12.30.2011

Reflections on 2011 part 1

urgg... how I love technology! So I have been working on a VERY long blog to sum up such an amazing 2011 and somehow.. even though I saved it I can't find it! So this will be a very short version and when I get back from my little camping get-a-way I will re do it:)

 Yesterday I was reflecting on 2011 in my journal ( I wrote 16 pages and I'm still not done) and I realized that many people love to make New Year's Resolutions at this time but I adore just re living moments in 2011 and trying to capture them on paper so that I won't ever forget. It's a fun process but it's hard. All the massive mistakes I've made and the people who I hurt come to mind just as much as the incredible lessons I've learnt and friendships I've made. The one thing that I kept writing and re-writing in my journal that God's grace is never ending. When I look back at 2011 I see God's hand over my life, I see the Spirit moving and it's such a humbling experience knowing that the God of the universe takes interest in my life. A new lesson that I've learnt this year is grasping that God delights in me. That I'm his and nothing is going to change that. I love the title of my blog- Forever His. It is a reminder every time I sign onto my blog that I am God's. Eternity is hard to think about but I guess that's where faith comes in.. knowing that I am with God forever and ever.. 

Something I haven't reflected on in a while but something that I should reflect on more often is the fact that I am alive. That being on earth today is a gift. I had a scary wake-up call on Christmas day. Around 6pm on December 25 I got itchy all over. Than my fingers started to tingle and I lost feeling in my face. I was on this beautiful property and we were out for a walk after our lunch. I realized something was wrong and started heading back to the house. When I got to the house my face was a white pasty colour and everything on my body was swollen. My host sister Catherine ran and got Anne (my host mom) and before I knew it I was in the back seat of the car, freaking out driving to the hospital. I car ride was a blur- my eyes started shutting and my throat started closing. It is honestly the scariest thing that has ever happened to me- it was terrifying. I could feel my throat closing. Than I went unconscious and I don't really remember too much. Than a wonderful miracle happened- I threw up in the back seat of the car. It was my bodies attempt to stay alive. Looking back now if I didn't throw up I probably would have died on the forty minute car ride to the hospital. But God is good. I was rushed to emergency and hooked up to an IV within seconds. By 10pm I was stable and the drugs had made me twitch a lot and my speech was still blurred but for the most part I was ok. When they told me I was stable I just wanted to go home. Sooooo baddd.. there is no way I can put into words the intense desire that I just needed to be home. However because of the severe reaction and the fact that I almost died I was told that I had to stay the night at the hospital. 

Let me remind you what day this all happened.... Christmas night. Once that clicked in my head that I would have to sleep overnight with no one on Christmas night I was a mess. I just couldn't stop crying. ( I am blaming my reaction on the drugs) This moment has been the lowest of my trip this far. I am so happy that I stayed overnight because I was watched like a hawk and given drugs throughout the night but at the time I was not ok. Writing this sense shivers up my spine... I still can't accept the fact that I almost died because that is just too scary to grasp. Also I feel like I am exaggerating when I say that " I almost died." The doctor told me that given another few minutes I wouldn't have made it.. that scares me too much to believe it.

Physically I am ok- mentally I am dealing with it. To be honest I'm not sure how much more mentally I can handle on this trip and I'm not even half way. First my laptop and pictures were stolen, than I got sick. Than I got pneumonia and my lung collapsed. Than my job didn't need me anymore and I was stuck finding new work and lastly on Christmas night I had an allergic reaction. 
Mentally I am exhausted and I 100% know that without God's strength I would be on a flight home

I am leaving right now to go away for a few days camping for a bit over New Years. I promise to write more once I get back and give you some of my favourite highlights of 2011 so stay tuned!

but for now I'll say HAPPY NEW YEAR:)

all my love coming your way.
xox





12.29.2011

12.23.2011

A year ago



I've never re-read my blog posts before. But this morning as I'm doing my devotions I remembered that last year at this time I started my blog. I looked at my December 24th post and it really is the same thing I am thinking and praying about this year. Thought I would share it with you.

Plus it's fun to think that I wrote something a year ago and it still rings true! 

I love Christmas! Maybe I should write that again just to make sure this is clear. I love Christmas! From seeing my family to the birth of Christ, Christmas is def. my favourite time of the year. Ever since I was a little girl I would race downstairs and see what Santa had in store for me that year. Christmas has always brought a joy in my life. I love to celebrate Christmas and love the thrill that it brings!

But this afternoon my heart aches for so many precious people that tonight and tomorrow are just another day. These people won't know if they will live to see the next day; nor what it holds. For me my night is all planned out. From church service to playing cards with the family, opening our novels before bedtime to putting out cookies and milk, (even though I'm 18) the night is simply magical. But for too many tonight is just another night. For over 27 million slaves in our world right now, its another reminder that they have no control. For the millions of girls in the sex trade they know that tomorrow will be like any other day: being raped and sold, time and time again. Throughout all the busiest that Christmas brings, I'm taking this half hour to pray and remember these precious children, adults and elderly all around the world that won't be able to celebrate the birth of the Saviour. I pray so dearly that I would learn to think less of myself and more of others. I believe in the power of prayer and I hope my prayer touches the life of someone tonight. That maybe tonight one girl trapped in the sex trade won't be rapped and can try to sleep for more than a few hours.
I hope that my attitude will reflect nothing that is selfish this Christmas but only a selfless heart. There are so many people in our own community that needs someone to love on them. We all have gifts. We all have things we are good at and the Lord really wants to use us to reach the hurting. I realize that every Christmas, millions of people will not celebrate it, but I have a goal that I can touch lives through Christ throughout the year so that Christmas 2011 there will be a few more smiling and rejoicing.

So to all the ones that are hurting right now, know i'm praying for you and that the maker of the universe loves you.

Where has December gone?



















Merry Merry Christmas!

It has been so long since I have blogged.. (okay only two weeks) but it feels so much longer. December has been a CRAZY month! Since I am an extremely dramatic person let me repeat again- December has been unreal. The emotions I've felt this month have been intense.. so many amazing emotions and so many life lessons that I am starting to realize and uncover. I had such a precious moment a few nights ago where Shawnti and I just sat with our feet in the pool on a warm summer's night talking about our lives and how much we have changed. From our thoughts, to the way we feel about our situation, to how we interact with family and friends.. the list goes on. I'm cherishing this moment because it gave me another chance to reflect on these last 4 months.

I really want to emphasize how much I love it here. These 4 months have been the best 4 months in my short life and I am so blessed- beyond blessed to be here and to be able to learn. The kids that I live with have stolen my heart. I have put everything that I have emotionally into those relationships that it's been hard to make time to get connected with people my age because I feel emotionally drained most days. I am so excited to be working in an NGO. All the craziness of switching jobs has been one of the most rewarding parts of my experience so far. I feel content knowing that this is what I want to do with my life and it's amazing that I can get experience in the field I want to go into. I get to see/experience and feel the "in's and out's" of an NGO- the daily problems they face and the incredible miracles that keep continuing to happen on a daily basis. There is still talk about me going back to the school to teach PE classes in the New Year however I am not entirely sure that is what I want, or what God wants. I am still praying about this all.

So the kids are back at their "homes" for Christmas and I am at my host families house for Christmas. The NGO (Project Gateway) closed on the 15th and will re open on January 9th (i think?). I move back into the boarding house on the 16th of January. On December 16th Faye (one of my co-workers and dearest friends here) invited me to spend 5 days at a beach house with her family! It was unreal!!!! I ran on the beach most mornings, woke up at 430am to watch the sunrise over the Indian ocean and hung out with people my age! There was a hot-tub on the roof and we would sit in there for hours just chatting and enjoying our time. I haven't felt relaxed since being here and this weekend was just what I needed. On our way home from the beach we picked up Shawnti who will be spending Christmas with my host family! It is amazing to have her here and have someone understand my situation. Christmas is a time all about family and celebrating and when you're family isn't here its really hard to focus on Christmas being positive. Going through this hard time is SO much easier with her around!

Other super exciting news! MY SISTER IS ENGAGED! Liv and Jason are getting married! And you think I was obsessed with weddings before.... essshhh... I am SO excited for both of them and can't wait for them to get married. It makes me so upset and restless that I can't be experiencing the excitement at home but it's just another thing to deal with.

so that's the update on my life!


xo!






12.09.2011

Casting Crowns Loving!

I just can't get enough of their new cd! Every song speaks right to my heart and I just feel like quoting all the lyrics all the time. So I decided to write a quick blog post to encourage you to listen to their new cd as well.  The messages are amazing.

& guess what! they wrote a song about birthdays... this relates directly to my bitter about birthday's blog post.. something I've been struggling for a while.

Casting Crowns - Come to the Well

Here are a few of the songs I adore (but I like them all!)



I have been working very hard this past week! The children are gone and so is a piece of my heart but God is good all the time.
The Pennels are off to Jo Burg so I've had the house to myself- freaking amazing!!!
Here's to a relaxing weekend (I hope) from a very emotional week:)

Love
Maddie

12.07.2011

what I wrote in my journal...

here's a bit of what I wrote in my journal this morning.. thought I would share with you all.

*sigh*.. today is the last day @ the boarding house with the children. Although I have been very very emotional leading up to this day, I personally thought I would be crying by now but I'm not- not at all. It's weird- I'm totally at peace. For a moment I thought I was feeling this way because maybe I don't love them as much as I thought or because I've had a headache these past few days etc etc but I realized it's because God has put a peace in my life. A peace the the bible talks about having- a peace that goes beyond our human understanding. For the first time in a very long time (maybe the first time ever?) I am experiencing God's peace. Nothing I could have ever gotten from this world. 


The kids are leaving and the bags are packed. JP students (5 of them) don't need to go to school today and two have left already and the SP students are just planning a party and than their concert tonight- yipee! I am not looking forward to January when the kids come back and I realize that some of these kids won't be coming back but like stated earlier- I have peace. It is the coolest feeling in the world! Jesus, thank you for always looking out for me. It's so sur-real to not feel worried or anxious. Thank you for answering hours of prayers! These kids are not mine- nor will they ever be and although I love them like they are my kids, I am so blessed and privledged for them to have an opportunity to impact my life and for me to impact theirs. You never fully know the impact you have one someone - good or bad and I know that I touched these kids lives but to what extent I don't know.


I've really realized that we do go through seasons- a lot of different seasons in our lives. This season I'm going through is hard- but what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger and I know 100% I am stronger for this season. New kids will come and go, people will come and go in my life, situations will come and go in my life- that's just the way life goes. I guess I'm starting to realize that if I am on this earth for a vapour according to eternity that I shouldn't worry if I see these kids again or not. I was blessed to be with them for a season in my life and now that season is passing. This is all part of God's plan and I want to live out my faith knowing and believing that God has it all together and He is always in control. Yes I know I will miss them 100% but missing them is ok- being sad is ok- as long as I know that God's plan is taking them elsewhere and I need to be excited about that, rather than upset that I don't get to see them- that's just a selfish way of living and I need to get over that. okay, I better get back to playing uno with the girls.. no sense writing more on my last day with them- time is precious.
so thankful to be a peace today. thank you Lord. xo

so yes, that's some of what I wrote this morning! It is the last day! On Monday I put on a party for the kids- it was great!!! Yesterday was the JP concert and tonight is the SP concert. Around 9 tonight I will be back at the Pennel's for 5 weeks and spend Christmas with them. I am stoked :)
Hope your week is going amazing.
Sending you lots of love from Africa

Maddie
xo

12.03.2011

Happy Saturday:) What better way to celebrate the weekend than a few pics of the past few weeks!
Scroll down to the next blog to read the recap I wrote of November also.

xoxo.


COP 17- I went to the opening rally. Unreal experience. 


Yes that is Desmond Tutu!!!!! Yes I saw him live. Yes I am excited:)

Got my Christmas package in the mail! Hurray! I'll have presents to open on Christmas morning

Kelly and I went to an orphanage and brought sweets to make with these kids- it was an amazing experience!

Yummy:)

Enjoying the sweets! Tres cute. 
Working at my "new job" DMPR! (I'll keep you updated on what my job description really is another time)

I climbed this! - up to the ridge on the right

"Farming" in Lesotho!

Rainbow in Lesotho- tres beautiful hey?

Shawnti & I.
I really love this girl

Enjoying God's creation. Love the shadow on the mountains.

Our group hiking up the mountain. Such a precious moment I will always remember

SALTers! Our team for 2011-2012

Taking on PMB together:)

12.02.2011

December already?

Hey Loves:)

I can't believe it's December. Time can go by so fast some days and the next day I am super depressed and just want it to be July and be home. 

Christmas is coming and I don't feel "Christmasyy" at all!! & I so want to! I am such a festive person and love planning parties and yet I feel so out of place and not sure what to do with myself. However I did get a package from my family together with little Christmas presents in it and I am stoked. 

November was a month of growth. ( I think every month I could write that but this month particularly)

Here's the recap:

I watched a girl get beaten and thrown into the street, I got to hear stories of girls who have been raped and beaten - their self worth shattered.
 I witnessed people living in homes with electricity and water on one side of the street and directly across the street (legit- across the street) people were living in nothing - (does a mud house count?) 
I got to visit another African country and meet beautiful people from Lesotho. 
I got to hang out with Lesotho SALTers and realize that even though we are in different environments we are going through a lot of the same thought processes. 
I got so much closer to my amazing host family. 
I learnt more about the country I live in and people that make up this diverse country. 
I finished being sick and my first week back realized that the school is no longer needing a volunteer there.
I started a new job and found out another way I can help out this NGO called Project Gateway
I got to be a judge at a dance competition (girls vs boys at the boarding house- my kids can dance!!)
I attended a vintage 20's dress up night with my homegroup from church
I visited a new orphanage called Sunshine and brought icing sugar and sweets and made crafts with the kids- I've never experience children being more thankful in my life
I realized that I don't fit into 3 pairs of my pants anymore... and everyone in Zulu culture vocalizes my weight gain.. (suppose to be a compliment.. eek!) Samp and putu diet .. o boy how I love.
I got to sit on my bed with the girls and have bible study together, sharing our hearts with each other
I experienced Toblerone and loved every minute of it!

Okay that's my VERY short version of November.. can't wait to see what December holds! 



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