10.31.2011

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

Maddie

10.28.2011

another long week ahead...

Holla!

Happy Friday.. although to be honest I haven't really been keeping track of the days so I don't really care that it's Friday- all I do is sleep.

Anyways I blogged earlier about my sickness and how I had a doctor's appt. to attend yesterday. I don't want this to be a ranting session about how my life sucks.. because it is very very far from that. I am a blessed blessed woman and I know God is in control and taking care of me. So I'll keep this short on my blog and if you want to ask me more questions I would love to give you an adequate update on how I'm feeling- I just don't feel like posting it for the world to read.

I went to the doctor who than sent me straight to get a chest x-ray. After the results came back from the x-ray I went back to this doctor who told me that I had pneumonia and a collapsed right lung. The pneumonia in my lung had spread during this past week.. I had severe pain in my side and still do but when I went to the hospital the first time they told me it was a side effect of the flu. Since I have this infection in my lung, not enough oxygen could get to my lung which resulted in it collapsing a bit.

Yes- its scary and serious- but I really am doing alright. I started phyiso right after that appt. and just came back from phyiso already today. I take 3 medicines 3x a day and I have a breather thing (forget what's it is called) that helps me breathe whenever I need it. I'm only allowed to do minimal activity and that's all I really can do because even if I shower I usually take a nap after because it just takes to much energy.

I have been up and down but I decided to think positively and make this whole sick time in my life part of this journey. I am over here to learn and this is just a another thing for me to learn how to handle and deal with.

 I decided to make you laugh a little with this awesome photo of me! If I'm going to be positive with this part of my trip- you always need a picture right?

ok LOTS OF LOVE!:)

xoxoxoo

10.27.2011

the longest week..

its been 5 long long days and yet I still don't feel any better.

it all started Saturday when I broke out in intense chills and couldn't get warm. I had just gotten back from a wonderful beach day in Durban with the other South African SALTers and right when I walked into my house I felt terrible. Terrible isn't an exaggeration either. I've never felt worse in my life. After taking a bath to try and keep warm I realized I had a huge fever and just needed to sleep- what was wrong with me? Sunday came and I didn't go to church (which I really really wanted too) and by 5pm that night my fever hadn't broken and my pain still hadn't gone away so we headed to the hospital. After a few tests I was reassured it was a bad case of the flu and was told to take the week off- she gave me a few injections and some medicine and was told to rest. Since Saturday night- I really haven't gotten out of bed. Nor have I had the energy to do anything at all. It's been a rough week.

Honestly, it has sucked. I miss home. I want my own bed when I'm sick and I want the comfort of putting in my favourite movies and snuggling up on the couch. I'm grumpy and annoyed with my body. I miss the kids at the boarding house and I hate that once I finally get into routine things always seem to change. I would get up to go to the bathroom and that would be a huge task that I would feel tired enough to take a nap again. I have a doctor's appt. this afternoon to make sure life is good again! I'll keep you updated if things go sour again. My breathing is something that I've been worried about. I can't really take a deep breath in and my puffer isn't much help. My breathing is really good today so hopefully I'm on the recovery on whatever I had.

This week I was suppose to head to camp with the Grade 6's and 7's and it broke my heart to call in sick and tell them that this will not be happening. I am not one for camping (its in cabins) but the opportunity to spend with these kids and here their hearts and get to know them better would have been amazing- I am so sad I missed it. Also there is another wedding that I could have helped with on Saturday that I will be missing also. It all just sucks. Why do I need to get sick on a week like this!

Anyways, I'm done ranting for now! Things that I can look forward to are:

- Sometime in November the South African SALTers are heading to Lestho (another country!) to visit the two SALTers there and do some manual labour-eeeekkkkk! But I am so excited. That will be one of these weeks in November
- December 8 is when I am off school and the boarding house closes down. This means that for the month of December pretty much until early January I will be with the Pennels and celebrating Christmas with them! Because of the seasons and how hot it is here there is no way that I think Christmas is coming up- it will be such an interesting experience. Also 3 children will be leaving the boarding house on December 8 because they are heading to Grade 8 (highschool) and one is moving to Capetown. Subtract my week away in Lestho that means I only have 4 more weeks with these kids- tear tear. I am so sad thinking about that!

I've been reminded of this song from Hillsong called Desert. Part of the song goes:

"All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship"

In this "sick season" of my life God is still God and yes, I have a reason to worship.

lots of love


maddie

10.25.2011

Am I doing enough? Are you doing enough?



 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25: 37-40

10.21.2011

Contrast

Hello Hello!
Can you believe I've been gone 10 weeks already? I hope you are having a wonderful week. I was a legit teacher this week teaching the Grade R's. (Kindergarten) I had zero prep time, I wasn't sure of their schedule and I never knew if I was teaching 31 kids or not. Grade R is a chance for these Zulu children to learn English. *key word in that sentence is learn. Than throw in my accent...

Let's just say it was HECTIC! They are so cute but boy can they be naughty. I was extremly tired all week long. Than I still had to leave the school and keep 17 children's attention and help with homework.

Other news: Jessica (a SALTer from America working in Durban) came down for the week because her job was at Gateway (where I work). She works for Refugee Social Services and they rented out a space at Gatway to help the refugees around PMB (Pietermaritzburg-my city) It was such a blessing to see her and hang out with her this past week.

Also I started PEACE CLUBS at the boarding house on Wednesday! At first the kids didn't want to go to the dining room and I had to literally chase the soccer ball around and fetch it so they would stop playing and go inside. However, when the hour was up and it was time to bath I was than taking their journals away from them. It was great to see them participate! The th theme we are working on is "anger managment." I am teaching them different ways we can deal with anger etc etc. I know a lot of you were praying for the start of Peace Clubs and I want  to tell you thank you for your prayers! It did go so well and I could just see the Spirit working - thanks to your prayers. I will make sure that I continue to give frequent updates on the happenings of these peace clubs. I am so encouraged by the kids participation and I look forward to seeing how God will work in their lives through this club.

My goal for blogging was to not keep it surface level. I don't just want to tell you what I am doing but I want you to hear my thoughts, struggles, frustrations and joys- thats all part of this journey and in my opinion its the bigger part of this journey..

Since chatting with Jessica on Monday some of my thoughts about changing worlds surfaced. It's easy to talk about problems.. people talk about problems all the time but its the solutions that really make the difference.
I have been battling with seeing poverty up close during the week and than changing worlds completely for the weekend. The contrast is so huge and it's something that I have to deal with each and every week.Trust me, it's terrible on my heart and I get frustrated and confused all the time. Even simple things that shouldn't bother me are starting too. Even the way I dress for example changes whether its during the week. At Gateway I usually wear the long dresses or skirts and during the weekends I wear my outfits that I would wear at home.

Something that was profound this week is that I've never bridged this world at home in Elmira. Just because I didn't bridge this world at home doesn't mean that poverty isn't there. I don't think I can ever go back to just living in "my privleged world" and "just talking about the issues." Don't get me wrong- talking about poverty, children's right to education, women's rights etc are vital- however it can't stop there. My actions or lack of, usually would end there.

Every Sunday when I drive to church in the morning I have to drive past the slums. Most of the children at my school live in that environment. Lots of children come from rough backgrounds and don't have money to buy pencils. I deal with that five days a week. Than I come to an amazing host family and sit at my desk in my own room on my laptop with wifi and get to type to you all- get the contrast?

I haven't figured out what to do with all these thoughts running through head but I am happy that they have surfaced and that I can chat with you about them- even if we are contients apart.

Anyways, I have a pretty chill weekend ahead of me- the Lord knows that I need it. It's Anne (my host mom's) birthday today and we are going out for dinner to celebrate- and than Mark (my host Dad) is preaching at another site within the same church up in Moore River on Sunday which I am excited for as well!

Miss you all more than I could ever put into words.
Much Love

Madeline.

10.16.2011

A lesson learned.

Before I start on what I feel will become a rant I want to tell you that I am typing on my computer!! It's a netbook and its pink and I know I that I will grow to love it. It's baby and cute and I pray that no one wants to take it this time around.

We are studying the book of James at church in a six week series called "I am decided." (decided to live  for Christ) My notebook gets fuller every Sunday because I try to write down everything because the Spirit is teaching me so very much.

Here's what tonights sermon was on:

James 2:14

"What use is it my brethen, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?"

James 2:26

"For just as the body without the Spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."

James 2:24

"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Wow

maybe you're like me and need to take a second to read over those verses again... I sure had too.

If you're reading my blog and have no idea who God is and if God has no revelance in your life at present than this part is for you- I am sorry. I am personally sorry and I am also sorry for people who call themselves Christians and represent Christ so poorly. These verses above talk about how if we are to talk about our faith and about Christ we need to show deeds that go along with it. We need to talk about our relationship with God but also show that. I am sorry if you haven't seen me "show my works" and instead just listen to me talk about my faith. Let me tell you that I have been so challenged and convicted tonight with these verses that I hope you see in my life that I am "working" and "living out" my faith rather than just talking about it. My prayer is that you'll see those works in my life and because of that see that their is a God crazy in love with you.

If you're a believer, re read those verses once more. What exactly did James mean when he wrote that our faith was dead? Works don't get us into heaven, thats grace. James is writing this to believers though- believers that need to get back on track. It is possible to receive God's word, be saved and become a believer and than walk away from the word. James is urging us to get back to looking at Christ and his example of how we are to live.

James 2:15-16

"If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them "Go in peace be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use it that?

Are you living a faith that is dead? Are the things you do each and every a reflection of Christ? These are tough questions that we looked at and studied tonight. It has really made me think about the importance of living like Christ.

Casting Crowns came to my mind:

"If we are the body, why are his arms reaching? Why aren't his hands healing? Why aren't his words teaching? If we are the body, why aren't feet going, why is his love not showing them their is a way, Jesus is the way."

We need to have faith and we must live it out each and every day. We need to be sensitive to every opportunity to witness by works- its the only way to make our faith useful.

Thanks for letting me rant!
Here's to week 9 of being on this journey...can you believe that? 9 weeks already... just crazy.

much much love

mads

I promise pictures will be coming soon... it must be boring just reading all the time!

10.15.2011

Education

I have thought about not returning to university.

 The problems that grip my heart are too urgent to me to spend thousands of dollars and attend university for three more years- a part of it seems pointless in this season of my life.

Tuesday morning I was walking through the playground and heading to my morning meetings when a Grade 1 girl came running to me full speed. She knocked me over (no one was hurt:) ) and gave me the best hug in the world! She was so excited to see me! After picking up my bag and making sure we were both alright I asked her why she was so excited this morning. She looked at me and said "because I get to learn today!"

My heart just warmed right up. I hugged her once more and whispered.. yes... you get to learn.

Wednesday morning comes around and I see her beautiful smile once again. After receiving my morning hug from her I asked her how her night was. With her huge smile she said "fine" (they always say fine) but she wasn't as eager to learn this morning. I asked her what time she got picked up from school last night and she said six but  had to take care of her siblings all night and couldn't do her homework. As we continued talking I also found out that this girl gets dropped off at 5am in the morning. Let me remind you school is from 8-2.

Her story isn't uncommon. It is a norm. After our conversation ended I remembered her excitement and the fact that she is thankful she gets to learn.

Since being here I have become more thankful about having the opportunity the learn and receive a university education.  I really have viewed education so differently since being in South Africa. I love Canada- I love our education system and I am blessed that I have the opportunity to learn.So yes, I am totally re thinking university because I have been reminded how precious and valuable education is.

10.09.2011

Perspective

Hey Lovelies!

What a crazy week it's been!

I lost a lot of sleep this week over the safety issues and the mourning of my laptop and photos and one night when I was just lying in bed I though to myself  "wow, this is really hard!"

Immediately I thought to myself "did I really think this year would be a walk in the park?" Of course going away from everything familiar wouldn't always be easy... who would I be kidding thinking this way?

I chatted with God in those early hours in the morning for a long while. We chated about it being "too hard" and how God never promised this life on earth to be easy: He promises us it will be worth it. Following Him and living for Him is worth it. It doesn't mean it will be easy. When I put things into perspective I realized so quickly that it is just a laptop and God says we do not need to be afraid.

On Friday morning I headed down to Durban to visit and work with Shawnti for the day at the cresh. (I was too scared to bring my camera along so I don't have any pics to show you atm but I snapped some on Shawnti's camera and will show them to you once I get them) We took the kids to the beach and it was so fun to hang out with preschool kids all day- so fun but so exhausting!

Than we met up with Jessica on the beach after work. (Jessica and Shawnti are both SALTers like me living in Durban) There was a surfing competition going on so we bought some ice-cream and layed on the beach for a while. I slept at Shawnti's on Friday and Jessica's on Saturday. It was the best weekend yet! All Saturday I chatted with Shawnti about life and when we went to Jessica's the deep conversations continued. It was awesome to hear these girls say "it's hard."

They get it. Even though we all live in different places and have totally different jobs we are all doing this year abroad and we all get each other. We have become such wonderful best friends and sisters and I feel so blessed laughing and sharing my heart with these two girls.

I am off to bed now I'll be moving back at the boarding house this week again. I hope to go laptop shopping this coming weekend.

I am doing much better and super excited to see the kids again and get my morning hugs and kisses from them- eeeee!! So excited.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving tomorrow (no one knows what that is here btw!)

I have started to put parts of my life into perspective.. today what parts of your life need to be put into a Godly perspective?

All my love

Mads.

10.05.2011

Reality

I was starting to get use to the barbed wire and fences.

Now, fear has filled my mind again and my emotions are high.

Crime is a huge part of South Africa. Coming to this service trip I had the full head knowledge of that. I always said the one thing I would never loose here is my laptop because it has everything on it. I have been super anal about protecting my things. When I boiled water in the room beside me yesterday morning I hid my laptop (just in-case someone would have the nerve to steal from an NGO). I lock my door every time I head to the washroom or get a drink (even if it's for a minute) I want to be safe and I to feel safe.

Yesterday afternoon the offices were full of people and I had gone out of my office for less than 30 seconds with my laptop still sitting on my desk. There were 3 people within a 5 meter radius of my office. Do you really think it would be possible to run in and get my laptop, memory stick (with my pictures on it) and my cell phone. As I was walking back into my office they were walking out. Immediately I knew they had snatched my laptop and the security guards and police were called right away. We jumped in a car and tried to follow them. They had under a minute head start... how did they manage to get away?

After an hour of driving in the car and the police stopping one man, we gave up. But by that point they could be anywhere. I am very upset and still kind of in shock. I've never experienced this stuff before and it all happened so fast. I hate how I feel used and vulnerable and I hate that my pictures are gone.

I had a good cry and bought two chocolate bars but I am still praying for a miracle. I just want my pictures back. All my high school memories are on it and when I'm a mom I want to be able to show my kids my crazy outfits and things.. it just sucks.

Anne asked me this morning what emotions I was feeling and told me to except to feel a lot of different ones throughout these next few days. I tried to answer her question honestly but I came up with a simple "I don't know."

If three men can come into an office full of people and take whatever they want and get away with it, what power do I have? Is there anything I could have done? What if I stopped them- would they have hurt me? Were they armed? It just doesn't make me feel safe. It makes me miss home and makes me want to go back. Goodness, God really knows how to stretch me huh?

Two verses that haven't left my mind since this incident happened yesterday around 2pm are:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


   19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I am challenged by both of these verses and trusting God for a miracle. Jesus raised people from the dead, He can bring back my laptop!

Hope your week is going better than mine.

xo
Maddie

10.03.2011

Heartbreaking Stuff



These are stories that I read all day.
I took a picture of this one because when I read it tears filled my eyes.

10.02.2011

Blessed with a Burden.

Good morning/afternoon/evening! (whenever you read this)

Sundays are a little hectic. I have 7 hours (3 different services) of church on a Sunday!! They are busy days but wow- God moved so much in my heart today and taught me so many incredible things. When we open ourselves up for the Lord to speak- he does. Trust me! Halfway through the service tonight I just started laughing because God and I were joking a bit. I love that I serve a God who is so personal and so faithful.

I decided to let you take a peak into one of my journals tonight. If you know me personally you will know that I love to journal. Right now I have my blog, my "computer thoughts", a prayer journal, another journal and a journal where I write down my thoughts from teaching PE classes. Also I have a planner where I write down what I do each day because journaling about daily activities is boring. K- get the point- I like to write down my thoughts:)

Today when I was journaling the Lord whispered into my heart that I have been blessed with a burden. I literally sat on my bed and let that thought sink in for over 20 minutes. I wish I could explain to you how passionate I am about the kids at the boarding house. I wish I could put into words the intense love that I feel for these kids and how I am constantly thinking of ways I can show them God's love and ways I can love on them. I  love people who society loves to forget. I love hanging out with the homeless and believing that disadvantaged children can change their world. So often I get overwhelmed at the amount of children there are in this country and how so many of them don't have families. But God reminded me that He put 17 children in my life this year and He has put me there for Kingdom purpose. That excites me so much and doesn't make me feel so lost. I have more or less a specific task.

This week is school holidays in between terms which means that the hostel closes down and the kids go back to their homes. I miss these kids so much already!! I miss my morning hugs and how they love just looking at me. What broke my heart is that some of my girls were crying on Thursday evening because home is not the safest place to be... I promise you that I was very close to taking these kids home with me for the week. (it will be a huge challenge not to bring them back to Canada with me!)

I am over the "homesickness/nothing is familiar stage" and on a "determined" phase.

I have 17 children that I live with and that God willing I can empower and love. I have been blessed with a burden and I so want to be sensitive to the Lord's leading in this area. So after I journaled/sat on my bed praying for a while I wrote down a bunch of ideas that I would like to accomplish. Here are a few:

1) My room is HUGE! There is no living room or hanging out space at the boarding house. I have budgeted some money out this week to decorate a corner of my room for "Auntie Maddie" time. I am determined to find a couch for free and than I'll spend some time making my room look lovely and creating an atmosphere for the girls and I. I need 1 on 1 time with my girls and there is no place to do that right now. There ages range from Grade 1-Grade 7 and we all know how different the conversations have to be within that age. I can't wait to get decorative and create a space where I can pray with these girls, do devotions and hear their hearts. I will make sure I post pictures when this happens.

2) I have gotten a library card and want to take a child if they are good down to the library to pick out books once a week to read at study time. This gives me time to bond individually with the child, get them out of the boarding house for a few hours and also gives them a job to find books and responsibility to treat the books with care

3) Prayer in the mornings: I really want to pray (not just the Lord's prayer) but over the girls and boys before they start their day.

4) Journals for the kids. I want to find cute journals for these kids so that they can write down their thoughts and what they are feeling. These kids don't have privacy and it would be nice for them to have time to just write (espc. for the older kids)

5) Create scrapbooks for them. Something I adore is looking at pictures of me when I was younger. I realize that many of these kids won't have pictures of themselves.. and I love snapping pictures so I'm thinking my goodbye present to each of them would be a scrapbook. I've been writing down cute quotes they say an funny stories so I'm hoping to add that to the scrapbook. 3 kids will be leaving by December 8 so I need to get started asap

6) Peace Clubs. Eventually Jared and I will be implementing this into the school (January) but we are doing a pilot run at the boarding house to see how things work. This starts soon so please be praying for this. It's ALOT of work.

okay.. I have a few more but I'll stop here for now. I don't want to get ahead of myself of make these goals impossible.. but I am not leaving South Africa with regrets and these are things I would regret not doing.

I WOULD LOVE YOUR IDEAS!! I so appreciate you walking through this incredible journey with me and if you have any ideas on what I can do or implement please let me know. More people = better ideas.

I hope your weekend was splendid and you're feeling refreshed for the coming week.

God's blessed me with an amazing burden  - what's He blessed you with?

xo
Mads.

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