Monthly Archives: November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!…Well, A Day Late.

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I would first like to start off by saying Happy Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s already that time of year again. I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks it came pretty quickly too. And before you know it, Christmas will be right around the corner!
In South Africa, Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated, so we didn’t do anything special. But this Saturday, Karen is hosting a special Thanksgiving meal for us, which is an all day event. That means getting there at 9am, baking amazing American Thanksgiving food, and watching Lord of the Rings. All. Day. Long. I really can’t ask for a better Thanksgiving 10,000 miles away from home.
These people here have become my family; especially the people I work with at Masibumbane. When I think about having to leave them, I get choked up. (Good thing I still have 8 more months here!) The language barrier was really hard at first; they would act like they’d know what I was saying, but i knew they had no idea. That’s when I took it upon myself to start learning their language. I wanted to form a relationship with these people; I wanted them to know that I was here to fully immerse into their culture. So by taking the time to write down Zulu words and phrases and to ask them questions, I began to learn the beautiful language. The saddest part about it is realizing that no one in the states speaks Zulu. Gah.
Yesterday was a rough Thanksgiving. I missed my family a lot, and Skyping them just seemed to make it worse; it made me want to be with them even more. I knew the family traditions that were going to happen that day, I knew where everyone was going to be, I knew who was making what food, I knew everything that was going down. And knowing that made me selfish. I wanted to go home. I was tired of being here, I’ve had enough. I just want to celebrate this day with my family. But before I fell asleep last night, I laid my head on my pillow, and remembered what Mama Olga had told me on Wednesday.
There was a young girl sitting beside me named Paleso. Absolutely stunning and beautiful Zulu girl. Mama Olga needed my help with something; Paleso needed a ride to Hilton to pick up eye drops for her eyes, and the taxi’s weren’t coming. Paleso needed to go ASAP, so she asked me for my help. While we were waiting for Nat to come and get us from the soup kitchen at Mpophomeni, Mama Olga started telling me a little bit about Paleso’s life.
Paleso is 17 years old; the oldest of her and her five siblings. Her parents both died. She and her siblings are orphaned, and she takes care of them. My mind was blown.
Okay, I thought. She’s 17, in the 10th grade, taking care of herself AND her younger siblings, while both of her parents are dead.
It makes the petty things I call ‘problems’ not be so big anymore.
So as I was laying there remembering what Olga had told me, I got out my iPod and made a quick note on the things I was grateful for. After I re-read it, they were things I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to be grateful for in my life until that moment.
I’m grateful I have never been abused or raped.
I’m grateful that I am not living with HIV/AIDS or TB.
I’m grateful that I have a mom and dad who love me.
I’m grateful that both of my sisters are alive.
I’m grateful that I’m away from my family on this day, because it makes me appreciate them even more.
I’m grateful for the bars on all my windows and doors and the locks on every entrance of this house, because it means I am safe.
I’m grateful that Auntie is strict with me, because it means she loves me.
I’m grateful for being able to walk barefoot, but I’m also grateful for the shoes I do have.
I’m grateful that Jesus died for me, because that means that I can truly live.
I’m grateful that I gained 15 pounds in 3 months, because that means I am eating and I am healthy.
I’m grateful that I am here in South Africa, because I KNOW I’m not supposed to be anywhere else right now.
I’m grateful for the times when I feel broken, because I know that God is piecing me back together.
I am grateful for the kids that play with my hair and touch my skin.
I’m grateful for bucket baths, because I could not have any water at all.

It took me being here to realize the things I am truly grateful for.
Happy Thanksgiving. (:

Be Lifted High.

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“In my life, be lifted high.  In our world, be lifted high.  In our love, be lifted high.” – Came To My Rescue by Hillsong United

In my life, be lifted high.It’s so easy to go about our day, making decisions and doing things, completely forgetting about God.  I mean, let’s be real here; He’s not someone we physically see every day.  We can’t touch him.  We can’t physically hear His voice like we’re talking to one of our friends.  So who really cares if we go to the club tonight, dance with a couple girls or mack on a few guys, and get a little bit tipsy?  God isn’t really there anyway.  And who cares if we sneak on our laptop to watch porn while our husband or wife is away at work?  God isn’t really there anyway.  And who cares if we steal money from our parents?  They don’t understand how desperately we need it, and God isn’t really there anyway.  And who cares if we go to church on Sunday and on Monday smoke weed with our buddies, just to get that high because we feel it’s totally alright?  God isn’t really there anyway.

Man, we’ve got it all messed up, my friends.  When we commit to following Jesus, we let it all go…and we don’t turn back.  For the one who turns back loses everything he has just gained; and that’s eternal life.  You see, when we say yes to following Jesus, we say yes to lifting Him up in everything we do.  But it’s much more awesome than that.  There’s something pretty amazing that happens when you commit your life to Christ; those questions that people don’t understand about denying who you are and dying to yourself daily seem to make a lot of sense to you.  Without even thinking about what you’re doing, you start thinking about how you can more radically follow Jesus.  You start to realize that Jesus, in fact, wanted His people to have a radical faith.  Everything that doesn’t make sense to the people who are questioning Jesus makes complete sense to you, and you have such a hard time explaining it all to the people who don’t understand because it’s not something that can be explained; it’s something that has to be lived out, breathed, and felt.  Without even thinking about it, your daily prayer becomes, “Jesus, in my life, be lifted high.”

In our world, be lifted high. – We can sit here and complain about Obama being our President for the next 4 years.  We can sit here and complain about the war that has lasted too long.  We can sit here and argue over what denomination is better.  We can sit here and have sad conversations about where this world is coming to and how we’ve completely forgotten about Jesus.  Or:  we can pray for our President.  We can pray that the United States starts to see peace as the answer and not war.  We can pray that denominational stereotypes will be laid down, and churches will come together as one body unified under Christ.  We can go like God has commanded us to, and spread the gospel to the nations.  Not just in your city, state, or country; but to the NATIONS.  The whole entire world.  That doesn’t mean shoving Jesus down anyone’s throat, because from what I recall, Jesus spread His word, and for those who believed believed, and for those who didn’t He kept right on walking.  He never forced anyone to believe what He said; He still loved them regardless.  But it is our duty as a follower of Jesus to tell someone about Him and what He’s done in our lives.  Guys, it’s not about “saving souls.”  It’s not about adding another check to our “soul has been saved” chart.  It’s about showing people love, forgiveness, mercy, and truth in the King of Kings who died to save the whole world, all out of love for us.  And that might even mean losing our lives for that.  But when you come to the point of truly understanding what it means to follow Jesus, you come to the realization that losing your life for the sake of Jesus Christ is beyond worth it.

In our love, be lifted high. – In Corinthians, Paul speaks a lot about love.  He tells us that we will not get ANYWHERE unless we learn how to love.  I’ve come to learn that there’s a lot of truth in Paul’s words.  Instead of condemning homosexuality and voting against it and giving those people weird looks in restaurants, how about we reach out to them and show them love?  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure my Jesus loves everyone; skin color, nationality, sexual orientation, it doesn’t matter.  Instead of waging a war against the terrorists of 9/11, what if we would’ve laid down our pride and said, “Yes, we are shaken up by what has happened.  But we, as a nation, have chosen to forgive those involved with the attacks of 9/11.”  Dang…the world would’ve looked at us.  And honestly, they might have seen a glimpse of what Jesus had taught in those words.  I also think those words would’ve been more effective than this war we’re in right now.  By choosing to love a group of people who attacked innocent people and scared a whole entire nation…that, my friends, is what it means to follow Jesus.  In America, I believe we are fans of Jesus.  We love what He talks about and we love His motives behind what He says.  But when it comes to actually living out what He’s saying, we all back away and decide that cheering Him on is good enough for us.  Here’s a newsflash:  Jesus never asked us to sit on the sidelines and cheer for His cause.  Paul wasn’t kidding around when he told us we wouldn’t get anywhere without love.

This isn’t stuff I’ve been living out for my 18 years of life.  This is stuff I’ve just figured out in the past 2 months, and I know that it’s worth sharing with the next person.  When you commit to following Jesus, you come to the understanding that you may lose your friends.  Your family may think you’re crazy and not want anything to do with you.  And you may lose your life.  All of that sounds pretty scary, and for the fan, it is.  But for the follower, there is nothing more in this world he wants than to lay everything down and run straight towards Jesus; Never.  Looking.  Back.

Bethany Bible School Class of 2012

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This weekend, we all had the honor of traveling 6 hours up to the Eastern Cape to a place called Mthatha.  There was a graduation going on at Bethany Bible School that we had the honor of attending.  But this wasn’t just any normal graduation; this was a graduation where the youngest person was probably about 40 years old.

Because of apartheid, these Xhosa people never got the proper education.  Their level of education reached up to about the 3rd grade.  So Jo and Anna, our friends who live in Mthatha, became a part of this school for the people who wanted and deserved a better education than what they received during apartheid.  Not only were these people committed to attending this school and committed to learning for the past 4 years, but they were also hungry for God’s word.

The ceremony was longer than a normal graduation; 4 and a half HOURS.  (Here in South Africa, slow and steady is the way to go.  TIA, people.  This Is Africa.)  But it was so worth sitting through.  Being a recent graduate myself, I had the honor and privilege of watching these people walk up to the stage and receive their certificates of graduation.  It felt like only yesterday when I had those same butterflies before walking across the stage.  It felt like only yesterday when I sat with the class of 2012 and wiped tears from my eyes as we moved our tassels to the right. And here I was, watching these people with huge smiles across their faces going through something more major than what I went through, if we’re being real here.  You see, their education was hindered.  It was cut off.  They never deserved that.  And those people in their caps and gowns that Saturday evening, had, in a way, fought against apartheid that night.  To me, they stood up.  Ranging from age 40 to 80, they finally did it; and they were so happy.  Man, I wish I could’ve brought you all there that night to see what I saw.  I couldn’t help from crying.  Education is something I took for granted big time, but to them, they fought and clawed so hard just to receive a certificate.  It doesn’t count for anything if they want to pursue their education and go to college, but I can tell you right now that it counted for something for them…and for me.

Congratulations to the Bethany Bible School class of 2012.  You did it.