soojean kim

SooJean.jpg

My name is Soojean, and I work at T-Mobile in the Seattle area. My journey at Ikhethelo began six years ago, when my sister (Soo Young) and I volunteered to join a trip to teach business fundamentals to local entrepreneurs in the KwaZulu-Natal region. Ikhethelo Children’s Village graciously hosted us in their volunteer cottage, and it was through that trip that I first met the children and staff at Ikhethelo.  During our time there, I quickly fell in love with the village – playing games, worshiping together, and eating meals during off-hours.  This is my sixth trip to Ikhethelo, and I cannot wait to see how the kids have grown since my last visit two years ago.

This trip will be a 10-day visit, hosting a holiday program for the kids while they’re on break. Breaks are often the most boring times for the kids, and simultaneously, the most taxing time for staff.  I’ve been surprised to learn that holiday breaks (what I always looked FORWARD TO), are not always as welcomed by all children, especially those from lower income brackets. One of my friends from church, who works in a low income school district, explained - for these kids (even in the US), breaks are often times of isolation and boredom, with questions of whether there would be food for them to eat. So, we are happy to go to the village, provide some extra man power to take the kids out, run bible studies, and just add some fun (hopefully).

It’s hard to describe what type of impact these yearly visits have had on me – but I’ll try to share! Each time I go, I am reminded of the privilege I have as a well-paid professional in the United States, and how unbelievably blessed I’ve been to have what I’ve had since birth. What I have is a gift – and that holds true no matter how much I’d like to attribute what I have as MINE and a result of MY own hard work. God reminds me constantly that “To whom much is given, from him much is expected”  (Luke 14:28). While I’m still woefully selfish, God prods me to look beyond myself and see that I am blessed to bless others. It’s an odd match – this Seattle telco professional and this wonderful South African children’s village – but God keeps giving me this tug… and I go.

He also reminds me of who He is –  “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5).  He shows me just how much He cares for these children and the staff who work there.  “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow” (Psalm 146:9). It is a gift to witness just how strong His love is over these children, and I am so lucky that He invites me to be part of the way He cares for them. There are moments – even in the US – that God lets me see just how powerfully and relentlessly He loves.  But there is something special and unfiltered about the way it’s expressed at Ikhethelo – and I love receiving that reminder each year.

Lastly, I am encouraged by the faith exhibited by the children and staff at Ikhethelo. Children are amazing in how they receive the promises of God and they amaze me with how they pour their love upon me. After all, I’m there roughly 10 days a year, so why do they love me so with cards, hugs and homecooked meals? I am even more challenged by the staff who persevere despite all the hardships that come with running the village. They take on the obstacles head on and call upon the Lord with unwavering faith in His deliverance. It challenges me to think – do I ask that way? Do I rely on God and wait upon God the way they do?

This is all to say – I am blessed each time I go.  I can only hope that as a volunteer, I help in some way. One way in which we try to bless, is through finances.  I will be paying for my travel expenses, but I will be joining the team in fundraising for the trip activities and a general donation for the village.  The goal is $1000, but I’d love to give more! So if you feel compelled to give, please do! Any extra funds will go towards much needed expenses like paying the wonderful staff, fixing water pipes and building infrastructure, children’s uniforms and books, and gas.

Thanks for reading!

Soojean

 

Giving online:

100% of your donation is tax-deductible through the giving link on the right.

 

Giving by check:

If you would prefer to give by check, checks can be mailed to

LoVE USA

PO Box 1007 Agoura Hills CA 91376

Please write in the memo: iKhethelo 2018 Trip

 

Note: Per IRS regulations, you may not write names on the check.
We are raising funds as a team. That means, if a teammate raises more than his/her portion, the excess will be used for other team members and projects. Please note that according to IRS Guidelines (Pub 526) in order for a donation to be deductible, its use must be left to the discretion of the charitable organization.