Inspiring Immigrant Woman – Meet Anke

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Today I am sharing the 2nd story in my series on Inspirational Immigrant Women – Life your Way.

Meet the gorgeous Anke Martins …

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Unlikely Immigration: I will start my story here. We didn’t plan to immigrate. We never even considered the option. It was something that ‘other people’ did. In fact, when my husband’s work asked him if we wanted to relocate for a job opportunity, we declined. We were very happy where we were and we felt we were doing what God had called us to do. But God’s ways aren’t our ways and that’s why I know for sure that we were called to be here.

Initially we were only going to stay for 2 years. The company paid for our relocation, they rented a car and accommodation for us and we got LAFA (living away from home allowance). So, as a friend stated: we had a soft landing.

As time goes by we knew we would not be returning to South Africa soon. The lifestyle is so relaxed and Perth is a perfect place to raise your kids. Mine were 7 and 5 when we came over – a good age, because they adapted quite easily. My son’s teacher told me: “Just read to them in English”. And that’s what we did. And before we knew it, they were little Aussies. They would laugh at our pronunciation of certain words and we knew that we would never loose our accent as Afrikaans speaking South Africans.

I must say that I was worried about my children’s adaption to Australia. They had to learn a new language, a new handwriting and a new culture. But I think children are the most adaptable to different situations. Of course it depends on the character of your child and their age. And not everyone is the same, but they get to mingle with other children the most part of the day. And because they learn so fast, they settle in much quicker then us. Homework did not exist until high school for my kids. And the responsibility was more on us to make sure they know their multiplication. I think we were more involved with their education, because in South Africa you expect the schools to do their work. Where as for here the standard is lower in primary school. And their education system is different.

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I can honestly say that I have never felt that I want to pack my bags and go back home. We have visited South Africa many times in the 10 years that we’ve been here, but coming back to Perth has always been coming back home.

Life is never without stress, hardship and sadness and I’ve surely had my fair share here. My father was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. I think it was the hardest thing for me to be so far away and to not know what was going on. Uncertainty drives me crazy. I would phone and my dad would say: “I’m very well, how are you”. He didn’t want to have chemo so we knew we had to prepare ourselves for his departure. But how? … In that time I constantly prayed for timing. And God’s timing was perfect. And through the 18 months of my dad’s illness, I can only witness of God’s love and His strength. He carried me through the toughest time in my life. And He still does.

As you can gather, God is important to me. I don’t know how people can live without Him or make this big move without faith. He is the only certainty and stability in this world. He is my Rock. I have learned to only trust in Him. I think this is the biggest lesson that I have learned through everything. Prov 3:5 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” He has picked me up from the floor so many times. He has showed me the way when I could not see where I was going. I can truly say that He has straightened my path and blessed me. He has sent wonderful friends on my path to encourage me, and friends to lift me up when I needed it.

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After my father died I pushed myself really hard. I had to be ok. That is what people expect (or that is what I thought) and I didn’t really grieve the loss of my father. I was teaching too many group fitness classes and trying to prove to myself that I’m ok. That led to physical burn out and emotionally I was a mess. I battled with depression and feelings of worthlessness for too long. But once again God was so gracious and faithful and loving. He picked me up and showed me His love for me. And that is why I can only trust in Him. My point is: don’t be afraid to admit when you are having a tough time.

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I think one is very vulnerable when you immigrate. You are desperate to fit into your new environment and you seek acceptance and friendship. My eyes were opened to people’s willingness to help ‘strangers’. Your acquaintances soon become friends, and friends become family. I must say the South African community here is very helpful – mostly (I think) because we’ve all been in the same situation and appreciate what others have done for us in the past.

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I am thankful for the personal growth that I have had the last couple of years. (Even though it has been very hard at times). I have stepped out in faith in more than one area of my life and they are opportunities that I might not have had or pursued in South Africa. To me Australia was a journey to my soul (sounds very deep and arty I know 🙂 )

I have proven to myself that I can be more than a wife, mother and cleaner. (Housework is always a topic of discussion amongst SA woman). You have to look and find what you enjoy. Or what you are passionate about. Otherwise you fall in the pit of being miserable. Take the time to do something nice for yourself.

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Before my father died I started writing my bucket list. That was about 4 years ago. And I’m pleased to say that I’m ticking them off one by one. Playing golf with my dad was one, and I made arrangements to fly to RSA and surprised them for their birthdays. My dad and I played 4 games together and that was the last game that he played. So I feel privileged and blessed.

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I enjoy the family life that we have here. Doing things together builds strong relationships and what better place to be snorkeling together, camping on the beach and kayaking in the sea or river. Here are so many opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy life. Grab it with both hands. Don’t let busyness OR HOUSE CLEANING stop you from living.

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I must just add that without the love and support of my best friend and husband, Herman, I will not be where I am now. He is my biggest fan and he believes in everything I do. He encourages me to do more and to be my best. I know it is really important to have a strong bond as husband and wife in the immigration proses. Immigration can be VERY stressful and if there are cracks in your relationship they will show very soon. My husband and I date regularly and have been doing so for the last 15 years. Apart from God he is the most important person in my life. His support and unconditional love means the world to me.

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The Bible says that children are a gift from God and I am so thankful for my 2 – Ruan (17) and Ine (14). They bring joy and happiness into our home and I think Australia has also given them opportunities that they might not have had in South Africa. Both my kids have competed nationally in sport and they also had music opportunities at school. In public schools music tutoring is free and that’s great! Ruan has been part of PEAC and SEAC (Primary extension and Challenge and senior) and that has developed his field of interest and was a wonderful learning opportunity. Ine is part of the worship team at our church and she loves singing, rock climbing, writing and photography. I am thankful that we can raise our kids in a more carefree environment.

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So who am I? I’m a child of the Most High, I’m a wife, I’m a mother, I’m a friend and I’m an artist.

I’m the Alpha coordinator at Uniting Church in the City and I want to reach out to people in the city to show them the love of Jesus. God Bless – Anke

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I asked Anke to share her photo session experience with you all.  Most moms/women spend their time and money on their children or their house … we tend to put ourselves last and most of us have only had our make-up and hair done professionally for our wedding day!  I want to make women feel special through this experience … 🙂

So in Anke’s words: “I told Natasha that I would be her challenge. I am NOT photogenic and I am shy. Maybe a lack of self-confidence is a better description. Anyway, what a lovely experience it was! It was so much fun. Natasha and Deon know how to make you feel at ease and for the time ‘in the forest’ there was nothing else on my mind. I felt like a bride 🙂  It was a treat to have my make-up done professionally, something I have never done before. It was a great afternoon and I can recommend it to everyone! Any girl wants to feel beautiful, and Natasha you accomplished that.”

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Thank you to the fabulous team for making these ladies look absolutely beautiful

Make-up:  Jane Guildea from Make me Beautiful Jane

Hair:  Cornel Labuschagne from Jami Hairdressing

Click HERE to read the first story in this series by Natasha du Preez (that’s me 🙂 )

DO YOU WANT TO BE PART OF THIS SERIES … do you feel you have a story to share? … click HERE to see what its all about and also send an email to natashaphoto@bigpond.com and I will forward all the relevant information to you!

Much love

Natasha xxx