Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trial and Reflection

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Well I am back at last after taking a week off from blogging. The truth is, at first I didn't feel like I had much to blog about...and then some things happened that I didn't want to blog about. But what I've come to learn here is that big hurdles will be thrown your way when you are working for God's kingdom. I don't want to go into details, but over the weekend I was faced with the biggest trial I have experienced here so far. It was so hard for me that I almost wanted to throw in the towel right then and there. I hadn't felt lonely here until then, and suddenly I felt like my parents couldn't get here fast enough. I'm still struggling with it but I am grateful to say that God has encouraged me through a few people and I know more have prayed for me which has brought me through the hardest part.

Then, last night I was again faced with a great trial when my laptop suddenly decided to stop working. Everything I tried to open crashed and I haven't gotten it to work since. I use my laptop for everything here. I need it for all my classes, the finals coming up, emailing, blogging, and of course for fun stuff like Facebooking and catching up on my favorite shows. I know I can survive without it, but it will be a lot harder. Right now for example, I am blogging from my iPhone so we'll see if this even works!

In other news, after this week we only have one more full week of school before finals start! I can't believe how quickly they are coming up! The term will be over before I know it and then I'll be heading home! I have mixed feelings about how quickly my departure is approaching. I will miss this place so incredibly much that my heart hurts at the thought of leaving. But at the same time I am really missing my family and friends, especially since this weekend and am so excited to see them again.

As you can see from the pictures above, I have still been experiencing wonderful things here, including a wine tasting trip with Kristy, complete with delicious cheese and an amazing view. And last week my Arts and Culture classes revieved a couple of old ugly busts that have been here by turning them into an art project and painting them! It was fun to be apart of that and see them all working (or trying to work) together. And of course I'm still enjoying the beautiful sunsets here. The days have been getting shorter and it feels like summer is coming to an end which just reminds me that my time here is too.

In the midst of the current storm I am in, I am reminded that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." (Psalm 46:1 & 2) So with that I just want to ask for prayer that I will put my whole trust in the Lord and that he will lift me out from under this dark cloud I find myself in. Pray for strength and encouragement for me as I enter into my last few weeks here. And most of all pray that I leave behind a mark on these students' hearts that will bring them closer to the Lord. If that happens, then I have fulfilled my purpose in coming here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is Kind



I have to say that I'm not big on Valentine's Day. In fact, it may be one of my least favorite holidays. Why, do you ask? Mostly because I feel like there shouldn't be a day where people feel obligated to demonstrate their love for someone, or feel lame not to be in a relationship. It's been a lose/lose holiday for me. However, after today I'll happily say my view on Valentine's Day has started to change. Before you get too excited and start showering me with heart confetti, I'll just say that Valentine's Day here has just been more real. It has been more about God's love for us than anything else. Here, God has revealed to me more clearly than ever how important it is to demonstrate His love for us by loving others. Zenande, the 9th grade student I sponsor here has helped show me that too. Last week she snuck a surprise valentine in my bag (picture above right) that I couldn't help but cry when I opened. In it she wrote me the sweetest note saying how blessed she is by me being here and how much she loves me and is praying for me. She's pretty shy in person, so reading that meant the world to me. It made me realize how important it is to daily remind those we love how much we love them. I love how affectionate so many of the girls are here. The closer I get to them, the more I dread leaving them. They have made me feel so loved and so at home.

Last week went well. I feel like the weeks are going by faster and faster these days. On Thursday night Kristy (see bottom right picture) took me to her bible study and then to her place after to spend the night. As you can see we played Starbucks baristas at her house that day. Hey, you gotta make due! Kristy has quickly become a good friend and I feel so blessed to have her here with me. It's been good to get out and stay with her a couple times. We have plans to go wine tasting soon which I'm very much looking forward to :) Over the weekend, I got to spend a lot of time with the kids and loved every minute of it. On Saturday, we all went to the mall (yep, all fifty-two students) to avoid causing too much noise during the wedding happening in the vineyard next door. It was great to get out with them and be with them in a different environment. A few of them even ministered to some street kids there. So great. On Sunday I spent a good portion of the day with them at the school after our church service and that afternoon Susan and I took out our sponsor girls Yanga and Zenande (her and I together in the picture above left). I could tell they were putting on their best behavior which was pretty cute, and it was good to finally get to spend some quality time with Zenande. She has been warming up to me more and more lately and makes my heart swell with joy. I love her to pieces.

Over all I feel like I have a lot grown closer to a lot of the kids over this past week which makes me incredibly happy and even more sure that coming here has been the best decision I have ever made. Thank you all for your continual prayers. They are definitely paying off!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learning Experiences


(Top left): Project Runway night with the girls! So much fun. (Top right): Sidewalk art with my ridiculously cute 7/8th graders. (Bottom left): Last night's incredible sunset. (Bottom right): Made Egyptian mummy masks with the 9th graders!

Hello all! To change things up a bit from my usual format, I thought this week I’d share with you some of the funny things my American self have learned and experienced while being in South Africa. Some of them are pretty funny…

  • Napkins don’t in fact mean napkins here. I learned this the hard way when I asked at a restaurant if someone would pass the napkins in front of the entire team of teachers only to find that “napkins” are feminine products here. “Serviettes” is what they call napkins. I caught on to that one fast.

  • Don’t try ordering an iced coffee unless you want a full on coffee milkshake. That’s what their iced coffee is here. I’ve tried ordering iced lattes a couple times and it always puzzles the barrista to no end. “You want me to put ice in your latte?!” The whole concept is foreign to them.

  • Speaking of coffee, I was incredibly confused when Di, one of our wonderful local staff members let me know she borrowed my “plunger” to make coffee for some guests. Umm, sorry? Turns out that’s what they call a French press. That conversation got incredibly funny fast.

  • Bugs crawling/landing on you at all times of the day become second nature. I feel like every day a new creature visits me and violates me in some way. Yesterday evening I had a bug fly into my eye only to discover it still in my eye this morning! I’m still trying to tell myself it was makeup.

  • After a month here, I still don’t know where the passenger seat is in a car. I have to follow the driver and see which way they get in before I get in and feel so dumb every time. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it before I leave.

  • Speaking of things being on the opposite side, here are a few other opposites: I’ve noticed on several faucets (including my shower) that hot and cold are switched. Also, my fridge door opens on the opposite side. That took a while to get used to.

  • My brain refuses to convert rand into dollars, kilometers into miles, military time into regular time, and Celsius into Fahrenheit. Nope, not gonna happen. I’ll just go along with it when people bring any of it up. “Oh my gosh it’s going to be forty degrees today?! Yeah that’s sooooo hot!” Right, to me that sounds pretty cold actually.

  • Do not leave your trash sitting there too long! I learned this the hard way. One night I put the rest of an old chicken in the trash only to open it the next morning and find it literally infested with maggots! It took everything in me not to scream and vomit simultaneously. That was by far my most disgusting experience here so far.

  • There is a way for a movie addict like me to keep up with my shows and stream movies while I’m here! It’s called a VPN and it’s a beautiful thing.

…I thought for fun I’d also include some food items I've found are better and ones I think are worse (or at least not what I'm used to) in South Africa. (This is just from my personal experience and Of course it might be different for everyone):


  • Diet Coke! Or Coke Light, as they call it here. I swear they put something magical on it or something. There’s no comparison, it’s far superior! I’m going to miss it when I go home and most likely won’t be able to drink our Diet Coke again.

  • Cheddar cheese. Don’t ask me why, but all of the cheddar cheese I’ve bought/tried here is better than any I’ve had at home. I don’t know what it is about it, but it’s just…better!

  • Their Cadbury bar selection! Don’t even get me started on how many Cadbury bars I’ve consumed since I’ve been here. It’s not a healthy number. But I can’t help myself when I’m surrounded by so many different flavors! Cashew coconut, rum raisen, top deck, mint crisp, macadamia nut…the list goes on and on! It’s too much for the chocolate monster inside me!

  • Their cream cheese flavors. I just discovered this and my world has been changed. Where the heck can I find blue cheese flavored whipped cream cheese at home?! Tell me and I’ll love you forever.


  • Their coffee selection. Almost everything is instant in the stores. Common people! I’d pay big bucks for a Starbucks iced latte right now.

  • Their nut prices. I love eating nuts at home and was sorely disappointed when I saw how outrageously expensive nuts are here! Lame.

  • Their apple selection. I’m used to a wide variety of choices at home. Here there are about three choices tops but I’m used to seeing only two. Green, and reddish ones that are super grainy. Green it is.

So there you go. I thought I’d give you all a little insight into some of my random little discoveries and learning experiences I’ve had here so far. It’s been an adventure! Thanks for keeping me in your prayers! Until next week!