12 July 2017

CAPE TOWN needs peace

06 February 2017

2017 is moving quickly

Dear friends and family following this mission in South Africa, 

I arrived back in South Africa from a quick visit to the USA early January. Ever since my landing, I feel I've been in fast-forward, moving so fast that I can't quite keep up. Forgive the blog silence, but hopefully many of you have seen the Instagram posts and my efforts to semi-frequently give you a peak into my life and ministry here in SA! 

2017 promises to again be a year of CHANGE. I'm getting a little tired of all the change, but when you see God's hand in it, you can't help but move along and roll with it! His purpose makes it all right. 

To keep a long list of ministry responsibilities short, here are my mission goals for 2017:

- “Be the bridge,” helping others understand mission and community development
- Use my gifts in art and administration to serve South Africa
- Support the wider effort of “church strengthening” in South Africa, personally offering leadership in Mentoring/Discipleship, Bible Study, Missions and Community/Leadership Development in vulnerable communities
- Help girls GROW: encouraging girls and young women in educational, social, and spiritual goals in order to serve the Body of Christ well.

I've got some exciting news and plans ahead. I'm going to need lots of prayer and support to accomplish this God-size vision. More on this to come, but I'd love prayers for strength, provision and favor with God and man! 

Here are just a few photos from the last month to give you an update:

Common Ground Church 20 year birthday picnic!

My girl enjoying the church birthday picnic and jumping castles!

My Capricorn granny's 70th birthday.
We took her to a creche (preschool) so they could sing happy birthday to her!

Maggie's 70th birthday costume party!

My view in Capricorn everyday.
Gosh I love this place. My heart lives here.

Catching up with old ministry friends and laborers in the field ... Basil and Blanche

Train the Trainer - Community Art Facilitators with BAP in Capricorn

Andrew and I are immersed in the art-world because of our jobs. His work puts on lots of amazing art events that he gets to attend. This is us at an exhibition downtown last month. Excited to see where God takes us with these relationships and new spheres of influence.

20 November 2016

I'm a new instagramer

Just a little update .... my end of year recap and update are coming soon. Stay tuned.

Until then, check out my new instagram page for recent photos and few ministry insights:

Melanie Dill

10 October 2016

GROW Camp 2016

This year launched a huge piece of my ministry dreams and goals: a girls mentoring strategy for South Africa! I entitled it GROW, modeled after Luke 2:52 - Jesus grew in wisdom, stature (physically) and in favor with God and man (http://www.melaniedill.com/grow). This is how I want these girls and leaders to grow! And with the birth of this new ministry concept for me, the mentors and I dreamed of taking these girls on a 'camp' retreat. It took a lot of planning, a lot of sponsors, and many prayers ... and boy was it a success. 

While small in numbers, this is strategic. Camp can often be about creating an "experience" but this was all about building on the relationships, using time and nature to foster a pause, and study God's Word in an environment that encourages reflection. We rented a house off AirBnB, and with the help of Shades Mountain, we used the Student Divinely Designed curriculum (http://divinelydesigned.net/) to lead our girls to understand how they have been created and pray about what God has for them in His Kingdom ministry ahead. 

Thanks to all who supported this GROW journey financially and spiritually. All your prayers have been watered and harvested. The mentors will follow up and continue to walk this year-long journey of growth with these girls, holding them accountable to the things God said and did at 'camp.' 

This GROW ministry has so much more to birth in 2017. There are dreams of supporting girls' college education, helping girls succeed in purity and discipleship through mentoring, assisting with meals for families that can't provide regularly (you can't teach a hungry child), counseling, and of course more spiritual input through local conferences, camps and youth/young adult ministry input!
... and a huge dream into the future -  a week-day boarding house for girls to have a safe place to stay Mon-Fri, be driven to school safely, provided school supplies and uniforms, 3 meals a day, and biblical discipleship and mentoring. 

Pray for more mentors to be trained to meet the needs of all the girls that want to be part of this ministry in 2017. Pray for the right pairs of mentoring/discipleship women and youth. Pray for funds, timing and human resources to make all these Kingdom plans happen!

Recap of GROW CAMP 2016 in photo:

nature hike in Onrus, South Africa

Onrus beach

GROW mentors

Camp braai (BBQ)

Introducing these South African pj girls to SMORES!

Smores are a hit!

Divinely Designed session. Working out our gifts, experiences, passions and more!

Hermanus, South Africa

Tanika and Mel

My crazy girls

Made for this life! [note my #Luyando shirt - GROW where you're planted]

Love this view. Hermanus, South Africa

Mexican Dinner!

Home-made tortillas, fajita meat, pico, guac, cheese and sour cream! YUM!

29 August 2016

GROW Mentoring Tea

Moms - Guardians - Daughters . GROW Mentoring Tea . 

At the beginning of Jan 2016, I was part of the launch of a mentoring ministry strategy for South Africa called GROW. After much research and experience in township youth ministry, this strategy is implementing how to support discipleship in difficult community environments. We chose girls that we already had relationship with and that showed great potential in wanting to reach new goals in their life.

GROW is based on how Jesus grew while on this earth: Luke 2:52 says, "And Jesus grew in wisdom, stature [physically], and in favor with God and man." Bi-monthly, we meet with the girls and check in on 4 areas of their lives: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We set goals for where they'd like to be and they make action steps on how to get there.  

There's no grand new design or revolutionary concept; it's one older girl walking life and supporting steps of growth with a younger girl. Discipleship is God's design, we're testing how to do this in a new, challenging environment ... and God is blessing the journey.

Here are the highlights of the Sunday Afternoon Tea:

Classic South African snacks: Milk-tart, sausage rolls, hertzoggies (coconut & jam cookies),
brownie bites, sugar cookies, fruit and savory crackers! The girls LOVED these treats.

It was such a nice day, we had our tea party in the garden!

Moms and daughters were led in mentoring activities that the mentors do with the girls each session.
The moms were able to share their thoughts and future goals with their daughters!

It was so fun watching these generations bond and share!

All the mentors, moms, guardians and girls in GROW!

Earlier in the year, many of you helped fund a 'camp-retreat' for these girls. Because of school holidays and some challenges gathering the details, we delayed the event. But good news ... we set a date and we're ready to take these girls out of their environment in order to GROW even more. More details about this soon. But pray for the planning and organizing of this event!

If you're interested in finding out more about this strategy or want to partner as a prayer-warrior, email me! We hope to grow this GROW ministry in 2017 and there's room for many more to join and benefit from God's work in community relationships!

24 August 2016

A creative, fun few months

To catch you up on missions in Capricorn, South Africa ... July/August 2016

street art in Capricorn during July school holidays

the simple joys of chalk! 

oil pastels ... building relationships in the streets

budding artist ... look at that stance!

art in the park

My Butterfly Art Project interns from Germany and the Netherlands.
All have said farewell by now, but boy did we have fun while they were here! 

God's promises over my community!
#CapricornSouthAfrica #CapricornPrimarySchool

This little one got mail from her GROW prayer partner!

This little one LOVES being in the kitchen with me.
Look at her precious school uniform and her bacon-wrapped-dates!

Found Gherkin like this one morning. Yes she sleeps in the bed! ;)

GROW mentoring birthday party. Girls love good food and a good chat!

SMBC sent a care package. I'm honored to have a church family that supports missions!
This one got to help me make American, Betty Crocker Brownies!

Forgive the blog silence. Its been a wild few months. There are some great photo updates that happen on my twitter feed (https://twitter.com/trulymeldill) much more regularly than the blog these days. Check them out and follow this beautiful, South African mission!

01 July 2016

The key to long-term missions ... what I'm learning

The theme of true ministry and long-term missions is RELATIONSHIP. 
I've been in Cape Town, doing community development in the same little township for 6 1/2 years now. I've had the privilege of working with lots of non-profits, churches and schools. It's hard to have time for everyone and everything that's good, but I've been transformed by the importance of relationships and time-spent in people's homes. The secret to good relationships in places like Capricorn, South Africa is ...

Listen some more. 
Then keep listening. 

I don't have a lot of answers, but I have a lot of access to people's stories. I'm not the answer, God and His community are. I'm the connector of stories, the pointer to other people's experience, the bridge to communities, and I love introducing people to each other so that they can share their stories. In my line of work, there's a lot of counseling, a lot of deep personal sharing. So much of my work can't be shared on a platform like this for the safety of my people and privacy of personal lives. But what an honor to have these stories and relationships in my heart! God is truly changing me, more than I'm changing Africa.

These last few weeks, I've been DEEP in a few key relationships, investing in the growth of people's journey and celebrating people I love. It's school holidays, so my work in the community is exciting because the community is alive with the chaos of children. 

Here are just a few photos of the last few weeks and a peak into the stories I can tell ...

This is Blanche. She's a wife, mom and care-taker of many youth in Capricorn!
She took time out of her week to teach me and a few of my colleagues
(from www.butterflyartproject.org) her version of South African curry. 

Blanche's mince (ground beef) curry with potatoes and peas. 

Hazel, Amanda, and Blanche in Blanche's Capricorn kitchen!

Took my little GROW girls on an outing to Hermanus
(an hour's drive from Cape Town)

GROW girls in Hermanus!

Home visits in Capricorn.

Supporting families and spending time!

This sister of mine had a birthday.
We celebrated her with cake and a dinner with friends!
She's in her last 5 months of Seminary, finished her thesis,
and headed to an awesome church internship in a few weeks. 

15 June 2016

Mid-year Update

Let me jump right in and give you a taste of what's going on here in South Africa. 

One of my favorite streets in Capricorn! Pray for this beautiful community!

Many of you have asked about my VISA situation and the result of the work permit appeal. I have NO NEWS. My application is still pending. While the uncertainty can be frustrating, it’s not consuming. I’ve been so thankful that I can continue to be in ministry and serve my community in this wait. God has been so good to continue to build on His work and my presence in Capricorn. Everyday I pray for God’s provision in strength and patience until His perfect timing. I promise to let you know as soon as I know more!

I’m developing new relationships with multiple small churches in Capricorn. Alongside a few others, we’re helping pastors connect, get to know each other and team up for the greater good of our community and the Body of Christ! We’re at the early stages of this church-unity-work, but it’s exciting to be on the ground floor and getting inside and outside people involved in Justice work in Capricorn!
I'm attending a church outside of Capricorn, and it's been a place of great refuge and peace for me. I'm involved in a small group and getting involved in the early stages of helping this large church do justice in their surrounding communities of need! There's lots of work to be done and I'm honored to be a small part. 

Our mentoring ministry that was launched in January (http://www.melaniedill.com/GROW) has truly taken off and we’re seeing girls grow in spiritual and educational goals. In short, our mentors commit to journeying with 2-4 young girls for a year. Each girl makes 3 BIG goals for the year; we break the year into 3 month increments and have smaller goals to reach their large growth goal. At each 3 month period, if the girl reaches her milestones, we CELEBRATE. We spend an afternoon talking about their strides and thank God for His help to get to their goals (see photos below). Each mentee is doing so well. Deep relationships and trust have been built. The GROW concept and strategic planning continues to be developed and tested in this South African context, and one day in the future I hope to roll it out in other communities and churches in this country! Pray for the mentors and mentees that play a big part in this foundation-building-year! 

Volunteering at the primary school and investing in this art project continues to be quite the fun challenge and a unique way serve Capricorn! Our art team has grown so much (teaching children and adults) and we’ve got many more hands to serve our children. This means there are more adult teachers to love and minister to as well! I’m honored to be part of this initiative and the wide range of secular connections I’m making in our community and all over Cape Town. God continues to show me my bigger purpose in these new places and I’m praying He will use me in this environment for His glory!

Thanks to you all for your love, support and prayers. This South African journey continues to be wild and unexpected, but with God all things are secure! I’ll keep you posted and try to do better with updating more frequently on the blog. Life has gotten a bit busy but in a very great way!


Butterfly Art Project, Community Art Facilitators course in Newlands -
teaching adults to lead vulnerable children through therapeutic art mediums!

Butterfly Art Project, Community Art Facilitators course in Capricorn -
art therapy concepts!

Taking some of my girls to church! 

FREEDOM DAY in Cape Town. Bumped into a peaceful protest.

FREEDOM DAY PROTEST in downtown Cape Town.
This country has a long history of beautiful justice fights.
On this public holiday, many returned to the streets to fight for a better, free, South Africa.

GROW CELEBRATION! Laurina & Tanika!

Grow Celebration snack. All they wanted to do for their celebration was to
have a Mugg & Bean large muffin! They were so precious and loved their
little outing to the mall. 

One of my newest friends in Capricorn and GROW.
Celebrating goals met. Outing to Muizenberg!

My little Mia during one of our weekly tutoring sessions.
Report on Nelson Mandela! 

Meagan and Mel at a rugby game in May.
It was Meagan's first live rugby game, my second.
We loved every minute. I'm so thankful for this South African sister!

Melanie's website.