Monday, August 10, 2009


Mona, the little one and a half year old in the picture to the right captured my heart the first day that I met her at the orphanage. She sat in a white onsie with pastel flowers that was too big for her. Her arms hung at her side, she seemed stuck and very despondent. I reached out to pick her up and immediately felt compassion for this little baby. I was told later that she was malnourished and neglected. She had never crawled or walked and she was one and a half.

I decided the first day I met her that I was going to teach her how to walk. We have been together every day since. She knows me and calls me Mami. Her face lights up when she sees me and she loves to make faces at me with her tongue.

At first, when I tried to teach her how to walk, she would sob because it was uncomfortable for her and new for her. I was thinking, I understand how you are feeling! I feel the same way being here in Africa! Here in Africa, I am surrounded by poverty like I have never seen. It can be overwhelming and I continually pray for God’s grace and joy in face of suffering.

As Mona and I continued to spend time together, I found that she would do things with me that she would not do with other people. She began to stand up for me while she would not do that with the occupational therapist. As she began to trust me, she allowed me to lead her in new ways.

I spent three amazing weeks at the orphanage and most of my time was spent with Mona! She has grown so much and she has such a great sense of humor! She makes me laugh every time that I am with her. And she is so excited every time I walk into the room.

It has been difficult to leave her as I moved on to my position with the School of Hope. I am very thankful for my position at this school. I am helping the social worker and counselor of the school to work with the students. This high school was started to meet the need of students who did not finish high school for various reasons and have no place to go. Many of the students dropped out, were kicked out, or struggled with drug addiction. A lot of the students are abandoned by their families. This school offers the students a second chance at their education and gives them hope for their futures.

We all need second chances for different areas of our lives and I am so thankful to be a part of the loving and gracious team that serves the school. All of the teachers and the principal have amazing faith and perseverance! They all have faith for the students and pray continually for God to meet all of their needs. And God does meet their needs in miraculous ways. Some days we don't know how we are going to feed the kids and God provides a way. And some days we don't have any money to pay for transport and it comes through in time....
I will continue to let you in as I get to know the students more!


The best things start small. Everything starts small. In fact, anything great starts small. The challenge becomes: Can we wait for the small to develop and become what it can be?

Entering the country of South Africa, I marveled as the mountains bowed down and met the waves of the ocean. As I drove from the airport with a bit of jet lag, I saw the acres upon acres of townships where multitudes of people live. The homes in a township consist of four walls of half-broken wood, dirt floor, and tin roofs.

Desperation arose in my heart as I thought: how do people live like this? And the question continues as I face the contrasting reality of human suffering amidst the beauty of the land. Africa has captured me in her struggle to be free.

As I have been learning in my community development class, poverty is multi-faceted. Part of my role is to help the people in impoverished communities to recover their true identity and true gifting so that they can break free from the cycle of poverty. Programs that create dependency on another person or system does not bring liberty for the people.

“If poverty is the absence of things, then the solution is to provide them. This often leads to the outsider becoming the development ‘Santa Claus,’ bringing all good things. The poor are seen as passive recipients, incomplete human beings we made complete and whole through our largess...we act as if God’s gifts were given to us and none to the poor. This attitude increases their poverty and tempts us to play god in the lives of the poor (Poverty and the Poor).”

As a church we have a mandate from God to take care of the poor. The question becomes, what does it mean to take care of the poor? Does it mean always providing for material lack in their lives? I don’t think so. I will continue to explore the topic of poverty as I work and live among the poor in South Africa. Thank you so much for your support and prayers! Love, Meg