Sunday, December 25

Hello from Cape Town, South Africa!!

I may not always have a computer to email from, and as of yet we have had no phone to use, but I wanted to let you all know how things were going here for our team in Cape Town.

I made it to South Africa safely. Our team had an amazing flight. British Airways totally rocks!! They had the best flight attendants I have ever had. I watched a lot of movies and slept a lot on our total of 20 hours on the way here.

We stopped at Heathrow airport in London for about six hours, so we did not go into the city. We hope to have a long delay on the way home so that we can get a chance to actually go into London, as most of us have never been there.

We arrived at our first location tired, but ready to tackle jet lag head on. Our contact's family had our whole team over to their house for South African pizza and Mango juice. (The food here is healthy and amazing!)

Our second day was spent in an orphanage doing skits, dances and puppets. I love kids!! These kids loved us so much. We were able to spend a lot of time with them afterward playing soccer and getting our hair done. Those girls know how to braid, that's for sure. Erin has long hair and they had it in braids in like 45 minutes.

One girl latched onto me and actually walked, holding my hand back to our van. I sat by the window and she held my hand until we drove away. She just stood outside the van, smiling at me and gripping my hand. She stole my heart away.

On Christmas Eve, we went to a children's hospital to hand out presents. It was so exciting to hold kids who do not get a whole lot of physical touch. One little boy grabbed onto my hand and didn't want to let go until I picked him up. I held him for a long time, stroking his hair and praying for him. He fell asleep in my arms.

The hospital we went to was a state hospital where one room may have 8 or 10 cribs in it. I was so overwhelmed by this as it is something I have only seen before in movies. I can't believe people actually live like that. It was so shocking. I could tell that those kids don't get held enough to suit their needs, although I am sure the sisters (nurses) do the best they can to love on and take care of the children.

I was able to spend time talking to a woman whose baby was in the ward we visited about America and the process I had just went through to be able to visit here and work with poor in her country. When I told her the story of how God provided a way for me to get here, she asked me if God could provide a way for her to get to America. I was so excited to tell her yes, that God is a big God and he can do anything. I gave her my address so she could write to me.

Today, we went into the first township in the history of Cape Town. Townships during apartheid legally separated the blacks from the whites. It only ended a few years ago, while in America our separation of race ended about 40 years ago. Townships are like a whole other country in my opinion. It was different than anything I have ever seen. And way different than the white home we visited the day we arrived.

I have never seen such extreme poverty and sub-standard living conditions. You cannot even imagine what I saw today. My heart breaks for these people, but at the same time I learned a lot from them. Their sense of community is such an example to me. They take care of each other like nothing I have ever seen in any "white world." Older siblings care for the younger like a privilege and women love and hug on each other, sharing food and cloth to make goods. Township folk find amazing ways to make ends meet.

I experienced a love and acceptance like I have never received from strangers.

God is definitely shifting my paradigm, and while at times it is overwhelmingly hard, I welcome the change because I know that I need it.

Some of the things I have seen have only been shown to me via television until now.

Please pray for me in that. What we are going to see as time goes on is going to shake me up a bit, and I need God's guidance to keep me balanced.

Please pray for our team safety and unity as we keep pushing on through our schedule. It's hard to be patient with each other when we are tired. But, amazingly, we have come through unscathed thus far.

My love to all of you! I must go. Thank for reading this and thank you for all of your financial support and prayers. Through you, God has provided a way for me to be used to make a difference.

Blessings in the name of our lord Jesus Christ,

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