I journeyed to Cape Town, South Africa in early September to work with two dear friends of mine. Tony and Julie run Yebo Life, a Christian NPO based in Cape Town. The mission of Yebo Life is to empower locals, who have been given a vision for ministry, to rise up to their namesakes and impact their communities. What follows below is my reflection of time spent within the various communities where Tony and Julie are hoping to make and impact. This was first posted on their blog. Check out the pictures below to see how I spent some of my time in Cape Town
I am a flight attendant used to traveling on a whim. Imagine how my world was turned upside down when my doctor said I would be sidelined for the remainder of 2014. To say I was bummed was an understatement. I was ailing from a broken foot as a result of a beverage cart falling on me mid-flight, a few days hospital stay from a cat bite to my hand (cat+crutches=no bueno), and the final affliction was two pulmonary embolisms thanks to the time I spent immobile during my cat bite hospital stay. I was a walking disaster and proof to the naysayers that God does indeed have a sense of humor.
Disappointment followed me around like the dirt cloud surrounding Pig Pen, and there seemed to be no end in sight. When the opportunity to travel to Cape Town presented itself during my unbelievable tumultuous three months of ailments, I began to suffer from a severe case of the ESFJ’s F.O.M.O (fear of missing out). *Side Note. Meyers-Briggs is my friend Julie’s thing, and she opened my eyes to my personality type’s tendencies. End Side Note* I realized I would be unable to travel with two dear friends and amazing women who would be making a trek to South Africa in January of 2015. I was fretting over unmade plans and the beaucoup of excitement everyone but me would be having.
I began walking through a waiting season of learning to be obedient in my wait for God.
Even now I look back with pride at my accomplishment because anyone who knows me knows waiting is the very antithesis of my personality. You see, when the opportunity to travel to Africa presented itself, I had recently recommitted my life to God. Growing up in church, I knew all the “Christian” ways. I had memorized all the key verses.
God loved me. I loved God. John 3:16. Now let’s go eat (I grew up Southern Baptist, what can I say?).
With no depth to my personal relationship with my Creator, I veered off the path God had designed for me. Sin starts off enticing, and the airline job I took after college introduced me to a whole new lifestyle. Soon after, I found myself to be deep into the very epitome of a fleshly world.
As exhilarating as the idea of hopping on a plane to Cape Town was after being grounded for a few months, God was not opening doors, and so began my crash course lesson in waiting.
Since I had been out of church, I had no community. The only encouragement for my newly changed lifestyle came from my family. I studied my Bible. I prayed and journaled for God to bring me a community of solid believers. Sometimes (a lot of times) I lamented because I wasn’t receiving the instant gratification I desired.
I finally gave up and started showing myself grace. I met God every day in the here and now and began to make the changes I held within my control including walking away from unhealthy friendships or being more intentional with my time.
For the first time in a few years, I allowed God to guide my path, and while it wasn’t where I envisioned I would be heading (is it ever?), I finally understood what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him. I pursued my Creator with a reckless abandon, and he proved faithful when another chance to serve in Cape Town presented itself. This time I would be traveling by myself and staying with two people I greatly admire and respect. I was exuberant!
Cape Town represented an end to a very long waiting season. It opened my eyes to what I had been unable to see while I continued (and failed) to make my own plans happen. By not allowing God to author the details of my life, I was robbing someone (and me) of the intricacies of God’s wonder in my testimony.
Rather than head to Cape Town with the mindset of “fixing” others, I went with the intention of pressing into the lessons God would be showing me during my time in South Africa. I surrendered the reins and details to Him. And boy was he present!
I was given the chance to spend ten days with my friends Tony and Julie, two sold out for God Christians who are surrounded by others living the same sold out lifestyle. It was refreshing and encouraging to share life struggles with other young adults and be given Biblical based counsel. I got to see first hand what living with a Kingdom mindset does to our mission field. It can be anywhere at any time. Not just in a foreign country.
I experienced what having a solid community does for the encouragement of our faith, and God has allowed my new friendships with people in far away places to grow roots and flourish. I’ve gotten to know two lovely South African ladies I chat with regularly, and we have become sources of love and wisdom for each other.
My trip to Cape Town involved me stepping well outside the boundaries of my comfort zone. But in the hop, skip, and jump across my comfort line, I found serenity in the uncomfortable.
The struggle to be a light in the darkness existing within my job had been overwhelming before my venture to Cape Town, but, since my return, it’s changed. Though a few months have passed since my trip to South Africa, coworkers and passengers still ask about the details of my trip.
It has opened so many doors for discussion when I tell them that, like the wind that whips through the vibrant city, God’s spirit is also sweeping through Cape Town.
Ironically enough, it took getting out of my comfort zone in another country to become comfortable sharing with my fellow coworkers all that God has been doing in my life.
Yes, I saw situations and heard stories that broke my heart. I hugged on children who just want to be loved, shared my testimony with young teens, and I served soup to people who are hungry. I did “missionary” type activities, but its been my heart that’s been forever changed by the people I encountered.