Merry Christmas with love from Africa xx

At 12pm on Wednesday this week our offices will close for the Christmas period signalling the end of the year.  I wanted to take this opportunity therefore, to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has supported, prayed for and encouraged me this year as I have embarked on what is now almost a year in Africa!

It is difficult to even know where to start to sum up my year; however there is a scripture that comes to mind.  Psalm 9:18 in the message translation says “no longer shall the poor be nameless”, and for me that sums up the year.  This year it has become personal.  So personal.  I have been privileged to sit in the dirt with grandmothers and children who I now know by name, who have not eaten for days and do not know where their next meal is coming from but who have opened their homes and lives to me and generously given from their absolute lack; I have sat in tiny dark shacks and shared the love of Christ in what seem like utterly hopeless situations trying to hold back the tears as I have witnessed true faith and what it means to believe and trust in God when it seems like He is not there; I have experienced the loss too many times of amazing care workers and kids in our communities (often from curable diseases) and gotten angry and questioned the injustice; I feel like my heart has been broken into a million pieces over, time and time again, and yet somehow in the midst of all of this I have never felt so blessed.  It honestly doesn’t make any sense and is very hard to articulate.  I have seen more true joy in the smiles of so many children I have met and cuddled, who will forever hold a place in my heart: Elias, Mandras, Themakhosi, Nokubongo, Christabelle and I could go on and on…

I have recently come across Matthew 5:1-12 in the message translation of the bible.

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

– (The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson)

This scripture seems appropriate for where I am at, at this moment, and I hope and pray it may be of some encouragement to you.  How often can we complain and feel like God doesn’t love us when we are at the end of our rope, when we lose things that are dear to us, but in fact it is in these moments where God can actually work more in and through us.  It is so true, when I am at my end, when there is less of me, there is so much more room for Him.  So I pray and hope that those of you who know Him, wherever you find yourselves at this Christmas, will know this truth.

I will be heading off with some of the other international volunteers (who have remained in Africa for Christmas) on a bit of a holiday from this Thursday to explore more of South Africa.  We will be driving from here via Drakonsberg, Durban, Coffee Bay, Jeffrey’s Bay and Mossell Bay to reach Cape Town, and then making our way back up the middle of South Africa home (via Colesburg and Jo’burg).  I am very much looking forward to the break and to be able to spend some time in the ocean!  One of the things I miss most living where I do now!  And just for the record for those of you supporting me financially – I am paying for this trip from personal savings, not support funds 🙂

I pray that you and your family will be blessed over the Christmas season and into the New Year.  Thank you so much for your continued support.

Here are a few more pictures from my recent time in Zimbabwe for those of you not on facebook.

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My beautiful namesake Melissa at Pimai CBO

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Hanging with the kids at Sakubva CBO

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Walking to a home visit in the Honde Valley – so tropical and beautiful!  (And the banana’s were delicious!)

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Care Workers and kids playing at the Care Point at Pimai CBO

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The Care Point at Sakubva with the beautiful mountains that surround Mutare in the background

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A beautiful little girl with the most amazing smile that stole a piece of my heart

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A spectacular Baobab tree on our drive to Zimbabwe

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Tasting a Zimbabwe delicacy – its a tiny whole bird deep fried – and yes you do eat the entire thing, and yes I did eat 2 of them, and they were quite tasty 🙂

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