Bridges Of Hope Blog

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March 19th, 2015

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December 3rd, 2013

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Andres in Africa Update

April 30th, 2013

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Bridges of Hope Vimeo

August 30th, 2012

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Flying Home

October 3rd, 2010

Hey guys,

So this is going to be a bit quick, but I just wanted to let everyone know that our second camp has just ended and we are now all showered and packing to come home. This is a very weird feeling. It is a beautiful day at the Bridges campus and I know I will miss this place so much! It was a lot harder to say goodbye to the kids this time, as we all knew we were done as well. I am sure I will post a final blog when I get home and I am able to be alone in my house and able to think about this trip more, but it has already been one of the greatest experiences of my life!

South Africa is amazing. You see God in so many different ways, from the kids who just get it to the facilitators who take time to pore into the kids lives so much. From the landscape, to the man who started a church in his house in Sweethome. It feels like God has a special love for South Africa. Everything has been amazing but now it is time for us to go.

I guess we all just need prayer for safe travels home and that we will all be able to fully process this trip. I go to work like a day after the trip, so it will be back to life after we make it home. God worked thru us in amazing ways, and as we all say goodbye to South Africa I know we will all leave more bonded together as a team and we will all be leaving a part of our heart in this amazing country!

Thats it for now guys,

Talk to you all when we are back in Santa Barbara

In Him,


ASP Camp #2


The Start of Our Second ASP Camp

October 1st, 2010

Hey guys!

So our ASP camp number 2 has officially started so that means it is the beginning of the end for our trip here in South Africa.  So far things have been going smoothly as the Facilitators arrived on Thursday so we could start planning our next camp. On Friday, the kids all arrived here at about 10:30 in the morning and it has been non-stop ever since then! Thanks to us knowing a bit more as to what to expect from our previous week at camp and the leadership of Bridges staff Thando, Babalwa and Michael we all felt a bit more prepared for our second camp.

When the kids arrived it was pure craziness from the start! They came off the bus with huge smiles and in their nicest clothes. So far we have had games, crafts, swimming, trampoline jumping, good ole camp food, a ton of prayer, worship, a Talk led by Kaylene, and an amazing talent show. I would say that I am very surprised on how talented these kids are! All of them can sing, dance and act very well and it is always amazing to see them use their talents! Kaylene led a talk on trusting God and knowing that he will take care of you. The talk went very well and our cabin time afterwards was also great as some kids shared that it could be hard for them to trust God and wanted prayer that they could trust God. It’s now Friday night and I am in my cabin with our (really big) group of guys. We could use prayer as tomorrow will be a very busy day with the kids, and we are all tired so we need strength to get thru this last camp

It’s our second to last night here in South Africa, and that makes me really sad! Staying here at the Bridges academy and experiencing all that we have has been one of the greatest things I have ever experienced, so it’s hard for me to see it end. On the other hand California is a very nice place, and we all miss our friends and family, so it will be good to go home. South Africa has stolen my heart. Please continue to pray for all of our health, as Paul is still under the weather and we are all exhausted. Also pray that we will all arrive home safely and we will be able to fully process and take the most out of this trip.

Thanks for all your prayers guys!


Group Games



A Day in the Townships: Philippi

September 30th, 2010

Hi Everyone,

This is Brittany here. Yesterday we had the opportunity to enter the township of Philippi and spend the afternoon teaching a lesson to CHE leaders at St. Paul’s church.  Our whole team drove to the church in morning, then half our team left to go visit Samora while Brandon, Eric, Kaylene, Denise and I stayed behind in Philippi.  We started our morning by leading a talk on the importance of maintaining spiritual health.   The room was packed with 30 CHE’s, all eager to learn as Denise and I led the lesson.  Our lesson included a skit, interactive discussion on what it means to be spiritually healthy and unhealthy, and a brainstorming session on how to remain spiritually healthy.   It was an incredible blessing for me to share with the group of CHE’s, relying entirely on the Lord for the right words to say and praying that the illustrations and examples would surpass any cultural barriers.  At the end of the lesson, Mama Lu asked the CHE’s what they got out of the lesson, and many of them said they were encouraged by the talk.  One even said she had felt like an empty vessel before the talk, but after felt filled again.  It was an encouragement to our CCC team to know that we could encourage the CHE’s who are making such an incredible difference in their communities each day.  I myself felt very blessed to be with them, and convicted to have the courage to bring God’s love to my community like they do theirs.

The second part of the day our team walked the streets of Philippi and accompanied one of the CHE’s and Mama Lu on 2 home visits.  It was great to see the CHE’s in action, witnessing what they do each day in their community.  The first home we visited was that of the CHE woman we were with.  Her husband is very sick with TB and a headache condition that has left him virtually blind, so we all prayed for him. It was a powerful experience, seeing the way the man literally only had Jesus to rely on for strength and the way he desired us to pray for him made me reconsider what and whom  I turn to when I am in a desperate situation.  In the second house we visited there lived a woman who had suffered from a stroke and lost the use of her right hand.  She had also lost her husband and older son due to a freak train accident and a run-in with a local gang.  Her youngest son who is 10 is currently out of school, afraid to go back because his classmates would tease him because of his physical deformities.  When we asked how we could pray for her, she asked us to pray that her son would feel comfortable returning to school, and that she could find employment.  I was struck by how much hope she had in her eyes, despite her circumstances.  She told us she had recently become a Christian, and that even though her situation was rough, she felt Jesus had eased some of her pain.  I was so encouraged to hear that.  On the way back to the church, Mama Lu stopped to say hello to a young man in his early 20’s on the street.  She hugged him, then asked him to tell us his story.  He shared briefly about how he had worked for Mama Lu and Bridges of Hope a year or so ago, and is now studying English at the university.  He was incredibly kind to us, and after we continued on down the street, Mama Lu mentioned how he used to be a skolie, or ex-gang member.  It struck me that his face would have been one we should have feared if we had run into him a year or so earlier.  God is surely moving in this community.

After our home visits, we met up back at St. Paul’s church with the other half of our team.  After a brief chat, we piled in the vans and headed back to Franschoek for an evening of debriefing and reflection.  It was an incredible blessing to spend the day in the township where Bridges started.  God really worked everything out for his own good on this trip, because originally we were not going to spend as much time in the townships as we ended up doing because of the teacher strikes in South Africa.  We are now gearing up for our final ASP camp, and looking forward to how God will move in these final days of our trip.

In Him,



Brittany and Denise teaching the CHE's

CHE small groups

Spiritually Healthy/Unhealthy List

Our CCC Team with Bridges employees Michael, Mama Lu, Babalwa, and Thobela


A Day in the Townships: Samora

September 30th, 2010

hile the rest of the group stayed in Philippi; Paul, Sarah Brown, Jen, Sarah Bennett and myself (Amy) headed over to Samora with Thobela as our guide.  After a quick stop at the market for sandwich supplies, we headed straight to the Community Building used for the CHE trainers.  When we arrived there were only 4 women at the meeting.  By the time we finished, there were 14!  Praise God for the women who are making an effort to initiate change in the community.

We had two talks planned for the meeting: one on encouraging each other and the other on business/finance.  The talks were prepared in the CHE style which is highly interactive and engaging.  Sarah Brown started us off by talking about encouraging and lifting each other up.  We started with a skit and then asked questions about the skit.  She also lead an exercise on “positive/encouraging words and actions” versus “negative words and actions”.  Throughout the presentation the women were quite involved and not afraid to ask questions.
Sarah ended her time asking all the women to write their names on index cards.  Then they passed the cards on to three other women in the room who wrote an encouraging word or characteristic about the person named on the card.  The women LOVED this exercise!  They got to keep the cards so that when they were feeling discouraged, they could pull out their card and read the uplifting words written about each of them.

By the time we had finished the first presentation, much of out meeting time was gone.  This may have been a blessing, because Paul was scheduled to speak next. Paul has been quite ill so speaking for a whole hour would have wiped him out completely.  But, God sustained him, and he still manged to muster the energy to come with us to the townships and proceed with his presentation on business and finance.  He also had to make a few last minute changes to his presentation, based on a conversation he had with Mama Lulu just an hour before.  Kudos to Paul for being T&F (tentative and flexible)!  Despite his illness and making last minute adjustments Paul was able to give the CHE women a succinct run-down on three “best” business practices, backing up his material with scriptural references.  He moved on to discuss quality characteristics needed for running a successful enterprise and ended with a segment on conflict resolution (this was the last minute addition suggested by Mama Lu).  We ended our training with a quick sandwich and snack for the women, followed by a chorus of heartfelt thanks from these amazing women!

After the CHE meeting, we hopped in the car and headed out for two home visits.  The first home we visited was occupied by a “Mama” and her extended family.  What struck me about this home was that it had electricity and running water and was by relative standards quite nice.  This was a contrast to Sweet Home, a neighboring township we had visited 2 days prior. Sweet home having no paved roads, limited electricity and no plumbing.  The “Mama” at the home we visited asked us for prayer concerning her health and specifically her trouble with asthma.  She also asked for prayers for the her grandsons.  Their mother had died and one boy who had always struggled in school had really taken a turn for the worse after the loss of his mother.  The 11 year old boy even had trouble remembering where he had put items.  She was very concerned for him.  We prayed over the family and left a parcel of food; staples such as rice, milk, sugar and cooking oil.

Our next home visit was down the street at the home of a 77 year old “Mama”.  She was disabled and could not get around on her own at all.  Even though her home was neat and clean, the overwhelming stench of urine was almost too much to bear.  Having a sensitive nose, I realized how hard living in the townships would be.  As “comfortable” Americans we take the simple things like plumbing and basic hygiene for granted.  It really made me think about the conditions in which many of our brothers and sisters around the world live.  We prayed for “Mama” and headed back to Philippi to meet up with the rest of the team.

I know it’s been said before but this beautiful country is one of contrasts.  As Bill Duncan, the interim Retreat Director said, “It’s a county of haves and have nots”.  After we headed back the “the farm” for a short rest, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner in Stellenbosch.  Stellenbosch is a beautiful town and tourist destination.  Again, the difference in quality of life was evident.  Progress is being made, but the people of this country have their work cut out for them as far as caring for their own and working to alleviate the rampant poverty among many of the blacks in the country.

Next on the agenda is another three and a half days of “Camp-O-Rama”  Please continue to pray for sustained energy and focus for the team over the next, and last, few days of our trip.  We covet your prayers and look forward to seeing you all again next week!



A Day in South Africa

September 28th, 2010

Hello everyone!

well Tuesday was kind of a “day off”  for the team, so we took two different trips; most of the team went on a safari in Worceser and Brittany, Sarah and I went to Gansbaai for shark cage diving. Everyone departed from the retreat center at 7:00 AM for our selected adventures, and our drive to the South Africa coast was absolutely beautiful! we rode with Jenny, the director of the Bridges Academy, and her sun, Justin, and they were able to share stories about the history of Bridges as well as life in South Africa. The drive was amazing, as it was 2 hours of mountains, sheep, Baboon crossing signs, lakes, beach homes and beautiful farms! South Africa people have already stolen my heart, but now the landscape and countryside has as well.

Sarah, Brittany and I all got on the shark boat and headed out to a reef near Dyer Island, or the Island that is always on the Discovery Channel where the sharks are breaching out of the water trying to get the Seals. Sarah was the first in the Cage and then before we knew it there were like 3 or 4 different Great Whites swimming around the boat and thrashing about as we watched in awe! we were out in the water for about 4 hours and saw 14 different Great White sharks, so a very successful trip!

Jenny then took us into Hannasbaai, a local beach town, for Ice Cream and to check out a bit of the town. The coolest part was looking out at the ocean as there were about 15 different Whales in the water. We all stood in awe as there was so much wildlife out and about on our trip.

Today we headed to Philippi and Samora as Paul, Sarah, Brittany, Jen and Denise are all speaking to the CHE leaders and we check out the OVC and ASP camps, so we can use a lot of prayer for safety as well as prayer that God can use this time in a great way, but we can also use prayer as Paul is feeling under the weather and he needs strength to get thru the rest of our trip.

Thats it for now guys! We will all try to write a blog later tonight about our experiences with our trip today!



ASP Camp #1 thru one mans experience

September 26th, 2010

It’s been hard for me to start this blog off, only as I do not know where to begin! I was opened to a different lifestyle starting on Thursday when the camp facilitators arrived. They all came in very excited to meet us and I could tell they were really happy to help run the first of 2 ASP camps. During the dinner time we had a braai, or a barbecue. I feel that is the first time on this trip that I truly felt like I was in a completely different country! Here everyone barbecue’s with a wood fire, so I see a bunch of the men facilitators building huge fires in these barbecues, but then the drum came out. All the facilitators started to sing and dance, for like the rest of the evening while some of the men cooked up some chicken and sausage for dinner. It was a truly awesome experience!

The next morning at around 11:30 the kids arrived here at camp, and you could feel the joy and excitement in the air as each kid came off the bus! It was a weekend of craziness! The whole weekend was filled with kids having so much fun, the facilitators working so well as they were able to bond with their kids, and praise God, we had no serious mishaps!

There were 2 major highlights for me thru the first weekend of camp. The first one would be the worship. Coming into the start of camp it was mentioned to me that our team will be leading some of the worship, which thankfully we were somehow prepared for. I had loaded my worship binder in my big suitcase and my computer was here with all the worship slides loaded, so oddly enough we were able to prep before each worship session. Leading worship for these kids was such an amazing experience! Not only is a different country and a completely different culture, you also have no idea if any of the kids or facilitators will know or like any of the songs. We started our first song which was God of Wonders, and you could feel their voices it was SO loud in the room. It blew my mind! Whenever we would enter a time of worship, our team would do two or three of our worship songs and then the camp facilitators would do two or three xhosa worship songs and just to be apart of that was so awesome! There was jumping and dancing and you could really feel the spirit of God in the room during worship!

My second highlight would be all the daytime activities that happened here at camp. Sarah Brown has a past with running camp games, and she helped make all the games and activities really fun for the kids! they were running like crazy, they were swimming, jumping, playing soccer, and having a blast! one of our main goals during this time was to make sure that all the kids were having fun and no kid was left feeling bored or alone, and that goal was met! I have so many pictures of happy faces from this camp it felt like it was a success!

You can be praying for our team as some of us have the sniffles still, and Paul woke up this morning with a sore throat. We have a day in Sweet Home today, Shark

A fun Leader game with the facilitators before the kids arrive

Paul on the Piano Worship Time!tomorrow, Philippi / Samora on wednesday, then it’s our second ASP camp, so we can also use prayer for strength to finish our trip strongly and we will be able to make it thru!

Thanks guys!


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