Easter Camp 2017

For all of you beady eyed readers out there, you would have noticed that I didn’t manage to post last Wednesday. Honestly, I know that any excuse I give will not mean anything to you, but I was not as organised as usual and I had to pack for Easter Camp, get a few last things done for work and then go out to the campsite for the leaders’ braai. I know, I know… I could have written a post beforehand and scheduled it to go up but that just seemed like too much effort! 

So this week, I know I have to make it up to you all. Which means you will want to see pictures, which I have (makes a change!).

Over the weekend, I was at Easter Camp, which is basically what it says on the tin, if you weren’t quite sure what it was. But if you are still confused as to what it is, it is a camp for young people to go to, where they will encounter God over the Easter weekend. I had the privilege of being a leader and on the worship team and I feel so blessed to have gotten to know the people I did and build new friendships with God at the very centre. 

Before I go any further, I would just like to mention how special the worship team have become to me. Over the past few months as we have been preparing for the camp, valuable friendships have been made and I treasure each one of you. You make me very happy and I am going to miss spending my Monday evenings worshiping with you all. 

But getting back to the point – the question you will all be asking is, “did God move?” And I can answer whole-heartedly with YES. So many young people gave their lives to God, encountered the Holy Spirit for the first time and were able to forgive where they have been wanting to for so long. The only real words I have to describe what happened are these: it was so evident that there is a loving Father who cares for His children, filling them with peace and joy so they are overflowing. I just want to honour Jen (the camp speaker) for really listening to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to do what He wanted to do, even if it meant doing things a little bit differently. It meant that God was able to speak into lives and move like I haven’t seen Him move for a long time. 

Although the campers were able to meet with God powerfully, it has to be said that it was in no way just for the campers. There were many leaders at the camp, including myself, who could share testimonies at the end of how God broke in and impacted our lives. Personally, I have never felt as much joy as I did over this weekend; I have never been able to dance and I have always felt so trapped when it came to letting go and just having fun with dancing. But now I can’t stop moving and there is a fresh sense of joy running through my veins that surpasses all understanding, and no, I haven’t been able to stop laughing. It has made me feel truly alive – it is something I pray that all of the people around me will be able to experience too.

I won’t carry on for much longer because I understand that reading long blog posts can be quite a challenge! But before I go I want to thank the people that worked so hard to make Easter Camp possible and let them know that they are well and truly appreciated by all that came into contact with you. 

Happy Birthday To Me!

Over the weekend, I celebrated my 19th birthday. Now, I know that the first question on everyone’s lips will be “did you take any pictures at all?” And you will all be very pleased to know that there are hundreds – well that’s what it seems like anyway. So, today’s post will be a run down of all that I did to celebrate my birthday here in South Africa.

Friday 31st March
Youth was cancelled on Friday night as it was the first night of the Easter holidays, but instead the guys arranged for there to be an Alice in Wonderland themed Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for me so that the kids could get involved in the partying. I have to say, the cakes were all very tasty and I very much enjoyed having a bit of fun with all of the kids at youth. It felt very special, actually.

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Saturday 1st April
No, I am not joking. My birthday is definitely on April Fool’s Day. Very unfortunate, I know. 
I was treated to breakfast in bed – first win of the day. I don’t know what it is about other people making your breakfast for you (marmite on toast and a cup of tea, if anyone is wondering) and bringing it in to you just as you wake up, but it makes it all taste so much better. That’s definitely a tradition I am going to want to keep going. I then got to open my presents as well; I was spoiled rotten!

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Then I got dressed for the day and FaceTimed my parents who were able to send over a package for me back in February. I heard it slosh when I first put it away so I was praying that there was a little bottle of Plymouth gin in there. It was either that or they were playing a very cruel joke on me, which I wouldn’t put past them to be honest. Luckily my prayers were answered!

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After I had finished talking to my parents and my brother, I got that we were going to take a trip to the beach so that I could have a swim on my birthday, something I have never been able to do before this year as it has always been waaaay too cold. It was a really nice day so Chloe and Brogan managed to get a bit of a tan. Literally nothing happened to me – I am still as pale as a ghost. Maybe translucent is a better word to use here? 

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Wakaberry was our next stop. For those of you who have no clue what this is, it sells frozen yogurt where you can add toppings and it’s quite nice. But this was a very quick stop off because I had an appointment at the tattoo parlour to go and get my second tattoo! It is Morse code for hope.

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By the time I had got that done, we were all famished and were in desperate need of some really nice lunch, so we made our way to Sanook. As usual, I had a pizza which was absolutely delicious. And as it was my birthday, I thought I would treat myself to a cocktail. I mean, why not?!

Once we eventually got home it was 4pm and I was shattered. After a brief time of chilling out, Chlo told me that I must go and get ready for a little party they were planning. It was so nice to see some friends and braai with a G&T in hand. And the cake was flipping tasty too!

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All in all, my South African birthday will be one that I look back on fondly and I just want to say thank you to everyone who made it so special.

Too Many Photos…

Over the weekend, I was able to go and stay out in Kidd’s Beach again with the Monaghans. I know that it is only a stone’s throw away from East London, but it feels a million miles away. There is something about it, whenever I go there, that makes me feel so at peace and see God’s craftsmanship in everything. 

A prime example of this was on Sunday evening as Brogan and I went sunset chasing. The colours that lit up the sky were just beautiful and of course, as Brogs was there, we took well over 100 pictures! Although we did go out with the intention of taking a ridiculous amount of photographs, as I was sat on the rocks, I got a good look at all that was around me. The only thought running through my head at the time was “how can people not see that this was created by someone who wants you to see him everywhere you turn?!”

As well as that, whilst Brogan was being photographer extraordinaire, I was reminded of just how good God has been to me since I moved out to South Africa. No matter where I go, and whose home I am in, I feel very much part of the family. Sitting down at a family dinner, I don’t ever feel like I’m invading because I know that everyone is more than happy to have me there. 

But now I am aware that I have been talking about these photos for what seems like forever and you haven’t actually seen them – so without further ado, here they are! (Well, a small selection of the many that I have.)

Looking Forward

As much as I want to be living in the present and not have to think about what is going to happen in the next few months, there is no way that I can avoid thinking about it. Without even making plans, there is already a lot for me to do even before I leave South Africa! So to think that I have to decide what I am doing after that makes my brain hurt.

In 3 1/3 months, I am going to have to get on two planes by myself to head back to the UK, one from East London to Johannesburg and the next from Johannesburg to London, Heathrow. For those of you that have been reading my blogs for a while now, you will know that the thought of getting on a plane terrifies me, so that thought of getting on two by myself freaks me out even more. But in all reality, I am feeling much more settled than I ever thought I would, however, I think that is because people have been praying for me.

When I get back to the UK, I will be heading straight to Newday, a big youth camp, with the intention of serving. You have no idea how excited I am for that, also as it means that I will be able to see friends that I haven’t seen for a long time! Without even thinking about the amazing God encounters that will happen there, I am already pumped for a week of pure excitement.

BIG SHOCKER:
So here I am talking about the little things that are going to happen when I get back to the UK, but I am also going to be doing something that nobody (not even me) expected me to be doing, just because of my attitude towards it last year.

If you know me well enough, then you should have guessed what it is by now. Yes, I am applying to go to university to do a Certificate in Education. Thankfully, it is only a year long course so I won’t be stuck studying for years, but the hope is, it will give me a little bit of an extra edge and something that I could potentially fall back on.

Anyway, I feel that’s enough for today. Some of you will already have fallen off your chairs when you found out that I am voluntarily going to university, so I won’t give you anymore surprises today!

When Excitement Builds

Firstly, I must apologise for not writing a blog post last week. To say I was busy is an understatement but that is no excuse! 

I have been in Cape Town for the last week at the Advance Africa Conference. It was a brilliant time of input, hearing about how we can grow in maturity as Christians. It was well worth being at but I have to say, I am very tired after having my days filled!

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But, now that the conference is over, I can clearly feel a sense of new enthusiasm for what I am doing here in East London. Not that I wasn’t enthusiastic before, but there is a feeling that I can’t explain that makes me feel like what is going on here is incredible. 

It is crazy to think that I have been here in South Africa for 8 1/2 months now and I am constantly amazed to see how far I have come in my walk with God and how I have grown as a person. Some days, I look at myself and see a completely different person to the one that arrived in East London last year. And I love it; I love the person I have become and I am so thankful to everyone who has helped me get there! My outlook on life has completely flipped and the person I can see myself becoming is exciting me so much right now. 

Those of you that know me well, know that I have always been the sort of person who is concerned about not knowing what the future holds and scared that it is not going the way that I wanted it to. But over the last couple of weeks, I have begun to feel so excited for a future that I know nothing about. And whilst that would have freaked me right out this time last year, I am so content with that fact that God has it all and knows just what is going to happen.

I am excited to see where God takes me, all the people that He will bring into my life and what He is doing across the globe. I cannot explain how much my excitement is building!

 

Review: ‘Unbreakable’ – Andrew Wilson

For those of you who know me well, you will know that when I read a book, I tend to read it fairly quickly if I am into it and not really think too hard about the content. But I recently read a book that really challenged me to think a little bit harder. And even though it was only 65 pages long, it took me four days to mull it over.

So what was the book? ‘Unbreakable’ by Andrew Wilson.
This is a book that looks into what the Son of God (Jesus) says about the Word of God (the Bible). It unpacks the reason why we should all believe in Scripture and all that it has to say and it is highly recommended. 

What this book doesn’t do is go into the reasons why people don’t believe Scripture or details on who wrote what and how we can believe what they are saying. For me, that made it all the more intriguing; people often go into conversations about the Bible, trying their hardest to find contradictions and the like but what we as Christians can often fail to do is to look at the bigger picture and see what is trying to be said throughout the whole thing. Which is why I like the way that Wilson gets straight to the point, discussing how in all that we read, we must read it in mind of Jesus. And although there will be moments when we have to look into the juxtapositions, we can research with Jesus in mind, knowing that He changed the way that we should look at laws and the religious aspects. 

But rather than writing a 65 page book about how we should just read the Bible and think of Jesus, Wilson takes us on a journey, allowing us to not only look at what is at the centre of scripture, but also why it has authority, how sufficient it is and also the dangers that can crop up if we are not careful. And whilst some people would really spend their time, going in to detail about each of these things, Wilson puts it bluntly to help us understand it quickly and without too many questions afterwards. 

For the past month or so, I have really been trying to dig deeper into Scripture and make sure I set aside time daily for an in-depth Bible study as I have wanted to learn more about the character of God and how my life slots into His bigger plan. And then I begin to read chapter 5 of ‘Unbreakable’ and I felt like what I had really been missing had just been revealed to me in such a significant way. Wilson ends the chapter talking about how we can see Jesus clearly being pointed to throughout Scripture, both in the Old Testament before he came and after he returned to his Father’s side in the New Testament. The sentence that grabbed my attention was this: “Jesus is the new Adam, who passed his garden test by submitting to the will of the Father, crushed the snake, and gave life to the dead rather than death to the living.” And at that point my eyes were opened to see Jesus everywhere I look in Scripture. And it got me that I hadn’t seen it before, even though it was in plain sight. All I can say, is that this book really helps you see the Bible from a new angle and helps to open your eyes to the things that we have been missing all this time.

Needless to say, I would highly recommend this book to all who want to understand the Bible better, no matter if you are young or old; it is a book that is accommodating for everyone. If you have any questions about what the Bible really means, or if you want to delve a bit deeper into Scripture, just like I was trying to do. I will leave a link below to where you can buy it, both in the UK and outside of it. Thank you, Andrew Wilson, for carefully crafting such a phenomenal book. 

Available in South Africa: http://www.wantitall.co.za/Books/Unbreakable-What-the-Son-of-God-Said-About-the-Word-of-God__1909611867

Available in the UK:

 

Care Packages

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6 vs 8)

As I sit here with my cup of tea, dunking in a very much missed Custard Cream, I can’t help but thank God for the fact that He knows me better than I know myself.

I’m going to start this story, looking back on Monday. You see, there are little things that make me miss the UK more than others, and although I have got much better in dealing with them, I’m still glad they are there. One of these things is watching Top Gear with my brother. The problem here, however, is that I have seen pretty much every episode and there are no new ones with decent presenters. So a part of me has been desperate to watch The Grand Tour. 

Care Package #1
Chris plugs his memory stick into the computer on Monday so we can look at some material we are going to be using at youth on Friday and I see that he has got a collection and TV series’ and movies on there too. Then he tells me that I can copy some onto my flash drive. So I get looking. And what is on there? The Grand Tour! You have no idea how excited I was and how much I am looking forward to watching them!

Care Package #2
I get in the car with Cebo on Monday evening to go to worship practice for Easter Camp and he presents me with a very nice bar of chocolate. It definitely felt like something I needed and I very much appreciated it!

Care Package #3
Yesterday (Tuesday), Arno got back from the UK. Whilst he was there, he stayed with my parents and they gave him a care package to give to me. 
Before I go into what they sent me, I feel like I must give a little bit of context. Every year, Dad sends me a Valentines card with a very funny message inside and although I complain about it, I was a bit upset at the thought that this could be the first year that I don’t get one from him. 
So when I opened the package to find a card inside with ‘You’re My Favourite Weirdo’ written on the front, I felt like crying. It literally made my day and it now takes pride of place in my room, next to a card from my brother tell me that I am an ‘all-round bakery’. 
Obviously, it helped that there were Custard Creams inside this pack. They make my tea times much more exciting now! But the best thing about this package? My parents know that my year is not complete without Easter goodies. Yes, they packed me Mini Eggs and Creme Eggs! Highlight of my week! 

And before you all look at me and ask how on earth I am going to eat all this chocolate, I must tell you that it will be rationed and I will try not to eat it all in one go! Promise!

But I have to tell you, God knew that I needed a pick me up, something from home that would make me feel like I can make it to the end of the year here in South Africa. And although this stuff won’t stay with me for a long time, it will be long enough to help me get through times where I just want a hug from my dad or to chat to my mum. All I need to do is make myself a cup of tea and have a Custard Cream and all will be well. Flip, I don’t think I have ever sounded so British!