Bungee Jumping!

Today, I woke up with the expectation to go bungee jumping from the highest bungee jumping place in the world! I woke up and was so stoked that I was not nervous about it, I was super confident in the jump and to be honest I had just not thought about it too much because processing means feelings and feelings are something that I want to avoid at all cost especially if I feel like I am going to be scared. I didn’t want anything like fear get to my head and prevent me from having an amazing bungee experience!

We got into the big bus that we have now successfully accommodated to be our temporary beds through out the day. Several naps have been taken on this bus, thus this weird since of comfort comes from sitting in my claimed area on the bus. We had a two hour journey to the bungee site. All of us have been deeply intrigued in our books this entire trip and that had continued on in our two hour adventure to our amazing bungee experience! Some of us fell asleep on the ride and just as I started to wake up I heard Kate on the overhead speaker say “this is the highest suicide cliff here to your left” she giggled and put the mic down. As we were crossing the bridge that we would soon be jumping off of our new PA gets a call from Leizel. We pass a couple of parked cars on the side of the bungee jumping bridge – one I think could be a police car – what…. the over head speaker comes on again. Its the new PA this time talking, she has said that Leizel called her and that there was a suicide jumper at 6:00am.

Everyone was silent, desperately awaiting some more information, our new PA in my mind is already not that likable but the way that she went about this situation really stressed me out. She started talking about how its okay, we are at the site, and if we want we “Can go buy a shirt and say that we were here if you want!” Oh. My. Gosh. This girl better shut her mouth. Seriously, lets think before we talk. In her defense, no one knows how to handle tragic situations like this. I believe that our PA’s tried to stay positive for us and they were trying so hard they seemed that they were actually happy about the fact that this mad committed suicide and no one was able to stop him.

Wait, first of all how can a man come to be in such a position that they believe there is nothing more in life for them but to jump off the highest bridge on this planet? How can You God let this man be in just a rut that he believed he was all alone in this world and had no reasons to live? Where is your hand in this situation? Did you predestine this man to murder himself? What is your plan for this situation? Why was it this timing? Why today, at 6:00am, the only day that APU Fall 2015 Cape Town can go bungee jumping? Why? Why. Why!

Some felt guilty for wanting to still bungee even though this man had just committed suicide. Some felt guilty for not really feeling much about the entire situation. God I’m mad that you could have predestined this man to do this. I am mad that you allowed him to have the free will to commit murder against himself. I am angry that your hand does not seem to be over this situation. Where are you? Would you be there for the people I know if they were at the verge of suicide? Would you stop them? Would you some how divinely intervene to terminate the situation?

So many emotions have now entered my mind and have overcome my entire being, we finally get out of the car at the site and we all head strait to the toilet – as they call it here in South Africa.

Silence.

No one is talking, everyone is processing, some are tearing up, some are simply waiting in line for the toilet. Some people make a few bathroom remarks to lighten the mood like there is pee all over, it kinda smells, all of those general things. I get out of my stall, wash my hands and head over to where you can see the bridge with the intentions of praying over the bridge and going back to the bus. When we get there all of the emotions and questions have started to hit me more and more. Kalyn says we should pray, and asked me to pray, and I couldn’t. God I had no words, I am furious. There is no reason that You couldn’t have stopped it. Why didn’t you stop it? What was the purpose of that? I physically could not pray out loud.

Brooke kindly took over and literally took the words out of my mouth. Lord You had Your hand over this situation, I do not know why, but I am glad that I was able to experience Your will in a way that was so unexpected even unwanted. God you have been doing some unexpected things in my life. There have been several things that I have been struggling with such as predestination and free will. You know this. It has lately been consuming me, everything that I see is predestination. Everywhere I look someone is using their free will in a good or bad way. Im trying to think of the moral of the story, and I can’t. But God, you can work through all situations, tough and not. If there is anything I have learned lately is that you pick broken people to do your work, and we are all broken.

What’s Next?

My time here in South Africa has been an amazing experience. There have been some pretty incredible days full of uncontrollable laughter that literally consumes your entire air supply. Times where we have run around like children screaming, jumping, shouting, running from play place to play place. There have been days where we will go out to dinner and simply enjoy each other’s company. All of my experiences here have been one and only experiences that no one else will experience. My experiences here in South Africa have been amazing (not to sound cliche) but they have been life changing.

John Wallace (the director of APU) came to Cape Town the other day and spoke at our chapel and said that we should really be thinking about what our five minute answers to the “How was Africa?” question should be. He said that we should really think about how important those five minutes are, both for me and for the person asking. My answer to this question will probably be “How was your semester?” – Sorry don’t get angry, but you can not possibly think that I can summarize the last 100 days of my life to you. So I’m going to make you summarize them too. Okay now that my sassiness is out of the way. John Wallace also told us to think about what Questions God has placed on my heart. There were several questions that came to mind but the two that really stuck to me is: Why am I here? and What’s Next?

What does God have planned out next for me? I have had these amazing experiences with all of these people, the 20 girls I have spent every second with and with the wonderful Ocean View community (my service site). There have been so many different times where I have questioned God, specifically with His plan for me here in South Africa. There have been times where I can say I have been at a total loss with the answer to that question. I have concluded that it is simply an experience that God wants me to have – wants everyone to have. An experience where one is completely out of their comfort zone. There was no doubt in my mind that God wants me to experience something here. One of my newly made friends here has told me several times that there are times where you don’t know why you did something until afterwards.

This is a new concept being placed on my heart. Not knowing why until the moment has passed. There are several occasions where I have no idea why something is occurring in my life. Story time! I remember as a child I went out to go and help my dad get something out of the garage. He had just gotten back from work and had several things on his motorcycle that he needed help with. I went out on a mission to get the coffee mug off of the motorcycle. When I realized that my dad had not gotten his backpack off of the motorcycle yet. I distinctly remember my dad’s words saying “Ashley do not get my backpack I will get it when I come back, just bring my coffee mug inside”. But I was a strong independent woman at the age of nine, and I was defiantly strong enough to get my daddy’s coffee mug and his backpack. BIG MISTAKE.

The way my dad’s backpack was placed I had to put my arms through the straps and then pull forward – I am not sure what my dad was carrying in his backpack that day, but I can assure you it felt like a small elephant and some of his friends. I had my arms through the straps and then it happened. I leaned back. The backpack filled with the elephant and his friends had brought me back into the sizzling pipe and the rest of the story I do not remember, other than my dad running into the garage to come rescue me, rushing to the bathroom and running freezing water over my legs, calling the nurse from across the road to come and tell my parents what to do next. At that moment I had no idea why I had to go through this experience. Fun fact my calfs are still scared to this day – a constant reminder to obey.

In the moment I had no idea why I needed to experience the sizzling motorcycle pipes burning through my calfs. But I can tell you one thing, when it came to my dad’s advice – I started listening a little bit more. My dad now uses this story as a, “obey your father and mother” and an “obey your Father in Heaven” sermon and then I get people starting at my calfs for the next few days – but that is besides the point. The point is, we don’t know why we have to go through the things we go through until afterwards. My struggle to understand why I am here, studying in South Africa this semester taught me so much. I have learned a lot of me and who I am in Christ, who I am as a daughter, friend, family member and an individual. Although I still question why I am here I know that later on God will show me why I went through the things I have gone through here.

Sometimes we have to go through complete and utter confusion during the moments of our experiences but I now rest in the fact that afterwards God will bring light to the past experience and even brings something new up and shows me why I got to experience getting layers of skin sizzles off of my calfs, and studying abroad in South Africa. Bringing all of this back, to my second question – What’s next? I have no clue! I do know that God will use this experience to mold who I am and who He wants me to be. I take pride in not knowing what is next, because that gives God more room to work. I pray that God would speak to you about past experiences you have had – good or bad. That He would speak light into those experiences and that He would show you His path and let those experiences be a light to others. God uses your experiences to bring others to Him.

Soteria

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“I’d like to pray for the child’s family that was shot the other day – he died this morning”

“I’d like to lift up my friend, he is going through stage four cancer – could you possibly head over and visit him?”

“I would like prayer for my kidneys, I know I have a problem, but don’t have the money to go and visit the doctor – I also don’t have time with the amount of time I am spending at school”

“Could we pray for Johan who is going to speak in Fish Hoek about trying to solve the gang problems”

“There are several community riots, that are directly related to the deaths of the two innocent people that were killed last week”

“Oh ladies is there anything else you would like us to pray for?”

Umm. No! My head is spinning with all the pain that has now surrounded me. All of my issues seem so miniature compared to yours.

There have been several deaths that we have heard about in just the past week. We have learned about countless cases of abuse – physically, mentally, sexually and emotionally. There are several people dealing with the past pain of being raped. The high school girls are struggling to figure out if their boy freinds forcing them to have sex with them is normal. These girls are later asking how to get abortions, if sex is suppose to hurt, if these weird bumps are normal.

My head is still spinning – then we are put into our first classroom with the preschoolers. Note I still can’t get over the fact that all of this pain is surrounding this community – much less surrounding the children. Jo and I start our first “exercise class”. We start with having the kids stand up and sit down without putting their hands on the ground,

“KIDS STOP IT”, BE QUIET!, MOVE OVER THERE!, DON’T BE SO LOUD!”

umm, okay lets continue… With arm stretches! Now lets wave our arms in circles! “Big circles, little circles, medium circles” Gosh my arms are starting to hurt at this point

“STOP HITTING EACHOTHER!, IF YOU KEEP BEING NAUGHTY I WILL SEND EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU INTO THE PRINCIPLES OFFICE”

“Okay next guys lets do the crab walk! Then we all start walking around on our hands and feet with our bellies to the air and we all start laughing, it is fun. Jo just watches how silly we are all being. But its not the normal fun – its almost forced fun. 

We played some other games with the kids, but they were not very entertained, most of the day consisted of Jo and I trying to be fun and make exercise enjoyable but then other teachers would come in and tell us that the kids are walking all over us. That they are taking advantage of us, that we have to tell the kids to stop.

I don’t know when its okay for me to step in. I don’t know the boundaries, I don’t know how the kids normally act. This is all new, how I saw them today is my reality, if we need to treat them differently then tell me how they are suppose to act.

Recess time: Kids seriously gone wild. First, just take your self back to when you were in elementary, when you would have recess time. Remember when you would wrestle around with other kids? Or take them to “prison” or play tag. These little six years were throwing punches that I have never seen before. They were cursing at each other, starting up unnecessary fights – and I mean real fights with real punches and kids falling to the floor in pain. Boys crying on the dirt ground while the conqueror sticks his tongue out with a smirk on his face and gives the little boy crying on the floor the middle finger.

The amount of anger flowing through these kids that is so easily rustled out of them, is quite frankly scary. These kids go from crying, whining, to throwing punches. The kids grab each other inappropriately – grabbed my booty inappropriately. Push each other off the slide – honestly I could go on and on about how it was a slightly frightening experience today, but I am just praying that God would use my team as a light. That the kids would get attached to Jesus, that the kids would have a safe place to talk, play and enjoy their schooling. Jesus just use my group and I to show your unfailing love for them.

This is Soteria – where I will be working twice a week for the next nine weeks.

Honestly feeling a little overwhelmed, but am so excited to work with these lovely teachers and wonderful little crazy children!

Life Patterns

South Africa, Cape Town, Fish Hoek, Wellwood. All of these new places that I call home. Fish Hoek has already strongly impacted my heart, I am filled with love for this place. As I start loving yet another country more and more the more my heart longs for my other homes. Missing Ecuador and my family, and the beautiful city, the smell of smog everywhere, the long walk home from school, coming home to my dad watching Modern Family, helping my mom cook, having my mom by my side constantly, annoying my little sister – Trinity, going to the beach over mini vacation breaks, going to church an hour early and staying hours late, going to Mexicali after church, watching football after church listening to my dad scream until he has no more breath in his lungs. Missing family and the routine that I had.

Then moving to California and having that be home for 9 months. Getting into a new routine of classes, crazy girls on my hall, community bathrooms, never having to make my own food, doing my own laundry, slowly learning what it is like to be an adult. The closer I get to “becoming an adult” the more I want to run away and become a child once again. Although I love the freedom and challenge that adulthood brings.

Now moving to South Africa yet another continent, another transition, a new group of people surrounding me. I love being close to the beach, being able to take a quick run along the beach, waling on the beach, being in the Atlantic Ocean (finally), getting to know all of these new girls surrounding me, doing homework together, complaining that there is too much reading, taking trips into Cape Town, going to Kalk Bay, going to coffee shops, trying out all of the restaurants surrounding us, riding the train and getting to know people and their history, learning about apartheid, learning about community engagement, going to our service sites and seeing the need for Jesus, the need for redemption, the need for love, the need for comfort and safety. I have come to love my new home and have come to the realization that I seem to seek out adventures filled with no familiarity – besides the familiarity of nothing being familiar.

It was recently reiterated to me that there are patterns in our lives. Thus I started to reflect on my life and the pattern that stands out the most is moving. I am constantly moving! The move I remember the most clearly impacting me was my family’s move to Ecuador, then my first move out of my family’s house to California, and now my move to South Africa. But we had also moved around a bit when I was a child – from California to Missouri and within Missouri from Kansas City to Smithville. The longest I have lived in one place is in Ecuador for eight years, and since then I have not stayed in one place for more than nine months.

I am really excited to see this pattern continue in my life, or even if it does not I am honestly just so stoked about seeing what God is doing in my life here in South Africa!

Over 40 hours of traveling, three different continents in those 40 hours, 20 new girls, 20 new names. Starting over once again. This past week has been full of different emotions.

On landing in Cape Town, got my passport stamped and the lady asked me what day I was leaving and I said “December 16th” she replied with “that is a national holiday, all of the airports are closed”. Pause. Let me remind you that I was exhausted from the past 40 hours of traveling. Continuing on, I looked at Kaylin beside me (a girl in my cohort that I had just met in Dubai) and we laughed and said “well I guess we will go home on the 17th?” I seriously was not thinking, because that is the type of thing I would do to foreigners going to visit me in Ecuador. The lady started laughing under her breath giving away the joke and told us that she was joking and that she hopes we have a good time in South Africa. #ashleyasatourist

It is a very weird dynamic being the tourist. I have always been the foreigner / the outsider / the weird one that doesn’t really have a nationality or any sense of where I come from. But being the tourist is NOT something that I enjoy being at all, but I have decided to embrace it! Just the other day Kaylin and I went out to lunch and I asked for the check, turns out a “check” is what one calls when in jail a joint. #ashleyasatourist

Other than the several silly mistakes I have made so far, it has been a wonderful experience being here. We have walked around Fish Hoek – the place we will be residing in for 10 weeks. We have gone to Cape Point – the most south western corner of the continent. Cape Point was full of beautiful sceneries, it was seriously breath taking – so was the hike up to the light house. We successfully saw baboons jump over a fence because the owner of the house came out and started shooting at them to get off the property.

Im sure there will be several more of these stories – so stay tuned #hoeked

The team
The team`

What is this place you call home?

Looking out the window
Coast to coast

As a missionary kid no one really understands you except for other missionary kids. Its tough to find people that really understand you, and if i have learned anything, there really isn’t anyone that can 100% understand me. Currently I have been traveling across timezones which has been fantastic and has brought me unbelievable happiness and incredible stories. Lately I have been really struggling with the concept of “home”. This is a concept that I have never understood being a missionary kid. No I am not one of those missionary kids that moved every two years, I moved to Quito Ecuador when I was eleven years old. My family has lived there ever since, now I am a sophomore in college at APU working towards a bachelors in Global Studies.

After making the drastic move from Ecuador back to the States (which some won’t understand, but it is terribly difficult readjusting to American culture / society). This summer I decided to go back home to Ecuador for a month and a half, visit family, friends and work as much as I could. Making the transition back to temporarily living in Ecuador again was difficult. Yes it was my house, my furniture, my family. But when you have moved to a different continent it is difficult to try and fit back into your old world. Anyways so I spent a month and a half in Ecuador.

My family and I went back to the states to do our normal trip back to the States. This year our for lack of better word – tour, was Missouri, Ohio and California. We visited family and friends in Missouri, we had a Vineyard conference in Ohio, and visited more family in California. It was a fantastic month of traveling with my parents and sister, but it was difficult living under my parent’s roof again. These visits are all great trips, but they are exhausting, and they take me back to places I once called “home”. Such as Missouri – the place I called home for 10 years. Also my “new home” California as of last year when I moved to Azusa, California for college.

Our tour in the States ended quite quickly due to all of our meetings and family reunions, the next thing I knew I was saying goodbye to my family at the airport. They were on their way back to Ecuador and the next day I was on a plane to South Korea. I had no time to mentally prepare myself for this three week missions trip to Korea. Honestly the missions trip flew by so quickly, almost every day consisted of the same things which gave me a type of day ja vou. Because I was completely exhausted everyday I could feel every minute of the day but looking back on the trip it flew by.

Now I am in this limbo or as I like to call it my three week layover in California before I move to Cape Town, South Africa. This exciting adventure will start the 9th of September. I have several mixed feelings and questions about this adventure that is closing in on me but the one that sticks out the most is will South Africa become home?

What even is the concept of home? The google definition is “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”. What happens when a person doesn’t permanently live anywhere? In my lifetime I have called Missouri, Ecuador, California, Trinity Dorms, South Korea, and Bowels home. Honestly home for me is just my temporary location of habitation. Due to all of my traveling I have not had much time to stop and think.

To think about the fact that I am lost. I am like a lost puppy, going from house to house searching for someone to keep me company, someone to watch over me, someone to be there when no one else is. The fact is the only person that can accomplish that is God, and day by day He has shown me that I am not alone even when I feel completely isolated from the rest of the world.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you,

He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6