I have learnt a lt this year. I learned that things don't always turn out the way you planned, or the way you think it should. And I've learned that there are things that go wrong that don't always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I've learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones. This year wasn't always pretty. It wasn't always comfortable. Some things and situations even break your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you - it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness and on your heart. You take something with you, and hopefully also leave some things behind. I will forever remain humble because I know I could have less. And I will always be grateful because I know I've had less.
I really felt it on my heart to share with you the words of a song that I wrote the other day. It pretty much describe where I'm at:
ÂÂ ÂÂ We started Peru off in Iquitos. This is a town in the middle of the Amazon! How did we get there? Well there are no roads to Iquitos only rivers to Iquitos. So your options are boat or plane. We opted to go for a 3 day upriver boat trip from Leticia Colombia.ÂÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This boat trip was so special! We slept in hammocks had no team activities, the boat cooked for us and sailed us up stream for 3 glorious days. We had our meals served to us in our hammocks! We were told before hand that the food portions are little and taste terrible, well the source of that information clearly had not been living on a 1$ per day food budget. We were pleasantly surprised by chicken everyday.. meat peopleâ¦ meatâ¦ what were they complaining about? We hadnât seen meat since the parents visit in Panama!! The source of this information also told us about how he just washed his spoon in the water provided by the boat and was horribly sick for 3 days. He said donât shower, take enough water and truth be told, I was even afraid to look at the water at first. The first dayI did not dare to take a shower but then I realised, after a huge plate of chicken and rice that I couldnât finish, that this guy was probably exaggerating about the water too. At this point I wasnât too worried and jumped into the shower with all my clothes to cool off what a great decision which was repeated at least once a day after that!Â Â Â Â Â I was actually sick on the boat with the unfriendly Chikungunya fever but made a full recovery in only 3 days! Thank you Jesus!! We watched how people from tiny villages along the river came alongside and on the boat to sell snacks etc. I think the most impressive was how people put tons and tons of fish on the boat. They made cooler boxes out of old fridges and then packed in their catch! It was a process to smash the ice and then transfer the fish, sometimes one by one. At other stops the men put 3 or 4 huge bunches of Plantains (similar to Bananas) on their shoulders and load them up. When we adventured down the the loading deck to try our hand at fishing we found a huge variety of different goods, bananas, chickens (possibly the dinners we have been having?), a pig, oranges and tons of fish!ÂÂ We really did not want to get off the boat but in hindsight because we had no idea what was waiting for us! A town with hardly any cars but thousands of motorbikes, motor taxis and buses without windows. A church who has a heart for unity in the body of Christ, who sends missionaries into the amazon villages, a church full of youth beaming with energy and dance, this church soon became our family! Someone from the church owns a hotel and blessed us with accommodation for the week! The pastor was so excited about us and what we are doing which was an encouragement that came at just the right time. I clearly remember being in a motor taxi on the first day we were there, dodging potholes, looking out over the amazon and feeling what a privilege! I think only in my wildest dreams I dreamt that I would do this and here I am for the second time! In all of this I canât help but feel loved by God! I am only here by His grace, love and kindness.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â What I thought would be just a short week waiting for our flight for Lima became one of the highlights of the trip! The Church was so open, gave us opportunities to share about our journey and the awesome God we serve! It is amazing to see how Holy Spirit spoke through each person and how impacted the people were by our time there! Four of the church members are taking English classes now, keen to do Global Challenge and in the mean time encouraged to go all out with God. We saw Johannes get baptized by his best friend/ almost brother/ next door neighbour/ DAVID who first motivated him to seek Jesus in a deeper way. His brother, Andy was visiting us at that time and it could not have been more special, it was on Spring day in the Amazon river with half of the youth from the church with us, the pastor and his wife. A day to remember! We ate braaied crocodile and braaied caterpillar to top it all off! Thank you Lord for showing us more of your heart and nature to us, for working through us and being with us every step of the way.ÂÂ ÂÂ
Macedonia was one of those countries that I had high expectations of. Mostly due to the fact that I heard so much about the place, the large amount of people that needed help in the camps and the Rama people that also needed help. After Africa left Macedonia, I read their blogs and that helped me to paint a picture of how it is there, and what I can expect. So after reading and hearing about the refugee camp, I was expecting a BIG challenge. Not that it would have demotivated me in some sort of manner but rather start a big change in my life. I’m not saying that it didn’t change me at all, it’s just that the change did not come as dramatic as I expected it to be.
Since being in Colombia I often asked myself how do I love other people? Out of a society where everybody looks for their own interests and tries to get the best out of everything I didn't know how to love others. I know God loves us so much that He gave His son for us and how Jesus loved other people way back in the past. But how does it look like today?
Davis, aka The Ambassador greeted us with his white smile and a dashing white suit on Sunday morning. He was ready for church. Marié and I ran some last errands, I all the while thinking how the heck is this guy going to keep his white suite white. Why would he even bother with one? It won't stay white, I could guarantee him that. Everything is dusty in Busia, Uganda. Even the tar road has a thick layer of dust making it unrecognizable – and we were far away from the tar road anyway.
Panama is definately one of my top countries that I wanted to re-visit after last years journey through Latin America. I didn't think I would be able to come back so quickly but wow what a privilege. I can think of many reasons to rush back to Panama; the beautiful rainforrest of Gamboa, staying right on the Panama Canal, sloths, tucans, anteaters and iguanas roaming the streets but the real reason I wanted to go back was for the people of Gamboa Union Church especially Pastor Bill. God did so much in my heart in Panama last year and so my expectation was high! Some people say it is bad to have expectations but I think even our highest expectaions of God are too small and limited! He is so much bigger than we can imagine! Yes you guessed it, my expectations were exceeded! The leaves were greener, the mangoes sweeter and the people more loving and welcoming than I remember. We did radio programs, visited the local prison, 'daily Luke 10's' trusting God for the right moment to speak to the right person, had good team discussions with our guest of honour and Panama celebrity Elsabe, we heard and were inspired by the testimonies of God's majesty, power and goodness in the lives of others. We had awesome times of devotions, worship, prayer, prayer and more prayer. Pastor Bill and Anne spent so much time with us, listening, pouring out love and encouraging us. On the last day with them I was so humbled and amazed at how they could recieve encouragement from us. How they are so greatful for every single thing that God brings along their path, if it is a security guard accepting a piece of pizza along with a tract or the miraculous healing of a team member they are equally encouraged and amazed by God. I learned this life of thanksgiving is practiced everyday and keeps your fire fueled with passion for the Lord and what He is doing. Then the best treat of all, my mom coming to visit all the way from South Africa!!! Last year while in Panama I clearly remember praying intensely for my mom, and our relationship. God is a God of details and He brought my mom all the way to Panama to show me His faithfulness and goodness. To bring my mom and I closer, to implant more of Himself in her and simply bless us both! What an awesome awesome God we serve! Panama marks the halfway point of our journey for 2016! I am truely amazed by God and what He has done. I have this strange and wonderful feeling that the best is yet to come! God is going to take us deeper, hopefully way over our heads, root us in Him and reveal himself in ways that makes me think... WOW! I am not sure if I even knew Him before. Yay Jesus!! Let's go or rather .... VAMOS!
Five days, five countries… We travelled from Guatemala to Costa Rica, passing through El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. God really surprised me and it was such a joy to truly trust God and go wherever He had prepared for us. I had found myself laughing at the situations and places we were in because I really experienced the promises of God so practically. In Psalms 91 God says ‘If you say the Lord is my refuge and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent for He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.’
When I first laid my eyes on you and the rolling hills you sat upon. I thought what amazing luck I have that God had created such beautiful things and gave me the eyes to see them. I am forever changed by your existence. You are a place filled with so many stories and I feel so privileged to share some of these stories with you. I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can't read anything, you have only the most rudimental sense of how things work. You can't even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses. These interesting guesses were what brought our team to a lot of interesting places ranging from the far North to the ever ongoing South. You taught me the names of these cities, and I saw that each one of them tell a different story. You introduced me to people that showed me characteristics of Jesus in such a simple and beautiful way. I learnt about the importance of our dependance on God and also what it truly means when Paul writes in Philippians 4:11 "...in every situation I am to be content." I learnt that everything in life needs some sort of foundation, I came to the conclusion that Jesus must be this foundation. Just like the wise builder built his house on the rock. I learnt that rest is necessary especially when we do it in His presence. He gives answers when we listen. I learned that one smile can heal a heart that had walls so tall and painted blue, but now has a door to let people through. Ethiopia you showed me how the Father gives so much more to those He loves. We ask for one ministry point He gives us all of Ethiopia. Kindness is your specialty and somehow you grasp the importance of giving, not only things but yourselves as well. I am truly humbled by it. I will be forever grateful for these foundations you reminded me of. Thank you for showing me what love is by also showing me what it is not. I will carry it in my heart. I will carry you in my heart. YoursTill we meet again
The journey of grace started in Russia and by the end of Cuba while sitting in a coffee shop drinking coffee that tastes like sea water and being told to keep quiet by the waitress because we laughing too loud, God concluded the first part of an unending series of His grace.
Macedonia was beautiful. We were received with open South African arms and felt so at home, but the atmosphere changed when we entered the colorless Tavanoche camp. By the time we reached Macedonia most of the refugees had traveled on and it was only those without money or with children that were left. It was hard to lift spirits without even being able to communicate. So we fully relied on God.
Why do we make life so complicated? Why do we so easily make mountains out of mere ant hills? It is not supposed to be this difficult and I dare say it is rather tiring to worry about everything all the time. My stay in Egypt these past two weeks has been a time of growth and transformation. Firstly I would like to mention that all the pictures I have seen, all the history that I have read and heard throughout my years of study about this wonderful place, I could have never imagined it to be so glorious in person. It was like being in a dream. The biggest lesson however, I learned was at a spiritual oasis called Anaphora. It certainly lived up to it's name. I do not know wether it was the stillness and tranquility, the flowers, or the lack of connectivity to the outside world and everything in between which made it such a wonderful place but I have come to the conclusion that wherever there is peace there is freedom. There is so much peace and tranquility there, you just want to remain there forever. It is a place to recharge and renew your mind end even your soul. It is where you feel God in the stillness. I know that He is good. The nuns, whom we call sisters, are beautiful and inspiring. They have so much patience and love, the fruits of the spirit are ever present in everything they do. The other volunteers especially from Sweden and France have stolen a piece of my heart which I will never want back. They have changed my life. Our stay at Anafora will always be longed for in the future to come. God had some things to reveal to me. He has been constantly and slowly moulding my mind and heart to become more like His and pursuing me with a love that conquers every fear. I am learning to love people I do not always like, I am learning to be content with what I have, to be quiet and still and to trust in His timing, for His favor will always come. I received a revelation specifically about the heart and where it is pointing to. In Proverbs 4: 23 it says: "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for it determines the course of your life." What is so significant about our entire time in Egypt is that this verse came alive to me through Egyptian mythology. In Egyptian mythology there is a god called Anubis. He guards the gate to the underworld. The Ancient Egyptians believed that when you died, you travelled to the Hall of the Dead. There Anubis weighed your heart against the feather of Ma'at. Ma'at, the goddess of justice sits on top of the scales to make sure that the weighing is carried out properly. If your heart was lighter than the feather, you lived for ever. If your heart was heavier than the feather then it was eaten by the demon Ammit, the Destroyer. The message is quite direct and clear. Our hearts determine the course of our life. If our hearts are set on the wrong course and it is filled with the wrong intentions, it is going to be complicated and difficult. But if it is set on God we can be more than conquerers in even the most trying times. "The boundaries in our lives are determined by what goes on in our hearts."- Brian Houston In other words we do not need to strive for others attention or validation to make us feel better about ourselves. This is not what our hearts should be set on. It should be set on Jesus. The only one who is worthy enough to give opinion and validation. Our hearts determine the course of our life. If it is set on Jesus then it does not matter what our circumstances are or what others say, when we keep our eyes focussed on the one who is love and and the source of peace, we need never to look down but only up. I have gained a peace in my heart which I never want to lose. Because I know my God is already in front of me preparing the way. Anafora, I will always carry our time together in my heart. You have taught my heart to rest in His embrace and to be still and know. He is God and He will always be there to pick me up when I fall.
One month ago, we sat/lay on the floor of Ben Gurion Int. Airport not knowing what to expect from Israel and having no idea what lay ahead. Today we sit in the same airport, wearing the same clothes as when we arrived (washed, of course) but our hearts are completely changed.
Imagine a hiking trip that follows the trail of all the places where Jesus performed his miracles and doing it with 10 other spirit filled people, well this is how the 4 day trip started... We received 25 fish right out of the Sea of Galilee from a local and while we waited for our self-proclaimed fishermen to clean and gut them, we tried to cook beans which ended up taking TWO days to soften. So with fish flopping in packets, beans soaking in a ziplock packet and a rubbish bag over my backbag because of the rain, we began our journey of receiving Gods provision. Within 25 minutes we were walking through a grapefruit farm. The joy that filled my heart! We began pushing grapefruit into our already overfilled bags. For the next few hours, happiness covered my heart and a sleeve of sticky grapefruit juice formed on my arms. We walked up and down and all around the Arbel mountains, I'm not someone who usually stops and notices natural scenery but it was impossible to miss Gods glory and beauty this time. The sun was setting and the choices of where to set up our tents were not very 'lively'; next to a dead cow or next to a cemetery... We carried on walking. Without surprise, God lead us to a little farm and we cooked our fish with a grid that the farmer gave us. The following morning we walked through banana vineyards. I have NEVER eaten so many bananas in my life! I felt so loved by God because he knows how much I would have liked this surprise. So we filled packets with them and we ate bananas three times a day for three days. Our God is a God of abundance. By the grace of God, I got to to learn this facet of my best friend and savior. Now that I have experienced that Jesus abundantly gives us in the physical, how much more will He give us of things that are eternal and of more value. A recurring phrase for me and my friend during this time was "I'll provide the coffee and you provide the biscuits." However, I heard God remixing these words in my heart and his version sounds much better. "I'll provide the coffee and the biscuits.. And joy, love, healing, strength, wisdom, protection, grace and peace. You just have to be present in my presence to receive all I have for you. Thank you Provider for your abundance. Thank you Yeshua for your love. Thank you Jesus for your fullness Heb 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Ha! Got you to open my blog. While your here you might as well read a bit furher. The Hidden World team has been in Israel for 29 days. It's been fun, rough, tough and blessed. We are leaving tomorrow to the airport, sleeping there and leaving early Saturday morning to Russia. We went across the whole of Israel. We've been north, east, south and west. We were at the Sea of Galilee, Red Sea and Dead Sea a d Mediterranean Sea. We walked, took busses, taxis and hitchiked to places. We bought food, got food given to us and picked food up from trashcans. We had toilets or bushes, open showers, cold showers, buckets and no water. We slept in a house, room, tent, on a roof, outside and under a shade net. We pulled out weeds, did prayer chains, bible studies, got teachings, sang praise and worship songs, painted, went to a seminar, did prayer walks, witnessed and cleaned a house. One song we sang (very known) goes like this: Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise. I sang it... and paused... what if He doesn't pour out a blessing? Do I stop praising? That's the thing. As a child of God we always get blessings. But a lot of times it looks different than what we expect it to be or look like. Another thing is that many times we can't see the purpose of it yet. God knows it all. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending (Rev 1:8). He already knows what will happen and what happened. He already knows what you're going through and will still need to endure. Don't stop praising and trusting, EVER! I know it is very difficult to believe that God has our best interest at heart. Because we've never experienced this kind of love and we're used to looking out for ourselves. But it's not necessary to doubt in His plans for you. He knows what His plans are for you. It is plans of peace, not of evil (Jer 29:11). I want to correct my title... God is always good! When it feels like it's going bad and when you go through tribulations and troubles. God is good, always.
Morocco welcomed us with a night at the airport where we had to sleep through the sound of hammers and chisels ceaselessly building away on a new part of the airport.
To get from Marrakech to Fes we had to take a long bus ride. The plan was to take the bus, arrive at the bus station in Fes, get connected to the Internet and let Mustafa from the hostel know we've arrived as arranged.