Guest post from Kimberly, a member of the group that recently traveled with me to South Africa
Many years ago a friend suggested I read MoneySavingMom.com. She said Crystal wrote about things that I was experiencing at the time, and thought I might benefit from reading her posts. I visited her blog that evening and was hooked.
The money-saving suggestions were very helpful, but it was her honesty about her daily struggles, challenges, and victories with her family that kept me reading. I was especially interested in the posts about her involvement in South Africa.
I could feel her passion for the people she met, and it was almost contagious. I thought it would be amazing to somehow become involved with a program like she wrote about, but I had no idea I would become involved with that specific program eventually.
Why I Went to South Africa
For years I have been feeling unsettled and praying that God would present me with an opportunity to be His hands and feet — something that would combine my love for travel and my love for serving others. One afternoon I was reading through my e-mails and read about the opportunity to apply to travel to South Africa with Crystal to learn about the program that was taking place and the amazing people involved.
This trip was presented as an advocacy trip, rather than a mission trip. They were looking for people seeking an opportunity to come alongside the local leaders and form a lifelong partnership with these communities. I applied that very afternoon. I knew this was the opportunity for which I had been praying.
How I Was Impacted By Going to South Africa
Since returning from South Africa I have had a number of people ask me why I went and what impacted me the most. Those are really great questions, but to be honest, it’s hard to put into words.
It has taken me a bit of time to put my thoughts down on paper, while being fully aware that I cannot possibly do justice to the awe-inspiring people I met and the work they are doing there.
I can best sum up my 10 days in South Africa as being the most humbling, heartbreaking, and joy-filled experience I have ever had.
Meeting the local leaders who have beautiful hearts of compassion and service was wonderful. Seeing all of the children playing and laughing and loving our presence there was heartwarming. Seeing the efforts people are putting in to raise money, build community centers and schools, plant gardens, instruct school teachers, and gather food was truly amazing.
At the same time, I saw families struggling to provide for their families, people living without access to water and electricity, shells of buildings in various stages of development due to lack of funds, and centers being robbed of water tanks and other supplies because people are desperate to survive.
I pray I never forget the people I met and the things I saw.
What Stood Out Most to Me About the Trip
Several events stood out for me while I was in South Africa.
The obedience of the advocates who left jobs and families in order to travel to South Africa for 10 days. The obedience of Crystal and Jesse who have given so graciously to the operating needs of Take Action. The obedience of others living locally (whether from the U.S. or South Africa) who devote themselves daily to serving the communities we visited. Each person felt a call to go, and each person went in obedience.
Another thing I witnessed that truly warmed my heart was seeing the raw emotion each advocate felt while on this trip. I am a crier, so I fully expected that I would be overwhelmed with emotion during this trip. I wasn’t prepared for the beauty of seeing others experience these emotions, as well.
I saw men openly cry and talk about how they were impacted by what they were seeing. I saw leaders overcome with gratitude for all they had been given and for the sacrifices we made to travel to meet them. I met local leaders who were in tears both because of what had been accomplished thus far, as well as what is left to be done.
We arrived as a group of strangers and left as a group of friends that went through a heart- and life-changing experience together.
Before I left, I had three people pull me aside and tell me that God was not done with me in South Africa. And to be honest, I feel this too. I feel like I have a role to fulfill there — whether it is through advocating for people with disabilities, helping prepare teachers to work with children in the community centers, or working with the families.
I am not clear yet what exactly my purpose is, but I am more than excited to find out. The thought of returning to South Africa fills me with great joy and I would love to take my children with me. What a fabulous life lesson for them!
Kimberly is currently staying at home with and homeschooling her three active, beautiful children. Caleb is 11, Karin is 8, and Braelyn is 6. She is also mom to several angel babies that she will be reunited with one day. She has been married to her husband, Dale, for 13 years and they currently live in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Her background is in Special Education for people with a wide range of disabilities. She has had the distinct honor of teaching both in the United States, as well as in North Africa (Peace Corps) and Honduras (Christian Blind Mission).