Hi Dear friends

Hi Dear friends,

It has been a very, very long time. It’s not that I have not been thinking about you. I have. Often and with very fond memories. It’s just I would so frequently say I should send an update and then forget to. I apologise for that.

I have been very well. God is so good. I have been working and busy in this time, but also resting and calm. It’s been lovely to spend time with my family, both biological and in Christ. I’ve been getting to know my sisters in Christ here — a lot like homegroup 🙂 — and also getting to see all the things God’s been doing in my family. Especially for the latter, I believe it simply would not have been the same if I were only hearing about some of these things while in Cape Town. It’s like God’s given me a front row seat to his answering of the prayers that I, and probably you :), prayed for me in Cape Town. So that’s been amazing. For one, my family and I have been speaking a lot about Jesus and I know God is doing a special work in us. And He’s so faithful to complete it. And there have been wonderful testimonies I’ve gotten to witness concerning my sister Vanessa: from the clarity God’s given her to his faithful provision of all she needs, and His wonderful healing. So thank you for your prayers, I can testify that God has answered them!!

I also know He is answering the prayers about this visa situation. I’ve seen Him (often daily) answer even the smallest prayers tucked away in my heart so I know He’s bringing to light His wonders concerning our prayers about this visa.

I just wanted to write this so you know that I am doing well.  No cause for alarm or stress 🙂 — though I have been quite quiet, which is something I hope to get better at. God is always at work encouraging us, loving, ministering and leading the story of our lives so I just wanted to encourage you too :). Whatever season you’re in, He is holding the pen and is the most skilled and wonderful author the world has ever known.

Other general news:

Well, just to give a brief update in terms of the visa, we went for the general work visa this year and it was denied around July on the grounds of the Department of Labour Certificate. The company that wants to employ me has been so patient and steadfast in their commitment, which has been an amazing testimony. So one of the options we had available after that was applying for a waiver on the Certificate entirely, and therefore being free to apply for the visa without that document. We have applied for the waiver and now are waiting to hear back from Home Affairs South Africa.

One thing that’s been on my heart as I look at all the wonderful provisions God has made for this in the past and continues to make, is that it doesn’t seem that God’s given up on it so it helps me persevere and just be excited for what he has in mind.

In some exciting other news, I recently started working part time for a Canadian and Malawian organisation called Africycle. I am helping with their social media management and strategy. I thank God for it as it came at the right time and in the most amazing way. It also works so well with my schedule 🙂 (Greater discipline is something I’ve been praying about and work has helped a lot with this!) And I’m glad I to get to use the media side of my studies 🙂

Also my mum and dad opened a cafe right here in Thondwe. And we had lots of fun helping with the interior design and have also been drinking a lot of coffee and leftover cakes.

I really look forward to hearing how you are doing. I hope you’re having a lovely end to the year, and that you had a lovely time celebrating Christmas! Sending lots of love and look forward to chatting soon!

God bless you!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Xx

P.S. There’s an article that previously really encouraged me called “The Waiting Game”… If you’re in a season of waiting on God do read it!

 

Knit Together

I remember coming across a poster for a knitting club. It seemed like a nice yet non-demanding activity to get involved in while at Barnard.

I wanted to go to many sessions, however I found myself busy often and only ended up going to one.

At that one session I walked in the room and I found just two other girls there. One sat at the desk near the entrance and the other was knitting by the seats. I went and joined the girl by the seats. She was very sweet and her and I sat knitting and chatting away for about an hour. We agreed that it would be nice to hang out again. Not long after, I had to leave for my next commitment.

***

We did hang out, eventually– some time towards the middle of the semester. She invited me for dinner at her place.

I got there early and we went to the store together to get groceries for dinner. While there she told me about an initiative she was involved in which helps sort through stuff Barnard girls are giving away to charity at the end of the semester. The initiative is called Give and Go Green (G&GG). She said that G&GG volunteers get to stay an extra week at Barnard for free as they help with sorting out the stuff, and are welcome to pick any of the things left by students. She encouraged me to get involved if I was interested.

What is amazing is that I had been looking for temporary accommodation for the final week that I’d be in the city– Barnard residences closed a week before my departure date and there was a charge of $100.00 per night for any one staying after the residences close.

With G&GG, students were given extended housing for that very week.

As an “ecorep” my friend was part of organising G&GG and she helped me and my roommates get our names down.

It was a lovely week, with the school and residence halls growing steadily quieter as students trickled out, classes done and the semester ending. I found a lot of stuff (one was a Columbia hoodie which someone was giving away—I hadn’t had enough to afford one at the store) and was able to stay the extra period, right up to the date of my flight.

I only ever went to knitting once, and God used the occasion amazingly. He planned that study break, meeting, and answer long before I knew I’d be in need of housing, and worked it together beautifully. May we trust Him to take care of every care– to weave His provision and faithfulness through every detail. Praise the LORD!

 “…You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”– Psalm 139:13

“You hem me in– behind and before…” – Psalm 139:5

The Story

This is a post I shared on Facebook in December 2014.

* * *

I am blown away by who Jesus is.

Remembering how amazing my journey in university has been I want to share a short story about how Jesus turns blunders into blessings:

In my penultimate year of high school (AS level) I didn’t do very well. Everyone said it was a jump from IGCSE to AS and my grades showed it. Even though the grades for this year would make up 50% of my final year grades I decided not to re-sit the exams like everyone else because I was applying for university in America and it didn’t seem my final A level grades would even matter. I aimed high- Princeton and a few other top universities. I even started a journal and hoped that by the time I finished it I would be in the States.

I didn’t get in to any of the universities, but with Princeton I did get to the stage of an informal telephone interview with a really nice Princeton alumnus. We added each other on Facebook and we stayed in touch- he even gave me advice about courses to take when I ultimately found out I got into UCT (another beautiful story).

At the end of my second year I got an email about an opportunity to go and study for a semester at Barnard College in New York. I applied and was selected for the interview. After the interview I was told I was one of the three girls selected to go to Barnard. (Barnard is part of Columbia University and the opportunity was extra special because it was a full scholarship covering tuition, the plane ticket and a monthly stipend.)

When I learned I was selected, I contacted my alumnus friend (the one I did the Princeton interview with) to let him know that I’d be in America (lol, such a long shot I know), specifically Manhattan. Amazingly, he told me that he’d recently moved to New York. We were able to meet soon after I arrived and in the last few days before I left he and his girlfriend took me and my flatmates out for dinner. Needless to say, they made my time in the City incredibly special.

I would never have imagined that God would so masterfully use my unassuming, disappointing university application. In the middle of what was already a blessed university experience at UCT, He granted my desire to study at a top university in America and used that very special phone interview. Also, that journal I’d started in high school? I took it by accident with me to America and finished it there!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” -Prov3:5-6

French Class: An Answered Prayer, A Better Choice

This is also a story about one of the classes I took at Barnard, it’s quite similar to the previous post, Remembering.

One of the things I’d prayed to do while I was at Barnard, apart from taking a visual arts/photography class, was to improve my French. I wanted to be fluent in it.

I was doing French at UCT and so wanted to continue with French class at Barnard in order to get appropriate class credit when I return to UCT and so that it would flow well with the continuation of my studies when I returned. I hoped to be doing “business French” at UCT and was happy to find there was an “advanced business French” class at Barnard.

In order to take any of the French classes at Barnard there was a French placement test. The thought of a test wasn’t exciting, being new to how tests at Barnard worked, but I figured it would go fine since I’d been doing French since high school and was close to completing the French major at UCT.

I wrote the test. Later, the French professor gave me back my score. It was some marks below what I needed to be placed in the advanced business French class. She suggested I take an easier class: the conversation class. I was quite disappointed with the idea because I thought I’d do well in the test and that I really needed to do the advanced business French class— especially since it would translate easily to my UCT coursework (and perhaps even give me an advantage, since it was possibly an advanced version of the UCT equivalent for that semester).

The French lecturer said she felt I would enjoy the conversation class more but also said I was welcome to take the business French class if I was sure I was up to the challenge. She allowed me to visit both classes and then make a final decision. Not long after being in the business French class did I realise that it was not for me. I did understand (some of) what was said but it was indeed an advanced level of French and with a higher workload.

The conversation class on the other hand was lovely. I really enjoyed my classmates, I was comfortable speaking and the outline of what we’d have to do for the semester was exciting. It was focused on improving spoken French and comfortability with the language in general. I took the class.

* * *

Like I’d said, one of the things I’d prayed for was to improve my French while at Barnard; I wanted to be fluent in it.

By the end of the French class I really was!

This was another lesson of how sometimes I think I need something, but God knows better. I could have struggled through the advanced business French class but it was not necessary (In fact: I found I couldn’t take French any more when I went back to UCT because there was a clash!) So I really did get to enjoy French and getting fluent; my final French class experience was beautiful.

If we pray to God and commit our way to Him we don’t need to stress when things don’t seem to go “our way” he knows way better and His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30)

There are countless beautiful examples of other times when I wanted something but got something else and found it was Jesus’ choice and way, way better! I am thankful that as a Father, the Lord helps in all decision making, leading us in the right way 🙂

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Remembering

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes I will remember the miracles of long ago. – Psalm 77:11

It’s often when someone asks me something related to what I experienced over my time studying abroad that I remember with renewed clarity the wonderful, miraculous details— a handsome stash of stories of God’s faithfulness tucked away in my heart. Studying abroad in New York at Barnard College of Columbia University was a time unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Thanks to God it was breathtakingly beautiful. He brought me there and led me all the while I was there. I experienced God’s love in very deep and new ways and learned that everything that happens as we walk with Him is purposeful and planned and safe in His hands.

It’s felt like God has given me the most beautiful tale to tell and I haven’t yet really told it. I have felt the gentle and sure call to share these stories, and this step of obedience has been a long time coming.

I want to write a series of posts about what God did over that period prior to and during my exchange. There are so many wonderful stories to share and I just want to write them out and share them.

They are not in chronological order and the quotes aren’t necessarily exact, but they do capture the gist of it 🙂

I’ll start with the story which, after sharing it with a friend recently, reminded me to write these blog posts:

Photography class

One of the very exciting things about going to Barnard College of Columbia University was the knowledge that I would have the opportunity to study things that I might not have been able to at UCT. While the courses I could take at UCT for my degree where more “set out”, as a visiting student at Barnard I could choose from an abundance of amazing courses.

Before getting to Barnard we were given a spreadsheet of courses available to us as visiting students. I really wanted to improve my visual art skills and hoped to do something related to photography. I checked the list but did not find photography or visual arts classes that were available for 2012 (the year of my study abroad).

When I arrived at Barnard—sigh, so much to share about what came before! ­— we were very warmly welcomed and had orientation and were told the details about registering for classes. There was a “shopping” period where you could attend classes that interest you and by a certain date you would have to declare which classes you are registering for. They explained that all Barnard and Columbia classes were available for us to choose from. It was also advised that if you really want to get into a class it’s good to attend the very first one.

Over the shopping period I visited the classes I hoped to take and had settled on three I really liked but I was still looking for a fourth one. I got the idea to do a bit more looking on the Columbia University website and I found there was a photography class offered at Columbia! The class was offered by a professor named Thomas Roma. I excitedly checked for when the first photography class would be and found… it had happened that very morning. I was quite sad and upset with myself for not seeing it sooner, and that I hadn’t been more “on the ball”. I prayed that I would still get in; it seemed just what I was looking for!

The day scheduled for the next photography class, I walked over to find Professor Roma’s office. I was very nervous when I got to the door and prayed outside for a while. Eventually I knocked on his door and stepped in. Professor Roma sat at his desk and there were a few other people there in the room. I explained that I was a visiting student and had missed the first class and would like to attend the next class if possible. “Okay,” he said. “Go to the classroom and we’ll talk there.”

I was elated. I thanked him and stepped back out into the hallway, grateful to God. I soon realised, however, that I had no idea where the classroom was, but wasn’t sure about going back into the room to ask. A young man who was nearby asked if I was going to photography class and needed directions. Thankful, I said yes. He explained that he was also on his way to the class and we could go together.

We got to the class a bit early and waited in the hallway since the room was closed. Other students also trickled into the building. Professor Roma arrived later with the Teacher’s Assistants (TAs) and they let us in, closing the door behind us. After some time, Professor Roma looked around at us for a while and then, addressing the TAs, he said, “Okay, TAs. Everybody here in this classroom—this is the class. So take down everyone’s names.”

I was so thankful. I was in the class?!

In the course of chatting to the young man I walked to the class with I was curious what they did in the first class, and so I asked him.

“Oh we had a test,” he said.

I have no idea what the test was about but I was amazed. I had little if any knowledge about the study of photography so I do not know what would have been in that test. Or even if I’d have had the confidence to return to the class if it hadn’t gone well. But God in His wisdom brought about a testimony I couldn’t have planned on my own. I was upset with myself about not checking properly, missing the first class and maybe jeopardizing entry into a class I really wanted to take. But God led the way and turned my seeming “blunder”—not being there for the first class— into a blessing.

It was, and continues to be for me, such a fresh reminder to walk in peace and confidence, knowing that when we trust Him and walk with Him, He leads the way and straightens our path. I was reminded that God is familiar with all my ways (Psalm 139:1-3) and knows how I’ll respond to various stimuli and exactly what I will do, even when I don’t. And He uses these.

I don’t know how clearly I prayed to take a photography class while in New York, or if it was simply “just a hope” that was in my heart. But God brought it about. Better than I would have even known to ask.

That photography class at Columbia University went on to be one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had—and God used it to bring about even more testimonies.

So what great confidence that He also hears the things we ask out loud!

It’s such a blessing to walk confidently with God who knows us and answers us when we call to Him.

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
You know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before;
You have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me…
-Psalm 139:1-6a

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

Come and see what God has done,
how awesome His works on man’s behalf! – Psalm 66:5

gate-uncropped
A black and white film photograph of the Barnard College gate. One of the photos taken while doing photography class 🙂 

 

 

Here we go!

Well, it was ages ago that a friend of mine told me to start a blog and, like a true procrastinator, one year later (lol) I’m actually doing it . I should like to think that this blog will be a place for intellectual thought and musings– but not only that. In life I see that everything really always points back to and hinges on Jesus and God’s love for us. I’d love for my blog to be a place where God thinks His thoughts through me. We come across many beautiful lessons everyday and it’s wonderful to be able to share them and grow. That’s exactly what I want to do on this blog: enjoy life and enjoy God.

“However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all” (Ecclesiastes 11 verse 8 )