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



  1. Hey Maddie!! It's Julia Courlas :)

    What a beautiful blog post!!! I love to know what you do everyday....even though the time from South Africa is different than here. (haha)

    Those kids must be loving your gym time...it must be soo cool seeing their smiling faces and hear their laughter.

    God is so with you it's so clear to me when I read your blogs.

    Keep serving Jesus....these kids need to see an example of Christ, and you are modeling it for them in a way that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

    Sending love from the Courlases to South Africa!! :D We always thinking of you and are praying for you, dear Madeline.

    Love as your sister in the Lord,

  2. Julia!

    sorry for the late reply! I am so blessed that you are reading my blog and interested in my trip. I miss you and your family so very much. How is the new house treating you? I hope life in Elmira is going well and that God is teaching you new things each and every day.

    much much love


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