by Kimber Titus
As I sit here and reflect on my trip to South Africa, the following verse keeps coming to mind. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I was sitting in church on a summer day when they mentioned that mission trips to South Africa would resume in the fall. I thought to myself how cool it would be to go on a mission trip. I knew financially it would be a reach for me and I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind. Who was I kidding anyway? I had never been anywhere outside of the US and traveling 8,000 miles to a foreign country was way out of my comfort zone. A few weeks later I started having conversations with Cammy and Pastor Vicki. South Africa was weighing heavy on my heart, and I felt I was being called to serve. But why me? How would I cover the cost? How was I going to leave my family for 11 days? How would work survive without me? How would I fly 8,000 miles across an OCEAN when I had only ever flown 1,000 miles to Florida? How would I, an introvert, interact with people who might not even speak my language. I had so many unanswered questions, but I put my faith in God and waited to see what would happen.
I decided to start a GoFundMe and so many generous people donated, people who barely even knew me! This trip quicky became a reality and all the pieces started to fall in to place. I remember my nervousness as my husband dropped me off and I waited in the church lobby with people I hardly knew. We joined hands and our pastors started praying with us. I looked around the circle at the 14 other people who were traveling to South Africa and I suddenly felt a sense of calm wash over me.
The next 11 days were a whirlwind. I remember sitting in church on our first day. I immediately felt a sense of belonging as I listened to the sermon, the birds chirping, and a rooster crowing, all in unison. From that moment I knew God was in control and he was the reason I was in South Africa! I had no idea what was in store for me, but I immediately put my trust in God. I knew right away that building houses was NOT the reason God had brought me to South Africa but I also knew he had a plan. So here goes! I felt nervous as we walked into the Mosaic Community Center for the Ma’s Superstars preschool prep program. I was directed to a small table with four little ones sitting at it. I wondered how I would communicate with these children who spoke no English. As if he could read my mind, the 3-year-old little boy sitting next to me put his hand up to give me a high five. From that moment I realized we all spoke the same language, LOVE! I also knew the reason God had brought me to South Africa.
I will never forget the children at Ma’s Superstars, the preschool program, the after-school program, or the adults with special needs at Avodah. I will never forget visiting the moms in their homes, the tears they shed as they got to pick a donated a purse or the self-worth they felt when creating a vision board. I will remember the joy on the faces of the children at the carnival. I will remember the men I spoke to in prison and shared my personal story with. I will remember the closeness I felt to God during these interactions and how each one was special in its own way.
The most common thing people said to me before I left for South Africa was that I was going to change lives, but in reality, it is my life that has been forever changed! I will never take for granted the life I have been given or the people who have been placed in my path.