Our Calling: The Ralph Family

From Canada to Africa

At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call. Alicia reflects on the journey of herself, her husband Tyler, and their son Hayden:

Alicia, Tyler and Hayden visiting a friend in Swaziland

Alicia, Tyler and Hayden visiting a friend in Swaziland

Our ministry in Southern Africa began in 2009 when we volunteered for three months with Hands at Work.  After our first season, we knew God was calling us to return to Africa for another year. After that year, we again spent time searching God’s heart only to discover that we needed to make the move to South Africa more permanent. In the fall of 2011 we left our jobs as a teacher and radiographer, sold most of our belongings and moved. Our roots have grown deep here in South Africa and we had an addition to our family when our son, Hayden, was born in October 2013.

Our roles involve us working behind the scenes with the Project Support Team helping local Hands at Work staff to plan, write proposals, monitor projects and report on these activities running in many of the communities Hands at Work partners with. We have been continually blessed by the generosity, love, care and dedication of our local volunteer Care Workers and leaders. Most of these men and women have what looks like, very little, but are giving everything: their time, money, hearts and belongings to take care of the children in their communities who are even more vulnerable than themselves. I first started working with one of our leaders, Audrey, in January 2012, and although things were not always easy, we pushed through because we were committed to serving each other. I learned so much from Audrey over 2 years and it was incredible to see her grow as a leader as well as spiritually and emotionally as a mother, friend and sister. She now leads a strong team which serves all of our South African and Swaziland communities and does so with humility, passion and strength.

The Ralph Family

The Ralph Family

We have also grown very close to a young lady form the community of Masoyi who we met back in 2009 when she was only 17. 6 years later, she is as much a daughter to us as Hayden is our son. We love her and try to sow into her life and love her the way she deserves to be loved.

Over the past five years, we have become deeply connected to the values of Hands at Work. It didn’t take long to discover that being a part of the Hands family meant we were valued for who we were much more than what we could do. We discovered that although living in community gives us much joy, it is not without challenges. Living in community, you can’t ignore problems that come up with someone you work with because that person is usually also your friend and your neighbour. And you certainly can’t hide your issues. All the things Tyler and I had previously kept hidden eventually came to the surface because we were surrounded by people who deeply cared for us. All our wounds, brokenness and bad habits were exposed.

We were confronted with personal brokenness from our pasts, and challenges in our marriage. We couldn’t hide any longer, and how thankful we are for that! People from the Hands community shared with us their own personal battles. It was painful, and change didn’t happen overnight, but as people invested in us and spoke truth into our lives, we slowly learned what it meant to face our demons. When we became open, we were truly able to receive the grace and love our Father had for us and then extend that same love and grace to each other. This community of believers taught us to be vulnerable, and as a result we continue to grow and find healing. Because of this community, we can raise our son in a home, that while not perfect, is a home where healing and forgiveness lives. Because of this community, we can now be a part of others’ stories of brokenness and transformation.

 Are you being called? Come serve with us.