9.29.2011

Day to Day Life & Daily Lessons.

Sending the Grade 4 boarding kids off to camp.


So if you signed onto my blog for a quick update please come back when you have more time! This one is going to be longer than normal. I am so prepared to give you an adequate update on my life since being here in South Africa.

So get comfy and grab a tea and enjoy reading about life here in Pietermaritzburg South Africa.

Firstly, I’ve had a few emails asking if I would explain what I do on a day-to-day basis. I find this super boring to blog about but I totally understand that that is something you are interested in back at home. So lets get what I think is the boring part over with first!

5:00am – Alarm goes off! Depending on how I’m feeling I’ll get up at this time or sometimes when I’m really tired I don’t get up until 6am (shh!) The children get up at 5 and start to bath and get ready for school. This is the only quiet time I have in the day- I cherish these quiet moments with the Lord because I know the day gets very hectic very very fast!

6:30 Breakfast is served. Meals here have been one the biggest problems and struggles to overcome. It doesn’t help that I’m picky but the nutrition of these children is something I tend to worry about. Breakfast is usually bread with jam. (on weekends I always make toast cuz I miss toast during the week so much)

7:15 Off to school. We say the Lord’s prayer every morning and than prepare ourselves for the long walk to school! (directly across the street;) )

7:30 The teachers meet in the Staff Room for a time of prayer and announcements. This time is when I figure out what my day will look like. My days here at the school has never been the same and most times I don’t get tasks till after I prefer but I’m getting use to it. Every teacher is so nice and it’s great to know that I work for a Christian School who is sensitive to the Lord’s leading each and every day. There is always a tension in the school because funds are so tight. I can’t really explain in detail what that means but it is a rough reality most of the time. Children should have the right to education, the right to learn and it’s hard knowing so many can’t because of poverty.

8-10 This time is used for all my odd jobs around the school. Sometimes I get students and help them read/write/maths, other times I am in the classroom helping the teachers. However the majority of this time is spent typing. The fact that I can type and type quickly is an enormous blessing to the staff here at Gateway. Although I want to be in the classroom more, I love how God can use me even if I’m photocopying for the teachers. This time has been a humbling experience knowing that even if I’m typing stationary orders, God still can use this to bring glory to his name. I felt useless during this time at the beginning but now I am content with this time being used to serve the school in whatever way they see fit.

10:30- 1:00pm this time is spent teaching Gym classes to different grades every day but Friday.  Let me say up front: I LOVE THIS TIME! I think this is my favourite part of the day however this is also the most frustrating part of my day. I get to make up my own lessons and do my own thing. There was zero structure with the PE classes before I came and I guess that is a big blessing and a very intimidating to deal with. The kids discipline level and tolerance is so different than anything I’m use to or seen so it’s a hard task. I think my favourite part of the day is seeing these kids laugh. The laughter that plagues many of their faces is so precious and I pray that these memories I make last in my mind forever. I want to create an atmosphere in my PE class where these kids can forget about not having breakfast in the morning or knowing that violence is waiting when they get home. They can be kids. They can laugh and have fun and forget about the problems that they are facing. With AIDS being so high here in Africa many of the children here are also “parents” to their younger siblings. It’s a huge burden that these kids go through and I want my PE classes to be a release of some of those burdens….even if it’s just for an hour.

1:00-2:00(2:30ish)  MADDIE TIME!!!! This is the time where I don’t have kids!! I usually am doing some reading or heading into town to buy fruit etc. and other times I take a nap and get ready for 17 children to be all over me at 2:30

3:00 Snack and homework time! Pretty straight forward right? I have a homework chart that the kids are required to check in with me… this time can be so heartbreaking because some of my kids don’t know English let alone reading and math’s so it can be hard knowing they won’t pass into the next grade. I often spend hours in the “study room” with certain kids trying every way to explain certain concepts to them. It’s hard when they give up. It’s hard when I give up on them but it’s great to see their face light up when they get. I light up also.

7:00 Dinner. I am trying new foods… dinner is tough… nutrition is a problem but I love samp and beans and that’s a staple here so I’m set!

Evenings are evenings. Most nights I’m in bed by 9. Jared and I sometimes stay up to chat or watch movies together and talk about life. It’s great to talk to him and get perspective on things that I went through and that I’m feeling that day.

photocred: Jared Klassen
One of "my children" Amanda


Okay, did you make it through?

Keep reading!


 Btw, it really means so much to me that you want to walk through this journey with me. Your support really keeps me going especially on the nights when I miss home so much I cry myself to sleep. Yes, I’m admitting that and I’m not ashamed either. It’s tough being someone where nothing is familiar. It’s hard being in a place where you know no one and culturally you know nothing. Even stupid little things can become so frustrating when I’ve had a tough day. Example: the saying “just now” means = in a while.  So if I say to you “ I’ll be there just now” that can mean in 6 or 7 hours! Sometimes I laugh at myself (most times) but other times I just get so fed up and want home. In these times I know that people are praying for me and interested in what I’m doing and it helps more than I’d ever would have thought- so thank you so so so much. You really are impacting me halfway around the world and I am so grateful.

I’m starting to implement all my ideas while being here. Time is quickly slipping away and I want to leave South Africa with no regrets. I want to work hard and I want all the glory to go to God. Being with kids can be instantly tiring. I think I’ll have so much energy and than 30 minutes later everything is gone! Honestly, I have 17 children. I look after Monday- Friday 17 children’s need. It’s a huge challenge and one that I don’t want to take lightly. I keep praying for ideas that can bless these children. One thing I did this week, which I am so excited about is I got a library card!!! The library is approx. 30-minute walk from my house and their children’s selection of books is great. It took me about 2 hours to get a library card but now the kids can read a different book before bed. They are so excited and so am I. It’s the little things that make this experience so memorable.

Another idea I have and would love prayer for is intramurals. There is no sports teams or after school events or clubs at the school. I personally could have never survived without sports or after school/lunch break clubs so it’s so in my heart to make something like this happen. I brought it up with the principal this week and seemed ok with the idea of starting intramural soccer over the break. There is a lot that could go wrong but one of the modo’s I live by is that “we fail when we don’t try” so I am praying very hard to see if this is something I have the time and energy for. I will keep you posted. I promise. (and if you know me, you know I would never break a promise;) )

Another activity that I am a lot more serious and actually implementing into the school is peace clubs. If you’re sitting on the other side of the screen clueless with what a peace club is please don’t feel bad. I had no idea either until a few months ago! Once I did some research and looked at peace clubs in Zambia and Kenya I was hugely overwhelmed at the impact these clubs had on the schools. Peace is not just the absecnce of war. Being a peacemaker takes a lot of work and I would argue that it takes more work than fighting. There is a lot of conflict and violence and peace clubs aim at addressing this conflict and knowing how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. I have been studying peace clubs in Zambia and they have been successful in empowering these kids. Empowering them to use their voices and actions in a positive way. After every lesson the kids will be encouraged to write a response to the content learned. This is a way for the children’s voice to be heard and to be respected. It makes me think of the movie Freedom Writers (which is in my top 3 favourite movies!) and the power one can have when given the chance to speak, even if it’s in a journal no one reads.

Early October Jared and I will be running 2 pilot projects to see how the school responds to the curriculum. We will be running lessons for the Grade 6 and 7 class and also implementing the material in the boarding house (trust me- there is a lot of violence there) This peace club is  A LOT of work so your prayers that things run smoothly is needed. I can’t wait to see how God is going to use this peace club to empower his children.

Are you tired of reading yet? I’m tired of typing, but I want to touch on one more thing that I’ve been thinking about lately.

I want to get personal with you and tell you a little bit about me. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a hard time accepting love. I’ve had my fair share of ruined relationships and broken friendships because of this problem. But the thing that has hurt me the most is the fact that I would sometimes second-guess God’s love. I wouldn’t ever question that God loved me but I would question whether I was worthy enough or not to accept his love. Some nights I would punish myself because I didn’t think God should have forgiven me that quickly or something dumb like that. This season of my life has been filled with me loving these children and being clueless on how to love 17 children.  I started praying last January for these children and that I would know how to love them like Christ loves us. God told me that in order for him to give me that love for these kids I would have to fully accept that He loves me and will never stop loving me. Even though I mess up all the time God’s love for me can’t waver. God can’t not love me because God is love. The thing that I also needed to understand on a deeper level is that God longs to love me. He loves to get personal and tell me things. Once I accepted this and let it sit in my heart for a while God started talking to me and we started having conversations.

Pause with me for a second. You might by wondering why am I telling you all of this? I want to share this stuff with you because it has consumed me. I’ve realized that God has a calling over my life and He has an incredible calling over your life. God doesn’t want to be a distant God but He wants to tell you things and love on you. He wants you to search for him and trust me, God promises that when we seek Him we will find Him. I’ve started to find God in a real way and I can’t explain how amazing it is. My prayer is that you find this love too. That you accept God’s love.

A cool thing God has been teaching me this week is to say “ I love you too.”  The whole reason we know how to love is because God first loved us. Every time I’m about to tell God that I love him, He has already spoken to me that He loves me… so I get to respond with “Lord, I love you too!” I can feel prayer and I sometimes have full conversations with the Lord. I crave church now and my favourite part of the day is just basking in Christ’s presence- it’s no longer a chore to do devotions. I’m not “making time” for God anymore but I am longing to spend more time with him. God is real and wants to be real in your life. This new lifestyle that I am trying to live has enabled me to love these kids with a deeper love than I could have imagined and I am so thankful for the opportunity to love these children!

Okay! I am SO tired and I guess you’ve read enough tonight!! Can you tell I like ramble?

But I need to stress that the whole reason I’m in South Africa and the whole reason I’m serving here is because of Christ. He is everything.

I pray that if you don’t know what I’m talking about that you ask God to show himself to you and when He does (not “if he does”) please chat with me about it! (you can clearly see I love to chat about Christ from my above ramble!)

I hope you have a splendid weekend!

You’ll hear from me shortly.
Much love

Mads.

Meet Mark & Anne



I thought I should post a pic of my awesome host family (host parents) that I live with on the weekends. They have been the biggest blessing in my life and have the perfect home to stay in and "relax" on the weekend.

I hope your week is going great!

Today is my last day of working at the school. Term 3 has ended (as of a few hours) and the students get a week off before the last term starts. (remember school here runs all year long.. starting in January instead of September)
Having said all this, I will be living with Mark and Ann for the next week+ and will have lots of time to respond to your emails and blog!!
I am looking forward to this little break and also working during the day around Project Gateway and their different empowerment programs.

xo.

9.22.2011

Vulnerable.

this is me typing to you! :) Miss everyone so very much!

I need these kids more than they need me.

 I love the way that they all seem to fit perfectly on my lap when they read to me. I love get morning kisses and I love the way that they can’t get over the texture of my hair compared to theirs.  If you haven’t guessed my love language is most definitely touch so I never mind if I kids stroke my back or pull through my always-messy hair. Every morning certain boys will come running to me and ask me how I slept giving me a hug. I cherish these moments more than I can explain in words. My patience grows each day and my heart loves these kids a little more every moment. I stay at the hostile during the week and I leave on Friday’s to sleep at a host family for the weekends. I must say that I couldn’t have asked for a better family to stay with on the weekends. They are more than amazing and are so so so good to me! I am blessed beyond words to be living with them. But on Monday mornings when I arrive just before 7 my heart longs to be loved on by these children.

Everyone has a story. Whether it’s filled with failures or successful events, I personally believe people’s stories are so powerful: powerful enough to change another person’s heart and perspective. I love hearing people’s stories and I am always learning as people tell me where they have been and what has shaped them. Being here has made me long to hear people’s stories. I love to listen through their broken English as they talk about home and their friends, things they love to do on the weekends. I am so blessed to be learning from them. Being vulnerable isn’t always easy. It’s usually never easy. But by being vulnerable and opening your heart to share your story and listen to others share changes you as a person- a change that I personally believe can shape your outlook on life and who you are as a person.

I know I am changed by taking the time to listen and by sharing my life and my past (as boring as it may seem to me). I was thinking this week of what really brought me here to South Africa. Of course it was the Lord’s calling but more specifically I believe it was because I opened up to the idea of learning from other people’s stories.

Let me give an example because I love to go on rants: Sex trafficking is occurring write now as I type this and write now as you’re reading this. People are being bought and sold right now. Children are dying of starvation. Women are dying in childbirth. Children aren’t getting education… the list goes on forever. These problems seem so enormous and too hard to handle. They leave you exhausted just hearing about them – let alone doing something about it.
The thing that I learnt back in Grade 9 is that these horrific realities still will happen even if I pretend they don’t.  Even if I don’t do anything about it and pretend that they don’t exist- if I live in my North American bubble and do nothing- these girls are still being raped, children and adults are still dying from preventable diseases… it all still happens. Ignorance is not bliss. I’ve learnt that when we turn our backs to these problems, when we don’t take the time to hear people’s stories and to learn from them than our action states that it is ok. We are telling the traffickers that we don’t care enough to do anything about it and we are turning our backs to these girls and boys who are being enslaved. We are letting them know that we aren’t interested and that they can continue doing whatever they please as long as it doesn’t involve “us.”

The moment we become vulnerable, the moment we let people’s stories sit deep in our hearts – that moment changes us because we can no longer live selfishly. We can no longer pass a homeless person and not think twice about where they’ve come from or if they need something. (In my short experience in working with homeless I’ve learnt that they just want to be heard; they just want someone to take notice in them and listen to their story.)

I guess that’s where this all began for me. I guess that is why I’m typing to you in South Africa and the room beside me is a bunch of precious girls who have come from terrible home situations. I let people’s stories hit me. I became vulnerable enough to learn about some of the issues going on and felt empowered to do something about it.

I started this blog saying that I need these kids more than they need me. I wrote that because in no way and I’m here to “save the world.” But I believe that wherever you are in the world you have the opportunity each and every day to make a positive or negative impact on the people and situations around you. I don’t believe that you don’t make any impact on someone. I believe you have two options. Positive or negative- and I so desire that my impact be a positive one on every situation and every person I meet. I want to make a difference but in being open I know that the people I meet will make a difference in my life.

I want to share a story with you that I got from the school. I got a glimpse in these past couple weeks of some of the children’s stories, some of the problems that the school faces on daily basis and some other horrendous things that I don’t feel like blogging about at the moment. At the end of the conversation I felt so overwhelmed that the only appropriate thing to do was cry. It’s an interesting reality knowing that when I walk into the school grounds every day I know that some of these kids won’t get food today, some of these kids have been abused. I know its like that in every country and every school but knowing how vast it is here- seeing poverty up close each and every day is something that I haven’t experience before. A lot of kids aren’t returning next term because of finances.. it’s approx. 1100 US dollars for a child to attend school for the year. I have to watch some of these kids not return because they couldn’t pay for proper education. My “save the world” personality came out and through my tears I already thought of ideas of how I could raise the money to keep these kids in school for just one more year. Through my ambition and tears one of the teachers gave me this simple story:

THE STARFISH STORY

A man went down to the beach for a walk. As he stepped onto the sand, he noticed that hundreds of starfish had been washed up onto the shore with the tide. As he walked, he picked up a starfish and tossed it back into the waves. He did it another and another…

An observer, who had been watching from a distance, approached the man and questioned his actions. Many, many, many fish were stranded on the beach. What difference would it make to throw a few back into the water?

Stooping, the man picked up a starfish and carefully threw it into the water. “It made a difference to that one,” he said.


I want to make a difference- even for just one. And I know that I can make that difference regardless of what city or country or continent I’m in. God just called me to South Africa this year and I’m still excited to make a difference.

God Bless.
Mads. 

Happy International Day of Peace!

So even though this post is a day late I still thought it was more than appropriate to celebrate late- plus today is even better to celebrate it because I got to take some more pics of the kids:)

So if you're totally out of the loop the UN declared September 21st an international Day of Peace. 

I am such a peace activist and I wanted the kids to get involved in such an exciting day. I have been reminded over and over again that the battles of this world our not ours to fight but the Lord- so what better idea than to pray to peace on peace day!

After the kids finished their homework on Tuesday they had the option of staying in the study room and writing/drawing a prayer for peace in South Africa and around the world. This is the first time I did an activity like this with the kids so I was a tad bit nervous on how it would work out. But the moment I said stickers were involved they all seemed on board! I wish I could type out every poem/prayer and showcase every picture they wrote. It was the cutest and biggest blessing ever to see glimpses of these precious children's heart. They talked about peace in the boarding house but mostly about peace in their families and how they so desired that. 

Here are some pics of them holding up their prayers and artworks.







9.16.2011

Welcome to my home!

Jared has reminded me that this is "home" for the year and I  better get use to it and start calling it that. My heart needs to be in South Africa so I can fully let God use me and this week has been good for that. So I started snapping some pics of my beautiful HOME and I am so excited to share it with you:)

Ok are you ready for the tour?! Let's get started!



 This is the younger girls room














 This is the other girls room













This is my beautiful huge room that has a weird smell to it always! (even though I've cleaned it a hundred times)
If you were to walk through the front door of the boarding house this is what you would see. To my left is the dinning room and if you keep walking past the staircase on your left you will find the kitchen. Right before the staircase to the right is the study room






This is the dinning room! 17 beautiful children eat here 3 times a day (breaky, snack and dinner)
This is what the kitchen looks like. We have two stoves and two sinks and another fridge in the dinning room (see above picture)
No dishwasher but with 17 kids on dish duty- the dishes get done pretty quickly









This is the outside of the boarding house. This view is taken right when you get passed the gate. Kinda beautiful isn't it?











I love these palm trees in the yard! They always make me smile.






















So that is where I live and stay:) I hope you enjoyed your tour.

It is starting to feel like home and I am excited for that.

This week was another great week but I am SO ready for the weekend.

God Bless.

Mads.

Write Me :)

Thank you Aunt Jayne and Uncle Peter! I loved my card and your pictures from the wedding!

I hope you are gearing up to have a lovely weekend! I have plans tonight to go a nice restaurant and listen to live music with some ladies from Project Gateway (the place where I work) I am really excited! Saturday could potentially be a beach day in Durban and it's suppose to be high 30's which would be so fun.

Every day I check my mail box and would love for you to write me! I will try to write back:)

 So here is my address for all of you to send me love.

Madeline Charnuski
c/o Mennonite Central Committee
PO Box 101071 Project Gateway
Scottsville, 3209
Pietermaritzburg
SOUTH AFRICA

9.15.2011

Give me your eyes

All those people going somewhere
Why have i never cared?

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so i can see
Everything that i keep missing
Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach?
Give me your heart for the one's forgotten
Give me your eyes so i can see

9.11.2011

Happy One Month!

Hey Lovelies! I have officially been here one month! Can you believe it?  I've posted tons of pictures from the start of my month till today. It only took 2.5 hours to upload these so enjoy.
Matt who is going to Zambia! This is the day we all flew out.

Chris and I

Official plan tickets and passports with Shawnti

Our first mini flight together- the start of 26 hours of travel

Starbucks for the last time :(

Learning Zulu on the plane..Sawubona = hello

How women were treated during Apartheid


HIV education

Spiritual Retreat Workshop


Grade R's at my school- so cute!

Crowning Mr. and Mrs. Spring- such a fun day!

This is where I work:)

One of my birthday cakes

Silly boys! these are some of the kids

again..

Monkeys just chillen in my backyard.. if you look closely this monkey is holding a baby

Hanging out with the Zebras








Out for dinner with people with my small group

Part of Pietermaritzburg

so beautiful

9.10.2011

a jumble of thoughts

...I've written three blogs today... I keep deleting and rewriting.. deleting and rewriting.. a part of me doesn't want to blog this weekend. There is just too many thoughts running through my mind, to many emotions, to many fears.

A part of me wants to wait till next week to blog to you all but to be honest I need and love your support. The fact that I know people read this blog makes my life and I feel that I owe it to you to keep you updated and informed.. even if that is very difficult this week.

So here are my deep thoughts for the week (just one topic of a hundred!)

This week went by a lot faster than last. There was also a lot less tears. I'm starting to get into the hang of things... if that is even possible at this point. School is going well, although I feel like I'm not doing enough. The children are wonderful and my heart is already getting attached... even leaving them this weekend was very difficult. 

I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing here. Why did I really leave my comforts for a year? Why am I not starting my second year of university? I keep asking myself these questions never being satisfied with the answers that I come up with. 

I am in South Africa- a developed country.. there is still so much poverty here, so much hurt and pain but isn't there poverty everywhere in every country? I am starting to realize that my being here is so much more than a one sentence answer I can give myself. God has been working on my heart more than I can ever put into words on a blog and He keeps telling me to "be still and know that He is God." I am trying to be still. I am trying to find my purpose here in South Africa.

I sometimes feel so small in such a big world. I am working at a school with kids but I know hundreds of people are dying from HIV and children are starving. On Friday I found out about a brothel that houses young girls for prostitutes. My heart just breaks over and over again. I am letting these stories hit me hard. I am letting each story and each struggle sit deep into my soul asking the Lord what He wants to teach me and how He wants to use me. 

Each morning I do administration work at the school. Sometimes this past week there hasn't been much administration to do at all and I find myself sitting doing nothing. I feel insignificant in a country where there are lots of problems. But doesn't every country have its problems? Why am I here?

Yesterday I attended a peace conference. It was interesting to here some older ladies talk about peace and what it meant to them. It was a very educational day listening to their stories, hearing people's heart. My mind shifted to being thankful. I am thankful that God has called me to be here. I am thankful to hear people's stories. I am learning that God wants to use his people no matter if the country is "developed" or "developing." I have things to learn even while photocopying Grade Two papers. Even though these questions will continue to cross my mind daily, yesterday I was reminded that I have a job here. 

This probably doesn't make much sense.. but I don't feel like deleting it again and starting over. I'll try to upload some pictures before I go back to the boarding house tomorrow night. And I'm working on a video with the children to show you!! I am very excited about this and excited that you get to meet the children soon. 

O and a fun thing to talk about! Jared and I went to McDonald's on Thursday! What a wonderful craving to have! It was a super successful trip:) I needed something familiar in my life and what better thing to chose than McDonald's. Also Jared and I went for a walk downtown and I got to see more of my city. I am so blessed to have Jared with me because I wouldn't be able to take these trips downtown because of safety concerns. It is great to be in a new country learning new things each and every day. 

I hope to figure it out more in the future.. I hope to settle down in the next few weeks and start being a part of something, start feeling useful. For now I'll continue to observe and take in. I will continue to learn in this country. 

Tomorrow will be exactly a month since leaving home. I can't believe a month has already passed. Can you??

Much much love.. sorry for my crazy blog post tonight:) I guess thats just who I am- crazy!



9.03.2011

Precious Stories from Week 1

I tiptoed quietly down the hall into her room and carefully made my way until I found her bed. While finding her small body laying on the bed I climbed in behind her and snuggled up close. Her face was in her pillow trying to control her tears so that she wouldn't wake the other girls in the room. I gently kissed her forehead and starting rubbing her back. 
Her tears became less frequent and I could tell just how exhausted she was. As I lay beside her fighting back my own set of tears I continually prayed over her. I could tell she was embarrassed and hurt at first because when I snuggled in beside her she slightly moved away. As the minutes passed by her little body relaxed into mine. When her tears stopped and I could tell she was asleep, I left the room with my own set of fresh tears on my face. After being here for only a few days- how could I love a child so much that her pain makes me hurt so deep.




"Auntie Maddie, do you think my mom loves me?"
"Yes, I'm sure she does. And you know that Jesus loves you so very much and so do I."
"Than why hasn't she called me? I know that she has her phone on her and she knows the number I called from."
My heart stopped and I asked the Spirit to speak words through me, like He promises in his word that He will. When no words came to mind I grabbed her beautiful little hands and folded them into mine and started praying that she would feel God's love and that her mother would call. Later that evening the house auntie's phone rang and it was her mother finally calling back. The conversation lasted less than a minute (which broke my heart) but during that time I got to experience more JOY from this girl than other person I have met before. There was no way you could wipe that smile off of her precious face all night. Someone cared enough to call her - she felt loved.




I was sitting on the front porch exhausted after playing yet another game of soccer when a car pulled up to the gate and a man walked forward. The gate had been left open so he started walking into the yard of the boarding houses. As I pulled my sweater tighter to me I decided to get up and introduce myself- see who this man was and what/who he needed. Before I could stand up, one the smallest boys at the boarding house bolted across the yard. I got to watch him run full tilt into this man's arms as he jumped on him into a perfect 4 point hug. His precious little body wrapped perfectly around his fathers body as he kissed his father on the cheek. Tears filled my eyes as I walked away, trying to not look like a basket case in front of this boy and his father. What a incredible picture to watch. As his father tried to let him down he fought to stay clung to his Daddy. His father had come to make sure he had something to wear for Spring Day (September 1st- celebrated in South Africa). When this little boy shook his head yes, his father let him down gave him a hug and walked out the gate. 




"Congratulations on winning Miss Spring my dear. You were so great up there!"
"Auntie Maddie, can I tell you something?"
"Of course." She climbed onto my lap never loosing eye contact. 
"When I won, I was so happy I cried. Is that ok?"
I tried to hold back my smile and kissed her on the forehead. 
"You were crying happy tears and that is more than alright"
" So do you think I am beautiful?"
I paused once again this time showing my smile. 
" You are made in God's image and he thinks you are so beautiful, whether you won the contest or not. But yes, I think you are so beautiful. God made you perfect."
She seemed satisfied with that answer and ran off to chase some of the boys down who had a deflated soccer ball. I captured that moment in my mind and ran off to find my bible as I started looking for passages about inner beauty and the Lord looking at the heart..these verses I read to the girls before tucking them into bed that evening.


 When I first got the boarding house I told the children that I am here for them to talk to me about anything- they need to feel free to come to me whenever. Yesterday I kissed some of the boys on the head and told them that I loved them. What would a typical boy aged 8-12 do when a girl kissed him? Run away of course! I started chasing these 5 wonderful boys hoping to catch them and kiss them all over. They screamed and giggled as we ran around the yard- I could just picture God smiling down at us, laughing with us and sharing our joy.Once I caught the boys and kissed them they would sprint off hoping I would be behind them chasing them once more. When I was exhausted from running around and sat down on the dry grass the disappointment in their faces started to settle in. They wanted more loving, they wanted to be chased and they wanted someone to play with them. They thought it was so funny to be running around the yard away from me but I quickly learnt that they so wanted to be caught and "kissed all over". Before the disappointment settled onto their faces for too long I said a silent prayer for the Lord to give me strength and started chasing after them once again. 



I say a prayer every morning (and many many many many times during the day) for a worship song.
The prayer is "all of my ambitions hopes and plans, I surrender these into Your hands." Every day I want to constantly surrender ALL my ambitions, ALL my hopes for this year and ALL my plans for my life into my all knowing Saviour.  Do you know how hard that is?!?! O my it has been the hardest week of my life. I have given God control over my life before, but I have never had to rely on him like I have to here in South Africa. I can't get through the day without being in constant conversation with the Lord. Every time I cry (which has been daily this past week) my heart immediately starts singing worship songs, ensuring that the praise goes to Jesus and that Satan knows he has no business in my life.

This past month, I have given God complete control over me life, my decisions, my hopes, my plans and my fears. Let's just say He has taken FULL advantage of the opportunity to mould me into his likeness. It has been the most painful and tender process I have ever gone through but the most humbling and beautiful one at the same time. God's love is so deep for his children (you!) that he desires and takes time to mould us and teach us. It has been such a blessing to just be in constant conversation with the Lord- something that I didn't know could even happen until arriving in South Africa. I know this process will continue and that it will be painful but I know that I am coming out a stronger more beautiful women of the Lord and that is all I'm living to be so bring on the tears Lord-  I'm ready!

I had asked for prayer that I would physically feel God's loving arms around me. I don't know how to explain this or put it into words but I have felt exactly that. Not only did God answer my (our) prayer he answered it abundantly. I'm not sure who reads my blog and I am so impressed if you've read this far already but if you don't have a relationship with God you won't really understand this paragraph but I want to let you know that I have physically felt God's love this week. I also know that God's heart is to show you his love in an intimate way. He is already showing his love for you through creating the world and nature- something I have taken for granted time and time again. Prayer works. I am living proof that God hears prayers and answers in HIS time, not mine. God can see the whole picture, and we can only see the here and now.. I have to continue to remember that.

I had a lovely birthday and two birthday cakes. It was a bitter sweet birthday but a birthday none the less. I met my host family yesterday evening and they had a wonderful meal all ready for me! I am so blessed to have FRUIT in their house.. the food at the boarding house has been less than adequate. Anyways they have internet which is the reason I can blog to you- so expect weekly blogs from me:)

Please continue to pray for me. I know it's working:)
Also would you pray for my 18 children!! (yes, they feel like my children and that bond will only get stronger as the year progresses) These children just want to be loved and want to show love.

Keep reading my blog because I'm sure there will be ways and things I will be asking from you to show these kids that they are loved!

xo

Maddie

9.01.2011

a prayer request

Hey!

At the school I do some administration work so I have a few spare moments in between tasks to check my facebook and email my mom! but I don't really have internet during the week. Hopefully my host family does who I live with on weekends. I get to meet my host family tomw after school around 4pm. I am so excited to see them and get rested. this week has been very overwhelming.

I know God is here with me.. trust me.. I can feel his presence all around me and he is taking great care of me.. but I miss my my mom more than I can ever put into words. I hate being here sometimes and I just need to get into a routine. This week has been super hard but I am excited to see how God is going to use me.. I think he is just teaching me to rely on him more than I ever have.

Yesterday I just cried all day long.. I cried at school, in front of the girls and than I went out in the yard for an hour and just let all my tears out singing worship songs and praising God. My prayer last night was that Christ would wrap his loving arms around me and that I would feel it.

I have felt your prayers since being here. I know people are praying for me and I am so thankful for that.

My request is that you pray for me the prayer that I've been praying - that I would physically feel God's loving arms around me.

I have so much more to type so hopefully I can adequately update you this weekend if my host family has internet

Love you all
ps. ITS MY BIRTHDAY TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!

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