November 16, 2016

The Classic Missionary Post

Alright, it's the post you have all been waiting for...dum dum dum da! The classic missionary post. I'm going to talk about my "missionary life" here in South Africa. 

I'm going to start with: I want to go home (bet you didn't see that coming). This has been an insanely challenging season full of stretching and growth along with hunger for more of God and all that other good stuff. But in a nut shell, nothing about outreach is easy. For awhile I wrestled with the purpose of short term missions. How much of an impact can I really make in only 2 1/2 months? What's the point of trying to build relationship if I'm just going to leave in a little while? Is short term missions really about others or is it just about me and my personal relationship with the Lord? Don't worry, eventually I realized "duh Anna, yes you can make a huge impact within this short amount of time. You carry the good news of Jesus Christ for goodness sake!" Okay, so once I got that out of my head, my new wrestling match was with the question "if I'm not sleeping in a mud hut in the tropics, or praying for blind eyes to be opened everyday am I really doing missions?" *clears throat* don't worry (again), I came to realize very quickly the answer to that is also...yes. 

Alright moving on. After letting go of my preconceived ideas of what this outreach should look like, I was able to make room for Holy Spirit to lead me into situations that all ended with pointing to Christ. 

Now I'm going to talk about some of those situations *wink* 

I've told you briefly about my ministry in Gugulethu which is a township about 45 minutes from where we are living. My team and I are serving at an orphanage that is lead by a pastor and his wife that I'm going to call Pastor John and Pastor Abigail (not their real names for discretion purposes). Quick back story, the Lord called pastor John to start a church within this community that would stand as the only church within the community (at that time)! Crazy I know. Out of obedience, John and Abigail begin this church plant and no sooner do they get the church up and running, people within Gugulethu begin to bring babies (orphans) to their doorstep. Sweet, beautiful, treasures that had been abandon in dumpsters or street corners. They began taking them in and felt the Lord leading them to raise them up until they can attend university. These children are literally growing up in the church and are loved and cared for by this beautiful couple and a handful of "aunties" that have volunteered from the church body. Over the years the heaviness of the stories and situations that these children were coming out of became real burdens to the both of them and Abigail had become very ill. She struggled with chronic migraines and was battling serious depression (note I'm writing in past tense...are you  excited?). We began to pray for both the pastor and his wife in our free time and when the opportunity presented itself, we prayed over them during one of our visits and you guessed it! Holy Spirit broke in with the spirit of joy and gladness and we watched as the migraines left and that cloud of heaviness disappeared. Ever since that visit the entire atmosphere of the home has changed. Abigail hasn't suffered from pain since, she is full of life and contagious joy of the Lord and it has been one of the hugest encouragements for me and my team. *praise dance* 

Okay next, 

This story is more recent and one very dear to my heart. Gugulethu is one of my favorite places now here in South Africa. I get excited every time we go in to see the children and a couple days ago during our playtime a little girl that I will call Betty (more discretion) was particularly clingy that day. Now there are over 30 children in this home so there is almost always someone that wants attention. I was trying to spread my love around but she insisted on some one on one time so I agreed and she took me to a spot on the playground and tried to take a nap on my lap. I rocked her back and forth and sang worship songs over her and she began to cry; mind you this little girl is maybe 7 or 8 at the most and she doesn't speak my language. I sat her in front of me and casually told her that I loved her and made a heart symbol with my hands. She shook her head at me saying "no". I laughed and said "haha yes sweetheart I love you and Jesus loves you even more." She shook her head again and tears began to flow down her face and in that moment I felt the sweet presence of the Lord around me and my tears began to build up. She then buried her face in my shoulder and I began to speak over her "You are so loved. You are so special. You are so beautiful. You are made in the image of God. He sees you and He knows you." Though Betty doesn't speak English I know that she felt the Holy Spirit doing work within her little heart and she continued to cry on my shoulder. I then finally threw out the intimidation of the language barrier and prayed over her spirit. I blessed her heart and her mind and spoke as much life as I felt I could until it was time for us to leave for the day. I kissed her on the forehead and told her "I will be back tomorrow so we can play together again." Although no more words were exchanged I know that that brief moment had such an impact on her heart and I left with peace knowing that the Lord has Betty in his hands and if 18 year old missionary Anna could be used as an instrument to impact her life then so be it. 

That's all that I'll share for now, but these are the things that keep me here. These are the reasons I haven't gotten on a plane to come home. Although I miss my own bed, and the feeling of pulling my jeans out of a dryer smelling like laundry detergent, and chipotle, and not having to take the public train, and my family and friends; situations like this make it all worth it.  

October 26, 2016

Finding Your Boat

"...when a great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him." 
(Mark 3: 8b-10)
I want to share with you all something that has been instrumental during this outreach here in Cape Town. I feel like this is something that all of us can grab hold of in every season of our lives. The idea was presented during one of our house meetings a couple weeks back by our lovely host home parents (Love you Rich and Lynn). Rich sat and quoted that very passage from Mark 3 that discusses the great crowd that followed Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples to have a boat ready because the people continued to crowd him ("lest they crush him"). Even ministry for Jesus was overwhelming, how much more for us? As we are pouring ourselves out in ministry we tend to get a little weighed down, especially when we are working with people in very difficult situations. Our cups can sometimes run empty and it's so important that we have our "boats" to retreat to lest we get crushed in the process of pouring out. 
"Boats" can look different for everyone; going for a run, reading a good book, or taking a bubble bath (a personal favorite), for some it might be spending sometime cooking in the kitchen, or watching a lighthearted movie. It could just be sitting with a cup of tea by oneself. But my point is, find that thing that serves as a mini retreat from the cares and stress of the world. Once I discovered how beneficial this was to my own heart and mental sanity (it's real y'all) I had to write up on it. It's important to also share your "Boat" with someone close to you, that way if someone happens to walk in on your "rejuvenation time" they will understand "oh! My homegirl is taking a minute to process." My biggest boat (it's also okay to have more than one) is music, so if y'all see me grooving with my headphones in... 9/10 times I'm chilling on my "boat." I'm curious to hear about what some of your boats are as well. Try this out for a week and I promise you'll see how much of a positive effect it has on your spiritual, emotional, and mental state.
Here are some pictures from this past weekend that served as such a beautiful escape for me. Feeling so full of love and happiness. Thanks JC. 


October 18, 2016

Full Time Ministry?

Hey, let's do some catch up.
This last week we contracted our community "bug." So far about 7 of us have suffered the worst head cold of the 21 century and one of our team members caught a case of Bronchitis + an ear infection (sorry Kasey). Because of the epidemic, some of our ministry throughout the week was temporarily placed on hold as we tried to nurse each other back to health (this was a pretty serious cold guys[I mean it wasn't that bad...but]). 

I kinda see this as a Segway and I'm gonna invite you into this real fast:
Our DTS (discipleship training school) is entitled A Life Together (as you all know) and A Life Together DTS is unlike most discipleship training schools in the sense that it's focus is different than most. When I was fundraising I explained that the heartbeat of this school was to see unity in diversity and community displayed well and practically. During our lecture phase in Kona we spent many hours sitting together discussing how to make this happen within our group and within the nation of South Africa and back then it was super easy. What does biblical community look like? How do you actively love your neighbor in a world filled with hate? How do you have joy and suffer pain simultaneously? How do you bear with one another? How do we reconcile with one another? What really is "loving well?" These were all questions we wrestled with together, and at the time, felt we had the answers to...then we got to South Africa. I wish I could express to you how beautiful this nation and its people are, but my words will fail me. Though, in all of this beauty, there is so much suffering, brokenness, discord, and hatred; suddenly all of our preconceived "knowledge" fell to the way side and the only answer we could come up with was Christ Jesus. For the gangsters and murders locked up in prison, to the kids in Lavender Hill who lost loved ones due to those same gangsters and murders; there is no answer on how to love, forgive, and reconcile except for Christ Jesus. A Life Together is also actually living together, under the same roof (as I've told you before, there are 15 of us [11 students, 4 staff]). There's tension and frustration and again, we've been trying to implement all of our plans and strategies but at the end of the day...non of it works without Jesus in the midst. I'm telling you this because as a school we have come to a revelation that this outreach is unlike most. We feel that maybe our main ministry is to pour life into each other and minister to one another and really intentionally love each other for the next two months. We can't go into townships and preach that we should love our neighbors if we are coming home and hating and slandering our brothers. Because of this, we have devoted a lot of time during the week as a team to develop this culture of unity and love. We long to see reconciliation go forth into the body of Christ but first, we must see it in the midst of us. 

"As the blessedness of the world works it's self into our personhood we feel an echo within ourselves. As we look upon poverty the poverty within ourselves is revealed. As we look upon brokenness we see the brokenness within our hearts and lives. As we look upon slavery we see the things to which we are slaves to. Do not resist the echo for your healing is bound up in the healing of others."
(Something we discussed together as a group last Wednesday)
Our prayer is that as Jesus heals our hearts that He would then turn and heal this nation. 

 Again, just inviting you into the process. 

October 3, 2016

Life In Cape Town

Hello from the other side of the the world. It's October and our first weekish of outreach is already over. The second I set foot here I was filled with so much love for it, and even the little that I have begun to explore over the past eight days has completely won me over. Whether that be browsing the local PickNPay grocery, hiking the trail behind our house, riding the metro train into different cities, hanging my laundry on the line out on our patio, or shopping down at the waterfront, all of it makes my heart come alive.

Did I mention how amazing the coffee is here in Cape Town? Truth Coffee didn't disappoint.

All 15 of us on this team have fully embraced the idea of community and have committed to living together for the next 3 months...under the same roof...sharing the same living space...there are 15 of us. So of course there will be chaos but it's all apart of this beautiful thing we call "Life Together."
This week has mostly been a lot of "feeling out" and "sorting through" and "figuring out." Lots and lots of planning, scheduling, and logistics pertaining to our ministry opportunity; Figuring out what this missions outreach will look like and assigning everyone to their different ministries. 

Which leads me to my next point: I will be working in an orphanage in a township 3 days a week, then with 12-13 year old girls in another township as well. I'm partnering with the ministry Justice Acts and doing prostitution outreach once a week and working on the YWAM Muizenberg base in their sweet little coffee shop. The majority of these ministries require a certain amount of discreetness. Out of honor, respect, and even the safety of others, I will not be able to take and post as many pictures as I would like. It is my desire to include you all in as much of my life as I can but because of the reason previously stated, I will only be able to share bits and pieces. 

Prayers are always appreciated and that's the only way this thing will function properly so,
Prayer Requests:
1. Unity. Within our team and within the ministries and organizations we are working in.
2. Health. Making the transition from the tropical summer heat to this frosty winter/spring in CapeTown has played a toll on our health and we've already got a bug going around.
3. Safety. A lot of the ministry we are doing takes place in some "dangerous" parts of town, prone to theft and violence (as you would normally see in any other city back in the states). So protection and covering.
4. Signs and wonders. Non of this can be done on our own. I don't have enough power to lead someone to salvation, or heal someone's brokenness, or speak a word of knowledge over someone, but good thing Holy Spirit does! And it's the Holy Spirit living in each of us that that is made possible. So pray that He would go ahead of us and plow up the grounds of hearts, that they would be willing to hear and accept the good news that is Christ Jesus. 

September 23, 2016

Traveling Chronicles

We've been traveling since Tuesday, September 20th. It is now Friday, September 23rd. We are currently standing in our customs line trying to calculate how many hours of travel that adds up to. 36...45...38? Don't know, it's just been a long time. Our outreach team is traveling the furthest this quarter. Hawaii to South Africa ain't no hop, skip, and a jump if you know what I'm saying.

Our 12 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany mixed with a mix of boredom and curiousity led us to a train ride and a walk through the beautiful city. 

I might be experiencing my first round of serious jet lag, but I have never felt so stoked to travel. I definitely think I've caught the vagabond bug and need to plan a trip to Europe again... 
4/5 flights down, one more left! Cape Town awaits us. Onward travelers.
 But first, coffee: 

September 22, 2016

Going Out With A Bang

My time here in Kona has been incredibly healing, challenging, stretching, and absolutely beautiful. The Lord could've directed me anywhere in the world but I'm sure glad He led me to Hawaii. Looking back I can honestly say I've never experienced this much spiritual growth in such a small amount of time. The work that Lord has done and is continuing to do in my heart excites me for the future and what's to come. I have never felt so supported by the church community, both my community back home and my new community here. The Lord has surrounded me with beautiful friends that constantly push me closer to Jesus and provoke me unto righteousness. And it doesn't hurt to have more photographer friends *wink* (photo creds: Austin Comer).  As we bid farewell to the island, a group of us decided one more island adventure seemed fitting. Not only am I packing up shirts and shorts for outreach, but quite a large stack of precious memories to bring along the journey. 

(Obviously had to end with sushi)

Peace Out Hawaii!

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