Friday, May 6, 2016

Brit's testimony ... I mean English Paper!

I have wanted to post this for months now and I am just now getting to it.  Brit actually needed to write an essay for her English class last semester and it could be over any topic.  She went and spoke with her professor to get some help in narrowing down what to write about.  Her professor told her to just write about her move to South Africa.  So she did.  Before she turned it in, she sent it to us to read.  I sat in bed crying as I read it.  The Lord had done so much in her over the last seven years and I was just so grateful.  I sent her a message that said, "Great testimony, I mean English paper!" 

Moving to South Africa
In June of 2009, my family and I moved to South Africa to be missionaries.  Moving to a different country was very difficult for me.  I was quite rebellious at the time and unwilling to make this new place my home.  Over the next two years, my heart began to soften toward this new life, but I still wasn’t content.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I allowed God to break down the walls I had put up, and I began to see I had purpose for being there.  I discovered sometimes things you absolutely do not want to do are the most beneficial for you.
For example, when I was 14, my family and I moved to South Africa.  The day we left the States was one of the most emotional days I have ever gone through because I was reluctant to leave my home for a country I knew little about.  I’m sure the plane traveled slower because I was dragging my feet so hard.  Once we arrived in South Africa, we tried to start our new life.  My parents would push me to go to church, but I argued with them every time; I wanted nothing to do with God anymore.  I stayed in my room the majority of the time, trying to show my parents that moving to South Africa was something I did not want to do.  I would constantly say, “My parents are the missionaries, not me.  Why do I have to be here?”  I was angry and bitter with God, my parents, and this new change in my life.
I began coming around to the fact that this was where we lived now. I began to find things in South Africa that reminded me of home, which helped me cope with living there. For instance, we got dogs like we had in the States, I began to make friends, and I got involved in church again.  I began to stop feeling like a complete outsider although I was still angry on the inside with the move.  I was still fighting with my parents, and I harbored anger towards God but kept it hidden from my new friends.  I was still seeing the move as a punishment; I didn’t see how it could be beneficial.
However, my attitude needed to change in order for me not to be miserable. After my family and I got back from a visit to the States, I realized that the responsibility I had of planning games for children at church was given to someone else.  Things started to fall a part for me.  I realized I had been going through the motions for a long time.  My mom always told me, “You can accept the move and make the best of it, or you can fight against it and be miserable the whole time.”  What she said finally clicked.  I had been fighting against the move this entire time, and I was miserable.  I broke down asking God to forgive me and to change my attitude.  I felt so much peace after that moment.  My attitude changed, and I could now see the good South Africa had to offer me.  I have been able to travel to world famous African landmarks.  I have seen countless African animals and endangered species; I have even held lion cubs.  I have learned to respect other people’s ways and cultures and to appreciate running water.  South Africa is now my second home.  Without moving to South Africa, I could not have had the experiences that have molded me into the person I am today.
Being pushed out of your comfort zone helps grow you, even if you might not see it at first.  I did not want to live in another country.  It took me 3 years to finally let go of my stubbornness and open my heart to whatever God had for me.  I thought God only called my parents to be missionaries, not me, but He had a plan for me as well.  Now I’m back in the States, which was a hard decision because my family is still in South Africa.  However, I’ve learned that the hard things in my life can be beneficial for me, depending on my attitude and not my circumstances. Whether I’m in South Africa or in the States, I now know that things I don’t want are sometimes the things that can teach me more about life and mold me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Alicia's surprise in Mentz

Last Tuesday was our normal Bible study afternoon in Mentz it also happened to be my birthday.  We headed out to Meriam's house and when we got there we noticed her daughter was just finishing putting the table cloth on the table under her Lapa "porch". The wind was blowing and it was getting a little cool and Meriam came and said, "Alicia, let's meet inside. The wind is not good for me since I have a cough"."  Mark and I were fine with that and we headed inside.  I thought there might only be Meriam and her daughter there for Bible study but it would be fine.  We walked in the house and all of a sudden I hear them singing to me.  Everyone was waiting inside for us to get there and they had planned a party.    I couldn't believe it.  These ladies and young men all brought something to share in the celebration.  We had drinks, cakes, cookies and chips!    They made sure we spent some time studying God's Word before we had food.  What a special day!