South Africa – Grace Balfanz

Posted on January 8th, 2013 by


Connection. That one word can mean so many different things. Connection between two Lego pieces. Connection in a battery. Connection between two people. Even though all of these connections are different, they all come down to one thing: two becoming one. This past week and specifically yesterday, I have experienced connection like I never have before.

Coming into the trip I had a strong faith, deep friendships, and what I thought was a good understanding of who I am. This week we have had the amazing opportunity to listen to Mr. Cole Davids for an hour each night. The first night he spoke about rediscovering your identity. Who are you? And he wasn’t just looking for a math and education major at Gustavus Adolphus College with an amazing family from St. Cloud, but instead who are you REALLY?

The second night he focused on how we are all under construction. Some of us may need to take a wrecking ball to the building we have built and start over and others may just need to rebuild one wall. Regardless of where your building is at, we all have something we need to fix and only you can figure out what that something is. You have to discover it for yourself.

The third night Cole spoke about having expectations. We cannot base our future off of what we have gone through in our past. We all have to have an expectation, a dream, a desire, of where we want to end up. Sure, we have all had our struggles, but as Cole puts it, “how do you expect to heal if you have never cried? Failures are just a discovery of what NOT to do. It is our turn to write our story and we cannot let anyone else hold the pen.”

Yesterday was the last night we had the privilege of hearing Cole’s wisdom. This time he did not give us a lecture. Instead, we prayed together. Cole has a gift of hearing God’s word and vision for every one of us. I know it may sound crazy, but he was able to pick people out of the crowd and speak to them, as a stranger, straight to the troubles in their heart. He knew what each person needed to hear and was able to make each of us open up so that God could get into our hearts and heal them. He knew the ID we are seeking, what we need to reconstruct, and the expectations we are holding.

When Cole pointed to me in the crowd of 150+ people, brought me up to the front, and spoke into the microphone about what is weighing down my heart and where I am going in life, I felt the most powerful connection to God that I have ever felt in my life. As people clapped, I felt more support and love than I have ever felt in my life. I know I can speak for this class when I say we all went to bed that night with a new passionate connection with ourselves, the loving friends surrounding us, and God.

As we continue our journey in South Africa to eventually arrive at home, it may be hard to hold onto this new connection we have made. We will be thrown back into the struggles and challenges that face us, but this time we are not alone in these battles. Not only do we have God, but after only five days, our beautiful friends of Africa Jam are like siblings that have known us for a lifetime. The connection we made at this camp is one that cannot and will not be lost. We were once two cultures, two skin colors, two strangers, but this connection has made us one.


Grace Balfanz



  1. Deb Kind (Maren's Mom) says:

    Olivia, Mitch, Lauren, Kate, and Grace — I just realized that none of the blog entries has received any comments yet, and I want you all to know that your entries have been read and are appreciated! I check to see if there is an update every day. It is great to hear how things are going. Thank you!

  2. Nancy Balfanz, Grace's Mom says:

    I too, have found this blog amazing…I can not WAIT to hear all the stories in person. Grace it sounds like you are having an amazing experience and I am sure you are all becoming a close knit group as you share these awesome experiences. Thanks to all of you for writing and enlightening all of us back home on what you are going through! It won’t be long now til we get to hug you!!