April 18, 2020

Our thoughts and prayers are with the front-line workers world-wide.  Every night at 8pm, we stand outside our front door to cheer and clap for them.  But even now, weeks into lock-down, the cheering is starting to lose its enthusiasm.  How long, oh Lord?  We all ask.  Lord, be our help!  We are reading through the Psalms, which voice similar prayers and pleas for help in difficult situations.  Seek God.  Obey His Word.  He alone is on the throne.  That is my brief summary of what I’ve been reading.  We serve a God who has the victory!  And Jesus gives us hope when fear, isolation, sickness and death surround us.  This is not the first time God has seen the world suffer.  As we meditate on Easter and the resurrection of the One who suffered, died, and rose again, let us remember that God is on the throne.

Although the U.S is getting hit hard, South Africa also has its COVID-19 cases.  With so many people living in complete poverty in crowded locations that prevent social distancing, with so many people at high-risk due to Tuberculous and HIV/AIDS, and with so many people going hungry because they are no longer working, the situation is bleak.  In addition, we are going into winter here, so many people are going to be cold soon since clothing and blankets were not on the original list of essential services.  It is easy to get completely overwhelmed.

Alberto is not allowed into the prisons these days.  Actually, we are not allowed to leave the house except to go to the grocery store or to get medical care.  No walks, no jogs, no driving around for a change of scenery.  The army enforces this.  The girls and I have not left our property for over a month now.  Our little dog has given up on requesting a walk.

Through this time, we are trying to be diligent in seeking God about our lives and ministry.  What are we doing well?  Where are we coming up short?  Where do we want to go from here?  We are having similar conversations with YWAM, who is using this period as a time of pruning.  We have lots of Zoom meetings.  Lots of them.  In a way, this has been fantastic for me, as I am usually not able to join many of the YWAM meetings, due to their conflicts with the kids’ school schedules or bed times.

Alberto is trying to stay in touch with some families of prisoners.  We know many people who do not have enough food to eat, so we are helping them with money or food.  Our community is collecting 6000 sandwiches/week to distribute to the needy in the local township Masiphumelele.  How this works is that we each make 60 sandwiches at home and drop them at a small grocery store where the liaison picks them up.

I recently received an email from the American Embassy alerting me to the fact that although the South African borders were closed and no flights were coming or going, they had organized a private plane to do an emergency “evacuation” of Americans back to the U.S.  If we wanted to be “repatriated” this was our only chance.  The flight left the next day.  This was a hard email for me, as although I hadn’t considered leaving South Africa, knowing that I couldn’t leave to help my parents in an emergency was sobering.  Also challenging was knowing that Ana and Isaac would not be able to fly here.

Despite these challenges, it is good to count the blessings.  Crime is down in the communities, as alcohol is banned.  Gangs are forming truces, because the drug market is paused since no one has money.  Most importantly, we hear of many people crying out to God and finding hope in Jesus.

Personally, this time is also a blessing for us.  It is a sabbatical from all the running around that previously consumed our days.  We love our new house and yard.  We are enjoying each other’s company.  We are gardening, doing some home renovations, reconnecting with friends, reading, praying, reading the Bible, playing lots of loud praise music, journaling and resting.  I’m also doing an online course on Member Care Foundations through Global Member Care Network.  I am enjoying it, and trust it will give me more tools to listen and help the people around me, and specifically other missionaries in my small group!

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This is Margaret’s school picture for 10th grade.  She is doing all her classes virtually, which has been very intense.  She is still figuring out dosage and type of medication for the ADHD, as well as how to handle anxiety, so please keep her in your prayers.

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Ana is doing really well in Australia with YWAM.  She does not have a severe lock-down, although must social distance and adhere to restricted coffee shop services.  She is still doing her classes and working limited shifts in the coffee shop.  You can read her April update here.

She was recently approached by the staff and asked if she would consider staffing an upcoming Bible school, to which she enthusiastically agreed.  She has begun staff training already.  She says she is a bit overwhelmed by the high caliber of the other Bible staff, so it will be a great opportunity for her.

Meanwhile, she wrote an article for the YWAM newspaper on what it is like to grow up as a missionary kid, which you can read here.  As a parent, it is hard to hear of the challenges your children face, but I am glad that God has redeemed them.

She is pictured above on her 23rd birthday last week.

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Phoebe and Alberto pictured above are in our driveway cheering at night.

Isaac is still at Messiah College. He was allowed to stay in the dorm due to his international student classification.  There are a few students there, although they are required to stay in their dorms, cannot visit other dorms, or go off campus.  He, like the rest of the world, is waiting to see what will happen this summer.  He was planning on being a camp counselor at Camp Brookwoods.

Phoebe is perfectly content following me around the house, or perhaps it is I who follow her around the house?  Anyway, she hasn’t communicated any stress in the change of routine.  I am especially concerned with keeping her safe.  Her health conditions put her at a higher risk.  Please pray she stay safe.

Prayer Requests

*For COVID-19 to end.
*For protection of front-line workers.
*For protection for the people of South Africa, especially those in tight quarters like the prisons, and those who are hungry.
*For people world-wide to turn to Jesus through this pandemic.
*For God’s protection on all of you and on our family.
*For us to be a light in the darkness surrounding us.
*For Margaret’s remaining school year: for peace.
*For Phoebe’s diabetes to be stable, especially these days.
*For Ana in her various ministries.
*For Isaac to finish his semester strong, and for a possible plan B for the summer.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.