I came here expecting to be strengthened, to be driven. Instead I have been broken, I've wandered, I have been stretched, examined and through it all I have been carried by Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Last week was my last week with the kids at Kayamandi. All semester we haven't been able to take pictures of the kids and last week was our first and last time to do it. Looking back I can remember being surprised and even a little frustrated about not being able to bring my camera, not being able to capture but reflecting I can see how it allowed me to really focus on the moment. To capture hearts and laughter and memories, to burn these children in my spirit, something my camera would never be able to do. Last friday was our last dinner with my program and in the middle of sixty something plus people, I discovered community. Standing in the middle of a group that five months ago were complete strangers. People that have become friends and fellow travelers in our journey this strange and beautiful land. South Africa, I've discovered is an interesting teacher. The landscape has a way of lodging itself into the mind in such a way that forever ruins you for any other terrain. This country, this continent once you allow it to touch you, brands you, and you are never the same. SA is unconventional and uncomfortable and I think that in that unconventional, in that uncomfortable is where I have grown the most, where my mind and heart have expanded. I think back to my first month here, the excitement, the energy (the cold). I remember the middle months the anger, the confusion, the homesickness and i think of now. The growth, the lessons, the warmth. I've looked at letters from friends and family, emails, packages (even a visit!), the prayers, the words of encouragement slipped into my moments of hopelessness, my moments of emptiness . I've sought and found all sorts of treasures through a different pair of eyes. I have walked in shoes that have left me blistered. I have walked barefoot. I have seen this space and I have become it. These are the things that have lifted me that have encouraged me. Friends how faithful is our God. I am where and who I am today because of him. For he himself is our peace and I can now testify to that peace. It brought me here, it has carried me and comforted me. It has revived me. And this friends, is where my joy has been hidden.
"For though I am absent from you in body,
I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are
and how firm your faith in Christ is."
peace. love. grace.