Go 2018: Superheroes

Today, I was surrounded by superheroes.

One of the most impactful days of the trip was also one of the hardest.

Each year in South Africa, there are more deaths from starvation than HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined. According to FAO, Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment — nearly 21% of the population is affected. Today, we worked to lessen that statistic.

We teamed up with Rise Against Hunger to pack meals for local families in need. We had two hours set aside in our day and a goal to pack 10,000 meals. Challenge accepted.

 

With an assembly line-style process filled with a lot of celebration, good music (with epic beat drops) and meals, in two hours we were able to pack boxes filled with 10,800 meals. That’s 10,800 people who will go to bed without feeling hunger for the night. That could be 10,800 lives that might be saved, just by having a meal in their bodies. Rise Against Hunger has a goal to end world hunger by 2030, and with days like these… I feel pretty confident that they’re on the right track.

As I’m wrapping up my last post about this trip, I’m heavily reflecting on my time and lessons learned.

The people we have met over here have truly taught me what it is to live. They are happy, loving and living every moment they have. They value community and know that with help, they can get things done. The children are full of energy, joy, imagination and they play and learn without a care in the world.

 

Build the Future has given people an opportunity to have a next step, daily tasks and new skills that could impact the lives of everyone that encounters this organization and then impact the lives of the people those people interact with. Very rarely in life do you experience first hand lives changing right in front of you; but I saw that every day here.

I would recommend a trip like this to anyone. This challenged me in ways I never thought would be possible. I grew without even realizing it and I’m coming back to the states with such a positive, hopeful view of the world with tangible steps I can take to do my part in making it better.

Thank you again to everyone that helped me get here. Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about my trip, see more photos, or share a story of your own. Get out there and explore!

 

If you’d like to see more info about Crossroads Go Trips, click here
To learn more about our incredible partner, Build the Future, click here
To share your own story, click here
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Go 2018: Dust Storm

When thinking about traveling internationally, you think about a lot of things. You think about the weather, the language, the things to do, the culture and often the currency.

But something you can’t prepare for is immersing yourself in the lives and elements of the people and places you’re surrounded by.

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As seen in my last post, Durban is a stunning, picturesque masterpiece, expertly crafted with rolling Sugar Cane fields, ocean views and landscapes as green as your mind can comprehend; but with all beauty, comes a little pain.

On a lovely mid-80 degree day with lots of sun, a cool breeze and no rain clouds in sight, it’s the perfect temperature to be outside; but where we’re working for the week, strong winds doesn’t always mean a cool breeze; it can mean dust, sand and dirt, everywhere.

When we first started working on the ground, it was a gentle, rainy day, so I was a little caught off guard by the amount of dust in the preschool and on all the toys and books. But today, I got to experience what a warm, windy day could mean for the children and staff at the school we’re working at: burning eyes and dusty clothes with a lot of extra work to keep things cleans and a lot of time hiding your face from the wind so it doesn’t get in your eyes, mouth and nose.

This didn’t stop the spirit of the kids. For them, it’s just another windy day with a little extra movement while playing to get away from the dust, but our group got to experience another day in their lives in a whole new way.

 

These photos were taken after only 6 hours (give or take) outside today. One day. One sunny windy day, where some of those hours were spent painting away from the wind and working in shipping containers.

When traveling internationally, come with openness. The average traveler doesn’t leave the paved path, but when you do, you gain such a better understanding of how the locals are actually living and get a peek behind the “tourist curtain”.

Go 2018: Diving In (Literally)

Durban. Is. Beautiful.

After reading this paragraph, I want you to memorize it; then I want you to close your eyes and imagine it. Imagine a mix of perfect weather with green landscapes vibrant enough to make Adobe jealous; situated next to a stunning blue ocean filled with dolphins… like a lot of dolphins. Okay, now you picture it… I’ll wait.

Right? Isn’t that incredible? Was this where you mind wandered?

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After so many hours (days really) of travel, we finally made it. We were immediately hit with highs and lows as we were debriefing on the living conditions of the communities we’ll be working in while taking our suitcases up the elevators of our oceanfront condos.

Both the members of the community and all of my jet-lagged group is so stoked for tomorrow. After sharing dinner and checking out a local grocery store, we ended the long weekend of travel with worship music and some even dove (quite literally dove) into the Indian Ocean. Cold? Yes.

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I’m excited and anxious for the plans God has for me and my group this week.

I am tired, nervous, ready, not ready and my hand hurts to write anymore. Work starts tomorrow; let’s do this!

 

Go 2018: Progress and Preparation

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(November 16th 2018) – So the journey begins.

To everyone that played a part in helping me get here, thank you! I started off the morning exactly how you should with some coffee, prayer and Chick Fil A.

Preparing for this trip has really challenged me. Going into something with the expectation that you’ll be fully fund-raised by loved ones, strangers and anyone who is willing to donate money your way, is a lot of pressure. I’m the type of person that likes to handle things on my own, so I really had to embrace and run toward vulnerability for this trip.

Could I afford to pay the full cost? Probably; but that’s not the point.

Funding this trip without self-funding this trip was my challenge; and thanks to the wonderful people above, I was given pointers, support and guidance on how to reach out to my loved ones in a way stretched and pulled at my comfort level, but was still achievable. I saw support through people I would have never thought to ask and was shocked (in a great way) with the selflessness of others.

Being vulnerable is the last stop for most people. With the world we live in, it’s easy to build up walls and continue skating through life having surface-level conversations and not really embracing genuine connection. I aim to break that cycle.

Thanks to the incredible support whether monetary, with prayer or warm hugs, I’m typing this on a 16-hour flight to South Africa!

Going into this week, I am completely open and embracing vulnerability. I can’t even imagine what I’m about to experience and I am going into it with love, acceptance, capable hands and and an open heart.

I’m so excited to share this journey with you all and experience what God has in store for me and my group.

Only 13 hours and seven minutes to go. Let’s do this!

Go 2018: South Africa

Hi friends; I hope this finds you well! I wanted to quickly take a moment to share my journey with you.

During the week of Thanksgiving, I will be traveling with a group of 24 (or so) other members of Crossroads to Durban, South Africa. Over the course of the week, we will be partnering with Build the Future to help with two new preschools in the area.

Build the Future is transforming shipping containers into places of learning, joy and community. We will be helping paint murals, plant gardens, pack meals to feed families and provide anything else we can to our amazing partner.

Throughout my trip, I will be journaling about my experience and sharing it with you all through this blog. 2018 has brought such incredible change in my life and I am so excited to see what God has in store for my group in Africa.

If you’d like to learn more about this trip or other trips that you could be a part of, please reach out to me! Prayers always welcome.

Lots of love,

Matt