Explaining the Pretty Pictures
Goeienaand (Good evening) from South Africa! I thought I'd take a minute and explain some aspects of life here in South Africa that may be confusing people - mainly all the pictures of what looks like me just playing in animal parks or on the beach all day.
First, if you know me, you know I love to take pictures. One of my favorite playful nicknames is "photo ninja". I take photos of EVERYTHING I do, mainly because I don't want to forget the joy and beauty in the every day. It helps me focus on the successes among all the difficulties. So, while it may look like I go to the beach every day, the truth is I only make it there every so often, unless I find time to sneak away for some personal time of refreshment with God. But when I do make it to the beach or the rocks, I take a ton of photos to share and remember.
Secondly, Jordan's parents were recently here visiting over school holiday. This means for about 2 weeks we played tour guide: showing them all the fun things around the area and getting to do things we've never had time or money to do ourselves (IE: the animal parks). This was a great stress relief for both of us and a huge blessing! Photos were essential!!!
Third, a vast majority of the ministry I do is based on working with children or in a counseling setting. These are not environments that make taking photos easy or even desirable. Even some of the beach visits you see are from counseling sessions done in nature to ease tensions of those in crisis. You don't see the girls/young women I'm talking with because I don't want to embarrass them. You don't see the kids I work with (except those whose parents are also missionaries) because I don't want to exploit them. And you don't see the prayer sessions because those are very intimate moments with the Spirit that I wouldn't dare to interrupt by trying to sneak a picture. There may be more opportunities for ministry photos in the near future, as I'm finding more ways to get involved directly in the townships. But even there I want to be cautious about photos and not make the people feel like they are being taken advantage of, which has been an issue with past ministries.
So, bottom line, even if it doesn't look like it, this is ministry. And this is NOT an easy life. Yes, I'm surrounded by beauty and amazing people and places. But I'm also surrounded by hardship, poverty, grief, crisis after crisis, emotions beyond belief, and more nights of tears than I could have imagined. The photos are a way to minister to myself in all of that and to remind me of the blessings God has given me to keep me going and keep me focused on Him. They also work to remind myself of the successes God has granted me along the way so I don’t become overwhelmed by the day to day battles.
But in any case, I hope you like the photos and they show you the beauty God has all around. I hope they also encourage you to see the beauty He's placed all around you in the life He's designed specifically for you.