Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve given an update! About a month to be exact, and the good news…I”M STILL ALIVE! I have not been eaten by lions, I’m not missing, and my team and I are all doing well. For the last couple of weeks, we ventured out into the bush with no WiFi and signal that just doesn’t last. To say that a great deal has happened would probably be an understatement and not do what I am about to tell you all justice.
Over the last three weeks my team and I have had the amazing opportunity to return to one of my favorite places out in Bosveld, SA…Zwartkloof, the private game reserve. While on the reserve, we stayed at Bush Kamp which meant, living in tents, getting to shower every couple of days or so (one shower and toilet between 16 people), and laundry about once a week.
I will tell you what I told my team…there is something different about this place. From the crisp fresh air, the amazing sunrises and sunsets, laying under the stars and seeing the milky way galaxy, experiencing nature in a whole new way, this place holds a great deal of my heart. To wake up each morning, hearing the lions roar and every night as I laid my head down, I could just sense God’s presence the moment I stepped foot back on the reserve. Like a a holy breath of release, it was good for my soul to be back in this wonderful place.
Since our arrival at Zwartkloof, it has been nonstop! From serving in the kitchen prepping meals and serving meals for various camps, painting bathrooms, making beds, working out in the bush moving rocks into a straight line along the road, pulling weeds, chopping down camel thorn trees with a machete in an enclosure in grass that is taller than I am, pulling grass with our hands from a fence line, and clearing a path for an upcoming bike marathon…our team has done it all from dawn till dusk 7 days a week.
Myself….well I worked with the enclosure team, moving rocks into a straight line along the road, pulling grass from the dirt path and clearing the fence line, painting bathrooms, and painting fences with carbolinium, and many other things. We wore the same dirty clothes multiple days in a row as it’s pointless to change into something clean, we got down and dirty, we smelled horrid some days, and we served with everything we had. As I sit here watching the sun go down and write this to whoever will read it, I will tell you that some days have made quite the memory and are moments that I will cherish forever. Other days…well on other days I would question God in my heart and just wonder the purpose behind it all.
Exhausted from the sun, weary from the journey, with calloused hands, and scrapes down my arm, I would look at my team and I understood the looks that I saw on their face, because I had it to…it’s the question of what’s the point? What’s the kingdom impact and does this really bring glory to God? It makes the days long and the tasks seem meaningless especially when you have pulled grass for almost two weeks straight along a road that seemed to have no end.
As I continued pushing my faith and talking…well some days crying out to the Lord…the more I fell in love with Mark 4 where it says, ““Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand some of the tasks the Lord placed before my team and I. It didn’t always make sense and to be honest, I learned really quick that I don’t always need to know. I simply needed to act as if I was doing it for Lord, to praise Him in every moment even if I didn’t see the full picture as God had a much grander plan and purpose in store that I simply could not see in the day to day. Because what I didn’t know…the grander plan I did not quite see…as we closed out our time in Zwartkloof, we had the amazing opportunity to help prepare for The Bosveld Trap. This event was a mountain bike marathon created for the sole purpose of raising money for Eleos and other charities that directly impacted the communities we served alongside in Pretoria West and the kids we love in the after school program. This event, made every community and every opportunity come full circle as we now are able to paint the picture of where their support comes from, how the meals are packaged, who the meals go to, where they live, and how each ministry come together to make a difference for these individuals and families in need throughout South Africa. It was this event that made all the hard work, early mornings, and late nights worth every second. All the sweat, all the tears, and long days…I would pull grass and work straight through each night if it meant that I had this opportunity all over again and be apart of something that is so much bigger than myself.
As Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”” Mark 4:26-32 NLT
It’s funny how the smallest seed, has the potential to grow into one of the greatest trees. Just like tossing a pebble into a still pond, causing ripples in the water, you can’t stop it from growing . You don’t even see the seed after it is planted or the stone after it is tossed into the water. They dive deep into the unseen. They become hidden and for awhile they can seem lost or dead…but without the casting of a stone, the water won’t cause waves…without the seed being planted, there would be no growth. I can’t tell you the kingdom impact pulling grass will have or chopping down a tree, but I can tell you that through it all, we planted a seed. We caused a new wave. Whether it was in the hearts of the staff, in the hearts of those around us, or the hearts of those at the event, by simply helping ease their burden and take some of the pressure off of them as we prepared for this event in the midst of other camps or supporting and serving at this event to help make it a success. Through that simple mustard seed, the potential for something far greater than we could ever imagine has now been made possible.
Throughout this portion of our trip it hasn’t been the easiest. Yes, I can glorify it and show you and tell you all we’ve accomplished, but if I can put it plainly for just a moment…throughout this time, I’ve walked through the fire. I’ve been tested, my faith was shaken, I’ve had individuals challenge me, and I have had questions thrown my way that I did not always know the answer to. At times, I even questioned God’s purpose in all of this as I began to wonder if God really placed this call on my life or had I bitten off more than I could chew. Now being on the other side of things, looking back, God definitely has me exactly where he wants me to be.
I am not one to back down from a Goliath and I am going to give all that I have to the people and community around me for the sake of the Kingdom of God even if I don’t understand in the moment.
As we transitioned out of this community and said our goodbyes, my heart was heavy. How can I just leave this place I love that holds so many that I care about? Trust me…it was not easy. From my last trip and throughout this time now, these people aren’t just people that I have met and can move on from. They are people that mean the world to me as they have brought me in, welcomed me, hugged me tight as I have cried, shared their lives and stories with me, made memories, shared a great deal of laughs, and to me…they are family. I have never been good at goodbyes, but I know that I will see them again and this isn’t goodbye. It’s just see you soon!
I don’t know what God has in store for my team and I next as we transition to what’s ahead. All I know is that wherever he leads, I will follow. When He speaks, I will listen. When He says move, I will go whole heartedly no matter the task placed before me.
Zwartkloof, kairos, and South Africa holds a big piece of my heart, but now it’s time to keep moving forward on this grand adventure.
Until Next Time,