Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lihle.


So Lihle has been with us for 3 weeks now! It has been a roller coaster of emotions. Needless to say, the whole family has fallen for this little guy. At this point we do not know what the future holds and that is quite unsettling for us, but we do know that God has told us to love and care for this guy right now. So we are taking it day by day and trusting God in it all.
Financially we can not afford to have a new born, and yet God has provided everything that we need. Friends have gathered round us and have loved on this little baby. He has been cuddled and snuggled and prayed for, he is so very loved.
I have taken him for 2 visits to mum and both were highly emotional. She loved on him and kissed him but was happy to hand him back for me to take home with me. She says that she wants him to be adopted but wants to stay in his life. An open adoption with a drug addicted mother is a daunting thought for us.
I have tried to convince her to get out of the shelter and go to a home for mother s and babies but she is not at the point of making this decision for herself and her child. So it looks like we will have to get social services involved. This freaks me out as many of the children who end up in the system do not get adopted and spend their childhood in and out of government children homes.
I KNOW that God has a plan for this boys life, so many words have been spoken over his life in the past 3 weeks and I am claiming everyone of them.
Please pray with us. That God will continue to provide financially for this baby. That everything that he needs will come. Please pray for Zinhle, that she has that strength to make the hard decisions that need to be made and that she comes to a place of wanting whats best for her child. And please pray for us as a family, that God will show us His plan in all of this, and that He makes a way where in the natural there is no way.



Friday, February 21, 2014

You bring light to the darkness...



As I'm sitting here typing I am listening to this song by All Sons and Daughters.


"Great are You Lord."

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

I just had 2 weeks in the UK. It was hard. For the first time ever I could see myself moving back there and thriving! You know how the grass is always greener?! Yeah that was how I was feeling. The sacrifices that I make by being here in South Africa just didn't seem worth it. 
It was a battle to come back. And then after 24 hours of being here I am reminded of exactly why He has called me to be here.

I just had a call from the girls at the Shelter, and it was pretty desperate. 3 weeks ago one of my girls, Zinhle , gave birth to a beautiful little boy. He is amazing and perfect in every way... which is a miracle as his mother is a drug addict. 

Baby Lihle is a beautiful gift. He is God's pure love and grace in a tiny little perfect bundle. Sadly his mother doesn't see this, she looks at him and sees a mouth to feed, an inconvenience, a mistake. My heart breaks for them both. Today she called me desperate for me to take him for a day so that she can do laundry, go to work and get money and so that she can sleep. Lihle doesn't sleep or feed well due to the drugs that were in his system when he was born. Zinhle is tired and stressed and is on the verge of turning back to drugs in order to cope. 

When I look at my girls I see what God sees, beautiful broken, rejected, abused daughters of the King. I can feel His love for them. I can feel His pain. I look at Zinhle and I don't see a drug addicted prostitute, I see a broken child who has NEVER been loved or cherished. How can this young woman possibly know how to love her son when she herself has never felt true unconditional love? 
It breaks me that this baby has come into this situation in the way that he has, my prayer for Zinhle is that she falls in love with her son in the way that Father God loves her. 
I have been asking God what my part in all of this is. He told me clearly. LOVE HER. Do not judge her. Love her as I love her. Do what it takes to prove that I believe in her. Hold her when she needs to be held, give her a break when she needs a break, listen to her when no one else listens. Calm her fears with My Word and your prayers. 
So that is what I'm going to do, and I'm going to start by caring for Lihle for a night. DEEP BREATH HERE......

I know that with obedience to His calling comes provision and strength, I'm trusting Him 100% in this. I know its only for a night but its still a big deal for me. Please pray. Pray that during that 24 hours Zinhle is touched by God's love for her, that she rests and finds that she is missing her baby. Pray that she learns to trust me and my intentions towards her. Pray that God provides for petrol money and nappies and formula. Pray for Lihle that he manages to also rest and that God calms and heals this beautiful baby's heart and body.

 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb.Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!

How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

September 2011....... How life changes!


Below is a diary post that I wrote in 2011. I love rereading my journals to see how life, relationships, faith and all that stuff changes over time. I have grown and learnt so much about myself since writing this. My relationship with God is vastly different, I understand His grace and love for me, I know my identity as His child, I really get it now. I have found my voice and am not afraid to use it ;-)  I wanted to share this with you cause I have a feeling that it might help someone. xx

Part of this journey is trying to discover the authentic me. Its quite the process, peeling back the layers that have built up over the years.

Last night our church had a women's meeting where a lady called Wendy Mann shared from Esther. I LOVE Esther, she has to be one of my favorite characters from the scriptures. Her courage and strength inspire me. And her compassion and authenticity are an example of what we as women today should be.

Esther was an unlikely candidate for the position of queen. She was an orphan, and a Jewish one at that. And yet she was obedient to her cousin, over came her fears and found favor with the king.
Whenever we are obedient we find favor with our King.

Esther was her authentic self. She was strong in her faith and had unwavering courage even when her life was on the line. " If I perish, I perish!" That phrase still to this day makes all the "Girl Power" that is with in me rise up and shout " YOU GO GIRL!!"
She was determined to be who God had created her to be. And due to that a whole nation was saved. That's HUGE! Can you imagine being single

Part of this journey is trying to discover the authentic me. Its quite the process, peeling back the layers that have built up over the years.

Last night our church had a women's meeting where a lady called Wendy Mann shared from Esther. I LOVE Esther, she has to be one of my favorite characters from the scriptures. Her courage and strength inspire me. And her compassion and authenticity are an example of what we as women today should be.

Esther was an unlikely candidate for the position of queen. She was an orphan, and a Jewish one at that. And yet she was obedient to her cousin, over came her fears and found favor with the king.
Whenever we are obedient we find favor with our King.

Esther was her authentic self. She was strong in her faith and had unwavering courage even when her life was on the line. " If I perish, I perish!" That phrase still to this day makes all the "Girl Power" that is with in me rise up and shout " YOU GO GIRL!!"
She was determined to be who God had created her to be. And due to that a whole nation was saved. That's HUGE! Can you imagine being single handedly responsible for saving an entire nation of people?

I would love to be my authentic self 100% of the time. But I'm scared. What if no on likes the real me. I've done such a good job of hiding her over the years.
But you know what? I'm getting there.
Who do I know that I am? Lets see..........

I'm passionate and compassionate, I'm generous, I look for the best in others, I am trusting and trustworthy. I make a great friend, I am loyal but will let you know if you are out of line. I am head smart and street smart.
I am insecure and I have big body image issues. I ignore problems often, I procrastinate like there is no tomorrow ;-)
I often do half a job and I am easily distracted. I quit things if I feel like I am not good at them.
I put on a good front!

And yet I know what I believe and I am fierce about what I know to be true. I stand for what is right and will fight for those who have been wronged.
I am finding myself, the good , the bad and the down right ugly!

God hit me hard while in the meeting.Wendy stated to pray for me, it hurt. She started to prophecy over me, that hurt too.
God pointed out that I had had my voice taken from me and it was time for Him to give it back to me. That when ever I have shared my calling and my passion with others I have been silenced by their negativity. It is now time for me to speak up and speak out.

He also said that I need to let go of all the rejection that I have held on to for years.

Wendy then prayed for me. Needless to say there was alot of tears and it was emotionally and physically painful. And then there was a calm. Like lying in a boat on Inanda dam. A beautiful, peaceful calm.

I can feel my authentic me pushing its way through the dirt like a bulb in spring time after lying dormant through the winter.

2 Timothy 1 13-14
" What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you, guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. "
 responsible for saving an entire nation of people?


Friday, January 24, 2014

Whispers.


Some nights in the Shelter I manage to hold it together.(My people hate it when I cry or get emotional in front of them.) Last night I got to a point where I really didn't manage my emotions well. This chick below took me over the edge, and both her and I ended up in tears.

 Yvonne and I had a conversation last night that I will never forget. It was so profound and emotionally charged. It broke my heart and broke her whole being. She was leaving the Shelter to go to "work" and I stopped her to see how she was doing, the conversation that ensued was a defining moment for me. 
I asked if she was going to work. She said yes and I told her "please be safe". I always say this to my girls as they leave to go to work. Most of the time they laugh and say something along the line of "OK Mum!", some times they say "I'm always safe.", sometimes they just look at me with sad eyes and sigh, "I wish I didn't have to go out tonight." 
Last night Yvonne stopped on the stairs and looked me in the eyes (she never does this) and said "God whispered to me tonight as I was getting ready."  I was taken aback by this comment as Yvonne is usually the laughy, eye-rolling, cheeky type. She has never really been serious with me and rarely instigates a meaningful conversation with me, so I knew that this was going to be a game-changing moment in our friendship. I asked her what God had told her. 
"He told me that He is my daddy, that He loves me no matter what and that His heart is sore for me. He told me that He will take care of me, that His angels go to work with me and they fight off any bad stuff. I felt like He doesn't want me to go to work tonight. But I have to. If I don't I will have to sleep outside tonight, I will go hungry. So what do I do?"

I was standing there with a 22 year old sex worker asking me what should she do? So I said the only thing that I could think of which was "Maybe we should pray!" In my heart I know that listening to the voice of God is crucial. But how do I tell Yvonne that she needs to stay at the Shelter and not go to work when she is desperate for the money? As we stood there, me holding her tight, we prayed, as we prayed the tears came. Yvonne broke into a deep heart wrenching sob. I felt rocked to my core. Her pain seeped into me and I could feel the ache and longing in her heart to be loved and accepted and safe. Her desperation to be His child, her longing for a relationship with the only Father that she has ever known. 
As I prayed over her I asked God to let her know His feelings for her. 
I told her of how He delights in her. How He loves to spend time with her. As the peace started to flow she calmed. 
I told her that through my life I have learned that if God talked to me its best that I listen, but that ultimately it was her decision. She had to decide if she would trust Him to provide for her and stay at the Shelter and not go and sell herself. I could literally see the internal fight that was carried out for the next 15 minutes. As she sat in the stair well, stood in the stair well, had a cigarette, sat back down again..... it was painful to watch. In the end she stood up, hugged me and said  "I'm going to work now." 

She didn't have the strength to trust what she knew, but that seed was planted. The pure fact that she knows that she heard the voice of God is amazing to me. She might not have had the strength this time but maybe next time she will. 

Please pray for my girls. God loves them so much and He has a future and a hope for them, all that they need to do is claim it. In the mean time I will continue to love them and be there for them.   
Like my Pastor in New York says ... "The need is the call." 
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Be Still.

Well 2014 is here. I'm not sure how I feel about this year yet, it's still too early to tell. But I have a feeling that it is going to be a year of new beginnings and freedom.The main change so far this year is the fact that we are having to home school the kids. Education is too expensive, even the cheapest schools are out of our financial limit. So home school it is. This wouldn't be so difficult or stressful if we didn't live in a shack!!!



To be honest I'm battling. I have one child who can read and write and one who can not. Also the one who can not has learning difficulties and it is a challenge to get him to focus in any way shape or form!

I was fighting an over whelming fear that I am going to fail my kids, I am going to fail my family, I am going to fail those who I minister to, I am going to fail God. Cause I have to be perfect right??!!!
I found myself on the brink of no return on a daily basis, tears were threatening to fall and I couldn't control it at all. I was spiraling.
We are not making it on a financial level. Not even close to making it. I am working for the church and make a wage that covers car payment and that's about it.
My work with the street girls is funded out of my own pocket. And I find myself questioning what the future is.
Do we just pack it all in and go back to the UK where education and health care is free? Where we can get 'REAL' jobs, Where we have the support of family. Where we can live in a real house with hot water and no termites and a working bathroom.
Do we move back to New York where half of my heart was left and get back into ministry there?
Do we? Do we? Do we?

NO WE DON'T!
We HAVE to stay here, we have to stick it out cause that is what He called us to do. He has a plan. It's HUGE! It scares the snot out of me. I don't know where to begin. I dont know how to get it going. BUT He does. He has a plan. He knows the begining and the end. He holds the finances and the blue print. He knows every detail and He wants us to be a part of this great plan.

And so in the mean time I trust. I trust that He will provide groceries and fuel. He will provide rent and car payment. He will provide energy and excitement for me to teach my children well. He will give me a vision and focus and courage for me to walk in the calling that He has spoken over me.
He will provide the extra hours in the day for me to get it all done, and done well.


He has been speaking this word to me for the past few days. I battle to be still. Like REALLY battle. I feel like I need to be in control of things, I need the answer and I need to to be nice and concise. So this word from Him is taking effort.
The past couple of weeks at church have been intricate in my being able to follow this word. I have been given a couple of words from God about this coming year, a year of freedom and jubilee. A year of new beginnings and victory. I believe the word of God. I believe in prophetic words. So these words spoken over me by leaders and friends are something that I will be holding close to my heart at this time.

I feel so blessed and loved by Him. That He chooses to speak in to my life in all areas. That He loves me enough to hold me close and let me rest in His presence.

2014 is going to be a great year. Cause HE told me so!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Obedience

For a while now I have been battling with fighting the mundane. I know some of you will be like "What the beep....how is your life mundane?!" But for me it is a battle. A while ago in our home group we talked about the basic soul needs and what they are and what are our main ones. A light bulb came on during the course of the evening and I suddenly realized why I battle so much... I had not realized my soul needs and so they were not being fulfilled in the correct manner.

1. Significance – people want to matter and to make a difference.
2. Certainty – people seek stability and reassurance.
3. Variety – people want to be stimulated and to have choice.
4. Love – people need to experience many kinds and levels of love.
5. Connection – people seek connection with Self, Source and each other.
6. Contribution – people want to give to make things better in the world.
7. Growth – people want to learn, grow and become more of their best self.

My highest soul need is contribution and my second is variety and my third is significance. Understanding this made things so clear for me.

I have not been able to get to the Shelter and to my girls due to a lack of finances. I felt like I had been plodding on feeling like I wasn't contributing to anything ( this wasn't true, but it was how I was feeling) My life consisted of getting up, taking kids to school, going to church to work on lessons for the kids and youth, picking kids up from school, going home, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, go to bed, and repeat...... every day.....week after week....... mundane...same old same old.... no variety.... plod plod plod.... I was feeling so frustrated and stressed out. My excuse for everything was "we cant afford it".

Friends would ask us to hang out... "we cant afford it."
We weren't getting to home group cause... "we cant afford it."
I wasn't walking in my calling cause ... "we cant afford it."

Our finances are zero. We owe school fees, car payments, need groceries, have no gas in the car, so how can I possibly go all the way to the Shelter on a frequent basis and minister to those to whom HE has called me?
This past Wednesday I decided to take a day off on my own to regroup and focus on myself and my relationship with Him and ask Him what it is that He would have me do. Funny thing is I already knew the answer. I knew what He was going to tell me. I don't know why we find it so hard. Its like I needed Him to hit me over the head, kick me in the butt, get me in a head lock before I surrendered to what I already knew.
The answer was OBEDIENCE. All He was requiring of me is obedience to His calling on my life.
As I was sitting in the forest battling with this revelation, making the same old excuses as to why I cant be obedient, I get a phone call from Ronelle.
Basically God was forcing me to walk in obedience by using emotional blackmail :-) He knows me so well. He knew that if I got a call from my girls telling me that they NEED me then I would have to say "YES".
And this is exactly what Ronelle said. "I NEED you". As I was talking to her God started to speak to me. All He said was "GO". So I told Ronelle that I would come. As I'm saying this I am picturing the gas light in my car that was on, wondering how I was going to get the kids to school the next day and how I was possibly going to get all the way downtown and back home again.  It wasn't possible, and yet He was telling me to go. So I stepped out in obedience and told Ronelle that I would be there the next day to spend time with them all. I made the commitment. I stepped out in obedience.

Within 20 minutes of this step and commitment to walk in my calling He had provided gas money for me to get to Durban the next day. I will post about my trip later. For now this post is purely about obedience.

Every step of obedience takes us closer to the miracles that He has for us. Luke 11:28 says "Blessed are those who have heard the word of the Lord and obeyed it."
I had heard His voice, His word, what He was calling to to. The second I was obedient He blessed me with the finances that I needed.

Its really that simple. Obedience brings miracles, provision, blessing. It opens doors and ushers in the Kingdom of God. When we are obedient He can not help but pour out His love on us. He wants to lavish us with His provision and abundance. He is our Father and He is the Father of those to whom we are called.





What step is He asking you to take today? 






 


Friday, October 11, 2013

Birthday Season...

 This one turned 7. He has a picnic party.

 Hubby turned 38. He had a BBQ party.

This one turns 8 in 2 weeks. 

Its been a busy few weeks. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

what is it?

We are in this battle and I'm exhausted. I'm tired. I don't know why this battle is so intense and so unending. All I want is to be able to feed and clothe my family and to have a home that is ours, with no chance of it being ripped out from under our feet at any moment. Any extra goes to ministry. So why the blockage?
We KNOW that He has called us here. We KNOW that quitting is NOT an option. He KNOWS that we will do what it takes to see His will done in our lives. We have proved this over and over.
We could have quit a thousand times and no one would have blamed us... but quitting is NOT an option as far as we are concerned. So why do we spend our days holding our breath?

Not knowing if we will make it to church or to take the kids to school because the petrol light is on. Not knowing what I am going to feed my family because the fridge is empty and all we have is lentils and a bag of flour, I thank Him for my hens that feed us with their eggs every day. ( we defiantly get enough protein)
We do not get to take our children on vacation. We do not even get to shower with hot water. We live on a beautiful property that we believe God has placed us on but the reality is we could loose our home at any moment. I have no certainty in my life other than we will NOT quit. That is the one certainty that I hold onto. The knowing that HE has called us and He will not let us fall.

So if I have this certainty why do I feel so unsettled? Why am I scared? Why am I so tired? The pure fact that I am feeling these things stresses me out even more, cause surely if my faith is strong then I wouldn't feel like this?!

He is showing me some things in my life that need "tweeking" I know that I need to let go. The part of me that is desperate for certainty is infact the part of me that wants for control. I need to let go. I need to surrender, but its so hard for me.


Is this C.S Lewis quote what He wants me to know? That His destiny for me is extraordinary? That I have to go through this? Its a hard pill to swallow, this time of hardship has been years long. Its like the tap has been turned on but that water pipe is blocked and the water just drips out. Slowly and sporadically. There is no consistency, and this is what I find so very hard.

So please pray for us. Please pray for the blockage to be revealed to us. Please pray that He gives us the strength and means means to continue on this journey. That He guides us and teaches us how to trust Him, even more than we already do.

Love and appreciate you all.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Born-Again Pagan...?!

So this blog post has the potential of being quite strange and theologically incorrect so please don't be all weirded out or judgmental when reading it. That said those of you who really know me know my heart and know the real me ;-)

I grew up in the West Country of England. Born in Cornwall and raised in Devon. 3/4 Celtic. And becoming more aware and proud of my heritage as time goes by.
A few weeks ago my maternal Grandma passed away and God provided flights for me to return to the UK for her funeral. He is so good. I love how He loves me and my family. He knows our hearts and He knew that I needed to be there to say goodbye to Grams.

                   Evelyn Myfanwy Griffiths 1928-2013.

If I was to sum up my Grams in 2 words they would be grace and strength. She was many things, loving, kind, elegant, generous... I could go on and on, but Grace and strength are the 2 things that I always think of when I think of her.
My Grandad passed away when I was 5 in a tragic car accident and Grams has been alone for over 30 years. He was her one true love and I never really thought about their story until this trip to the UK. My Mum had Gram's old wooden box that she had stashed away all her love letters from Granddad and little mementos including the list of gifts they were given for their wedding in 1953. I sat one morning and read through everything, her diaries and his letters. It was amazing to read of their life in the caravan and their stories of friendships and love. 


Her funeral was so very hard for me. Everyone else had had a chance to say good bye before she passed away and I was on the other side of the planet helpless and unable to be there, this really bothered me so much. 
I had no closure and I had not had the chance to tell her all that she meant to me. It was very painful. I guess the one consolation was that she is now with Granddad in heaven together and in love. After all these years. 

While in the UK I really started to think about who I am, where I have come from and who God created me to be. The things that I love, the life that speaks to my soul, what brings me joy and contentment. Alot of the answers were tied into the earth, nature, my Celtic roots, country living, self sufficiency, living off the land, nurturing my family in the most natural way possible. As I was thinking about all of this I realized to my self..."oh goodness I'm a Pagan!" hahaha! I looked up the word "Pagan"and the word comes from the Latin word "Paganus" which means "country dweller" or "rustic". Summed up that's me! 
Now I'm not saying that I am a modern day Pagan, I'm not into rituals or modern Pagan beliefs but I do relate to the original Pagan life style. 

Last weekend was Solstice weekend. Winter Solstice here in South Africa. My friend Carina and I decided to go stay at an Eco Village for the weekend. They were having a Solstice festival and celebration and we needed to take some time in nature to focus on God and what He is saying to us at this time. We arrived at Zivuya on Saturday and spent some time walking in the wilderness. Riding horses bare back and picking wild fruit and drinking from the spring. We washed in the stream and then went to the gathering place to join the festivities. 
A giant camp fire, cooking in pots on the fire, dancing, singing, drumming, exchanging of gifts and an amazing play by a deaf theater company. Making new friends and realizing that Hippies are so open to hear about the love of God and the sacrifice that Jesus made for their lives. I prayed for people and spoke love and life to them. God would show me who to talk to and what area of their life they were hurting in. He gave me the courage and words to reach out to them. It was amazing. 
In my quiet time with Him, He shared with me how I needed to take life less seriously. I need to have more fun.  To find joy in every day life. This was quite a revelation to me as I thought that I was quite joyful, apparently not! 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

So this is my new venture, to find joy. To live joy. To give joy. To love and nurture my family in a joyful way. To raise my children in the most natural way. To return to my roots and embrace who my ancestors were. Letting God talk to me through His creation as well as His word. 



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Quick catch up...

 Well I thought I'd share some photos from the past few weeks. Life is getting increasingly busy and we are loving it. The boys are thriving at school. Thanks to God's provision they are both now in great schools and both are loving every moment. The above photo is of Joe going to to school dressed as his favorite literary character for Literacy week.
 A new family has moved onto the farm. I met Karina over a year ago and we connected right away. About 5 weeks ago she moved into one of the cottages with her family. They have 4 children and my boys have become firm friends with them. Here is Joe and Jesse with Nemi. Nemi calls them his African brothers.
 Both of my kids are off school with chicken pox at the moment. Jesse has been hit pretty hard.
 This is our little cottage. From a distance it looks cozy. Close up however we have no hot water, walls are crumbling, bathroom is out of order, roof leaks and has terrible damp. We are praying that this year God provides us with a home that causes a little less stress ;-)  
 We have chicks coming out of our ears! They are super cute though so its ok.
I just had to share this photo of Joe in his school uniform! Now tell me how cute is this kid?

I am now on Instagram. You can follow me @vashtidowns

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Angel in our midst.

Sometimes God throws us a curve ball and our recent curve ball came in the shape of a little bundle of joy filled cuteness. Her name is Angel and that is just what she is.
We met Angel last year and she has stayed with us on and off since then. We have had her with us for a full week and she went back to her carer yesterday. We really miss her but we KNOW that God has amazing plans for her life. We don't know what those plans are so we are just trusting Him. We know in our hearts how we feel about this little darling but it is a matter of trusting Him. Its hard for me. Its really hard. So please pray with us and for her. Pray that HIS will be done in this child's life. And please pray for my heart right now its really sore and feels like it is missing an Angel shaped piece. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Totally un-related.....

This post has really no relevance to anything in particular. It is just a collection of photos from my life this week. 
First up..... I'm crocheting a queen size blanket in different hues of blue, yellow, red and green. Its taking ages but that's OK.

Secondly... We are farming big fat giant meal worms for the chickens. They are super wiggly and wormy but my girls LOVE them and go slightly nuts every time I bring the tub outside to feed them. They are the ULTIMATE chicken treat.

Thirdly... My sweet bug is still not road worthy. She sits in the yard looking very sad and every so often a cheeky chicken lays an egg in her.

Fourthly...Rosie hatched a couple of chicks. 

And finally... we have been without power for 2 days, so are back to campfire cooking. I'm hanging in there... for now!

Have a wonderful weekend. x

Friday, February 22, 2013

A life that never was.

Durban beach front a place of beauty, fun, holiday makers and brutal gang rape. 

Just over 2 years ago a young woman called Priscilla (Smithy) was walking the beach front trying to raise money for her shelter rent. She was begging and asking tourists to help her get a roof over her head for the night. Not managing to raise the R18 needed for the night she ended up spending the night on the beach. At some point during the night a gang of 8 men came upon her. She remembered seeing them earlier in the evening and was very aware that these men were not here to help her. She spent then next couple of hours being raped over and over by each of the men. They beat her badly and left her to die in the blood soaked sand. No one came to her rescue. No knight in shining armor, no police officer, no kind member of the public. She was close to Addington Hospital and so when she came around she dragged herself there, where they patched her up and sent her on her way.
9 months later she gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy.

Smithy is just 1 of thousands of girls through out this country who is victim of "corrective"rape. Smithy is a lesbian. This is something that she really battled with as a child, being a lesbian growing up in the townships is not an easy road. There is a great amount of prejudice and violence shown towards any one who is homosexual. People see it as a 'disease" or a "problem" that needs to be "fixed" and due to this many people keep the fact that they are homosexual secret. They live in fear. They try and live a heterosexual lifestyle in order to keep themselves safe and to keep shame away from their family. This is how Smithy lived much of her life. 
The abuse started when she was 4. Her mother was a sever alcoholic and had a number of "uncles" coming to the house on a daily basis. Smithy and her siblings were used to fulfill these men's sexual needs while their mother got drunk in the next room. This went on until Smithy was 7 years old at which point the children were taken into care and by which point the damage had been done. For the rest of their childhood the 4 children were handed from home to home, separated and abused in each home. 

Smithy finally ran away to the streets when she was 14 years old. Separated from her brothers and sister and alone she had no way to fend for herself other than prostitution. Some nights getting enough money for the shelter other nights not so lucky and sleeping on the streets. For the next 20 years this was her existence. 
I met Smithy 5 years ago when I started spending time in the shelter building relationships with the girls. When I first met her I will say I was slightly terrified of her. She was wild to say the least! She had had a partner for a couple of years and their relationship was volatile. One night they got into a fight and her partner stabbed Smithy in the eye. By the time I met Smithy her eye had turned white and she was totally blind in that eye. She was covered in scars and the majority of the time she was drunk or high or both. First impressions are a funny thing. I took one look at this woman and I recoiled. She was hard to look at. I know that that is a horrible thing to say, but it is the truth. The years of abuse had taken their toll on her outward appearance as well as her inner person. BUT the second she opened her mouth and started to talk everything changed. She had the softest voice. Was very gentle and incredibly loving. 

I totally fell in love with this woman. She is funny and cheeky. Has an amazing sense of justice and wants only good things for others. When she was raped she conceived her son. Knowing that there was no way that she could provide for him she placed him into the care of a family friend who lives in the township. Then along came my friend Jane. And to cut a long story short she took the baby in with her and her family and now we have found a family to adopt the little guy. The love and sacrifice that Jane has shown to this baby is amazing, she has literally saved this child's life.  



Taking a wash in the dog bowl! Such a sweet funny boy. Just like his mother.

Although this beautiful child came out of such a horrific situation his life is FOREVER changed by the love of others. He has a future and a hope. He is going to change the lives of others. 

After the rape Smithy turned even more to drugs in order to cope. Smoking cocaine and sugars to take away the emotional pain, getting addicted and then taking them in order to maintain the numbness. She tried to stop but when she did the emotional and physical pain was just too much for her.  It broke my heart to sit and watch her disappear before my eyes. All I could do was pray. Many times I sat on her bed in the shelter and just held her hand and prayed for her while she slipped into a drug induced sleep. The drugs were making her irrational and many times she didn't know where she was or what was going on. There was no helping her. She didn't want to go to rehab, she didn't want help. She just wanted to be numb and the only way that she could do that was to continue with the drugs. It has been a while since I have been able to hold a conversation with her, she was slurring and confused. 3 days ago she collapsed in the shelter and when the ambulance failed to turn up the girls from the shelter physically carried her to the hospital. When I got there she struggled to recognize me. When she finally remembered me all she could say was "help me", over and over she said this, my heart broke into pieces it was like I could physically feel it shattering inside my chest. I knew she was going. I knew in my heart that she wasn't coming out of it this time. I prayed with her, Jane prayed over her and as we were leaving Smithy said to me "Vash please don't throw me away." Those words were the last ones that she said to me. Those words in that moment changed me. It was a defining moment in my life.  

I received a phone call at 5am today to tell me that Smithy has passed away. 

Smithy died alone, no family to hold her hand, no family to take her body and give her a funeral, no family to mourn for her. But there is me. And today I am mourning for a life that never was. Never was loved, never was celebrated, never was given a chance to walk into its full potential and destiny. A life that was snatched and destroyed before it was even given a chance to flourish. A beautiful woman who was crushed physically, emotionally and spiritually, over and over. I will mourn for my friend. A woman who I loved. A woman who I never stopped believing in. A woman who gave birth to the most beautiful and amazing child. A son who will grow up knowing that his mother loved him beyond everything else. A son who will break the cycle of abuse and drug addiction, poverty and destitution that has been the norm in his family for generations.
Smithy died with the peace and reassurance that her son is going to spend the rest of his life being loved and cared for. 
I will never forget my friend. I will never forget her laugh, that deep belly laugh she would get when she really found something funny. I will never forget how she took her handful of coins that she had made begging and bought her and I a cup of tea each and a bread roll and we sat on the curb and spent time together. I will never forget the look of longing that she would give her son, knowing that she loved him with every ounce of her being but not able to be the mother that she needed to be. 

Smithy my dear friend I PROMISE that I will NEVER forget you and I will mourn the fact that you are no longer in my life. Your life was not in vein. Your story will change the lives of thousands. 
I PROMISE that I will tell your story. I will let them know of your life. 

Good bye my friend. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

In our garden.


We LOVE living in Africa.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Not the right kind of orphan? ... Rural vs Urban.

Those who know me well know that it is virtually impossible to offend me. You can call me names, talk bad about me behind my back or even to my face for that matter, and I will not be offended. It might hurt my heart but I will not hold a grudge. I'm like the proverbial duck's back when the water hits it. Its just how I've learnt to deal with life. But there is one thing that does offend me. One thing that makes me rise up and fight. One thing that I can not tolerate.
When someone diminishes, trivializes, makes light of the plight of the one's to which God has called me an anger stirs in the very core of who I am. Most of the time I manage to control this anger. Most of the time I bite my tongue and give it to God and ask Him to deal with it. But today I'm going to share. I'm going to be open, frank and to the point about this issue that I'm dealing with. I ask that you all hear my heart. I am not accusing, I'm not holding a grudge, I'm not pointing fingers. I'm just going to share my heart.

9 years ago Mart and I packed our 8 suit cases and moved to South Africa. Our heart was to minister to children and families who were infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. He bought us the 1000 Hills in KZN and we decided to call it home. We had a number of people, churches and family commit to help us in the venture. It was amazing to have the support of people, people loving us and praying for us and financially supporting us. With out them we would not have made it 9 years and counting in this place.
Over the years financial support has dwindled, like I stated in my post below. There have been various reasons for this. Some have simply not been able to afford to keep supporting, some have had other financial commitments come to light that have caused them to stop funding our work. Some were supporting the ministry some were supporting us as a family. Every time supporters have pulled out we have felt the impact in a profound way. Our funders have literally been a life line for us here in the work that we have been doing.  And we have been so thankful for each of them and the support that they have been to us and the ministry.

Although when someone pulls out of funding us it hurts, we totally understand and we know that God will pick up where they have had to move on. We are not offended because we know that God loves us and He wants His ministry to continue and He will provide.
The thing however that really hurts me and makes that anger rise up is when people use the excuse "you are not working with orphans any more so we can not fund you"

It makes me angry because it is not true. I DO work with orphans. Every trip to the Shelter, every time I walk Point Road praying for the street children, every time I rush a street child to hospital and sit by his hospital bed, every time I go scouring the streets for a young girl who went out to "work" and hasn't come been seen for 4 days. I am working with orphans. My street children are orphans of the most desperate kind. Just because they are not the wide eyed, innocent, distended bellied, fly covered children that we all love to sponsor and support, doesn't mean that they are not in desperate need.
People love to sponsor the rural African child. We NEVER had any problem finding sponsors and support for our little guys who live in the valley. Man I love those little ones. They are beautiful, innocent, in need of cuddles and I always want to bring at least 10 home with me every time we go to the valley.
 I mean look at these babies. Who wouldn't want to love them? I look at these girls and my heart melts. And I'm sure that as you are reading this a part of you wants to pick them up and love them and give them only good things. Each of these girls have lost their mothers. NO child show grow up with out the love of a mother, not one. BUT these girls have been taken in by their amazing Grandmothers. These Gogo's adore their grandbabies. Will do what it takes to care for them. To feed them. To educated them. These girls will not starve. They will never be alone. They will always have the support of the adults around them because that is how it works in the Rural communities. Extended family is strong and those little ones who loose their parents will be taken care of by those around them. It is amazing and we have learnt alot from spending time with these people in their communities.
I'm not saying that these families do not need help, they really really do. I'm just helping people to understand the difference between the Rural kiddies that we work with and the Urban children who I minister to.

What I am finding is that because we have had to put the Rural side of ministry on hold for a period, people now think that we are no longer working with orphans and children who are infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. This is not true.
I feel that the orphans that I am working with, loving on and ministering to are not the "right kind"of orphans for people to support. They are not cute. They are not cuddly. They will sooner pick your pocket than give you a hug. But they are orphans just the same. I have NEVER in my life known a group of people who are more in need of support.
These children are sharp edged, all bones, skin and shoulder blades. With glue crazed eyes and sore covered skin. They are dirty and hungry and unloved. They are forgotten and ignored. They are guilty of crime and drug addiction. They lie and they steal. They are infected with STD's and HIV/AIDS.  They do not trust and can not be trusted. But they are orphans all the same. They are DESPERATE to be loved but when that loves comes they can not give or receive it. They do not know what it is like to trust an adult.
The adults in their lives hurt them. They use them. Them rape them. They control them with drugs and money. The use them to deliver drugs to clients. They use them as sex slaves to make a great profit that the child never sees.
These children have no place to call home. They spend their nights hiding in darkened doorways, sleeping in abandoned lots under cars so that the police and other predators do not find them. They are the prey of the horrors that come out to play at night.
They get picked up by men who make them promises of a better life. They are held against their will and raped over and over. NO ONE is on their side. NO ONE supports them. NO ONE stands in the gap for them. Until God sends a willing heart to fight in their corner. Until someone answers the call and will sit by their bedside in hospital. Until someone will find out when their birthday is and bake them a cake and throw a spontaneous birthday party for them, the first and probably the last that they will ever have.
These children will never be the "right kind" of orphan for people to put on their fridges at home. Never be the "right kind" of orphan for Sunday schools to sponsor. But they are orphans all the same.
They deserve love. They deserve unconditional support. They deserve to be safe. They deserve a life where they do not have to sell their bodies for a couple of slices of bread. They deserve a life where they don't have to hide from the bad guys, where they have loving arms out stretched for them to run to when ever they are afraid. They deserve to have some one tell them that they are beautiful and amazing. They deserve to have some one tell them that they have a Father who they can trust, who loves them and who wants to be close to them. How this Father will not sell them to the highest bidder. How this Father will break the drug addictions. How this Father wants only good things for them.

MY orphans deserve ALL of this. In fact MY orphans deserve even more than this. These are MY kind of orphans. And I will do what it takes to stand up for them, to speak for them and to help them. Even if I do not have the support from others I KNOW that I have the support of my Father, their Father. And our Father owns the cattle on a Thousand Hills. And even though MY orphans might not live in the Thousand Hills, they are orphans all the same. And they deserve better. Thats all.