Monday, June 24, 2013

Has it really been four years?

Four years ago today we landed in South Africa and arrived at our new home.  In a way it seems like yesterday but on the other hand it seems so long ago.  The Lord has done so much in our family over the last four plus years.  I will be honest the journey has not always been easy BUT worth EVERY step! 

We are sitting in our tent in Tshikota on outreach with a team from Fannin Terrace Baptist Church in Midland, Texas.  This is Brad's brothers church and his sister in law and nephew are here on this team.  It is bittersweet for sure as Jill's presence in missed in so many ways.  The Lord this morning spoke to me in my devotion and I wanted to share it with you ...

The other thing I wanted to share today is from our daughter ...

she was insistent we take a picture this morning
This evening I logged on to Facebook and found this photo and Brit's status.  
4 years ago today I stepped off a plane onto South African soil with my family. I was a young 14 year old girl who had been forced to leave all that she knew and live in a country that she had only been to once when she was 11. I had no idea what God had in store for my life. Looking back now, I can see that He has done a lot. He gave me a love for Africa, He put Godly women in my life to encourage me, He gave me great friends and the most amazing best friend a girl could ask for. It has been hard sometimes, but I wouldn't trade this journey for anything!

Well, let me say two things 
1.  That brought tears to my eyes
2.  I think she said it all!

We want to thank you for your love, encouragement, support and MOST OF ALL your prayers for our family!  We are so thankful to be able to server the Lord here in Africa! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Luke's Birthday Party ... he is 13!

We celebrated Luke's birthday on outreach and then when we returned home for a few days he really wanted to go play paintball.  So we got a group together and off we went.  It turned out to be a lot of fun and very inexpensive.  Only $11.30 per person for a full kit (overalls, mask, vest and gun with 50 free balls plus we split 1000 balls).  They spent 3 hours battling it out!

getting instructions

Brit and Luke

The owner asked where we were from (all but 2 are from the States, one from South Africa and one from Zimbabwe).  He wanted to take their picture for his Facebook page.  They like to highlight where people are from.

After several games, the owner called for a blue overall and told me I was the VIP that had to be saved.  (I was not even playing - just taking pictures!) Anyway, I had to choose 3 body guards and they had to find me and take me to two destinations and protecting me from getting shot.  Well, we made it from the first to the second with no problems.  My competitive nature was starting to get in the game at this point.  By the time we were heading to our last destination,  I saw Handsome hiding under a vehicle.  I yelled to Mark that he was there but with his mask on he thought I said get in the vehicle!  Needless to say that was not a great move.  All of a sudden within seconds my body guards were dead and so was I .... thanks to Brit who shot me not once but THREE times point blank less than 5 yards from me.  It didn't feel so great and I have 3 not so pretty bruises!  Brit is still loving the fact that they won!

It was a great day and Luke had a blast!  It is still hard to believe he is 13!

Christ Seminary 4th year students outreach to Xigalo

Just a reminder the Mozambique border is still closed at this time because of the severe flooding in January.  This year we feel that the Lord opened a door for us to come alongside churches here in South African villages.  Even though we MISS Mozambique, we are so excited to see what the Lord has planned here in South Africa.  We ask that you would please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Mozambique as they continue to rebuild after the floods.   Most of all we pray that they will draw near to the Lord during this time and that their walk with Him would grow stronger!

Outreaches have begun ...

Village:  Xigalo, South Africa (right outside of Malamulele) 
Dates: May 30th - June 7th
Team:  Christ Seminary 4th Year Students 
Church:  Xigalo Baptist Church
Pastor:  Aaron Ndove (graduate of Christ Seminary & serves as a translator with Samaria Mission)

We always love being apart of the Seminary outreach.  It is a great time to spend with the students and get to know them a little better.  We also enjoy so many different cultures living and serving together.   Here is a list of countries represented on this outreach ... 

United States (our family)
South Africa

Village life in South Africa is so different than village life in Mozambique.   It is more busy to say the least.  Most people speak English so we were able to communicate easier (but all teaching was done in Shangaan as it is easier for them to understand and learn.) Another difference is that we were able to go to the grocery store every few days for fresh bread and any other things we might need ... including ice!  
Each day we started with team devotions and then after breakfast the team headed out for house to house visitations.  After lunch they would work on digging the new toilet for the church.  Afternoon ministries were at 4:00 followed by the evening service.  After the service we had dinner and then enjoyed coffee and dessert while doing wrap-up to discuss the events of the day.  This was always a great way to hear what the Lord had done during the different ministries throughout the day.  

Xigalo Baptist Church
 Our family along with William, Darren and Member traveled to Xigalo on Thursday to set-up camp for the team.  This was Mark's first time to drive the 7-ton truck.  I followed behind in our bakkie and I think he did a great job! 

When we arrived to the church we found a few men still working on clearing the site where we would camp.  Aaron and Derrick were busy digging a temporary toilets for the team.  We visited for a little while and then ate lunch and got busy helping to clear the land.  Their were so many big stumps that needed to be removed and the area raked (somewhat flat). 


 Around 4 pm several more church members arrived to help clear the land.  With more help it was done in a few hours.

An older lady called Mark over to where she was working and wanted him to get this snake.  It was a blind worm snake.  I went to take it to show Aaron because just an hour before he was telling me there were no snakes!  Although this one was harmless (so they tell me), I wanted it gone!  I am sure William disagreed with me!  
Are you impressed mom!  It is still alive. 
 It took most the afternoon and into the evening before the first temporary toilet was complete and ready to use.  Since Brit and I were the only girls on this team we were HAPPY to see it finished. 

There was a lot of work to do when we arrived to be able to set up the essentials of camp.   It was about midnight when we finally crawled into bed.

Luke was waiting to hand the guys the tents
The next morning we go up and went straight to work to finish setting up camp for the team.  Luke decided he would work on the second toilet. 

The team arrived in time for lunch and helped to put their tents up.  The students were excited to begin ministry. 

Pastor Aaron Ndove and his wife Ntwanano

youth ministry

children's ministry - game time

Sunday morning service

Luke starting the fire for the shower water

dinner time

morning devo

My assistant. She did a great job!

the guys just having an afternoon chat
There were several stumps in the grounds that still needed to be removed.  In July, our sending church, PaulAnn BC, will be back at this same village.  It will be a larger team so the guys spent some time taking out more stumps to make more room.  (The church is supposed to finish this job in time for the team.)

camp (the building is the church)

children's ministry

women's ministry
Pastor Kenneth Chauke is the pastor of Mchipisi BC in a neighboring village.  Kenneth used be a translator with Samaria Mission for several years.  Xigalo BC is a church plant from Mchipisi BC.  It was great to see them while we were in Xigalo. 

Pastor Kenneth and his wife Emma their 2 girls

evening wrap-up

Mark entertaining the kids

June 6th, we celebrated Luke's 13th birthday as well as Derrick's birthday.  Luke came to the kitchen tent that evening and showed me a card that one of the kids made for him.  Apparently when Luke was digging a hole for the food scraps this kid came and offered to help him. They were talking he asked Luke when his birthday was.  Luke told him.  Then on his birthday he brought this card to him!  
His name is Khongelani which means (prayer.

birthday cake
the birthday guys

Ntwanano, Julia, Flora and Joyce

Luke and his "new friends"

this was my view each evening from the kitchen tent!

One of the practical projects the team did was did the hole for the toilets for the church.  They worked hard all week as the ground was very hard.  They were proud of their work.  

Here are a few things some of the students wrote about the outreach ...

"Being at Christ Seminary for almost two years now has been transforming and challenging too.  But I believe the highlight of my seminary life, this in practical terms has been this missionary trip which was organized by Samaria Mission, a ministry of CBC.  During the seven days of practical ministry , three things have been outstanding for me and they are:  door to door evangelism, this is where we moved around the village in groups, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was really wonderful to share the gospel with people with different beliefs and those who profess to be Christians but they hardly can explain what sin is, what Jesus has done for us and most of all what salvation means.  Secondly, it was time we had to teach the church members of Xigalo Baptist Church who hosted us.  Really it was wonderful to see how they received the word with joy and asked questions on many biblical teachings showing they are eager to learn.  Lastly, it was the fellowship that we had from both the Samaria Mission team and students.  I really enjoyed every meal and almost everyone would agree with me.  It was wonderful to work with William, Darren, Mark and Alicia.  These guys ensured that we are well taken care of.  This is one missionary trip that has once again helped me get back on my course and strengthed me in my ministry." --Emmanuel from Malawi

"I want to confess truly that this mission trip expossed me to many things which I didn't know, for example people do not know God, I always thought the gospel has reached all nations, tribes and tounges but after being part of the the fourth year class, my view has changed for the better.  One thing which I enjoyed very much to be apart of this group is to share the gospel among the gospel at Chipurapura Refuge Camp, but one thing I ask about this refuge camp is that we may pray for leadership because only one man came, the rest were all women.  

In the camp:  I saw how God is good when working among us.  Brothers were united for the gospel, everyone who stood to preach has something to say, the people at Xigalo were very receptive.  Moreover, they have questions, they need to know, Pastor Ndove has got much work to do.  I want to thank God for what He has done through us we did not only share the gospel, but we dug two holes for the toilet of the church.  We hope the toilet will serve them for quiet sometime. 

All in all I want to say I enjoyed my trip, I enjoyed the food and everything.  Missions for the glory of God." --Topiwa from Zimbabwe

"I thank the Lord for this opportunity to share the gospel with God's people in this village of Xigalo (Malamulele).   What impacted or struck me most during my short term mission is how personally God's two edged sword penetrated and exposed my heart (Hebrews 4:12) through the preaching from my fellow seminary students and morning devotions.  Just shows that these men were prepared to proclaim the gospel in Xigalo.  Luther was right, "it is better to be a preacher than a king, but to preach for God you must first study for God."  To be honest my seven days in Xigalo, have been fruitful and gain for my ministry. 

Through our daily house visitations, I have come to realize how people from Xigalo are zealous and open to know more about God's word which made me to proclaim the gospel in this village with a joyful heart. 
One of seminary lectures once said, "loving God means loving truth, because God is a God of truth, He is truth."  And that is what I have seen in the lives of Xigalo children, as I had an opportunity of teaching them about God's lobe toward towards them and a call to repentance.  As 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."  What a joy and blessing to be surrounded by godly people.  The Raley family, have been a blessing to us in the kitchen.  Many thanks should go to Christ Seminary and Samaria Mission as well as Xigalo Baptist Church for giving this opportunity to serve the Lord in Xigalo and for equipping for my my future ministry. Please let us all pray that the seed sown in Xigalo village will fall on good soil.  Grace to you!  -- Nafe from Malawi

"It has been a privilege being here in Xigalo, Malamulele with Samaria Mission and the 4th year Christ Seminary class.  The people of Xigalo village have great respect for everyone in that they are very considerate.  One can understand that such well manned people do no see the need for the gospel, because they regard themselves as generally good people.  Believe it of not, it is in such contexts that the gospel needs to be sounded loud and clear.  

Had we not had/spent adequate time with the people, we would have thought that some of them are born again.  Thank God for the gospel we learned in Seminary that we were able to present it clearly and in a challenging  manner, that seemingly "good" people saw the need for a Savior, because their good deeds will not merit them any favor with God. 

The greatest challenge and need I encountered here in Xigalo is the scarcity of men.  Because this is a village on the outskirts of Limpopo, many men leave their families to go look for jobs in nearby towns/cities and so leave their wives and children almost abandoned. Pray for them because it is not only the homes that are with leaders but the church as well. 

There is, however, great potential for gospel growth in this village because the people are very receptive.  One can see that just as they are fully committed to their tradition, they will as much fully embrace the gospel once they believe it.  The people here need the Titus 3:5 message ...'he saved us,  not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according  to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,' "  -- Tsholofelo from South Africa

We are leaving in the morning for our second outreach, Fannin Terrace from Midland, Texas.