Was she easy prey? It's something that I'm still thinking about and according to Jame's comment and what I've heard and read, women are treated sometimes less than men..

I can't help but put myself in this women's position. How many times have I driven home after the sun went down?
If I was that women in Jo Burg and three men swarmed my car and smashed my car and windows.. I would give them anything they wanted as well..why...because I'm powerless. (in that situation) It's a hard thing to swallow and a hard thing to take in 30 minutes after landing.

James told us that we would talk about this later and how to deal with it.. I'm looking forward to learning more about South Africa and it's safety.

Let's just say that my heart hasn't stopped pounding and for the rest of the way "home" we only slowed down on red lights and didn't stop..

I'm a young women trying to follow God's calling for my life..even if I have to be in scary situations.


8.17.2011

Reflections.

SALT & IVEP 2011-2012


I hope to take time throughout my journey to reflect. This week alone has been very difficult to spend "maddie time" and just bask in the presence of God. This is something that I know I will need and I'm looking forward to seeing how my "maddie time" will evolve. One of the reasons I love to blog is that it lets me reflect and take time to realize what's going on in my life. 

Orientation week was amazing. Words really can't describe the love I have felt being here. I've learnt so much about assumptions. I assumed this week would be boring with a constant discussion of policies and what to do in respect to MCC. I couldn't have been more wrong. I made deep friendships and had meaningful conversations. It is so refreshing to have a meaningful conversation! When's the last time you sat down with someone and heard their heart? Ask them what they are passionate about and really listened? I've experience these conversations ten times a day. It's the biggest blessing and something I will miss greatly. 

Tomorrow I travel to Johannesburg South Africa and start a week of orientation in South Africa. Travel time is around 30 hours so please pray for me! I fly out of Washington DC at 5:40 Thursday evening:)  I will hopefully blog quick that I'm there safe so you can all breathe...cough cough*...mom!

Here are some more pictures of my life changing week. 

One great man!


We like to party!


Love my candy

Dance party


Brazil, China, USA & Canada

Diego and me

Albert from Kosovo

My South African besties. We will have a great year

Matt from Alabama. Love the Stash (he shaved it today!!!!!)

African Worship Music

The coolest prayer group

Me (obviously) Gloria and Maria

Another picture of our small group. Countries represented include: Egypt, Cambodia, Colombia, USA, Canada + France

Let the packing continue- trying to get under our 50 pound limit

At our commissioning service before we head out

Traditional Chinese dress.



My house for the week.

8.15.2011

A great reminder.

When I accepted my term to spend a year in Africa I thought I was going overseas to help people. I knew I would grow and be stretched and that I would learn however my thoughts were still about "helping."

I think especially in North America we've been given a "single story" (i'll explain later) of what Africa looks like. When I told people I was heading to South Africa they immediately thought that I would be living in a hut and travelling long distances to get dirty water. To be honest with you, I have thought that about Africa before. Once I started educating myself and learning others people's stories in Africa it really opened my eyes of the stereotypes that we so often create. It makes me so angry knowing that people truly have that outlook on Africa.

Today in orientation we talked about stereotypes and the damages that this can have on our trip and experience. The speaker asked us to consider what assumptions we had going into our placements and where we acquired that knowledge from. It was life changing to ponder and discuss this. I really am at a loss of words and how as an educated young women I can still fall so short of these assumptions we make; assumptions I made about Africa.

Maybe it's not "my fault." The media plays a huge role, the words articles use are dehumanizing and the pictures we see are always poor Africans who need "my/our help." I've realized that media may have a huge part but it still doesn't make what I did and what others do ok. Ignorance is not bliss: we have a responsibility to treat others as equals and more than not stereotypes leads to discrimination.

Being with so many people around the world this week and hearing Africans talk about their lives and how they live has made me so ashamed and embarrassed that I ever considered they needed "me" and my "saving."

I want to be clear in saying that I cannot and will not save anyone. I will go and serve in South Africa this coming year. I will be open to learn from their culture and learn their way of life. I am excited to love, laugh and cry with these people. I am excited to be used by the Lord in whatever way He wants.

We watched a TED talk that literally has touched me so deep. I encourage you to watch it and share your thoughts with me about it.








8.13.2011

A few pictures!

First off: God is Good. I've been trying to write deep thoughts in my journal about orientation week but yet I keep coming back to the thought that God is good. So I just had to put that out there on my blog. God is good all the time- even when we can't see it right away.

Basically orientation week is the best. There is 100 people here from 25 different countries. It is unreal.
I can't talk right now cuz I'm super busy but here are a few pics of my house (which is awesome) and my team.

I promise I will blog with awesome stories soon!

 Last night loving with the bestie

 I love you Caelen.
 Family Picture- goodness I miss you already.
 Our "clean" room.
 I live in the Africa house and this is what it looks like:) It's pretty much a luxury hostile
 Our common room
 Kitchen:) Except all my food is made in the kitchen at the dining room
 Decorations of the Africa house
 Our dish room duties. Super awesome.

 This is my South African team!!!
Biggest Help Ever- already learning the language
 Shawnti my roommate:)


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