Today was our second day in South Africa but for me, and probably others, it felt like the first due to all of the adjusting and jet lag that came with arriving yesterday. It was an extra special one for me because today was my 21st birthday. The reason I mention that, and wanted to blog about it, is because I find it valuable and worth something to highlight how incredible these people are at speaking value and life into others. Today when we were doing orientation at the care center in Ocean View (one of the ministries we will be helping with these next few weeks doing some manual work) we learned that 21st birthdays are a huge deal here. Ironically, today is mine! And that is what today was- It was full of huge blessings.
We started out our day worshiping over at the Muizenberg YWAM base with the DTS (discipleship training school) students and it was the most beautiful experience yet. I think our team is in unison agreement that it was the best part of our day. We danced, sang, prayed (in sooo many different native languages) drank coffee, and made new friends with some incredible people. They first surprised me at the end by singing happy birthday to me, but their version was much longer and cooler than the happy birthday song we have in America (imagine the tune of We Wish You A Merry Christmas but with some birthday vocabulary instead!) Afterwards they prayed blessings over me and my life in the next year. Later in the day after we visited the pre-school we will be volunteering at, we had a delicious lunch oceanside where we enjoyed some great food, company, and ice cream for dessert! Tonight for dinner we had a traditional South African braai where we tried many different meats and had an amazing chocolate cake baked by our new friend Dannica that we met last night. As a continued birthday celebration, everyone at the meal affirmed me and was very intentional in recognizing today as a day of celebration of life. I felt very loved, but more importantly I felt like I was introduced to a whole new side of Jesus and his loving and caring qualities. If I was shown such intense attention and love from people that I just met yesterday where our only initial commonality is Jesus Christ, that sure says a lot about the character of God and what he does to our hearts and our desire to know people. I am thankful for the community that comes through sharing a common love for a Savior. As I listened and prayed with the DTS students this morning who each prayed in their native language, I was reminded at the intricacy of God our Father and how thankful I am for that gift. Thank you, Jesus, for showing me your love for me through these people here in my life today. The divine purpose in that plan is so evident to me.