I’ve got something I can FINALLY tell you guys! It’s been SO hard keeping it a secret!

In exactly TEN DAYS FROM NOW I AM HEADED TO SOUTH AFRICA WITH A FAVORITE BLOGGING FRIEND.

Yup, we are going to be your eyes and ears to update you all in PERSON about the community center, veggie garden, playground and laundry center we all helped build in Maubane!! Yes yes yes!

I’m taking my nine year old son, Jackson, who was born in South Africa, as well as – and this is the REALLY EXCITING PART – my dear friend Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom is coming with us!

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Like me, she has three kiddos and a husband who helps make trips like this possible by holding down the home front. We’re crazy excited you guys! We’ve been dreaming and praying about this for MONTHS now!

Her blog readers joined in with us as we all raised the funds for the community center, veggie garden, and playground. And she got so excited about the project she wanted to SEE IT IN PERSON. 

So we’re going. And we’re paying our own way. And we just want to take you in our virtual suitcases and let you see for yourselves what happens when between the loads of laundry and dishes and commuting and deadlines a community takes the time to love on their sisters who are also juggling laundry and homework and kids and dishes.

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a FALL IN LOVE TRIP so you can see in person all that your love and prayers and donations and enthusiasm and encouragement have built.

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a COME AND CELEBRATE WHAT WE DID TOGETHER trip as we enter this New Year reminding each other again that there is absolutely no such thing as “just” a mom – because “just” a mom couldn’t possibly have raised over $50,000 together for vulnerable kids in South Africa. And YOU GUYS DID THAT!

It won’t be a fundraising trip, it will be a MEET THE MOMS AND KIDS THAT ARE JUST LIKE YOU trip as we share photos and video of the community you are now connected to – virtual next door neighbors.

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We’re calling it the Love South Africa project and everywhere we share about it you can find it under the hashtag #LoveSouthAfrica.

We will be staying with my parents – Peter and Wanda – who have been part of the South African nonprofit, Take Action, for the last few years serving orphans and vulnerable children. And Take Action is the local partner of Help One Now – who helped us launch this project on Valentine’s Day last year.

That’s Lamar from Help One Now on the left in the photo below. His team is partnering with Take Action and they visited our project last year as we began to dream about how we could continue to serve the South African community in Maubane that we’ve all fallen in love with.

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You guys, a year ago where there was nothing but dust and dirt and open field, today there is a water point, a laundry center, a playground, community vegetable garden and the beginnings of a community kitchen, classrooms and welcome center.

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I have just GOT TO SEE IT ALL WITH MY OWN EYES.

And I can NOT WAIT TO bring you all with me to see it with your own eyes too.

Can you think of a better way to start the New Year? Than with the reminder that it’s never about the size of your blog, your wallet, your agenda, your job title, or your dream. It’s always only about the size of your God.

And our God loves BIG and DOES BIG.

I’m so delighted we get to be a part of His plan.

OK, now to be sure you don’t miss any of the updates, here’s where we will be posting so you can follow along in our virtual suitcases:

I’ll be posting photos of our trip on Instagram over here.

Crystal from Money Saving Mom will be posting photos of our trip on Instagram over here.

I’ll also be sharing some special behind-the-scenes updates (think travel trips, special peeks into our South African family life, behind-the-blog fun) specially for blog subscribers over here.

And then to be sure you don’t miss any of these Love South Africa updates – just enter your email in the form below and you’ll be added to our virtual suitcase travel buddies list. And we’ll be putting together a newsletter of updates, behind-the-scenes, posts, highlights and tips from these trips to this special group of folks. Snapshots and blog posts from both me and Crystal. This will be your one stop shop for #LoveSoutAfrica news.



THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. Next week Wednesday we fly out of Washington, D.C. direct to Johannesburg, South Africa. And we CANNOT WAIT TO TAKE YOU WITH US!

OK if you are coming with us – think about the questions you wish you could ask or the photos you wish you could take. ‘Cause on Thursday I’m going to ask you to share ALL THE QUESTIONS YOU CAN THINK OF so we can take your questions with us and bring home answers.

Much love
LJ

{Photos by the extremely talented Scott Wade, Ty Clark and Pat Black.}

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