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Sunday, June 29, 2008

This is Africa...


I have come to this beautiful country. I now call it my home. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family that support me. Sometimes I sit back and wonder "why me?" I have had some things occur that I have not written about on my blog. I feel like this is a suitable time to get into them.

While traveling with my family, we drove by a township (an area where black and coloured people fled during/after the Apartheid). This area of battered tents and shacks had a profound impact on me. I have never seen a larger gap between the rich and poor, or the "haves" and the "have-nots" in this case. Why did God choose me to have this lifestyle? Why am I not living in a township like so many others in this world? It really puzzles me think about this. I believe there are a lot of things on this earth that we are not exactly supposed to completely understand. This may be one of them...but I really don't want it to be. I have compassion for these individuals. My heart aches to know their vicious circle of trials and tribulations simply to survive. I want to do more. I want to help. Now comes the difficult part...bridging that gap between "saying" and "doing." It's true..talk is cheap. But I am committed to make a difference in this world. Whatever I can be a part of...bring it on!


I have plans to go back to Swaziland in September. I can't wait to see the faces of those children. I haven't been able to go back since moving here, so this is certainly something I am looking forward to. I plan to organize another documentary with my television station. I think this is a great way to get the word out. Speaking of spreading the word...check out this websites when you get the chance:

www.james127.org

This is the organization that I sit on the board of directors for. Take some time and look over this website. It is truly amazing to see what God has been doing. We have been planning a big fundraising dinner in the United States to help support El Shaddai Ministries and The Compassionate Life Foundation. The decision has been made to postpone the date....we are meeting as a board to discuss a new date as I will fill you in immediately after the decision has been made. In the meantime...you can support this ministry, as many of you have asked how to do it. You may do so by donating on the website It's easy. It uses Paypal which is a very secure site as well.


I continue to attend a church in town called Church on Main. Its a wonderful place with people near my age that worship God. I have really met some wonderful people though this church and have even joined a bible study that meets weekly. It sends shivers down my back to be in a room with fellow Christians, singing wonderful music and praising God. Not to mention, being in another country/continent with so many new faces, many of different cultures, and worshiping the same God. It certainly is a unique experience.


Some other things I have been up to lately..,.I went paint-balling the other day. I have been doing a lot of mountain climbing. I play the guitar a lot since being here. Our E.tv soccer team plays a match against the Cape Town Ajax team soon. I am taking surfing lessons this week. These are all things that make me happy. Life is good.
Thanks for listening. Bye for now. Derek Van Dam

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:34 PM

    Derek, Your entries are Always so interesting to read! It's wonderful to feel the energy and the pulse of your experience through your text, along with the deep insight you share with each and every experience. God has given you such a beautiful gift to describe the world so eloquently through your eyes. I am so blessed to be a recipient of your message! Keep up the GREAT Work!!!

    God Bless You Always!
    Your Friend,
    Bill Pavlov

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  2. The words, "This is Africa" are not usually used in such a positive light! Nice one.

    I enjoyed this post, I think it is crucial that we never let the poverty and hurting become something that is normal to us. Although I have lived here my whole life, I don't ever want to get to the place where I have no emotion when I pass something as "normal" as a beggar at a robot.
    I still struggle with the reasoning behind why I am so blessed but someone who lives 20 minutes away is struggling to stay alive. I think it is just important to remember that with great blessings comes great responsibility.

    I am glad you are going back to Swaziland, I have been there on a couple of mission trips and I know that there is nothing like that feeling of being exactly where God wants you at that exact moment in time, which I always felt a lot over there, away from the distractions of everyday life.

    Enjoy the surfing, hope you don't freeze!
    Michelle

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  3. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Thanks for providing the link re: financial support for the Swaziland mission. I'm glad we met @ Silvermine yesterday and yes, I do not believe in "coincidences" either. I have been trusting God for divine connections with people that share my desire to make a difference in this world ...irrespective of how insignificant it may be. PLEASE PLEASE also let me know whenever a need arises for volunteer work...like you said talk is cheap and we have to be Jesus hands and feet too :)
    God Bless your beautiful heart.
    Take Care
    Sharon

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  4. Derek, I googled your name and came across this blog. Still reading through it and I must say your story is very interresting. Hope you enjoy your stay in South Africa, it's really a beautifull country with lots of potential. Take care my friend. Cheers, Jean Claude (jc_beaumont@mweb.co.za)

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  5. Mark Torregrossa11:50 AM

    Hi Big D,
    We miss you over here. sounds like you are doing well. not sure if we'll get to visit you or not. i know two years flies, so we'll see. we just got back from denver. that is an awesome place. lisa white water rafted while i was in conference. she loved it. we drove around in the mountains, but didn't climb any 14ers. i want to learn how to use the skype, so maybe email me at station so we can set that up.
    take care and god bless you.
    mark t

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  6. I so wish I could capture the moment of the children in Swaziland! My pictures remind me, but it doesn't put me back in the moment. I feel God tugging at my heart, yet again, to dive into Africa. I am praying that He sends me to be His hands and feet, my heart was left in Africa. God has been pushing me out of my comfort zone and I must say it's not all bad, I welcome the change and challenge!! I admire your challenge and courage, DVD, to follow your heart, we are forming a group for July '09, I hope to see you then!! Isiah 6:8 was my confirmation that I was to go to Africa a second time!! We'll see you soon!! Love ya!! God Bless you always, Tina

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  7. Hey Derek,
    Sounds like you are staying busy while you are over there. That is a good thing of course. I can't wait to see picutres of you surfing. How is that going for you so far? Sounds like you are very happy. I look forward to seeing an updated documantary of you and the kids. They love you over there derek there is no doubt about that. Take care and may god continue to bless you.

    Jennifer

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  8. Derek

    Wonderful stories and glad all is well. Interested to read that where u are attending Church. Give Ant and Megan our love. Ant used to live next door to us for some years and spent many hours in our home. Also say Hi to Andrew (Pastor). We miss NCMI - how about coming back to MI and planting a Church -hehehe???
    Will be in CPT in September so may see u in between ur trip to Swaziland. Son, who used to watch SABC has switched to ETV as better news and loves the weather forecasts!!!
    Ian - Midland MI

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