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December  2018.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Everyone!

Can you believe it?  Where has the time gone?

Over these past twelve months, I have experienced more emotions than I thought humanly possible.  There have been nights when I have cried myself to sleep, moments with friends when I have laughed so hard I snorted, and days when I have gotten so angry that I thought it would be a good idea to punch a wall (FYI: bad idea).  This year has not been an easy one.  It’s been one of the hardest years of my entire life, but it’s also been one of the most fruitful.  

I have felt more love from my Heavenly Father than I ever thought possible, I have re-discovered a dream for my life that was once put on a shelf, and I have experienced freedom and healing in more ways than I can count.  

This year was full of adventures, challenges, victories, and setbacks.  I made new friends, and I let go of old ones.  I held grudges, and I forgave.  I got stuck, and I moved forward.  I wept with “treasures," and I rejoiced with survivors.  This year has been bittersweet, both painful and purposeful - and I am grateful.  I have learned that with God, nothing is wasted.  He uses it all: the positive experiences, the hard lessons, the ugly mistakes, and the huge successes.  He is in the business of mending broken things and molding them into beautiful masterpieces.  

I have two months left of living as a missionary in South Africa, and then I fly back to the States.  I will cherish 2018 as a life-changing year for me, but 2019 is the start of an entirely new experience - and I can’t wait to see what's in store.

Thank you all for journeying with me over this past year.  Thank you for celebrating with me, for weeping with me, and for fighting the good fight by my side.  Thank you for being a part of my team and for joining me in this great adventure.  I can’t believe it’s been four years.  None of it would have been possible without your help, love, encouragement, and financial support.  You all have blessed me beyond belief.  

This update will be short and sweet, so take a quick look and enjoy the rest of your holiday with loved ones!

Samantha 
STOP TEAM CHRISTMAS PARTY
Earlier this month, the STOP team hosted our annual Christmas party!  It was such a fun day filled with silly Christmas themed name tags, a gift exchange, Christmas hats, and lots of food!  This was our last team meeting before the year’s end so it was a sweet time of celebrating together as a family.  The STOP team also blessed me with a “moving home” present which they all signed and gave to me during the party! 
CHRISTMAS IN SOUTH AFRICA
My family came to visit for Christmas!  It was so great having my family come to South Africa for Christmas time.  Having them here to celebrate was so special.  The time went by way too fast, but I was able to show them all around Stellenbosch and Cape Town.  My parents saw my flat for the first time and explored the beautiful sights that the Western Cape has to offer.  It was a blast getting to do the “touristy” thing with my family while they were here.  It was a blessing getting to share this piece of my heart with them before I move home.  They made it back safely and the next time I get to see them will be in March!
Merry Christmas from the Stokesberry Family!
Prayer Requests + Upcoming Events
 
Please pray for...

- These next two months as I pack up my flat and prepare (mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically) to move back to the States
- Quality time with my South African friends and family
- Wisdom and discernment in all decision making
- Safety and protection during outreaches in Cape Town
- My talk during the girls retreat, that the Holy Spirit will speak through me and that the message will impact and bless the girls listening as I teach on "
Thriving Through the Storms of Our Lives" (Matt 14). 
- Finances to cover my graduate school education
 
  • Jan 10th - STOP Office Reopens
  • Jan 14th - Multicultural Counseling Course Begins
  • Jan 11th, 18th, 25th - Friday Night Outreaches w/ Straatwerk in Cape Town
  • Feb 3rd - Speaking/Teaching @ Lipgloss Ministry Girl's Retreat in Betty's Bay

Thank you for all fo your prayers!
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