Much to Celebrate

Simple celebrations

We added some structure to the
routine in the house for the girls so that Mondays and Wednesdays are bible
study days, Tuesdays/Thursdays are skill building days, and Fridays are
activity days.  The purpose of these activities
are to create better unity and community among the girls themselves along with
Titi and Gogo, the house sister/mother.  It has
been extremely successful so far and is something to celebrate!  As a large group of volunteers, we have split
into two smaller groups to create more intimacy during the lessons.  Our group started the first Bible study by
tying in the song, “Open the Eyes of my Heart, Lord,” which is a song they know
and love singing.  We decided to read the
story of Blind Bartimaeus and how Jesus asked him plainly, “What do you want me
to do for you?”  And he responded,
“Master, I want to see.”  The use of the
word Lord, translated Master is significant as it shows his humble and already
faithful relationship with Jesus.  We had
great discussions, thanks to the translations from Titi, during the lesson and
the girls really started to understand the words of the song “Open the eyes of
my heart.”  In fact, the following Sunday
as I sat next to Tenele at church, I heard her pray that the Lord would
continue to “open the eyes” of her “heart and mind.” (more on that Sunday service later…)
On Tuesday and Thursday we
continued teaching the girls how to make small hand purses, using the materials
and skill building my mom left behind for us all.  The girls take so much pride in their work,
even Gogo!  They adore the products and
one girl in particular, Nonhlanhla, has made bracelet after bracelet after
bracelet, and she beams with the spirit of joy and hope.  You can’t look at her without smiling, and it’s incredible to have the opportunity to live alongside of girls like her, who have a depressing past but don’t let that affect their joy in the present.  

Friday was Ayanda’s birthday, so
we had the men on our team build us a braai stand and make a fire so we could cook.  Titi seasoned and flavored the meat and
Garret, Andy, and Kayla all helped cook it, and the girls engulfed it.  In fact, they liked it so much that they started singing about the meat and how much they like eating meat!  Now that’s something I don’t encounter back in the States. After our yummy dinner, we had a dance party, of course!  We all took turns dancing, and when it came to Chris’ turn, he busted out some hip robot moves and wowed the crowd.  Ayanda’s mouth dropped as her eyes popped and she gasped, “Wow! I wish to do like that!”  After dancing we wound down with nothing other than the movie Pitch Perfect!  Ayanda whispered, “This was the best birthday ever!”

As we wrapped up the weekend, we all went to Living Waters Church, the church that Ayanda always attended with Christina.  The service was “Kids Church” so they had all the children leading the prayers, worship, and even the preaching!  I was full of awe watching them because this is a culture that puts children last, especially young girls, so the girls really were inspired by hearing a girl a little older than them up in the front preaching.  At the end of the service, the pastor started praying and Tenele whispered her own prayers outloud.  As she prayed, I thought, “Oh, it’d be so nice to know what she’s actually praying.”  A few seconds later she started praying in English!  It was incredible listening to her ask the Lord to open her eyes and fill her heart.  She thanked God for changing her life, she asked God to bless me, bless my mother and my family, and then asked God to help change the lives of her friends as well. Tears of joy started streaming down my already smiling cheeks.  

On this trip so far, there has been so much to celebrate.  I got to celebrate Ayanda’s birthday with her and get to celebrate Tenele’s new birth of hope, faith, and love. We get to celebrate the opening of Hope for Life home and get to celebrate what it means to live as a body of Christ with my teammates.  I get to celebrate all the answered prayers from years before.  Join me in praising God for all the reasons He gives us to celebrate life and celebrate hope!

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” -Nehemiah 8:10

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