A year ago I excitedly put a bright and breezy dress on and made my way to a Tea for Hope Party, armed with packets of baby clothes and prezzies. I had been asked to help welcome people at this event because I’m apparently very friendly. (I still chuckle at this!)
The feast that awaited us was literally breath taking … I’m a sucker for macaroons and cupcakes! The atmosphere was beautiful, women coming together for a greater cause … Men serving us delicious cappuccinos and God’s loving presence definitely tangible.
A very dear friend of mine (who also happens to enjoy a good cupcake or two) and a couple of other beautiful ladies with babies were on a mission … To connect people with lack to people with an abundance of love.
What was started there that day was just the beginning for me …
I have always had a heart for the broken, as I myself have been broken (more than once)
I immediately felt my heart say, ‘Here, this is where you can help!’ I jumped in! I’ve probably annoyed my friends as at every event we’ve had since, whether it be a dinner party or Christmas party, everyone is asked to bring a tin of something non perishable along.
This movement was named, Love Story…
There have been so many people involved in so many different capacities, but the start of my story in Love story has been a very precious journey for me… from collecting tin food to braving the townships…
My love for Jesus, my heart for the broken and my friendship with the fellow cupcake eater (Elaine) led me to volunteer for Love Story.
It was a very BIG step for me as I was previously sexually assaulted by a group of African men, and now I would be encountering many other unknown men (and seeking to show love to them). It required a bold and brave step from me (much prayer and plenty of coffee was consumed before my first trip into the township). I felt terrified but knew deep down that it was what my heart wanted to do.
Going into the different townships was an incredible experience. There was so much more I wished that I could do and I would get upset with myself for not being able to be more or do more. But I felt God say to me, ‘Every little hand you hold, every little girl you remind of her beauty, every little boy’s strength you affirm is making a difference’.
What really impacted me is knowing that many of these little girls and boys are exposed to harsh and abusive situations and that they in turn might themselves grow up to be abusive. Caring for them gently and lovingly helping where I can might not change anything … but it just might, and knowing that there is a chance I can make a difference – I will take the opportunity with both hands!! Wounded people wound, and I refuse to see that cycle continue in our beautiful country.
I thought that I would be going into the Township once a week and loving children…but, it is so much more than that. The love that I’ve received and the lessons that I’ve learnt have been incredible.
Seeing how bad some of these situations are have often left me in a state of tears… I would see the pain right in front of me…and knowing that more than giving hugs and some new clothes there was nothing else I could do… Then I realised, that’s not the end of the story… That’s the end of my ability but the beginning of Gods story. He uses our feet to go to the places He wants to reach, He uses our hands to touch those whom He wants touch, He uses our mouths to encourage those whom He wants to speak to… But then He goes far and beyond that- He loves these broken people in ways that we never could. He restores, provides and takes our ashes and turns them into beauty!
1 Peter 5:10 says “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”.
When I felt helpless in these situations I would remember the verse in 2 Corinthians 12, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness”
One can so easily look at situations and give up because you feel inadequate… But instead of doing that, let God turn the situation around for His benefit and glory.
On this, Love Story’s 1st birthday, I look back on the past year…and even though I haven’t been involved in all of their projects I have served where I can, and I feel that is how we make a difference. We each have a specific and important part to play.
How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
How does one Love a nation? One hug at a time, one prayer at a time, one meal at a time,
Some of my most treasured memories included:
Meeting two little girls who were removed from their mother’s care as she was an alcoholic and had not protected them from an uncle who sexually abused the older daughter. A few of us ladies went to meet them, and even though I felt like I didn’t do much, I got to love her, help her try on her new school shoes, take her cupcakes and sit in the car for a few very precious moments whilst everyone else was busy and to dance with her to ‘wakka wakka’.
Walking in to the homes of one or two community members in some of the townships, standing inside their barren kitchens and praying, seeing their absolute lack and their gratitude for a few packets of vegetables.
Booming loud music in a township and dancing with the children. Seeing the neighbours peeping over their walls to find out what is going on.
Preparing basic sandwiches with cheese and butter (something most children I know would scoff at) and seeing how a big group of children were blessed to an outing at Homely Farm and lunch packs that our sandwiches were part of.
Giving mini manicures to a groups of Tweens. There we were, in a shack with a gaping roof sitting on a soggy carpet that was still damp from heavy rain the previous week. We put hand cream on their hands, painted their nails and munched Marie biscuits.
The many giggles, tears and chats had with the other amazing volunteers in the vehicles and Love Story Landy on the way to the play dates/townships visits.
Having only worked part time this year (I’m finishing off the studies), I’ve been faced with a financial challenge (or a financial adventure?!), but I still wanted to buy a birthday present for Love Story..
So Today I ventured to the shops and spotted a beautiful ceramic decoration that spelt out the word, L O V E. It was bright and red. I felt that this was the present I wanted to give! I could already visualise it in the LS offices. I happily bought it and made my way to the car. On the way, the packet slipped out my hand and went tumbling to the ground… my purchase… smashed! I got home, and actually cried. Yes, cried, because I had just spent my last bit of money on a present that was now ruined. And then I cried because I was crying?!
As cheesey as it sounds (like when people say it’s good luck when a bird poops on your head – it’s not, it’s just something people say to make you feel better), it smashed for a reason. I felt God say, that’s exactly how it is. The world is broken, love is smashed and things don’t fit anymore… But then He comes ands takes our brokenness and turns it in to beauty. I feel that’s exactly what Love Story is doing. Loving the broken and playing a part in God’s restoration process. This really stood out for me!
After all, Jesus loves the unlovable, the broken and the impoverished. Through His amazing love and grace we are all made new again.
Happy birthday to Love Story! May this next year ahead be one where hope is fostered, dreams realised, hearts changed, lives healed, wisdom shared and love given in abundance.
Check out their website or like them on Facebook!