I would have never of guessed that four years ago when I boarded a plane to live in South Africa for a year that it would actually be boarding a plane that would literally change my entire life. I remember arriving here and being so scared and not knowing what I had gotten myself into! I knew my role was to work with the Life Skill Educators and do training and teaching but one thing I quickly learned was that everything here is based on RELATIONSHIPS! It was very evident to me that before I could do anything I needed to get to know the people I was going to be working with and form friendships with each of them. This was a great learning experience because it took me out of my way of doing things and showed me how there are other ways of doing things. Something else that wasn’t on my radar at all was living with and meeting other volunteers. I found myself living with 9 different other volunteers ranging in age from 18-up and me being the oldest. Through this I learned about assumptions and how I don’t need to assume anything. Those volunteers taught me a lot and I can even say that after four years I am still in touch with some and I am so thankful to have started my time in South Africa with them.
The first volunteers that I met when I moved here!
Life with the Life Skill Educators I can honestly say is never dull! God has blessed me with a wonderful opportunity to mentor and encourage these amazing people. Over the four years there have been people who have come and gone but what gets me excited is seeing when they learn something and put it into practice and see the benefit that it has made with the children. As far as my role at Living Hope wow how it has grown and changed. I started out feeling like there was no way I was capable of what I was brought here to do and yes in my own strength I couldn’t do it but once I knew that God was in control and was going to be the one leading not Danielle it did make things a whole lot easier. My role has grown to take on overseeing our Living Hope library and resource center, and now most recently I am the assessor (principal) for the Living Way Work Life Course (which means I do all the grading) and lastly I am the coordinator for our afterschool Math tutoring program we are running in one of the townships and lastly doing some children’s ministry workshops on the weekends.
There have been many Life Skill Educators over the four years and this is some that I have had the opportuity to work with!
One of the first teaching times I did with the Life Skill Educators!
My mom coming to South Africa was amazing and her getting the chances to meet the Life Skill Educators was such a treat! Here is mom with the Ocean View team!
One of the coolest things I did the first year was Christmas Carols Night at the botantical gardens.
Over the past four years I have so enjoyed trying lots of new foods and learning about the different cultures of this country.
In reflecting on 1461 days one thing I think about is the people I have met or that they have been a part of my world in South Africa. First, I think about all of the volunteers that I had a chance to live with during my first year as a volunteer. In that first year I made a couple of close dear friends who have become like family to me. As I moved into my second and third year, living at the team house and getting to meet a lot of the Living Hope teams as well as different groups that would stay at the Team House. For anyone that knows me this is right up my alley because I am such a huge people person! The experience of living at the Team House has been awesome because I get to hang out with some pretty amazing people. God has also allowed me to be in a place where I can help at the house as well as helping with the ministry of Living Hope because so many of the people that stay at the Team House are working with Living Hope. I have also gotten a little family here as well. There are quite a few of us long term missionaries that are here and we have become each other’s family. I know that having these people here makes this journey even more exciting.
The wonderful ladies team from Northshore Baptist in Seattle. One of the many teams I have gottent the chance to get to know.
I am so blessed to have amazing friends here and these four kids make my life so happy. God has definitely given me a blessing in this family!
So now four years have passed and I still ask myself, “why do I get to be here?” I don’t know the answer but I do know that I am so thankful to God that I do get to be here! People ask me how long am I going to be in South Africa and I can honestly say, “I have no idea!” I am here for as long as God allows and I can say that right now in my life I can’t imagine being anywhere else!
YUP South Africa has become a part of me!