6.28.2012

Hanging out with the Lions!

This past weekend I got the incredible opportunity of visiting buffalo and lions while hanging out with some awesome friends!

Here are a few pictures of the weekend. xx

terrified





Buffalo are one of the big 5 in Africa..they could kill me in a heartbeat.


@ the buffalo farm.. nervous

this is what the lions eat.. a dead cow:) yummy!


I was in this cage with these lions!


3 month old baby lion.. I can handle these guys!


look at how cute His paws are


these lions are 6 months. We were not allowed to have the lion behind us ever because they pounce and we couldn't run. Give these guys a year and they would kill me so fast!

no big deal.. just a LION sitting on my lap!


me ALWAYS scared

with the big lions.. do you see how tiny the fence is blocking this lion from eating me alive...




these lions were not caged.. thank goodness we were in a car..

6.25.2012

Worth It

Conviction: a firmly held belief or opinion. 

There are a few things that I hold strong convictions too. Over the past few years I have become more and more convicted that young girls don't know their worth. My activism against human trafficking is the most evident out pouring of my conviction that people don't know they are loved, thought about and cherished.

Living with my girls this year, my passion and convictions have only grown about this issue. Just last week my grade seven lady had to answer interview questions for a class project. The question asked when you are older if you want to get married. I was suppose to edit her response for grammar but when I read "I will never get married, because men are abusive and kill women" the grammar didn't matter so much. I know her story, her past. I knew she wasn't making up or exaggerating her answer at all. This was truly how she felt and how she views men... can I blame her after what she has been through? She has never had a father figure in her life and the men that she is around rape girls and young women. I will never stop praying for her heart and for a Godly man to one day come into her life and treat her like a princess. There are Godly men out there.. godly men who are choosing to run in the other direction and treat women right... but why can I only name a few of them?

In the Supreme Court of Canada there are many talks about making prostitution legal. I recently watched a documentary on "lover boys in the Netherlands" (where prostitution is legal). These men pose as lover boys, they start dating a girl, and tell her they are short on money...if she could just sleep with his one guy friend he would pay her for her service.. after this happens..its a few guys she is asked to sleep with... and the next stage is the girl is his slave. He controls the money, what she can and can't do and her tells her she is worthless. Because no force was used to make her a slave the men cannot be charged because prostitution is legal. The documentary asked these men what they did to make these girls hooked? What made them give into a fake relationship, what made them willing to prostitute themselves? What made it so easy?

Gifts. 

They just had to buy the girl a few presents, tell her that He loved her, made her feel loved for a few months and she was hooked. They could manipulate her.

My conviction has exploded after watching yet another documentary where women don't know their worth. If they knew that they had purpose, if they knew they were loved, valued and appreciated would they give into a  fake relationship and a few gifts? Would it work? I know I am young and not that wise but from my personal relationships and from what I've seen girls just want to be loved.

We just want to know we are worth it.


My purpose in South Africa living with those children was to show them with actions and words that they are worth it. That they are loved. It was to sit down with my grade seven girl and tell her she has a purpose, regardless of whether she gets married or not. It was in instil self confidence that could only come from understanding Jesus's love.

But the children have gone, good byes have been said. So now what Lord? I am realizing over and over again that girls whether they live in South Africa, Netherlands or Canada still want to be loved. It's the same need, the same desperation that is often found in relationships, found in another guy who will give them temporary love.

This is my biggest and deepest conviction: to remind girls and young woman that they are worth it. That we are worth it. To raise up a generation of woman who know they are loved; who don't need a man to tell them that.


This stems from so many years of my own insecurities of just wanting to be loved, of  wanting to be told I'm beautiful, wanting to cherished. I've experience so much heartache and pain through this but by God's incredible grace I have received immense freedom and it feels so amazing. I have experienced a small taste of knowing without a doubt that I am loved by Jesus and realizing that is all that matters. Although I still struggle with this A LOT, I want to encourage other beautiful woman to keep remembering their worth, to keep each other accountable.


I guess my conviction has mapped out the next season of my life. 

6.22.2012

A season is over

Every day I sit down to blog, open up a "new post" and stare at the screen. I get frustrated within the first paragraph, end up deleting it and moving onto the next task. This has happened every day for the past eight days. I don't know how to express my emotions. I don't know how to describe what I am feeling.

I just didn't know it would hurt this bad.

Last week Monday, God showed up huge. He spoke specific truths over my life, things that I was meant to accomplish in South Africa, my reason for coming. It was so clear and spoke so strongly to my Spirit that it was more clear than someone speaking out loud to me. I have clung to these promises, these truths the Spirit has spoken to me these past few weeks. The bible talks about a peace that we can have that goes beyond human understanding... I have to tell you that I have that. It is so amazing. I just know that God has overcome the world, He has my life in his hands and He is bigger than my emotions, bigger than the problems I am leaving behind.

What I didn't understand right away is that even though I have this peace, it is still going to hurt... and right now, it hurts a lot. Too much to type out my emotions on a blog. Even journalling down my thoughts makes me feel like I just ran a marathon. Emotionally I am exhausted.

Good byes have been said and tears have been shed hour after hour after hour. I have felt so close to God throughout this past week but my heart is broken. Shattered really.

My last night to tuck the girls into bed, I broke down that I couldn't even do bible study or our goodnight prayers. After the lights were shut off and I slid to the floor outside their bedrooms asking God to give me wisdom- He knows what to do. In my exhaustion and tears and I heard one of my girls sobbing in her bed. So I picked myself up out of the hallway opened the door careful not to wake the other girls that were sleeping already and crawled into bed with her. We laid there crying, knowing each others thoughts without ever speaking a word. I will never forget that memory.

That's the thing. I have so many memories; precious moments with each child. The boarding house is so full with life, so full of laughter and many many tears. I can't bare to think that as I type this I am "moved out". Gone. Just like that it feels like. Did a year go by this fast?

I walked into the girls room last night just looking around at the empty beds, thanking God that He gave me the opportunity to serve. Thanking Him for using such a selfish, messed up woman to bring so much glory to His name. I really am so humbled by this year and by the amazing things God does each and every day.

Saying good bye to eighteen children has been tough. With everything that has happened to my boys my heart has just become so full of love them for each one of them. I really do love these children all the same. In tears one of the girls asked "why it hurt so much?" I told her it was amazing. It hurts so much because we loved so deeply. That is a good thing. If I wasn't hurting, if my heart didn't feel an emptiness that I can't describe than I'm not sure this year would have been worth it.
I have loved with a love that can only come from knowing Jesus is in love with me, and I have been loved by these children with that same love. My heart is so happy and full when I think of the way I have been loved this year. I really am the luckiest young woman ever.

If you've read this far, thanks for getting through my jumble of thoughts, I'm sure clarity of what I'm feeling will come with time.  I now have a month of transition. A month to figure out the lesson's I've learnt, reflect and rest in what God has done and what He still wants to do.
I don't come home for over a month so I am excited to take this time building relationships with my host parents and church friends. I have been doing some weddings this past year with Faye and she has "hired" me to work on wedding stuff for the next two weeks while I am still in Pietermaritzburg. I have moved into my host family's house with all my bags.

My life at the boarding house has ended. A season is over. & I am praising Jesus for all He is done and let me see, feel and experience. I will never forget these children.. ever.

Have a wonderful weekend! I am off visiting a lion farm this weekend to hang out with baby lions:) Something to get my mind off of the children and hopefully the tears will stop flowing... at least for the weekend.


6.13.2012

Family Portraits

I have been a Mom this year and loved every minute of it. It's been worth it! I leave the children in a week and wanted "family portraits" with each child. It makes my heart so happy looking through them. I posted a bunch more on facebook but here are a few of my favourites:) Yes, they are my South African Family.

the whole group minus Aphiwe G and Melissa



the boys

the girls minus Aphiwe G and Melissa- don't you love the house mother I live with (Left) - eish!

my sisters in Christ

me and my boys

Thembalani

we had a blast trying to get the kids to "pose" and "smile properly" - this is one of the many pep talks

Awa

Neliswa

the after care children come. about 20 more (than my already 18 children) around 4:30 and wanted to join in on the photo shoot

Aphile told me to "look tough"- opps!

Phumlilie- the one all the kids look up  to at the boarding.. she is a such an intelligent grade 7 lady and has been the most helpful this year as I learn to mother Zulu children!


Thank you Jared (another SALTer) for snapping such wonderful pics.
We took about 200 and I've posted 70 of my favs on facebook:)

xx

6.12.2012

A willing heart.

I was chatting with a friend the other day when He asked me "what is the biggest lesson you've learnt so far?" I immediately was overwhelmed because how do I sum up 10 months of lessons? I think a major theme has been my weakness and Christ's strength, (how many times have I blogged about this issue?:) )

Long after the conversation ended my thoughts continued on what I've learnt. With two blankets on my lap, Ugg boots on and my fingers curled around my hot cup of tea (it's freezing here lately) I took a few hours to re-think this year.

If you had asked me to spend a year in Africa knowing what I've been through to this point there is no way I would have stepped onto that plane. Sickness, hospital visits, watching injustice happen every day and being able to do nothing but watch. Service work is messy. Let me say that again just in case I ever forget these feelings that I've been feeling- service work is a messy.

However, it is so worth it. In my hours of reflection, I re read some of my journals. I laugh at the entries in September of the things that were "hard" and now I've adapted into a normal lifestyle. I noted how many lessons I really have learnt. Reading the funny lines my kids have said and tearing up when I read the times they told me their backgrounds and crushed dreams. So much has changed from August. One surprising thing that I never noticed until this weekend that my prayer has stayed the same.

Through all the chaos and trials I've gone through, from all the joys and times I've laughed until my sides hurt one thing has remained a constant (didn't know that was possible!)

In most journal entries my prayer has been "Lord, use me where you see fit, let me have a willing heart to do your will."

As I'm in my last month of service in Pietermaritzburg, I think this has been fulfilled. I'm learning that's all God wants. I didn't come here to "save the world." I didn't come to "save these children" or "bring these people out of poverty." God told me to go to South Africa and I went, not knowing where that would lead...I think God has used me where He sees fit... not always my first choice but I believe it's been God's plan all along. As I go through  A LOT of drama this month I've realized that God has me here for a very specific purpose, a purpose I am only discovering now. (after 10 months)

I know I've complicated the bible way too often. But right now I believe it all comes down to having a willing heart. A heart and life that doesn't belong to me, but to Christ. And an attitude that allows Him to do whatever He wants with my life, having enough faith to know He will take care of me no matter what.

Okay that is what I'm learning now!:)
xx

6.06.2012

Rise Up

So this week has been hectic. Life is hectic. Aphiwe has been discharged and I will make every effort to see her one last time before I leave the country!

I have just been so encouraged by this song over the past few weeks and really wanted to share it with you all.
We are called to rise up and fight for freedom no matter what form that takes. If you're fighting for justice please be encouraged by this song!


6.01.2012

June?


13 days in the hospital. As I am typing this to you I am sitting in the hospital watching Aphiwe play with my ipod. It’s Friday and I have no memory of what I did this week or last week to be honest. I’ve been trying to balance taking care of an 8 year old girl in the hospital to loving and nurturing the other seventeen children that anticipate my arrival at any time. They send their love with me every time I tell them “Auntie Maddie is going to sleep at the hospital tonight,” but I know that it is hard for them.

  I am leaving, sooner than both of us realize and yet I have spent these past two weeks away from them, every day and every other night.  My heart doesn’t know exactly what to do or how to feel and honestly, a part of me has remained numb throughout this whole experience. I hear more details about what really happened but I constantly just don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to think about the fact that she almost died, spent two days in ICU and now may have scars on her face for the rest of her life. I just can’t dwell on that fact for more than a few moments. And as I’m typing this to you from her bedside I remind myself that this may be the last day I ever get to see her. She was supposed to be discharged today (Friday) but the doctor is worried about infection and she will remain in hospital until Monday. I am heading away to Ixcopo this weekend for church with my host parents. She will be discharged to her granny and I’m not sure where she lives or when I will have the chance to say goodbye… if at all…

Goodbyes…sigh… 14 more days with the kids. I have been receiving emails about “goodbyes”- how to properly say goodbye, writing lists of people who I will miss, visits and things that still need to be done etc. I also have an inbox full of emails encouraging me to start to adjust to the process of returning home and what that will mean. Most of the emails start off by saying “expect what you found to familiar to be different and take time to process.” Articles of people giving good advice about home however I just can’t get through them. Not yet.

Denial? I think I am playing that card to be honest. I know I need to mentally start preparing for “home” but… I want to be here. My heart is here and I call the boarding house my home. I want to see that Aphiwe becomes better. For the next few weeks she will need to go back to the hospital to get her dressing changed and looked at… shouldn’t I be allowed to see her to a full recovery? What about all the work that needs to be done regarding crèche teachers? And my computer classes – I want so desperately to see a generation of literature adults when it comes to computers. I want to continue to wear whatever I want and not worry about fashion. I enjoy having no internet in the nights and a slow paced environment.  I love learning how to be content and blessed with the things I have. I don’t want to say goodbye to the Indian ocean or the prison walls in which I work.


I don’t want to say goodbye.


July is a travel month. I say goodbye to the children on the 21st and finish work on the 29th.  I fly out of South Africa on the 18th and fly to America for re-entry and fly to Canada on the 24th.
From now until July 24th there is a lot that still needs to be done… in my heart, attitudes and faith.


Thank you for your support, encouraging words and prayers. You’ve seen me through this entire year  (almost J  )


 photo copyright.jpg
envye template.