Girls in Need.

The title of this post was the name of the program that two of my co-workers and I put on at Grove City College.  Along with trying to recruit Etsy vendors who make reusable pads to donate some of their products, I got to do one of my favorite things…combining my work with the things that I love.  So, in this case, helping some teens that are dear to my heart in George, South Africa by doing an all-campus program as part of my work.  I love it!  One of my co-workers also has a passion to see women have the things that they need for “that time of the month” and it was really fun to partner with her and plan this!

This is the same project that I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about providing reusable pads for the young women in George, South Africa that are a part of LIFE Community Services.  Our program consisted of doing a donation drive on campus for disposable products that could be donated to the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County, posting some informative posters and information around campus about this need locally and globally along with a sewing day to make reusable pads.  A lot of planning and work went in to making all of this happen, but I was pretty excited about the outcome!  Our goal was to make 100 reusable pads in one night.  We made 119 with plenty of supplies left over to make probably 100 more.  We had around 35 female students come and help us trace, cut and sew farbic and batting.  A few of them were troopers and stayed almost the entire time!

I was really blessed by what we were able to accomplish this evening and had a blast getting to know students better as we worked.  Working together with others for a common cause is always more fun!  We listened to some great girl tunes like Katy Perry, munched on homemade cupcakes and worked hard.  Thanks to everyone who came to help!  Special thanks to Brittany Schmitt, Aimee Lynch, Katie Schulz, Emily Horn and the Sig Thet sorority.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  If anyone wants to help me make the rest of them, I would greatly appreciate it!  I only down two sewing projects in my life and could really use some help!

As for updates on other things, let me give you a quick run down.  Maryna DeVries from Life Community Services has asked me to help create a sponsorship program for the children in their organization this summer.  One of my current RAs, Bekah Heikes will be helping me with this project as well.  We will hopefully be heading to South Africa around June 21st and be returning in the first few days of July.  We’re still in need of funds to make this project happen and to get to South Africa.  Please pray about giving to this cause and praying for direction for us.

Maryna DeVries and Sally Versfeld will be coming to the United States in just a few days to meet with me to talk about the sponsorhsip project and to get the non-profit for Life Community Services in the United States organized.  They will also be speaking at my church in Grove City.  If you’re interested in meeting them or hearing more about what they so, let me know.  They are wonderful people to know and work with.  It’s sure to be a good time!

Please pray for:

  • direction for the project and trip this summer
  • funding for our trip
  • creativity and wisdom to create the sponsorship program
    Katie, Hannah and Amanda

    Katie, Hannah and Amanda

    Sewing away!

    Rachel and Aimee

    Rachel and Aimee

    Cupcakes!

    Emily Horn

    Emily Horn

    Tracing and cutting

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Grateful.

God has been so gracious, like He always is in His kindness, over the last two weeks in regards to the things in my last post.  I often feel as though the things that God is asking me to do are so big and beyond me that they cannot happen.  Sometimes the words and questions of those around me seem to confirm that what I am reaching for maybe shouldn’t be done in the way that I am doing it or maybe that I should be doing something different all together.  But, once again, God confirms that He is directing me and that He’s behind this mission.  My heart feels so full of encouragement and I want to share that with you.

Shortly after reading my last post, one of my former RAs contacted me to let me know that she had access to a bunch of Bibles that we would be able to send to the Samuels family for use in their work with the prison ministry.  I am still waiting to hear from the person that she is in touch with, so please pray that we will be able to secure the Bibles and send them to those that yearn to read God’s word for themselves.  I never expected to get a response like this and I love that God overwhelms me with affirmation when I am unsure.

After my last post, I also began contacting vendors on Etsy who sell reusable pads about donating some of their wares to Life Community Services in South Africa.  (If you’re not familiar with Etsy, it’s a website where individuals can sell pretty much anything through their site for a small fee.  They offer thousands of different products of ALL kinds.)  So far I’ve contacted 56 vendors and because Life is non-profit, I am able to offer them a tax write-off receipt.  Here is the response that I got from one of the vendors that I contacts

Anne,

I think that is a wonderful idea and is an honor you asked me to help. I would love to make some products to be sent. I would like to commit to send a full set of pads each month and a wetbag for each girl. I wish I could do a set for 50 all at once but I work three jobs outside the home as well as this esty shop but I am sure I commit to helping at least one to two girls each month till they all have products. Is the pattern I am sewing over acceptable or do they have a specific design they prefer to have them made over? Please let me know where to ship items to.  Blessings.

I’ve met several Christians through this venture which has been really neat.  So far, I have 6 that will definitely donate and several more that are considering it.  There are also a few people that have offered to sew at a discount or if fabric is provided for them.  Check out the first donation that I received in the mail in the picture below!  I have been so blessed by the response that I’ve gotten and am SO excited about this project.  I am continuing to contact people.  I will be hosting a sewing day to make some of these reusable pads with one of my colleagues at Grove City College on Monday, April 14th if any of you want to come and help!

As for the trip for this summer, I am still in search of a teacher for the English classes.  Please pray that God will lead the right person to come!

Here are some prayer points:

  • for the donation of Bible to go through
  • for more donations of reusable pads…we really can’t have enough
  • for an English teacher for the trip to South Africa this summer

Here are some ways that you can help:

  • donate any amount of money to ship the Bibles that I receive.  Shipping a 2 pound package costs about $20, so I know that this will be expensive
  • donate flannel or Warm ‘N Natural batting for reusable pads or purchase some from one of the Etsy vendors that is already donating.  I would love to bless them with some business for their generosity. Check out Kathy on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KathysWoods?ref=pr_shop_more
  • Help us cut patterns or sew if you have some time either on April 14th or afterwards!

Just comment below if you have any questions or want to help!

The first donation came in the mail this week!

The first donation came in the mail this week!

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Lots of need. How you can help!

There is much to fill you in on that has been happening over the last few months.  Things happening with the missionaries that I am currently trying to support on the field as well as what I’m working on…and some opportunities for you to get involved as well!

Bill and Joanna Samuels, who run the Hiding Place in Thailand, which I wrote much about when they visited in the fall, have really had a go of it since they returned in November.  There have been serious medical issues in their family, theft of things that they have purchased for ministry use that they don’t have the money to replace as well as a shortage of Bibles to give to new believers.  Here is a recent Facebook status from Bill…

“We are in desperate need of Bibles for the prison ministry again!…we need Russian, Lithuanian, German, French, Swedish, Vietnamese and Cambodian….and especially English. English language Study Bibles with side notes are our biggest need. The only way for us to get these is via mail from the US or Europe. I know that mailing us a Bible(s) sometimes costs as much as the Bible itself, but please consider purchasing one of these Bibles and mailing it to us. The Bible you send will be the most precious possession of a prisoner here in Thailand. Second-hand Bibles (not marked up) are good too!

Please mail to:
Bill and Joanna Samuels
286 Moo 1, Mooban Sookame
Soi 33 Banglamung
Chonburi 20150
Thailand

Please send me a FB msg or email me at billsamuels@yahoo.com when you mail it, so that I can be on the look out for the package notice in the mail. Packages must be picked up at the post office here.

It is always a sad day when I have to tell a prisoner, ‘No, I do not have a Bible for you this month.’ Thank you all for bringing the Word to Thailand!”

If you would like to send a Bible over, I will be collecting a sending a package myself.  Feel free to send the Bible(s) to me, you can tuck a few dollars to help with shipping into the pages of the Bible if you like.  Lightweight Bibles would be best.  Usually when I send a package to Thailand, if it’s under 2 pounds, it costs $20, so I imagine that sending heavy Bibles will be very costly, but very needed and welcomed.

I am currently working with Maryna DeVries in George, South Africa to bring a small team to George this summer.  Right now, I am planning to take a team around mid-June for a total two week trip.  We will be going to teach English classes to some of the staff at Life Community Services and to do some team building activities among the staff there as well.  Relationships amongst staff members are very broken.  One of the big issues there is language barriers amongst staff members, which makes working together in unity a very difficult thing, as you can imagine.  We will also be helping out administratively to help create job descriptions for interns that Life would like to come over to two years at a time.  We’ll also be helping to revise job descriptions for staff and create protocols for various areas within the ministry with the help of those who supervise, of course.

One of my pet projects that I’m currently working on, is to help Life by providing teen girls that are regularly a part of their ministry with feminine products.  When I was in George, South Africa, almost two years ago now, there was a great need for this type of thing and the need has only increased.  Most of the teen girls who are a part of the ministry there cannot afford to purchase pads during their periods.  Instead, they use whatever they can find–bark, paper, toilet paper, used pads, etc.  This is unhealthy, unhygienic and usually prohibits them from going to school for a few days each month because they don’t have protection.  I am working on a project to get reusable pads donated that I can take over and give to girls there.  This would be done along with a short educational time as well.  I have also planned and set-up a sewing day here at Grove City College, with the help of one of my colleagues.  We will be sewing some of these pads that I can take as well.  I am really excited about this as I can see the potential for this to be of great help!

I will write more on this later.  For now, if you have flannel or fleece material that you are willing to donate to the project, please send it to my address.  You can also send along Bibles meeting the above description.  Also, if you have a sewing machine and would like to help, sewing day will be on April 14th from 4-9pm.  If you don’t have a sewing machine, but can help to cut out patterns or pin things together, we would LOVE to have your help.  Of course, all of these things could be aided by monetary donations as well.  If you’re passionate about one of these areas of need, I would encourage you to get involved!  I would love to have you on board!

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Giving Thanks.

What are the things in your life that matter to you?  If you had to list 3-5 things for someone that had just met you, things that matter to you the most, that bring your life meaning, things that you couldn’t live without–what would those things be?  I hope that you’re thinking and writing these down.  Now when life becomes a little hairier than you ever intended it to be, what are the things that get easily pushed aside to make room for the unanticipated?  Really think about it.  What are the things that you are frustrated that you don’t seem to have time to do?  Make your short list.  Now compare the lists.  Are there any items that are on both lists?  My lists are identical.  Why is it that we drop the things that mean the most to us, the essentials of life, to catch the fastballs coming straight for our heads?  I think the reasons for doing so are different for everyone.  For me it’s because I feel pressured.  I don’t stop to think about how to respond to the fastball.  One thing that I’ve learned though is that I need to pause to respond.  The fastball will wait until I am ready to catch it or someone else will catch it or it will hit the fence and that’s okay.  I would encourage you to take time to figure out why you drop the things that are most important to you for life’s fastballs.  If you don’t, then I would love to have a cup of tea with you and hear about how you keep your priorities straight.

Well, during the last month or so of life, my days have been fuller than I had anticipated or hoped that they would be.  The fall started out so perfectly.  If you asked me how I was a month or so ago, you probably got a very positive response.  “Wonderful!  Couldn’t ask for a better fall!  Work is great!  I’m content with life and friendships.”  One thing that I’ve noticed in my own life and the lives of those around me is that when life picks up and throws you unexpected curve balls, most of the time it is my “life essentials” that no longer seem to be, well, very essential.  I am clinging, more tightly than ever, to my “life essentials” and refusing to allow them to be pushed out of my schedule.  As we enter the holiday season, where there seem to be more reasons to drop the things that matter to you–pause.  Remember what gets your blood pumping, what brings you rest, what will matter in the perspective of eternity.  Maybe you will still have to do that last minute report for your boss, but don’t let it be during the time that you intended to spend with God.

This fall I was so blessed by some missionary friends of mine.  I had what I called “my own, personal missionary week.”  Phil and Maryna DeVries were visiting from George, South Africa and they made time to come to Grove City and spend some time with me.  This act brought me to tears, not just because being around them is wonderful, but because many more local friends don’t make the effort to visit Grove City.  They came the whole way from George and drove the extra hour to see me where I live.  Our time together was such an encouragement to me.  We got to talk about their work, their needs and family.  They got a tour of campus at twilight on a beautiful night!  I am so incredibly blessed by those that I intend to bless.  God is so good.  He knows exactly what I need and when I need it.  I love the way that His body works together.

Also in town this fall were Bill and Joanna Samuels and three of their kids.  Because they got delayed in going back to Thailand, I got to visit and spend time with them on several occasions.  Joanna and her oldest daughter Posie came to campus and made dinner for my RA team.  We ate together and Joanna shared her testimony about how she got into work with women and children stuck in sex trafficking.  It was so good to once again be reminded of my missionary friends, their hearts for what they do and how deeply they need to be connected to the body of Christ ever when thousands of miles away.  Joanna and I spent time together several times this fall and I am continually blessed by her humility and trust in God.

God, in His wisdom, has connected me to people who remind me of what is important in life and whose presence leaves me without words.  During this Thanksgiving season, I thank God for them and ask for opportunities to give life to those around me as they have to me.

Showing off the handmade aprons that they brought with them!

Showing off the handmade aprons that they brought with them!

MeandDeVries

Myself and the DeVries at Grove City College

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What I do best.

Ever since I was young, I have always just loved helping people do whatever it is that they need help doing.  I think that my way of loving has always been serving, even in the smallest of ways.  It’s also been my way of showing appreciation for being loved as well.  Everything from helping my mom in the kitchen (maybe that was my love of baking? :)) to clapping erasers for my fifth grade teacher after school.  I loved it.  I feel as though this is one of the ways that God has hard-wired me because it hasn’t changed through the years.  It’s what gets my blood pumping.  It’s what makes me smile.  It’s one thing that makes me feel alive.  I don’t say all of this to “toot my own horn”, but to thank God for helping me to recognize a little of what he’s put inside of me.  We all need to know what He’s created us to do and who He’s created us to be so that we can have the joy of using our gifts, feel fulfilled and glorify Him all at the same time.

Phil and Maryna DeVries whom I worked with in George, South Africa last summer have been in the States for a few weeks now doing some fundraising for their ministry.  It was such a delight to see them again and to have an opportunity to help. Today I had the privilege of attending a fundraising event for Life Community Services…the ministry that I worked with in George, South Africa last summer.  Walk and Ride for the Sake of Kidz was a walk-a-thon and bike-a-thon on the South Side of Pittsburgh.  Young and old turned out to walk and ride this morning, bright and early!  The youngest biker looked to be about nine years old and biked the whole trail, there and back–14 miles!  Whew!  It was good to see some dear old friends and some new faces this morning.  I also got to see this particular trail for the first time, the Eliza Furnace Trail.  What a glorious day to walk and bike as well!  It turned chilly here just two days ago and it rained all day yesterday, so we were really blessed to have such a beautiful day.

Now you may think that I walked or biked today, but I didn’t.  I was unsure of my ability to be in Pittsburgh today because of living in an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh and some of the limits of my job, so I didn’t get sponsors to walk or bike.  Last week when I found out I could be there, I let the DeVries’ know that I would help in whatever ways they happened to need.  As it turns out, they’ve had some technical difficulties using some documents that they needed and I was able to print and cut some literature for them at a lower cost where I work.  Today I thought that helping them would look like running the registration table, but instead it looked like putting all of the checks that Life has received into a spreadsheet, making invoices for people that have purchased the products that they’ve sold and writing some thank-yous for donations at a local coffee shop while the event was happening.  Maryna had gotten behind on these things while traveling the country raising support.  While I can’t speak at events for her or take days off of work to help, this was something I could do.  Oh yeah, serving also looks like bringing coffee for the missionaries that you love early in the morning.  Maryna said it was the best cup of coffee that she’s had while in the States so far.  I will let you try to figure out where I got it. 🙂

This is just a reminder for you to pay attention to the things that bring you life and joy…God probably instilled them in you, so try to spend more time doing those things.  You’ll be fulfilled and He’ll get the glory.  This is also a reminder that loving God and the people around you doesn’t look awesome 90% of the time.  It looks like using your skills, talents, connections and passions to help someone in whatever small way that you can.

I hope that you got to enjoy God’s glorious creation today as well.

Rick raised the most money, so he is the winner of a beautiful blanket made by the kids at Life!

Rick raised the most money, so he is the winner of a beautiful blanket made by the kids at Life!

Getting ready to walk and bike!

Getting ready to walk and bike!

The DeVries' daughter and my childhood friend, Merissa with Jamie at Walk and Ride for the Sake of Kidz

The DeVries’ daughter and my childhood friend, Merissa with Jamie at Walk and Ride for the Sake of Kidz

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Honesty is the Best Policy.

It has been over a year since I’ve written and I thought that some of you might be curious about what I’ve been up to since I posted last.  Upon coming off of my trip to George, South Africa last year to visit the DeVries’, I was very excited about what God was doing there and how I could be involved in the future.  I had talked to Maryna DeVries about bringing a team to help in the future and she was excited about that as they didn’t have any teams last summer and could really use the help.  Serving, learning other cultures and languages and sharing the love of Christ just gets my blood pumpin’, you know?

I returned State-side just over a week before I would resume my work as a Residence Director at Grove City College.  So, I worked on getting over jet lag, unpacking, sharing with others about what I had experienced in SA and planning for the year of work ahead.  Then worked started.  I had told myself that I would update this blog monthly, maybe weekly, but I have trouble concentrating on more than one thing at a time.  So, I didn’t follow through.  I told myself that this was because I was busy.  Because I was focused on the present.  Because I was trying to do my job well.  And all of these things are true to an extent.  But one of the things that I often tell college students who say that they are too busy to make time for whatever we happen to be discussing at the moment is, “You only do what you make time to do.”  In other words, if you really wanted to do X, you would make time for X.  So, what was getting in the way of me writing a blog post?  It wasn’t until spring semester that I found out the answer.

I’m sure that you’ll be as surprised as I was to find that the reason wasn’t at all because I just didn’t have time to sit down to write a blog post…I mean, how long does that really take.  The answer started to reveal itself to me one day when I was meeting with two of my RAs.  “What is your biggest fear?”, I asked.  “Spiders”, one of them answered.  I don’t remember what the other one said, but I do remember what my answer was when they turned the question back on me.  “Anne, what’s your biggest fear?”  “Failure”, I said.  Typically I need time to think about my answers to questions, but this word just came spilling out.  And when they asked why, it didn’t take me long to talk about my plans to take a group of people to South Africa and how I worried that things wouldn’t work out.  What if no one wanted to go with me?  What everyone else raised the money to go except for me?  What if I told a bunch of supporters that the trip was going to happen and then things didn’t work out?  What if, because of that, they never wanted to support future ventures?  So many questions.  And as is my habit, if I think that I will fail at something that I want to do, I get paralyzed.  I don’t do anything.  If I don’t do anything, then no one can say that I failed.

Most of this compensating for my fear of failure has been subconscious my whole life, but a few months ago, it became very obvious to me.  I had a vision that God has given me to support missionaries on the field.  I knew what the next step was, so I didn’t have an excuse.  I have good news though.  As soon as I realized my problem, I decided that I would get over it.  I had stopped taking risks in my life.  I had stopped living by faith the way that I said that I did, but that was going to change.

I tell you all of this so that you know my heart.  So that you know that I haven’t forgotten the vision that God has given me.  God is still pushing me forward in this direction…with even more fervor than before.  I tell you this so that you know how to pray.  I tell you this because honesty is the best policy.  And I say, “game on.”

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Promising.

Well, I am officially, safely back on American soil.  Thank you for all of your prayers.  God has been so good and faithful during this entire trip.  Not that He’s not always, but it has been so apparent to me this whole time.  Seriously, thank all of you who prayed, those who gave financially, those who picked me up from the airport and those who were a part of making my first stay in South Africa a pleasure.  I couldn’t have been on this trip without all of you.

When I was younger and wanting to just go, go, go to other places local and abroad to serve God, I would pray for a large financial blessing so that I could go as much as He wanted and I wouldn’t have to bother others asking for prayer, advice or funds to get there.  Now that I’m older, I realize why He didn’t answer that prayer for me.  That’s not His way.  He made us all a part of His family, His body, His bride.  If I am a foot, I cannot go without the rest of the body.  You all were the hands, the arms, the legs…all of the things that I could not be alone.

“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”       ~1 Corinthians 12:24-27

Realize that it is now my pleasure, my honor to involve all of you in one of the ways that God is working on the earth.  I am limited, but in my limitation, the body of Christ fills in the gaps….for prayers, for finances, for wisdom.  During the time being, I learn to trust God, hear His voice better, to wait on Him.  You get to learn about God’s deep love for those that He sends and plants in other places and His desire for them to be as much connected to the body as when they regularly attended their home church every Sunday.  Yes, it may look differently, but He never sent a missionary to go out on their own.  They also have need or fellowship and encouragement, as do we.  You can also learn about incredible ministries like Life Community Services and the work that they’re doing.

I saw no less than four rainbows during my trip and was reminded of God’s promise to Noah.

“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”  ~Genesis 9:16

I also felt that God used these rainbows as a promise to me…a promise that this would not be the last trip that I would go on to support missionaries on the field, but just the first of many.  I didn’t get pictures of all of the rainbows, but you can see some of them below.

As I said before, God has so blessed this trip and had His hand on it the entire time…even before I knew what was happening.  Because of this abundant blessing, I know that this is only the beginning.  I know that God plans to send more people to minister at Life Community Services.  I know that I will go back, now having a better idea of where help is needed and who is needed to help there.  I know that God will send me to other missionaries to see how they too can be supported and encouraged.  I don’t know when.  As always, I wait on His guidance and timing…but don’t be surprised when you hear from me again! 🙂

Although my trip is over, I will continue to blog from time to time.  As most of you know, I have two months off in the summer and I will going back to work August 1st, but the journey doesn’t stop there.  I have plans to gather groups of students to pray for Phil and Maryna DeVries and the other missionaries that will be supported by the students in my building (more about this in another post).  I plan to do as much as I can to support them from little Grove City.  So, please continue reading and praying and supporting, if possible.  I plan to update this blog at least once a month.

Also, if you saw value in Life Community Services and the work that they’re doing, consider supporting them as well.  For more information, look under the “missionaries” tab.  You can find their web site and contact information there.  As I said above, I will be doing things to support them as well and posting some of those opportunities here for you take advantage of as well.  Lastly, I will be putting up more pictures of the trip on my Facebook page, if you’re interested.  If you aren’t active on Facebook, I would love to get together with you and share more pictures with you.  Feel free to contact me if you would like to hear more about the trip, what Life is doing or just to catch up!

Until next time!

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All good things come to an end.

Afrikaans word of the day: lekker (pronouced like the varnish “lacquer”) = nice

Monday was my last full day of work at Life and, as always, there was plenty to do.  It’s difficult to believe that my time here has passed so quickly.  I was back in the kitchen in the morning.  There was a case of broccoli to cut up and add to the soup.  I’ve learned how inept I am at cutting vegetables efficiently.  It seems that everyone else can cut a lot faster.  Despite my lack of skill, I got the job done.  After spending the morning with the lovely kitchen ladies, I spent the afternoon cleaning up from last week’s holiday club (VBS). There was much to put back in its proper place.

As I worked on putting things back in place, a few other ladies worked around me on putting things together for Life’s afterschool care.  School started back yesterday after the winter holiday break.  During the school year, students come to Life afterschool to get support and help with their academics, receive dinner and a snack as well as enjoy some puzzles and games, etc.  Caregivers can pay 25 rand a month to have their child enrolled (the equivalent of $3), which is very affordable.  A single serving packet of chips here is about 6.99 rand.  This ensures that those children are consistent in attending.  Many of these kids don’t have the school supplies at home to complete the homework assignments that they receive or people to help them.  Many of their parents never completed school themselves.  The kids here all wear uniforms to school, no matter the school and parents pay for public education, even though it is compulsory.

Life has staff and volunteers that come in to work with a table of students each afternoon.  All of the kids looked very cute in their school uniforms and ALL of them were well-behaved.  I am surprised by how compliant the kids are here.  I had many a day teaching kids that did not want to learn, which was very difficult.  That culture isn’t found much here.  I organized while the kids worked and when they were done, many of them wanted to help me, so we sorted crayons together.  There were goodbye hugs to be had when it was time for them to leave, but I am hopeful that I will see them again one day.

Today was my last day off in George.  Fortunately, the weather warmed up a little today, to about 60 degrees.  I was truly grateful to be outside and enjoying a little bit of sun as it has been so cold here.  I got to walk around town and explore a little myself, which was tons of fun.  This afternoon, Sally and Maryna took me to Knysna, which is mostly a tourist town.  In Knysna you can see where the Indian Ocean comes in to form different lakes and where boats used to sail in to the Knysna forest.  It’s a very popular destination for locals as well as foreingers.  It was pretty empty this time of year, but beautiful nonetheless.  I got to enjoy some of the local flavor…prawns, which are like huge shrimp.

Last week, I was invited to be a guest on Phil DeVries’ radio show “No More Poverty” to talk about leadership principles and how I’ve personally grown as a leader.  We pre-recorded the show, which will actually air while I am still en route to the USA.  If you have any interest in listening to it, you can go to www.edenfm.co.za.  The show will air on Thursday at 2pm EST (Eastern Standard Time).  You can also record it if you wish to listen to it later.

Prayer Requests:

  • for safe travel back to the US of A (I leave Wednesday at 1:55pm SA time, 7:55am EST)
  • continued refreshing and encouragement for Phil, Maryna and Sally
  • for God to send more people to work alongside these missionaries
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When it rains, it pours.

Afrikaans word of the day: asseblief (please)

For most of the time that I’ve been here, the weather has been beautiful, although pretty cold at times.  Several people commented to me on the nice weather that they’ve been having in George and how untypical it is for this time of year.  Winter is the rainy season here and although cold rain is miserable, it is necessary to prevent drought in the summer.  There are two ways to judge the weather around here.  First, to measure for rainfall, check the dam.  The weather report will include the percentage to which the dam is full, which will let you know if things are okay.  The dam was at 80% last week, which was fine, but it’s now at 100% plus some because of the recent rain.  Secondly, to measure how cold it is, look at the mountain.  If there is snow on the mountain, it’s cold.  Very cold.  People drive up the mountain just to see the snow.  It only snows on the mountain about once a year and it’s a big deal here.  Friday everyone was asking me if I saw the snow.  I had.  I don’t think that I gave the reaction that they wanted…as I just couldn’t understand why you would drive 45 minutes to see a dusting of snow.  Today at church, the pastor said that he cried tears of happiness because the snow was gone.

Well, Thursday night all of that changed.  It rained all night on Thursday, all day Friday, half the day on Saturday and a few hours today.  I don’t think that George is in danger of drought anymore!  Because of the rain Thursday night, a good portion of the tent (where we’ve been having the VBS) collapsed.  Plans changed a lot for Friday.  There was a lot of improvising in the plans, but most importantly, the kids had fun, learned about God and got a hot meal.  The kids here haven’t had people intentionally playing with them, doing activities with them or exposing them to new things.  So, the simplest things can be the most fun.  I gave about 75 kids each a coloring sheet and two crayons and when 30 minutes were up, they didn’t want to stop coloring.  They happily traded crayons with each other if they wanted a different color.  I sat with a group of boys with some extra crayons and traded colors with them if they wanted a different color, a great way to learn the names of colors in Afrikaans!  In the afternoon, we were able to play some simple games with the kids and again, I was amazed at their delight in the little things.

The down side of the rain is that it’s difficult for the kids that Life serves.  It is very cold.  Often the rain runs right through the cracks in the walls of their shacks and onto the floors.  They have nowhere else to go.  There is so much need here, that it can be overwhelming at times.  It has caused me to pray more on many days.  I know that at least the kids have something to eat, they know God and they know that they are loved.  The rest is up to God.  There is only so much that we can do.  He must provide for them.  That’s why supporting ministries like Life and missionaries like the DeVrieses is so important.

Today was Celebration service, which I believe that I mentioned in one of my first posts.  It happens once a month and is like a church service on a Sunday.  We were inside again because of the rain, but the kids were as happy as ever.  Lots of hugs!  We had sandwiches, soup, hard boiled eggs and milk.  There was extra food because the youth service yesterday had to be cancelled because of the rain.  The kids all seemed ravenous today, so the extra food was appreciated.  For about thirty percent of the kids that come to Life, this will be their only meal until Life serves food again tomorrow for dinner.  When there is no food, the kids will go out and beg, but when it rains they cannot.  Seeing what one sees here every day, it’s impossible not to be grateful for what I have.  God is so good in providing for us.  He will provide for these little ones as well, even if it looks differently than we think that it should.

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True Discipleship.

Wow!  It has been a whirlwind week here…and a very full one!  Every day has been very full, but most definitely the best week that I’ve had here.  If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that I spent a lot of time last week and some the week before working with the teens at Life.  I helped to train them to work as leaders during the VBS, but also just served alongside them and have gotten to know them.  What’s been really fun this week has been to see those same teens turn around and train up those younger than them!  To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how well it would work.  Partially because some of them are as young as 13 and have groups of up to 20 kids under them.  Also, although the teens helping out are regulars at the center, willing to help and have had a week’s training, I just didn’t know that they could handle it.  Boy, did they prove me wrong!  They are so excited and full of energy every day.  They spend time every evening reading sometimes as many as five chapters of the Bible and reviewing the lesson for the next day in their tiny one room, unheated houses and come prepared to lead those younger than them.  If they don’t read their scriptures for that day, they don’t lead.  There hasn’t been even one day where we’ve had a group without a leader.  They can be seen leading their groups with chants, dances, teaching them Bible verses, you name it.  The best thing though is that their excitement about God is contagious and the kids that watch them just can’t help themselves.  Watching them, I think that we (myself included) often underestimate kids of this age.  They have most certainly rose to the occasion.  This is discipleship…getting input and being mentored by someone older or wiser than you in a certain area and turning around and doing that very thing for some else.  Anyone can do it…grandmothers can do it for mothers, college students can do it for high school students and these thirteen-year-olds can do it for six-year-olds.  You only need to find someone younger than you who thinks that you are worth listening to and have something to offer.  This is truly the Kingdom of God at work.

While I have enjoyed getting to know the ladies in the kitchen and really don’t mind cutting up vegetables, teaching Bible verses, doing crafts, giving lots of high-fives and hugs is most certainly more fun!  Working with the teens and seeing the excitement of the kids is so very rewarding and makes all of the hard work more than worth it.

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