Joye Dickens (pictured to the left) returned in August, 2015 from a yearlong mission trip in Paarl, South Africa. This was Joye’s second trip since her first was a two month endeavor the summer before. During her first trip, she helped run a container kitchen in the community alongside the eight amazing African Gogos or “grandmothers.” But God had bigger plans for Joye than two months and His hand was in every moment leading up to and during her return trip.
Due to the loving support of friends, connections in South Africa, members of Timberline, and Timberline Church—who saw how much of Joye’s heart belonged to the community of Paarl and with the Gogos—Joye was provided everything she could possibly need for the trip. This included everything from financial support, a car once she arrived there, prayer, and much more. Without others generosity and support, Joye would not have been able to return. She was overwhelmed by God’s grace and provision before she even began her work in Paarl.
Once back in Paarl, Joye continued with her help in running the container kitchen that feeds well over 300 children daily, but she also played a vital role in the establishment of a larger, better equipped container kitchen. Joye’s tenacity, perseverance, and trust in God led to so many providential moments. One particular moment was when the original kitchen lost its allocated space. Joye trusted God in finding the women a new location. She had heard that the principal of the Mbekweni Primary School might be open to housing the kitchen behind the school. She pursued that possibility with fiery tenacity and trusted an urge one day to go to the school. Despite it being the end of the day and Joye figuring that everyone would be gone, she happened upon the only two gentleman still there. One was the principal himself, and after a few meetings with the school, the new kitchen had its location.
The eventual goal of the new container will not only be to provide food, but also to be a safe space for children to be tutored, do their homework, learn how to play music, and acquire other helpful skills such as sewing. None of this would be possible without the members of the community offering up their services. As the community has seen the good the kitchen has done, more and more have offered their services in hopes of expanding the mission and value of the container in the community. They were even able to start a garden that had been discussed by members of the community but had remained unexecuted. With a generous donation, they were able to clean up the area where the garden would be placed and have since began planting.
Joye will continuously speak about how blessed she felt, summing it up perfectly with one simple phrase: “God’s blessings abound.” She was blessed with the gift of going and was blessed daily by the love of the people in Paarl. She was overwhelmed by the love she was shown by the Gogo women, the children, and members of the community. The children who came to the kitchen went so far as to call her “White Granny.” Joye felt the community’s embrace and thanked God for giving her such an open heart which allowed her to make so many connections and have touching encounters with people—many of which turned into deep relationships.
At this time, Joye does not have any set plans to return to South Africa, but she continues on with an open heart to whatever God calls for her to do. For now, she remains in touch with many of the Gogos and other friends she made while there. (Click here to read the newsletter about the new container with many more pictures!)
(Thanks to Storyteller Tirzah Post for helping share Joye’s story.)