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.  

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