Monday, May 2, 2011

SO Blessed, Although Growing Weary...

May 1, 2011


Today was the LAST day at BI!

I woke up at 8:00… I couldn’t sleep in!

I took the opportunity to finish 2 Samuel. It was kind of depressing. But it really opened my eyes to this statement:

God is as merciful as He is strong.

Which is awe-some.

Today was a hard day for me.

I think a million emotions are just bubbling inside of me, looking for the right time to burst. Actually… bubbles are not the right sentiment here. More like a VOLCANO.

I had a really hard time today with insecurities and other fun shtuff in the same category. Bleh.

We went to our lovely home stay at 11:00 for a last lunch. It was quite nice.

When we left at 4:00 PM and boarded the bus to return to BI, I had a flashback to four months ago. It was 4:00 AM. My family waved out the window and I sat on the left side of the bus, nearest the aisle. I was about three or four rows back. The exact same thing happened today. The only differences: It was 4:00 PM, not AM, and I was waving goodbye to a different family.

This made me miss mine horrifically.

And THAT made me mad. Because now I am wishing to be home, and not appreciating being here in Africa. I LOVE AFRICA! I honestly do!!!

But I feel like this WHOLE four months, I have been FIGHTING. I have been fighting to gain confidence. I have been fighting to grow closer to God. I have been fighting to learn about who I am. And these are AMAZING THINGS! I am SO glad to have endeavored into these lessons!

But I have grown weary. I am tired of fighting. I am ready to go to a place where people know me completely and love me for who I am. I am ready to see those beautiful faces belonging to my family. I feel like it’s time.

But, it’s not. Because I am BLESSED enough to have an extra week. And I want to be excited for that! I’m sure I will be! But it’s kind of hard right now, with everyone talking about seeing their family in a few days!!!

And… It’s going to be sad to not spend my birthday with my loves…(Speaking of. I have 8 days to do something wild and crazy and not get seriously punished! WOOOO!! What to do, what to do…)

We have officially arrived at the Lady Hamilton.

The people in my house got in trouble for something that I wasn’t apart of… and it turned out to be no big deal, but it was a fright!

We went to dinner at the Bazaar. I love it there! I feel like I’m traveling just by eating there! J

Then, surprise surprise, Karissa and I had a life-changing conversation and a kick-butt prayer session. I LOVE THESE TIMES!!!

Karissa told me that I have a God-given gift of conversation. That I know EXACTLY the right questions to ask about what God has been working on in their hearts. And God prepares them for me, so they feel safe sharing.

I have always enjoyed deep conversation. But I had kind of never put two and two together that it was God-given. I LOVE IT!!! So blessed.

Sigh. I am hanging in. But I want to be doing more than that.

Prayer, prayer, prayer PLEASE.

Love to you.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Time For Change

April 30, 2011

Hello world!

Today’s verse:

“I was filled with DELIGHT day after day REJOICING ALWAYS in His presence in His WHOLE WORLD and DELIGHTING in MANKIND.” –Proverbs 8:30-31.

I love this. I wish to spend every day of my life DELIGHTING in the Lord, REJOICING that I am allowed to be in His presence. And I DO get to REJOICE in His WHOLE WORLD—or at least Africa, and this is also a great reminder to delight in the people God has made. They are created in His image. And I want to delight in them as well.

This morning at the B&B was delightful. Not going to lie. I kind of wish I had been there this week… Sigh. But that’s ok. God taught me a lot this week in the house. So, all in all, positive.

We were playing with hair this morning. And I have ridiculously long bangs. They are way past my chin. Debs said, “Hey, Ren, do you want me to cut those for you?” I thought about if for like a second.
SO we hunted down scissors, and Debs gave me some bangs! I love them! She did a quite excellent job.

Then Morgan, Shayna, Debs, Melinda, YoYo and I were off to Muzinberg! We stopped on the way to have a photo shoot by the magical orange wall. The whole day was filled with pictures! Then we took the train exactly two stops to Muszinberg. It is a beautiful beach with a boardwalk. It was pretty empty. But it was lovely. Such a great chill day.

When we returned, I had an awesome talk with Shayna. I love you, girl! I’ll always be here for you J

Then I undertook the challenge of PACKING and trying to decide what I can donate and what I need for my last 14 days in Africa. I did pretty well, if I do say so myself!

For dinner, I didn’t really have anything. So I stole some tuna from Shelli and bread from Debs and made a tuna melt with some cheese I had and the Panini machine in the kitchen! It was awesome.

Then just some chilling while everyone came over.

You guys. It feels kind of weird to still be here. I am done with classes. I am not donating my time at Ethembeni. I am just not contributing. Which is… awkward. (Have you ever noticed that “awkward” is spelled awkwardly?)

It’s definitely time for change. I am glad to move to the hotel tomorrow night.

Tomorrow, Debs and I are having lunch with the Georges! Hooray!! That should be lovely.

I don’t want to want to go. But maybe I am just ready for the change. Is that so bad?

I have to keep reminding myself that God IS my HOME.

If you guys could pray that I remain present here, that would be great. I really want to be content where I am. But that is quite difficult when everyone around me is dying of homesickness and restlessness. Not EVERYONE. But it’s definitely a major theme.

I keep reminding myself that this extra week is an AWESOME idea!! I will be SO GRATEFUL for it!

But right now… all I can think of is my family. And friends. And home. But… I’ve got that one here with me J

Prayers appreciated.

Graduation Day!

April 29, 2011

Today. Was a monumental day.

Because today.

I had my LAST CLASS of freshman year.



Everyone here loves calling me “Freshman,” and rubbing it in my face. But now! No longer!!! I am FREE from mockery! Free from degradation!!! (It was all joking, of course. But still.) The world has to come up with more intellectual verbal sparring now! AHA!!!

Had lunch with Janet, Noelle, and Debs. Woot woot!

Then, a million of us watched GILMORE GIRLS in the lounge!!! My favorite thing of my LIFE!!! YESSSSS.  

Then… I went out to the lawn and read my Bible on the lawn. It was kind of depressing because I got to the part where Tamar was raped and David had an affair with Bathsheba… SO sad.

But. My sadness wouldn’t last for long! Debs and I piled into the stuffed Quantum and headed to the B&B for a sleepover!!! It was SO fun!!!! I got to spend a lot of time with Morgan, Shayna, Melinda, and YoYo. We had a wonderful time J

We watched A Walk to Remember. I have to admit that I cried. THIS is why I want to be an actress. I want to give people a chance to cry all of those tears for other things in life that they couldn’t cry before. Does that make sense? I wasn’t really crying for Jamie. Oh no. I was crying for many elements of my African learning’s and life, etc.

Then Shayna and I hung out with Olivia in the hall for some tears. Oh yeah. We’ve reached emotional instability in the South Africa Semester.

Then Shayna let me snuggle with her, and I had a wonderful sleep.

Injustice and Chats, etc.

April 28, 2011

What a day.

It’s been a good one.

But it’s had a lot of emotional roller coasters.

We woke up bright and early- 6:15, to be exact, to go to Robben Island.

I got to sit with Mackenzie on the way there, which was positive. He reminds me so much of Tommy! I MISS YOU, BROTHER!!!

On the ferry ride over to the island, I sat with Kelly, Heather, Zach, Ally, and Shanyna. Super fun, dude.

Then when we were on the island, I got to hang out with Kelly for a bit. She is so great.

Alright, Robben Island:
Robben Island’s main purpose was to hold political prisoners during apartheid. Not just political prisoners, however—they had to be black males. Black guards were removed from their positions when Robben Island was turned into a political prison, to be sure the prisoners wouldn’t gain grace or support from their fellow blacks.

What really hit me about Robben Island was how recently it was in use for imprisoning innocent freedom seekers. When I think about “injustice,” I think of America’s 1776! (Mostly because there’s a musical about it.) That is quite a while ago. But apartheid was literally during my lifetime. It was ended in 1994! That is so ridiculous! I am embarrassed for white people. I have to wonder at the creator of apartheid. How on earth did he think it would be a good idea to discriminate people based on what they looked like? How does that even make sense? WHO said that whites were supposed to be supreme over the indigenous people of this land? The more I learn about apartheid, the more imbecilic it seems! I can barely stand it. It also makes me think that the government must have done a fantastic job of hiding what was really going on!

They disguised apartheid with the term, “Good Neighbors.” Are you serious!? What is GOOD about apartheid?! Literally, it sucked in ALL areas, because besides people’s rights being completely taken away and losing family, which is bad enough already, it caused violence on both sides and just about killed the economy. WHERE are the positives?! I just don’t understand.

After the tour, I was able to talk to the tour guide. He was a former prisoner. I was so curious as to why he worked on the island and how he felt about it. I certainly would have no interest in being in the place where I was held captive! He explained that when he was offered the job, he had no source of income. He took the position reluctantly. At first, it was exceedingly difficult for him. But as time went on, he became grateful for his job because it helped him heal. He also felt proud that he was conveying the truth about the jail, and not some cleaned up version of the truth.

On the way back to the mainland, I got to have an awesome talk with Allie. She’s great. Then, I had a super positive lunch with Morgan and Wailana.

Before getting on the bus, a man came up to Janet and me and asked for the time. His accent suggested of Afrikaans. We told him the time.
“You are American?” He asked.
“No, I’m South African, and she is American,” says Janet.
“And you are from Cape Town?” Janet asked him.
“NO, actually,” says the dude… now with a FRENCH ACCENT! “I am from France! But now, I have perfected the Afrikaans accent!”
Oh my lanta. I was so excited. That is TOTALLY something I DO.
“You’re French? Je parle le Francais! En petit peu!”
Then he rambled in French.
I gave him my oh so winning “WHAT?!” face.
“You should go to France and learn French,” he tells me.
“Or,” I said in my French accent, “I could just talk like this!”
“Zat ees not bad! You would do very well in France!”
“Merci!” And off we were. It was fun.

On the bus, I had a God-moment with Karissa. Seriously, a God thing. Karissa and I hung out a bit more after we got back.

Then it was time to hang out with Janet! She bought me a mocha and we had a very therapeutic talk staring at the gorgeous ocean. I swear, there is no place more beautiful. AMAZING.

Hung out for Heather a bit.

Then I got dinner with Yolanda! Super positive!

And to finish my lovely day, Debs and I watched “Waiting for Guffman.” Debatably, it’s the best movie of all time J

It was all topped off by a very good night’s sleep.

Stairway to Heaven

April 27, 2011

SO last night, Debs and I had the most amazing talk ever. And it lasted until three in the morning. It was TOTALLY worth it, but it made for a tired day!

In class, we watched “Amandla!” A documentary about the role of music in apartheid. It was fascinating.

I think one of my favorite aspects of South African culture is the music. I love it, love it, love it.

The weather was fair enough today for us to hike Table Mountain! WOOO!!!

It was QUITE daunting. Ahem. It looked JUST like the “Cliffs of INSANITY!!!” (from my all-time favorite movie…)

I hiked with Janet and Lauren. We were in the back, taking it slow and steady so we could really enjoy the beauty on the way up.

It was quite the bugger of a hike though—SO STEEP!!! We hiked for about 3 ½ hours non-stop, STRAIGHT UP. WHEW!!!! SO intense.

And this was the first serious exercise I’ve had since my lovely waterfall hurrah, so… let’s just say I was winded. And my ankle isn’t currently feeling too hot. But that’s totally cool. I’m so happy I got to climb at all!

The beauty was so exquisite, it was hard for me to believe it was real. I kept thinking it was a film set! Hmm… that tells you that I spend a whole lot of my time in nature, hey? NOT. But I am looking forward to some more nature this summer! Woot, woot!

To entertain us on the way up, I shared the story of “Hind’s feet on high places.” I thought it was fitting, considering we were climbing a VERY high place.

And I definitely took advantage of the cavernous echo-y quality and sang,

I lift my eyes up
To the mountain
Where does my help
Come from?
My help comes from you
Maker of Heaven
Creator of the earth
Oh how I need you, Lord!
You’re my only hope
You’re my only prayer!
So I will wait for you
To come and rescue me
Come and give me life!
I lift my eyes up
To the mountain
Where does my help
Come from?

Aaand my current personal favorite…

Up to the mountain
I went up to the mountain
Because you asked me to
Looked over the clouds
To where the sky was blue
I could see all around me
I could see all around me
Sometimes I feel like
I’ve never been nothing but tired
And I’ll be working
‘Til the day I expire
Sometimes I just lay down
Lord, no more can I do
But then I go on again
Because you asked me to
Some days I look down
Afraid, afraid I will fall!
And though the sun shines
I see nothing
Coming and going
Lord telling me softly
You love me so

Love that song.

Lauren and Janet and I definitely had bonding!!!!!

Every SINGLE time we passed someone coming down, they would give us a time estimate. The trouble was, every estimate varied GREATLY.

“10 minutes!”
“An hour and a half!”
“20 minutes!”

By the 10th person, I was annoyed. WHY did this annoy me? I don’t know. Haha.

When we were nearing the top, struggling for every step, for every breath, and my ankle was throbbing, and Lauren was having trouble with the big steps (she is not the tallest of the tall… J), and Janet was encouraging us, Lauren says, “It’s just like the stairway to heaven!”

I laughed so hard.

Because it WAS!!!! There was an angelic mist that was encircling the top of the mountain! We were suddenly the only ones up there! How did THAT happen?! There was a rock formation that looked like a throne!!!!

“Jesus?!” I called.

Here I am.

Yep. There He was. His beauty just about knocked me over.

SO worth it!!!!

But it was ffrreeezzzing!! What I would have given for a pair of gloves!!!

Then we went to the lovely Table Top of the Mountain Café. Pizza! Woohoo! I got to hang out with Janet for a bit, which was awesome. We have a date for tomorrow J

For the way down, we took the cable car! My ankle couldn’t deal with down hill! No, siree!

The cable car was AWESOME! It had completely windowed walls, so you could see out, and the floor ROTATED so you got to see all aspects of the mountain as we came down. It was legit.

On the bus ride home, I had a God-ordained chat with Miranda. SO beautiful.

Jessie and Amanda and I went to dinner at Tribecca’s. SO fun!!!

The rest of the night was spent KILLING my paper! That’s right! I’m DONE!!!! WOOOO!!!!!!

I can’t believe we have so little time left. It’s weird. But it feels about right. It’s going to be ok. I’m ready for new journeys and adventures. 

It Is Well With My Soul

April 26, 2011

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Went my alarm clock at 6:45 AM.
There are few things I hate worse than alarms. But one of those things I hate more than alarms in general is MY alarm. Because you have to hit it multiple times for it to STOP BEEPING. And then. It was dark. Ohh. Waking up in the dark is just not positive. Aaaand it was raining. So it was freezing. And then there was no Internet!!! SO I couldn’t Skype Jenn!!!! AH. My soul. SO SAD. NOT ok, man. NOT ok. And then it was awful because I couldn’t even contact her to tell her I couldn’t skype! The agony.

Eventually, I gave up, and went back to sleep.

I don’t really know how to describe this day. I feel as though it was one of those days when I was caught up in living. Too caught up in it to really realize what was going on…

Last night, I prayed that God would help me to really BE HERE! “Number my days aright” was the actual phrase. I also prayed that He would allow me to spend my time with awesome people that would fill me up, as opposed to weigh me down with negativity. (Not that that happens here, OF COURSE)

So today, I was super blessed in conversation. I got an AWESOME time with Debs and Morgan. God really outdid himself on that one J Then I got to hang out with Tyler. Which is always fantastic.

The Internet is still too lame to do research for my paper, which is frustrating. But I’m not worried. I have until Friday, so I’m bound to get some research in by then!

This morning I was reading 2 Samuel, where David decides to build a palace of cedar for the ark of God, as David was living in a palace of cedar and the ark of God was staying in a tent. But God appeared to Nathan the prophet and told him not to build the ark a palace. God does not dwell in a house! And He is not defined by where His ark stayed!

Ok. You guys. How stinking BLESSED are we that THIS is our God?! He let His servant David live in a palace, while His ark remained in a TENT. That is unlike any other ruler in the universe. That just shocks me.
God is bigger than any dwelling place.

Which is cool. Because I have seen a variety of dwelling places here. They have ranged from mansions, suburban houses, to shacks, and the street.

Let us not be defined by where we live. But what’s in our hearts, hey?

Is it weird that I ALWAYS discover Biblical parallels to life in South Africa? Is that bad?

Shelli has a 16 year old friend named Abby. Abby has a tumor in her back. Tonight Shelli asked us to pray for her, because she was going to find out tomorrow if the doctors wanted to continue treatment, or if her case was hopeless.

Shelli just found out that Abby had a stroke, and then seizures as implications.

WHY, GOD?! Has she not been through enough?! What about her family?! Why are you allowing this suffering Lord?

Then I come back to my room, and the song “It is well with my soul” is playing.

No, Lord. It is not well with my soul.

“Oh, my soul, praise the Lord.”

I don’t want to praise Him.

But in this moment I think I understood the true meaning of joy.

Being in this pain and crap is life. But choosing to see that God is bigger and has a plan. I don’t know if that helps at all. But for me it does. God is steering this ship. He knows the way home. 

Hit in the Face by Glory

April 25, 2011

Sharing a bathroom with 7 other girls is a great way to start the morning! Lots of super close love… or something like that.

This was a chapel/ class day.

I LOVE chapel days. So positive.

In worship, we sang beautiful songs that were such great reminders of what Jesus did for us:

Mighty to Save
Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a savior
The hope of nations

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as you find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Shine your light and
Let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory
Of the Risen King

We also sang “Holy is the Lord.” Not going to lie. That song has been SO OVERSUNG my entire life. So much so, that it never held much meaning for me, as I began to block it out.

Today, however, I decided to munch on the lyrics.
And… they’re pretty spectacular. I guess. :P

Holy is the Lord,
God Almighty!
The earth is filled with His glory.

I feel like I’ve never truly liked or understood the word “holy.” I immediately associate the word with “holy cow.” Which… you know… is definitely NOT what Chris Tomlin meant.

But when I truly stop and think about the word “holy,” I think of the word “sacred.” Sacred means too clean, too perfect, too magnanimous to be defiled by ordinary people like me.

Often, I have found that Christians don’t take their relationship with Christ very seriously. I wonder if that’s because we are encouraged, and BLESSED, to enter into a RELATIONSHIP with Christ. That’s the purpose of Christianity in its essence, and that’s how we grow and learn and become more like our Father. (That’s my opinion, anywho!)

I believe that we forget that our God is holy. He is sacred. We are not entitled to be in a relationship with Him. We are not worthy, or pure, or clean enough to consider ourselves as an equal in a relationship, of course.

I want us NEVER to forget that we must humble ourselves to be with Him! It is a PRIVELIGE, not a right. And that deserves respect.

I am reminded of this when I am face to face with His glory. Which is pretty much always, because the earth is filled with it.

It can be hard to notice in our busy lives in the same place.

But I’ve been so lucky to go somewhere new.

And His glory is hitting me in the face.

The rest of my day, I pretty much worked on my final paper. I am writing 6 pages on art used as a form of protest in South Africa. Besides a group project that is due tomorrow, I will be DONE with assignments for Quinton’s class as soon as I knock out this paper! Which… may be a while… because I am just NOT motivated. And… with the internet being what it is… let’s just say, I am predicting a bit of a process.

Got to hang out with Morgan for a bit! Super positive! We were going to have a dinner date, but, alas… she is staying at the Bed and Breakfast, NOT BI, so there were transportation issues. Sniff, sniff.

For dinner, Noelle made our house wannabe Mac ‘N Cheese! Which was AWESOME because I MISS IT!!!! I definitely expect to be eating that a lot next semester (AHEM, Roomies ;)

So, tonight, I leave you with this thought. I can’t take credit for it; I stole it from Mackenzie (he spoke in chapel this morning.)

Live a life as full of love as you can possibly muster, in the victory of Jesus Christ.
(Yep. That’s pretty much my life goal. J)
Peace out.