Thursday, August 16, 2012

When Were You Wrecked? Thoughts about Being "Wrecked" - Beginnings, Bosnia... And the Book "Wrecked: When A Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life" By Jeff Goins

Recently I read the book, Wrecked: When A Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins. In his book, Jeff shares his journey to being "wrecked" and the life that has led him to. So he calls others to live to seek and identify being wrecked and to live out a changed life. According to Jeff and the people Jeff knows, being wrecked can be described as "Ruined. Devastated. Undone. Their lives were forever changed, and there was no returning to how life used to be. Their paradigms had shifted. Their worldview was infected with a contagion that was spreading to every facet of their life. More than one person told me, 'I can’t go back to who I was.'"

So I ask myself this question, "When was I wrecked?" Well, I guess the better question for me is when was I first "wrecked?" I realize that the byline to my blog is "thoughts from a broken heart for the broken," and my use of the term "broken"  can relate a bit to this "wreckage." So I think back, before moving to South Africa, before YWAM and missions trips, before staffing my church's youth ministry... Was I wrecked during my first missions trip while in college? I was 2001, and I was age 21. Experiencing the war-torn nation of Bosnia 5 years after their war, hearing TRUE LIFE stories from my new friends, seeing the death marks of bombs and landmines on landscapes, on the skeletal remains of former homes, and on the bodies of ALIVE people whose arms and legs were buried in unmarked graves just as many of the fallen - lost loves ones rested - soldiers, defenders, oppressors, freedom fighters, aggressors, grandmothers, lovers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters... so many - gone.

I wrote about my experience there right after my trip and one story in particular. As I sat at the war memorial on the hill overlooking his town, my friend related his story. He was just a 13 year old boy - trying to stay alive, to survive, to provide for his family. Snipers had aimed and shot from the hill where I sat  - at the town, at the people, and there they hit, wounded, hurt, maimed, killed, and destroyed Life.

"We cannot become who we are without going through pain. And who can do such a thing without trusting the struggle is worth it? Or that the results will be good? We must endeavor to be wrecked with a deep, reckless faith that confounds the world and maybe even puzzles us at times. It will be worth it." -
I agree, Jeff. My wreckage seems a bit synonymous with pain and with death, literally and maybe with death of myself and my rose-colored beliefs. Jeff writes, "true compassion causes your heart to break - even at the moment you're helping. It breaks for all the needs you're not meeting, for everything else you could be doing." He goes on to define compassion as "suffering with."

I attended a silence and solitude retreat a few years back, and what I remember from my time with God, being silent...waiting...and that God gave me a name, "Mother of Suffering." Sounds a bit bleak, I know, but I feel - deeply.

I haven't had many people in my family die or even close friends - but many people I've known have experienced traumatizing pain and deaths of loves ones. My parents didn't shy away from taking me to funerals as a small child. Some may think I was too young and should have been protected. 

Looking back, I see that physical death is a part of life - timely with old age and even untimely - under unforeseen circumstances. But I understand Death and Pain still Is.

But I also understand that THESE are not the End of Life.

My parents took their first missions trips in the 1980's - maybe that is when they were wrecked. I heard the stories of lives lived in different circumstances than my own and the world I knew. Did I understand at such a young age? Was I wrecked then?

Was I wrecked when a childhood friend of mine didn't show up to elementary school one day, and I never saw her again? I heard that her family moved - suddenly. I've always wondered, what did her life include of pain, of suffering...?

Was I wrecked when I read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom at age 9? I was moved by many books and their characters thereafter?

Was I wrecked when I learned about wars, the U.S.S.R., the Berlin Wall, and China in my elementary school social studies classes?

Was I wrecked when I understood God's unconditional love and the death of His Son Jesus to save me? I was 10 years old. I was brought to tears I could not control. My heart hurt. Jesus Suffered. I felt his suffering. And I understood the hope of redemption.

Today I find myself in South Africa.

In the future maybe I will be somewhere else.

But each day I look for a piece - of hope.

So much of the time lots and lots of pain and death loom.

But there are still days that I SEE -

I not only grasp - but I KNOW Hope.

I am not saying that being wrecked brings you overseas - nor does Jeff say this. Living out change from this wrecked place does not look like a specific vocation or living in a certain place. Jeff explains, "If you are going to find work worth doing - a vocation to fulfill and challenge you - you will have to encounter a reality bigger than yourself. It may not be what others say it should be or what you think, but it will come if you are looking for it. Our callings come to us as surprises, like a distant dream we could've sworn was real. When you find it, whatever your 'it' is, it will be unavoidable - something that wrecks you and compels you to act. At times, the work you're called to do will be hard and confusing, but if you press in, you will see the purpose behind the pain. You will see how the whole experience is causing you to grow. And you will thanks God for the whole journey."

Jeff calls his readers to this mini-manifesto:

"Instead of wanting more, we will strive for less.

Instead of easier, faster, better; we will opt for slow and deliberate. We will take our time.

We will seek first the needs of others and trust that our own will be provided.

We will discipline ourselves to believe.

We will find our lives by losing it.

We will seek the pearl of great price and sacrifice everything for it.

We will become less to gain more."

Just to let you know, I am not "there" yet. I don't have life figured out, but I am on the journey of discovery - to Live and Be here and now because His Purpose is bigger than me.  

I invite you to read Jeff's book. It's good. You can get it here: Or you can read Jeff Goin's blog here:

And so as I asked myself, I ask you, "When were you wrecked?" Or do you still need to be? What does your journey look like?

(Quotation excerpts from Goins, Jeff. Wrecked: When A Broken World Slams Into Your Comfortable Life. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

When ANTS in the Sugar Tops Off Your Morning...

You know when you get up and things just start feeling "off"?

Photo Credit: HAC Staff
And then...

And then...

And then you're really, really late, and it's beyond your control... (Ahem, yep, I'm talking about myself here, and yes, there WERE ants in the sugar - lots of them!!!)

It's like that children's book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

What do you do?!

Sometimes ya just gotta realize that the day will keep on coming,

And ya gotta just keep on going (with a few, "Oh, my!" "Really?!" and a few exclamation points thrown in!).

And maybe the enemy has something out for ya too - he has it easy with your taxed and overwhelmed attitude.

But then your friend starts praying,

You check your "-tude" in the mirror (cuz it's an ugly face staring back at you),

And the sun begins to shine (literally, this is happening as I speak, err write - cold, dreary rain has turned into sunshine peeking in the doorway).

So really, how do you respond when your day turns upside down? 
How do you turn (you or your day) right side up again?

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Makes Your Day?

8 heads in a car (1 is hiding)! Transit from Hope Africa that day!
Photo Credit: HAC Staff
I met with small groups of my Life Skills and Computer Training graduates the other day. These groups are so that we Life Skills/Hope Africa staff can touch base with our graduates (former students) to see how the job hunt is going, to answer any questions they may have, and to see how they are doing in their personal lives.

Further discipleship takes place.

Encouragement is the word of the day (and my heart for them in this place in their lives).

In a country where there is 40% plus unemployment, my students find looking for a job and entering the application process - yet again - discouraging and frustrating.

But I hope we at Bridge for Hope can help to Equip them.

We also hope to bridge the gap between our unemployed graduates and companies with new job opportunities. The good news is some companies are coming to us for job applicants!

As we went around the room, my students shared where they are at, what they have applied to, what they are waiting for, and WHAT THEY HOPE FOR - in regards to the kind of job they dream of and/or what they would like to study at college/university.

I ask, "What is your goal?" "What steps are you taking to reach that goal?"

As they open their mouths and their hearts, I 'encourage' them to ENCOURAGE each other. "Can you see 'so and so' being a... or doing that... ?" And students' heads nod. "Yeah," "definitely" are the responses.

A large smile - sometimes a shy smile and a nervous giggle also - appear on the sharer's face.
And at the end of the day, I couldn't help but beam my large smile because my small groups of students make my day!

And I thank God for it!
So I'd love to hear from you! What makes your day? What puts a smile on your face when you look back at your day?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

6 Months in South Africa! R.I.P. Worry?! Remember. & Peace.

My "Hi, Thank You, Miss You" face as I send this post!

Part 1 - REMEMBER. 


I spent a week in Bible class with my students.


 I was called to "Remember" 

What God was doing from the beginning of time 

Through Israel's history

To the promise of an Eternal King and Kingdom.

Jesus Christ. The Fulfillment. The Promise. Of Redemption. For A Whole Earth.

To remember - God created mankind for Relationship and for Worship -

And since that separation

He has Pursued ME - To Restore - ME to Him

Because HE LOVES ME.

- for Relationship and Worship! 

May my students open more and more to HIM WHO PURSUES and LOVES THEM! 
 To see their Need. To understand His Grace. And to accept His Gift.

Part 2 - PEACE.

You know? My Worry and stress post?
No, I'm not all better - it seldom works that way.

But thank you who shared by blog and e-mail with encouragement, prayers, and your journey.

It means a lot to remember we struggle - maybe with different things - but side by side, with prayer and praise.

My circumstances did change, and I was in a safe place by the weekend! The weeks of waiting and hyperventilating (not literally - I don't think) were over.   

I felt a huge breath of relief almost immediately. 


But most times circumstances don't just change -

And still I need to learn. "DON'T WORRY!" Remember He WHO is in control - Faith.
One thing I've learned - is that writing can help me to process and pray and gain perspective - and maybe God sheds light in times like these. 

As I REMEMBER - What God has done and is doing for me. 
I am thankful.

And I sincerely THANK YOU for walking beside me these 6 months (and more-before) - YES, 6 MONTHS I've been back in South Africa!

I have SO SO Much to be thankful for:

  • Completed 4 Life and Job Skills Courses with many students (with names that are getting easier for me to pronounce)!
    • Some students know Jesus!
    • Others have jobs!
    • All have training!
    • And All have heard about Jesus!
  • Have a Home (I call it, "Sanctuary" - being the introvert needing recuperating space) - a secure apartment + 2 flatmates to share with (praying for a final one),
    • with a bed, a frig, 
    • futon (free), 
    • table and chairs and stools (borrowing from kind people)...

I still have a few needs and desires and lots of growing to do, BUT I am thankful.

Today I Remember and Rest in Peace. Sounds like something died, doesn't it?! 

Well then, R. I. P. Worry.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When WORRY Has A Choke Hold

When one part of your life becomes difficult, does it affect the other areas of your life? And negatively at that?
Well, I have been learning - very painfully - is that when I stress about one thing, I let it ooze into the rest of my life! I admit that I am not the faith-filled, little missionary with even the mustard seed kind of faith.

And this - my lack of faith, my stress, anxiety, and worry - is really ugly.

Photo Credit: HAC Staff
Lately, my ministry, my co-workers, friends, and housemates could practically visualize this "burden" upon my shoulders. I hate this - that my "worry" gets in the way of connecting with my students, co-workers, friends, and housemates. Ugh.

And "the burden" is not "the problem," but "the burden" is "the worry" I choose to carry.

It has to do with that "new home" (a.k.a. apartment) I just moved into. I learned new information upon arrival that makes it advisable to leave (no, it's not the housemates. I love them and will be taking them with me).

One reason to leave is the lack of security, and this affects my feeling of safety. There was a burglary here a few months back - a common occurrence here. At night I wake up to various noises and wonder if its someone breaking the windows and entering the next room - really, I do.

Ironically, I'm reading a book now that addresses some of this topic. The author Lisa McKay says, "I'd eventually learned that when you don't feel entirely safe, it's hard to feel at home, regardless of how you define it."

So we are looking to move - SOON - to another "new home."

I know that my circumstances in life will not always change, and if they do, that will only be a temporary solution to my worry - and not really "fix" what I need to address in MY OWN SELF. I still need to learn to give my cares over to God MORE SOMEHOW and have MORE FAITH SOMEHOW. Do you know how to do this? Because I do try and pray and "focus on God" but...?

It raises the question, "Do I really trust God?" With believing God for provision, moving to a foreign country, asking Him to help me give and love others - with all of this, why am I still not trusting Him to care for me?

I read in Matthew 6 where it says "do not be anxious" how many times?!?!

"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:30 ESV)

"O YOU of little faith," I bleakly chide myself.

I Am Convicted.

I Acknowledge. GOD. KNOWS.
as verses 31-32 continue.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
~ Matthew 6:33-34 ~

And So I Seek... (Honestly, isn't seeking hard to define, to understand - in my muddled, partial, human, faulty and reliant - because "I can't do it myself" efforts?)

I realize how much this is a battle. Spiritually (not to leave out mentally and emotionally). I desire to change - to grow in my faith, as a person, free of worry, and in trusting God. I desire to put worry aside so that I can focus on what really matters and love the people around me.

And this post is so hard for me to share with you and to write for myself and acknowledge - these ugly parts of me. That I still need to be transformed. And that I ask for your prayers. Because I realize that I cannot walk this alone. It is tough over here, as in the PLACE and in the HEART - as I am sure it is over there where you live too.

And I Will "Therefore Do Not Be Anxious..." and "Therefore Be..." to another day when I have the benefit retrospect to give me more perspective. (And I postpone worry this evening to wrap myself in a good book from which the included quote came.)
Would you consider sharing your story - about worry and/or faith here? Where are you at? What do you find helpful or harmful?

 I would love to learn from you and to pray with you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

When My Student Inspires Me

At the end of class, students and staff stood in a circle. Our facilitator asked if any students had any motivation to share with the class before departure.

She shared her story - of tragedy. 

Tragedy upon tragedy.

But her countenance was at peace.

She shared because she was compelled by A Greater Peace.

She understands her classmates' hardships: township life, lack of money, death and destruction. 

And she knows a Deeper Foundation and an Inner Joy - He who gives Life to Dry Bones.

And she calls her classmates to discover and find He who gives True Hope and True Life.

Tears ran down cheeks that day as hearts of my students were stirred.

My own tears flowed as my own heart hurt... 

And I am so grateful to a girl who I hoped to inspire but instead she inspires me to Hope.

Please pray for my students' hearts - to Seek and to Find Hope and Life in Him.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Tough Love of Interview Prep And I Have No Internet

It is Interview Preparation day for my students, and I am their teacher. They are at my mercy - hahahaha (evil laugh gives way to timid chuckle). Not really - I am not that scary.

The question looms, "What do I want to say?" With more to follow. "What should I say? What do I need to say?"

Photo Credit: HAC Staff


So I prepared. In the morning I am armed for class. I have my arsenal packed with punches... and big, smothering hugs. 

Punches - because for the life of me these guys have walls that say, "You can't touch me." I hit those walls of theirs in Life Skills course. I prodded at them with my little finger. Many would not budge. But thank the Lord, some crumbled - a little bit.

As for the punch - to give them a hard kick in reality. "It's a big bad world out there. Interviewers are tough, and the competition is brutal. If you're not gonna give it your all, step out of your shell, and show them who you are, then you're not gonna get the job. Period."  

It's a big deal - that shell of theirs, those walls a mile high, or a kilometer high in this case. I've heard the "talkers" talk but then in a big group, they won't say a peep. ("Aaaaah, you have it in you! Just open your mouth," the voice in my head yells.) Leading to my second point... 

It's a VERY big deal - the "WHO YOU ARE" part - what the Life Skills staff and I have been trying to impart to them - their WORTH. But it's not a battle won overnight. 


SO that's why I deliver my kick with encouragement! 


I believe in you. You have something good to offer - BUT ya' gotta step out - so that they can see you SHINE!


As I contemplate what advice to give my students, I ask what advice would you give my students when they go for job interviews?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Update on the "Where Will I Live" Saga? Drum Roll Please!

So y'all have probably been wondering in dire angst if I will be living in a TENT come June... 

Or if I will unwillingly find myself living the life of a vagabond, out on the street - GASP - homeless?!!

(Just Kidding. Really, I do take this seriously and the seriousness of people who live on the street.)

And I realize that my prior "Home" post could have been taken a bit more despondent than I intended - not that it isn't true - it is (except I am not despondent), and I do feel the way I wrote at times - but just not all the time...

I LOVE what I am learning and call myself blessed to be a part of Hope Africa - getting to know students and watching their lives change!

All that to say - I HAVE A HOME - in about a week, around June 1st!!! Woot!

Well, a HOME in the form of an APARTMENT!!!! It has a great location (minus a bit of traffic noise), and it's a walk away from the grocery store (important until I have a car)! The things I like best about it is that I will share with 2 great girls and it has such a warm atmosphere.

I am so excited to MOVE IN and to MAKE IT A HOME. 

Thank you so much, dear friends and family, for your care and prayers for myself, my HOME, and my TRANSITION (keep the prayers comin'). It really, really means a lot to know you guys are with me (and since I can't say it in person, I will add a lot of emphasizing "really's").

So will you come to my housewarming party?  ;)

And by the way, my knee is fine from my stellar fall a bit ago. It made a blue bruise - and my legs did hurt through the first night - but all-in-all it's not too shabby.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The HOUSE that Shannon Built OR I Just Might Live in a Tent

No, I am not building a house - I wish. All my watching HGTV and DIY would be put to actual use. And I love design, but moving on (dorky pun intended), that's beside the point.

So since I have moved to South Africa in February, I am living in my second temporary place.

And I have lived out of my packed bags since end of June 2011 (that is not a typo) - I'm on my 11th month now. 

Side note: While in the U.S. I traveled in 8 States in 7 months and slept in something like 10 different beds! I guess I've been a little bit on the transitional side of things, not my favorite of things.

And maybe you've had it worse - I'd love to hear it. Maybe I'd feel better about my own circumstances.

BUT as you can sympathize and as I just might be at the end of my rope right now with TRANSITION (it's becoming an ugly word to me), 

I need a HOME. 

My new bed and duvet need a home. 

My dog - oh, I don't have a dog...

My New Bed and Duvet - so comfy!

Ya know, it's not just a housing transition around here, it's kind of a
  • COUNTRY transition,
  • CULTURE transition, 
  • JOB transition, 
  • ACCENT transition (even if my students speak English, it's their second language), 
  • probably an EMOTIONAL and 
  • SPIRITUAL transition too.
So although I am not hammering away at the 2 x 4's of my home, I want to BUILD A HOME...


To WORK on adjusting, learning, adapting, ACCLIMATING (I don't really know how to do this, but I'll just "keep on" and keep on prayin'), AND

To FIND a house or apartment and housemates to share with. 

Otherwise, I just might borrow that tent that was offered to me.

So if you could, keep on praying with me? I consider housing possibilities ...and hope for a permanent status. 

Need (at least something) by beginning of JUNE.

And really, share with me your "worse" transitional or moving circumstances!!!

P.S. Thought I'd share my clumsy/near death moment today: I tripped almost head-first into oncoming traffic today... Landed on hands and knees, halfway on the sidewalk and halfway off the curb! Thankfully and sadly, only my bruised knees and favorite jeans :( will be paying for it! I'll let you know how my knees feel tomorrow!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our Students Graduate - Celebrate Your Milestones AND Your Footstones

28 students completed their Life Skills and Computer Training course! This means that ALL the students who began the course finished and graduated. 

So I've heard this is quite the feat they accomplished - because many times a person will begin something only to drop out.

But finishing is reason to celebrate! 

Photo Credit: HAC Staff
So we held a graduation program surrounded by their families and friends, with congratulations from our directors and instructors, and two students gave speeches. We sang and danced and prayed (I was definitely out of my comfort zone as I felt like the clunky robot in the midst of beautiful African worship), and food and fellowship followed the ceremony.

The students were so excited, and you could not rub the perma-smiles from their faces. Why? They had graduated from high school within the last few years, BUT they did not have a graduation ceremony. Only the students with special honors were recognized for their accomplishments.

This is so sad to me.

I believe we need to recognize and celebrate our accomplishments. We talk a lot about people's "milestones," those big accomplishments in our lives, the monumental feats, and celebrating these. We recognize those with the best grades, the loudest careers, and rolling in the dough.

But who defines the milestone?

Why should we celebrate completion? Why should we recognize what may seem small in our own lives or that is perceived as small by someone else?

What if finishing something - like 7 weeks of Life Skills and Computer Training - is the domino for someone's better tomorrow?

Maybe someday my "footstone" will become my milestone.

Maybe someday this graduation day - this "footstone" - will become my students' milestone.

Photo Credit: HAC Staff

Will you pray for encouragement and perseverance for these graduates as they apply for jobs in a country with 40+% unemployment?
Do you recognize a "footstone" - something to celebrate - in your life today?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kite of Dreams

Let your kite arise on the wings of winds.

Higher, higher -

It blows.

Moving upward,

Letting go.

Clouds consuming

It sails

On cumulus waves of white.

Until I have my own illustrating abilities...
Photo Credit: Lim Heng Swee via

Tragic could be its effervescent flight

But only if grasped too tightly in these clenching fists.

Let it breath.

Let it play.

Sweeping, rolling, dancing

Above earth-bound days -

Only to meet its captain

When time rounds the bend

Into the calm of night.

Floating, waltzing, arriving

It makes its decent.

Squinting eyes against sun's light

And telescopic vision needed no more

As the glinting diamond spirals - downward -

Arrayed in ribbons of flare.

No longer clung to -

No more to own -

With palms wide open

 And near to the heart

It's offered as a gift

From awesome heavenly parts.

Come away with me.

Come away

With your kite of dreams.

Fly the realms of forgotten tomorrows -

Let your imagination be free.

Run wild. Breath deep. Jump in - Take flight!

It's mine to soar.

And it's yours to share.

(By Shannon Mintz ~ 08 April 2012)

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Time to Trust

Photo Credit: HAC Staff
On day 2 of Life Skills class, we talked about our experiences with trust.

The students shared heavy things in their lives; maybe it's the first time they have been able to talk about it, from tragedy to being wrongfully accused of a crime, being emotionally charged to not being able to share.

On day 5 of class…

We talked about “How I came to Life Skills – Before” and “How I have changed during Life Skills – After 5 days.”

Here are each person in my group’s answers. If you read the point on the Left, that person's response is on the Right.

This is the poster my group made.

Wow! One student began feeling, "tense, terrible, traumatized" and now is "free from stress, loose body, relieved heart, can see the future." Another student "doubted my capabilities," and now says, "I can believe in myself."

Dressed up for practice interview day
On day 5, one student went from holding it in to sharing her experiences. After sharing, she now says that heaviness she felt has lifted. She feels free.

My students are growing and finding new hope, I pray that they will seek the truly best Foundation for her life – that is a Full Life through Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for how you are working in these lives and may you continue to draw these hearts to yours.

Would you continue to pray for my students who started the Computer Training portion of their course? That they would continue to Grow? To have Hope? And seek and know the Solid Foundation?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Hope Africa Blog is Awesome - Go Read It! Especially This One About What My Students Have to Say!

I just wanted to let you know another place you can read about what I am a part of with the Life Skills courses in the South African townships. Go to the *Hope Africa Collective Blog ( - because it's awesome and probably covers some stuff I don't (as I cover some stuff that they don't). :)

And I really encourage you to read this post in particular,, because it's all about the end of the Life Skills course and some things our students said about what they had learned. Here's an excerpt cuz I know you'll want to read more:  

Photo Credit: HAC Staff

"One girl said that she had hope for the first time in her life. She shared that there were so many areas in dealing with hurts of her past where Hope Africa actually became a bridge to bring hope to her life!"

Thanks guys! Blessings.

* Update: Please note that Bridge for Hope International changed it's name to Hope Africa Collective in May 2013. You can read about it here: My blog is updated to reflect these changes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Interviewing Students - You are Valuable

Photo Credit: HAC Staff

This week we conducted interviews for our new Life Skills and Computer Training course.

A staff and I interview the students.

They want a chance in this class. To learn. To grow. To work. To provide. 

To believe.

As I listen, my heart cries, "You are valuable." Over and over again I want to say that...because I am not sure if they believe it.

Maybe it has been years since someone has been there. I don't know.

With one student was so broken by the past, I don't say it. Not yet. I don't want to scare - being too forward. So I say something encouraging (I don't remember what) but less "in your face."

Soon in class I can say, "You are valuable." But more than that, my co-workers and I will show it - to each person in our class - that God created them with design and purpose.

Value isn't only given through words.

Value has action.

I definitely forget this - too often - that my actions speak something - more powerful than I know.

So my prayer is...

To be intentional. For discernment. For wisdom. When to listen, when to speak, when to act:

"You are valuable. I believe in you."

The saying may be true, "Actions speak louder than words," but I tend to believe that actions combined with words are even louder.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Freed Slave

Photo Credit: HAC Staff
I am 23 days in South Africa today.

On day 12, I was praying for my time here, living and working with the township students, and I journaled these words: 

"For Peace. Influence. Provider. Foundations. One Step at a Time. Open Doors. Relief. Abide. Dicipleship (key for me). Change in Lives. Relationship (always on my heart)."

And I was reminded of Galatians that we are not slaves to the Law but free through faith in Jesus Christ as heirs, sons and daughters of God. That is Christ's promise for me - of Relationship - and I  choose into abiding and walking in His paths for me - because I love Him and He loves me. 

It's not easy. Days can be a struggle. Getting Here can be a struggle. But it is pure, serene joy to look into my student's eyes and see the change, to see a heart come back to life, to see dreams given wings, and to see hope take flight for - truly - a future is on the horizon.

Relationship. For my Students. With God. With Others. This I pray.

And I am thankful. At peace. Right where I am.

"So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. 
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." 
~ Galatians 4:31-5:1 ~

The Freed Slave
By Shannon Mintz
Feb. 21, 2012

The vertical is no longer,
But a side by side -
It's horizontal -
To those beside
It's casting myself down
So I look into the master's eyes.
Submission - willfully -
Choose to deny -
Is really, fully

Friday, February 24, 2012

Life Skills - More than For Work & For Life But also For the Heart

My first two weeks of the Life Skills Course in the South African township of Philippi is complete, and now I have a chance to reflect and rest (kindof) before classes start up again! We have 28 young adult students learning in an experiential and reflective environment. During the first week they learned everything from trust, acceptance, self-esteem, forgiveness, how our qualities and values affect how we problem solve, how to work together in a business, managing people and activities, and time management. They are eager learners ready to change their lives! I am so excited and blessed to be part of their journey. 
Students participating in a class exercise
All Photos Here Credit: HAC Staff
 Where? Hope Africa's concentration is in the township of Philippi, about a 20-30 minute drive away from where I live (near Cape Town). This is an area with many townships, numbering from hundreds of thousands to possibly a million or more people. It's hard to find a specific number.
Who? Philippi's majority are from the Xhosa tribe, and so are most of our students - some of whom have moved in from across the country in the Eastern Cape (I am located in the Western Cape) and live with relatives or a parent(s) in order "to find better life," as many of my students have expressed with hopefulness. 
A student's story may consist of a broken family, a tin home with a leaky roof, teenage pregnancy, finding it hard to concentrate, even in elementary through high school, because of hunger - and lack of finances even to buy food - just many difficult circumstances... But others' stories may include loving dads, close relationships with their mothers, although many families live in small homes - laughter and love, hope beyond their circumstances, joy and peace found in God... 
These 28 students have taken a step towards HOPE. They have names difficult to pronounce for my foreign tongue, like "Vukuzenzele" (Vue - kue - zenn - zae - lae) - actually that's not a name that I know of, but each name sounds similar to that and like it has a hundred syllables. Some names include clicking sounds - something I am not experienced with. Hopefully, I'll be learning some Xhosa language soon!
When? Monday through Friday my team and I car pool to our classroom in Philippi. The computer training and Bible overview sessions begin soon.
Why? Classes go Deep. Interactive. Reflective. Because the deep stuff like our trust issues or our relationships and communication at home affect who we are and how we interact whether in our personal life or in our workplace environment.
How? To identify trust issues and learn to trust, we worked in groups. For example, a person had to lie on the ground as the group worked together to lift the person above their heads and return them safely to the ground again. Yes, I was the largest person in my group of small-sized girls - I practically held my breath the whole time, and my gymnastics training came in handy. And no, not for the dismount from above their heads (just kidding) but for holding my body tight and straight as a board!
Step 1: Get a good grip. Step 2: Lift.
Step 3: Don't drop! (and don't look down!)
My group and I lifting, lifting, lifting (and hopefully not dropping)!
On Monday the topic was communication. They were asked to reflect and discuss, "what is communication?," "hindrances to effective communication," and "how do we effectively communicate?" for each person and within a team (such as a business). This then led the class to look at communication at home/within their families and to identify and discuss how to work on/maintain communication in relationships. It was an emotional day as students addressed difficult relationships, such as with their fathers, and how the process of forgiveness is healthy for their hearts personally, even if the relationship cannot be resolved.

How can I pray?
Yes please - please pray!

  • For my students  - to share the deeper stuff and to take in all they can learn.
  • For my team - to learn all we can and for God to give us wisdom in how to guide our students.
  • For a family on my team - their little 16 month old boy has been having severe health issues (including emergency trips), especially in his lungs.
  • For a great roommate and apartment to come available SOON!

Thank you so much for your lives, love, prayers, and support. I love the little messages I've received from you - I carry you in my heart (that little ocean really does make you seem so far away). 

                                                             Blessings. Shannon