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I Left Part of My Heart in South Africa

I Left Part of My Heart in South Africa
After 6 days of being on the other side of the world and 18 hours on a plane, being reunited with my family was one of the most beautiful things yesterday morning! We drove straight from the airport in DC to our home in TN and got home last night.

I brought home a sunburn and a weary body, but it was every bit worth it for the amazing and life-impacting lessons learned, memories made, experiences shared, and incredible people we met.

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And while my body may no longer be in beautiful South Africa, I left part of my heart there. The people, the scenery, the history, the climate, the food, the warmth… I fell in love with all of it.

There aren’t words to describe just how much this trip impacted me, just how much I saw God show up on my behalf, and just how hard it was for me to leave. There were so many needs. So many children who were desperate for love and words of encouragement. So much poverty and hunger.

We are excited for what we’re planning and dreaming for the future and how we’re going to come alongside some of these neediest communities to bring hope and practical help. There are great needs, but there are also great opportunities to help bring lasting change to these communities. We can’t wait to share more about that in the weeks and months to come!


Getting to spend the week with Lisa-Jo in her home country of South Africa was a gift I’ll never forget. Her heart, her passion, her graciousness, her laughter, her authenticity, her encouragement… it blessed my soul at a deep level.

I Left Part of My Heart in South Africa

I’m humbly grateful that God connected us five years ago through this crazy blogging thing we’ve been called to do. My life will never be the same because of knowing Lisa-Jo.

We are so very grateful to each one of you who prayed for us. We saw God answer your prayers in very direct ways — from allowing us to have energy and strength even with little sleep and jet lag, to our families back home doing so well, to the clear direction and leading we felt for how God wants us to be involved in South Africa in the future as we met with the local leaders there… we felt such calmness, such joy, and such peace the whole trip. And we know it was because of your many prayers on our behalf.

I have many more stories and pictures to share in the coming days. Right now, though, I’m going to try to head back to bed to get some more sleep. (I’ve been up since 2:30 a.m. thanks to jet lag!)

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  • Lori Ewart says:

    Welcome home! I’m sure you have a lot to mentally process. May God richly bless “the next thing” that He has in store for Money Saving Mom.

  • Lana says:

    All good news!

  • Jennifer says:

    Yay for a safe, inspiring journey!

    p.s. Some of us would love to see what Jesse and the kids were up to while you were away. Is he up for doing a post?

  • Katy says:

    Welcome home! Such great pictures and words. Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Lisa-Jo says:

    A trip packed full of a lifetime of memories. LOVED every minute with you, Crystal. Your enthusiasm, your laughter, your amazingly easy-going spirit, your joy and your generosity. Profoundly grateful to have shared it all with you. A thousand thank yous for being so open to this invitation. And looking forward to where it leads us next. Much love, friend! LJ

  • It has been such a blessing to read about your trip and I am so glad that you got to experience the joy of seeing God’s people fulfill His calling.

  • Margaret says:

    Looking forward to hearing about Africa. I also want to hear some recommendations from Jesse about what they enjoyed in D.C.

  • Great post. I commiserate with your post greatly, as this is how I felt when I came home from both of my African missions trips, to Kenya and South Africa. The biggest challenge comes when you have to find ways to keep up the momentum of trying to help those you visited, as well as giving to those in your own community as well. I think that seeing domestic instances of poverty are harder to deal with, as it shows that many issues Americans associate with developing countries, such as child impoverishment, lower instances of immunization, inept educational budgets, are just as prevalent in parts of this nation as well; its easier to have a social buffer half a world away. I fell that so many ambassadors of change give so freely to those half a world away, but fall short for problems in their own community. I’d love to see more posts about your stewardship and volunteering ventures in your new area, too!

    • Leanne says:

      I completely agree!!! & so glad someone had the courage to say it!!! We have so much need in this country too, but it’s not always as glamorous as going/giving to another country…God Bless anyone who gives, but we should look around first…& i guarantee you there are places hit by poverty, violence, lack of education, etc. here in the US…!!! Do a census report search & then go visit those cities/counties with high poverty, non-existant food banks, etc…i can say from personal experience that they look alot like third world countries!!!

  • Jennifer says:

    Not sure where my comment went…oh internet. I always wanted to go to South Africa since I was seven and saw the movie, “The Power of One.” I wasn’t able to go until I was 17 and found a three week missions trip opportunity and fundraised/worked very hard to raise the money for it. I wouldn’t go again for six years until I had finished my masters degree and went for five months as a World Vision Intern. Another six years have passed and I am still waiting waiting waiting on the Lord for another opportunity to go back to the place that holds my heart.

  • I have so enjoyed following along, and praying for you. God bless you both.

  • So glad your’e home safe and sound and that your trip was so positive and impactful! I can tell just by the pictures what an amazing time you had. You are positively beaming with joy. Can’t wait to hear what’s to come! 🙂

  • Lindsay says:

    What a wonderful journey you are a part of! Reading your blog posts on Africa has been very inspirational to me.

  • Vickie says:

    So glad your home safely and I know your kids are proud to see you! Can’t wait to hear more. What a trip to remember I’m sure!

  • Jen says:

    I can’t wait to hear the rest of your stories! I’m so glad the trip was fulfilling and inspiring for you. Welcome back!

  • Laura says:

    I signed up to receive the e-mails but never got any. Was I missing something or did they not happen? Ditto what the other ladies said would love to hear/see what Jesse and the kids were up too also! So thankful your back safely! Prayed for you! 🙂

  • It’s great to know that you’re home safely. I can’t wait to see the pictures and hear your stories!

  • Heidi says:

    We can’t wait to hear more about your trip. That photo at the top of this article is so sweet; I almost missed that you had all three children in your arms. They sure seem happy to see you!

  • Laura Murfin says:

    What a fun trip! What great pics!

  • Beth Anne says:

    Crystal, I’m so glad you had such an incredible experience in South Africa and feel called to partner with leaders there. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip and more about what’s coming for the future.

    I just love life-changing trips! I know my trip to India 10 years ago changed my life forever. I’ll always love that country so much. Chris and I can’t wait to take Holden back for a visit.

    P.S. I think we’re on exactly opposite sleep schedules. You’re waking up at 2:30 AM, and I’m going to bed at 2:30 AM! Yikes!

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