I wasn’t exactly sure how to start the sharing of my trip.  I’m still trying to put all of the words together to truly describe the experience.  I thought, maybe I’ll share my journal and include some photos.  Or, maybe I’ll start with Day 1 and go from there.  I’m not sure that I will ever be able to emulate the feelings we experienced, shared, or felt while we were there…lots of highs and lots of lows.  However, I do know that I came back with a better understanding of the African people and why so many of them are in the positions that they are in.  I also came back with a clearer picture of why we are called to help those in need, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” -Mark 16:15  This is the only thing that many of them have to hold onto…knowing that they are loved deeply and that God does have a plan for them.  I believe that many of the teens and kids we worked with understood this better than many of us ever will. 

So, I decided to share what came to my mind first.  And, it is the story of two boys that have been orphaned for quite some time.  Their names are Milton, 16, and Andres, 13.  Their mother passed away a number of years ago.  Soon after, their older sister left them leaving the two of them to care for themselves.  This happened in 2008.  For 7 years, they have been living without a parent.  I’ll let you subtract the years they started living this life.  Thankfully, the nurses at Horizon International found out about them and started investigating.  This information surfaced during our time there which gave us opportunity.

We were able to visit with them for a bit.  Just thinking about them brings tears to my eyes.  Yet, I find comfort knowing that they have been found, they now have sponsors, they are receiving food, Horizon International is using donations to build them a new home…hope has been given, all because they were found.
The photos above and below is their home.  It was evident that they took a lot of pride in what they did have.  They had a lock to protect them, they had picked up all of their clothes, and stacked their dishes.  Yet, still…they had nothing.  They had a single candle to light their single roomed shack, they had a metal roof that still brought water in during the storms.  As you can see, there was a lot of light that came in…doesn’t offer much in regards to protection. 

Then, there was the photo of the plant (below) that hit home for me: even though we look at these photos and think they didn’t have much of a life, the plant shows that they still believed they did. Amazing…

We sang and prayed with them before we left.  In the midst of it all, they found joy.  Joy that we will never know.  Joy in knowing that they have been found.  Joy knowing that they now have hope.  Joy knowing that God used his people to show them He cares and that He loves them so very much. Joy, unspeakable-joy…

I will be sharing more about my journey in the coming weeks.  I am slowly coming back to reality and have many things to share with you on the home-front…including Candice & Adrian’s wedding, several precious new babes and sweet Zahra. I will continue to share more about South Africa in between…so much to share.  Thanks to so many of you for lifting me up in your thoughts and prayers.  Our team was able to witness many times where those prayers meant the world.  Thank you…

Gail -
This post brought tears to my eyes Mel. How amazing for you to get to experience this. I think one thing I always think when I see images of an African missions trip like this is exactly what you thought -- which is how can a people who have been so deprived in so many ways have the biggest smiles and, maybe, more hope than all of us? It's incredible.
amy Hineman -
oh mel - tears are flowing down my checks as i take in & reflect on this post & think of my own little ones! what an amazing opportunity. i can not even begin to imagine how intense the highs & lows you described were & how emotional this journey had to be. I am so glad you were able to be a part of this & thank you for reminding me that sometimes the "joy" in helping others is what we walk away with it. :) miss you friend!
absolutely incredible, what an amazing experience. can't wait to hear and see more...
Speechless...what else can I say? Cannot wait to hear about your trip in person.

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