3.28.2012

Lessons Learnt from Zambia!


I still can't find the right words to explain how much I needed a vacation and how much I loved travelling! Shawnti and I kept saying throughout the five days: "can we be any happier?" - we would both respond with "nope!"

A major thing I realized which I'd forgotten  is that I'm 19 years old. That's it. Still a teenager!!! Working with the NGO and living with the kids, I have to act a lot older- I have to be a mature parent and take on the burdens, worries and joys of 18 children. I have to deal with Western views and African views. Culture clashes still happen all the time. It is a privilege and blessing to all these things (don't get me wrong, I want to be here) but I didn't realize how different it made me. I've had to act mature and responsible for the past seven months (again not a bad thing) but when I was laying down beside the pool I realized that I'm just a 19 year old girl. 

& it's okay for me to want to relax and have fun on my vacation. It's not a bad thing for me to want to forget the problems of the world for a few days and just laugh about stupid things and gossip. It's not bad to want to flirt a bit, wear make-up and dress sexy. It's not wrong for me to want to read cosmo and decide what I want to wear via pinterest. I'm 19 remember.

but I know I'm called to more. God has set His children apart and called them to an eternal lifestyle. The world would have told me its okay to do all of the above, after all it's my vacation and I'm serving out of the good of my heart for a year. I deserve an extended weekend.

We caught a free bus ride back to our hostel and the bus was filled with young adults like me. They were flirting, super drunk, having so much 'fun' and laughing their heads off. I felt boring- why wasn't I 'fun' any more? Instead of joining in, I was sitting on the bus praying for my children. I knew Phumlilie and Aphiwe were going to have a hard time at home this week (kids are off for Easter break) and their precious faces didn't leave my mind.

It's another major blow to me that I changed. And being totally honest with you, I'm not sure its 100% a positive thing. Transitioning is going to be hard! I had the best vacation of my life and it was so fun. But I guess my definition of "fun" is different now.

I read a quote that says "sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." 
This pretty much sums up what I'm trying to say. I know the truth now, a lot better than I did a year ago at least. I have relationships with people who are just trying to make it through the day. I know that 27 million people are living in slavery. I have met broken people and heard their stories. I have witnessed slums and people living in absolute poverty.

My illusion that this world is all about me and I can live however I want because I need to make myself happy has been forever shattered and will never surface again. (I hope)

I look at my facebook news feed and a lot of my "friends" photos and status reflect them. How much they drank on the weekend, photos of them in clothes that hide nothing at all and status's of who upset them that day. This is what a typical nineteen year old university student does right? My news feed usually leads me frustrated and heartbroken to the point where I've started cleaning out my nine hundred facebook friends because I can't deal with those stupid status any longer.

Okay I'm rambling WAY to much for my own good.

Point being: Yes, I am 19. Yes it would be okay for me to live like a typical 19 year old for a few days because I've been working so hard. You would almost think I deserved it. But I couldn't. & my desires have switched. God has gotten such a hold of my life and even if I have to act like a thirty year old I am super humbled that He has chosen me to bring glory to His name and I don't want to disappoint the Kingdom!


on a total other note, a bunch of you have been asking for my itinerary of my vacation- so this is what I did!:)

I went down to Shawnti's place in Durban Tuesday evening and we flew out from Durban to Johannesburg, Jo-burg to Livingstone Zambia and by 2pm we were settled nicely into our hostel.


Wednesday: chill day, learning the currency and what groceries to buy
Thursday: Rode elephants in the morning, chilled by the pool in the afternoon, sunset cruise on the Zambezi river
Friday: Went into town/saw the market place, out for lunch with the 4 Zambian SALTers, hung out at the hostel at night
Saturday: Went to see one of the seven wonders of the world!!! Went out for drinks over looking the river and watching the sunset
Sunday: left our hostel at 11am and I arrived back in Maritzburg 11pm that night!

3.26.2012

Not needed but desired.

I so want to tell you all about my Zambian trip! I want to write about my daily activities from the past 5 days but I just can't seem to type it all out when God has so taken a hold of my thoughts in these past twenty four hours.

New scriptures keep flooding my mind and God continues to teach me a new thing it seems every five minutes. I wrote down a few in the airport yesterday on my four hour layover but after 9 pages of writing the "few" things God was teaching me I stopped because my hand hurt. I won't try to re type those all for you here but I wanted to share one I've rested in today and I pray you can rest in also (that's why I'm sharing!)

It's not about me. This life isn't about me, & when I start thinking at any point that this is about me and what I want my life seems to fall apart.

Going along with this theme- God doesn't need me. He doesn't need my thoughts or opinions. He doesn't need me to tell Him what I can and can't do. God doesn't want to hear where He can move in my life and what He can strip away. God is God and so above everything I could think of. How selfish am I when I think that God needs to hear my perspective and what I want to have happen in the situation. It so isn't about me.

That train of thinking has been so liberating. God is so capable of doing it on His own- the pressure is off of me! If Noah would have refused to make the ark, the ark would have still been made.. God doesn't rely on us, He is God. But what I just so love and adore is that God desires to use us and mould us.

God desires to use me to bring glory to His name. He chooses to put me in charge of things and carry out certain tasks. Worthless, screw up me. God chooses me. He called me by name and is crazy about me and desires to love on me. He desires to make me more like Him.

There is so much freedom in the fact that it isn't about me and I can totally rest in God's strength and power for my every need. He is in control and commands me to not worry or fear. What an incredible God !

3.19.2012

pictures pictures

so it's been over seven months and these weeks keep going by WAY to fast. My heart can't keep up with everything that is going on.

I go to Durban tomorrow night and leave for Zambia Wednesday morning.. who knew a girl like me would be flying around Africa with only one backpack- NO CHECKED BAG!:)  (you know I've changed when...)

Here are some photos:)

Starts with Sunday- bike race, girls night
Thursday- kids evening
Friday - church girls night

the end of the track

one of the last jumps

the cutest couple and their new baby- Petal

me and petal

the top ladies in the world for downhill biking!

getting ready for Greg to come down the hill.. the atmosphere was amazing!

South Africa won!!!!!! but do you see.. Canadian came 5th!! WAHOO! I cheered pretty loud when Smith came down the hill.. proud to be South African and Canadian:)

such an amazing afternoon:)

so yes.. your right.. I stalked the Canadian- Steve Smith so I could get a picture of him and tell him I was a Canadian too.. here is the proof my madness! Kinda cute too hey- totally worth it!

Two super beautiful ladies on our girls night after church on Sunday evening where all the men from the world cup went!

Dani and me

Sunday night girls night:)

back track with me- this is on Thursday.. people from Gateway through my kids an Easter Evening.. watched a Jesus movie, had popcorn and devotions.. so precious

Neliswa, Notobeko, Amanda, Melissa, Luyanda (L to R)




okay and now this is Friday night.. a bunch of girls from my bible study got together and had a girls night!! Lots of food and fun

Girls Night on Friday!


Hope you enjoyed the pics

xo

3.13.2012

God's Promise

from the balcony of where I live
(the red brick building is part of the prison where the women stayed)


After laying my worries at the foot of the cross I get blessed with this.

God is so faithful and showed up big in my life yesterday!

3.12.2012

Tough Week Ahead



A lot of events have occurred over the past week and now I'm sitting here after an already long Monday morning = I know this week will be tough!

If you've noticed I write quite often that I can't do this. That I want to be home in my bed with the covers pulled tightly over me forgetting about everything that needs to be done. There are 4.5 months to go and I want to be strong through them but I just can't do it. I want to be used and make a difference. But I just can't. I'm not strong enough. There is too much poverty and injustice for a girl like me to try and grasp. So instead of loosing more sleep than I already have I'm resting in this verse today.


2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


I don't have to be strong. I can be weak. I know I can't do this and that's okay because God can. His power is perfected in my weakness.

& maybe that will show you for those who don't believe in God that He exists. Because their is no way I could ever do this year apart by myself.. there must be someone, something who is giving me the strength.. and that is 100% Jesus Christ.

Please pray for me through this hard week. I think of you all so often!

3.08.2012

My mission

Woman have come a long way. From becoming a person in the early 1900's in Canada to claiming political standards, woman have come a long way. But this day is still very important because woman in this world are still being treated unfairly; inhumane actually.


Women in the middle east still can't even get a divers license. Bride burning? Total submission to males? Just to name a few..


My main passion in life is to bring awareness and justice to human trafficking. Girls and young women being forced to preform sexual tasks and have sex with whoever buys them. Girls being raped, beaten, drugged, forced to kill. In one book I read they would drop maggots and spiders onto the girls while they would sleep to enforce power and control: to keep them in fear. Many pimps and traffickers don't have to watch the girls any more because they have dehumanized them so much and taken all their self worth that they know they won't run away. Just this issue alone is worth having the whole month be "Women's Month" to try and bring justice to this issue. One of the fastest growing industries in the world might I add. Why? Cause you can only sell drugs once but some of these girls get sold 15 times a day, every day of the year.

This year God gave me "my girls." Girls that I love like they were my own. Girls who I swear I can't leave in less than four months. Girls who have been beaten and raped, girls who have no self-esteem. Girls who are looking for someone to believe in them so they can break their cycle of poverty. Girls who are determined to get an education because they know that is the only way to have a chance in this country.

There is a sign near my house that encourages girls not to sleep with older men. To not have a sugar daddy. It's a huge problem in this country- large enough to put massive billboards around town trying to make people think twice. Sugar daddy's will support but at what cost? HIV is still growing and most girls have no choice any more once they are "bought" by that man. This problem is growing and I'm so determined that my girls won't fit into that category. That they will remember who they are.. precious daughters of the King. That they will know with everything that they are that there is a God who loves them and is crazy about them.

Leaving my home and comforts has been harder than I can ever put into words. But God called me. If you've been reading my blog you know my job has switched quite a lot and I do a bunch of everything.  On Tuesday night God told me that these kids are my priority- this is how He wants to use me best, this is where He has equipped me. There was a terrible event that happened last night and through tears I realized that this boarding house and these kids are where I belong. I hope to spend more time with these kids than I ever have so far this year. I hope that make them my #1 priority in my time (not just in my heart) and working for Gateway Admin second.

These girls have rights. They deserve to be given an opportunity to learn. They deserve to be loved. If I can help them with homework and improve their education, if I can be a good mother to them than I feel this year away has been worth it. I finally realized (only took me 7 months) that if I don't work in an office or make important phone calls or having a bunch of meetings to attend it's okay. I'm still making a difference. A difference that can change lives.


Why? Because these girls need me. These kids need me.

So on International Women's Day I am pledging to give every last bit of energy into these girls. I am choosing to empower these girls once again and remind them that they have rights. That if they work hard they deserve a good job, a husband who doesn't beat them or sleep around with other girls. They deserve not to be beaten and rapped. They deserve to have a say in birth control and when they want to get pregnant. They deserve this and the only secure thing is not even on this earth but in Christ.
When they were all crying last night I walked around the room and prayed over each girl. I have never prayed with such strength and conviction before - I believed every word I said and I know that God will come through. He told me so.

Women have a long way to go in South Africa and I am striving to do my part with the girls God has placed in my life.

Please continue to pray with me for these girls!:)

Here are their names:

Aphiwe N (Grade 1)
Zama (Grade 1)
Amanda (Grade 3)
Aphiwe G (Grade 3)
Nonhlahla (Grade 4)
Neliswa (Grade 4)
Melissa (Grade 4)
Luyanda (Grade 5)
Phumilie (Grade 7)
Chantal (Grade 8)

3.07.2012

Standing Up

6 people in the car.Laughter.1 hour away.Joy.Jesus Culture.Music.Prayer.Speaker.Miracles.

An encounter with God.


This description above couldn't possibly describe the events of last night. I attended a Jesus Culture concert last night and honestly God showed up. He showed up big. He didn't have too but he wants to. God desires to meet with us. 

I have loved Kim Walker for over 5 years. God has used her music to impact my life greatly and to learn how to love and what love means. Watching her worship live was an experience I won't forget. During the second song God told me that I didn't come tonight to be a spectator of worship but that He wanted me to worship Him tonight. 

People got healed. A man who was blind for over 20 years was given sight back last night. Back pain gone. Headaches gone. Cancer patients healed. God is amazing. Testimony's have been coming in and it's been super encouraging. God is real. When these things happen right before my eyes, how could I ever doubt God's power?

God spoke some amazing things over my life last night and gave me specifics of what to do/say and what I need to wait for in the next season of my life. I had been in a rut for the past few days and this was just what I needed to wake up and realize who I serve and the power He has. God wants to speak into my life each and every day and there are days when I so easily forget his promises.

I hope you have a great day!:) God so desperately wants to speak into your life today too. Will you let him? Because He won't ever force, but longs to love you. Please let Him in.

Loads of Love!




3.06.2012

The last few weeks!

last dinner out

My mom's

& Dad's

Lunch with Jared and Mrs. Bennett

Mom with the kids

my beautiful children

Handing out the treats that YOU sponsored for the kids (i'll write a whole blog on it shortly!)

skipping ropes that they got from Canada

Monde with his cricket Canadian ball



part of the school that I took my parents to visit

Most of the children here at this creche are HIV positive and very sick.. this was what my parents experience on their last day

the children LOVED my Dad!

babies babies:)

this picture makes me heart melt. This little boy cried so much but the moment my Dad picked him up he stopped. 


Handing out some booties to the kids when it starts to get cold


*photo cred: Mom



Where to even begin?

I sit writing this to you in the prison (where I work- my NGO is in an old prison) feeling cold! I am actually going to go grab a sweater..

there- much better. It's about 22 degress and I'm grabbing a sweater! wahoo... it's been SO hot here these past two months that cold showers is the norm and sweating doesn't even phase me.... any ways to more important news...

These past 2 weeks have been spent with my parents. It's really been a trip of a lifetime and I am so blessed that they got to come over and see my life- and also see some animals and be a tourist. They embraced my life with open arms and did everything I asked of them. From going to rural villages to hanging out with my crazy kids for hours on end. It was an absolute blast! I LOVE my parents and I'm so happy they got to see life. We spent 3 nights in St. Lucia which included a hippo/croc tour, world renown beaches and went to two games reserves! Than Durban was spent being a tourist and seeing the largest port in Africa and walking along the Indian Ocean. It really was an amazing trip but it makes me so sad to reminiscence about it because I wish my parents were here to chat. Although I wasn't a mess at the airport when they left I am dealing with a serious case of homesicknesses now. It's almost cruel that we had to say goodbye to each other for a second time knowing that 5 months separates us. Getting out of bed was hard to do this morning but I need to take one day at a time. 5 months will go by quickly!

A theme in my journal lately has been thankfulness. Remembering to be thankful at all times and giving all the glory back to Jesus. Every Monday I try to write 10 things (simple) that I can reflect on the week to give me an extra boost of strength when I so desperately need it. So I decided to continue this trend here on my blog! So here are 10 things I'm thankful for write now- blog version:)

1) The children's giggles- gosh they just make my heart melt every time
2) Hunger Games books (an excellent distraction from life when I need it)
3) My parents who I have come to love and respect so much more since being away
4) Sitting on the floor well my girls play with my hair, talking about what my new hairstyle should be
5) Hugs that break my personal bubble.. they are just a little to long and a little to tight from the children most times but now I would hate if they were any different
6) Waking up at 5am so I get be alone with the Lord before a very busy day starts
7) Skype- I honestly don't know how I would survive without skype
8) Ecclesiastes 3:11
9) Working at a Christian NGO- they are supporting me to become courageous about my faith and I'm forever thankful for their mentor-ship in my life
10) YOU - I am so thrilled reading my blog and supporting me on this journey in my life. I would have been on a plane home a long time ago without you!

Speaking of plane rides - last week I got my flight iternary home! Can you believe my flights are already book'd! Eeeshh... so get ready for this.. write it down somewhere too- I fly home JULY 24th!
Here's some more details:
- I say good-bye to everyone here in South Africa the last weekend of June. My last work day in Maritzburg is June 29.
- The next 2.5 weeks are spent travelling around South Africa and seeing another country- Swaziland. I am excited for this time but I know it will be so hard trying to live out of a suitcase for those weeks and being on the road visiting when I just want to be home
-I fly out of Jo Burg on Wednesday July 18 via London so I'm hoping to get a glimpse of the Olympic atmosphere only being a week away and than I will be in Akron PA late Thursday night.
- My re entry in the states runs from July 20-23 and like stated above I fly into Toronto on the 24th.

Caelen ( my best friend) has already started a countdown which freaked me out a little bit but now that I have my flight book'd home you can all start your countdowns!

I just have to remember to be present and take it one day at a time. I still have two trips to keep me busy- Zambia in two weeks and Capetown early May.

Tonight I am going to a Jesus Culture concert in Durban which I'm super stoked about.. been listening to their songs all day at work and am thrilled to worship with them tonight. Here is one amazing song to listen too.

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