Its been a fast start to the year! We arrived back from our Christmas road trip on 5th January (some pictures below), just in time to celebrate my birthday (I was super spoilt by amazing friends here :-)) and launched back into the office from 8th January. However our real kick off for the year occurred on Friday 10th January where our Hands family from South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe all joined together to hear the launch of our ‘Watch Word’ for the year.
I hear you say, what is a ‘Watch Word’? For the start of each new year, our Hands at Work leadership, specifically George and Carolyn Snyman, our founders, seek God for a scripture that will guide our work for the coming year. This year, they were brought back to the same word they were given 21 years ago when Hands at Work was being birthed as an organisation.
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8 (NIV)
We have started to seek what this means to us corporately, but additionally this word also speaks to me so much personally:
“I know your deeds” : God see’s the work we do to serve him. He knows our heart motivation and the things we put our hand to that no one else may see. He knows what we do and what we don’t do. A reminder of how personal and involved with every detail of our lives, our God is.
“See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” : when God opens a door, no man, or anything else can close it. And yet at the same time we still have a responsibility to chose to walk through it. Will I walk through in faith the doors God has opened before me this year? Will you?
“I know that you have little strength” : this speaks to me the most. God knows that we are weak, that we have little strength, that without him we cannot do anything effective for His kingdom. And yet, a midst this weakness he chooses to work through us and partner with us anyway! In our weakness his strength is made perfect. It makes no sense, but I have experienced this to be true so many times. This year is not about what I can do, but rather what He can do through me.
“you have kept my word and have not denied my name” : I am reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:27, where he subjects himself to discipline so that after preaching to others, he himself will not be disqualified. We need to hold onto the Word in our own hearts and lives.
The following week (last week) we then had a week of workshops with all our leadership together from South Africa and Zambia to set the priorities and focuses for the year. I was able to be a part of these meetings (and take the minutes…not too much has changed from my old roles back home! :-)). Having time to dream and plan how we can better support our Care Workers and the Care Givers of the children; how we can make the Life Centres our children come to each day be just that – a safe place full of life; how we can see healing come to our children at a physical, emotional and spiritual level; and also taking about breaking into many new communities where the need is still utterly desperate. I am super excited for the year ahead!!
The past two days we have been meeting in my immediate team – as the Regional Support Team for South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to start planning out the actual “how” of how we are now going to implement all of these priorities in each of our communities across all our countries.
There is MUCH work to be done, its going to be a HUGE year, but we are positioned well, focused up and ready to run hard to serve Africa’s most vulnerable children. And there is a great URGENCY to the work, we need to reach more children. We TRUST God will continue to lead and guide us through the doors he has opened for us this year.
As I have not yet given an update on my Christmas road trip, I wanted to briefly share a few pictures from our time away. South Africa is such a beautiful and diverse country, not to mention huge! (The 3 day drive home from Cape Town was LONG!) But I am so thankful for the amazing time we were able to have, to relax, be refreshed, to swim in the ocean and generally just have a great time with good friends. It was the perfect end to a rather big year 😉
Our day trip into Lesotho. The highest country in the world. Not to mention stunningly beautiful!
The “Hole in the Wall” at Coffee Bay.
Christmas dinner in Coffee Bay! (After spending our Christmas day chilling out on the beach)
A beautiful sunrise on Boxing Day morning!
Chapman’s Peak Drive in Cape Town
Good Morning 2014! New Years Day morning from the top of Table Mountain 🙂