I’m going to swim a mile.

This is the team. We "trained" a bit more this year. This is us running this morning for 20 minutes at a local park.
This is the team. We “trained” a bit more this year. This is us running this morning for 20 minutes at a local park.

It’s a new year, and since I’ve been so great at blogging regularly in 2015 (and by great, I mean horrible) I’m rewarding myself by swimming a mile in the world’s largest competitive open-water swimming event. 

Let that sink in.

Open water. That means not a the smooth glass-like surface of a pool, but waves and wind and gross lake scum.

World’s largest. That means this is not a peaceful float on a lake to enjoy scenery. This is hundreds and hundreds of other people kicking you in the face with their killer breast-stroke kick.

Competitive. This means that even in the “family fun” section (the race that we’re swimming in) you get these hard-core competitive families who’ve travelled all the way down from Joburg (which is 6 hours away) and have arms like Michael Phelps and matching swimsuits. MATCHING. This is not a joke. This is a competition.

We did it last year (“we” being my husband, my Dad and me). We didn’t train at all, we just showed up (because, I mean “family swim“, guys. Even if it’s a mile, if a family can do it, we can do it, right?) Well, then the weather got bad and they banished everyone under the age of 12 from swimming, and we were left with the hard-core Joburg people and it was a bit depressing. Most of us finished. I won’t name names or anything, but I was pretty pleased that I was actually better at my husband in one small athletic area.

Here we are trying to look intimidating. Maybe if WE had matching swimsuits we'd be scarier.
Here we are trying to look intimidating. Maybe if WE had matching swimsuits we’d be scarier.

So we’re doing it again this year. And we decided there should be a purpose to this suffering, so we’re swimming it in honor of iThemba Kids Camp. You’ve heard about camp a lot on this blog– it comes up usually in June and then in December. But this year we’re doing the 2 camps back-to-back in July, so we’re starting to fundraise early.

It would be completely awesome if you gave any amount ($5, $25, $50, $100) towards helping us meet our goal of getting 30 kids sponsored through this swimming event. Click this link and click the “donate to this fundraiser” button. You don’t even have to read my schpeel on the website because you’ve read it here already. Just click the link. 

Just click it.

Why aren’t you clicking it?

Do you even know how to click?

(This is a reference to the movie Frozen if you think I’m just rudely repeating myself). 

Thanks guys! You rock! I’ll blog again after the swim (which is in just TEN DAYS!) because I hear that swimming long distances provides you with lots of time to think.

A chance to be a kid: An iThemba camp story

IMG_3426“I’m surprised that we’re treated like little children here,” the nine-year old girl told one of the iThemba staff.

Uh oh. The kids think our camp is babyish.

We spend months getting ready for iThemba Kids camp- planning fun activities, thinking up new games, getting crafts donated. This year I wrote the curriculum for the small group times and morning devotions. Kids saying camp is for little kids is an Epic Fail.

But then, the girl went on:

I really like it! When I’m at home, I’m the one who is always responsible for everything, for cooking, for cleaning up, for putting my little brothers and sisters to bed. When I’m here, there are people who look after me, who clean up, and make sure I’m tucked in bed. This is really fun!

When I was nine, I said I never wanted to get any older, because nine was the perfect age (and once you’re ten, you’re practically a boring teenager).

When I was nine, I had a Mom and Dad who loved me, who put me to bed at night, who were there for me when I was scared of the dark (and taught me Jesus was there in the dark with me, too).

When I was nine, I spent all my time reading books in trees and talking to my imaginary friends.

When I was nine I complained about being overworked because I had to wash dishes and clean my room (and sometimes even vacuum under the bed!)

When I was nine, I went on my first overnight camp, and found out that Jesus had a plan for me (even as a nine-year-old) and he wanted to use me to share his love with others.

I’m so glad this nine-year-old girl from Sweetwaters was able to experience the love and care of someone else looking after her for a change. I’m so glad that the iThemba mentors had three whole days to pour the love of Jesus into her life through words and actions (and silly games!) Join me in praying that she’ll stay connected to a Life Group after camp, that the mentors will be able to have good camp follow-up, and that she’ll find out Jesus has a plan for her (even as a nine-year-old) and he wants to use her to share his love with others.

The two minute video showing some highlights of this year’s kids camp. (If you wonder what I do all day… things like this!) 

https://vimeo.com/100235886.

Bringing Gogo to Jesus

Kids at Camp
Kids at Camp

“Thulani, we need to take Gogo to Jesus!” the 5 year old triumphantly announced during story time at the NEW Jabulani Kids Club last Saturday. Jabulani Kids Club is a Saturday club where kids gather to play games, sing songs, have LOADS of fun, and learn about Jesus. It also gives them a safe, fun place to hang out on the weekends. For over seven years JKC has been running at a school in one part of Sweetwaters, and just this term, we’ve added a second club in a different part of Sweetwaters, to reach the kids there.

Thulani is in charge of the 0-6 year old group for story time, and they had just heard the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof of his house by his friends, so that he could be healed by Jesus.

“Why do we need to take your Gogo (Grandmother) to Jesus?” Thulani asked.

“Well, she also can’t walk. And so she’s very angry all the time, because she asks us to bring her things, and if we take a long time to get her water, or get her food, or whatever she asks for, then she shouts at us.” The girl explained. “So, I think we should be like those friends and take her to Jesus so she stops being so angry all the time.” 

I love it.

This little 5-year old got it. She understood that where Jesus is, there’s healing. Where Jesus is, things change– angry, grumpy Gogos are filled with joy. She understood that she could play a part– just like the friends in the story. When Jesus healed the paralyzed man, the Bible says, “See their (the friends) faith” he healed the man. It was the action of the friends, their courageous faith that would rip through a roof that made it possible for the paralyzed man to be healed. 

Sure, this 5-year old has a bit of a ways to go, in understanding that today we can’t literally carry her grandmother to Jesus in the flesh where he can tell her to “take up her mat and walk”– but she understands a lot about who Jesus is…and that he changes things.

And that’s really what the fieldworkers are doing every day. Through the classes they teach, through the hugs and the hi-fives, and the silly games, through the hours and hours spent listening to the kids– they are trying to bring kids to Jesus. Trying to let them see for themselves the joy and hope that Jesus can bring. Trying to let the kids see that Jesus is the one who has the answers.

Sometimes I wonder if I have the faith of a five-year old. Do I really believe that it is enough just to take people to Jesus? 

Plug for Kids Camp 2014:

One of the ways we try to help “take kids to Jesus” is through kids camp every year. We take kids to the beach for 3 days, give them a chance to have the undivided attention of their group leader, play silly games, and feel safe and loved. We pray that God will use these camps to bring children one step closer to himself. If you want to be a part of making camp happen this year by sponsoring a child (you’ll get a picture of “your” kid, and updates from them after camp) then email same@ithembaprojects.org.za. Camp costs R900 or $100. There are still 29 kids left who need sponsors. 🙂