As I look out the window and watch Port Elizabeth fade into the distance I am overwhelmed by so many emotions. Sadness seems to be the primary one as I type this through tear filled eyes. Why am I so sad? Is it the ending, the country, the people…all of the above? On the plane ride over to South Africa I was counting the days until I would be home again, planning to get my student teaching done and get out of this unknown place. It is amazing how things change, amazing how the Lord always has his own agenda to work into our lives. He sure knew what He was doing, He had so much more planned for my time here in South Africa.
Grace is defined as the Lord’s undeserved favor in our lives, but it is so much more than that. It is seeing His love for me despite my faults and shortcomings. It is waking up each day and seeing His beauty in everything. Do I understand this…I don’t know that I ever will this side of heaven. However, as I think back to the past three months and my time here in PE I am overwhelmed by the Lord’s provision by His abounding grace in my life. It is hard to put into words all that He has done this summer, He knew all along but I doubted…why? Do I think He who created the universe isn’t big enough to be Lord over my life? My trust is so small, but it is safe to trust in Him who gave His life for mine. He who loved me knowing who I really am. This is Grace.
I see this as I say goodbye to everyone at Covenant Grace, as Khaya, Greg, Jess, Ang, and Don see us off before our flight. I prayed for a church that would preach from the Bible, one that I could at least attend a couple times this summer…and look at what He gave me! What an absolute blessing Covenant Grace was during my time here in PE. This wonderful community that willingly welcomed Lindsay and me in…two random American girls. We came with nothing to offer, pretty needy, lonely, clueless, and carless…and what we got in return…amazing grace. Isn’t this our standing before the Lord…needy, clueless, helpless, lonely…and in return He gives us Christ. He gives us true life in exchange for our sad state, halleluiah what a Savior! I think what I found so amazing about Covenant Grace is that they showed us Christ by living out their faith in community. By no means perfectly but as we have been learning about the early church “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common… And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47) So to all of our South African family, thank you! Thank you for your love and care, your hospitality and encouragement, your acceptance and community, and everything you did to welcome us in. I hope and pray the Lord has it in his plans for us to reunite soon, but until then keep running hard after Him and loving others as Christ has loved us!
There are so many ways the Lord showed up in my life this summer and so many reasons I have to be thankful. Providing Lindsay as a life line, sister, and friend was so amazing and another clear picture of His provision. Mrs. Cloete and the students of room 3 who allowed me into their lives and changed mine as we together allowed the Lord to work in and through us. I will never forget these wonderful memories and amazing opportunity to experience life through the lens of another country!
I never could have guessed how much my life would be impacted and changed through little ole PE. Everyone asked why in the world I was going there- if you have to go to South Africa you at least should be placed in Cape Town or somewhere everyone knows right?! No, if I could answer those people now I would say, “I am going to be surprised by grace- going to discover how big and wonderful our God is and I am going to be forever changed by this wonderful place called Port Elizabeth!”