Those that know me well know that I first felt called to be a missionary as a young child. My 1st/2nd grade Sunday School teacher would tell us stories of missionaries, and I was able to identify with one missionary in particular: Amy Carmichael. Amy looked different than her siblings; while they were all blond hair and blue eyed, Amy had brown hair and brown eyes. Amy was teased for being different, and would pray to God for Him to change her hair and eye color. When Amy grew up she became a missionary to India, and because she had dark eyes and hair, she was able to blend in with that culture and wasn’t considered a foreigner at first glance. Amy went on to open an orphanage in India, and stayed there for 55 years. I have always admired her, and her story.
I have 2 sisters- they are both blond hair and have blue/green eyes. I am the only one with dark hair and dark eyes. After hearing Amy’s story I often wondered to myself if God made me different because he had a plan for me as well. He did; he does. This year marks 10 years since I first went abroad to serve God as a missionary- and I have lived on the mission field for 7 years. Isaac and I recently visited several churches, both in Costa Rica and in the US, to speak about missions, share our journey, and tell our story.
A friend emailed me the other day to show me what the kids had made in their Sunday School class:
I was overwhelmed when I saw the craft the kids had made. They are praying for us. They are retelling our stories. It is humbling. It is honoring. It makes me remember when I was young and looked up to the missionary I had only heard stories of, and imagine how God is using our stories to move the hearts of kids in the next generation to go & tell the world about Him.
Each week in our Bible school we study a new book of the Bible. A scholar comes in to teach on the historical period of when the book was written, and puts many things into context. Last week we studied the Gospel of John and this week we studied Acts. In doing this Bible school I’m realizing (and regretting) that I’ve actually never studied God’s word. I’ve read it, I’ve done topical studies, I’ve studied to prepare to teach and preach- but never studied God’s word for the sake of knowing God & his word more. To those who are like me, and don’t have a habit of studying the Word- I highly encourage it. For those who have questions- you will find answers. As part of our assignments, we have to creatively proclaim the message of each book at the end of the week. After reading John, this is what I made to help me proclaim:
The Gospel of John was written “so that you many believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31). After studying the true account of the life of Jesus, the true account of the disciples as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses, and seeing the persecution they endured for spreading this true message, I am inspired, encouraged, and ready to continue with our mission of making disciples in Johannesburg. (and we still have 2 months left here!) After having studied these 2 books, I feel alive. Alive in my soul, alive in my spirit, more alive to the things of God.
Here in South Africa, when it comes to driving, we feel like we are in another world. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car, and they drive on the opposite side of the road than what we do back home. YWAM Worcester has several cars that they rent out to those who are part of the community. Isaac & I both took a driving test this past week to get approved to drive here. We passed…. barely!
When we got in the car, both of us reached up to the left to put our seat belts on- but even that has changed! When we went to put on the turn signal, the wipers started- because that’s on the other side too! I made a left turn into the wrong lane (thank God that Worcester is a small town with very little traffic), and had a hard time not driving up onto the curve. I can’t believe how much brain power it takes to drive! We both took the test with a stick-shift car (which was yet another challenge- changing gears with the left hand instead of the right!), and we were approved to drive automatic cars only within Worcester. The (brave) guy who was grading us said that we first need to get used to the opposite side before we learn to switch gears with our left hand. After we’ve driving 50km in town, we can re-take the test to get further approved, and go to farther away places, such as Cape Town.
Although I really have no desire to drive here, it’s good that I practice in a town like Worcester, before getting our own car and learning in a big city like Johannesburg!
We have now been in Worcester, South Africa for a week!
Let me tell you about life here.
How is the weather? Cold. And I’m not just saying that as a person who has lived in the tropics for the past 6 years- others agree- it’s cold! At night it gets as low as 30F & in the day only up to 60F. We are surrounded by mountains, and you can still see the snow on the tips of the mountains.
What’s the food like? The food is much better than we had expected! We’ve had a variety of food- lasagna, chicken salad, vegetables, salad, stew, bread, etc. September 24 was a national holiday where everyone grills traditional food. They call it a Braai.
What are the people like? There are people from, literally, all over the world. Pakistan, India, South Korea, Poland, USA, El Salvador, Uganda, Holland, Brazil, Madagascar, Zambia, etc. I could go on and on listing nations. On Monday morning in the base worship time they asked people to come up to the front if their native language was a language other than English. Then, they were asked to say “Praise the name of Jesus,” in the native tongue. There were over 40 different languages represented! It was really cool listening to the same phrase being repeated in different sounds, clicks, and tones. Everyone is here for the same purposes- to be trained, to train others, or to serve in a ministry. Like the YWAM base in Costa Rica, we find it easy to connect with others because we have similar goals in life with those around us.
Where are you living? We are living on the missionary compound, also known as the YWAM base. Our accommodations are very similar to college dorms. There is a building with one hallway and 10 rooms. There are 2 showers and 2 bathrooms at the end of the hall to be shared by the residents. Isaac and I live in a room that has a bed, closet, table, and night stand. We have done our best to make it “home” for the next 3 months- decorating it with pictures & putting up things from back home.
What are you doing there? Isaac and I are part of a 3 month Bible training called the Bible Core Course. It is an intense school where we will read the entire Bible and study it using the inductive method. For each of the 12 weeks we are here we will focus on a different section of the Bible (ex. Kings, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, Letters, Gospels) and teachers will come in to help us understand the original context, meaning, and purpose for why each book was written.
Do you like it so far? Yes! We enjoy the people we are with, we have made our little room home, we are eating well, Isaac is playing on a soccer team- but most importantly we are both learning more about God than we’ve ever learned. We are studying the scriptures in a way that gives us the truth behind why they were written, and allows us to understand the character and nature of God at an even deeper level. We are grateful to be where we are, and really look forward to the growth & understanding the next 11 weeks have for us!
We arrived in Worcester (near Cape Town) on Saturday afternoon after 4 flights, 3 continents, and 44 hours of travel. Our 4 bags arrived with us, and everything that we packed was still in them! Thank you to all who prayed for us, and for our luggage. We toured the campus of where we will spend the next 3 months, which is a YWAM missionary compound in the middle of the mountains. It really is beautiful. Today we began the Bible school- and already from day one, we know that this will be a season of growth for both of us!
Welcome to our new blog/website!
Right now we are on a road-trip through the USA & will not be posting anything new. We’ll start regularly updating our blog starting the end of September, after our big move to South Africa!