Dear family and friends,
Hello! I feel like we have been a bit negligent in our updates this week and we have just found ourselves so busy as we get closer to leaving - shocking right?? We are cramming it in for sure, and just enjoying every minute of it. This week hasn't been really 'work' heavy as there are THREE public holidays this week where no one works. These South Africans know how to do it! So we are soaking up the beautiful Cape Town sun with various activities and seeing all the people we can.
Just something I wanted to share with you, a highlight of my week. I shared lunch this week with an incredible woman named Alleta. Alleta is in the support group I help lead, and has been HIV positive for 13 years. She is an incredible testament to the power of staying on your Anti-Retro Viral drugs (or ARV's) and keeping up with you nutrition and stress. Her story is mind-boggling and I couldn't begin to explain how awe-inspiring she is. She recently was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, which can be a killer here in Africa, went into the Living Hope health clinic for six days, and then two days later went on a mission trip with some other Living Hope leaders I know from Oceanview to Oatsworn, a small and impoverished town up north. She was able to minister to many people about the power of knowing your HIV status, and had one day of difficult counseling with a woman who became suicidal after finding out her positive status. But after loving on her and talking to her for a night, they surrendered her over to God and she showed up to greet them the next day 'another person' as they said. She was able to face the truth of her status and begin to walk forward in her new life. Beautiful stuff. Alleta lives a life wholly surrendered to God and spends each day helping and supporting others. She ministers to many people in the Oceanview township and speaks openly about her HIV status to create awareness and empowerment. I can't help but think, how would I live my life in the face of a deadly disease? She told me that you can't feel sorry for yourself but you must just keep walking forward trusting God will give you strength for every hardship. So humbling.
We went to an outside tea room in a garden and had a beautiful lunch sharing conversation and laughter. Afterwards we shared a piece of carrot cake for dessert, which I later realized was something I would never think twice about with a friend in America but I did think about it sharing it with a friend who is HIV positive. I do know that you can't get it through saliva sharing, but how humbling and even a bit depressing that I had to think about it. How often do people avoid situations with Alleta because she is HIV positive? How many relationships have been lost? How many times has she been rejected? I am just thankful for this heroic friend who lives each day surrendered to the Lord and with her head held high, and she is humble enough to be vulnerable to me and every person she meets.
These are encounters that I have never experienced before and they are teaching me more than I could ever read in a book or learn in a classroom. God's fingerprints are everywhere in these instances; you just have to open your heart to receive them. This is a beautiful time and I am humbled to be growing and learning from these people.
Love you all!