As I sit here pondering what to say about South Africa my mind goes to one place…Hope! In the last year that word has taken on a whole new meaning to me and those closest to me and really anyone who will listen.
I grew up with a heart for Africa. I never had the opportunity to go until last year. God presented an opportunity and I made the decision to do it. Going with a spectacular team led by phenomenal people (Owen and Becky Voight) opened my eyes to these beautiful people.
Making our way to the Transkei I was filled with awe and wonder. What a beautiful country. What beautiful people. What a sad place. I had somewhat prepared myself for the possibility of a broken heart with AIDS running rampant and so many children that are hungry. I told myself I was ok with a broken heart and that I was there to serve in any way possible.
We were blessed to be able to attend a “mama meeting” and meet these heroes that serve the children of their village everyday. What amazing examples of selflessness! We also visited many villages and met a lot of children. Everyone had a story, which made the desire to help burn deeper in my heart.
On one of the last days of serving in the Transkei we were offered the opportunity to do a home visit. We split up as a team; half went to one home and my team to a different home. I don’t believe in coincidences and we had to drive to get to the home we were to visit so I knew we were supposed to be at that specific house at that specific time. Upon our arrival we found an 11 yr old girl home alone with her niece and nephew (under the age of 2) and her five yr. old brother and 8 yr. old sister. Her mother had left her there alone to go into town to check on her sister because she was in the hospital and it was unknown if the sister had passed away.
I was in shock to how strong and protective this girl was. There was no food and no water. It really was unclear how long she had been alone with these children being her sole responsibility.
I thought I was prepared for heart break! I had no idea! All I knew is that I felt an instant connection to this girl. I knew I had to do something! I did not travel half way across the planet to …not do something.
After a very short discussion between all the team members it was decided that we were going to go back to town and get food for this family. We bought enough for a month along with water. We also bought juice and things for them to have immediately.
After arriving back to her home we brought in the food and juice. I had cut up our sandwiches we had made for a picnic planned for later that day. I gave each of the children a sandwich. The look of excitement on their face to see meat on their sandwich was priceless. The oldest girl would not take her sandwich until everyone else had theirs. Then with a single tear in her eye she simply said “Thank you”. In that moment I realized I was not at all prepared for a broken heart.
The next few days were spent praying for her and her situation. I asked God for a name. I needed a name to call her when I spoke of her to anyone! Especially back home in the States. God said,”Her name is Hope”! Of course it is!!!
The definition of Hope is –a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Hope…..this girl who was found in a village in the Transkei of South Africa. Through this girl I have learned what real hope is. It is a movement! Through Village South Africa we have been able to provide food for her and her family this past year. We are in the midst of planning a construction project for them also.
There are so many more. As I prepare for this next trip I tell myself that I’m ok with a broken heart….