a sister like no other

C-Kruis, pronounced, ceh-crraise (roll the R), is an artistic ministry based in South Africa, in which they travel all over the country spreading the word of God to the youth. Mary Ashley, my sister, is currently serving with them. Now, before I go any further, allow me to tell you about Mash.

In August of 2001, when Mash was 16, she came to our home to live with us from Alabama. I was 12 at the time. Mash came here so she could be a part of a dance program, that I was also involved in. It was a Christian program called Arts Triumphant, directed by Yvonne Salcedo Williams. The program was wonderful and amazing, while it lasted. By the time Mash left when she was nearly 18, her heart had been to hell and back along with a lot of the other participants. But for Mash, to think that she left home when she was 16, she had done an amazingly good job. She became the sister that I never had. With three brothers, it was just the thing I needed. Our family got incredibly close to her family (her mom, her dad and her older sister, Anna). We have kept in touch, even three years later and we still manage to see each other as often as possible.

Mash was an incredible blessing to me the year that she was here. I had been through a hard year before, with some friends and learning that not all friends are real friends. I had left the dance studio I had been at for 8 years to be a part of Arts Triumphant, and it was somewhat of a painful departure. Time healed those wounds, however, but that's another story. Anyway, it was hard for me to get established and find a home at AT. For the first few months, I was scared of everyone. They were all better than me, but Yvonne had put me in the highest level. By about 3 months or so, I could have fooled someone into thinking I had been there my whole life. I got close to several of the girls my age (which wasn't without its conflicts), and I got close to the older girls, who became like my family. Dancing 7 days a week, I couldn't have been happier. I was homeschooling, and naturally, dance became my first priority, over school, over family, and even over God. Mash confronted me on things when she knew I needed confrontation. She told me one day that I idolized Yvonne and Arts Triumphant. She recognized that I was putting dance first in my life and it shouldn't be first in my life when I'm only 12/13, still in school, still living at home, and still needing to strengthen my relationship with God. She was right, but it took me a while to realize that.

One of my greatest memories I have with Mash is when we came home one night after a late rehearsal and we sat and talked until late, all the while drawing all over each other's arms and legs. Call us crazy, I know. But, it was at that moment I realized God had truly given me a sister. Not just a sister, a best friend, a confidant, an accountability partner. He had given me the ultimate package. And that's why I was devastated when she announced she would be leaving. It shouldn't have come a shock, the idea had been entertained by her all along. Arts Triumphant was no longer where she needed to be. At first my devastation was heartbreak. I didn't want her to leave. I get a sister, and then she's gone? It didn't make sense. She was the most important person in my life and if she left, she would be taking a part of me with her. Then, the devastation turned to bitter hatred toward my mother when she told me I too would not be attending Arts Triupmhant. She explained it to me by saying that without Mash to drive me, there would be no way for me to get there 7 days a week (the studio was about 30 minutes from my house). But, as I look back on that, I know that my mom and Mash were much wiser than I was and they saw things I could have never seen at my young and tender age. I am so thankful to the both of them for telling me what to do, because if I didn't have them there to point me in the right direction, no matter what phony excuse they gave me, I'm not sure where I would be today. Caught up in a mess I don't want to be caught up in, that's for sure.

So, Mash left. She didn't go home, she went to Missouri for several months and she knew it wasn't where God wanted her. One November day, she called her mom and told her she was going to South Africa. Within two months, she had her Visa, her passport, her plane tickets, etc, etc... And by January first, she was there. She has been there for over a year now. It is not without it's trials, and she will tell you that openly. But she knows it is exactly where God wants her. She has finally found that place that she had been searching for since she was a child. As her younger sister, watching her grow has been profound for me. There are parts of me that say "I want to be just like her." And then I look at everything she's gone through, and how strong she has had to make herself, another part of me says "Not on your life!" I think for now I would rather observe someone do those amazing things than experience them myself. For the moment, anyway. I am only 15. ;-)

I told you all of that about Mary Ashley to explain to you my close connection with C-Kruis. Last night, Mash's mom came here along with 7 of C-Kruis's own members, the 7 who are part of the newly established America branch of C-Kruis. Sad that foreigners are sending missionaries to America now, isn't it? But what they're doing is amazing. C-Kruis ministers to the youth of the world through dance, music, drama, etc. Their goal in America is to travel to churches, schools (public, private, and Christian alike) and spread the Word of God in a way that teens can relate to and remember. The fabulous 7, Daniel, Pieter, Lennie, Burgert, Este, Elzette, and Charnette, came to my church last night and performed 2 dances and then sat and answered all of our many questions. They're staying at our beach condo until Wednesday, so we took them out there and showed them the ropes and ended up spending several hours with them. Wow. These guys are amazing. I mean, after spending 2 hours with them, I felt not only like I had known them forever, but like they were a part of my family. The last time I saw Mash was December 2003, and I have missed her more than I can say. But, seeing these people, meeting the people she has spent the last year of her life with, gave me a sense of peace and made me feel very close to her even though she is thousands of miles away.

Please check out C-Kruis at their
website. It is truly an amazing ministry that needs to be supported financially, spiritually, physically and mentally. And while you're there, see if you can find my sister's Bio. Her picture is beautiful. :)

God bless,

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