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January 2019.

There are thirty-nine days left in this season of my life.  

January was a quick month.  Time seems to move faster when you’re in transition.  

While a part of me is trying to savor every last moment of South African life and ministry, the other part is looking forward to the new adventures, challenges, and family time that I’ll experience stateside.  I am feeling a bit torn in half as I enter into this period of grieving.  I'm starting to grieve the upcoming loss of fellowship with my local church family in Stellenbosch, the step down from my anti-trafficking work with STOP and Straatwerk, and the distance that I will soon have with friends that have changed my life forever.  I am going to miss this place and these people more than words can describe.

I am coming back to America as a different version of myself - a little more cultured, a little less arrogant, and a lot more "whole."  South Africa has rocked me in ways that I never saw coming - both for the better and for the worse.  My Heavenly Father lovingly redirected my path and graciously uncovered my passions - and it only took 7,648 miles and four years for all of the pieces to finally fit together.  I have two goals for these next thirty-nine days: 1. Finish Strong and 2. Be Present.  Reaching those two goals will be difficult since this will be a bittersweet time of mourning the end of one season while anticipating what's coming in the next.

As I leave “home” to go “home,” I will need lots of prayer and lots of support.  To keep things real with you all, it would really help my heart to know that I am not alone in this process and that I haven't been forgotten, because sometimes in transitions like this, people can sometimes fall through the cracks.  So please don't be afraid to reach out, send me an email, shoot me a text, and let's plan to have a coffee when I fly back to Florida!

I’ll also be starting over from scratch when my feet touch the South Florida sand.  No car, no flat, no job, no church, and no decent Spanish (only "Spafrikaans").  However, it encourages me greatly to know that I will have the continued support of my family, a place to sleep and eat (in my grandparent's home) - and you all, my team of prayer warriors and co-fighters in this mission.

So please pray with me and for me - that I will be willing to do whatever it takes to follow my Heavenly Father wherever He leads.  Because I know that if I want to wholeheartedly serve my "survivor sisters" in the United States and around the globe through counseling/discipleship relationships, then I need to step off this sweet South African soil and onto an international flight.  I need to finish graduate school, I need to get my counseling license, I need to continue to heal from my past traumas and "stinkin' thinking," and I need to say goodbye to overseas missionary life.

The other night while I was reading through the Book of Esther, I was reminded of how sometimes God calls us to do dangerous, crazy, super uncomfortable, and risky things for His Kingdom.  Sometimes that looks like marrying a rich Persian king, bravely speaking your mind, and risking your life to save an entire nation of people.  Other times I think it can look like hugging and praying for women trapped in prostitution, completely uprooting from the mission field to study trauma counseling, and risking your life to do whatever it takes to bring hope and healing to sex trafficking survivors everywhere. 

So here we go, one step at a time. 

Thank you all for journeying with me, praying for me, and donating financially to make all of this possible.  It was and will continue to be an honor to partner with you in this great adventure. 

<3 Samantha
 
STRAATWERK FRIDAY NIGHT OUTREACH
There’s a really cool thing we do on Friday nights.  When the Straatwerk team walks down the streets of Cape Town to build relationships with the ladies trapped in prostitution (the treasures), we carry bracelets with us.  Each packet has two bracelets that look identical and a blank sheet of paper.  One bracelet is given to the treasure we meet, while the other one is given to one of the Straatwerk team members/prayer warriors.  The prayer requests are written down, and both ladies commit to wear the bracelete as a reminder to pray for one another.

This week I was given this bracelet.  Cindy has the other one.  She’s praying for me, and I get to pray for her.  She is 27 years old and has two daughters (ages 6 and 2).  I keep the bracelet in my car on the gear shift, so that each time I get in to drive - I am reminded to pray for her and for her family.  There are hundreds of “Cindys” on the streets of Cape Town, so please join me in praying for them.  

Each week we send out updates with the names, descriptions, and prayer requests of every single treasure we meet (both male and female), so if you would like to receive the email update so that you can pray for these treasure by name - please email me and let me know and I will make sure to forward it along to you.
GRADUATE SCHOOL UPDATE
On January 14th, I began COUN 504 - Multicultural Counseling.  This course is challenging me greatly.  I am realizing that every single person I encounter has unique worldviews, biases, fears, goals, and values.  As a future counselor, I need to be mindful that “my way is not always the right way.”  I will need to be aware of my own upbringing and my own cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 

Diversity is a beautiful thing, but in our world today it tends to spark attitudes of racism, classism, prejudice, and discrimination toward those who may not fit perfectly into the “majority.”  I hope to maintain a humble and teachable spirit as I learn more about various cultures and those in our society who have been marginalized or abused.  I hope that after taking this course, I will be more equipped and able to advocate on their behalf and fight for equal justice for all.  I have a lot to learn, but I am excited to have my worldviews and perspectives challenged as I grow in this counseling area!
Prayer Requests + Upcoming Events
 
Please pray for...
 
-  This next month as I pack up my flat, sell my car, and prepare to move back to the USA
-  Quality time with my South African friends and family
-  Wisdom and discernment in all decision making
-  Safety and protection during street outreaches in Cape Town
-  My talk during the girl's conference: 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 in Our Lives" (Matt 14). 
-  Financial provision for my graduate school education
 
  • Feb 2nd - Speaking/Teaching @ Lipgloss Ministry Girl's Retreat/Conference in Betty's Bay
  • Feb 9th - My sister Melissa's birthday!
  • Feb 1st, 8th, 15th, 27th - Friday Night Street Outreaches w/ Straatwerk Team in CPT
  • Feb 14th - First STOP Team prayer meeting of the year
  • Feb 28th - Lease is up/Moving day.
  • March 4th - FLIGHT DEPARTS!

Thank you for all of your prayers!
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