WORDS AND RELATIONSHIPS

Today these two words became so real to me! Fridays are the day when all of the Life Skill Educators get together and we have training. This morning started with a devotion that dealt with leadership ….the fact that Leadership is Built on Relationships. The devotion was based on Romans 12:15 which says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Gail who was bringing the devotion shared that we have people who rejoice with us and people who share in our tears and how important it is to have people who do that in our lives.

The main topic for this morning was to debrief and talk about our Holiday Festivals that we did at the end of September and boy was I in for a SURPRISE. Gail had us divide into tables to sit with people we normally don’t sit with and she also made sure that each branch of Life Skill Educators split up. At each table there were around 5 of us. We each got a piece of paper and wrote our name on it and then each person at the table had to write something they saw in us during the Holiday Festivals since this was a time when all of the Life Skill Educators worked together.

After writing something for each of the people at my table…I read my paper and I was just silent for a moment and in awe by what the 4 at my table wrote. I was speechless when I read what they wrote!! Words have the power to give such life!! We then decided to read everyone’s out loud and I had to hold back tears as I shared what some of the Life Skill Educators had written about each other! We all need encouragement and words have the awesome power to do that…..also it is because of the relationships that we have with others that those words mean so much!!!

Holiday Carnivals…..A Simple Thing that can bring such JOY!!

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This past week was one of the school holiday weeks. Normally we have a Holiday Club (aka Vacation Bible School) well this week I really thought and felt led to do something new. The reason for this was to change things up a little bit and also give the Life Skill Educators a chance to all work together as well as work in each other’s communities. Because of the work that they do they don’t have the opportunity to necessarily work in each other’s community so this was also one of the perks to doing something new. So here is how the week looked: each day we went to a different community and hosted a carnival in the morning and then again in the afternoon. For each community the carnivals took on a different look based on what the Life Skill Educators in that community thought would be best. Each carnival did have circle games, face painting, balloon animals, and other fun activities to keep the kids excited.

The first two days of carnivals I was running around making sure things were going well……then on the last two days I was able to get involved in the carnivals. I was able for the last two days to be at the face painting table. It was two days of being able to bring children and teenagers smiles simply by giving them a little bit of attention

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and painting something on their cheek. Now I am not a skilled artist by any stretch of the means but that didn’t matter the kids faces would just light up once you would hold the mirror in front of their face and show them what you painted. Such a simple thing but just meant so much to the children and teenagers that came to each of the carnivals. Amazing what some paint, brushes, and water can do for a child!!

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Training Taken to a New Level!!!

 

I know it has been a while since I have blogged and I am sorry for that.  I just get involved in day to day things here and then before I know it months have passed.  The past couple of months have been fast moving but I have also been able to have some quiet days as well which have been a huge blessing.  I am so excited about something and I wanted to share it with everyone…..

 

In April Living Hope expanded to the Eastern Cape to an area called East London.  For the past couple of weeks we have begun Skype calls with our fellow workers in East London.  Over the past month the opportunity has come for them to start teaching Grade 8 Life Skills Classes in the local high school.  To help them start off on the right foot we knew we needed to send one of our staff to help them and just also be there for encouragement and support.  I am so excited we are sending Desmond our Masi Life Skill Educator Team Leader.  It has been amazing to see Desmond grow and become an amazing testimony of what God is doing in his life.  It has been so fun to help get him ready by having conversations and talking about planning, schedules, curriculum, lesson plans, and other kinds of paperwork.

 

The reason I share this is because this is what Living Hope is all about…empowering others to change their communities and Desmond is a testimony to that.

 

Below is a picture of us praying over Desmond………..

 

 

48 HOURS……………….

Well two big things have/are going to happen in the last 48 hours!!! I don’t have a bucket list but I have a list of things that since moving to South Africa have been things I would like to do if given the chance.  The first one may sound a little silly but having a car.  Yes, I have been able to drive a car since I arrived but it was always a rental and wasn’t mine.  Well God has truly just blessed my socks off and 24 hours ago I made a purchase……a car!  It is such a huge blessing and I am overwhelemed.  It is perfect for what my role is at Living Hope.  It is a 2006 Hyuandi Sonata and it is large enough to carry a few people in it as well as having a huge trunk which is great because I am always having to bring stuff to the Life Skill Educators.

The second big thing is that I am about to travel to Zimbabwe in 48 hours.  When I came to South Africa did I think that I would be visiting other countries or even have that desire and now I have this desire to take what I have learned and share it with others and God is begining to open that door. Zimbabwe was a country I never really even knew existed but once I moved here I have met so many people from Zimbabwe and heard so many things about this place but never thought I would get to go there.  Well I am packing and getting ready to head there.  Living Hope is hosting two potential partner conferences and I am going to represent Life Skills and what we do with all of our children’s and teens programs.  I am going with three other Living Hope staff and I feel so honored to represent our precious Life Skill Educators and explain all of what they do.

Right now feeling so blessed and excited about what is yet to come!  Join me in prayer for the Living Hope Potential Partners conferences next week to see how God is going to work.

Looking forward to sharing more as I return……….watch this space!!!

 

Reflection time from USA

Yesterday I was in a meeting with one of the teams of Life Skill Educators and this phrase was said and really had me thinking. The phrase was “we are only here because of someone else!” This really got me thinking about my time back in the USA for Christmas/Furlough and how true that statement is
The time in the USA was such a huge blessing. I had the chance to visit with so many dear people in my life and also meet some new ones as well. God really began working in my heart and spirit in a different way while I was away from Africa. One thing I learned about myself was there is some pruning that God wants to do in my life….that He has begun and how I need to trust Him! One other thing that I experienced while in the USA was this amazing outpouring of love from people. I am truly humbled to have

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so many amazing people in my life that just want to love me and I am learning to let people do for me. This is a whole new concept that at age 37 I am beginning to understand.
So needless to say it is wonderful to be back home and reconnecting with the Life Skill Educators and finding out all of the things that happened while I was away and even getting to meet some new staff! I am so looking forward to what this year holds!!!

DEEP THOUGHT…..HUGS

 

I don’t have deep thoughts very often but I had one today and thought I would share it:

Today as I was visiting one of the afternoon children’s clubs I was watching as the children came in and immediately went over to the Life Skill Educators and long term volunteers and hugged them.  I was able to watch the children’s face light up as they saw the Living Hope staff/volunteers.  As the children were playing it was just so neat to sit back and watch the children get so excited about just hanging out with the staff and volunteers.  It got me thinking how important physical touch is to all of us.  It means so much when people give us hugs or pats on the back and just give us a little bit of attention.  As the rest of club went on, I loved just watching the children engage with the staff and volunteers.  The leaders were teaching about what it means to obey and using the Ten Commandments as their example but in my mind all I could think about was seeing how much these children love their leaders!!

So as you read this I am sending a hug to all of you!!

Danielle

1,461 DAYS!

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!

Being sick…..you can learn something

March started out like any other month busy getting ready for two weeks of Holiday Programmes and going to get away for a few days with the other volunteers at this great beach.  While on holiday I had to go to the emergency room because I had a kidney stone.  (For those of you who have known me for a while this would be the third time I have had a stone!)  It was scary for me because they had to do surgery right away and everything happened so fast.  They ended up just putting in a stint thinking that the stone would possibly move on it’s own.  Then I endured a week of this waiting on the stone.  Well the stone never moved so last Friday I had surgery where they had to laser blast the stone because it was so large!!  The surgery went fine I was in some pain at the hospital but once I let the doctor know I received some great medication and was just heading home to spend the weekend resting!  On Sunday things took a huge dip as I developed a fever.

By Sunday night I just wasn’t doing well but I thought I just needed to sleep the fever off.  That was a bad mistake on my part because what happen was the next twenty-four hours were awful.  I just got more symptoms and just got worse.  By Tuesday some dear friends came in and started seeing things and immediately saw I needed to get to the doctor.  The news from the doctor was that I was suffering from a virus that is going around.  Her concern was I was dehydrated because I couldn’t keep anything down, so she gave me a shot and said if I was still nauseous in the morning we were going to look at checking me into the hospital so I could get fluids.

Well Praise the Lord that did not have to happen and by Wednesday morning I was able to speak and could hold down fluids for the first time since Sunday afternoon!!  It has been an incredibly slow road and I have questioned why this has happened right now.  Even now I still struggle because I am just having to rest and be still.  I know God is teaching me something but of course I am stubborn!  This morning actually feeling the best I have felt in a while I opened up my devotional book to read these words…… “I am taking care of you.  Trust Me at all times.  Trust Me in all circumstances.  Trust Me with all your heart.  When you are weary and everything seems to be going wrong, you can still utter these four words: I TRUST YOU JESUS.” (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

I always try to see the positive in everything but the past 5 days have been so hard with being sick but reading this devotion this morning really got me thinking!  Jesus is taking care of me that is how I have to cling to and He is who He says He is.  To get sick when you are a single can be hard because you can be so independent and I have learned over these past couple of days that God has put so many wonderful people in my life who want to help and I need to let them.  I do feel so blessed.  I do ask you to continue to pray for healing and that I would trust Jesus and ask for help when needed!

An announcement………………….

I wanted to update some things that have been going on with me here in Cape Town. As you know I began attending Cape Town Baptist Seminary in January of 2011 where I started working on a Bachelors of Theology degree. For the past two months I have struggled with seminary and if it was what God really wanted for me to do. It hasn’t been the easiest thing to balance my ministry with Living Hope, school, team house life, and just having a personal life as well. I took a couple of days to earnestly seek God and asked him to reveal what his will is for me in regards to seminary. I spent the time crying out to God and searching the Bible for direction and clarity on what I should do. I thought through what my original goals were for attending seminary and evaluated if I was getting closer to those goals after over a year of school. What God showed me was that I have been chasing the wrong thing. I thought that seminary was going to help me grow deeper in my relationship with Christ. What I learned over those two days of just being with God was that I was longing for Him and His Word. This challenged me so much. I showed that for this time in my life I need to grow my relationship with Christ. God lead me to a couple different passages of Scripture that reminded me of His love for me and how His plan for me is perfect. These verses are precious gifts that I am clinging to. Therefore I have decided to suspend my seminary studies and focus on deepening my relationship with Christ on a whole new amazing level. This week alone I have felt closer to Him and I have a longing and hunger in my Spirit for Christ that has been revived! I am so grateful for the peace I have after reaching this decision and I’m grateful for the Lord giving me this affirmation. I have already sat down and made a plan of how I am going to

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I am not a goal oriented person but I am excited about writing things down and looking at what this year can hold. I share this to ask you to pray for me as I am on this journey and am so excited to see what God is going to do.

 

What a night!!!

“I slept and dreamed that life was happiness, I awoke and saw that life was service, I served and found in service happiness is found.”

Quote from Rainbranth Tagore, Indian Poet

This quote really hit me this morning after being able to serve last night!

Last night I had the opportunity to go with the Brentwood Baptist Eye Clinic team to do one of the eye clinics. The clinic took place at CCFM which

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is a Christian radio station in Muizenburg. When we arrived there was already a line around the corner and people were so excited to see the team. I was given the job of being one of the people who took blood pressure. Praise the Lord for a machine that does all of the work for you and all I have to do is put the cuff on and press the button. I would talk with each person and ask if they had high blood pressure or diabetes then of course the next question would be if they took medication for either thing. As I chatted with people it was such a neat experience to share my challenges that I face with my health and I find myself being able to relate to them. I could talk with them about where they live and making better choices when they go to the grocery store and just encouraging them. By the end of the evening we had seen around 156 people and they had to turn away about 150 because after three and a half hours we just couldn’t do anymore and it was around 9:30pm.

The one thing I loved about last night was doing something completely out of my comfort level. I enjoyed serving with my home church as well as serving people outside of the townships where Living Hope does ministry.

What a wonderful opportunity to be able to spend some time with the team and see them experience things in my home here!! 🙂