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July 2018.

Hi Everybody
 
A lot has happened since I've flown back to South Africa, and I can't wait to tell you all about it!  Grad school has started, outreaches have occurred, birthdays have been celebrated, punches have been thrown (*warrior princess style), presentations have been given, and my newsletter got a facelift!

Just in case you weren't aware, July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons!  It's a day when we stand together as the human race to raise awareness about the dangers and realities of human trafficking. It's also a day when we work harder to promote and protect the rights of those survivors and victims who have been exploited and abused into various trafficking situations.  So if you missed it this year, don't worry - there's always next year!

As per usual, below you'll find more details about all of the outreaches that took place this month, lots of photos, upcoming events, and prayer requests!  It's jammed packed with lots of Jesus adventures, so feel free to sit back, relax, and read on!
SAHRA WELLNESS DAY PRESENTATION
The SAHRA (South African Heritage Resource Agency) invited STOP to be one of the main speakers for their “in-house” Wellness Day Event.  The theme of the event was about the importance of listening.  The topics of the event covered ways to help others heal from substance abuse, how to prevent addiction and abuse in the local community, and how to fight back against human trafficking.

There were about 30 SAHRA staffers present at the event representing all different cultural backgrounds.  Many had questions about how to become advocates, how to spot potential victims, how to get involved, and how to identify scams.  There were some really good questions regarding the cultural issues that South Africa faces when it comes to “muthi” and “ukuthwala” which are also known as traditional medicine and forced/compelled child marriage.  As we spread knowledge and awareness about human trafficking, more kids are protected, more leaders stand up against injustice, and more people start to raise their voices.
HER VOICE SELF-DEFENSE TRAINING EVENT
This month I was invited by Her Voice to teach a self-defense class to a group of amazingly brave and strong ladies in the Kayamandi Township.  Her Voice is an NGO that works with beautiful mamas to help equip them, strengthen them, support them, and empower them to thrive.

The women in Kayamandi are constantly in danger of assault, abuse, and rape - and they have a right to be protected.  They are worthy of being protected.  I was given the sweet opportunity to share my self-defense (and "others" defense) knowledge and skills with these ladies while hearing stories about their struggles and life experiences.  It was a privilege to train these women how to fight back against injustice and how to walk down the streets of Kayamandi with confidence.
 
We came together to share insights, wisdom, and experience.  Questions were asked, techniques were demonstrated, and movements were learned - and about 30 women were empowered.  I was honored to be invited into this circle of strong and capable women, and I am honored to call them my sisters and my fellow warrior princesses.
CELEBRATING JULY BIRTHDAYS
27.

It sounds so old!  

I was so blessed to be able to celebrate my 27th birthday on July 23rd by eating banana bread covered in syrup and bacon, sipping delicious coffee with great friends, exploring hidden caves in Cape Town, and watching the South African sunset from the top of Lion’s Head Mountain.  My birthday was so special, and I received so much love from my family and friends all over the world!  Thank you all for celebrating with me!

Also, my not-so-little brother turned 16 on July 10th!

My fellow South Floridians….  stay off the roads, he got his driver's license.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 
 
Just kidding, Brian is a fantastic driver.  Unlike me, who failed her driver’s test three times in a row.  Don't tell the South Africans or I may need to start riding a bike.
CPUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARENESS EVENT
As I mentioned above... July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons!

We had the honor of partnering with the Student Affairs staff at CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) in Bellville to host a Human Trafficking Awareness Event for this important day.  CPUT recently had a female student get trafficked in her local community, but she was able to escape.  We were so grateful that CPUT invited us to speak to their students.

Several members of the STOP team set up an info booth where students could walk by and take info packets, pick up resources, and ask questions.  While this was going on outside, Bertha and I had the opportunity to speak to the students in the theatre. We showed three short videos highlighting different aspects of human trafficking. We also spoke to them about specific scams, safety tips, and how to fight back on a daily basis.  After the presentation, we hosted a Q&A session where the students were able to ask questions and dig a little deeper into the issues.
LIBERTY UNIVERSITY MASTERS DEGREE PROGRESS
I am officially halfway through my second graduate school course, Orientation to Counselor Professional Identity and Function, and I am loving every second of it.

This course has already taught me so much about the role and responsibilities of a counselor, how to engage in a healthy and productive counseling session, and how to obtain licensure after I graduate!  Progressing through my textbooks and lecture videos has been so humbling.

I have learned that counseling is not about giving advice or telling someone what to do or how to heal - it’s about listening, understanding, empathizing, empowering, investing, longsuffering, and loving unconditionally.  It’s about putting the client's needs and goals and desires above your own.  And when it comes to the spiritual side of things, it’s about trusting in the power of Holy Spirit (and not in my own frail human abilities) to heal, restore, teach, and convict the people that God puts in my path.  I hope to graciously facilitate the counseling, comforting, healing, and discipleship process between God the Father and His kids - and I can't wait to apply what I learn.
STRAATWERK FRIDAY NIGHT STREET OUTREACH
One of my favorite ministry opportunities is getting to partner with Straatwerk on Friday nights.  Almost every Friday evening around 9:30 pm in Cape Town, we meet together at a church, pray, worship, and then hit the streets to greet the ladies working in prostitution.  We share food, prayer, love, and opportunities to exit the industry with them.

This Friday we had the opportunity to invite the ladies on the streets to Chanua Cafe (Chanua means “thrive, flourish, blossom” in Swahili) for coffee and yummy warm snacks.  Chanua is run in partnership with OM (Operation Mobilization), and it’s a safe place for the ladies to come in for food, fellowship, and prayer.  It gives us more time to spend in conversation with the ladies who choose to come in, and it also keeps the distractions (and the cold weather) away.  Several of the ladies have exited the prostitution industry over the last couple of months, and some are starting drug rehab, but there are many more to go.

The police presence has also become very active in Cape Town lately, which is both good and bad for the ladies who are caught in prostitution.  Several (about 8) of the girls have been arrested, which has caused the other ladies to be afraid, go into hiding, and move from their normal locations (which means it’s harder for us to interact with them).  

Please keep the Straatwerk team in prayer as we journey with these women - and please keep the ladies in prayer because they are constantly in danger and face traumatic circumstances nearly every single night.  Every week, we hope to offer them a chance at freedom, hope for the future, and the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
ALL PEOPLE'S CHURCH STELLENBOSCH
It’s about time you guys met my Stellenbosch church family…  

All People’s Church Stellenbosch is an international church plant from All People’s Church in San Diego, California.  Even those this church was planted by Americans (like myself), it’s a diverse church body filled with many languages, ages, cultures, and beautiful faces.  Our church is also full of families with passionate and spunky and energetic kids who love the Lord with all of their hearts.  (I’ve discovered that they also love tickling, eating tons of cookies, and piggyback rides).

Currently, we have church on Sunday mornings at our pastor’s house - and it’s been so much fun getting to worship and pray and celebrate together while we simultaneously invade his family’s living room.  Getting to journey with this South African church family has been such a blessing.  We share meals together weekly, study the Word of God intentionally, pray for each other consistently, and “do life together” on the daily.  We keep each other accountable and strive to share the love of Christ with the people around us.

All People's Church vision is to:

Get Rocked (by God): We want people to have life-transforming encounters with Jesus. An encounter with God changes our lives forever.

Get Real (with each other): We know that authentic relationships are the backbone of any healthy community. We seek to be a community that gets real with each other and encourages one another to grow in relationship with Jesus.

and Give It Away: God’s love is for everyone. We seek to be a community that shares that love and advances the Kingdom of God.
Upcoming Events...

- August 9th South African National Women's Day
- August 24th Sibiziwe Event @ Amazink in Kayamandi


Please pray for...
  • Continued financial provision for living expenses, ministry expenses, and grad school tuition.
  • Continued safety and protection during outreaches and presentations.
  • The human trafficking victims and survivors all over the world - and for their traffickers to be set free and healed.
  • Wisdom and integrity for South Africa's government officials, and for racial unity, love, and healing amongst its people.
  • For whatever else the Holy Spirit puts on your heart!

Thanks for taking the time to read through my newsletter!  It means a lot to know that I have an army of friends and family behind me on this journey, encouraging me and praying for me every step of the way.  Oh! And feel free to shoot me an email in your free time; I always love getting messages from you guys (makes me miss you all a little less)!  Thank you for supporting the work that God has me doing in South Africa!  Blessed by you.

With love,

Sam
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