I’ve been going through older blog posts, and discovered how little I actually blogged about HUGE life altering moments. That shocked me really. I usually over-share… I guess they were too intimate or deeply moving to express myself at the time…

One particular moment… I really didn’t post about the time I spent a month away from my family in July 2008, while my youngest was still in diapers.

I really didn’t share through this blog, my three week journey inside KwaZulu Natal, South Africa and all that touched me there.

Five years later, I stare at these photos and I’m immediately transported back to Embo in the Valley of 1,000 Hills, Pinetown, Durban and Hillcrest.

These pictures were from a day we spent in Embo Township / Valley of 1,000 Hills. Red. Point Church in Pinetown had been recently introduced to a Go Go (grandmother) who was known for taking in orphans and saving women from abusive relationships. With each child the police dropped off on her doorstep, she made a way to care for them. With permission from the Chief of her village, she opened up a Medical Clinic on her property as well, medical students fill their practicum hours there and people walk for several miles to be treated.

Through COCA, Red. Point Church has a long history of working into underprivileged communities, which includes everything from a soup kitchen, food & clothing drops, prison ministry, to creating avenues for those widowed and orphaned to start entrepreneurial businesses in order to support their families.

On this day, they sent us to this Go Go, to repaint the buildings on her property, build a fence around her garden so the goats would stop eating her harvest, clean up garbage and to play with the children. We brought books and games for the kids and gardening tools to help Go Go Dladla produce the food she needs for her growing family.

It was an amazing day.

I was there with 20 others, only a handful of us were over 16 years of age. It was a youth mission’s trip, put together by a friend’s church out of Brea, California. I signed up and took 5 teenagers from our church with me to LA first for a week of training and then onto South Africa.

It was here that I had my “Cinderella Moment” and was inspired… and although I haven’t yet been back to SA… I’ve since collected and sent over 500 pairs of shoes to other nations like Romania, Guyana and Peru.  

It is my heart’s desire to return. My daughter is almost 13 now and she’s pressuring me, big time, to take her in the Summer of 2014. Some of her friends have already started saving to go with us. I’ve been excited but also hesitant. These kinds of trips take a lot of organization, a lot of time and a lot of money.

But looking into these faces… how could I not go back?


I'm the Cool Mom of 4, Married to the Preacher Man, but at times I'm a little more Sass than Saint!

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  1. What an amazing and heart touching story. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time.

  2. Oh, Shannon! This post was really uplifting, touching, and inspiring. I'm a really emotional person, so I'll admit that this moved me so much, I cried.

    My brother has been going to Kenya for the past few years, helping with the Kenya Help Project. They build schools and orphanages. It's something I have always wanted to do as well. Little One is only 4 years old and just started JK. I wonder when I'll be able to go and help out. For now, it's lots of fundraising and helping promote 🙂

    Thanks for posting this.

    1. I was shocked when my husband suggest that I lead the team, Jacob wasn't yet 3 and was still in diapers. He really felt it was something I needed to do and it was. I became "mom" on that trip to all those teens. It was an amazing time.

  3. Wow, it sounds like God really led you to make an amazing difference in the lives of many people. Thanks for sharing!

  4. that is really amazing Shannon, an experience one would never forget! You know, I almost never blog about the big stuff either, I'm not even sure why, it's just so much harder or more personal to write.

  5. An amazing adventure in deed and so worth while. Good luck with your return trip.

  6. Oh my, this was such a wonderful story. I can only imagine how blessed you felt being there. And how awesome is it that your daughter is dying to go!

  7. Oh wow, that is so amazing Shannon! Such a life experience that you will surely hold close to your heart forever. There's lots of things I haven't shared on my blog either but I bet it feels great to remember and share it with everyone 🙂

  8. Wow that's such a great thing that you are doing and I hope you guys do make it back next year.

  9. This is amazing Shannon! Hopefully you can come back soon!

  10. This is a heart-wrenching story, Shannon. There's no doubt in my mind that you'll be back in South Africa in 2014. 🙂

  11. What a trip of a lifetime. We have taken our kids to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico – showing them life off of the "tourist grid" visiting homes and schools. Such a great way to show them how kids in other countries live (and how much they have here in Canada!)

  12. We look forward to your return to our beautiful country! Glad you enjoyed your initial visit and were able to experience the extraordinary that is SA. Here is a tourism advert for SA that you and your readers may find interesting – Leave ordinary behind… 🙂


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