September  2018.

The vineyards are blossoming, the weather is warming up, and the birds are pooping all over my front porch. It's official - Spring has finally arrived in South Africa! 

There’s a verse in the Bible that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  It's from Galatians 6:9 (MSG) and it says, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”

Sometimes we go through rough and harsh and seemingly “wintery” seasons of life, but the comfort I’ve found in those seasons is that God is still at work.  The things around us and within us may seem dead and dull and dried up, but for life to come forth, those old things must first be cut away to make room for the new.  The vineyards in South Africa need to be pruned (trimmed down) every year so they can produce healthier branches and bear more quality grapes for harvest - and like those vineyards, we need to be pruned to produce healthier and holier lives.

Pruning hurts.  Having the dead weight and rotting “old” Sam junk in my life pruned away hurts - but it’s the only way I’ll grow and heal and mature.  So here’s a little encouragement for you all (and for myself) as we approach this new month and aim to thrive in our current seasons:

Don’t give up.  Don’t quit.  Keep doing good, keep loving, keep serving, keep trusting, and keep letting God cut away at the dead and unfruitful things in your life so that He can make you brand-spankin' new.  It may hurt, but it’s only for a season - and the reward will be so worth it.

Now it's time to scroll onwards and downwards to the update!
Let’s give a HUGE thumbs up to these Warrior Princess Mamas from Kayamandi.

These brave women continue to inspire and humble me.  This month I had the privilege of working with an NGO called Love to Give in the Kayamandi township.  I spent two days teaching two separate groups of women how to fight back and defend themselves against abuse - with the added bonus of having small babies tied to their backs.  They learned that their voices are powerful and that they can use anything as a weapon, they learned how to protect their children (and themselves) from human trafficking, and they learned that their minds are full of wisdom, experience, and insight.  Despite that, I honestly think that I learn more from these ladies each time I enter into their space than they probably learn from me.

These women humbly and courageously shared their stories of loss, abuse, escape, and victory - I am in awe of how they have overcome.  isiXhosa women are fierce.  They are fighters - they fight for their families, for their rights, and for their survival in a harsh and unjust world.  Some of these beautiful women have been forced to stare the worst kinds of evil straight in the face - and yet they continue to choose to stand their ground with pride and say - “Hayi, not today.”
This month was the Freedom in Art Exhibition at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town!

STOP had an info booth set up in the courtyard to raise awareness about human trafficking, and some stunning pieces of art were being sold in the gallery to help us raise funding for our organization!  We were also joined by several other ministry partners that work alongside us on a regular basis to fight back against human trafficking - the S-CAPE safehouse team and MeCAHT.  It’s always so much fun when we get to stand together, laugh together, and work together for freedom’s sake!  
Also, this event helped to set the tone for South Africa’s Anti-Human Trafficking Week that begins October 1st!  Add it to your calendars and help us to spread the word - no matter what country you're living in!
This month I joined the Straatwerk outreach team in an area called Salt River.  This is a quieter area about 10 minutes away from the city center.  We had the privilege of speaking with about ten girls between the ages of 24 and 34.  Some of the ladies had been on the streets for years.  This area tends to be a bit more dangerous due to the lack of pedestrian traffic, the poverty, the violence, and the alleyways where the girls prostitute.  

At one point, we drove to a specific area where a lot of the violence and sexual exploitation takes place throughout the week.  We stood outside the van, prayed, cried, and waged war with our words.  Our prayer is for freedom - for the girls, for the perpetrators, and for the men and women buying sex and abusing these ladies.  

It can be easy to turn a blind eye to these ladies when they live thousands of miles away without names or faces, but they are daughters, sisters, friends, and mothers.  They are treasures and their lives matter.  A few of them desperately want to exit, while others are still not ready to take the step into freedom.  It’s a hard, risky, and scary step - so please pray for courage, breakthrough, and hope for each one of them!  I can’t show you photos of what these beautiful sisters of mine look like, but I can give you their names - so please pray for them.
Teesha.  Thandeka.  Samantha.  Portia.  Evelyne.  Andiswa.  Junaid.  Bianca.  Lerato.  Clarissa.
I officially have two weeks left in my Ethics and Legal Issues in Counseling Class and the quizzes and papers are flying by!  So far, I’ve learned a ton about various topics relating to counseling ethics such as maintaining and honoring a client's right to confidentiality, promoting client welfare, gaining informed consent, advocating for social justice, and working with minority and culturally diverse clients!  

After I finish this class, I will be taking a short “Christmas holiday” study break for a few months in November and December until Spring Term which will begin in January.  My hope and my prayer is to take two classes in spring if I can raise enough funds to pay for the tuition.  Please join me in praying, thank you!
Upcoming Events...
  • 1st - 7th October:  SA Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Week
  • 20th October:  A21 Walk for Freedom
  • 24th October: STOP n' Shop Fundraising Event
  • 5th, 12th, & 26th October: Straatwerk Friday Night Street Outreaches


Please pray for...
  • Continued financial provision for living expenses, ministry expenses, and my graduate school tuition.
  • Continued safety and protection during outreaches, presentations, and events.
  • Human trafficking victims and survivors all over the world to be set free and healed.
  • Wisdom and discernment in decision making.
  • Whatever else the Holy Spirit puts on your heart!

Thank you for taking the time to read through this update!  I am so grateful for your prayers, support, and encouragement.  Stay tuned for more updates and some BIG NEWS over these next few months.  I am excited to keep you all in the loop about what's to come!  It is an honor to share in this adventure with you all - thank you for journeying with me.

With lots of love,
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