Dusty Feet and Zebras

I made it! South Africa is now my home. Woah. Not sure that one has sunk in yet. I woke up with the sun this morning and very quickly began to hear the noises of this new home. Strange bird calls, big trucks driving by, and sweet, sweet little voices saying ‘She’s hear!’ There’s so much about my Africa that I had forgotten about…but the memories all came sweeping back as I walked around the property. The smells, the old, familiar buildings, and the dusty feet…your feet never seem to get clean here.
Friday, my first day here, was spent unpacking (and then repacking all my winter clothes to store elsewhere until they are needed), getting re-acquainted with the village and checking out the new additions since I was last here, meeting staff and kids, saying ‘hello’ to the kids I remember and marveling at how big they’ve gotten, going grocery shopping for some basics (and seeing some Zebras on the way), and having dinner with friends.

Saturday, we tried with all our might to get a South African bank account set up, to get a cell phone for me, and to get my internet up and running. Six hours later, we had accomplished only 1 of those tasks! But that is fine. I’m simply getting re-acquainted with how things work here! I’m very thankful that I was able to get my internet set up! Later this week we will work on the cell phone, the bank account, the car search, and everything else that comes along with moving to another country. For now, I am content with our 1 triumph!

Sunday brought with it more firsts. I was staying out in the bush overnight with friends who were taking me to church with them, and we woke up to one of the dogs having porcupine quills shot into him. So the day was rearranged a bit to make sure we could get the dog taken care of and still attend church and have lunch with a couple from the church. I decided that when I do move off Bethesda’s property, it will not be into the bush!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support as I transition to life here! There is still much to be accomplished before school begins in January! Specifically, you can pray for me to be able to get a bank account opened and for me to be able to find a good, reliable vehicle soon and at a good price! I so appreciate your prayers for me!

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2 months to go…

Sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with things to write, and I haven’t felt particularly inspired lately, but I do have a bit of news that I wanted to make sure I shared with you all! At the beginning of this month, I drove to Chicago to drop off my visa application. It was a relatively disappointing trip, I felt. I came home with documents I had ‘done wrong’, a money order that was made out for too much because that morning they had decided to drop the rates, and an assurance from the woman I worked with that they would not even look at my application until the end of November. I was frustrated. But when I got home, I reworked my documents, got a new money order, and mailed it all back to the SA consulate general. I was nervous that more would go wrong, that they would find my application unsatisfactory in some way, and I was preparing myself to hear that they were only willing to give me a visa for 1 year…or less. Contingency plans were floating through my head for a few days. Last week, I received an envelope that contained my passport. Inside that passport was a South African visa…FOR 3 FULL YEARS! God is good all the time.

So what does the rest of my time stateside look like? I have a few more meetings to share with churches in the next month, but most of my time will be spent on the practical stuff like, ‘how do I pack my life in 3 50lb bags?” I have declared November to be ‘family month’. I fly to CA on Nov. 5th to spend about a week with my sister and nephews, and then I will bring them back to MI with me. My oldest brother is also getting married at the end of November, so we will all be traveling down to KY for that occasion! My entire family (In-laws and everything) will hopefully be in MI around the first week of December and we will celebrate Christmas together before I leave for SA. I think we are all looking forward to that week!

I do so appreciate your prayers and support as I spend my last two months in the states. Please continue to pray as I prepare to go! I would like to quickly introduce you to another Bethesda family before I finish up here. I normally try to put a picture up with my introductions, but wordpress isn’t allowing me to upload anything right now, so if you would like to see a picture of the Shikwambane’s, please visit www.bethesdaoutreach.org.

Fritz and Masello Shikwambane joined Bethesda in 2003. Fritz serves as the Houseparent Supervisor as well as pastors a local church. Fritz and Masello have welcomed many children into their home over the years. Currently, Masello looks after the 7 children in their home and both have faithfully taught their children the Gospel and how to live that out in their lives.

Updates and Introductions

Well, the countdown is under 5 months now! I am still plugging away towards a December departure date and am excited about what God has for me in the months to come. I’m so excited that God has provided more partners for me in the last few weeks and I am now at 78% supported! I have finished my job as a nanny and have been working full time to raise the last bit of my support and prepare for my departure! The visa application process is well underway, and I just received clearance from my mission board to buy my plane ticket!

Thank you all for your prayers and faithful encouragement! Please continue to pray as my departure is fast approaching! Here are some specific ways that you can bring me before the Lord!

1) Please pray that my visa application process will continue without any problems. It’s a pretty big process, but so far it has been going smoothly!

2) Pray for the travel that I will be doing between now and December. I have several trips and meetings planned and I would love prayers that they would go well!

3) Pray for Bethesda Outreach! They are in the process of looking for a new Executive Director and hope to have someone in place by December.

I so appreciate your prayers and your partnership in the Gospel! Now I’d like to introduce you to another Bethesda family! The Phago’s (pah-hoe’s) were my neighbors in 2006 when I interned at Bethesda Outreach for 6 months. They are a wonderful, faithful family and we are so fortunate to haph_family_phago1ve them serving with Bethesda! Here’s a little more about them!

Jones and Lenah Phago
Jones and Lenah Phago became houseparents with Bethesda in March 2003. Jones serves in the area of maintenance/grounds at Bethesda, and he also serves as pastor of a local church. Lenah stays active in the home. In addition to their biological son, Neo, Jones and Lenah are thankful for the addition of many Bethesda children into their home. Neo, Johanna, Bongani, Olinda, Thandiwe, Peter, Lethabo, Vuyo, Khothatso and Banele are thriving in a home with parents who model Christ’s love and teaching.

They’re just spoons…

I am not by any means a writer. I don’t enjoy it very much, but sometimes I’m just hit with this overwhelming need to get all the thoughts that are screaming through my head out on ‘paper’. So forgive the ramblings of a young woman whose life is in transition, who just needs to digest some thoughts through writing…

This week I started a project that I have been dreading. It’s probably something that every missionary getting ready to leave for the field dreads. I started sifting through all of my earthly possessions and sorting them into piles of sell, keep, and take. Every item I pick up is evaluated. I ask, “Are you worth packing into a suitcase and lugging halfway around the world?” and, “Will I use you in Africa?” and if the answer to that is yes, “Do I NEED you?” It’s a tough process…not much is making the cut. The majority of my possessions are finding themselves gently and lovingly placed in the ‘sell’ pile.

There’s only so much of this I can handle every day. Detaching from all of my things is hard…probably more because it signals the beginning of the end than because I really love all my stuff. Today, I hit that point as I was sifting through my kitchen stuff. When I lived in Kentucky, I stayed in an apartment and I have built up my kitchen collection since then so that I can now fully outfit a kitchen. Very well. I love to cook and bake so these items are some of my favorites things.

Today, nearly every kitchen item I have now sits in a ‘sell’ pile. When I was nearly done sorting through my kitchen supplies, I grabbed a hold of a spoon set. They are Pampered Chef bamboo spoons and I adore them. They don’t take on any odor or color of what you are stirring like ordinary wooden spoons do. These spoons have some sort of magical powers and this afternoon, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t survive without them in Africa. But as my hands clutched those spoons and moved to put them in my ‘keep forever and never let them go’ pile, my logical side broke through and I actually said out loud, “They’re just spoons”. I carefully put my beloved spoons in the ‘sell’ pile.

Today was a reminder for me. Today I was reminded that the spread of the Gospel is FAR more important than bamboo spoons. My heart longs for the comforts that I can find in my things. But I am not called to be comfortable. I am called to love God and make disciples.

So, this summer, I will have a garage sale and I will sell or give away nearly everything I own. Not because I’m amazing, and not because I’m doing something amazing. I’m selling my things because I serve an amazing God, and He has called me to ‘go’. So I will. Pray for me.

March Madness

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I am not a sports fan. At all. Not even the tiniest little bit. So this update has absolutely nothing to do with basketball…sorry to disappoint! It does, however, have quite a bit to do with my own personal brand of March madness!

When I got the news at the beginning of this year that I will be in South Africa by December, everything kind of kicked into a higher gear! All of a sudden there was a whole lot more to be done. My brain has been buzzing! I have been working to schedule meetings, plan trips, finish required reading, and present my ministry in churches. And God has been working in some very evident ways! In the month of March, I have gained 4 new monthly partners and my support is now tentatively at 72%! I still need to beef that percentage up in the next 8 months before I leave, but I am so very thankful for these partners! If you are interested in joining my team, please let me know! I have LOTS of ideas on how someone can creatively partner with missionaries…even when you live on a budget!

I want to take some time and share with you all a bit more about the ministry I will be joining! So, I’d like to start by introducing you to the parents and children of Bethesda Outreach.

Matjeni FamilyThe Matjeni family has been with Bethesda for the longest! Elias and Mamitjie Matjeni became houseparents with Bethesda in February 2003. In addition to his role as housefather, Elias ministers as a lay pastor and works for the Department of Education. Mamitjie is enjoying the blessing of children and a busy life in the home after working as a teacher in public education for fourteen years. God brought several beautiful children to fill this home within six months of its beginning. Shane, Kgothatso, Konyana and Busisiwe are daily growing in their knowledge of and love for the One who created them. This family is a blessing and we are so thankful for their involvement with Bethesda Outreach!

Stay tuned for more introductions in the next few months! In the meantime, please continue to pray for me as I prepare to leave! Pray for opportunities to share, more monthly financial partners, and discipline to finish up my support raising well! Thank you all for your love and encouragement!

BIG BIG BIG NEWS!!!

It was Michigan in August of 2008. I had just returned from three months in South Africa and I was getting ready to head back to Boyce for my senior year of college. I had recently learned how to knit and I decided that I was going to make a really big blanket. I’d never knitted anything before, but something in me thought that I was equal to the task…years past and I would knit on it as I had the desire and time.

Fast-forward to today. As I knit the last few stitches into this blanket, my mind began to wander to 6 and a ½ years ago when I made the rash decision to begin making it. At that time, there was not too much certainty in my life. I was nearing the end of my college career and I was wrestling through many big decisions…one of which was whether or not God was negotiating me down a path that lead to Bethesda Outreach.

Well, I am exceedingly excited to share with you all that, as I finish up this blanket, I am also officially finishing up my time on this side of the Atlantic Ocean! Lord willing, I will be leaving for South Africa to serve with Bethesda Outreach by the beginning of December! That’s less than 10 months away! AH!

I have been in conversations with the elders at Berean, the leadership at FGM, and the Director of Bethesda, and we are all in agreement that even though I am currently at 63%, we need to move forward with the plan to leave the U.S. for South Africa by the first week of December. Any deficit I still have by the end of this year will be covered by the excess donations I have in my relocation fund.

So what happens now? Great question! For the next 10 months I will be working my hardest to reach 80-85% of regular monthly support. If I can reach (or surpass!) this goal, it will prolong the time I am able to work at Bethesda before I would need to come home to raise more support. Then, in early December, my church will commission me, I will pack up all my things, and I will hop on an airplane headed for South Africa, ready to begin a new school year with Jabulane Christian Academy in January!

Now, can I ask you all for some help? Please PRAY for me!

1) Pray that I will be able to gain sufficient support in the next 10 months.
2) Pray that God would connect me with people who are eager to partner with me.
3) Pray for my heart as I prepare to leave my family and friends.
4) Pray about joining my support team!

If you are interested in joining my support team, please let me know! You can find more information about how to donate here!

Thank you all for the support you have shown me in the last 2 years! I am so excited about the next chapter I am about to begin! Please keep praying for me as I finish up this year!

Finished project!

Finished project!

New Year!

It’s a new year, and it is my biggest prayer that this will be the year I get to start my service in South Africa! Will you pray along those lines with me? Last year saw many miles traveled, presentations in new churches, wonderful friendships forged, and new financial and prayer partnerships! I am hovering right around 60% of my monthly support and I am eager to complete this phase of the missions process! Would you consider helping me reach my goal to get to the field this year by joining my financial team? If you are interested in partnering with me, check out the ‘support info’ tab at the top of this page for directions!

Every time I see a new update from the team already serving with Bethesda Outreach, my heart leaps with excitement and longs to join them. This week, the 2015 school year at Jabulane Christian Academy began! They now have more than 140 students in attendance! They have completed the addition of a new school building and they are filling it up with more opportunities to share Christ with precious lives. If you would like to keep up with the daily goings-on of Bethesda, like their page on facebook! https://www.facebook.com/BethesdaOutreach.

Over the next few months, I want to share with you more about Bethesda and the families living and serving there. Stay tuned!