2017: My year in pictures

Happy New Year’s Eve!!!!

How are you feeling? I’m scared and excited at the same time – the usual end of year feeeeellls!

It’s been an incredibly difficult year, but so many good, good things happened too! Although I’ve shared quite a lot about what’s going on in my life this year on this blog, I feel like there are a few things I haven’t quite mentioned. So this will be a kind of, ‘Untold Stories of 2017’ post! Hope you enjoy 🌹💛

New year

We rang in 2017 at a get together our dear family friends, The Ocharos’ hosted at their home and got to watch fireworks from the upstairs balcony! It really was an such a great way to start the new year.

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As always, Soulfest (an event my church hosts annually that brings together all the youth of the city, think outdoor carnival, food trucks-the works, then praise and worship and guest pastors speaking) was amazing! And this year I got to help out as part of the team of leaders. I had so much fun helping run the mini doughnut stand, and I was blown away by how polite and sweet everyone was! Getting that one on one interaction with everyone no matter how short made me feel so so so much more at ease with all the crowds. The guest pastor was Tyron Whittaker from Hillsong Church South Africa, and it was all in all an amazing evening.

Sardinia Bay Beach
We went to Sardinia Bay beach for the first time! It truly is a beautiful beach, but THOSE SAND DUNES THOOOOO!! Talk about a thigh workout of a lifetime lol. Never ever thought I’d ever see sand dunes the actual size of buildings!

Becoming a Youth leader
This year I became a Youth leader! Part of a team of just less than 20, serving approximately 100 teens (the number varies every Friday). I’ve never been a leader in any way, shape or form before (unless helping out in Sunday school, and like, that ONE time in Grade 6 the teacher made me class captain, counts) so this was definitely a first! Like MUN, this was just one of those things I was like, me? Never.
After a year at Harvest Youth it was definitely something I’d thought about maybe once or twice but I definitely wasn’t gonna pursue it. I’d never been a leader, there’s nothing remotely leader-ish about me and how was I supposed to hang out with teens every Friday when I had the social skills of a stone? I looked at the group of leaders I’d looked up to that year and I was absolutely nothing like them. How was I gonna fit in?

How was I gonna do this? How was I gonna commit to this? Why even do this in the first place?

Then one of our Youth pastors asked at the end of the year if I’d be interested. And I was honestly fully prepared to say no.
Spoiler alert: I said yes.
And after almost a year, I’m so glad that I did! I have gotten to know the most amazing kids, in ways I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Being a youth leader has given me a sense of purpose. It has been such a privilege to serve as a part of that team. From Friday nights, sorting out hot chocolate, to cleanups (so. Many. Clean ups. Lol.), to hosting on stage or in the upper room, to facilitating games, to meetings over lunch or chinese food or pizza or homemade cookies, coffee dates, to an impromptu evening at KFC, to Connect groups and getting to know the grade 8 girls (funny how I ended up being one of the 2 leaders of the age that was one of the hardest in my life personally), to all the hugs, the fist-bumps, the hellos, and “See you on Sunday!”s, and ping pong wars and foosball frenzies and “supreme 17!”s, and tea and scones, and altar calls and selling and buying food and pre-next-term plan brainstorming and prayer and….it’s been amazing.

Though, I can’t say that it’s been easy. It has been the most taxing thing in the world, to socialize as a chronic introvert, to show up there and encourage other people when I had had the darkest possible week or day, to build people up when I was tired and broken down, to be an example during times I felt so distant from God and even myself, to my endless self comparisons to my over achieving peers, and countless days I just didn’t want to show up, didn’t want to be there, didn’t feel like I belonged there or was making a difference.

It has been rough. But it has been so worth it. I can’t even picture my life without it.
I may not be the most influential person, I may not be the prettiest or the funniest or the loudest or the most interesting, I may not remember everyone’s names or even faces, but I try to. I always try to. I’m there, and I’m trying. I love those kids, and I love serving in church.

For a while I started to believe that because I wasn’t good at anything I wasn’t of any use to my church community. I think more and more I’m learning that God can use almost anyone to serve in his kingdom. Whether you think you can or you can’t. I prayed every Friday for strength to get through the night. If it was up to my own strength I would not have lasted a single Friday.

I might be a “youth leader” but honestly it’s the kids that have been inspiring ME. With their love and their openness and their vulnerability and their passion and their yearning to seek out more of God.
I’m thankful for the weekly reminder that God is there, always. I am thankful for the community we have through Him and His church. I am thankful for the reminders that God is sovereign, that God is enough for us, in ways that the world and even people, never could be. I am thankful I live in a country where we are free to express our faith. I’m thankful for the identity we have in Christ. I’m just thankful for everything.

I am so so grateful for all the new friends made, and so excited to see how much more Harvest Youth will grow in 2018!

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Cape Recife
My Mom, sister and I visited Cape Recife for the first time. It’s a much more secluded beach than all the rest of P.E.’s beaches, probably because it makes up part of a nature reserve. You can find all kinds of animals there, even penguins! We didn’t get to see them when we went, but hopefully someday soon! We went as part of a bird watching trip, and although deathly cold, it was such a gorgeous morning. If you’ve never been inside a bird hide, you have to experience it while you’re there! It’s so serene and peaceful. Though, sidenote, one of the other birdwatchers said the area surrounding the bird hide has a super high concentration of puff adders during certain seasons of the year, so watch out! (I was honestly better off not knowing, lol.)

Thumbelina the ballet
My Mom got Gloria and I front row seat tickets to see Thumbelina the ballet! The production was a collaboration between the Cape Town City Ballet and the Friendly City Ballet. I have never seen something so gorgeous and dazzling and downright MAGICAL in all my years of existence. The costumes were breathtaking, the dancers gave a stellar performance, and it was all just perfect. I’d watch ballet recitals every week if I could, aaahh! It also made me just a tad bit (loads) miserable that I never kept up with dance. I was never consistent with it and the last time I ever took a dance class was when I was 13. Adult classes anyone? Hit me uppp! Though tbh I don’t think I have half the will and determination and level of commitment and discipline a ballerina requires. (The gift of a tutu or ballet slippers may be enough to make me retract my previous statement 😂😂😂🙈🙈🙈) You can read up on the lead soloist Meghan Henegan (a P.E. native!! Yes, I am #fangirling so hard right now), here. Above and beyond inspiring. ✨ (The stunning pictures below are not mine, all credit to the photographer, who, if I’m not mistaken – is RobynG Photography)

My Mom’s birthday
This year, we celebrated my Mom’s birthday at Old Austria again, and it truly was a special night. You cannot beat the ambience there. And the pianist that night was kind enough to let Gloria and I sing right at the piano while he played. I’d give anything for that to be everyday life – meeting uber friendly strangers and singing in restaurants! The pianist invited us over to sing because I’d been singing along at our table. And when he heard me singing he started playing more songs to sing along to before coming over to our table asking for any personal requests. It was lovely. Disclaimer: I don’t ever do things like that, it was just one of those nights you look back on and you’re like, Who even was that? You never do that? But you’re just glad that you did.

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I got Baptised
This was one of those things I kept putting off and putting off, when really, it shouldn’t be just ‘one of those things’.

It was such a super special day. That morning they did one great big baptism, of both kids and adults. I can’t tell you how special it was to get to be baptised along with two of my favorite teens from Youth and one of my favourite kids from Holiday Club. The day just meant that much more to me because of it. And I’m so glad my Mom and sister were there, I think I take for granted what a blessing it is to be in a family where we all share the same faith and can share in things like this together, because that isn’t always the reality for everyone, and I can’t even imagine to have experienced that day without them there.

Yes, the water was cold!! But it was a good cold, refreshing. There was something about the immersion that brought about so much peace, like the world had stood still for a second. It was a beautiful day, I felt like I was filled to the brim with emotions. It’s an exciting thing to experience and to watch other people make a public declaration of their faith.

This year my little sister finished high schooooool! Gloria isn’t so little anymore (in every sense of the word; taller, wiser), and honestly using the world ‘little’ is nothing short of a fallacy now lol. There’s just something about watching your little sister do things like apply to university, write final exams and go for her matric dance that makes
you feel o-l-d, OLD. 😂 It all just happened so fast!  So so proud of who she has become, and genuinely excited to see just how much farther in life she will go *cue Moana song, *

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Those are just a few more snippets of my life.

How was your year?!

What are you looking forward to most in 2018? What do you hope to leave behind in 2017?

Let me know in the comments!

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! ✨♥ May all your dreams come true in 2018, even in the midst of any bumps in the road.

Sending much love and light your way in 2018, see you in the new year!

And don’t feel pressured to live every single day perfectly, each passing moment is a chance we can choose to begin again. ✨

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