I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.                                                                             -Psalm 121

I identified with this scripture so much on this trip. First, because of the beautiful, mountainous area we were in. Except I think some mornings, the refrain went more like this, “I lift my eyes unto the hills, where did all these kids come from?!”  Every morning when our group arrived at Thembalethu, we would watch children come down from the hills to meet us. We seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, and it was amazing how far some children walked just to come and be with us to play, learn and fellowship. The littlest children were carried by children who weren’t much older.

I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from?  The little hands of the children reaching to hold your hand, to hug you, to be held. There was a trust and hope in those children’s eyes that made you want to do more for them, even when the language barrier inhibited verbal communication.

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Throughout this trip, God was teaching me to look to Him for help. I can’t always do something or fix everything (though sometimes I forget and try). Our trip to South Africa was not about bringing God to the children and people there. It was about coming alongside to notice what God was already doing. God is already there, in South Africa, working at Thembalethu.

My help comes from the Lord… We spoke about feeding the kids with fishes and loaves and that was what it felt like. There was always just enough. When there were only a little over 100 plates of chakalaka, there were 102 kids. When we ran short on pologny sandwiches, there were enough butter sandwiches from the team sacrificed to feed every child. The craft supplies never ran out, the sporting equipment was shared among all of the kids, and there was always just enough. Not because of anything our team did, but because God was already there.

The Maker of Heaven and Earth.  Each night when we traveled back to where we were staying, we were blessed with some of the most beautiful sunsets. God reminded us over and over to stop and notice the beauty that He has placed in South Africa.

He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber.  God’s work continues even after we have left. Betsy, Siyabonga, Cindy and many others continue to persevere every day to help those who struggle with poverty, lack of education, violence and disease. May we not be caught sleeping while God’s work goes on.

Indeed, He who watches over Israel (and South Africa) will neither slumber, nor sleep.  

-Cherish Mathis

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