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God is bigger than our change

God is bigger than our change. 

It’s actually quite funny how much we underestimate god. How we take matters into our own hands, use our own strategies, ideas and strength to get things done. Relying on our own understanding and knowledge. 

Becoming the independent and self-sufficient individual the world so celebrates today thus creating a culture where we are trusting in ourselves rather than in God. 

Hazardously trudging our way through flooded  terrain passing by countless empty shacks and destructed businesses it’s easy to feel helpless. Imagine homes, buildings and whole communities destroyed in the “western world” they’d be out-roar, film crews, charities volunteering aid, relocation of homes and although no greater or less destruction the after help would be way more apparent. 

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Under the intense heat of the midday sun we see the beautiful people of Kenya getting about their day. We don’t see sorrow or misery but a sense of perseverance. We see children making boats out of old rubbish, making the most of the flooded dirt roads. Old men washing their hands utilising the availability of water weather it’s fresh or not and people just getting on with their day. It poses the question of what disaster so great do we allow to effect our day? You ran out of coffee, your showers leaking, your friends have cancelled plans. Do we dwell in self-pity or do we start making boats out of the rubbish in our lives? 

On the outskirts of the slum we’re greeted by a beggar, he bangs on our car and we pull over to talk with him knowing full well he wants money. Frail and unclean he leans in and tells us in his broken English how hungry he is, how poor and needy his situation is. At the end of a long day thoughts of us getting home as quick as possible, to shower off the sweat and dirt and have some down time could easily make what we do next go two ways. We could grab the coins in our wallet to put in his hand, drive home and enjoy the comforts of our apartment preventing us from actually engaging with this man. Alternatively we could undo our belts get out of the air-conned car and connect with this man, talk to him, pray for him and listen to him. Loving him with the sacrifice of time. 

Love is far bigger than our loose change. 

It requires time, effort, sacrifice and courage. 

It means with everyone we encounter we need to stop! We need to be patient. To be kind. To encourage, to listen and to make a difference. 

We believe that what we can do with a little god can use for a lot. 

It may be easier to throw out cash. Hey people may even prefer that. But I don’t believe in quick fixes. I’m in it for the long run. 

One thing that tourists and westerners have unfortunately been guilty of is giving money to the people out here thus creating a culture of begging rather than empowering the Kenyans. “Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.” 

Hand out you’re loose change to a beggar today and you’ve fed him for a day, teaching him that he is not powerful or strong enough to make his own money. Or love on a beggar, empower them, listen to them guide them and encourage them in finding work, connecting them to people who can teach them a trade or skill. 

We would just like to clarify (to those that may have wondered) that we don’t and would never leave anybody hungry. Each week we create food packages that we hand out to every needy person we meet. This is something we love to do, we pray over each bag we make and spend time writing a personal card so that everyone who receives not only only receives food for their body but food for their soul. 

We love Africa. And we are not here for those quick fixes. We are going in low, slow and loving people where they’re at. It may not look “big” to the world but again what we can do with the little we have God can do for a lot. We can’t underestimate his power and his will. We just have to be willing to follow and ultimately trust that he has got everyone we meet in his hand. He is way bigger than our change. 

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Sometimes plans change and that’s okay

Today marks 6 months from when I gave up my job, my house, my car, my friends and my family, my church, my country and my income and travelled the how-ever-many-miles it took to get to South Africa.

No way would could I have ever imagined back then that in 6 months time I would in fact NOT be in South Africa but in Kenya!

What I’ve learnt most is that sometimes plans don’t work out, sometimes even if you think you’re doing the right thing it might not be what you thought. What I really found the hardest struggle of all is that sadly thinking all Christians operate out of a place of love, regrettably my naivety gave me a nasty shock and my heart was wounded and hurt.

Is that to say that you can’t learn from hurt or wounds, no not at all. I learnt that although sometimes we should sometimes push through and persevere in times of trial and struggle, we also should be protecting ourselves and not allowing a “strong personal” or pride in saying “yep you know what this particular thing didn’t work out” to stop us from living a life filled with love and encouragement and trust.

Kenya was always in my heart and if you knew me well my initial plan was to go straight to Kenya and work on getting land and registration to open a school and children’s home. With kind and anxious people telling me it may not be the wisest idea to go to Kenya as a single young white female I finally caved in and decided to go to volunteer in a South African orphanage for a year. This would give me a chance to learn the logistics, pick up tips and generally get a feel for a school/ children’s home combination. That I did, I completed my mission and although sadly I left sooner that I had said, I knew for my health and for the future children I would be helping that I needed to get out of the environment and live my dream in Kenya.

You may be thinking “but what happened to the advice people gave you about going alone?” Ahh well, during my time at the orphanage I met a missionary who was full of love and joy. I shared my vision with her and she shared one very similar. When the time came she had asked to come with me.

After driving, yes driving all the way from Johannesburg, South Africa to Mombasa, Kenya (blog to follow of that adventure) we arrived to a very sticky, hot and busy beach city.

Since we’ve found an apartment, got connected in a church and made a few friends.
It’s been a challenge, not knowing the culture, town and especially where to even begin helping the poor and needy.

Driving through rubbish dumps with children walking barefoot through the smelly and inhumane living conditions to beggars sweltering in 35 degree heat in the hope of any small donation.

My goal here is to create a school with a creative and new educational concept that is available for every child, not dependent on status, wealth, colour, race, intelligence or location. If we want to change the cycle of poverty and stop the cycle of the poor raising the poor then I believe education done through love is the answer.

I’m not talking about the western structure of how you and I have experienced education but a new structure, a structure built out of love to empower, to inspire, to build up, to encourage and to unlock the gold placed in each child. To work with the children, to include the community to cater as individual education based of the individuality of the child. We are all unique therefore should all have a unique education. We learn in different ways, different stages, different paces and need to be assessed in different ways and so as an educator it is my job, my passion to see that children aren’t put into a box based on the average, or statistics that governments create.

I know it’s not always possible and I am dreaming big but even if I only have 10 children in my school my dream will still count and I hope that those 10 children will know there worth, they will know they can do anything and know there strengths and how they learn best, they will not have been cast down, shamed or picked out in front of a class full of students but out of love they will be lifted up and geared up for whatever life throws at them.

This may appear to many of you “older folks” as raising up another generation of “millennials” but I say rather millennials than a generation growing up in rubbish dumps and slums again and again.

I want to change the way we see education. Not a place where we all sit down in chairs facing the teacher but teaching ourselves, learning to learn not through books necessarily but through experience through what is around us. I’m not saying I am coming in to put an end to the rubbish dump slums, no way, the next generation will do that. All I want to do is give them an opportunity, a chance and support.

I don’t want children who are orphaned to miss out and my vision for the children’s home I have I will share at a later date.

But for not I just wanted to share this with you and ask that you would stand with me in prayer and would love anybody who wants to to come out and see me once I’ve got the funds and land up and running.

Bless you all and watch this space.

 

 

 

 

Joy in all circumstances

Constant Joy.

Keeping our joy.

Living life through an everlasting, unconditional, constant and never failing JOY.

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I use to have days where I would either feel on top of the world and felt I could conquer the world and then have days where I felt hopeless, depressed and that the whole world was out to get me. These could literally be consecutive days. Monday I’d feel great, Tuesday I’d feel terrible, Wednesday I may feel great in the morning and then by the afternoon I’d feel rubbish.
I allowed circumstances, situations and what I was doing to determine my mood, my JOY or lack of it.
Having too much work to do, an extra bill to pay, rain when you have no brolly, having an argument with your friend, losing a pet. All these can affect your mood. I was in a constant battle that if something didn’t go exactly the way I wanted it to, I wasn’t happy. I allowed others people, situations and circumstances to effect wether I was happy or not. What a pressure on people who knew me and on whatever was going on that day. Sorry guys.

I was on a date with a boy (It didn’t quite work out) we were having a picnic at the top of a huge cliff face. I was taking a picture of the view with my week old Iphone 6. I put it down next to me for a second and in that second it slipped and fell the how ever many feet all the way down never to be seen again. I suddenly heard a voice in my head (God) you have two choices right now. I could either get really bummed and let it ruin the whole date and my day and week or I can just be like you know what yeh it’s annoying but I’m not going to let it get to me. I chose the later and as soon as I did I realised that “things” don’t have to affect us. It wasn’t like I was pretending I genuinely didn’t really care it didn’t make me sad, angry or made my day bad.

What I soon cane to discover is if you have an attitude of JOY, no matter what goes on or doesn’t go on you can be assured that nothing can make you sad or mad. You live out through an attitude of joy. Being content in any situation. You almost need to say to yourself right am I going to let this person or this situation affect my mood right now, am I going to let it steal my joy? As soon as you start to choose no i won’t let it steal my joy, and you continue doing this it becomes natural and a default in your thinking. Yes some things may be sad or be annoying but never get let it get so deep in your heart or mind that it steals your joy.
My phone breaking didn’t steal my joy, it didn’t make the date bad, I didn’t even give it a second thought afterwards. When we choose JOY, when we don’t allow the world to determine our mood or our happiness we can get through anything because we channel everything through our joyful nature we can filter things through this and somehow it doesn’t affect us so much.
We will carry a nature of contentness.

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This week has really tested me. First thing I wont expose too much to protect the girl in questions privacy. But in our volunteer communal shower something rather terrifying happened and nearly put our safety severely in jeproady.
The next day a huge forest fire overtook the neighbouring plot and myself and a few of the girls went to help put it out. Honestly never seen anything like it or been that close to a raging forest fire.

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(Obviously pictures weren’t taken at the height of the fire)

After a couple hours we were safe to leave and came and ate some left over food, we sat down to reflect until I head one of our little boys shouting HOLLY FIRE. At first I was like yes there was a fire but now we are resting until it clicked. The girls and I ran down and I’ve never been struck with so intense shock to see our property on fire. It was at the bottom of the grounds about 4 metres in. By the time we ran down there (like 30 seconds) it had grown to about 7 metres in. It was so scary. We were pounding it out with all our night. Coughing, crying and shouting out prayers. At one point the wind suddenly changed and the fire what felt like flew in our faces we ran back as it grew another metre and I screamed for the children to be evacuated. I was in survival mode. After what seemed like forever the main fire had finally started to go down due tonour fire beating.

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Our arms were aching, we were coughing and covered in ash and a with a few burns we could finally take our breath. Even after all that we didn’t all complain and cry and get frustrated with Mother Nature. We were so full of joy. Choosing not to linger in misery or fear of it starting up again or that our fences protecting the property were burnt down but choosing to be thankful for our lives and be happy that we were there, that the children spotted the second fire, that we had fire beaters on base and that God heard our screaming prayers in the midst of beating out the fire. Oh and also for my friend who drove us to get ice cream that evening as a “well done you put out a fire”  treat. When your day ends with ice cream how can you not be happy!!

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Obviously I don’t have pictures of when the fire was at its height as we were fighting for our lives and the lives of the children but here a few of the aftermath.

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Invention cookies, back scratches and name changes

Sorting out a school schedule when a lot of the missionary’s and kids have come down with a tummy bug and the education laws not being as red taped as the UK calls for CANCEL SCHOOL for the day. My initial first thoughts were “oww I was actually looking forward to teaching natural resources to the grade 7 Geography group” (no saracasm included I genuinely was) I think my grade 4 History class were thinking YAY 1 more day to do our homework (hmmm) so anyway a bunch of the kids had wanted to do some baking and seen as the two great bakers were amoung the sick it fell down to myself. Now I don’t bake, well I do, but not well, so instead we made invention cookies, I managed to make a basic dough (okay okay it was a packet of cookie mix) and then divided it amoungst the kids and I said you can put whatever you would like in your cookie as long as it was edible. They went crazy, some were chopping onions, others getting bread, crisps and one even sprinkled on left over rice.


We baked them and everyone was so excited and intrigued to try them.

(This face says it all)

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I was happy to leave them to it and cosied up with a coffee and my own invention cookie (a little peanut butter) while they all munched on their onion, tomato and rice infused cookies.

Lots of fun and surprisingly every last crumb was polished off.

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Monday nights are my night to put the boys to bed. I treasure this time as it’s such an important part of your childhood. Well it was mine anyway, being tucked up read a story, praying together and just giving them that nurture and quality time.
When I come in I always start with a breath check, what is it with boys and not wanting to brush their teeth, I mean I swear they actually spend more time pretending to bush their teeth whereas if they actually brushed them they would have longer to chill but hey. I always then do a story, but I let them make it up. I create the base but they are the ones who come up with the characters etc. I always have to try and swirve the story in some direction as it tends to always end in snot, poop or being eaten by a snake. Not the nicest end to the day lol. I then spend time tucking each of them in individually and they ALL want a back scratch, it’s sweet how even the 11 year olds want this and I genuinely feel privileged that I get to do this and be part of their lives and upbringing. We then pray and it’s so humbling how they always choose to pray for one of their brothers or sisters someone worse off in the world. I learn so much from them and no matter how hard up you feel or whatever you may be going through you are always better off than someone else there is always someone more sad, ill or poor than you. So again I would encourage you all the thankful in all circumstances.

(A few of the boys the next morning as didn’t want to take pics of them in their pjs)

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I so enjoy my time in one of the townships where I teach Mpho.

We have been working more on writing his name. This proves rather difficult as each time I have come and taught him the other village kids tell me a different version of how to spell his name. It has gone from “Mempo” to “Mpo” and is now “Mpho” with no disrespect if I go next week and they something different I will say tough and we are sticking with “Mpho” especially as he has basically mastered this version.

I am so proud of him and to see the other kids cheering him on is so incredible. When I first arrived Mpho was described as the “retard” of the slum so to see the other kids perspective of him change a little is so exciting.

(he really is my star)

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I love going to this township, the children are so excited, not because I’ve brought them food, or games to play but that they get to see their friend learn and have an education like everybody else.

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Again I learn so much from the kids here, the way they put others before themselves, encourage and protect one another.

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I write this while sat in the treehouse. I love living in community here, where every living second your surrounded by children, children knocking on your door, shouting out your name or clinging to you for sweets or just to hang out. So “hiding” is too strong a word but it’s 5pm and I have come up here to write this post otherwise weeks go by and I won’t have a second to write. But just as I write that a couple of the kids have come up asking where I’ve been, they are now leaning against me asking what I’m writing. I love that I get to do life with them, that I am constantly being hugged, tugged at and leant on.

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Raising children here is beautiful and I am so thankful for their beauty from the moment I wake up to tucking them into bed at night.

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Home is where YOU are

“Home owner” is a funny term. I mean people generally say there are a “home owner” when they own the building that their home is in.
But really once you’ve put your mark on a place and surround it with “you” then it’s already your home.

My nanny is one of those people that no matter where she is or how little she is staying somewhere she will unpack her case, put her jewlery stand on the shelf and set out all her toiletries in the bathroom cabinet. We once stayed somewhere less than 24 hours and she did this. The bed and breakfast soon went from being a hotel room to becoming my nannys room. I use to think this was unnecessary and loved the spontaneity of living out of a backpack or suitcase, but what it made me realise is that you can make anywhere home. And once you out your spin and a bit of you into it, that is your home, you own it. For that one night that bed and breakfast room was my nannys home, it brought her comfort and stability even while traveling.

It works the same with different seasons of our life. We may say that we are in a time of transition. Maybe you’ve finished one job and you start the next in a month. Or you are waiting for for a promotion, marriage, exam results or maybe something more personal. We could easily use this time to just “wait around” or we could own this time and make it ours, make it purposeful. . See this time as your “home” don’t just live out of the suitcase but unpack, put out all you want to do in that time, live everyday to its full, look for a purpose, be thankful for the each day you have what ever situation of part of life you are in. You should never just be waiting for the next thing, waiting for a promotion or when you’re going to have a baby or when you will go on your dream holiday. Unpack your suitcase right where you’re at right now. Settle and be at peace. Even if you are starting a new job next week. Don’t just wait around for it to happen. You have a whole week to live for. Don’t waste it in “waiting” unpack all the life you can live in that week.
Anyway don’t know quite how I got on to that as, this was meant to be a tour of my cabin.
A home for me isn’t a building a home is wherever YOU are. With whatever you have or whatever/ whoever your heart brings to it.

The thing I most treasure about my home is being able to open it and share it with other people, I love people coming to my home, inviting them for a cuppa, dinner or just a chat. No matter what my home actually looked like it was never too small or to flimsy to have people over. A few of these homes have consisted of a tent that was home for a month, a hostel room that was home when I was living in the refugee camp or my bed sit in the UK that was probably smaller than most of your bedrooms yet I hosted a party of 20 people.

So here is my cabin and the some of the people I love and am privileged to call family.

Flowers in an old jar with the two most essential items I use here

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My make shift washing line for when the storms come and my clothes don’t dry

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A place where people can just hang out

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Hanging outside my cabin with the holly special

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My cosy cabin

Warming by my pretend word burner stove in the cold storm and a pre schooler all kitted out for storm

So I would encourage you today to not wait around for things

live in the moment

unpack your bags

and make right now home

 

 

 

 

22 things I am thankful for today

Thankfulnesss is a tool I like to use in order to break off negative thoughts.

It’s a verb it’s something we need to do.

Thankfulness replaces negativity with positivity.

Our minds are so precious, delicate and just as we need to look after our physical body so we do our minds too. It is so easy in this world to get caught up, bogged down and to subconsciously feed our mind with negativity. Bad things happening in the news, price of gas going up, bitchiness, end of the toilet roll etc etc I’m not saying stop watching the news or get rid of your car because gas is too much but instead let’s compensate all of those things with positive thoughts. thankfulness can’t help but make you feel good. How can you be sad when you are filling your mind with all the things you are thankful for?

So what does that look like?

At first it may feel like a discipline, which it is in a way, it’s changing our mind set to not look at all the crap of the day but to look at those things that made us smile .

I started writing a list of 3 things I was thankful for each day (shout out to Phil Vaux) It was amazing at how things I may not have even given a second thought became something I was thankful for, like realising I still had a sip of tea in my mug when I thought it had finished. It’s so small yet when I am acknowlede it as something to be thankful for it shifts my thinking pattern to pick up on these small things. I mean lets be honest if we allow ourselves to get a little frustrated with something as small as someone walking slow in front of us, surely we can allow ourselves to instead be greatful for an extra sip of tea.

As I continued intentionally searching for things to be thankful for it became a crucial part of my day. It got to the point that I couldn’t keep to the limit of 3 and instead I would just list as many things I was thankful for that day as possible. Once you train your mind to focus on what you are thankful for it will automatically start to looking for them. Your mind will be filled with positivity that it doesn’t even have room for bad thoughts or negativity.

Now being thankful isn’t only relevant when it’s been your birthday or you’ve got a promotion (obviously there great things to be thankful for but they may not happen every day) I’m talking about the little things (and big things), someone making you a cuppa tea, a stranger smiling at you, you’re favourite song coming on radio, no red lights on the way to work etc etc it’s amazing how many things you can write or think of when you start to be intentional about filling your mind with goodness.

I now don’t necessarily write down what I am thankful for but consciously note and count my blessing when something positive happens. I choose to focus on that and not the couple of “bad” things that happen. It’s not to say we should pretend they don’t happen but don’t allow your mind to dwell on them.

Choose to find things to be thankful for today. I promise it will only make you feel happier. I would love to see yor lists from today so feel free to send them to me if you want to share.

Heres mine from the other day:

1. On my morning prayer walk 4 of the kids wanted to come and pray too
2. Being made pancakes by one of the boys.

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3. Being brought a cupcake the grade 1s made in class

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4. Power on so I can charge my phone to full power before the storms cut it out
5. Playing cowboys and fairies with the pre school

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7. Finally liking coffee (I’m a proper grown up now) and someone blessing me with a caffiterie
8. The tweens saving me a seat at lunch

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9. Resourceful handmade toys such as these

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10. The simplicity of love

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11. The endless possibility of coloured card

12. Meeting precious people who have been through so much yet still continue to smile and find joy in little things

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13. Sunshine hangouts

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14. Chip and soda dates with a couple of my faves

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15. Pre school worshiping Jesus

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16. Yorkshire tea
17. How it gets dark super early
18. Doing life with this bunch

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19. A door to my own cabin 😉
20. Snapchat filters

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21. Data and my phone so I can stay connected to family and friends

22. Yummy south African food

(fried sweet bread) called fat cakes I think?

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A day in the life of…

( a few people have asking what I do on a ‘normal’ day, everyday is so different but this is what I did yesterday)
When you have a weak bladder (and drink ALOT of water) setting an alarm is not necessary when you practically jump out of bed desperate for a wee as soon as you wake up. I grab tissue paper, slip on my flip flops and hobble (that’s what happens when you try and squeeze your big fluffy slipper socks into £1 Primark flip flops) to the toilet block. I throw on some clothes and walk around the perimeter of the compound with Harmony (not the holy aura) the Labrador puppy and Bengi, (again not a new man in my life) a little ball of white fluff. Starting my day walking allows me to gather my thoughts, set my self up for the day and enjoy the rarity of feeling like I’m the only one here.

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So ever days different but Im a creature of habbit so like to have some kind of routine in the mornings. I make porridge, tea and me and my book find a quiet spot to sit, sometimes in the treehouse, other times in the hall or outside. By this time usually 8am the heat is hitting down and I can hear the hustle and bustle of the kids getting ready for school.

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I walk down to Pre school, which for us in the UK is a mixture of reception aged and year 1, for not this is what I’m teaching but it changes all the time so I could be teaching abc’s one day and algebra the next to grade 9. I’ll never get over that feeling when you can hear the younger ones scream your name in delight as you enter, not gonna lie it is rather a booster. With normality demonstrated in something as simple as teaching lessons to 5 and 6 year olds, I find my mind sometimes forget what possible paths these children may have had, the lives they once had and that without footprints they wouldn’t be here, wearing decent clothes, eating fresh fruit for snack or being taught in a safe and loving environment.

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1.30 an old school English primary school bell is rang and everyone all piles in the hall for lunch.
Today it’s beans and ugali (pup)  and it’s a chance to catch up with the older children and other missionary’s. It’s easy to get into a habit of sitting in the same place, talking to the same people and it’s something that I got into the habit of back home. There is nothing wrong with that but for me it’s something I wanted to change. I try and sit with someone different, get to know them, encourage them, find out about their day. It’s so easy when your working, living with the same people to just let time pass by with just the odd hello, how are you. I wanted to be intentional about the time I put into people, to find out about their dreams and passions, to speak life into them and encourage them. It’s such a blessing as there are so many amazing people here and I am learning so much about life from each one of them.

Each afternoon differs but today before I go on outreach I have time to bake a few of the girls. I think I will start doing this a couple times a week with different kids. It’s a chance to spend some quality time with them and also eat some yummy treats. With so many children here it’s easy to not spend quality time with each one and get to know them as individuals and not just part of the bunch. I am loving this precious time.

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We then go on outreach, we head to a township (slum) this township is where a little SEN boy live and I have been going there to teach him. He has no birth certificateto get into school, and no one will help as they call him “mentally restarted” and don’t think he needs to go to school anyway.

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My heart went out to him immediately. This beautiful 9 year old boy, with the most breathtaking smile and sweet nature.

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Though this is only my third week, he sees our truck and comes running up to me eager to see what books I have brought and what other activities I’ve brought with me. Our lessons consist of us sitting in the dirt with a crowd of about 7 other children gathered around us like an audience. They are so happy for their friend to be having a lesson and respect his time immensely. Though progress is slow, seeing him happy and so eager and hungry to learn is just beautiful to see.

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At the end of our lesson I do a fun activity with the rest of the kids. Today we decorated gingerbread men cookies. They loves liking their spoons and when I brought the sprinkles out, I mean goodness, I could have brought out the crown Jeweles they were that in awe and excited. Saying goodbye to my very special little student is always hard. He asks me to take him with me every time and I have to use every ounce of self control not to. I mean don’t get me wrong I would but he does have a mother and although she is away she loves him and that’s where he needs to be.

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4.30 is prayer for anyone who would like to get together and pray. I love this. There is so much power in prayer and myself and a few other missionary’s get together on a big rock to pray. I love to pray for each of the kids here but also family and friends back home. Especially my dear colleagues I use to work with.

Today I’m on cooking duty. A lot of our food is donated so we are very blessed to eat good food. Myself and my friend heat up vergetavke stew and rice, the pots are so huge I use a sooon that you could almost mistake as a small boat awe. Serious muscles go into stiring, it’s like a pre dinner work out. We gather together 60 odd plates, ring the bell and the children come flooding in ready to be fed.

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I am (guilty as charged) a feeder, so feeding all the children and volunteers makes me a very happy holly indeed, even more so when they want seconds. I eat, then prepare for operation clean up. It’s rather a big job. But a lot of the missionary’s join in to help and working altogether and having a laugh at the same time makes it actually quite fun.

The kids all go to their dorms ready to chill out and tonight we have nothing on (sometimes we have family night, worship, staff meeting etc) so myself and a few of the others get together for card games. My friend makes popcorn and I make the tea because well I’m English and that’s what I do. we sit down together and just chill. It gets pitch black at around 6pm here so it always has that warm cosy feeling (almost like it’s winter) however we are in spring, so all very topsy turvey.
It’s really nice to just have time with the other missionary’s and just chill, reflect on the day, encourage one another and have a bit of fun.

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We have some great bakers who all love to share their talents so we often share cookies, pancakes or malva pudding.

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I then by touch light find my cabin, slump down into bed and count my blessings for a bed, roof over my head and the knowledge that all the children here are safe and part of a family.

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We had a few break-ins a couple of weeks ago but I know God is protecting us all and I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

 

 

The simplicity of love

If you’re close to anyone at all I’m pretty sure you could say you love them. Maybe a partner, parent, child, friend, colleague or pet. Dare I say all of us have someone we love. The first person you think of would probably be someone you love subconsciously. This love may be reciprocated, it may be demonstrated through words, touch, actions, acts of kindness or words of affirmation. It may be easy, constant or unconditional.
Love can be an emotion, a feeling, an urge. But it is also a choice.
We may automatically love our children, parents etc. But it is a conscious choice to love. And if it’s conscious then we can choose to love, not only the people who love us, But also those who don’t. Those that we don’t personally know, those who don’t reciprocate our love, those that, to the world may seem unloveable.
These are the people we NEED to love, the ones we need to consciously choose to love. With no agenda, pride or a “look at me loving this old lady” Facebook status. The strangers we pass each day on our way to work, the moody bus driver, the bratty kid having a tantrum in the supermarket, the colleague who gives you a hard time or the so called friend who stabbed you in the back.
As tough as it is, THESE are also the people we need to love.
And love looks like something.
Like I said it’s a choice.
It’s an action.

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Walking through a township and being surrounded by children eager to get one of the simple plain yogurts we were handing out. Smiling, wanting to hold your hands, dressed in old ripped clothes and looking with anticipating eyes of another yogurt or to play a game. These children need to be loved and if I’m honest it is easy to love them, the poor, the happy to see you, eager to hold your hand, appreciative of any game or song you do with them kind of children. But what about the little boy who doesn’t run up to you? the one that is throwing rocks against a wall, the one who gives you no smile and doesn’t come running up to you, who doesn’t (dare I say) making you feel important and purposeful.

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When I first arrived here. I felt out of my depth. I came from being in charge of my own class, having my own flat, my own car, a wage each month, a group of friends that I loved a church family that I felt such a part of. I would even say my life was near perfect. I came with nothing other than a mission to love. I was so eager to do these big acts of love I imagined up in my head, feeding thousands of orphans, building school buildings and rescuing children from the streets. Considering I’ve been here for less than 2 weeks, I clearly had some big dreams on how I was going to LOVE the world in such a short time span. I don’t know wether it was due to homesickness but the 2nd day I felt worthless, inadequate and questioned why I was here if I hadn’t yet done some grand big gesture of love. A little boy in the home I am working in stood in the hall where the children get fed, he looked all around clearly trying to find someone. We were all busy eating our dinner, I smiled at him and he shyly shuffled up to me. (I was new after all having been there less than 48 hours) he held up a board game and I nodded and gestured for him to come over.
I was planning on letting him win, but unfortunately for me he won anyway. He wanted to play again and again and again. It was fun but through out the entirety of the game the thoughts were still whirling around at how I wasn’t saving the world, doing something grand or extravagant, feelings of inadequacy, disappointment and sadness at the people I wasn’t loving.
It was then that god highlighted this little boys smile, it was so infectious and beautiful. This little boy was right in front of me. The chance to love, was sitting right in front of me. playing a simple board game no big gesture, no song and dance, not in front of a crowd or to boast at the good I have done today. But a simple and raw act of love. People this is what love is.

It looks like something.

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It’s right in front of you.

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It’s not grand or extravagant.

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It’s a smile. It’s a hug. It’s time. It’s an act. It’s a word.

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It’s simple. Yet without it we would be nothing.
It’s not hard to love. You don’t have to go searching for it. You don’t need to travel the world, set up charities or sponsor a child (although this is brilliant but maybe not for everyone) you can find love right where you are. You may have walked past or dismissed opportunities to love. Putting a neighbours bins away, sending an encouraging text to a friend or washing your room mates dishes.
Start each day with the mission to look right in front of you, to love whoever is highlighted to you. Without the pressure of it having to be some big show, but a simple act of love.

Why? Because love casts out the darkness this world is suffering with, it breaks depression, fear, loneliness, worthlessness, hopelessness, despair and sadness. A smile can turn someone’s day from darkness into light, it can stop the storm that may be consuming Ines being and allow a glimmer of hope, of light and joy.
A smile,

out of love,

for the one,

right in front of you.
Love looks like something.
What does it look like for someone today?

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The world according to tradition.

Scrolling down through insta I see old school friends posting picture perfect scenes of their 3 kids, hubby and the dozen cakes they’ve made for a local fundraiser. This is the life I wanted. The life that was I watched in the movies, the books I read, the people I grew up with; even the family I was raised in.
My parents met at 19 church bells at 21, bought a house together and had kids at 24. This was normal, this is the way you did things.
My whole life was leading up to the moment when I would get married and follow in my parents, friends, movie stars and story book character footsteps and finally let “life begin.” (Just to be clear this was never specifically stated to me, more that it was an example of what life looked like.) I was surrounded by it and dare I say it, growing up in a church where it was even more of a “norm” to get married have lots of Babies and be part of the women’s prayer group.
Please understand my heart that in no way am I saying that this is lame nor am I saying that I don’t ever want this. But when it didn’t go the way I thought It should/would I was hit with sorrow, bitterness and a feeling of worthlessness.
What is the purpose of my life? Why am I even here? Shame flooded my entire being. Shame when people asked how old I was, knowing full well I had no kids or husband, not even a potential husband. Shame that I wasn’t falling madly in love with guys that I had been dating, Shane and guilt that my mums friends were all becoming grandparents and the guilt I had that I hadn’t given her any.
All I am saying is that PERfEct life was subconsciously portrayed to me in a certain way. So when i got to 18 and didn’t meet me right and wasn’t married at 21 or homeowner or have a bunch full of babies at 24 but in reality struggling my way through a degree that tested me beyond measure and a past that was coming back to haunt me. I told myself that my life was in ruins. As, the life I thought I was meant to have was not a reality.
But you know. It’s the best reality I could have hoped for.
I wanted to be married because I didn’t want to be alone, a man to make me feel important,safe and happy, kids to give my life purpose, a home to show that I made something of myself, a dog called oscar for good measure. Young people hear me out, there is nothing wrong with wanting to get married and you should for love but not for dependency, out of loneliness or sadness, you will then relay too much on man and will never learn to be you first before being someone’s other half.

I am going to share my dream, not to boast but to show that everyone’s dream and life is different. There isn’t one road to happiness or fufillment or a checklist of what your life should involve. Everyone has a different purpose, destiny and dream. I moved to Africa at 23 to volunteer as a teacher. I saw that there was more than the cycle of marriage + house + kids that I had believed was life’s main goal. I saw that happiness came in the form of clean water, an education, being healthy from deathly diseases, having a roof over our head. I know it sounds cliche. But even without, I saw the poorest children playing together dressed in rags kicking an old plastic bottle around, sharing a dish of rice and passing round a beaker of muggy water. I’ve never seen such genuine smiles. And why? They don’t lean on “things” for happiness they find their happiness and then use that in what ever thing may come about. A plastic bottle, a new song, a friend and maybe love and marriage. But they are not determining their happiness on a person. They find their true happiness in themselves. That’s where true happiness comes from. Within.
It’s selfish and unfair to expect another being to bring us happiness, true happiness. Yes people can make us feel happy, but what happens when they don’t do what you want or when they shout or lie or even don’t reply to your text. Are you still happy?
Anyway. Not too sure where I’m going with this other than to encourage you to not conform to this world, don’t get married cause they do in the “note book” or don’t work a job you hate because you’re scared to live out your dream which may not pay much, don’t copy your friends because they look happier than you in there insta story, nor do not buy a house and scrimp and save for the rest of your life because you want to feel secure. Comparison is an evil emotion. It’s best friend can be social media when you are flooded with the “perfect” family pictures, or bobby”s first day at school cheesy grin snap, compared to your latest post of a picture of the last meal you just ate. Now by all means if you genuinely want these things and it makes you happy brilliant, marriage, a family etc is one of the most wonderful gifts that god has given us. But it’s not the only thing! All I’m saying don’t do what I tried and beat myself up for not accomplishing all because I thought that was the “right” thing to do, that doing those things would make me happy. Things do not make you happy. They cover up real issues that need to be dealt with, you have to unlock those issues and not cover them up with happiness fixers because it will never bring full and meaningful deep happiness.

So anyway I just want to share with you that I have made the brave decision to step out of the “norm” to not sit and wait for Prince Charming to make my life complete. I am genuinely so content with life, I know who I am, I feel secure in what I’m about and what my purpose is in this world, I am independent and do not need to follow the “norm” when it never felt right and would have been doing it for the wrong reasons.
I love my life, I love the passions I have that I have discovered over the last 5 years, things I like and not things my boyfriends use to like that I would adopt as mine, I know that I want to fight for justice to see this world changed for the better to allow people to unlock the happiness that is within themselves and conquer anything because of who they were made to be.
I am moving to Africa, giving up my flat, my career, my income, my car, leaving my friends and my family (all things that made me happy but don’t define my happiness)
I am going to pursue my dream of rescuing orphans. Welcoming them into home, a family and giving them an education built on love and a knowledge that anything is possible.
This is my dream.
Everyone’s dream is different. It comes in different ways, from different backgrounds and journeys, for different reasons and at different stages of life. It may be raising a family, running your dream business, saving lives, giving children an education, writing a book or working nights to provide for your children.
If you get anything at all out of reading my waffled thoughts, know that you can’t find your happiness through things or comparing to other people. You have to find it within, search your heart for your deepest desires what makes you happy. Live your dream what ever that may look like. Not what the world says you should do or what should make you happy but what’s in your heart. You’re unique, you’re your own person. No one else has the destiny that you were created to have so never sell your self short. You are worth way too much!

Vision

i have a vision,

a vision of a home,

made by, created and filled with love.

a home where orphans become sons + daughters 

where they are loved, accepted, worthy and safe.

taught and educated through love, for love, to love

because through Gods love, 
we can love 
and love conquers all.

it never fails.