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Getting to Durban and settling in

October 27, 2016


I just arrived in South Africa. I'm watching hundreds of people arrive and check in their bags while I wait. I wait, well, because I was cheap and couldn't see the benefit in paying more money for an earlier time. So I am now half way through my seven hour layover. I feel prepared (as anyone with a seven hour layover should- given they have so so much time to prepare). I weighed all my bags again- all exactly the weight needed. I had a snack, I watched some TV, and now I get to reflect on how I got here. 

When I came to South Africa four years ago with one of my best friends, we commented how amazing it would be to live there. The steep mountains along the bright blue water won our hearts. This time around, I'm in Durban, which will be significantly hotter and probably not as beautiful (since Cape Town was the prettiest town I've ever seen). 

I'm excited to start working, but this whole experience came so quickly. I got to be with my best friend for her wedding and for a long time, I had tunnel vision on that one event. Then when that passed, I looked forward to London. I flew Virgin Atlantic here, and the airline offered an extended layover for free- to I took it. I was so excited to see London for the first time and to stay with my friend there.

And now, post wedding, post London, I feel I didn't have any time to get excited for this- the main event. I'm excited to see my boyfriend, who will meet me at the gate, and I've thought about that quite a bit...but as for these six months of Africa that I just started, I am in disbelief. 

This decision wasn't one of "God told me to," which scared me. I wished so badly that God spoke to me audibly saying He was for this move and for the projects I'm doing. I wanted it NOT to be my choice, because choosing is scary. I didn't want to choose the wrong way and had regret. Honestly, I am scared. I'm scared that I will let people down, or that I'm not supposed to be here in the first place.

There was a day a few months ago where I felt like God was giving me the red light. I found out I couldn't get a 6 month South African visa. They require an FBI background check and I would have had to apply for that 10 weeks before I saw it online. In addition, my boyfriend's donation to me was refunded and I thought that meant that all of the lovely donations that people gave were also refunded. I panicked. I was obviously not supposed to go.

Since I am here, you probably can guess there is another part to this story. Because my boyfriend's donation was refunded, I researched the support-raising website's terms and conditions. There, I saw that all of the donations WOULD HAVE been refunded in two weeks if I didn't activate the account in a different way. If my boyfriend's donation weren't refunded, I probably wouldn't have taken those necessary steps. In addition, God spoke to my boyfriend about how He (God) was going to bring me to South Africa and that it wasn't my boyfriend's responsibility to take care of that. It was a liberating and completely reassuring of this new adventure. I ended up emailing the support raising website, asking a tech guy about the refund, and he said it was a random fluke. 

With this, the 6 month visa scare turned to one of the best surprises. My boyfriend and I are literally required by law to go on a vacation. We have to go to a country that doesn't border South Africa, and it turns out that if we went two countries over or if we went to Europe, we would pay the same. So now, we get to go to Germany and visit some of his friends there without guilt or regret. 

In these ways, God is calming me down. He is assuring me that He sees me and will not leave me. Gosh, God...please please don't leave me. Thank you God for choices, and also for backing those choices. Thank you that I have taken this step and that you have given me skills and passions that can be used at this village, and thank you Lord that life isn't always like a maze...that sometimes there are choices. 

When considering what to do with this season in my life, this was the only option that felt right, and God I believe that is your even through my fear, please use me. 

November 7, 2016


I am on my second Monday here. This is a well-oiled machine. On the village, there is a cafe, vegetables and flowers grown and sold, a culinary school run, training systems set up, and a operating school. In the neighboring city, there are cleaners that sport a LIV Cleaners vest. LIV is innovative and beautiful, employing so many people from the community and pouring into kids' and volunteers' lives. 

My role here so far has been a lot of researching- with finances and with recycling and composting. Ideally, my work will save the village money and add to the health of the planet (recycling rules:)

I'm realizing a few things about myself. 

Well, one thing I've known for a long time is I hate selling things. I actually am very uninterested in money-matters in general. I grew up so comfortably and then found it so empty, that I went the opposite direction. I decided money-mindedness was like a prison that kept people from pursuing their real passions. (with exceptions of course). But I've never EVER wanted to sell anything, or have a job where I have to focus on money. 
BUT I'm changing a bit. I still believe that passions are to be followed regardless of money, and I still do think life is ENTIRELY too big to be obsessed with money. I still cringe as I watch the idolatry of money, but I now realize how God wants to use money. 

The kids here are either orphans or extremely vulnerable. IN the surrounding community, the percentage of women that have been raped is estimated at over 90%. There is a weird (in my opinion) legend that some men here believe that goes like this: if you have aids, but have sex with a virgin, your aids will be cured. I thought this was absurd, and asked, how will they know who is a virgin?

And I heard: "They don't, thats why the younger the child, the better." I almost threw up. 

So, many of these young children in the community around us have already been raped, And many of them are brought into this village, where they are taught that they are deeply loved.

With this in mind, it is no longer hard for me to think of money. I know that the money received on the village is not going to silly things, but rather to giving these kids a safe place, a place that fosters their passions and enables them to be more than walk-all-over. 

So, although I will probably never be a money-hungry person, I feel that I now see how working with money here can help lead to these children having brighter futures. I want this organization to be healthy, not so people have jobs or so that its a good business (though those things are good). I want for this place to thrive because I don't want these kids to be put back in the community.

Now, I get to realize the final idea: that God -not money- controls all. God has told us that the love of money is evil, yet I am seeing how He uses money. Though He uses money, He is not second to money. This leaves me so many questions- does God bless people with money, or only sometimes provides with money. Does this mean that people who inherit money are pleasing God more than others? I strongly think not! But I am excited to see how God provides through money, but his provisions are not defined by money. I have so much to learn.

I'll be updating soon on more in S. Africa and on the village. We can all remember that God is in control and He loves us.  

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