Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gardening and Dirt Manicures

Today was the first day working at Walk in the Light and ladies and gentleman.. it was incredible!
We had a lot of nerves and jitters stored up, but we started the morning with a devotional and our supervisor, Bruce, shared a short message on the Good Samaritan. Bruce expressed how he wanted us to be like the Samaritan; to be that one person who helps those in need, those who are left on the side of the road and have been ignored by others. It was a great way to begin our service in this ministry and to hear what Bruce is expecting from us. He is such an amazing man of God and has a huge heart for his community. He has a passion to help empower the people in the community and to reach out to those who struggle with HIV or other matters. It is just such a blessing to be working with his ministry and to share his compassion for people.

We also worked alongside Tracy. Tracy has a passion for working with people in the community and also loves gardening. She is mainly in charge of the gardens and is very serious about her plants, so don't mess with her when it comes to her greens! She explained to us a little bit about what we were planting; so while we were filling trays with soil and rooting these green stubs, she told us that we were planting rose geranium. They need great care and sometimes she talks to them because they need love. So we sang worship songs, or at least Grace did.. and we planted. We laughed a lot as a group and we shared stories. (We also got super cute dirt manicures, for free.) Tracy told us a lot about her past work experiences and how she transitioned to work at Walk in the Light, but she eventually told us that she had to leave at 12pm so she can watch her Dr. Phil show. Who knew he aired all the way in Africa? We thought she was joking. She wasn't. So we kept working and we continued to bond with one another. It was great because I normally don't talk to the people in my group on campus that often, so this created an opportunity for us to get to know one another. I am so blessed to be working with my team who are supportive, encouraging, and have such huge hearts for serving. I have concluded that these next 4 weeks are going to be life changing. So stick around and I will post pictures when time permits :) Soon you will also get to know and meet my team and the staff I work with. Step into my shoes and see the beauty in God's people and His creations.

Always, Allex

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Service Sites

Thank goodness finals are finally over for my main classes and now I am going to be starting service sites for the next month. I am excited to announce that I will be partnering with Walk in the Light Ministries with seven other students from APU! Walk in the Light is based at the city of Pietermaritzburg and works specifically to empower the people in the community and help those in need.

At the site we will be helping with gardening, visiting people in their homes, praying over people, listening to their stories, encountering people who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, working with kids, visiting hospitals, becoming involved in the distribution of food and mainly just being servants for God. Tomorrow will be the beginning to starting relationships with people and to put myself way out of my comfort zone in order to fulfill God's will. 

I do ask for many prayers for me and my team; that we are able to humble ourselves and, as outsiders, that we come in with open hearts and minds. It is so easy to think that we are the experts and that we have come only to serve and fix their problems, however, that is not necessarily the case. It is our responsibility to sit and listen to the people in the community and then partner with them in order to help achieve their goals. It is also our responsibility to teach them to be independent, so that when we can no longer stay in the ministry, they can continue to strive without our help. We have been learning a lot about community and how we must empower the people here. It is a difficult concept to grasp, but I do hope with all my heart that my team can make an impact and that we too will have an amazing experience partnering with this ministry. 

Always, Allex 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Indiana Jones Adventure

This past weekend, I had the privilege to go on a three day safari to finally experience and see the beauty of South Africa. The place we went to is called Imfolozi Park and it is one of the most celebrated game parks in South Africa. I have never been on a safari trip before, and to be quite honest I thought it was going to feel like visiting the San Diego Wild Life park, however, it was completely different. This is a real safari, so no fences, no cages, and anything can happen so we need to make sure we follow the rules. 

Going into the cars, it was seriously like walking on to an Indiana Jones car except no one checks your seat belts and you don't encounter that weird buddha statue thing that they tell you not to look at in the eyes. It's a bumpy car ride and especially Matt's driving is ridiculously fast and he likes to weave in and out very quickly. Which made the drive so much fun when we didn't see animals for about an hour or so. They even have a radio with a walkie talkie, so it literally felt like the Indiana Jones ride. 

Every morning we woke up at 5am and we were able to see this beautiful sunrise. And as Lauren calls it you can see the "Jesus rays", where the sun comes through the clouds and forms different rays of light. It was so amazing to be a part of God's creation. To wake up to a sunrise like this and to be walking around with people who are so wonderful and in love with God. 

My roommate was Kaitlyn and we both got to share this beautiful chalet! Many others got tents, and not like camping tents, more like really sturdy tents with beds and a bathroom attached to it. At times I wished that we could have slept in the tents just for the experience, but I was also blessed to sleep in a chalet where we got nets over our beds so we didn't get eaten up by mosquitos. But I had such a great time rooming with Kaitlyn, she is a nursing major and had such a different perspective on her trip here so far, so being able to have that one-on-one time with her was great. And she is humorous, so we meshed well together.

Our three safari guides were Matt, Nigel, and Reg (my professor). 
1) Matt was the main guide who really knew the park very well. I was in his car the first day and he definitely drives really fast but he probably knew the most about the animals and told us many interesting facts about them. He even told us that he once went swimming with wild elephants. Of course it is dangerous but he explained how he gained respect from the elephants and how they were comfortable around him. He said that was probably one of the best moments in his life.
2) Nigel was the second guide that worked with Matt and I was in his car the second day. He probably drives the slowest out of the three but out of three he was probably the most sarcastic man I've encountered in South Africa. Made me feel a little at home :) He doesn't like lions because they are boring. His reaction to when Reg asked him about leaving the lions was "WHAT? nooooo, why would we leave all this exictement?!" (all with sarcasm..) Oh Nigel, you are one awesome guy. His favorite animal is the cheetah but because he has been on safari for so many years (and he used to be a crocodile hunter, psh crazy cool right?) that he now bird watches. Sounds boring but he says that he likes it because it's more of a challenge, to find birds and to know what type of bird they are.
3) Reg was the last guide who obviously came with us because he is our professor from school. Reg is pretty much like our grandpa who takes care of us kids and he has so much wisdom about everything, And he always wears really neat sweaters, which makes everything that much better. His favorite animals are the cats: lions, cheetahs, and leopards. We didn't get to see any cheetah or leopards, but he was happy to see the lions sleeping in the tree. He told us that sometimes it's better not to see everything we wanted to see because it gives us a reason to come back.

Recap. The animals we saw were:
  • white rhinos
  • lions that sleep in trees (the only pride that does this, so we were very lucky to see that)
  • hyena (that was eating some part of a rhino)
  • dung beetles
  • tortoise
  • impala (like deer)
  • buffalo
  • water buck 
  • giraffes (fun fact: their tongues are about 20 inches and their tongues are blue so they do not get sunburned on a hot day)
  • zebras
  • warthogs (PUMBA!)
  • elephants, lots and lots of elephants :)

So blessed to be a part of this trip, we will be back soon!

Always, Allex

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Zip-lining: awkward and awesome

-not knowing what to do with your hands when you are zip-lining, then the guide turns around and says "that's an example of what NOT to do"
-having the harnesses on waaay too tight
-one word: hairnets
-that one time that the guide came up really close to Danielle's eye and blew out the piece of lint. we still talk about it and laugh endlessly about Danielle's reaction
-every time we have to clip and unclip on the rope, we have to consistently thrust our hips to the air in order for the guide to be able to reach the clip. yes, we did feel really uncomfortable.

-riding up to the top of the mountain on the back of a truck
-going down EIGHT zip-lines and not having to worry about slowing down for any of them
-hanging out with these amazing girls who are ridiculously humorous
-yelling "pinooooooooo" or "yeboooooo"
-trying to video record but failing. then laughing about it.
-having a small juice box and a little piece of chocolate for a snack at the top of a tree!
-having lunch set up for us at the end of our two hour adventure, it's even cuter when the sandwiches are miniature. baby sandwiches :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Yesterday I was able to attend one of the best worship concerts ever. Seriously, ever.
It's called Passion Conference and it stems from Passion City Church in Georgia. So yes, they did come all the way from the states to South Africa. And I am so blessed to be a part of the one that happened in Durban. 

For the those of you who are not familiar with this church or conference, it is a church led by Louie Giglio and has Chris Tomlin as their worship leader. I was literally like 10 feet away from this man. Amazing worship and an incredible experience to be part of. The Holy Spirit was definitely present and it was just a blessing to be a part of a community who was all there to give Glory to the Heavenly Father.

I cannot really put into words what the message or sermon was about, but here is a clip of Louie Giglio, from a year or so ago, who basically shared the same message that night in the stadium. It is pretty mind blowing and reveals how great our God is. 

Have a wonderful rest of the week :)

Always, Allex

Monday, October 1, 2012

You Are a Tourist

This past weekend, we were able to visit three battlefield sites that encompass the past history of South Africa. The first battle site was called Islandwana, and this was where the British suffered their biggest defeat from the Zulu. The pile of white rocks that were spread out around the site were the places where the British soldiers were buried. Being here in this vast space was so surreal. It was so surreal to be in a spot where history took place and to be in a place where words came to life.

Our second battlefield site was Battle of Rorke's Drift which was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu war. This was when the Zulu people came and attacked the British and burned their buildings and hospital. Many British were killed and wounded, however, they were able to somewhat successfully defend their positions. The small stones near the tree were the places the the British piled up rocks in order to hide and defend themselves against the Zulu attack. So several of these rock pathways were present around this site. Again, it was very surreal to be standing in the buildings and going through the museum that once was burned and attacked by the Zulu. 

After a long day traveling in a bus, squished between luggage and Andrew (football player), we finally arrived at our hotel. It is not the typical Hilton hotel, if anything it was a very cute and large version of a bed and breakfast. It was extremely cozy and the walls were decorated with South African history. On top of that, the room that I shared-with Meagan and Mallory- was extremely large! It was a private suite with two bedrooms, a bathroom with a bathtub, and a small couch. Basically a huge upgrade from what where have been living back on campus. It was definitely a great weekend getaway.

Not only was the rooms great, but dinner was probably the best part about this hotel. It was a three course meal with starters, three main courses, and dessert. And let me tell you, I had all three main courses, mmmm :) It was chicken, roasted pork, and Bobotie. Bobotie is a famous South African dish, and the best way I can explain it is that it looks like meatloaf. I have never really had meatloaf back at home, but even if I were to compare, Bobotie would probably win. It was my favorite out of the three main courses, and it tasted somewhat sweet because of the raisins. Not only was the main courses amazingly nice (they say "nice" here when talking about food), the dessert was so incredible. Just thinking about it right now is making me crave all this food! Pudding, tiramisu and ice cream. For those of you who do not know, I never have ice cream. Not because I do not like it , but because I prefer other sweets. So I usually have ice cream about twice a year.. but being here in South Africa, every opportunity there is for me to have ice cream, I EAT IT. It is creamier and richer and tastes way better than the one back home. So if you ever visit.. get ice cream!

The third battlefield site was the Battle of Blood River. The battle was fought between 470 Voortrekkers led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Zulu attackers on the bank of the Ncome River on December 16, 1838 in what is today called KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Voortrekkers stationed themselves inside a ring of wagons and stationed themselves between a river and a Donga (sorta like a big ditch). This position made it very successful for the Voortrekkers to defend themselves against the Zulu attack, which eventually led them to victory.

The 64 wagons you see here are casted in bronze and are circled in the same way that the Voortrekkers circled them. We may have gone a bit crazy and climbed onto them... I guess history does that to you, makes you go a little crazy. 

More adventures soon. Word.

Always, Allex