Justice. // What’s Love Got to Do With It?

I’ve been thinking A LOT on the subject of justice over the last few months. For me personally, a lot of my reflection stems from the radical differences in the culture I am now facing being back in the United States this year. Seeing and witnessing poverty and social injustices unfortunately seem to be part of an every day occurrence in the kind of life myself and my husband are pursuing in Rwanda. Now, recently here in the States it has become a RADICAL hot topic in the media. I have never been one to swallow everything I hear in the news or even being spoken about by popular leaders, so I decided to do a little study on what God’s Word reveals to me about the topic of justice. The awesome thing about reading the Word of God is that the Holy Spirit can speak through it to minister to us as individuals what part of its message we need to hear right now. I decided to share my study through the verses below. Some of them may appear more relevant or meaningful to you than others, but my hope is that by reading this study, throughout you will find a streamline of truth and peace in the midst of our world’s unstable and always shifting ‘bar of justice’. I challenge you to read all the way to the end.

God’s justice vs. His mercy.

‘And the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people that when they arrive in the land, Cities of Refuge shall be designated for anyone to flee into if he has killed someone accidentally. These Cities shall be places of protection from the dead man’s relatives who want to avenge his death; for the slayer must not be killed unless a fair trial establishes his guilt. 

            But if someone is struck and killed by a piece of iron, it must be presumed to be murder, and the murderer must be executed….so if anyone kills another out of hatred by throwing something at him, or ambushing him, or angrily striking him with his fist so that he dies, he is a murderer; and the murderer shall be executed by the avenger. 

            But if it is an accident—a case in which something is thrown unintentionally, and without wanting to harm an enemy—yet the man dies, then the people shall judge whether or not it was an accident…If it is decided that it was accidental, then the people shall save the killer from the avenger; and the killer shall be permitted to stay in the City of Refuge.

            All murderers must be executed, but only if there is more than one witness; no man shall die with only one person testifying against him….In this way the land will not be polluted, for murder pollutes the land. You shall not defile the land where you are going to live, for I, Jehovah will be living there.’ – Numbers 35:11-34

Justice comes from appointing wise officials.

‘Appoint judges and administrative officials for all the cities the Lord your God is giving you. They will administer justice in every part of the land. Never twist justice to benefit a rich man, and never accept bribes. For bribes blind the eyes of the wisest and corrupt their decisions. Justice must prevail. That is the only way you will be successful in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.’ – Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Don’t take advantage of others when seeking justice for yourself.

‘If the man is poor and gives you his cloak as security, you are not to sleep in it. Take it back to him at sundown so that he can use it through the night and bless you; and the Lord your God will count it as righteousness for you.’ – Deuteronomy 24:12-13

David was a King characterized by justice.

‘David reigned with justice over Israel and was fair to everyone.’ – 2 Samuel 8:15

King Jeroboam II abused his authority.

‘The rest of Jeroboam’s biography—all that he did, and his great power, and his wars, and how he recovered Damascus and Hamath is recorded in The Annals of the Kings of Israel.’ – 2 Kings 14:28

Jeroboam had no devotion to God, yet under his warlike policies and skillful administration, Israel enjoyed more national power and material prosperity than at any time since the days of Solomon. But Jeroboam’s administration ignored policies of justice and fairness. As a result, the rich became richer and the poor, poorer. The people became self-centered, relying more on their power, security, and possessions than on God. The poor were so oppressed that it was hard for them to believe that God noticed their plight. Material prosperity is not always an indication of God’s blessing. It can also be a result of self-centeredness. God holds us accountable for how we attain success and how we use our wealth. 

Justice is often abused.

‘Justice? You high and mighty politicians don’t even know the meaning of the word! Fairness? Which of you has any left? Not one! All your dealings are crooked: You give “justice” in exchange for bribes.’ – Psalm 58:1

In times of great suffering, don’t turn inward to self-pity or outward to revenge, but upward to God.

Justice will ultimately win over evil.

Read Isaiah 3:10-11

Eventually the faithful will receive God’s reward and the wicked will receive his punishment. It is disheartening to see the wicked prospering while we seem defeated as we follow God’s plan. Yet we must hold on and take heart! God will bring about justice in the end, and we will receive his reward if we have been faithful.

‘Wherever I look there is oppression and bribery and men who love to argue and to fight. The law is not enforced and there is no justice given in the courts, for the wicked far outnumber the righteous, and bribes and trickery prevail.’ – Habakkuk 1:3

Habakkuk was saddened by the corruption he saw around him. In response, he poured out his heart to God. Today, injustice is still rampant, but don’t let your concern cause you to doubt God or rebel against him. Instead consider the message God gave Habakkuk and recognize God’s long-range plans and purposes. Evil is self-destructive, and it is never beyond God’s control. Instead of questioning the ways of God, we should realize that he is totally just, and we should have faith that he is in control and that one-day evil will be utterly destroyed.

‘Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day! Note this: wicked men trust themselves alone, and fail; but the righteous man trusts in me, and lives!’

Habakkuk saw a dying world and it broke his heart. Why is there evil in the world? Why do the wicked seem to be winning? He boldly and confidently took his complaints directly to God. And God answered him with an avalanche of proof and prediction. 

Habakkuk declares that he will wait to hear God’s answers to his complaints. Then God begins to speak, telling him to write his answer in large letters so that all will see and understand. It may seem, God says, as though the wicked triumph, but eventually they will be judged, and righteousness will prevail. It may not come quickly, but it will happen. 

With questions answered and a new understanding of God’s power and love, Habakkuk rejoices in who God is and in what he will do. We don’t have to be afraid to ask questions of God. The problem is not with God’s ways, but with our limited understanding of him. 

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my Strength, and he will give me the feet of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.’– Habakkuk 3:19

At the proper time God will bring about his justice and completely rid the world of evil. In the meantime, God’s people need to live in the strength of his Spirit, confident in his ultimate victory over evil.

Habakkuk had asked God why evil people prosper while the righteous suffer. God’s answer: they don’t, not in the long run. Habakkuk saw his own limitations in contrast to God’s unlimited control of all the world’s events. God is alive and in control of the world and its events. We cannot see all that God is doing, and we cannot see all that God will do. But we can be assured that he is God and will do what is right. Knowing this brings us confidence and hope in the midst of a confusing world.

Why is justice so important to God?

Read Isaiah 3:14

Justice is part of God’s nature; it is the way he runs the universe. Even as sinners we all want justice for ourselves. When government and church leaders are unjust, the poor and powerless suffer. God holds the poor in high regard. They are the ones most likely to turn to him for help and comfort. Injustice, then, attacks God’s children. Because we follow a just God, we must uphold justice.

God’s love vs. His justice.

‘For Moses gave us only the Law with its rigid demands and merciless justice, while Jesus Christ brought us loving forgiveness as well.’ – John 1:17

Love and justice are both aspects of God’s nature that he uses in dealing with us. Moses emphasized God’s Law and justice, while Jesus Christ came to highlight God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness. Moses could only be the vehicle of the Law, while Jesus Christ came to satisfy it. 

Some Old Testament (Law) scriptures that reveal Gods heart of mercy in justice:

Leviticus 19:18

Proverbs 24:28, 29

Proverbs 25:21-22

Lamentations 3:30,31

What God designed for a system of justice with mercy had been distorted over the years into a license for revenge. It was this misapplication of the law that Jesus confronted.

Jesus new approach to injustice:

But I say: Don’t resist violence! If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other too. If you are ordered to court, and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too. If the military demand that you carry their gear for a mile, carry it two. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.’

‘There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true soms of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ – Matthew 5:38-44

Pilate not concerned for justice:

‘Meanwhile the chief priests and Jewish officials persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas’ release, and for Jesus’ death. So when the governor asked again, “Which of these two shall I release to you?” the crowd shouted back their reply: “Barabbas!” – Matthew 27:20

For a leader who was supposed to administer justice, Pilate proved to be concerned more about political expediency than about doing what was right. He had several opportunities to make the right decision. His conscience told him Jesus was innocent; Roman law said an innocent man should not be put to death. Pilate had no good excuse to condemn Jesus, but he was afraid of the mob. 

Crowds are fickle. If they loved Jesus on Sunday because they thought he was going to inaugurate his Kingdom, they could easily hate him on Friday when his power appeared broken. In the face of the mass uprising against Jesus, his friends were afraid to speak up.

View of God’s justice:

God himself is the standard of justice. Although he has the power to do whatever he wants, he uses his power according to his own moral perfection. Thus, whatever he does is fair, even if we don’t understand it. Our response is to appeal directly to him. 

What the book of Psalm says about justice:

Justice is a major theme in the book of Psalms. The psalmists praise God because he is just; they plead for him to intervene and bring justice where there is oppression and wickedness; they condemn the wicked who trust in their wealth; they extol the righteous who are just toward their neighbors. 

Justice in Psalms is more than honesty. It is active intervention on behalf of the helpless, especially the poor. The psalmists do not merely wish the poor could be given what they need, but they plead with God to destroy those nations that are subverting justice and oppressing God’s people. 

What do you think about injustice?

Some good questions to ask yourself, “Who is my neighbor? Does my lifestyle—my work, my play, my buying habits, my giving—help or hurt people who have less than I do? What one thing could I do this week to help a helpless person?

It’s a Process! // Building Kigali Children Center

Through this process of pioneering and renovating, we are learning a lot! How to work together, how to ask for help, how to trust, how to work with integrity and honesty and generosity, and also to let the process be what it will be. It isn’t perfect, but this house will be God’s house. Much like our hearts. All the things we go through allow for a process and what He desires most is that our hearts be connected to him and get cleaned up through it all! What a wonderful lesson in learning to love, and trusting our perfect Father to accomplish His beautiful handiwork. ♡

To learn how you can help us to finish  well visit Kigali Children Center

‘You who mourn will be comforted.

You who hunger will hunger no more

You who weep now will laugh again, all you lonely be lonely no more!

Yes, the last will be first, of this I am sure!

I don’t know why the little ones thirst, but I know the last shall be first.

But I know the last shall be first.’

  1. — Lyrics by Brooke Fraser

To learn more about the vision behind Kigali Children Center visit A Vision for Our Children.

There’s So Much Grace! // Kigali, Rwanda

So lately I’ve been thinking about grace. Some of us think we can use it like a blanket to cover the worst parts about us, so then we can do or act however we need and at the end of the day God’s love still has our back.

Well, yes. He does. But recently I’ve been thinking about His outrageous grace as the person of Jesus and somehow this grace makes me want to expose my shortcomings even more! The more grace I drink, the more He gets to the very core of who I am and lights me up as if I drank some kind of x-ray liquid. 

Here in Rwanda, one of the hardest thing for me, (and maybe for Alexis) has been to meet or fail expectations of the culture that surrounds us. Religious culture is a difficult thing to come up against and say let’s do this with grace! Without grace we are living full of defenses. Because we are afraid that we just might not have what it takes, or we just might not be worthy of love. The fear of not being enough for people, having the wrong answer, being last, being left behind, being abandoned, leaves us as God’s children fighting for survival.

But what did Jesus say? He said, ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is my Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ – Luke 12:32

With His smile, He has destroyed my religion!

In this place of victorious grace I want to be vulnerable all the more…and say, ‘Heyyy here I am with all of my fears and shortcomings, and I’m so loved! WOW. Make me better! Make me more like you Jesus! Help us help others find this freedom in who you have created us to be!’

A Vision for our Children

Reynaud_MyMountainThe recent history of Rwanda since the genocide 25 years ago, simultaneously represents the worst and best of humanity.

This nation not only humbles me, but challenges and inspires me.

I don’t pretend to understand the full complexity of the history or her current journey, but when you want to really experience Rwanda and her story, I feel there is something very necessary about connecting with a living, breathing, healing, survivor’s story.FTAD4088IMG_8431Even as the genocide of 1994 may have now been pushed into the history books as the world experiences further tragedies and time heals, I believe there are timeless and important lessons in Rwanda’s story for all of us, if we listen. Reconciliation may not be fully complete, underlying fear and hurt may remain and the effects of the genocide are still very much being felt today. Despite this, I am sure of one thing; darkness never triumphs over light.IMG_8429Testimony

Below, you will read a glimpse of my husband, Alexis’ story. He is the visionary behind our ministry here in Rwanda. Sold out for Jesus, he is my fearless leader, coach, and the pioneer that makes our dreams come true.

For Alexis life has not come easy, yet his story with all of its set-backs, has built in him a resolve and a commitment to see change in East Africa, and a tenacity to prove that there is always hope for a bright future.IMG_8434In 1994 there was genocide against the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda. During this time Alexis lost most of his family members, leaving him orphaned at the age of 13. He himself survived at the mercy of one woman who kept him hidden in her home. The aftermath of these events was obviously devastating and was a turning point in his life. At the time, the loss, trauma and grief, affected Alexis to the point of drugging himself in order to sleep. Only under the influence of drugs could he sleep, but once sober again the difficult memories would always return. By the grace of God, he was found by a ‘Good Samaritan’, who took him from the street and returned him to school. His life and future was changed by the kindness of God through one person who stopped to take time for him. Since then, Alexis has given his life to the ministry of Jesus and wishes to see many nations being changed by the healing power of God through love, true Biblical teaching, strategic prayer and disciple-making of all ages.

When our children can understand the tangible love of Jesus, this revelation will lead them from a life of oppression, to a life filled with hope and change.– Pastor Alexis HakizimanaIMG_4172A Vision for Our Children

Our dream is for orphaned children who have experienced similar hardships and trauma to come into the healing reality of family. We also believe this reflects God’s heart for those who were once far off, to be healed through receiving a Spirit of adoption found in the person of Jesus. For these orphaned children, Jesus looks like someone who will stop, see, and offer open arms of safety.

‘When you create an atmosphere of vulnerability and trust, it’s powerful. Children can share, forgive, and feel safe enough to grow for the first time.’ – Kaysha Dawn

We believe in healing for the mind, body, soul and spirit. Our mission is to give our children individualized spiritual care as well as meeting their physical needs that will provide a self-sustaining future when they would otherwise be facing many challenges. This kind of healing will impact not only one life, but also future generations to come.

The stories of Rwandan survivors can become a testimony around the world for issues of peace and reconciliation. Because the people have gone through terrible things– they can teach nations.’ – Josephine MunyeliNTAWE8614Making a House a Home

When Alexis and I met we toured a home for boys outside of Kigali. We walked the premises in quiet expectation knowing that our hearts were saying the same thing. ‘One day we will build a home like this.’IMG_4148IMG_4175Fast forward to January 2019 on one of our casual evening walks, we found an abandoned residence on a beautiful property overlooking the valley. We both lit up and our spirits danced with the thought of our dream coming alive, ‘Maybe this house is it?!’IMG_8425IMG_8405A phone call was made. We found the owner was, herself, a survivor of genocide living in Belgium. She had inherited the house at a young age upon her father’s death after the war. The house was left unfinished and uninhabited since that time.IMG_8433IMG_8973This war-torn house is five minutes walking distance from our apartment and we have agreed with the landlord for renovation to use it as the Kigali Children Center! It has a solid structure and foundation and we are excited to make something beautiful out of the brokenness of the past.

Here, we plan to create a nurturing environment for vulnerable children to:

1.    Receive love and physical care
2.    Receive support and trauma specific counseling
3.    Learn empathy for others
4.    Learn responsibility
5.    Receive formal education and vocational trainingIMG_6093IMG_4261IMG_8405Would you join us in supporting this life giving home in Rwanda?

To help create this center for children, please click here to visit our support raising website or contact us directly if you are more comfortable to find out more about our tax deductible giving option. We love sharing the passion of our hearts and would enjoy the chance to talk with you more.

To see more about what we are doing in Rwanda, visit Into Faith We Go.

With love,

Alexis & Kaysha

Oh the possibilities, when God gives you a promise

…and a dream.

 What if this house was a home?

 …a safe place for children and broken families to find refuge?

What if we could love them back to life?

– whispers Jesus

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Celebrate Rwanda // Kigali

Traveling to Rwanda today. A dream fulfilled that’s been stored away in my heart 5+ years– where my passion for Africa began for this nation and its story of redemption!IMG_4031IMG_4046When I was invited to Kigali, Rwanda in January, it came as a complete surprise. I didn’t exactly know why I was going this time. I mean I knew the ‘mission’ but I wasn’t sure what my place was or how I would fit– except that I should go, and that God would show me as I went.

If you knew me five years ago, this concept of following his plan would have been completely foreign to me. I would have known exactly why I was going. 🙂 But Jesus has been teaching me that mission with Him looks different than the world’s way. He wrecks my plans so He can use me in His.IMG_4072IMG_4054As I arrived at the airport in Kigali, I was welcomed by Pastor Alexis and a few of his team members as well as Thomas and Erin, who I know from South Africa.

Pastor Alexis is the visionary for this ministry in Kigali, and we are the support team behind his vision to start a discipleship training school for current pastors as well as young evangelists. The school will help them to grow in identity in Christ, and the experience of walking with Him in faith, hearing His voice, knowing His grace, and the confidence to share the truth with others!IMG_4165 (1)

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Thomas and Erin enjoying our favorite lunch of rice and beans, side of green veg and portion of meat.

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The second morning after I arrived, I found this amazing jack fruit in the market! So sweet and juicy! Who knew fruit could grow so big? hmm.

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We walked everywhere we went. From the place where we stayed, to the building we used for a classroom, we crossed this intersection almost every day.

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Erin carrying everything with us, including this faithful black sound speaker.

The first class went very well! I am very proud of Thomas and Erin as they work with Alexis who is doing an amazing job of pioneering a new concept of how to build a unified church in his home country, and send out equipped messengers. They have a solid team to begin the school with energy as well as intention. I learned so much by watching them.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matt. 5:6

The students of all ages poured into the classroom, eager and ready to learn. They could care less what the classroom looks like, we have no fancy projector screen presentation or printed books. We have no band, one proper light fixture…(and after much deliberation)..no coffee and tea. But we have a hunger and thirst for Jesus that cannot be quenched. This fire is fueled by love for the King.IMG_4067IMG_4068SJWP5345

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Sharing testimony of who Jesus is in my life. Everyone has personal story of who He is and a life message that no one else can tell but you. This is the simple gospel.

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My friend Antoinette from class. We had an immediate connection.

I was completely moved by the kindness of Rwandan people. Their genuine hearts reflect true redemption from a history of pain and injustices. This kind of forgiveness I cannot begin to understand with my human heart. This kind of redemption and love can only come down from the pure heart of a gracious Father in heaven.

Blessed are the pure in heart- for they will see God. – Matthew 5:8

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! IMG_4113

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Buying sugar in the wholesale market for the school. Do you think 25kg is enough? Funny story. Erin and me carrying all these things through a torrential downpour of rain while trying to catch a bus. :/ Thank you God for the rain. haha.

Our Heavenly Father thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. – Ephesians. 1

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Me with my moto taxi driver…who got lost…And of course only speaks French.

IMG_4199One day I took a motor taxi to another village to visit a ministry called Hope for Life, a place called home for local street boys.

Hope for Life’s mission is to serve impoverished ​youth through home care, providing stability in their lives and empowering them with resources and education needed to obtain a flourishing future for themselves and their community.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:7

This precious one took my hand and gave me a tour through his home. IMG_4168IMG_4175Most adults living in Rwanda carry the memories of the genocide time, while the youth are still living with the impact, many growing up with one parent—some without two.

A conversation I had with one young adult, while showing him a photo my dad had sent me, he said, ‘You have a dad?’…’AND a mom?’

This guy is the most gentle soul. Instead of being angry at God growing up without a father and mother, he rejoices in God that he is alive and has work, a young wife and son. God is good. It is a privilege to know this young man’s story.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4IMG_4166IMG_4179IMG_4172“How many beans do you think are there?” “1000.”

“Do you know how much God loves you?…   ….Much much more than ALL of these beans! Too much for you to count!”

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. – Ps. 36:7IMG_4185IMG_4187IMG_4189I celebrate this day. I celebrate that these boys have a home and that their future is changed for the better. I celebrate Rwanda and the beauty of redemption for this nation. For when the world has seen the Light, they will dance with joy like I’m dancing now!

You are the Light of the world! For at one time you were darkness, but now you have the very light of Jesus shining through you because of your union with him. Your mission is to live as children flooded with his revelation-light!

For we are children of Light, we carry hope wherever we go!IMG_4081

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At a local milk shop, you can fill any container to take home with you! One of our favorite evening treats. 🙂

Frame-19-02-2018-01-35-02Later in the evening we stopped by a boys soccer game to meet the boys and connect with them. After soccer practice we were able to join in for music and dancing. The coach has a real heart to empower the youth and grow them up with a solid foundation and bright future. IMG_4212He who created you, He who formed everything in the world, He created you on purpose and with purpose. There are no accidents with Him!

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart! – Jeremiah 1:5

For He chose you to be his very own, even before the creation of the world! He had you in mind as the focus of his love, to be made whole through Jesus so that you would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence. img_4219.jpgFrame-19-02-2018-01-40-12Frame-19-02-2018-01-37-20Frame-19-02-2018-01-36-56IMG_4202On my last night in Kigali, as we walked through a nearby village, I reflected on the week I had spent here and the beauty of having so many special experiences with people through His eyes, I was torn to leave. But there is still more for me back in South Africa!

I will seek first, your kingdom and your righteousness. Everything I need, you will provide for me! My heart is to seek first, your kingdom! 

Wherever you are, wherever you find yourself, build His Kingdom of love. Everything else is fading away, only love. Only love remains.

Love can build a bridge of forgiveness and reconciliation that is powerful. This is love to celebrate!IMG_4245IMG_4249IMG_4253IMG_4254IMG_4265

i carry your heart with me, i carry it in

my heart. i am never without it.

anywhere i go, you go, my dear;

and whatever is done by only me is your doing,

my darling.

for I carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart.

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Hope is Rising.

I’d like to walk you through a picture-story of our time in Europe to express an experience that I can hardly put into words. Through these photos I hope to share what God did, the beauty we encountered, as well as what was in my heart…europe map

1. The Netherlands / ZandaamIMG_6940We stayed with friends of ours- Hein and Elise who are like family to us by now! It was a huge blessing to enjoy their home and also learn from them as they share about married life, work, and being God’s Love in their community.

One morning we were invited to share at a small gathering where many Iranian refugees were attending to find a sense of community and faith as well as prayer. Most of them were praying for their wives and children still beyond borders. It really moved my heart to think of myself in their shoes. Completely helpless to connect with those you love most. The situation forces complete reliance on God and His heart to prove good beyond disaster and disconnect we experience in this world. His desire is to not only to unite family, but to unite nations!IMG_6958All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. – 2 Cor. 5:18-19IMG_6985IMG_6983IMG_7002
IMG_7059IMG_7025IMG_7044While in Zandaam we also shared the pleasure of exploring Hollands quaint history and beauty in it’s gardens, waterways, windmills and windy days! We also celebrated Barbara’s birthday with brunch in Hein and Elise’s beautiful backyard garden.

See what great Love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children in the family of God! – 1 John 3:1

2. The Netherlands / Riiland

In the following days we drove from Zaandam to Riiland, Holland- packed in our tiny car with matching bags as if we are a traveling soccer team. =)IMG_7058IMG_7055We arrived and were welcomed by The Lighthouse family to share and do life with their team. It was a special weekend of connection, learning, and worship together.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2IMG_7083IMG_7065IMG_7063One of my favorite memories was running with Barbara through the wheat fields to the top of the dam. It’s a mystery to see the ground beneath my feet that is, in fact, below sea level!…and I remain confused.

The misty skies and mysterious sea level remind me of what it means to run in this life by faith alone.IMG_7071Hope in His Love. The world does not know us..and we ourselves don’t know what we will yet be…but we know that we will be like Him – who is Love- so we hope for that!  – 1 John 3:3

And this hope will not disappoint us, because God’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been freely given to us. – Romans 5:5

3. Germany / Starbach / Dresden

Meeting Barbara’s family was refreshing, and a bit like living in a story book. We learned about the grain business from her dad, while enjoying the tastiness of her mom’s delicious cooking and being spoiled by their delightful hospitality. IMG_7169IMG_7170IMG_7098IMG_7111IMG_7161IMG_7276IMG_7356One afternoon, we all jumped in the back of her dad’s 1958 truck for a rainy, and bumpy drive over hills of green farm land, to her dad’s favorite lookout spot.

Here, he prays for their community, for the local famers, for the government, and for his country. It was a privilege to be there agreeing with that prayer.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. – Hebrews 6:10,11IMG_7357IMG_7254IMG_7257IMG_7355IMG_7275IMG_7273Meeting this family, I am reminded of Gods delight in the details, in excellence in design, in hard work, in pioneering and praying through intense and even politically hard years, yet raising beautiful children with shining souls and bright futures.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of HIMSELF very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of this hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. – Hebrews 6:17-18

4. Czech Republic / Prague

Our first train in Prague I felt a surprising contrast between delight and despair. I was meant to be taking in the romantic beauty of the city, yet there was a stirring in my heart for the Czech people to be free from a heaviness still stifling personality and true joy.

I was encouraged by the simple curiosity of a child still untainted by a culture that was created in the era that went before her.IMG_7302IMG_7325When I went on a walk with our host Lily, she explained that during Communist control, even previous apartment buildings were designed in a way that prevented people from living in community.

I thought about the impact that a design like this can have on people. Over time, isolation and lack of community slowly breaks humanity down into lifeless beings with no freedom to share and celebrate and have joy-filled connections. Without connection we lose motivation and hope. We need each other. IMG_7360IMG_7402IMG_7408God was so good to allow us to stay with Lily- she invited us to her dad’s birthday party where we experienced a family full of love and affection for each other.

At their church we were able to share our story of full-time missions and encourage their community to be reminded of God’s passion for his Body across the globe. The people were really touched and received prayer before leaving to carry the gospel to Estonia.

And so….after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. He received his inheritance…JESUS. The only firm and secure hope for all his kingdom descendants- to enter Gods presence and receive eternal salvation. – Hebrews 6:15IMG_7335IMG_7721IMG_7417IMG_7432IMG_7434So let hope rise. And darkness tremble in your holy light, that every eye will see JESUS– Our God! Great and mighty to be praised!

God of all days, glorious in all of your ways- Your majesty, and wonder and grace are in the light of your Name! Let hope rise.

6. Poland / Swidnica

In Poland we met with a young mother named Paulina. She welcomed us into her home, fed us at her table, and shared with us all that God is doing in her small town of Swidnica. We were amazed at this connection we could not have planned ourselves. Paulina was full of expectation with our arrival, and we had barely been in Poland a few hours.IMG_7631IMG_7608IMG_7609IMG_7612IMG_7622IMG_7623Later that evening we went with Paulina and her family to the ‘Resting Place’ – basically a central space where they meet weekly to seek God, to pray and worship in their small community.

We were amazed at their hunger. They don’t have much in the eyes of the world- but a genuine, simple and bold way of worshipping the King of Kings! They looked at us with eyes full of expectancy and love, waiting to hear a word from the Lord. They came one by one, full of faith, ready in prayer, and in a moment were touched by His Spirit. Their hearts soft and ready to receive Him.IMG_7634We have this hope. JESUS. As an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:26,33

5. Germany / Berlin

Driving into the city I immediately felt a next level German efficiency and rigor! We toured Berlin with our friend Marvin, who took us by U-Bahn through the city center, to the Berlin Memorial, as well as the Holocaust Memorial. IMG_7563IMG_7531IMG_7537IMG_7897IMG_7550IMG_7558IMG_7904IMG_7568In the midst of the tour we were feeling strung-out and strange with the intensity of the city. We decided to re-connect with each other at the house of prayer at Marvin’s church.

There we soaked in the moment and gathered together to pray for Berlin and for revival in Germany. I was completely overwhelmed by God’s Spirit and could only feel His heart for the people- for the pain of the past- for the oppression caused by communism and control. I felt the intense heaviness of the burden and God’s heart just pouring out His love for His people, that they would reach out and find Him as He truly is. That they would allow His love and grace to banish every darkness and find hope arising there.

As we left the house of prayer to make the walking journey back to our hostel, I couldn’t shake what the Spirit was doing. I wept uncontrollably.IMG_7573IMG_7582We descended the stairs to the underground subway where young people were gathering and partying, it was all I could do to not start bursting out the name of Jesus! For in His mercy to save them from their aimless goals and dead end pursuits…from their obvious cries for attention, seeking worth and beauty and lusting for food that will numb but not satisfy.

And I wept. My spirit groaned deep within me.

For the very dream of God is for all to come to Him; full of hope and expectation. He IS who He says He is! He is the best friend who knows you. He says you’re never alone because you are His! Because He died for you! He satisfies every distant dream and longing, with HIMSELF. He IS the very food we crave. He IS the bread of life. He IS the Father to the fatherless. IMG_7600IMG_7601IMG_7604We get it all wrong. We think hope is having expectation that our worldly circumstances will change, and if and when they do, then it’s all worth it. No. Hope in God! HE alone is worth it. This life is temporary! Hope in what the world offers and you’ll end up with depression, anxiety, fear, hunger for power and control, temporary highs, restlessness, loneliness, temporary relationships and torn families.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Oh my soul, put your hope in the Lord, for with Jehovah is unfailing Love and with Him is full restoration. – Psalm 130:5-7

7. The Netherlands / Amsterdam

Our second time back in the Netherlands offered one cloudy day to explore the city. It was rainy in Amsterdam, but the city provoked my curiosity.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you restless within me? Hope you in God, for I shall yet praise Him, who IS the health of my countenance, my God, my Creator, the Maker of the heavens and the earth.- Psalm 42:5 IMG_7701IMG_7694IMG_7685Hoping for different, ideal, or secure circumstances is a temporary satisfaction and a weak foothold. Hope in God is secure.

Hope in His Love- His never changing nature is a solid foundation for living this life as it is, not as we wish it to be.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Give up your vain pursuit of self, give hope to the poor in spirit. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” – Luke 12:32-33 IMG_7703IMG_7705IMG_7678For all goodness, and every perfect gift is from above; it simply comes from the Father of Lights -the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens- in whom there is no variation…no rising or setting or shadow cast by His turning like the moon in an eclipse. For He is perfect and never changes! – James 1:17

When nations choose JESUS alone- Hope in him will bring justice where there is injustice, peace where there is anxiety, unity where there is division. We need you, God of Love. God of Mercy. Show us how to love. Make us more like Jesus.

For every tribe and people and nation…

May the God of peace- who brought up Jesus from the dead, giving us an eternal covenant with His blood- May He equip you with hope and all that you need for doing His will.
May he produce His Love in you, through the power of Jesus, and every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory going to Him forever and ever. – Hebrews 13:20-21

It is Him, I hope to give you. Go and change the world!

The Father’s Heart.

“In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” – Jesus

Jesus said that I know the way to where he is? That he has prepared a place for me to be in his family? To have the same Father with him? What does it mean to be fully adopted by God, that I can not only pray to Him, but I can know and call Him Father?

This is the foundation of everything we are doing here in South Africa. The Father’s House is not simply a Bible school– this is family.IMG_6797
In Matthew, Jesus said that it is better for someone to tie an enormous rock around your neck, kick you into the deepest part of the ocean, and let you sink, rather than allow you to cause a child to stumble. Protecting the trust of the vulnerable is a big deal to Jesus—and for a good reason! We were designed to live out of trust.*

This hunger for deep trust can only be satisfied through a relational connection with God the Father.

Often, how we view our earthly father is how we perceive God to be. Yet, no matter the actions of our birth fathers, Jesus’ words in scripture reveal a defending and protective love of the Father for His lost children– this includes all of us!

Jesus died on the cross so that you could have an eternal Father. Regardless of your relationship with your earthly father, He is a ‘Father to the fatherless’ and He yearns to settle the lonely into a home. – ps. 68:5,6IMG_6937
I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. – 2 Corinthians 6:18

It is his desire to be called Abba- which means ‘to be carried’. He wants to take us into His loving arms…to trust in His comfort, to lean against His chest. It is His will that we know we are loved by a perfect Father. It was by design that we are created to live in the fullness of a Father’s love. IMG_8864IMG_6694IMG_8877IMG_6737The Lord, Jehovah, is the merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, maintaining this love to thousands and forgiving of iniquity, rebellion, and sin. – Exodus 34:6

Jesus went to the Cross to avenge the stolen innocence and broken trust we all inherited after the Fall. When he declared that we all had to be ‘born again’, He was saying, “We’re going to start this trust thing over again. I’m placing you in the Father’s arms, where you will experience unconditional love, acceptance, and care.”*IMG_6657IMG_6663IMG_6667IMG_6669IMG_6648This is the heart of Scripture! Everything in the history of creation points to His passionate Love for us- isn’t this truly amazing news?!

He will meet your needs when you cry out to Him- especially your need to be loved. Through this Love, we learn how to trust again, to build relationship with Him and with one another- relationships in which your heart is truly satisfied.*
IMG_7154 (1)IMG_9286IMG_6910IMG_6904IMG_6746His desire has always been for a family. God is love. If you know your Father, you start to mimic Him. You start to love like He loves!

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be a Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God– and can know and rely on the love that God has for him. – 1 John 4:12-16creche 1IMG_6764IMG_7412IMG_7446IMG_7462IMG_7065outreach 1IMG_7088IMG_9395IMG_7047 (1)IMG_7063 (1)IMG_7586IMG_7579
When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full right of sonship. Because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father! So you can no longer carry the identity of a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you an heir. – Galatians 4:4-6

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—he has died as a ransom to set us free from our sin committed under the first covenant. – Hebrews 9:15IMG_7146IMG_7014For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. Seeing us in love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. – Ephesians 1: 4-6 

*Photos:

  1. Our Family. A group photo representing leaders, staff and students from the most recent Father’s House school. I cannot begin to put into words all that God’s Spirit does in and through each of us as we gather in the ‘upper room’.
  2. Our Home. Set in the beautiful Langeberg Mountains, an original 1860’s home where we live and learn in ‘class’ every day.
  3. Harvesting. Some of our practical missionary work is to bless our farm, Le Roux & Fourie Vignerons, where we live as well as neighboring farms by doing grape and pomegranate harvesting depending on the season. Along with the harvesting we are always learning about the vines and symbology of Jesus being the true Vine in John 15.
  4. Village Immersion. We visit local township communities to meet and talk with people on the street, playing with children, and asking them if they’ve heard about the love of Jesus, if they need physical healing, and praying with them. Almost every village immersion, several people come to know Jesus for the first time as their Savior. One of my favorite days of the week.
  5. Creche. [Kindergarten in English]. We visit the Creche once a week to play with and love on the farm children that are babies to pre-school age. Very poor and very under-cared for. They have runny noses and dirt from head to foot- not getting the attention that children so desperately need. So we go and play with them and love on them, clean them, change their diapers, pray over them. Whenever we leave, they are always asking in Afrikaans when we are coming back. It’s a very simple ‘mission of love’ but such a precious opportunity to carry the Father’s heart to them as many of them have absent or somewhat abusive earthly fathers.
  6. Kids Club. Wednesday evenings we gather all the farm children from primary school age to teenagers to play outside, feed them dinner, and then pray with them and do a little Bible lesson. The kids REALLY look forward to this every week, and it has a huge impact on their lives and calling them higher to believe that their dreams for a better future are not far off, but that God really sees them and is there to meet their hearts desires.
  7. Hospital/ Outreach. Weekly, we go out specifically to pray for the sick and believe for healing along with sharing the gospel and connecting deeply in prayer for emotional and physical needs. During our two week extended outreach we were praying with a man named David in a wheelchair who’s back was healed and was able to walk again!
  8. Table Mountain. Every school we take the students for a weekend in Cape Town and one of the highlights is climbing the famous Table Mountain and praying there together for the nation of South Africa. The climb is not only exhilarating, but symbolic of our walk of faith in Jesus, enjoying each other’s company and encouraging one another on to the finish! The breathtaking views from the top are worth the climb!
  9. Baptism. As a family, we spend a time of fellowship on the Western Cape coast where students have a choice to be baptized in the Indian Ocean. Together we celebrate changed hearts, redeemed life in Jesus, and the significance of living in the knowledge of being fully adopted by the Father.

 

*Quoted: Keep Your Love On. by Danny Silk

 

Living in the Wineland, South Africa

“Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” – John 12:24-25

I am here getting settled at my new home in South Africa and the first few weeks have already been full of adventures!

Our discipleship school will begin next week, so in the meantime, I have been exploring and having some fun with the team I am living with here on the farm.

One day last week, two of the girls and I hiked one of the nearby mountains for a full view of the vineyards. The valley is so incredibly beautiful and I am filled with awe and thankfulness to be here and excited for all that God has in store.IMG_6550IMG_6553IMG_6555There is always a lot of activity on the farm where I live. With it being harvest season in the winelands, I was able to join the workers in the vineyard for harvesting early one morning and also stopped in the wine cellar to  learn a bit about how the grapes are fermented and bit of the winemaking process. IMG_6592IMG_6595IMG_6591IMG_6603IMG_6602IMG_6597IMG_6606 Also last week, my housemate Barbara and I visited the little farm Kindergarten down the road. The farm workers take their small children here to be cared for during the day while they are away working in the vineyards.

The Creche is simple, and the children do not have an environment that really fosters learning or even playtime. The little ones were so happy to see us come to give them some attention, and I really look forward to spending more time here, loving on them and speaking life into their little hearts and minds. IMG_6509IMG_6513IMG_6530IMG_6526My life here is very simple and all about family. Even when the day is busy, we take time to prepare meals together and our table is surrounded with loads of joy and laughter. I am so thankful for this season and also full of expectation for the coming weeks as we will be leading students during the Father’s House discipleship school.

In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. Water will fill the streambeds of Judah, and a fountain will burst forth from the Lord’s House, watering the arid valley of acacias. – Joel 3:18

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What does love look like? // South Africa

After my previous 10 weeks in Mozambique, I arrived here, the Western Cape of South Africa.

What does it sound like, when we sing heaven’s song? What does it feel like when heaven comes down? What does it look like, when God is all around?

These are the questions I had running through my head when I flew into this beautiful land.IMG_3185IMG_3272IMG_3276
The first day out, our team visited local townships outside of the city and helped to host an evening for the children to have a warm meal as well as a time of singing and sharing Jesus’ love for them. We were able to pray with many of the children and some of their families.IMG_3263IMG_8127IMG_8136IMG_8130IMG_8125IMG_8129IMG_8141What does love look like for these families? What does it look like for His love to be all around?

Jesus said, ‘Blessed, spiritually prosperous, happy, and to be admired are the poor in spirit– those void of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven, both now and forever.’ Mt. 5:7

What do I know of this love? That the poor can be filled, blessed, and satisfied in it? Theirs is the kingdom of heaven?

When I come and quiet my soul, Jesus show me this love. Show me what your kind of love looks like. There is no care in the world when I am trusting you completely. IMG_3456Another day, we spent quality time with children at a local orphanage. Even though I don’t speak the Afrikaans language, it seems that nothing translates better than the language of love. To these children, love looks like play, love looks like hugs, and chasing and falling on the ground with them in laughter.IMG_8172IMG_8158IMG_8156IMG_8152IMG_8146IMG_8189IMG_8188IMG_8185For He promises to turn our mourning into dancing, our tears into songs of joy.

He is a Father to the fatherless. He sets the lonely in families.

His love never fails.IMG_3454In the fertile Robertson Valley, fruit farming is one of the area’s prominent industries. Still, many families live in humble conditions, and their children are left to take care of themselves. Our team was able be a part of a weekly kids club for the farm children– playing games, offering a warm meal, and having a time of singing, and prayer for them. IMG_8210IMG_8239IMG_8221IMG_8213IMG_8233IMG_8215IMG_8244IMG_8240IMG_8242While there, I was gripped by the weariness of the children in the poor communities. Their dreams seeming so far and out of reach, they question if there is any reason to hope or dream at all.

I would love to give my time to the young as well as the old who carry this deep longing for hope. No matter the age we all need to learn to dream again with our Father.IMG_3267This spring I will join the team in South Africa full time— And of course, welcome this invitation with great joy!

I will continue working with the local poor in townships adjacent to Cape Town and will also be staffing the Iris Global Missions School called ‘The Father’s House‘.

The purpose is to equip and train students to be fearless, passionate disciples of Jesus, to know His love that surpasses knowledge, and to be sent out to influence the nations.

What does His love look like?

His love is fierce. His love is wild. It is unyielding as the grave. His love stops at nothing— it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters cannot drown it, torrents of rain can’t put it out. Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold— it’s not to be found in the marketplace.

Once you get a taste of His extravagant love for you. There is no turning back. IMG_3645I am the True Vine.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.

-Jesus

 

 

A day in Mozambique

What does a day hold at the Village of Joy? What possibilities are held waiting within today?

5:30 am // Morning light.I wake to my screened view of the sunrise. With twelve girls stacked snug in bunks around me I creep out of my mosquito net to make a coffee and wrap myself in a cozy hammock on the porch for a morning chat with Jesus. My King. This time with Him is priceless. Vision for today.

6:30am// Daily Bread.      The breakfast bell rings to gather twelve bread rolls at ‘The Bread Tree’ for my housemates.    We break bread, scrambling around for peanut butter, hair-brushes, water bottles, sunscreen, toothbrushes, tea. We tie capalanas while braiding hair, laughing, scratching bug bites and cracking jokes about our weird sleep patterns. Once a week each of us has an assigned laundry day. It’s best to get your laundry on the line first thing before the washline is filled to capacity.

 8:00 am // Harvest School Hut      Here we worship, here we grow. We are hungry to praise, we are hungry to be watered by our faithful leaders. Our attention never wanders. It is an honor to be taught in this place by planet shakers from across the world.

1:30 pm // Rice and Beans     The lunch line gets kind of crazy! But it is a time I won’t forget, socializing and laughing and trying to communicate in Portuguese. Sometimes the line takes over an hour for a bowl of rice and beans, but it never tasted so good. I am so excited when I get it! I think God made my stomach for this food 🙂

3:00 pm // Town Run // Back Porches   In the afternoons we have the opportunity to hear from special guest teachers on optional classes we call ‘back porch’. I have most enjoyed hearing from a visiting team from Scotland.         IMG_1629
If I am not in a back porch, we can go to town and get groceries at the local store or fruit and veg market. Apples and peanut butter are a treat and I make sure to get enough for the week.

4:00pm // Beaches IMG_2424
       Once or twice a week we have time to walk down to the beach. A walk in the beauty of the ungroomed sand is especially refreshing after working in the red dirt of the hot villages.

5:30 pm // Evening light      What a treat to see the sun rise and set everyday. The expanse and variety of the sky in Mozambique is one of my most favorite things I could write an entire post about. If I could only capture a photo of the night sky. I have never seen so many stars in such detail! The vastness of our Creators love for beauty is beyond my comprehension.

6:00 pm // Matapa vs. Fish Heads

You never can tell what you will find on your rice at dinner time. Hungrily making it to the end of the dinner line to face a blackened fish head was slightly not as satisfying as you might think. But the Mozambicans love it. So I embrace it. This is love.  If not fish, we are served a plant based sauce called Matapa. Matapa is basically ground up leaves cooked with some spices. It’s a bit gritty in texture because of the sand stuck to the leaves. Hopefully my intestines appreciate the scrubbing, my teeth are not as stoked.

9:00 pm // Bedtime! This bottom bunk has been my resting place the four weeks! With 12 girls in two bedrooms we have laughed and fought and cried and laughed some more. This is the place where true character is born. Sleeping here is not the most peaceful routine, with doors banging and shuffling and dropping stuff on eachother, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.