Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Contrasts and Conversations

Mpumalanga is the province in South Africa that I'm currently residing in. Translated it means 'Land of the Rising Sun,' or at least that's what I was told. I wish I could post pictures of how beautiful it is here. No, it's not the Lion King, but I promise it's better than the desolate desert village some probably fear I'm in. Even though it's winter here, the land is still green and fairly warm. I'm surrounded by mountains, so I'm a little closer to home in that sense. The features of the land can change every 5 miles . ..I mean kilometers. . .from rocky mountains with little vegetation to lush lowvelds with orchards of orange trees or forests of eucalyptus trees. The panoramic views you see while driving just a few minutes down the road are incredible.
But, all of that natural beauty serves a direct contrast to the poverty as well. The settlements almost seem to blend naturally into the hillside dotted by little houses made of cement blocks or trash bags and sticks. Often families share a house with just one/two small rooms. If you've ever been on the Mexico mission trip, it's pretty much the same situation only with a different people and place. There are several mission organizations in the area besides the ACTS clinic: Hands at Work, Footprints, Africa School of Missions, Africa Outreach, . . ..but it's sad to say that all of them still can't meet all of the need in the area.
I've been striving to strengthen my relationship with God. It hit me when I was at Cowen counseling for the week, a girl asked me to pray with her because she wanted a closer relationship with God. So, I took her aside, talked with her, and was reading through some scripture in Psalms with her. But when I went over 63:1, it was a revelation that everyone has at some point. . .or at many points. My relationship with God. . .what was the status of it? Was I seeking him wholeheartedly, putting him first? Here I was praying with someone else when I needed to evaluate my own relationship with God. Coupled with teaching a lesson about hot/cold the next day, and it was like God was just laying it out plainly for me again.
So, since then, I've been working on my relationship with God. I've been rediscovering things that I could recite, but never actually learned. For example, God has definitely been teaching me to trust him through this trip. If asked if I trusted God, I could give you the textbook response assuring you all of my trust is in him. However, for me, it's a huge struggle. It's something I really have to work at because I like to plan, I want to know what's going on, please tell me when, where, why . ..etc. Here, God has pretty much taken all of that away. From day to day, I have to be patient and just trust God.
That's a message that's been repeated so many times already during this trip by the other missionaries I'm with.

"So we tell the them, 'Man does not live on bread alone,' . . ..I don't know where the food will come from, but we have to trust God."

"Right now, we don't have the funds, but we have to trust in God. When Moses and the children of Israel wandered in the desert, God always provided just enough food for them to use for the day except on Sabbath. He'll provide for us, but we just have to trust him."

"The community was angry and there were people threatening to stone us, but we simply had to trust in God that he would protect us, and he brought us safely out of there."

I've heard countless testimonies from people who fled their countries and homes, people in poverty, and people who suffer from the disease that we see as a death sentence. Each one of them says that they trusted in God. Everyday I feel like I'm a student to the people who live and work here. Each one of them has something to share it seems. However, the conversation I learned the most from was with Benjamin when I was washing dishes one night after dinner during my first week here. Here's a quote from it: "God is the one I answer to. He is my judge.. .Things of this world won't last. Your soul is what counts and knowing God .. . And my soul is not HIV positive." Everytime I think of that conversation, it's another reminder to why I want to be here. Sadly another one is, "So many people here are dying. . .they go to their graves in the same numbers as blades of grass that fall when you cut the lawn." I'll have to tell you about the rest of the conversations when I get back.
Right now, I'm so happy to be here. I'm great. Thank you for all of your prayers and messages, they're very much appreciated. Please keep praying for me as well as the clinic and staff. I really feel like I'm serving God. . ..which doesn't always go along with my preconcieved notions.
But, that is another lesson I've learned, and another post. . ..

Love you all and God Bless,



  1. Hey Tif!!! Glad you are doing good. Proud of ya "little sis" - have been thinking of you often - it is nice to know that you are doing a good service for God with the witnessing, etc.

    Counting days until your return!!!


  2. Tif,

    I just wanted to say Hi, and tell you how proud I am of you. I have enjoyed seeing you grow in the Lord since our trip to Montana. I pray that you will be a blessing to the ones that you come in contact with. May God continue to bless you in all that you do. I look forward to reading more from your experiences. Keep up the good work and I look forward to hearing more. You are in my prayers. Take Care.


  3. Tiffany: what a testimony! I'm sure you're making quite a difference in many, many lives. Enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and enjoy the fact that you are impacting lives and situations that aren't so beautiful right now. Take care,

    Beth Simmons

  4. Hi Tiffany!
    Just want you to know that I really love reading your blog and I am praying for you daily.

    Gabriela really loved getting to know you at Camp Cowen this summer and I am thrilled that you can be a role model for my girls.


    Tami Bonazzo

  5. Hey Tiff,
    I finally figured out how to send you a reply, ok, your brother showed me how. It is great to read your blogs and to hear how the Lord is using you. You will have quite the story to tell when you get back and I hope to hear about them. I know how much different it is than Mexico. India was a real eye opener for me and i assume where you are at is the same. Hey, I'm praying for you and can't wait to hear from you again. Did you like the long plane ride to get there? I'm also glad that you packed extra clothes in your carry on.
    Love ya,