Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Living Hope-Bringing Hope, Breaking Despair

Our humblest apologies to all who are not on Facebook, as we have been doing little update snippets on there, as life has been a little hectic since arriving in South Africa, and it has been an easy way to keep you all updated.  We are still processing so much, but here is a summarized run down of our last couple weeks.

We took a little time off between Zim and starting serving here to decopress, regroup and have some family time, which was a wonderful break and helped us switch gears from one culture to another.  It was great to have that time and to catch up with my folks, old friends and neighbors and to enjoy the beauty of Southern Africa.

David painting in Capricorn

I (Jackie) always thought Zim and SA were very similar culturally, but after this trip, my opinion on that has definitely changed.  South Africa like many other countries in the world has many cultures all rolled up into one country, as Natasha from Living Hope very aptly describes it, South Africa is like 1st world clashing up against 3rd world and we literally see this daily as we get more involved with Living Hope here in South Africa.  www.livinghope.co.za  

Our first day was orientation without about 20 High School students from Alabama, seeing the different campuses and townships the ministry works in.  We are truly amazed at the work this ministry does and how the Lord chooses to show them such favor as they very humbly seek to empower local people in each community they work to help bring hope to the people and to make Jesus known.  They have such a unique and simple approach to ministry that it is easy to see why the Lord chooses to use them as mightily as He does

Timothy playing a game with kids from Masi
The next couple days we got to be a part of homework clubs, which is an afternoon program they have for kids to have a place to come to in the Community Centers after school and play games, and learn more about the Lord.  This was a very quick and sudden introduction to the 1st vs 3rd World clash, and for both David and I to realize the very stark difference in cultures between Zim and SA.  It is a great program, a very lively yet very fulfilling couple of days.  The Lord did however clearly show us homework club wasn’t gonna be for me by myself with the kids once David left, it was little overwhelming for Abby and something we would do better doing together.

Thursday we got to meet with Avril who with her husband John are the founders of Living Hope, and John is also the Pastor of King of Kings Baptist church here in Noordhoek.  We got to talk at length and share our heart and listen to theirs on the work the Lord is doing with their ministry and how they are seeking to go into other parts of Africa (Zim being one – lots to that story).  Needless to say it was a goosebump moment for us, as the more time we spend here, the Lord is slowly revealing more of the reason why He brought us to this wonderful ministry in Cape Town.

The rest of the morning, we spent helping pack things for their Taxi TB day outreach the next morning.  Friday we arrived at 7am at the Taxi rank in Masiphumelele – which too is not for the faint hearted – as it is not a taxi rank you envision in the US, but a whole operation of minibuses and small vans sending people out to the ends of the Peninsula and back.  It was a wonderful morning taking pictures and allowing our kids to truly see how a good portion of the world lives and goes to work each day, and the struggles they face in possibly catching something as serious as TB on their morning commute.

We then went on to an outreach in another township about a km down the road – and a totally other culture within the same area.  Again is was a great learning experience for everyone, all the high schoolers that were present and ourselves included.  We have pics of this on Facebook at:  

Sunday we had a great time of worship, the word and fellowship at Calvary Chapel Kommetjie, again meeting more Americans serving over here - its quite amazing to see the work the Lord is doing over here, the harvest truly is plentiful and the workers few, so we continue to pray for the Lord to send more to do the work to be done here.  We then had a wonderful afternoon at Avril and Johns house as those hosted all the volunteers for Sunday lunch, the kids had lots of new friends to play with, and it was kinda like having a get together at our house – me being one of only two South Africans there!! And the majority of the other volunteers are from Nashville!! How fun, we had a wonderful afternoon and it was great to connect and meet some of the other people serving long term out here.

Daniel handing out flyers in Masi
This week my parents have very graciously taken the kids for some fun grandparent time, which is allowing me to work at Living Grace– which is another location in Muizenberg . Living Grace seeks to transform the shattered lives of the Homeless and destitute in the areas as well as reaching out to substance abusers through rehabilitation programmes.  I have the privilege of cooking for all the wonderful people there, and helping the ladies and staff that organize and cook all the food that is donated and then cooked up and sent out to other sites everyday – those who know my catering background can appreciate how much this blesses me to serve in this area, and spend time getting to know the staff.

David is working with a fellow American this week painting one of the community centers in Capricorn, and then later doing some electrical work in another location, so he too is right in his element this week.

David gets ready to head home next week, and it is hard to believe that his time is almost up.  I will be staying on through 3 May, and hopefully continue doing half days at Living Right once a week and a preschool program a couple other morning a week in Masiphumelele, both which I should be able to do with the kids and hopefully continue with a bit of school each week.  So hopefully our entire summer back home won’t be spent finishing the school year up!  The kids have had great life skills education the past two months, but Math and English workbooks still are a necessary part of our future.

Daniel and Abby also celebrated their birthdays over the last few weeks, Daniel is now 11 and Abby 6!  Happy Birthday to our babies.  Tim is feeling a little left out, so we will be celebrating is pre-Birthday next week before David leaves.

David will be back Easter weekend, and Lord willing back to work the following week.  Island Cove where he does most of his work took a direct hit from the tornado a few weeks back, so he is not entirely sure what to expect on his arrival.  But we know the Lord is good and has so graciously shown us favor on this trip and so provided for our needs, we can only wait with excited anticipation to see what He has for us when we get home.

Please be praying for his re-entry into US life and for my time with the kids without him. 

We also humbly thank all those who have been a part of this journey for us through prayer and financial support, it has been such a blessing to have been able to fulfill the deep desires the Lord had placed in our hearts for this trip, and to not have had to worry about the financial burden of it.  The Lord has been so good to us and we cannot thank you all enough for being obedient to your part in His plan.

Much love to you all, sorry for the long time between updates. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Shepherd Family

Thanks to Jackie's parents we have had a good few days this past  week to be able to just have some quality family time away, without much of an agenda, to see some of the beauty of God's creation that is the E Coast of South Africa and to be able to sit back and reflect on the past few months and the incredible journey we have been on.

It’s hard to believe our time in Zimbabwe is over and we are heading into the second part of our trip here in South Africa.

After we left Lasting Impressions in Kadoma and the wonderful Croudace family, we headed over to Chinoyi.  For those that have been on Facebook, we kinda did a picture chronicle of our time there, as we had internet access, but not much time to sit and keep a journal.  

We spent a good majority of our time there visiting with everyone at the Good Shepherd Center.  Daniel Timothy and Abby just had the best time there, playing and making new friends with the children their age.

We have been so proud of them this whole trip, as the Lord has just given them each individually a very tender and unjudgemental heart towards whoever we have been with.  When Jesus talks about “suffering the little children to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven, and that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10) this portion of scripture, has truly come to light for us, in watching how our children just go adapt to wherever we take them and just jump right in and get on with life, and how much we have learnt by just watching their example of how we are called to love and do life.

A major concern for some in bringing our children on this trip had been their exposure to children with ‘you know HIV and AIDS’ how could we do that, but how much more blessed is it to give than to receive and to be in the center of the Lords will.  Knowing He is forming our childrens hearts just as much as He is ours during all the seasons of our lives and that Jesus, in making this statement in Mark, truly does know best, in that children are so less judgemental than us adults with all our perceived ideas and agendas, they just accept each other where they are, regardless of race or language barriers, find their common ground and get on with life! and enjoy it to the fullest. 

What a blessing to be able to bathe sweet Abby (all 5 years of her) at night and scrub (literally) the dirt off of her little feet and body, and listen to her relay the excitement of her afternoon spent running around barefoot, playing with children, new puppies, pushing each other round in wheelbarrows, all with children she cannot understand verbally, but with whom she has had such a wonderful time playing and interacting with.

The Good Shepherd family and those that serve and do life with them, are a precious group of souls.  We did not have any one particular project with them, but instead chose to just spend time with them, visiting every day.  Much counseling and parenting advice with dispensed to many of the teenagers from us.  Many of the younger girls especially just want to walk and go with you and hold your hand, and be close to you.  As a mom you just want to stay with them and tuck them all in at night, and pray over their sweet lives, asking the Lord to give them a mom and dad everyday to hold their hand and walk through this oftentimes cruel world with them.  However it is sweet to watch how some of the older ones ‘mother’ the younger ones, like sweet Rejoice who at 10 and has such a tender heart, and carries one of the 18month old babies around with her and plays with her, feeds her and mothers her every moment she can.
Possibly our favorite day with the kids was one Saturday, we had set aside some funds, to throw them a birthday party – we asked the Mothers to draw up a menu and we went shopping and bought loads of good foods, and treats and got some cakes baked, and then threw a birthday party complete with balloons and napkins and glow sticks for everyone.  For us our childrens birthdays, out of all the holidays and special days we have in the US, we choose to focus most of our energies on the day the Lord chose for them to be born into this world, so with 60plus extra kids in tow, we had a big birthday bash and celebrated each of their lives, and let them know how special they all our in the Lords sight.