“Wherever You lead, I will go” Anna Kinney(Living Hope Volunteer)

Anna Kinney

“Wherever You lead, I will go”. That’s what I prayed not long ago, before I had ever even heard of ACTS. It was just by chance I came across the opportunity to come to South Africa as a volunteer, and being selected by an entry on Facebook came as a total shock. However even as I sat staring at my name as the winning entry those words came to mind – “Wherever You lead, I will go”. So go I did, travelling alone for the first time and to another continent where I knew no-one and little of what to expect. But the whole time I have known that as long as God is leading me, I will keep following.

The last month in South Africa has been life changing. It may sound like an overused cliche, but I’ll be returning home different to when I left. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt comes in that I have experienced what it truly means to be a servant. Spending an afternoon washing the hands and feet of children from a community of shacks and dirt streets is enough to humble anyone. Seeing the joy and excitment in their faces that someone is taking time to care for and love them on such a basic level is an experinence beyond comparison. Then to play catch and jump rope with children so happy despite the fact that they have so little, gives a sense of perspective to the way most people would look at life.

I have learnt the power of encouragement and being a listening ear. Everyone has a story to tell, and the way that faces light up at realising you want to hear it is an awesome thing to see. As I have listened to the stories of both the children and staff I have worked with opportunities have arisen time and time again to be a voice of encouragement speaking into their lives. Whether it is encouraging one little girl to continue at school to attain her goal of studying nursing, or discussing how it is that God is interested in every part of lives and relationships with a fellow volunteer. Often in everyday life we become so busy and have no idea of the story, the triumphs and the struggles of the people we are surrounded by each day.

I have had experiences that many people only dream about, and seen things that many can only imagine. I have attended HIV and Health Screenings, sung and prayed with patients in the hospital and served food to a substance abuse rehabilitation group. I have washed the hands and feet of children, preached Jesus in the streets of unestablished townships and even painted the offices of some of the most dedicated and passionate staff I have ever met. Yet not only in the rewarding but also the most challenging and comfronting of moments, I knew that I was exactly where I was meant to be. I came to South Africa thinking I would make a difference in the lives of others; what I didn’t exepct was the great and lasting difference they would make in me.

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