February 18, 2021

We had the wonderful opportunity to visit a game park not far from Cape Town over the Christmas break, thanks to the generosity of a friend.  This was Alberto’s and my second time away without kids in 18 years!  This shocking reality made us realize that we need to prioritize our marriage more.  We are now making a better effort to go out on dates!  We are also taking a marriage enrichment class called “The Significant Marriage” through YWAM on Tuesdays nights (via Zoom).  So far, the course is helping us understand more clearly how each of us operates, and how culture plays a part in our values and patterns.  The instructing couple is also an interracial couple, so that is helpful.

With all this good information for improving our marriage, I thought I would take the next step and do a personality-type test.  A YWAM friend of mine is a life coach and uses the “Strength Finders” test to help people understand their strengths.  Needless to say, my strength is communication!  I have to watch out for my desire to achieve, though, as that can easily overpower my other gifts, and needs to be kept in check.  I find this information extremely helpful in understanding the person God has made me, how I can excel, and which areas I can work on.  One of my motives for taking the test was to see how I can serve God in a more official capacity, assuming I can break away from Phoebe’s therapies.  (Do you see I like to achieve?) My friend helped me realize that my gifts need to be used for God’s kingdom on a daily basis, and not necessarily through a certain job or ministry title.  It’s a more obvious integrative approach, although I have struggled with seeing my role as a care-giver as a viable ministry.  Somehow it is not as glamorous as some other types of ministry.  God is teaching me to see the value in all that I do, and to see it as an offering to Him, and a way to know Him deeper.

Speaking of my role in caring for others, Phoebe has started the most amazing home-therapy program for autism. Qualified therapists from The Star Academy use ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy to target life skills and communication goals for Phoebe.  They combine games with daily routines to teach Phoebe compliance, flexibility, toileting, and basic hygiene while reinforcing speech and addressing her sensory needs and behavioural challenges.  Not an easy task!  It is a team of four rotating therapists who come for four-hour sessions, and one case manager who watches Phoebe virtually for a period of time each week.  The case manager comes up with better strategies and goals, which are shared with all of us.  The therapists keep diligent records of her progress.  It is all very organized, which is how I work, so I am happy.  I am also happy to be part of a team, and not feel like Alberto and I are left alone to come up with good options for Phoebe.  Phoebe is also much happier to have more structure and stimulation.  Next week we reach our goal of four days of four hours sessions.

Another area of concern for me is always Phoebe’s diabetes and health.  In the past few weeks, both she and I had a terrible stomach bug, which played havoc with her glucose readings.  She had another low glucose scare after someone mistakenly gave her too much insulin.  She is also prone to choking, and we have had a couple of scares.  Because of these challenges, it is hard for me to be away from Phoebe for long, and especially hard not to be around over meal time.  As we settle into the new routine of therapy, I hope the therapists can become comfortable enough with Phoebe’s needs that I can actually leave the house.

Recently, two YWAM special needs moms and I got together (via Zoom) to support each other in caring for our children.  This support group has been a huge blessing to me, and has enabled me to go deep in my thinking and processing in becoming more aware of God’s still and ever present presence in the minutiae of the world of disabilities.

On a completely separate note, thank you for a strong finish to our financial year.  We are grateful for your ongoing support!

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South Africa has just passed its second peak, with Cape Town being a hotspot.  Many of our friends have had Covid by now.  Since South Africa is responsible for the Covid variant, and it is unclear whether vaccines will be effective against this variant, there is little local discussion regarding getting the vaccine.

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Margaret is pictured above receiving a box of Christmas presents from our Missionary Care Team!  Such a happy day!  Fed Ex is about the only way to get a package into the country, since travel to and from South Africa is severely limited.

Margaret had a happy five-week vacation with Savana and a few other friends, despite strict curfew hours and no beach access.  She started back at school virtually last month, although has since transitioned to in-person instruction, much to her joy!

Margaret has recently asked us for an allowance, which is new to us, as the older kids were always able to work for their spending money.  With jobs few and far between here, getting a job is not an option for Margaret.  But, I have a need for a very capable and experienced babysitter for date nights, so we have come up with a deal!  Margaret took excellent care of Phoebe while we were away, and she did not have a single diabetic scare!

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Ministry continues to look different during the pandemic.  Alberto is following-up with the prisoners who participated in the Restorative Justice conference a couple of months ago. Deborah and Deon continue to distribute food through their soup kitchen.  Hunger is still rampant in the less-resourced communities.  We are still in Stage 3 of lock-down restrictions, so the end of the pandemic is not in sight.

This is also fire season.  A fire ravaged a poor community right before Christmas, destroying almost 1000 homes.  Reconstruction has been slow and difficult.

There was chaos after the fire as YWAM and another Christian non-profit, Living Hope, tried to distribute necessities to the crowds.

Nceba and Alberto help with care packages for the fire victims.  Nceba is from a community close to the area affected by the fire.  He and his wife are with YWAM and lead our small group, which Alberto and I assist with.

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Isaac is back at Messiah University for in-person instruction.  He is rooming with two friends this semester.  His knee continues to heal nicely, and he no longer has any restriction of activity.  He is still applying for a summer internship, so would appreciate your prayers for that.

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Ana is pictured above co-officiating a DTS graduation.  She is being mentored into leadership and is enjoying her new role of leading Monday base worship and meeting.  She recently spoke on revival of our hearts, intimacy with God, and being armed for battle.  Lastly, she just submitted a practice business plan for a coffee ministry to her class!  Exciting days!

December 15, 2020

Alberto and I recently hiked up Sentinel Peak in order to watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean.  Hiking with friends in the fresh air, surrounded by beautiful views, refreshed our souls.

Another wonderful experience we recently had was participating virtually in the Park Street Church missions conference.  It was life-giving connecting with many of you through the sessions.  We have missed our church, and feel privileged to be part of their team.

On the other hand, the reality of Covid can be all consuming.  It is hard to put into words all my thoughts for this year.  I know we have all been tried to our limits.  In South Africa, we are now in our ninth month of lockdown.  Although the restrictions are lighter than they were in March, we are all still keenly aware that we are in a state of emergency.  Our numbers are in a sharp incline, though you wouldn’t know it from all the tourists flocking to Cape Town.

This will be an unusual Christmas for us, as neither Ana nor Isaac will be with us.  Ana is in Australia, where the borders are still closed.  Isaac thought it wise not to travel internationally over the Christmas break, so he is lying low in Pennsylvania.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you during the ongoing stress of the Covid pandemic.  We know many of you have suffered physically, emotionally, socially and financially this year.  I hope you have not suffered spiritually, though.  I hope that God has met you where you are, and showed you His faithfulness and His presence as you keep walking the path in front of you.

May the joy of our Savior’s birth strike a deep chord within you, as you grasp onto the hope that we have through Him.  Merry Christmas to you and your families.

Margaret is pictured above with her second cousin Laurie, the daughter of my cousin Andrea (pictured above).  Despite the obvious challenges of Covid, Margaret is coping well and has a great support network of friends.  Having in-person classes this semester was a great help.  She finished her last exam on Friday, thus marking the start of her five-week summer vacation.  She is happy to have plenty of time to rest and spend time with her friends.

Please click on this link to watch Margaret’s marimba class perform a rendition of “Havana”.  (Margaret is in the back row.)

Isaac is pictured above with his roommate Michael.  Yes, the beard is gone!  He had a strong semester, with his favorite class being on coding (computer programming).  He is still waiting to hear back from internship interviews, so please continue to pray for an open door.

He is spending Christmas with a (different) college friend in Harrisburg, PA.  He had hoped to work, but given the current situation of Covid, he has instead decided to take an online class through Messiah.  I am sad he is not coming to South Africa as we had originally planned, but I understand.  Next Christmas will be different.

Phoebe has been home since March, when her school closed their doors permanently.  Since Phoebe struggles to wear a mask and to understand the need for social distancing, it has been challenging to find social outlets for her.  We have managed to put together an interesting assortment of therapies and lessons for her, though, with swimming lessons being the highlight of the week.  We had hired Patience to work with Phoebe on a trial basis, but that did not work out.

Once again, we have been faced with the prospect of zero opportunities for Phoebe.  And just like every time before, at the last minute, a new opportunity has arisen.  A brand new autism center is opening in Cape Town.  It is the only center which uses an American therapy model for autism.  I had a very good conversation with the woman who started the program for her sons, and I feel very comfortable with her level of expertise and vision.

Phoebe has her assessment this coming Friday, at which time her “team” will determine how many hours of home-therapy she needs a week.  This is a breath of fresh air, after almost feeling like I have to beg for therapy hours.  The initial challenge with this program, however, was the price tag.  But, I must say that God has been very faithful to us and through one generous donor, all Phoebe’s sessions for this program will be covered in full for 2021.  I am amazed at God’s faithfulness, and the obedience and generosity of the donor and his family.  Speechless really!

Ana is still enjoying working with YWAM Brisbane’s coffee ministry, and is being challenged by her business as mission classes.  Her outreach team has been participating in more outreaches within Australia, the current site being a Christian concert venue where they invite local people to come listen.

Over Christmas, she is going to house-sit with some friends, and then will embark on a road trip around their province.

The prisons are slowly opening up again, so Alberto was recently able to participate in a Restorative Justice conference in a nearby prison.  As always, his goal is to share the love of Jesus with those in the prison, and to help the inmates heal from their own wounds as they learn to trust Jesus as a friend and not a foe.  It is only then that they can begin to take responsibility for their actions and heal the broken relationships with their families and victims.

Restoration with family members is part of the healing process.  One family member is allowed to enter the prison on the last day of the Restorative Justice conference and is allowed to ask questions of their loved one.

Praises

Thank you for your prayers for all my admin projects.  Isaac’s financial aid application is in, South African taxes are filed, Margaret’s and Phoebe’s new South African passports are in my hand (although we have to make a fifth trip for Margaret to pick up her ID), South African health insurance has been applied for, and thank you postcards are being written.

Isaac’s leg is healing nicely.  Almost all of the medical bills have been covered by health insurance, which is another huge blessing!

Thank you

At this time we would like to thank you all for your friendship, prayers and financial support.  If you would like to support our ministry here in South Africa, please do so on the Park Street Church online giving forum: www.parkstreet.org/give.  We are listed in the drop-down box as “Missions: Paradas PM” which means we are partner missionaries through the church.  We are grateful for this partnership, and for your ongoing support.

The Blessing with Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes is a song of blessing adapted from Numbers 6:24-26, which reminds me of God’s love and faithfulness.  Click on this link to listen.  Below are the (majority of the) words:

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace

Amen

May His favor be upon you
For a thousand generations
Your family and your children
And their children, and their children

May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with you

In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you, He is for you…

October 26, 2020

Pictured above are wild daisies which flower in the month of September in the arid land north of Cape Town.  It is a spectacular sight to see so much colour in an otherwise monotonous terrain.  I had heard about this amazing phenomena, and finally made the trip to see them with my own eyes.  What a blessing!  And what a story of God’s redemption, that out of the ordinary and out of winter comes life and beauty!

These past two months have been a time of blessing.  In retrospect, I was very depressed during our lock-down.  I can now say with full confidence that I am an extrovert.  As life has returned to some semblance of normalcy, I have felt my old self return.  Although official meetings like church, large YWAM gatherings, and prison ministry are still not able to resume, individuals and small groups can gather.  Soccer ministry has resumed.  I have loved seeing old friends again and being with our YWAM small group singing worship songs.  It brought tears to my eyes, gathering as a small group/Christian community again.  I have been reminded of the beauty and strength of the body of Christ.

In terms of the pandemic, the worst of wave #1 is over.  Our numbers are ok, all things considering.  There is concern for a second wave, much like Europe and the U.S. are currently experiencing.  Because of this, we still need to be vigilant and monitor our borders.  Travellers from the U.S. and most of Europe are still restricted from entering South Africa.  Isaac will not make it to us at Christmas.  Australia is on the good-list for South Africa, although Ana has no guarantee she could re-enter Australia if she left.  Therefore, she is planning on staying where she is for Christmas.

Some amazing things have happened during the pandemic.  Out of South Africa has come an internationally acclaimed worship song “Jerusalema.”  If you click on the link you will hear a catchy song that has gone viral with its dance.  The Zulu lyrics with English translation are:
Jerusalema ikhaya lami (Jerusalem is my home),
Ngilondoloze (Guard me), Uhambe nami (Walk with me),
Zungangishiyi lana (Do not leave me here),
Ndawo yami ayikho lana (My place is not here),
Mbuso wami awukho lana (My kingdom is not here).

This song is on many South African radio stations, and is a testimony that out of dry ground God can still work glorious miracles and will be glorified through the nations.

Speaking of the nations, our home church Park Street Church is embarking on their annual missions conference, which will be virtual this year for the very first time.  That means that we can participate!  See https://parkstreet.org/conference for details.  This is our schedule of involvement (all times are EST):

  • Sunday, Nov 8th 9:45am: I will be talking in the “Disability in Missions” session, while Alberto will be talking in the “Racial Diversity in Missions” session.
  • Sunday, Nov 8th 11:00am: We will be part of a panel during the church service.
  • Sunday, November 8 5:45pm: Ana and Isaac will be part of the panel “Growing Up on the Mission Field: Challenges and Opportunities.”
  • Wednesday, Nov 11th 8:00am: I will be speaking at the Women’s event.
  • Friday, Nov 13th 12:00pm: We will both be participating in a prayer time for the Majority World.
  • Saturday, Nov 14th 10:00am: We will both speak on the panel “The Gospel as Justice.”

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Happy 17th birthday to Margaret!  I simply cannot believe she is 17!  I am grateful for our relationship where we can speak completely honestly with each other about our thoughts, feelings, and anxieties.

Margaret’s school is almost completely in-person instruction at this point, although there is the option for virtual learning for those students still stuck outside of the country, or for those students who need to quarantine.  Margaret is quarantining this week actually, as she was exposed to someone who has COVID, although she herself tested negative.

Margaret is off all ADHD medication, as it was making her very anxious.  She tried four different medications in varying strengths and doses.  She is now taking a break from all medication.  As a result, her attention and grades are not great. We have decided, with the support of her teachers, that her emotional well-being is more important at this point.  Of course, this doesn’t even take into account the stress caused by COVID. Teenagers have a lot on their plates.

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My mom just made this beautiful sweater for Phoebe!

Sadly, Phoebe’s school has closed their doors and will not reopen.  I have come to peace with this.  Slowly but surely we are coming up with a plan for her according to her interests and what we can find and afford.  It’s been a challenging path, but one I am well used to.  Right now she is doing swimming lessons, art therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.  Patience watches Phoebe on Wednesdays so I can hike.

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Ana is still enjoying working with YWAM Brisbane’s coffee ministry, and is being challenged by her business as mission classes.  Her coffee team recently participated in an outreach within Australia.  You can see the video in her recent update, linked here.

You will also see from her update that she is fundraising. Please consider supporting her through this Park Street Churchlink and select Missions: Ana Parada, or through the PayPal link in her update.

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Isaac broke his leg skateboarding (on a penny board) at Messiah University within his first week of arriving!  He had surgery immediately, and the leg is healing nicely.  He is not able to walk on it yet. It was really hard for me not to be there with him in the hospital, but I am grateful for the amazing community of friends who supported him, and the Plantes who are his surrogate parents.

Derreck Plante is pictured above visiting Isaac in his dorm room.

Academically, Isaac made the Dean’s list last semester, much to our joy (and surprise!)  He is enjoying his finance and computer science degrees, and is coming in first place in the investment club competition.  He is in the process of applying for internships now.

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Deon and Deborah continue to run the soup kitchen out of their home in Oceanview, thanks to donations from some of you.  (The roughest neighbourhoods have the nicest names here.)

Alberto has also been able to continue with food packages for needy families, again, thanks to some of you.  He and partner Clint decided to add blankets to the last distribution.

People are overjoyed to receive a care package and are reminded that God loves them and cares for their needs.

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Peniel is back at university after studying virtually since March. Originally from the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), he is one of the soccer boys whom we support with tuition expenses. You can watch his 22 second video of gratitude to the church here: Peniel’s video.

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I have been spending a few hours each day here at my desk, doing all things admin that I do not enjoy.  We have to file taxes in South Africa for the first time this year.  Taxes are due Nov 15.  Yes, we also file in the U.S., which makes it doubly complicated and stressful for me. I am also working on Isaac’s financial aid forms for FAFSA.  We recently spent three full days at the Home Affairs office to apply for Margaret’s and Phoebe’s South African passports, and Margaret’s id card (issued after the age of 16).

Prayer Requests

*An end to COVID
*Protection for our family
*Expansion of the kingdom of God in South Africa
*The upcoming missions conference: good internet connections and God’s leading and peace while we speak (I get very nervous speaking!)
*Alberto’s soccer ministry
*Joanna’s admin task list
*Ana’s fundraising
*Isaac’s leg’s healing, complete insurance coverage for the mounting medical bills, and blessings on his internship interviews
*Helpful strategies for Margaret’s studying
*Better health insurance that will cover Phoebe’s therapies
*Plan B for us for Christmas
*Discernment from God for Americans during the elections

August 18, 2020

When times are tough, I like to go to the beach and watch the waves crash onto the shore and remember that God is still moving and active in the world.  I like to stare at the horizon where the water meets the sky and remember that God is endless. He has the final word, the ultimate victory, all glory.

It’s been a rough couple of months here in South Africa with COVID.  South Africa remains in the top five countries in terms of number of cases, although our population can’t compare to the U.S., Brazil, India or Russia.  COVID is pretty much rampant here, with many of our friends claiming to already have had the virus.  I actually think that we have had it too.  Phoebe’s fever, my recent month-long stomach ache, and Alberto’s headaches could all point to the virus, even though none of us had sore throats.  I have since read that you can have COVID without having a sore throat.  We will have to see if the antibody test ever makes its way to South Africa.

Meanwhile, the country is in economic turmoil, with 35% unemployment rate and a resulting hunger crisis.  We are still in lockdown, which means the prisons are still closed to visitors.  Instead of going to the prisons, Alberto has been staying in touch with ex-prisoners and prisoners’ families through text, encouraging them to keep their eyes on Jesus our only Hope.  We have also been involved in food distribution, through the generous donations of some of you.  At first, the food recipients were needy families of prisoners, but we were able to branch out to support people we know in the townships who started soup kitchens in their homes in order to feed the hungry in their neighborhoods.  These people did not have any financial backing for their work, but they felt God was compelling them to do something about the hunger.  Right now we are supporting three such people, all of whom live in very challenging environments.  We also continue to support the soccer players and their families with food donations as well.

In the midst of the challenges, there are always beautiful movements of God in people’s lives.  I want to introduce you to Emily, the daughter of friends here in Cape Town.  She recently did her DTS with YWAM, and now wants to continue with her SBS, School of Biblical Studies, just like Ana did.  I feel partially responsible for Emily’s discipleship, as I encouraged her to do her DTS, and now I want to help her so she can do her SBS.  Please read her attached letter and let me know if you would like to assist her with tuition: Emily’s fundraising letter for SBS.

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This is Emily, whom I have known for five years.  It is an honor to watch young people grown in their love and commitment to God as they are discipled in His ways.  It is especially important that we encourage young local South Africans to see their potential as the next generation of local missionaries.  They are specifically gifted in their cultural and linguistic understandings to do great things for the Kingdom of God.  Please read Emily’s fundraising letter linked above and consider supporting her.

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This is a mighty woman who has a full house of foster children.  Everyone in her home had COVID and survived.  After we gave her money for her food, she responded with a picture of herself and words of thanks, which I want to pass on to you (in short-hand text): “?Blessed be the Blessers. Thank u again. Blessed be u nd ur family whom reach out to those in need.”

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Phoebe’s school is still closed, and may never reopen.  Virtual classes have ceased.  None of her other previous therapies are back in session either.  I wonder if she misses them.  She doesn’t seem to mind being home more, but of course I always feel like I should be doing more with her.  I finally hired Patience to come and play with her a couple of afternoons a week.  Patience is studying to become a speech therapist and has had some Waldorf training.

Phoebe has also started surfing lessons with a friend of ours, since she loves the ocean and loves movement.  Right now it is more of a boogie board experience, but I am happy that she enjoys the water.  And yes, the water here is very cold.

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Margaret is pictured above on the first day of 11th grade.

After a month of winter vacation, Margaret’s school opened their doors last week for physical learning for 70% of the students.  30% study virtually, as many families are stuck outside of South Africa since our borders are still closed.  Margaret was really excited to go back and see people in the flesh despite the masks, plexiglass screens, and social distancing.  Public schools are still not in session, so she is relieved that private schools could open at their own discretion.

Margaret’s best friend Savannah is going to attend Margaret’s school!  This is the best possible news for Margaret.  Margaret and Savannah spent most of the winter break at our house together.  For 11th grade, Margaret is taking some exciting classes: AP European History, AP Spanish, pre-AP art, Algebra 2, Marimba and SAT-prep.

Ana is doing great.  She just finished staffing a Bible course at YWAM Brisbane.  She continues to work at the cafe, and take business and leadership classes.  She was recently interviewed about growing up as a missionary kid for a YWAM podcast, which you can listen to here: podcast.

As you may remember, Isaac needed a plan C for the summer, since Messiah employment and Camp Brookwoods counselling fell through.  He ended up getting a position as a camp counsellor at a Christian camp in Vermont!  He had an amazing summer in the woods where they cooked all their meals over the open fire.  He was not able to make it back to Boston to visit friends and grandparents due to COVID concerns.  He is heading back to Pennsylvania right now, in order to start Messiah next week for his junior year.  When he gets back to Messiah, he will see our family friend Rony who is starting his doctoral studies at Messiah University!  (Yes, Messiah just became a University.)

My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday.  I was very sad to miss it, although we did celebrate as a family virtually.  I’m sure you can all relate to this!

Despite the cold wet winter, we do have some beautiful days, which means I am still able to schedule hikes with my friends.  It is a highlight for me to get into the mountains and observe God’s creation and talk to friends.

Prayer Requests

*For our borders to open soon.
*For patience as we wait for the Pandemic to end, and that we learn the lessons God has for us.
*For God’s mercy as many people struggle to put food on the table.
*For prisoners to know that God is with them.
*For continued innovative ways YWAM is using technology to reach more young people for Jesus.
*For Margaret’s first term of school, that she would not be anxious.
*For creativity for me as I create an unconventional schedule for Phoebe based on her interests and strengths.
*For Isaac’s semester at Messiah to remain live, in person.
*For Ana’s joy to shine brightly.
*For Emily’s fundraising goals for YWAM.

Here are some more words of thanks from a lady we supported who cares for the elderly in her home (they all think Alberto is a pastor):  “Pastor thank you so much for yr good care especial the poor people and God will blessed you more and more and yr family (Mathew 5: 7- 9) Jeremiah (1: 4-10) and the Holy Spirit tells you today about God’s people they are hungry and thirsty and I’m blessed so we can go cook next week and celebrate 2 birthdays.”

 

June 19, 2020

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently declared, “Violence against women and children is another pandemic in South Africa.”  The past few months have seen a sharp increase in the abuse of women and children, some of these cases have resulted in death. There have also been a number of deaths related to police brutality while enforcing lock-down curfew.  It’s been a tough time for South Africa, with unemployment and malnutrition also reaching new limits.

Meanwhile, our hearts certainly go out to the #blacklivesmatter struggle in the U.S., which gained strength after George Floyd’s death.  The struggle against the systemic and institutionalized oppression of black people through policies, attitudes and behaviors has been going on for too long.  We pray that the long-overdue changes can start to be seen in policy and mindset.

In South Africa, apartheid is not a distant memory in people’s minds, where people were legally separated and differentiated according to the color of their skin.  The pain of injustice is a wound that is still raw here.

COVID, lock-down, hunger, police brutality, racial injustices, gender-based violence…it is all so much, and enough to make one feel helpless.  Except we serve a God who cares deeply about injustice, and He prompts us to action.  We can examine our own hearts, ask God and others for forgiveness, and ask God what we can do.

And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

Micah 6:8

The one thing we can do during this trying time is to feed the hungry.  There are so many hungry people in South Africa.  Every time I go to the store, I am confronted by people asking for food or money.  We started making sandwiches and distributing them in the nearby township where basic amenities (water, food, plumbing) are limited and overcrowding is common.

A friend of mine then decided he would donate money to us to increase our food distribution efforts.  Alberto enlisted the help of a prison ministry partner.  Together they bought, bagged and distributed over 80 bags of groceries to needy prison families.  Prison families, families with a member in prison, are at high risk of going hungry because they are often ostracized by their communities, and employment is hard to come by.

I shared the above picture of Alberto and friend with the bags of groceries on facebook, and more people decided they wanted to donate.  We are embarking on a third round of grocery distribution to prison families.  Please contact me if you would like to contribute.

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During level 5 of lock-down, we could only leave the house for groceries or medical care.  Level 4 brought exercise time from 6-9 am.  Stores closed early and curfew was enforced (often brutally, as I mentioned).  Level 3 has allowed us to exercise at any time and our curfew has now ended.  We still cannot gather socially, but people are going stir-crazy so they do gather, often without masks.  It’s all very concerning since our peak is not expected until next month.  Cape Town is the epicenter for South Africa, and for the entire African continent!

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Prisons are still closed to visitors, but Alberto is able to maintain contact with ex-prisoners and their families through encouraging texts and food donations.

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Margaret in particular was having a very hard time in isolation away from her classmates and friends.  We finally invited Savannah to come and quarantine with us.  She has been with us for a few weeks already, and is a huge blessing.

Margaret finished 10th grade last Friday.  She is relieved!  The virtual classroom was challenging for her, but she did great academically.  Now she is just waiting for her AP Psychology grade.  She is also adjusting to a new ADHD medication.

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Phoebe seems to be thriving at home, surrounded by all of us.  (I’m also enjoying it!)  Her school closed their doors in March and have no plans to reopen this year.

Meanwhile, Phoebe and I both got very sick last week.  We both had terrible stomach aches that radiated throughout our bodies.  Phoebe also had a low-grade fever for a week, a resulting cold-sore infection in her mouth, and was generally weak.  I must say, the pain I endured was one of the worst in my life.  I would have taken us both to the ER if COVID weren’t such a risk.  But, praise God, we are on the mend.

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Ana is doing great in Australia, so that is a relief and blessing!  You can read her latest update here.

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Isaac finished his semester at Messiah College.  You may remember he was allowed to stay in the college dorms due to his international student status.  He thought it better to stay there, rather than with my parents, who are at high-risk for COVID due to their age.  At the end of the semester, he was hoping to be a camp counselor at Camp Brookwoods in NH.  As a back-up plan, he found work at Messiah College.

Through unavoidable situations, however, he now finds himself without either job.  On June 1, Camp Brookwoods said they were legally allowed to continue with camp.  Therefore, Isaac quit his Messiah job and bought a ticket to NH.  Shortly thereafter, Camp Brookwoods said that they would not be able to open camp after all, due to the restrictions placed on them by the state.  So, Isaac found himself jobless and homeless, because he had to leave the dorms as soon as his college employment ended.  He is now staying with a friend in the area until he can make a plan C.

Prayer Requests

*For people to turn to Jesus
*For us to be a light in the darkness
*For protection for the people of South Africa, especially those in tight quarters like the prisons
*For an end to gender-based violence in this country
*For healing and change to result from the unrest in the U.S.
*For COVID to end
*For protection of front-line workers, and all of you
*For Margaret’s school vacation
*For Phoebe’s protection during the pandemic
*For Ana in her various ministries
*For Isaac’s plan C for the summer

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.

February 20, 2020

I hope you have had a good beginning to 2020.  For the first time in a long time, we were all together as a family over the holidays.  It was wonderful!  We had lots of happy times together, including a few days by the beach down the coast and lots of braais with friends. Now it is all but a memory, but at least the memories are good!  I am grateful that our kids are following God, and know what they want to do!  Ana is in Brisbane, Australia doing a leadership/business/barista course with YWAM.  Isaac is in the middle of his sophomore year at Messiah College.  Margaret is in the middle of 10th grade here in Cape Town, and Phoebe started a new school year at a new school.

With the influx of tourists over the holiday, I became keenly aware of the beauty and challenges of this country.  Mountains crash down to the ocean on every side.  Hearing three or four different languages daily is normal.  I have seen the biggest houses in my life here, yet I have also seen the most depravity imaginable to humankind.  Segregation and racial tensions are rife.  This rainbow nation has its work cut out for it.  It’s hard to watch sometimes, always interesting, always challenging.

Our current challenge is electricity, in terms of supply and price.  Because of poor management and corruption, the country cannot provide enough electricity to everyone.  We have allotted black-out periods which usually run for two and a half hours each day.  Believe me, you get into a rhythm with this. It’s not all bad, although it is frustrating when you forget and go to the store and find it closed.

Prison ministry is up and running once again.  Alberto just attended the Hope Prison Ministry conference where they discussed the unrecognized ministry of working with prison authorities.  While some officials are corrupt and directly benefit from the illicit market of goods entering the prison, others are dedicated to doing the right thing.  It is up to the officials to decide whether it is a good day to allow volunteers in or not.  It may not be safe on a particular day, or they simply may not want to be bothered.  Another subject that was discussed is prison trauma and the importance of volunteers debriefing what they see and hear in prison.  I am grateful Alberto is part of a team so they can debrief together.

Please keep the prison ministry in your prayers, as well as our family and our safety.  Of course we are all praying for the Coronavirus outbreak, for those suffering, and for wisdom for those making decisions.

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Fire season is here.  The land is dry, and fires break out with far too much frequency.  The above fire was maliciously lit in our neighborhood.  The thick smoke and ash caused us to leave.  It took a few days of hard work by the fire department as the fires kept being reignited, but eventually they were put out.

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Ana was so excited to start her barista course in Australia, although good-byes are always hard.  You can read her positive update here.

Margaret was recently diagnosed with ADD, as I mentioned in the last update.  She is now on medication and doing much better.  She is able to focus in class and on her homework, and her general mood has improved considerably.  We are still working out the details on the medication, but grateful for this discovery and Margaret’s persistence in getting me to get her tested.

Phoebe started the new school year at a new private special needs school.  She is pictured above looking a bit anxious on the first day (no uniform at this school).  So far we are happy with the school.  The student teacher ratio is 3:1.  The school day includes most of Phoebe’s therapies, which means I do not have to spend my afternoons driving around to the various sessions.  The beautiful thing is that last July a generous donor donated a large sum of money to our account.  Little did we know at the time that we would need that money to cover the higher tuition of the school.  Yet God knew all along, and even provided the money before we knew we would need it!

Our last update mentioned Elna and her struggles with her son being in and out of prison.  Meanwhile she is taking care of lots of foster kids and struggling financially.  Her church wanted to affirm her ministry to the children and honour her for her faithfulness, even though they couldn’t provide any financial assistance in caring for the foster kids.  Through the generosity of one of our supporters, we were able to bring Elna bags of groceries at the end of the year.  This made her weep, as she said she was waiting for God’s provision when the groceries appeared.

According to the 2019 statistic by UNICEF, 27.4% (1.7 million) South African children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition and hunger. This is absolutely appalling for a country with so many resources!  One load of groceries will not prevent malnutrition, but bit by bit we can all work together.  Margaret’s school is currently getting involved in this very issue.

Phoebe was recently tested for an adrenal auto-immune disease (Addison’s Disease) at the Groote Schuur Hospital.  Night time dips in her blood sugar levels turned out to be due to low cortisol levels.  The doctor recommended a stimulation test of her adrenal glands, to rule out an auto-immune disease.  Since she already has two auto-immune conditions, we have to be very proactive when we see red flags.  Phoebe spent a challenging day in the hospital with a port in her hand, and her other hand tied up, to prevent her from pulling the thing out.  Praise God, the end result was that she was NEGATIVE for the disease.

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Soccer ministry is up and running.  Peniel is one of the soccer players.  Originally from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), he fled his country during civil war and came to Cape Town, a haven for immigrants and refugees.  He became a Christian through the soccer ministry, and is a hard-working college student.  He worked around the clock at McDonalds to pay for his fees for his first year.  Now he wants to continue with his second year, but does not have enough funds.  Instead of letting him drop out, we decided to help him.  Pictured above is Alberto dropping him at his college dorm.  Because we are blessed and have seen God’s faithfulness in our lives with our children’s education, we can bless others.  Thank you to all of you who support us, who inadvertently support Peniel!

 

 

December 20, 2019

Merry Christmas!  Happy summer vacation!  Summer is here in the southern hemisphere, and while many people are flocking to the beach, we are trying to recreate some familiar Christmas traditions.  We have found a real Christmas tree and we are busy making Christmas cookies.  We are also counting down the days to Isaac’s arrival on Dec 23.  Having all our children with us will be a huge blessing!

With the approach of the end of the year, we have time to reflect and verbalize our gratitude to God.  We own the most amazing house with a beautiful garden that God uses to restore my soul!  Owning a house has enabled our roots to grow quickly, and gives us a sense of belonging and stability.

Ministry has been good this year, with the soccer team growing by leaps and bounds.  The team is pictured above with Alberto at the end-of-year braai.  Prison ministry has also been fruitful, with Restorative Justice conferences and counselling opportunities that have shown many that they are loved by a faithful father.

Alberto started a visitation ministry this year, whereby he visits family member of prisoners, and sees firsthand the effects of crime on the extended family.  Many times there is misunderstanding and anger, not to mention the loss of an income.  His goal is to listen to their struggles and offer a word of hope in Jesus.

On the family-front, we have had some challenges.  Violence has been on the increase in the city, and daily power outages have been difficult to work-around.  Power outages have been a particular challenge to Margaret, who depends on the internet for homework.  (No power=no internet and often no cell service.)  This, combined with challenging academics and the fact that she doesn’t have good friends at school, has made for a tough semester.  It was suggested to us that we test Margaret for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as a possible explanation for her seeming inability to concentrate.  Sure enough, we received the official diagnosis yesterday.  Looking back at her academic history, it all makes sense now!  Grateful for more insight, we’ll see how things change in the new year.  Please keep us in your prayers.

Phoebe, on the other hand, has just been accepted at a new school, which sounds absolutely amazing!  They have an autism behaviouralist on staff, and an occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech therapist.  Her new teacher just came to our house for coffee, and seems lovely.  The school will focus on life skills like gardening, meal prep, and art.  Her last school was alright, and at the time, her only option.  But after some helpful input from an observer, it was suggested that we look elsewhere.  I had heard of a new private special needs school opening in January 2020 through the broker for our house!  (We’ve stayed in touch because we both have special needs children.)  We applied for Phoebe and have just received her acceptance!  Although this new school is considerably more expensive, it seems like a very worth-while expense.  I am very excited about this opportunity.

My mom recently shared this passage from Isaiah 35 with me, as it reminded her that one day Phoebe will shout for joy!  What a day that will be!  (Phoebe does have some words, but not a full vocabulary, and it is often hard to know her intent.)  Anyway, the passage shows the Glory of the Lord and the Splendor of God.  It is a reminder to us, the redeemed, of things to come, and the motivation for us to carry on.  I cut the passage after the water reference, since drought is particularly fresh in our minds!

Joy of the Redeemed

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert…

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Alberto sharing at the end-of-year Hope Prison Ministry gathering.  Next to him is  Willem, his ministry partner of a few years.  Anne May is also in the line-up!

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In a recent home visit, Alberto met Elna, whose son was recently released from prison, and causing her much stress.  Although they couldn’t track down the son, Alberto was able to encourage the mom, who has three younger children at home plus seven foster kids.  She lives in a particularly challenging community with few opportunities, where many children get caught up in drug use at a very young age.  Alberto was able to listen to her challenges and pray with her.  He gave her some food for the children and a blood-pressure machine to help monitor her high blood pressure.  It seems like a drop in the bucket of need, but God is faithful and Alberto will maintain contact with her.

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Phoebe has completed another year of therapeutic horse-back riding, thanks to donations through SARDA (South African Riding for the Disabled Association).  Although its not quite clear whether Phoebe enjoys being on the horse or not, she certainly has good posture to show for it.

Phoebe has been enjoying swimming lessons again.  She is slowly but surely learning to swim, which is an important skill to have for someone with zero fear of water.

The talented ladies from the WBS (Women’s Benevolent Society) made this quilt for Phoebe!  What an act of love from those faithful ladies who always keep in touch with us and pray for us.  Thank you ladies!

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We are loving having Ana home!  She is cheerful and encouraging!  She has reconnected with old friends, including one of her best friends from Hawaii who lives here in Cape Town!  She has also been accepted to YWAM Brisbane leadership school and coffee internship program.  This 18-month course will teach her how to run a coffee shop as a business and ministry.  She is currently awaiting her Australian visa.  Click on this link to read her letter.

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I continue to enjoy my weekly hikes around Cape Town with other moms from Margaret’s school.  It’s a time to decompress and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.  I have made some friends, and learned some of the challenges of the rotating culture at the school.

Current Address
P.O. Box 663
Noordhoek 7979
South Africa
Thank you to those of you who send us mail!  Some of you have our old address on file.  Please note our new address!

Merry Christmas!  God bless you and your families during this season!

 

October 28, 2019

Our refreshing time in Boston seems like a distant memory at this point.  Thanks to Jess Herndon for the lovely family picture taken on Boston Common.

Thank you for supporting our ministry here in South Africa, faithfully praying for us, and being our friends year after year.  As of September, we’ve been in South Africa for five years!

Since we were originally sent out by Park Street Church as mid-term missionaries, which carries a five-year maximum term of service, our status has recently been updated.  We are happy to announce that we are now Partner Missionaries!  We are thrilled to have an ongoing partner relationship with Park Street Church, and appreciate the long-term relationship with the church and their validation for our vision for ministry in South Africa.  To have the support of our home church is very important to us, as it carries an emotional relationship as well as a spiritual connection and practical backing.

In terms of practical backing, Park Street Church has increased their financial support of our family to 12% of our budget (from 6% under our old category).  The bulk of our budget will continue to be made up by generous supporters such as yourselves.  Most of you give through the church, with a message that the funds are to be allocated to our family.  Please continue to support us this way.

Ministry has taken different shapes and forms over the years, but the goal has always been to preach the gospel of salvation and make disciples.  Looking back, we have seen much fruit, and give all glory to God.  It is an honor to be working in His vineyard.  Despite having a troubled history and a present plagued with extreme racial inequalities, South Africa is a land of hope.  Thank you to all of you for standing with us, and thank you to Park Street Church for our new Partner Missionary status!

Saturday soccer ministry continues to show the players that walking with God is a viable long-term option, and that God is faithful.  Restorative Justice conferences through Hope Prison Ministry continue to reconcile inmates with their families and God.  Sometimes this has lasting positive effects, such as the woman who left prison a changed person, put herself through nursing school in order to help others, and is currently planning her wedding to a wonderful Christian man.  Sadly, sometimes the effects are short-lived.  On Alberto’s visit to a recently-released man, he learned that this man had just committed a new crime and was on his way back to prison again.  We must be faithful in sowing the Word of God, as some people’s hearts require great persistence.

Happy 16th birthday, Margaret!  She is pictured above, on her September 17th birthday.  Life has not always been easy with moving and adjusting, coming and going of friends, and stress of high school.  Through it all, Margaret has maintained a song in her heart and a smile on her face, as my mom says.  (Actually, a song on her lips, as she loves to sing!)

Margaret’s best present was Ana’s arrival from the U.S.  No time for jet-lag, we immediately whisked Ana off for Margaret’s birthday celebrations, including a sunset photo shoot over the Atlantic Ocean.  What a blessing to have Ana back with us, at least temporarily.  The Lord has been good to us!

Ana is with us for a few months, now that she is done with the School of Biblical Studies.  She needs some family time before she embarks on her next venture, which you will hear about shortly.

Phoebe recently started wearing a glucose monitoring sensor, which allows me to check her glucose levels with a scanner.  I no longer have to prick her finger five times a day.  This is a huge step in the care of her diabetes!

Last update I asked for prayer to get an appointment with a Behavioural therapist.  We are still on the wait-list for the recommended therapist, but in the meantime I found another one who seems equally as good.  She observed Phoebe in school this week, so I am eagerly awaiting her feedback and recommendations.

We recently had the opportunity to raft down the Breede River, along with other families in our special needs support group.  I am always inspired by the perseverance of the children in this group, and the commitment of their families. Walking the special needs road is certainly something we never envisioned for ourselves, but has caused us to slow down and watch our roots in God grow deep.

Isaac is in his sophomore year at Messiah College pursuing a Computer Science major and Finance minor (at present).  He is enjoying his classes, track, investment club, and working.  Happy summer memories of being with him have now faded, although he will be home with us for Christmas in Cape Town!  He’s been gone for over a year, so I can’t wait to have him back!

Alberto recently spoke about his prison ministry at our annual YWAM conference here in Cape Town.  It was an honor to be chosen to be a speaker, and many people have since expressed interest in getting involved in the ministry.

I joined a weekly hiking club with other mothers at Margaret’s school, which means I am now climbing some of Cape Town’s visual masterpieces, while getting to know some lovely ladies.  Ana joined us on our last hike up Devil’s Peak, part of the Table Mountain National Park, with views overlooking Cape Town.

Sue Givens is a missionary in Paraguay who was instrumental in our years of service there.  She recently visited us for a few days, which was so much fun, and allowed us to talk about our happy years in Paraguay!  Here we are at the Cape of Good Hope on an unusually calm day on the point.  It’s usually very windy there, which partly explains the many ship wrecks.

Glow-in dark algae (bioluminescent plankton) at a local beach.  I’m not sure why it glowed in the dark on that specific night, but we got the alert and headed to the beach!  What a phenomenon, and evidence of God’s handiwork!

Phoebe is relaxing on our porch after a busy day.

August 20, 2019

We are back in Cape Town after an amazing whirl-wind trip.  Thank you for welcoming us back into your lives with so much love.  It was as if we had never left, except for the fact that everyone’s kids had grown beyond recognition!  Non-stop invitations to get-togethers with old friends was sweetness to the soul.

We stayed with my parents during our Massachusetts visit.  Isaac was also there, so that was a highlight!  My sister and her children visited, as did my brother and his family.  I hadn’t seen my brother and sister-in-law in six years, and finally met my nephew, all pictured above.

We attended lots of meetings and presentations at Park Street Church, had seven appointments at Children’s Hospital, refinanced our Quincy house, and ran around visiting as many friends as we could.  For those of you who missed the five-minute YouTube video we showed at our reception at Park Street Church, please click this video link.  Thank you to our friend Wesley for filming!

In Pennsylvania we saw more friends, bits of Isaac’s life at Messiah College, and attended the phenomenal Family Camp with the Spanish Church (Primera Iglesia Bautista de Washington DC).  In the Washington DC area we saw Alberto’s two brothers and their families, and more friends!

Thank you for encouraging us in our ministry in South Africa.  We often feel lonely here, so being surrounded by people who are familiar with our work and lives is a blessing.  We have returned to South Africa overflowing with more happiness, more confidence, and more energy.  Prison and soccer ministry resumed immediately, and Alberto’s team is doing a Restorative Justice conference this week.  Margaret and Phoebe are back to school.  Please see their updates below.

As a side note, please delete my U.S. cell number from your phones, as that number is being reassigned to a new person!

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I loved being with Isaac again!  He and Margaret sold ice-cream at Faneuil Hall in Boston.  Isaac also took an on-line summer class in Economics.  His two scholarships were renewed for this coming year (Mary McKenzie through Park Street Church and Martin’s through Messiah College).  Praise God!  He returns to Messiah at the end of August.  It will be hard for me to not be there when he moves in, although I am grateful for his surrogate mother Leah Plante, and my own mom!

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Back to freezing cold Cape Town, where morning temperatures are in the 40’s.  That’s pretty cold, considering there is no central heat.  We are grateful for the wood stove in our new house, which is keeping us warm.  It’s been a cold wet winter, which means Cape Town is comfortably out of the drought crisis.  Praise the Lord!

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Clearly Phoebe is the most photographed member of our family!

Her appointments at Children’s were all positive: Gastrointestinal, Down syndrome, Endocrinology (twice), Hearing test, Dentist, Physical therapy assessment (for a special needs stroller we are hoping to receive).  Some of these areas we only check every two years, while others we check regularly in Cape Town (namely the diabetes).  I appreciate seeing the doctors at Children’s Hospital who have been following Phoebe for most of her life.  They always offer good suggestions, and don’t mind following her progress from afar.

Phoebe does have some challenging behaviours such as slamming doors, dumping her food, stripping off her clothes, etc.  I have been on the wait-list to see a behavioural therapist here in Cape Town for a very long time.  Please pray that we get the appointments we need, as I am running out of creative ideas and need some help.

Margaret started 10th grade the day after we arrived in Cape Town.  It’s been a challenging few weeks in terms of classes and friends.  Academically, she is taking her first AP class in Psychology.  She is doing soccer again.  Sadly, her two best friends left the country in June.  Please pray for new best friends to come her way!  The high turn-over rate is the hard part of attending an international school.

Having completed her School of Biblical Studies in June, Ana and team are on outreach in Oregon and Washington state teaching the Bible at various youth camps and churches.  Ana has been speaking on the Old Testament.  She finishes in September, at which point she will visit my sister in Denver, then spend a week in Boston before returning to Cape Town.  (Look out for her at Park Street Church on September 15.)  We are so excited to see her again!

She recently wrote an update on her time with YWAM, which you can read here: update link.