Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Diet Coke
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Rocky Road Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone
BBQ Sauce
Reliable Water & Electricity
Comfortable Bed
Normal Sized Bugs

It's good to be back in the States!

As I was flying back and anticipating a much needed Starbucks I kept praying about how to wrap up this season of my life but make sure it drives me into the next season. As always, my God showed me something pretty cool:

In January I shared about the rainbow stretching across the sky during the descent into Johannesburg. It was a rainbow which reminded me of God's covenant with Noah and his promise of partnership, love and care. It gave me comfort and confidence. This same type of message was given to me as I was descending into Washington last week. The plane left Johannesburg after the sun had gone down and we flew west for 18 hours, all of it in the dark. As we began the descent into Washington the sun began to catch up to the plane and there was an amazing sunrise of reds, oranges and yellows. A new day was dawning. This isn't anything spectacular - the sun does the same thing all the time! But, no matter what the sky has done in the past, every sunrise is unique and special. It can be referenced and compared to past sunrises but it is new every day. I was flying back to what was familiar. I have a reference point of what to expect. But, at the same time, it is new.

My worldview, paradigms, focus have changed in ways I still don't know how to explain.

My heart is still in Kayamandi and I haven't figured out how to get it back here.

My God is ridiculously, unimaginably amazing and I don't have the words to sufficiently honor Him. My God healed me, romanced me, blessed me, loved me, freed me and gave me every single desire of my heart. I am super pumped to find out what He has in store for me now.

I have an entire African family that I can't stop thinking about. Every thought makes me smile and brings an overwhelming joy to my heart.

I know myself - likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, passions, desires, loves, friends and place in this huge world of ours - way more than I have ever understood before.

I can keep going with the list of newness but I'd rather have a conversation in person!
It was a great 5 months of love and a life journey. I am excited to sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about what has been going on in your lives and what has been going on in mine. Saying thank you to everyone for your support and prayers seems insufficient but it is an appreciation from my heart. I miss South Africa but, at the same time, it feels good to be back in the States!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Little Terror

Imagine this:

4 years old
Stands at a height just above my knees
No more than 20 lbs
Naughtiest little guy ever!!

I affectionately call him Little Terror. He is tiny but he gets himself into trouble better than anyone. He stands on the tables, runs around screaming, uses the side of the building as a toilet and basically finds as much mischief as possible! The problem is he's cute. He's adorable and he knows it.

Despite his mischievousness I love him to death. Little Terror loves his life and he loves every single thing he does. He has the biggest smile ever. He laughs, sings and dances constantly!

On occasion he does something to melt my heart...

A few weeks ago we had visitors from Brazil. They were energetic but also really loud and overwhelming. The entire time Little Terror stood next to me with his arms wrapped around my leg and his thumb in his mouth taking in everything that was going on.
The sun decided to break through the clouds and the rain stopped so we took all the kids outside to play instead of have classes. The girls were sitting nicely in a big circle singing and dancing and the boys were across the way climbing trees and wrestling. I was on boy patrol and when I was watching to make sure no one got seriously injured Little Terror came up to me and started walking figure eights around and through my legs. The entire time he was squealing with laughter. I looked down, asked what he was doing and he looked up and just giggled.
It was Day 2 of sun shining and while I was standing out soaking up all the Vitamin D I could get, Little Terror ran over and fell into a sort of head stand kicking his legs up at me. I grabbed his legs and pulled all 20 lbs of him up into the air. He screamed with excitement and joy as he was flying through the air.

Little Terror finds joy in absolutely everything he does and I've been able to take on his attitude. Every time I see him I try to pause and notice the things going on around me. Through this my God has clothed me with joy.

In Psalm 4 David says, "You have filled my life with greater joy than when new grain and wine abound."

These words echo the laughter of my heart. 5 months of being filled with this great joy is life changing. As my time here winds down I have a huge smile on my face because I know my God has blessed me with Little Terrors and has opened my eyes to see life in a new and better way. Life is new and exciting. Life is full of adventure and wonder. Life is joy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Math Defeat

(2e-1)/(e^2+e-6) - 3/(e+3) = 2/(e-2)
solve for e

It was 6:00, I had just finished up my Grade 7 English class and I was ready to go home. I walked into the reception to put the keys away and Monde was sitting there slumped back in the chair with his hood up looking horribly defeated.
Now, you need to understand Monde: He constantly has a huge smile on his face. He is in love with life. His joy for life is contagious. He is one of the few honest hard workers. He had a lot of "bad choice, make a new one" moments when he was younger but those where his Before Christ days. He's let God do some awesome work on his heart and has cleaned up his act. He knows he messed up and has been spending the past couple years doing his best to make something of himself and to catch up to his peers in school. He is so smart and his smile warms my heart.
So obviously his defeated body language caught my attention.

"Monde, friend, what's wrong?"
"Ya! SisNora. I can't do this maths. I need your help."

Sitting down to work on this math problem got me kind of excited (I freely admit that I'm a nerd). We proceeded to take the next 25 minutes to solve the problem. There was a lot of blank stares and heavy sighs followed by "SisNora, I just don't get it." We'd go back to the beginning and I'd try another approach to explain the process.

Once we got to e = -1/3 Monde looked at me with the light back in his eyes and the smile back on his face.
"I understand! Wow, thank you!"

I've done tons of math problems since I've been here...everywhere from basic multiplication to this type of algebra. The fact that this particular 25 minutes made me so happy perplexed me. There was nothing extraordinary about it. I sat back to reflect on this and realize the reason why I loved doing math with Monde didn't matter. I am just thankful I was able to.

All I can think of is thank you Jesus for loving me and trusting me enough to bring me here! Thank you for giving me opportunities to do what I love! Thank you for putting people in my life who have stamped their footprints on my heart; people who show me how to dream, hope, love, fly and discover!

Some people come into our lives
and leave footprints on our hearts
and we are never ever the same

Some people come into our lives
and quickly go....Some stay for awhile
and embrace our silent dreams

They help us become aware
of the delicate winds of hope...
and we discover within every human spirit
there are wings yearning to fly

They help our hearts to see that
the only stairway to the stars
is woven with dreams...
and we find ourselves
unafraid to reach high

They celebrate the true essence
of who we are...
and have faith in all
that we may become

Some people awaken us
to new and deeper realizations...
for we gain insight
from the passing whisper of their wisdom

Throughout our lives we are sent
precious souls...
meant to share our journey
however brief or lasting their stay
they remind us why we are here

To love

Some people come into our lives
to cast a steady light
upon our path and guide our every step
their shining belief in us
helps us to believe in ourselves

Some people come into our
lives to teach us about love...
The love that rests within ourselves

Let us reach out to others
and feel the bliss of giving
for love is far richer in action
than it ever is in words

Some people come into our lives
and they move our souls to sing
and make our spirits dance

They help us to see that everything on earth
is part of the incredibility of life...
and that it is always there
for us to take of its joy

Some people come into our lives
and leave footprints on our hearts
and we are never ever the same


There are people I can name who have done every single one of these things for me. I had these grand plans of trying to make an impact in a short amount of time and have found that, the very things I wanted to do for these kids, they have done for me. I have been taught. I have been led to discover myself. I have been nurtured. I have been loved.

Friday, April 30, 2010


80 loaves of bread
5 kg of corn meal
5 wors
5 kg of chicken
8 rolls of polony
100 bananas
22 kg of potatoes

Just a fraction of the food prepared at camp. Over the past week I've been at Kuyasa's Leadership Camp. It is a camp for all of Kuyasa's student leaders in all of the different programs and ministries. There were about 50 people total, including leaders and speakers. It was an intense few days full of seminars addressing everything from the Trinity to dating and forgiveness to spiritual warfare.

I went along to help out where needed which mostly involved cooking for these 50 people, of which about 25 included growing teenage boys. It was no small task!

I spend most of my time with the little ones and it was refreshing and fun to spend uninterrupted time with the teenagers. When I didn't think I could love this place any more, my heart is overflowing for these kids! I grew in my understanding of the struggles they face everyday, especially since many of them are first generation Christians and must deal with the ancestral worship and witch doctor practices of their parents and family. Many live with integrity in a culture were sex and drugs run rampant. I am incredibly impressed and proud of these kids in so many ways.

One of the biggest things that stuck out to me was their servant hearts. Despite being exhausted from all the thinking and discussions everyday and the blatant attacks from Satan, they were eager to help out in the kitchen. They joyously did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. I'm by no means a neat and tidy cook but they worshiped and danced while cleaning up...even when cleaning out the pap pot (not a pleasant task!). There were never any complaints. They wouldn't let me wash one fork, let alone do any of the real dishes. All they wanted me to do was sing and dance with them and, so, that's what I did. My expectations for them were way to low. I was expecting whining and a feeling of forced labor but I should have known better.

My kids know how to give. They know what it means to be servants. They are modeling the very essence of Jesus. They love, pray, worship and serve from the very core of their hearts.

Philippians 2:5-8 is a passage that, for me, sums up who Jesus is and who we must strive to be
You attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!

Jesus is a humble obedient servant. He would have willingly cleaned the pap pot.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Mama Aloni and Mama Fibi

love, compassion, sacrifice and amazingness

Their job descriptions include cooking for feeding scheme and maintaining Kuyasa's small task when you have hundreds of kids running around everyday. Mama Fibi is also the house mother in the safe house for several teenage girls who have no other safe living option.

That's their "job" but they perform so many unquantifiable tasks. Mama Fibi is soft spoken but her tender hands are strong when she pulls me into her every morning for a hug or grabs my hand as our paths cross during the day. Mama Aloni can be clearly heard proclaiming, "SisNora! Yiza, Love, yiza!" from the other side of the building in the middle of feeding scheme. Obviously when she calls I come running with anticipation and she strongly pulls me in and says, "Sissy, today the children are very active. Here is my inspiration to you," and gives me a hug and a kiss. She is at a perfect height that I can bend over slightly, rest my head on her shoulder and let her support me for just a second. But in that second, I am rejuvenated, encouraged and loved beyond measure fro the rest of the day.

They give the best hugs and have the best smiles I have ever experienced. Hands down. No competition. They are fully devoted to Kuyasa, the kids and the staff. I think they actually make the place function. There's days when I run around like a crazy person organizing, planning and teaching but if I step foot in their kitchen or come into a room they are mopping I must stop for a second, take a breath, receive a sincere hug and soak up their love. They show me on a daily basis what it means to love. When I want to kill some kids, Mama Aloni's firm love and Mama Fibi's soft love come to the front of my mind and I, as well as the kids, survive another hectic day. And it's not just surviving another day, but thriving in another day. It's knowing what joy means and experiencing that completely in life.

They give and give and give and never ask for anything in return except the occasional broom to clean up after feeding scheme or a marker to keep track of the kids in the line. That's it. They are remarkable. They are the manifestations of love. These words do not do them justice. These two women have changed my life in ways I can't explain. Purely by their actions, I am changed. They love unconditionally. They give wholeheartedly. They serve fully.

1 John 4: 7 -12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

I hope someday to be able to love like Mama Aloni and Mama Fibi. They are remarkable.

love to you today

Friday, April 9, 2010


It was a long and frustrating battle but I have come out victorious with my visa extended! Whew, praise the Lord! Thank you for all of the prayers in regards to this. Although it may have been fun to refer to myself as an illegal alien, I think I prefer knowing that they can't use this as an excuse to throw me in jail.

When I phoned Home Affairs for the billionth time this morning they said they didn't have it so I decided to go there anyway and not leave without it. I was fully prepared to dig deep and find the aggressive and obnoxious American that, to some extent, lives deep inside all of us. When I got to Home Affairs there was no queue (a miracle in itself) so I walked up to the counter ready for battle, handed over my paper and was told to wait for a few minutes. I decided to hold back the aggression for when they told me they wouldn't extend it but in about 10 minutes they walked out with my visa...they had it the whole time! Everyone's theory seems to be that they were just trying to screw me over since I'm American...not so nice but, in the end, I won and that's all that matters :)

Thanks for the prayers and rest assured that I am legally allowed to be here now!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


"Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words."
-St. Francis

I've always thought about this as our actions speak louder then our words. This is for sure true but I've realized a new definition of actions. Actions aren't just being a servant leader, dishing up others' meals before your own or helping an old lady across the street. I realized today that the smallest of non-verbal interactions can speak volumes.

I needed a second to escape the chaos and took the chance during the transition from Kids Games to feeding scheme. I stepped inside to the reception area where there weren't any kids and the volume was decreased from deafening to just really loud. While the lines were forming outside and students were running around getting food ready for the kids, I turned around to find a little preschool boy staring at me from about 20 feet away in the front of the line outside. I smiled at him and he returned it. The next minute of our lives consisted of an exchange of funny faces - I gave him a goofy grin, he returned with a crossed eyes expression, I puckered my lips like a fish, he puffed up his cheeks like a blow fish and we continued on in our own little personal conversation. We ended our conversation laughing with each other when we weren't even in the same room and the world was scurrying loudly around us. Our little playful conversation let me show him that I love him and he returned the affection. Over the distance with no words spoken and no high-fives or hugs exchanged, we are stronger friends now.

Yes, actions speak louder than words. But I'd like to add that sometimes subtle actions speak louder than big actions. It's good to follow St. Francis' advice but I now realize it's not only big mission trips or hours at the Gospel Mission that preach the Gospel. Sometimes, the love of the Gospel can be shown when you're not even in the same room as someone. If my little guy can understand at this point that I love him then, hopefully, when he hears again about Jesus' love he can understand it a little bit more.

Go out and preach today!