Welcome to my series all about our recent family trip to South Africa in July. I’m recounting some of our favorite experiences, lessons we learned, travel tips, and some of the most memorable stories and takeaways. To read all of the posts in this series, click here.
One of the highlights of our trip to South Africa was getting to see a big dream of mine come to fruition. This story is years in the making. I’ve only been a part of it for the past 4 years. But it started well before that.
And you all played a really big part in this story, even though you may not have known it.
This beautiful lady standing right next to me is Elizabeth. She is one of the most vivacious, energetic, joyful, and faith-filled women I have ever met. She runs the Reagoboka Drop-in Centre and Early Childhood Development Centre — a centre founded by her mom many years ago that serves the most needy and vulnerable children in this community.
Elizabeth, her two sons, and Gogo Elizabeth
The first time I met Elizabeth and her mother, back in 2014, I was pretty blown away. Here’s what I wrote about that experience:
[When we pulled up to the] Reagoboka Drop-in Centre and Early Childhood Development Centre, sparks of hope came hitting at us from all directions. Elizabeth, the beaming leader of these centers came running out to greet us.
She was excitedly laughing and exclaiming over and over again about all of the wonderful things happening in their centers. She was the epitome of hope.
But here’s the thing: in many people’s eyes, she shouldn’t have hope. In fact, she should be exhausted, overwhelmed, and discouraged. She’s worked incredibly hard, managed what little she has well, and has poured out herself for her community.
Because Elizabeth has chosen to persevere in spite of the odds, because she’s chosen to make the most of the little she has, because she’s chosen to do all she can to make an impact in her community, literally hundreds of children have been fed, cared for, loved on, and invested in over these past years she’s been running the home.
And we got to meet these children and we were blown away by the joy in their faces, the spark in their eyes, and zest they all have for life.
We played with the children, held the little ones, met the incredible team of Care Givers, asked lots of questions, saw their tiny facilities and how they are making the most of them for the 100+ children they currently help, and ate lunch with them.
The children were all smiles and hugs and the Care Givers were laughing and playing with the kids and exclaiming to us how much they loved working with the children and helping the community. All around, we saw hope bursting forth. I was contagious and inspiring.
And it was all because one woman chose to not be overwhelmed by her limited circumstances, but to do what she could, with what she had.
She has not only inspired and impacted countless families in this community, but her life will forever impact mine.
As I learned more of Elizabeth and Gogo’s story, I was humbled, inspired, and deeply moved. You can read a more detailed version of their story here, but the basic details are that this centre was started by Elizabeth’s mother and she was running it from her own home with her own pension money.
This centre provides nutritious food, educational support, social activities, leadership training, and discipleship and serves 100 to 200 of the most vulnerable kids in this community every week.
They didn’t have space in Gogo’s small house to teach and help all of these kids, but they made the decision to trust God and never turn a child away. They only had one small classroom so they would rotate classes — one class at a time — in order to accommodate all of the children with the little space they had.
God always provided for them. They gave the little that they had and it made such an impact.
The chief of their village saw what amazing work they were doing and gave them the land next door to Gogo’s house. When we visited in 2014, Gogo and Elizabeth shared this with me and told me how they believed God was going to provide a building for them.
They believed this so strongly that they had even drawn plans up for this building.
In our very affluent culture, it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around just how crazy this whole idea was. They barely had enough money to pay their basic expenses and were living in complete faith to have enough to pay for feeding and teaching all of these children who were coming to their centre. They didn’t know anyone who would be in a position to help them out financially or have the money to help them with this building.
But they had faith that God was going to provide.
And as I stood on the land with them and looked at the plans and heard their vision for this building, I knew God was calling me to step into this story and be a part of it.
I came home and Jesse and I talked about what this would look like. We decided to give away 25% of all of the proceeds from the Make Over Your Mornings launch.
Your purchases on that launch day helped pay for the bricks and the concrete and the local labor and the classroom supplies to build a brand-new two-room classroom! And we got to unveil it to the teachers and children on our second trip to South Africa in October, 2014. (Read all about that unveiling here.)
As I wrote on that trip:
It. Was. Amazing!!! To think that all of us together are having a little part in making a BIG difference in this community of very vulnerable children — it’s surreal, humbling, and goose-bump-inducing.
THANK YOU for partnering with me to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this project!!! I wish you could have been there to share in the excitement and see and hear the gratitude they expressed to us.
But a two-room classroom was just the start. We had hopes and dreams of building a large building that would house more classrooms, a kitchen, offices, storage, meeting rooms, and more.
We designated a percentage of the profits from some more product launches to this, we gave money we had in savings, we got friends to help give toward this, and we prayed and did more product launches.
It was a much longer process than I had envisioned. When we went to South Africa for the third time (in September 2015), the building was close to finished, but still needed quite a bit of work and there were quite a bit more funds needed to finish it out.
But God continued to provide and continued to bless our business and put it on the hearts of others to give to the building fund, too.
And a few weeks ago, I got to stand in those beautifully completed buildings and see how God had brought me to South Africa four years ago to be the answer to Elizabeth and Gogo’s many prayers.
Gogo passed away this year, but not before getting to see the fulfillment and answer to her prayers in those buildings! We felt her presence and prayers there as we stood in the completed buildings and marveled at what God has done.
And here are some of the pictures from our trip… I think they speak more than words ever could!
Gogo’s house — where she and Elizabeth were running the centre out of!
The new buildings!
Here was the outdoor kitchen they were using before.
The above are pictures of the new kitchen — it was pretty amazing!
A peek inside the new building. Aren’t the colors so fun??
(Gogo’s picture is prominently displayed — and this tree has all of our family’s handprints on it!)
There is a conference room that they host different groups in as well as have staff meetings.
I get teary-eyed just looking at these photos. To think of what God has done. I never could have dreamed or imagined!
Also, if you have bought one of my products in the last few years or visited my site and signed up for an offer or bought through an affiliate link, you have been part of this story, too, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you! ❤️
Is there something you are being called to do that might feel really scary and uncomfortable? Step out in faith today and say “yes”. You never know how your willingness might end up being the answer to years of prayer from someone else!