Thursday, June 30, 2011

Then and Now

I took a little walk down memory lane and had fun remembering how little my kids were during tour! I am SO THANKFUL for the chance to visit them in Uganda and Kenya last month!

Auntie Jenny and Bridget June 2011 and Oct 2008

Julian was such a tiny little girl on tour! Now she is a tall young woman! May 2011 and Dec. 2008

Auntie Jenny and Jane! May 2011 and Nov. 2007. She is still my "Little Bunny Foo Foo" and loves the camera just as much as the day I first met her!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dear Washo, Margaret, Jackie, Julian, Jane, Halima, Faulanta, Prisca, Harriet, Christine, Bridget, Sarah, Enid, Hudson, Jacob, Marvin, Martin, Joseph, Peter, Johnson, Daniel, David, Enock, Jerome, and Ibrahim,

Hardly a day goes by when I don't think of you and wonder how you are. I feel so blessed to be able to come and visit you! It is a dream come true! I love you! See you soon!

Love, Auntie Jenny

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I'm not so sure that anyone reads this blog anymore so maybe it's not such a big risk to type up a blog of uncensored thoughts. When I started this blog years ago it began as a way to share my experiences with others. I also found that it was a good way for me to process the varying experiences I was having while traveling the world. Now, as I have been in South Africa for about 15 months I see that my blogging has really been lacking. Maybe that is part of the reason why is am struggling so much in recent days. I haven't really been taking the time to process the thoughts and feelings of my day to day life here. I think because of that I am suffering. My mind is full and my heart is uneasy. If anyone out there is reading this beware. Here's some candid thoughts about Jenny's life.

I'm so tired. Physically tired. Mentally tired. Tired of trying to be happy and content. Tired of having moments of perfect peace and joy from God but then having them disappear in the next moment.

I miss being with friends. Real friends who know all of my history and faults and love me anyway. People who know me almost as well as I know myself. I miss being able to communicate clearly without even thinking about it.

I miss doing what I am good at. I was a good preschool teacher. I was a good chaperone. Here I just struggle along doing the best I can but often forgetting to lean on God for my strength. He has stretched me and taught me so much. I can lead and confront my staff way better than when I first started but I still lack so much.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and hardly recognize myself anymore. Maybe I just haven't taken the time to process how I have changed and grown in the past year. But I also see things I don't really like. Somehow I have lost a lot of the confidence that I used to have. That confidence wasn't really a confidence in myself but a confidence relating to who I was because of who Christ was in me. Where did that go?

I am weary of questioning whether people are "using" me or not. It is so hard to know if people here are asking me favors because they are my friends or just because I am someone who can help them. I almost always say "yes" hoping that it will make our "friendship" stronger and more real. But maybe they are just using me. Or maybe they really are my friend and I am just blind to how much they really care.

Don't get me wrong. Some good things are happening here too. My team and I spent 10 days loving on some orphan children we invited to our school for a camp. It was AMAZING to see how a little love can change them in just a few short days! At the beginning our the week the 2 little twin girls would flinch every time I went to put my hand on their back or reach out to give them a high five. They were expecting to be hurt not loved. By day 5 they were rushing to me for hugs. NOTHING can be more rewarding than that. Showing a child God's love and seeing the result is the best thing in the world. I think I need to spend a little more time processing experiences like this and sharing them because that is why I am here. To love on the "least of these".


Thanks to you if you spent the time reading these random candid thoughts! I am still 100% convinced that God is so good to me!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I found this list by Sikhumbuzo who was in Choir #33
He was writing about 2010 (His first year at Music for Life Junior Academy in South Africa)

How was your year?

- because they teach us the Word of God
- because they make good things to us and they tell us what to do
- because they let us travel around the world
- because we went and performed with the Pop Stars in Johannesburg
- because the people we have there are kind and nice to us
- because we have holidays during the year and the months
- because they make sure that we do good at the school and at the hostel
- because they teach us good manners
- because the aunties and uncles love us very much
- because we have good exams at school
- because they let us study every day for our exam

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I feel like my life is split into two very different worlds here in SA. It is very conflicting and hard to get my mind around. Last Sunday I went with some co-workers to a village church. We arrived right on time but church didn't even begin until half an hour past the set time. I was one of the few people there that drove to church. Most everyone walked. The church slowly filled up and midway through the service they brought out a wooden bench for the children so that the adults could use the plastic outdoor chairs. The floor of the church was dirt and the roof of the church was an old tarp used to try keep out the hot sun. I was the only white person and actually the only white visitor they had ever had. Visitors were welcomed and encouraged to come share a word, sing or pray. The music and dance was lively with a keyboard and drums and lots of people willing to come up front to sing. Worship was spontaneous with the Spirit seeming to lead people to stand or sit or raise hands or even dance. Several times during the service the pastor asked us to greet or speak to others in the church. Everyone was embracing one another and showing a lot of love. At offering time the people of the church walked forward and gave their money. The Pastor read the word of God and spoke loud words of encouragement to the congregation about how God can change our lives. The heat made my legs stick together and I had sweat dripping down my back. The service was about 2 1/2 hours long. After church was over some people began walking home and many others began packing up the sound/music equipment and chairs.

Today I went to a church in a nearby town. The service started on time and the parking lot was full of shiny vehicles as most people drove to church. The air conditioning was on and the padded seats were comfortable. The color of my skin was not the minority but the majority. Visitors were neither welcomed or encouraged to participate. The music was lead by a few hearty singers who remained seated in the congregation. A sweet elderly lady played the piano. We were told when to sit and when to stand and each of the songs were neatly listed on the overhead. Some men "took up" the offering as we sat comfortably in our seats. The word of God was read at seemingly appropriate times during the service. The Pastor's sermon was quiet and well-thought-out teaching about how Jesus' has called us to live. At exactly 1 hour and 15 min church was over and the congregation fled to the tables serving tea, coffee and cookies and then enjoyed talking and greeting one another.

These two church services could hardly be more different. I can't judge and say one is right and the other is wrong. Only God knows the hearts of His people. The young people whole heatedly singing at the first church may match the sincerity in the heart of the elderly lady loving playing the piano at the other church. Both Pastors may have the same desire to share God's word to others. All I can say is that it is confusing for me right now and it makes my heart feel unsettled. It makes me wonder where I belong.

I am thankful I accepted my co-workers invitation to visit his church. At the end of the service the Pastor thanked me for coming and said, "You have shown us respect by coming to our church." At that moment I forgot how hot and thirsty I was and how my back was stuck to the plastic chair. I forgot how uncomfortable I felt having others dancing around me and singing in a language I didn't understand. I forgot about the fact that I was the only white face in the crowd. I forgot how nervous I felt when I was handed the microphone to speak. Suddenly, I felt God's blessing pour over me and I felt as if Jesus was smiling down upon me.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Favorite Photos of 2010

Favorite Photos of 2010

There is no way I could post ALL of my favorite photos from the past year but here are a few!!!!!

This is at Prins' house. The team and I were delivering a food parcel to his family. Prins is a part of our MFL Centre After School Program. All of his family is looking at him because they are so surprised and happy to see him smile. He doesn't smile very often. I'm so glad we could bring some joy to this boy's life!

This little one was at the Music for Life Camp we had at our boarding school June. We invited all the children from Orlando, the village next to our school.

Both of these babies were claiming ownership of me by placing their hands on my knee!!!! They already claimed my heart! Again this was at our MFL Camp.

Cute little baby hands and feet!

Choir #33 travelled to Europe in March! This is our team in Cannes, France!

We stayed at this lovely little town called Callian. It was beautiful!

Auntie Jenny with the boys in Cape Town in March

Auntie Jenny with the girls in Cape Town in January

Our beautiful Music for Life students!

A Prayer for 2011

May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for
justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer
from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that which they cherish, so that you
may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that
you really can make a difference inthis world, so that you are able,
with god's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word Who is our Brother and Savior,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you
and remain with you, this day and forevermore. Amen

Franciscan benediction
From "The Hole in the Gospel" by Richard Sterns
Dear friends and family,

Once again, I have to say I am confused by the seasons here in South Africa! December is summer here and it is so hot! It hardly seems like it could be the Christmas seasons when the temperature reaches over 110 degrees on some days! We have just wrapped up the school year here.... which is also new to me with having the school year begin in January and end in December. It was a joy to have Christmas Parties with each of our 10 MFL Centres and share the Christmas Story with the Children.

Merry Christmas from MFL Centres in South Africa!

This is the time of year where we are all looking back on the past year and also looking into the new year with anticipation. Recently I was thinking about a few things God has shown me in the past year.

1)NOTICE OTHERS. One day I was visiting the homes of one of our MFL after school program. The family was so very welcoming and excited to have me and another staff member in their home. I greeted the Grandfather and he asked where I was from. When I told him I was American he shook his head in disbelief and said, “The local white people never come to the villages to see us. Thank you for noticing us and helping us.” At first I was shocked to think about this but then I realized that I was guilty of living this way a few years ago. How easy it is to live in our “own little world” and not think of those less fortunate.

2)WORK HARD AND PRAY. I was having a particularly frustrating day when I found a sign at one of the village schools that reminded me to “Work hard and Pray.” It is not enough to just work hard and it is not enough to just pray. One of my favorite verses say, “Don't be lazy. Work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Romans 12

3)CALL SOMEONE BY NAME. There is a sweet old lady that comes to Komatipoort to sell nuts in the parking lot every weekend. Her name is Susan and she always has a smile. Last week I called her by name and she looked at me in surprise and said, “You remembered my name!”.

4)SAY THANK YOU. During one of my many travel days this past year I was waiting in a very long line at the airport to buy some snacks for my flight. Their was just one man working to check out all the customers. I noticed he worked very fast and was friendly. When it was my turn he thanked me for waiting and in return I said, “Thank you so much for your hard work.” He then told me that in all of his years of work their no one had ever bothered to say thank you.

I pray that we will all take the time to ponder what God has taught us in the past year and begin to make goals for 2011!