You are so beautiful to me!

Three weeks ago Colleen and I went to visit new born babies. The joy on the mothers faces was contagious. As I edited the pictures and worked on this post I had Joe Cockers song, “You are so beautiful, ” on repeat. Please take the time to hear it ūüôā if not, here are the lyrics.

You are so beautiful to me, can’t you see,

PicsArt_1414600176066You are everything I hoped for,

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You are everything I need.

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You are so beautiful, to me.

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Such joy and happiness, you bring.

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Heavens gift to me,

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YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL TO ME!

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Heather was here.

Last week I spent 4 days with my friend Heather. Heather and I have been friends/sisters for nearly 6 years. I met her when she lived and worked in Malalane¬†South Africa with an organisation that helps orphans through music. She returned to the USA 4 years ago but when time and work allow her to do so, she travels to South Africa to visit “her children.”

Heather and her girls

Heather and her girls

Sometimes she runs camps for them but this year she met her kids at Hhusha Hhusha GuestPackers ( pronounced whosha-whosha). It was a time of getting know how each one was doing on a one on one basis.  Heather has known some of these teenagers from the ages of 6, all see her as mother and she is committed to seeing them all succeed in life.  All her kids have had and still have very difficult lives,  and now as adulthood approaches for some, tough choices lie ahead. They live in one of the poorest communities in South Africa which has more than 40% HIV and AIDS rate.

Not only is Thando a beautiful girl, she has an AMAZING voice!

Not only is Thando a beautiful girl, she has an AMAZING voice!

Bonginkosi¬†jumping into the pool whilst Zuzmuzi¬†watches. Bonginkosi¬†has one of the gentlest, purest¬†hearts I have¬†observed in a young man and Zuz¬†is the life a the party ūüôā The teens enjoyed their time at Hhusha¬†Hhusha¬†immensely, a couple of days away from their normal lives was a welcome change.

The boys slept in tents whilst the girls were in the house.

The boys slept in tents whilst the girls were in the house.

Bonginkosi giving Shirley a grand tour of the boys sleeping quarters.

Late afternoon chats.

Late afternoon chats with the different mentors that were with Heather and I.

This week, through a series of unexpected events, I found myself experiencing what life is like for some middle class and upper class women in South Africa. I spent 3 days following these women on their unending shopping sprees from morning till late afternoon. It was complete culture shock for me. From my simple observations there was only one rule to all the shopping madness: you never ever have enough.

I asked if any of them spent one day a week doing some sort of volunteer work for the less fortunate the answer was pretty straight forward: “no.”¬† I was so saddened when I heard this, these people have the means and more importantly the reason (Jesus) to step out and help someone who would never help them back and yet they choose everyday not to …
Shirley is a teenage mom to Luthando. I was very impressed at what an awesome mom she is to her adorable baby girl.

Shirley is a teenage mom to Luthando. I was very impressed to see what an awesome and responsible mom she is to her adorable baby girl.

I guess I am na√Įve friend, I must be crazy to think as a christian such a self-absorbed¬†lifestyle is worthless and meaningless. All they do is make a nice christian bubble and make sure at all cost they don’t ever take the time¬†to step out of their comfort zone and be the difference…Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everyone is meant to sell all they have and give it to the poor or live the life that Heather lives BUT as christians it’s not “rocket science” we are called to live a life that is selfless in every way.

Her boys

Her boys

As I write this I have such a heavy heart …¬† if there ever comes a time were I slowly fall into this self indulging lifestyle I pray I have a good friend not afraid to remind me of what matters most.

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 Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even non christians love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even non christians do that.Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ~Jesus.

Luthando, (pronounced Lootandow) cute and tiny for 4 months :)

Luthando, (pronounced Lootandow) cute and tiny for 4 months ūüôā

The Wake

We quietly enter the living room, its small maybe 3 1/2 m by 2 1/2 m, as my eyes get accustomed to the darkness I see that there are about 10 women inside a few seated on chairs most on the floor.What little furniture the family owns has been set outside.My eyes find what they have looked for since coming in, Mama Marta. Her eyes have a forlorn, vacant look, her girl is gone the silver cord of life snapped. The women quietly make small talk among themselves and as more arrive a deathly silence engulfs us all. There is no respect for time, its difficult to calculate how long we sit in this haunting silence. There are two kittens by Mama Martas feet, oblivious to the fact that he came calling and took her, somehow time ran out…how is that possible?
I watch the kittens playfully attack what I can only imagine are invisible butterflies, how happy they are.

We now number about 25 women, somehow we have found room for all to squeeze in and sit in absolute silence. Mama Marta lies down, her oldest daughter says a few words to her but she is unresponsive…I wonder what she is thinking. Safira starts to sing, we all join, beautiful melodies and harmony to soulful songs of eternal hope, sadness and the realities of how hard life is here. Again there is no respect for time, we just sing, I cannot tell you for how long we go, we just sing. Some ladies begin to quietly cry, mama Marta is still lying on the floor, I wonder what she is thinking. If you are watching this from a distance you would think there was a schedule to everything that is being done. As if on cue the men who were quietly sitted outside walk in, we women shuffle around to make room for them we now number about 35 people, we continue to sing, it’s getting darker, more women crying, I wonder what Mama Marta is thinking.

The kittens are playing outside now near a small garden of bright beautiful flowers. I hear the happy sound of children playing outside and cheerful chirping of crickets announcing that night has come, the neighbours are outside cooking supper for Mama Marta and her family.Life goes on.

We keep on singing, the men join us.Then my father speaks a few words…I cant remember most of what he said, I think it went along the lines of standing beside a hurting mother and holding on to the hope, we as christians shall see her daughter one day. We continue sitting in silence until it starts to rain then we slowly shuffle out of the house, mama Marta does not seat up to say bye…I wonder if she will ever be the same again…I wonder if she will die from a broken heart.

How does one run out of time?

Aulina (pronounced Awwlina) was my friend, she was 22 years old married and 7 months pregnant with her first child. Four days ago her mother received a call that she was dead and so was her baby, there had not been any warning of her sudden departure. Doctors wont explain what went wrong. In two hours time, I shall be attending her burial … how does one run out of time?

The Kids.

This blog post is dedicated to my sister Kat, for all the funny¬† “Kat quotes” she has sent me that have made me crack up and laugh on the days when all I want to do is cry.¬† Thank you!

When I moved to Peru, I promised myself that I would not become a “mommy blogger,” the idea just didn’t sit well with me but today I just want to share a couple pictures of “my kids.” In the midst of all the busyness this season has brought, it has also brought much to contemplate on… maybe one day I will share my thoughts on being a surrogate mother but friend, for now I am content to quietly wrestle with them until they make sense to me.

There is a cute story to the first picture. Sometimes when the boys get tired of waiting for me or Anita to take them out of bed they show their displeasure by throwing out all their bedding. This really annoys me and they know it. On this day it was Andrew who was on strike, I gave him a good talking to and started to prepare their clothes for the day. When I turned around I found Daniel busy helping Andrew put his bedding back into his bed and Andrew giving his best shot at making his bed. Toooo cute ūüôā

My family is getting smaller, two of the children are being adopted this month, both are moving to Europe…bittersweet…(the lady in the pic is Flor, in the first 2 months I was here she helped me with running the house, now Anita helps me)


At least once a day I have to sit with both boys and give them my full attention or there is no peace for me. If Daniel had his way, he would be on my lap the whole day.lol.

La Familia

Its been a long day I am rather tired but my fingers have been itching to blog for a while now so I might as well do it. For the benefit of all those who actually follow this blog I thought I should start my new season in Peru with a synopsis of what exactly I will be doing here, this way you wont be wondering what is going on a couple of blog entries down the line. Unlike my usual entries, this one will be rather long so bear with me ūüôā

I am volunteering at Morning Star Childrens Home as a house mom in northern Peru. Before you think I do all the work by myself allow me to correct you ūüôā There are two homes on the premises and I run the second one. Where ever I fall short, the house parents in house #1 are there to help me out ūüėĬ† I also have Flo, my right hand woman who comes for a couple of hours each day to help me out. I now have 5 children between the ages 19 months to 17 years under my care,¬† as many of them get adopted my “family unit” is rather fluid. Yes, I wont lie at times it will get rather difficult but being a stay at home mom to children who come from abusive backgrounds has been my something I have wanted to do for awhile now.

So, in between keeping house, running after two toddlers and raising 3 girls I hope to keep my love for photography and writing strong!

Friend, I don’t want to come across as this super amazing selfless christian girl, I will leave that for others who are better than me. I have been here one week and one day and believe me you, there have already been many moments when I have wondered, “what am I doing here? I have spent the last 10 years of my life working with wounded children, am I just allowing myself to grow old too fast by taking up the responsibility of being a mom of 5 at 27 years?”¬† After all, my social life will be largely restricted and dating, well lets just say it will continue to be what it has always been, non-existent… is all that I have done and will do worth sacrificing a chance to live the life of a “normal” young lady?

We may never meet but I do hope my entries give you a good idea of who I am. I shall continue sharing my heart with my God-given passion and trust that you get to see me grow ūüôā

Shula.