March 23, 2018

Thank you for your concern about our drought!  We appreciate all the emails and prayers as we struggle with Cape Town’s lack of water.  To update you, we are still on strict water restrictions of 50 liters/person/day, but we have adapted!  This means we turn the taps off while washing hands and showering.  We recycle our dish and shower water into buckets, which we then use to flush the toilets.  We are used to our bucket system, although we hope this is not the new reality, as people are suggesting.  Day-Zero (when taps are turned off) has fortunately been postponed indefinitely, due to reduced usage.  Strict fines have been very effective in reducing usage!  We are still waiting to hear about the proposed desalination project, which would provide drinking water to the city.  Meanwhile, it’s the bucket system!

Pictured above is the soccer team that Isaac, Alberto and Hendrik (the other white man in the photo) are involved with.  The soccer players are from a racially isolated and economically challenged area not far from our house.  They play against other soccer teams, from similar backgrounds.  Isaac is the first boy from outside their community to join them in playing soccer.  The vision is to share the Gospel through relationships made on the field, and to one day start a church in this area.

Alberto 

36 prisoners recently participated in the Restorative Justice program at Pollsmoor Prison.  Through discussions and the power of the Holy Spirit, prisoners’ hearts and ears were softened enough to hear the pain of their victims.  On the last day of the program, the majority of the participants made a public commitment to change their lives.  Alberto led small group discussions during the week-long event, and continues to encourage the guys in their rehabilitation during follow-up meetings.

Joanna 

Although most of my time has been spent in assisting Isaac with his various preparations, I did have the opportunity to speak at a women’s conference last weekend.  Since I was the only speaker, I had the liberty to include Ana!  The theme was “I AM.” Ana and I shared about God’s character and faithfulness to His people.  It was a wonderful time!

The YWAM DTS I was assisting with is over!  Graduation occurred a few weeks ago.  My small group of girls is pictured below.  They have now returned to their homes, scattered among the nations to live a life dedicated to Christ.

Isaiah visited us from Boston!  Isaiah and Isaac have been life-long friends.

Isaac has exciting news!  He received a full-tuition scholarship from Messiah College, PA.  Praise God for this amazing provision!  Thank you for praying.

Before starting college, though, Isaac will do a DTS.  He flies to Bangkok in a few days (March 27) where he will embark on five months of backpacking through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.  Using the nations as their classroom, this DTS will combine lectures with outreach, as students develop God’s heart for cross-continental and cross-cultural missions, especially between Asia and Africa.

Please consider supporting Isaac by making a donation to his gofundme site:

https://www.gofundme.com/isaacs-ywam-adventures

Read more about the school here:

http://ywammuizenberg.org/backpackersdts/

Margaret had a lead role in her school play this week.  Of course, she did an amazing job!  She has also started voice lessons at school, which she is very excited about.  She is less excited about all the drama among her classmates, however.

Ana has decided to return to Cape Town, after working at Deer Run Camp this summer, to staff another DTS.  After that, she will do a School of Biblical Studies, also at our Cape Town base.  I am overjoyed that she has decided to stay in Cape Town, but more importantly, that she has a desire to disciple others and know the Scriptures better!

Phoebe is enjoying school and loves her new aide Plaky.  Plaky has been a big help to Phoebe.  Thank you to the person who offered to help with Plaky’s wages. 

Below is a picture of Phoebe playing with a doll, which is a delight to see, as toys and pretend play are challenges in autism.  

Answered Prayers

The following requests have already been answered:

  • Ana: guidance on Bible school applications
  • Isaac: financial aid and a scholarship from Messiah College
  • Phoebe: a good relationship with Plaky

Ongoing Prayer Requests

  • Alberto: a plentiful harvest in the prisons, clear communication with authorities, and health and unity among the Hope Ministry team
  • Joanna: stamina
  • Ana: a happy 21st birthday on April 9th
  • Isaac: complete provision of finances for his DTS
  • Margaret: good friends at school
  • Phoebe: continued physical and verbal growth 
  • Cape Town: rain
  • Support: more monthly partners to join our team

Financial Opportunity

If you would like to support our work in South Africa through YWAM and Hope Prison Ministry, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.

February 5, 2018

We are running out of water!  It’s a very scary time here in Cape Town, and people are panicking.  Feb 1 marked the strictest water restriction to date: 53 gallons/house/day (that’s 200 liters/house/day).  For our family of six, that works out to be eight gallons/day each.  Given the average American consumes 100 gallons of water/day, we have a challenge to meet!

At least we still have water running through our taps, though.  April is the month when taps could run dry and be turned off.  In preparation for this crisis, people are flocking to stores and buying out the drinking water.  The frenzy has left shelves empty in all the grocery stores around us.  Online drinking water is also out-of-stock.  Many people are now lining up for spring water at various sites throughout the city.  

How are we managing?  We are minimising our water usage by using only a few drops of water when needed.  We take two minute showers, and we recycle all water into buckets which are used to flush our toilets.  Soon showers will be replaced with sponge bucket baths.  Our dishwasher is being phased out.  I’m hanging onto the washing machine for as long as I can, but of course drinking water is the biggest priority.  Fortunately, we can still drink the tap water.

Meanwhile, we have stored about 100 gallons of drinking water for post-tap days, and we’ll continue to add to that collection, as we are able.  We hope we have enough to keep us from needing to stand in line for water, which is chaotic and time-consuming.  For our non-potable water needs, our neighbor has graciously agreed to share some of his well water with us.  As a last resort, we’ll use our pool water!

In case things turn ugly here, we will have to go stay with friends who live outside of the danger zone.  Please pray for us for wisdom as we create a contingency plan. We’ll attend a water crisis meeting at the American School next week to discuss their recommended contingency plans!

What is the long-term solution?  Desalination projects are underway, and should be viable by May.  Winter rains should come in June.  Will these two things be enough to restore water to Cape Town?  

Join us as we pray for rain.  Pray for God to have mercy on us and hear our cry.  We are praying He will supply all our needs. Churches are uniting and praying to God to send a wind that will unleash not only physical water, but also spiritual water, and that we will experience an outpouring of God’s spirit.  We are praying for a spiritual shift to take place, that people will see that God is the only true God.  I am reminded of the time of Elijah, when false gods were called upon, but only the true God showed up.  We are praying that God will likewise show Himself in magnificent splendour here in Cape Town, and that revival will be released.  That is our prayer.

“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17)  

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On a more positive note, we are a full house again!  It’s a temporary blessing, which we are relishing.  Pictured to the left are the kids on a nearby beach on Christmas Day.  (Yes, our beaches are cool and windy in the summer!)

Alberto is energized and really excited to see as many prisoners come to the Lord as possible this year.  He was happy to get back into the cells after Christmas and work with the juvenile offenders again. His team recently participated in a prayer walk through the prisons where they prayed for the prisoners/prison system and anointed various entrances.  The theme for the year for prison ministry is God’s Revolution, which is based on 2 Cor 5:17, where we become new creations in Christ.

Joanna is chief schedule and planning coordinator for the family, which is not easy, given the range of activities and seemingly irreconcilable schedules.  She is presently gathering dates and numbers for the increasingly-complicated taxes for living abroad.  Her DTS students have been on outreach since mid-December.  She has been invited to speak at a women’s conference next month, which is new territory for her!

Ana is enjoying being at home again, after finishing her time with the DTS at YWAM.  She is trying to work now.  Her next project is to be a camp counsellor at Camp Deer Run in New Hampshire.  She leaves South Africa for the U.S. in June.  She is planning on doing YWAM’s School of Biblical Studies in September, which is an intense nine- month course.  

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Isaac‘s school picture is above.  He is now out of school, taking the GED, applying for college scholarships, and preparing for his DTS in March.  His DTS will start here in Cape Town, but then moves to Asia!  Instead of sitting in a classroom for three months and then embarking on ministry for two months, this backpacking DTS is a combined five months of mobile classroom and ministry as the class backpacks through various nations in Asia, with a specific focus on the unreached. 

Read more about the school here:

http://ywammuizenberg.org/backpackersdts/

Margaret is back into the busy schedule of 8th grade.  She made honor roll last term, so we are proud!  Her friends have too much drama in their lives for Margaret’s liking, so that has been a challenge.  Thank you for praying for a good Christian friend for her.  A new girl just started school last week, so we are waiting to see!

Phoebe started a new year at her preschool, and now has an aide named Plaky (as recommended by the school), which has been a great addition!  Plaky is originally from Zimbabwe, and loves Phoebe!  We are actually in need of $150 per month to pay her salary.  Please let us know if this is something you can help us with!

Phoebe has started playing with her toys, which has been very exciting to see.  Playing with toys appropriately (as they were intended) is a challenge for children with autism.  Granted, she is not playing with them appropriately yet, but she is packing them into her bag, moving them around, hiding them, etc.  It’s a good beginning! 

Some of the water bottles we have accumulated over the past few weeks.  We have about 75 5-liter bottles at present, which is about 100 gallons.  Is this enough?  (This is creating another problem for the city…what will happen with all this plastic?!?) 

 Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Amen!  We will trust in the Lord and be blessed!  I am praying we will not be worried in this year of drought, but will bear much fruit.  We will proclaim the faithfulness of the Lord.

Prayer Requests

  • Alberto: a plentiful harvest in the prisons this year, clear communication with authorities, and health and unity among the Hope Ministry team
  • Joanna: stamina
  • Ana: guidance on Bible school applications
  • Isaac: enough financial aid and scholarships for college, and finances for his DTS
  • Margaret: a great semester 
  • Phoebe: a good relationship with Plaky
  • Support: more monthly partners to join our team
  • Cape Town: water

Financial Opportunity

If you would like to support our work in South Africa through YWAM and Hope Prison Ministry, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give

We need money for our water fund!  Please let us know if you can help with either this or Plaky’s salary. Thank you for your consideration!

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Above is a practical breakdown of how to use 50 liters of water/day.  Large families are disadvantaged by the new law, which allows 50 liters/person for up to 4 people in a household.  Because of this, our daily limit is actually 33 liters/day (just over 8 gallons a day, as I wrote previously).  I’m slowly adjusting to the metric system!

December 19, 2017

Merry Christmas from sunny South Africa!  Celebrating Christmas in the summer is still a challenge for those of us who miss cozy Christmas traditions, but we do enjoy the warm weather and cook-outs!  Most importantly, we have a Savior to worship, so that puts everything into perspective!

This is our fourth Christmas in South Africa, and your faithful partnership is something we do not take for granted.  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for supporting our life and ministry here.  We are filled with gratitude!

We are blessed to be together as a family.  Ana is with us once again!  She has returned from Madagascar and Swaziland.  She has finished staffing a DTS (Discipleship Training School), and her students have graduated.  Isaac is done with high school, and Margaret and Phoebe are on summer vacation!

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Alberto is pictured above braaing (cooking out) for a soccer ministry he and Isaac are involved with on Saturday mornings. Soccer is an easy entry point to a community that is racially and economically isolated.

During the week, he continues to work in the prison with Hope Prison Ministry.  Despite peer pressure from gangs, guilt, and a misunderstanding of God (is He the white man’s God?), many young men have come to declare that Jesus Christ is Lord of their lives.

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I have been working with a DTS at YWAM. The girls I have been mentoring have spent the last three months in discipleship classes here at our Cape Town base, and are now ready to depart for two months of outreach in Malawi. It has been a pleasure to work with these young ladies, and to see their love and commitment to God. I have also enjoyed having them in our home.

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Ana and her team safely returned to Cape Town recently, having finished the outreach portion of their DTS.  As you may remember, outreach in Madagascar came to an abrupt end when the Plague erupted.  

At that time, Ana and her team moved to Johannesburg briefly to work with at-risk youth through Joseph Project.

Johannesburg was only a temporary location, as a longer opportunity existed in Swaziland.  Ana spent two months there last year doing her DTS outreach.  Swaziland has a special place in Ana’s heart, so she was overjoyed to return as staff!  

She and her team were able to get involved in revival meetings, hospital visits, youth work, and church services.  Pictured above, Ana is delivering a sermon.

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Isaac is pictured above watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.  He just finished high school at the American International School of Cape Town!  He is in the midst of college and scholarship applications, so please pray for diligence and favor.  He has already been accepted to Messiah College, PA. 

Isaac plans on doing a DTS before returning to the U.S. for college in August.

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Margaret is doing very well in grade 8 at the American International School, and is excited for her month-long summer vacation.  Please continue to pray for a Christian friend for her.

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Phoebe is doing well, despite having had a diabetic complication due to a switch to an insurance-mandated generic insulin.  She has since returned to her original insulin, Lantus, which we will pay for out-of-pocket.  Fortunately, Phoebe’s endocrinologist here in Cape Town is an amazing doctor who is available 24/7.

Phoebe is pictured above on the last day of school before summer vacation.  Her teacher adores her!  Her vocabulary continues to increase, slowly but surely.  She continues with speech, occupational, physical, swim and hippo (equine) therapies.

Therapeutic surfing lessons? A YWAM friend of ours is involved in a ministry that teaches special needs kids how to surf.  Phoebe’s first lesson was spent playing in the cold water, but next time she will get to sit on a boggy board, with the goal of eventually progressing to a surf board.  This, like hippo therapy, is a free service by people with big hearts. 

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The water crisis in Cape Town continues as we endure the worst drought in history.  Day Zero, when we run out of water, is quickly approaching.

Prayer Requests

  • Alberto: for God’s tender heart, as he hears a lot of angry stories in prison!
  • Ana: guidance on camp counseling application.
  • Isaac: God’s guidance on college and scholarship applications.
  • Margaret: joy (and a Christian friend!) 
  • Phoebe: an aide to help her in preschool
  • Monthly supporters: to join our team
  • Water: to avoid Day Zero

Financial Opportunity

If you would like to support our work in South Africa through YWAM and Hope Prison Ministry, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give

We are in need of $150 more per month.  Thank you for your consideration!

October 30, 2017

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Greetings dear friends.  Thank you for your encouraging emails and prayers as we readjusted to life in Cape Town after our quick visit home.  We are in a good place again, and have lots of exciting news.

YWAM has had various conferences these past couple of months (an international conference in Costa Rica which Alberto attended, and a southern African leadership conference which I attended).  At 82, founder Loren Cunningham spoke passionately about missions and how God delights in using simple people like you and me to spread His kingdom.  His stories of God’s leading were inspiring.  He personally has preached the Gospel in every country in the world.  Through his impeccable historical knowledge, he showed how getting the Bible into people’s hands always proceeds spiritual awakenings and revivals.  He challenged us to keep our urgency in spreading God’s Word to those who do not yet have it, so that they can in turn be released as missionaries.

Attending the Africa conference was particularly meaningful for me, as Africa’s exponential growth among youth is the highest in the world.  Our role of evangelism, discipleship and multiplication here in South Africa is strategic.  It is very exciting to be involved in God’s purposes.

Click to watch a short YWAM video: I am a Missionary.

Click to read the recent NY Times article End of Apartheid in South Africa? Not in Economic Terms.  The desperate plight of the poor here in South Africa lead many to a life of crime and prison.  But God has plans for getting His Word to the inmates.

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Alberto recently participated in a Restorative Justice program at a nearby prison.  One of the participants was a young man named P, who was born in a township by Table Mountain here in Cape Town.  His father was a gangster, and at age eight, P was shot in the head by a stray bullet.  After three years in hospital, he was released as a recovered child.  Revenge had been boiling in P’s blood all these years, so it was not long before he followed his father’s footsteps and joined a gang, thus beginning his criminal lifestyle. 

In and out of prison, P finally attended a Restorative Justice program and wants to take responsibility for his actions.  Please pray that he will take responsibility, and that he will accept Christ’s forgiveness and walk in the reality of a new creation.

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I recently started helping with the DTS (Discipleship Training School) in YWAM Muizenberg, Cape Town.  The focus of this DTS is Children At Risk, which is close to my heart.  Now I have a small group of girls I am discipling, which is very exciting.  They range in age from 17-23, are from four countries and all desire to grow closer to God.  Such a blessing!  Although my commitment is minimal at this point, it is very rewarding, and I enjoy being part of the YWAM team.

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Ana and her DTS (Discipleship Training School) team left for Madagascar September 9, thanks to the generosity of many of you.  Although a tough country, Ana loved the people.  Her team shared Christ through an ESL venue, did Bible studies, and saw many people come to the Lord.

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A few weeks after their arrival in Madagascar the Plague erupted, the same plague that ravaged Europe in the 1300’s.  Transmitted through bacteria from rats and fleas, it can cause death if not treated quickly with antibiotics.  Because of the alarming rise in the death toll, Ana’s team was advised to leave.  After a brief quarantine period, they are now in Johannesburg, trying to make sense of what just happened. 

The situation in Madagascar is dire, so please pray that the WHO and Red Cross continue to provide antibiotics. To read more about the Plague in Madagascar, click here

Meanwhile, Ana and team are in Johannesburg working with at-risk youth through Joseph Project, a YWAM ministry.  The children they are working with are young, but their wounds are already deep.

Soon her team will travel to Swaziland for the remainder of their outreach.  Ana did her previous DTS outreach there last year, so she is excited to lead a new group there.

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Happy birthday Isaac and Margaret!  Isaac is 18.  Margaret is 14.  Both are busy at school, but Isaac is especially stressed by college applications (and me by financial aid applications).  Please pray for this process.

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Phoebe is doing well, now that she is back to her old routine. It’s Down Syndrome Awareness Month, so here’s to Phoebe!

Praises

*Feeling settled again

*Great YWAM conferences

*Alberto’s visit to his family in El Salvador, and his mother’s successful knee surgery

*Friends Cody and Keri’s recent visit

Prayer Requests

*Prisons: for the power of Christ to break through the strongholds in the prisons, especially among the juvenile offenders whom are Alberto’s focus

*P: to make a decision for Christ

*Ana’s team: for God to continue using them to spread His Kingdom

*Madagascar: an end to the Plague 

*College applications/ financial aid applications: for divine intervention as Isaac scrambles to get his essays and various forms to U.S. colleges next month, and for God to open the right doors

*Rain: our drought continues

*Health: we’ve been sick

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Financial Opportunity

If you would like to support our work in South Africa through YWAM and Hope Prison Ministry, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.  

August 24, 2017

We are back from our whirlwind tour of Boston, Virginia, and many places in between. Add a lay-over in Paris, a youth missions trip to Colombia, and Alberto’s trip to El Salvador, and you have some blessed, tired people.  It was thrilling to see (and stay with) friends and family again, hear Gordon’s last sermon, eat at Chipotle, visit my favorite thrift store, and enjoy the benefits of being in majority culture.  It was exhausting taking Phoebe to six specialists at Children’s Hospital, driving to Virginia and back, and sorting through the pro’s and con’s of selling vs. refinancing our house in Quincy.  It was a joy to talk about the work we do in South Africa, and to receive positive feed-back from friends, family and churches.  It was inspirational visiting college campuses for Isaac up and down the east coast, although financially very daunting.  All in all, it was a packed trip that kept us “on” the entire six weeks.  

The best part of the trip was the people.  Thank you to all of you for opening your hearts and homes to us.  We loved spending time with you.  It was surreal, after imagining our reunions for so long. Spending precious time with you made it tougher for me to return to South Africa.

Thank you to Park Street Church, the Spanish Baptist Church, and the Holy Nativity Church for the many opportunities you gave us to share, and for embracing us.  God bless you all!

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We are back from our whirlwind tour of Boston, Virginia, and many places in between. Add a lay-over in Paris, a youth missions trip to Colombia, and Alberto’s trip to El Salvador, and you have some blessed, tired people.  It was thrilling to see (and stay with) friends and family again, hear Gordon’s last sermon, eat at Chipotle, visit my favorite thrift store, and enjoy the benefits of being in majority culture.  It was exhausting taking Phoebe to six specialists at Children’s Hospital, driving to Virginia and back, and sorting through the pro’s and con’s of selling vs. refinancing our house in Quincy.  It was a joy to talk about the work we do in South Africa, and to receive positive feed-back from friends, family and churches.  It was inspirational visiting college campuses for Isaac up and down the east coast, although financially very daunting.  All in all, it was a packed trip that kept us “on” the entire six weeks.  

The best part of the trip was the people.  Thank you to all of you for opening your hearts and homes to us.  We loved spending time with you.  It was surreal, after imagining our reunions for so long. Spending precious time with you made it tougher for me to return to South Africa.

Thank you to Park Street Church, the Spanish Baptist Church, and the Holy Nativity Church for the many opportunities you gave us to share, and for embracing us.  God bless you all!

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Ana is finishing three-months of staffing the DTS (Discipleship Training School) in Worcester.  She is preparing to lead a three-month outreach to Madagascar. This is a huge step of faith for Ana (and all of us).  

A few of you may have received her very first newsletter with her very own list of people.  For the rest of you, if you would like to read more about her trip, pray for her, or give financially, please use this link:

gofundme.com/ana-paradas-outreach-to-madagascar

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Isaac loved being back in Boston with all his friends.  He also enjoyed working at Sprinkles and having cash to buy the camera he used to make the video mentioned below.

Isaac went on the Colombia youth missions trip with Park Street Church. (He is standing above the city of Medellin in the photo.)  At first I was opposed to the idea of his going, because he would miss school and would have to finance the trip. But praise God, it all worked out. Some very generous friends covered his expenses, and missing a week of school was ok.

The mission to Colombia was a blessing for the participants, and the kids in Colombia.  You can watch the video Isaac created here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfSeqS6xsyU

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Margaret had an amazing time back in the U.S. She was reunited with her old friends up and down the east coast, and was also able to attend Camp Deer Run. (She got off the wait-list just days before camp started!)

Phoebe had a difficult transition back to the U.S., due to the stress of losing her routine. At Children’s Hospital, we saw specialists in six different departments: Down syndrome, endocrinology (diabetes), gastroenterology (digestion), cardiology (heart), otolaryngology (hearing), and ophthalmology (eyes). We had positive responses from all, except a slight concern from GI regarding Phoebe’s small size.  As a result of that, she is now taking a high-potency enzyme to help her get more nutrients out of her food, which should in turn help her growth!

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Back to school for Phoebe, Margaret and Isaac.  Phoebe is in the middle of her preschool year.  Margaret and Isaac started a new school year (grades 8 and 12 respectively).  Hard to believe!

And yes, it is cold here.  We came back to winter, which was not easy, as we immediately got sick!

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Traveling is very unsettling for me.  The instant change of culture, climate, faces and food throws me into a state of chaos. What season is it?  What month are we in?  Where do I belong?  While in Boston, part of me slipped into my old life.  But, I had been gone for almost three years, and have changed significantly during that period.  I actually felt quite at home in Cape Town before leaving for Boston. Yet upon returning to Cape Town, I missed friends and upcoming activities in Boston (like Family Camp).

It is a blessing to have wonderful friends on each continent, but I know that neither is truly my home, or are both? While I long for a sense of security and a comfort zone, God alone is my security, especially when I feel like my life is in upheaval.  I am in this world, but not of it. 

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Dr. John (Knight) visited us in Cape Town briefly, as seen in the picture above with Ricardo from Hope Prison Ministry, whom Alberto works with in Pollsmoor Prison.

Financial Opportunity

If you would like to help support our work in South Africa through YWAM and Hope Prison Ministry, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.  

One of our goals for our time back in the U.S. was to encourage more people to join our support team.  This is a difficult topic to bring up in casual conversation, so please know we would appreciate your support, whether it be a one-time gift or a recurring gift.  We receive 95% of our support from friends and family.

Our mission is to bring the liberating Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to prisoners and their families, so that they can live out their calling in full knowledge that they are beloved children of God who have been set free. In turn, they can be instruments of positive change in their community, for the glory of God.  We serve a redemptive God.

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Preschoolers enjoy new warm winter sweatshirts, thanks to Holy Nativity’s bake sale profits.

This sweet child got a new hand-made sweater, thanks to Holy Nativity knitters.

June 12, 2017

We are packing our bags and looking forward to our time back in the U.S.  We arrive June 18 (after a few day lay-over in Paris) and leave again July 27.  We will be staying with Joanna’s parents in South Weymouth.  We would love to see you, and thank you personally for your support!  Please contact us:

Home phone (781)337-1141

Cell phone (339)927-5867

Email joanna@paradas.org, or simply respond to this email

At the moment, this is our Sunday schedule:

July 2: Holy Nativity Church: morning.  Park Street Church: evening ministry update

July 9: PSC: morning ministry updates 

July 16: PSC: reception

July 23: Iglesia Bautista de Washington

On July 27 Margaret, Phoebe and Joanna return to South Africa, Isaac leaves for the Colombia mission trip through Park Street Church, and Alberto leaves for El Salvador to visit his family and attend YWAM’s annual conference in Costa Rica. 

Although we are sad that Ana is not coming with, we are excited that she is doing her own missions work. She is currently staffing the next DTS in Worcester.

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Happy 10th birthday to Phoebe!  She celebrated with a gf/cf carrot cake with her new friends at her preschool.

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Alberto and his prison team.  This is from Alberto:

I am so thankful to God for allowing me to co-work with Him here in South Africa.  I have been able to touch so many lives of at-risk young people in prison.  (The gangs recruit new prisoners, and make them their slaves.)  It is only now that I am here in South Africa that I can understand the calling He has placed on my life.  I am seeing the spirit of God working in the lives of the inmates.  They are welcoming me, and I really love working with them.

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Preschool kids in Worcester receive a box of books from the Holy Nativity Church.  Books and other basic resources are scarce in poorer communities.  This particular community suffers from gang violence.

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“Western Cape declared disaster area over drought” are our recent headlines.  Water consumption has been reduced to 100 liters per person/per day.  That’s about a third of a typical American’s consumption.  As the worst drought in 100 years continues, our dam looks more and more like a sand pit.  Given Africa’s history with drought, I just have no confidence that the government has a back-up plan.  Please pray for rain!

Praises

* Fruitful talks with prisoners

* A good end to the school year for Isaac and Margaret. Isaac had 5 AP exams and they’ve both had final exams.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

* Rain

* Ana’s training in Worcester as she embarks on staffing the next DTS

* Safe travels during our flights and lay-over in Paris

* Good visits with friends and family

* Church presentations 

* Phoebe’s appointments at Children’s Hospital

* Isaac’s college visits, work (selling ice-cream at Sprinkles), and upcoming fundraising for the Colombia mission-trip

* Wisdom for possible refinancing of our Quincy house

* Finances to cover all the added expenses

Financial Opportunity

If you would like to help us cover the additional expenses involved in our upcoming trip to the U.S., please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.  

April 30, 2017

Hello dear friends.  Pictured above are Alberto with 3 guys from the prison.  (One guy is behind the other.)  These 3 men represent 3 different gangs.  It’s a miracle that they are sitting in the same room, never mind listening to the same talk about confessing sin. What a powerful testimony of God’s love!  (I had to add sunglasses to the guys, so you can’t recognize their true identity. Please don’t post or share.)

Alberto’s work consists of not only participating in Restorative Justice conferences, like the one pictured above, but also in daily visits to the younger prisoners (under 18’s) who are awaiting trail.  He and his teammate are persevering in creating an atmosphere of trust with the wounded boys by way of counseling and healing through the blood of Jesus. He also wants to begin visiting relatives of the prisoners, as they are a key component of the restoration process.

On a different note, we have exciting news!  We are coming back to the U.S. for a quick visit from June 18 – July 27.  (Ana, however, will stay in South Africa.)

The motive for our visit is to:

* reconnect with friends, family, and churches 

* share our ministry in more detail

* visit colleges that interest Isaac

* take Phoebe to Children’s Hospital to follow up with the Down syndrome program,  cardiology, and the diabetes center

* give Isaac the chance to work at Sprinkles again

* allow Isaac to prepare for and attend the Colombia youth mission trip with Park Street  Church

* check up on our Quincy house

We’ll be on a tight schedule, we are looking forward to it!  On July 27 Margaret, Phoebe and I return to South Africa, Isaac leaves for the Colombia mission trip, and Alberto leaves for El Salvador to visit his family. We will all be reunited in South Africa a few weeks later. 

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Ana celebrated her 20th birthday recently. She finished her DTS (Discipleship Training School) and outreach to Swaziland in February.  She is now planning to help staff the next school, which starts in June.  The format will be the same: 3 months of training and 3 months of outreach, except this time Ana will be on the leadership team. Her training starts in a few weeks.  Stay tuned for possible outreach locations in Africa.

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Isaac had an amazing time in Israel with Model United Nations.  He had 2 topics to debate: Regulating Crypto Currencies and Technological Inequalities.  He represented Singapore.  His team had a few days of touring Israel after the conference.

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We recently visited a safe house for babies abandoned at birth.  These babies will most likely be adopted, but remain in foster care until arrangements are made. (I can’t show you the sweet faces of the babies.)

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Phoebe is enjoying a home-based preschool in our neighborhood.

Praises

* A good visit with Jianna from Canada, who recently spent 3 weeks with us.

* The generosity of a someone who paid for one of the airline tickets, and our frequent flyer miles which are covering Alberto’s trip to El Salvador.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for:

* Rain: the drought continues.

* Integrity in the lives of politicians worldwide.

* Healing amongst the prisoners, their families, and their victims.

* Isaac’s 5 upcoming AP exams.

* Isaac and Margaret to finish the school year strong.  

* Phoebe to finish her term well. (Her academic year ends in December.) 

* Ana as she prepares to start training for the upcoming DTS.

* Grace as we plan our visit home.

* Finances to cover all the added expenses.

Financial Opportunity

If you would like to contribute, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.  

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Margaret showing off her new braces, while I celebrate another birthday!

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Pictures from home!  Sunday school classes from the Holy Nativity Church recently sent cards and pictures to the kids in a nursery school in Worcester. They also sent the profits of their bake sale.  Thank you HN church!  (I grew up in that church.)

February 17, 2017

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Pictured above is Ana’s DTS (Discipleship Training School). Students from various parts of the world gathered in Worcester to seek God during this five month program.  After three months of intensive classes and local outreach, the students scattered to various outreach locations further afield.  Ana went to Swaziland for two months where she worked with children, visited the sick in hospital, visited people in their homes, and even preached her first sermon! Through these experiences, Ana has grown in her love and understanding of God.  She has seen God work through her and around her, and thinks this is the most exciting thing in life.  We agree!  She wants to continue serving God all the days of her life! Amen!  What else could parents want?  We are very proud.  We are blessed. 

Because of this newfound passion, Ana has deferred her college admission to next year. (Last-minute decisions seem to run in the family, which causes me great stress!)  She decided last Friday that she would not start class this Monday, thereby just making the deadline in change of status. 

Ana has a few options this coming year, such as staffing a DTS and taking a Bible class through YWAM.  Please pray for clarity.

Pictures of Ana’s graduation from DTS last week, Swazi kids, and her DTS class.

Picture of Isaac and Margaret

Isaac and Margaret returned to school in the heat of the summer last month. Isaac started his second semester of 11th grade, while Margaret started second semester of 7th grade. 

Isaac is flying to Israel this weekend to represent his school in the Model UN conference. He is very excited about this opportunity, and will be able to tour Israel briefly after the conference with his delegation. 

On the flip side, Isaac feels a bit lonely at the school. He does not have a Christian friend and the social scene is a bit crazy. Please pray for a Christian friend, and that He would be a light to those around Him.  He is very diligent about reading his Bible every day, so knows God is using him and sharpening him through this experience.

Academic pressure is high for Isaac this semester.  He is looking at U.S. colleges on-line, which has its limitations.  Please pray for clarity for us all! 

Margaret loves her new school!  You may recall that she was awarded an unexpected scholarship recently.  She is much happier now, and is quickly adjusting to a different academic system. God has provided her with a friend who also attends our church.  I am relieved that she is finally happy, as we had exhausted most of the options. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness and provision.

Margaret has braces now!

Picture of Phoebe

Phoebe is also enjoying a new school. She attends a home-based nursery school in our neighborhood in the mornings.  There are 7 other kids, but Phoebe is the only special needs child. Her teacher and aid are working over time to make this a positive experience for her, which is more than I could have ever asked for.  What a blessing!

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Alberto has started working at the juvenile prison.  He met and befriended an older Coloured man who has been volunteering in the prisons for years.  This partnership is a gift from God, as the older man has a good cultural and linguistic understanding of the inmates. They study the Bible with the boys and discuss ways of managing anger.

Prisons are a scary place in South Africa, due to overcrowding and gangs. Through ministry moments, prisoners are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and to ask forgiveness for their crimes.  Yet I also believe that society needs to confess the sin of not providing better opportunities for these young men.  Growing up with no opportunities is a breeding ground for crime.  Chances of prisoners staying clean once they are released is slim. That is why it is so imperative that Jesus be involved in this process.  Only He can change hearts and lives.  Only He gives hope.

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Rony and Alé visited us from the U.S. over Christmas!  We had a wonderful time with them.  We took them surfing, camping, and on a mini safari!

The drought continues.  Reservoir levels are down to 35% of their capacity. Severe water restrictions are in place, which means we recycle most of our water. Public taps have been turned off, and people are starting to wonder what will happen if we run out of water? God has blessed Africa with many things, but water is not one of them (at least not in this part). Please pray for rain!

Financial Gratitude

Thank you to all of your who made a special contribution to our ministry here in South Africa (and Swaziland). We were greatly encouraged by our December account, and have entered the new year in a much better situation. Thank you, again, for your generosity and partnership with us.

If you would still like to contribute, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.  

December 16, 2016

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas to you all as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!  Our days in South Africa are getting longer and hotter.  It is still a strange concept to celebrate Christmas in the summer, even though this is our 5th Christmas in the southern hemisphere as missionaries. 

Thank you for your prayers and emails.  It’s been a tough few months, but I believe we have made a positive turn in our adjustment.  We are feeling much better about being in Cape Town, and are starting to feel at home. Praise God!

Thank you also for your financial support.  We are keenly aware of the fact that we are here because of God and because of your support.  We are preparing to mail thank-you postcards to many of you, so please look out for them!

Our Barnabas (prayer) group is also helping us mail out 120 fundraising letters, as we are trying to increase our number of monthly donors, due to our increased cost of living in Cape Town. (See the letter here.  Donate at www.parkstreet.org/give.)  

Pictured above are camels at a farm not far from us.  We had to do something special for Thanksgiving, since I wasn’t cooking a turkey!

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Alberto’s class ended this week. “Children at Risk” has further broken his heart for children in difficult situations in this world. It has given him more tools to work with troubled youth. His final paper was on juveniles in prison, and explains how he plans to spearhead an outreach to them at the local prison.

This class completes Alberto’s required classes.  We plan to join staff with YWAM Cape Town (Muizenberg) in the new year. At that time, Alberto will be able to spend more time discipling a group of young men from the community.  He’ll also be able to participate in more Restorative Justice conferences in the prisons. These conferences (and the follow-up) teach the inmates about God’s forgiveness and their need for reconciliation with God and their victims.

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Graduation dinner!  Sitting at the table with us are a school staff member, fellow student, and the base director and his wife (who also have a child with Down syndrome). Six people, six different countries of origin!

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Ana is currently in Swaziland, where she just embarked on a 2-month outreach. She recently finished the lecture phase of her 3-month Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Worcester with YWAM.

Isaac finished his mid-term exams yesterday.  He has a full schedule with 4 AP’s (Physics, European History, English Language, and Spanish), 1 regular class (Pre-Calculus), 2 electives (IT and Model United Nations) and 1 homeschool class (Philosophy). Somehow he manages to still go to the gym and play rugby.  He recently attended a Model United Nations conference in Johannesburg, where he represented the U.S.

Margaret has had a tough time adjusting to Cape Town, as she misses her friends. Although the homeschooling has gone well academically, she has not made any new friends.  Because of this, we have accepted the American School’s recent (unsolicited) offer for her to start attending in January at a fraction of the cost. Margaret is thrilled, and we are in awe of God’s faithful provision.

Phoebe is receiving speech, physical and occupational therapy.  Once we started with one therapist, the doors opened for the other therapists.  We are also considering sending her to a neighborhood home-based preschool a few mornings a week. Lots of changes after substantial research!

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I recently attended a Thrive conference in Cape Town for North American women in ministry.  Pictured above are some fellow Wheaton alumni.  I had a wonderful time being refreshed in the Lord, and connecting with other women in ministry both here in Cape Town and throughout Africa, and the world!

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Phoebe joining us in prayer on the beach as we witness a baptism.

Financial Requests

If you would like to make a monthly contribution, increase your monthly contribution, or make a one-time donation, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.  

This move has been a steep step of faith, so please join us in praying for the necessary finances to enable us to do what we believe God is calling us to do.

We are very grateful to each of you who gives and prays for us. Thank you for your partnership. 

Prayer Requests

  • Health for Ana and her team in Swaziland, and for the Holy Spirit to touch people’s lives through their ministry.
  • God’s protection, blessing and guidance on what we do.
  • More donors to commit!
  • Protection for our new brothers in prison.
  • Wisdom to know how best to help the needy children we encounter daily.
  • Rain to relieve the drought! (Going into the dry season with a water deficit means there are strict water regulations.)

October 7, 2016

Greetings from our new home in Cape Town!  We are very happy to be together as a family in a great house, but the transition has not been easy.  We left a small, rural, tight-knit community in YWAM Worcester and arrived in the big city of Cape Town with no community.  Although we are slowly making headway in meeting people, the accumulated stress of moving and adapting once again took a toll on us initially.

With few exceptions, we did not know anyone when we arrived, so spent the first few weeks stumbling around. Where is the grocery store?  How do you get internet?  (Ok, we are still struggling with this one!)  Who do you call in an emergency?  How do you turn on and off the electric fence and security system?  Is it ok to sleep with windows open, even though there are no screens but bars on all the windows?  How do you respond to men, women or children begging on street corners?  Personally I felt like a deer in the headlights, always being on alert and trying to absorb my new environment as best I could.  The fact that we had no friends here was a bit disheartening.  I looked eagerly into people’s blank stares, and knew I was a complete outsider.

“Stand strong when life changes, stand strong for the up’s and down’s.  Stand strong for you know that God is in control.”  Sounds familiar?  Those are the lyrics of a song from a Kidsweek cd from years past.  (One of Phoebe’s favorites!)  So, we stood strong, trusting God in our new place.  And God showed Himself faithful. 

I became more confident in our calling here.  I began to relax.  I started smiling at the people I saw.  And one day someone smiled back at me!  Somehow, that physical sign of welcome was a turning point for me.  I knew that the worst of the transition was behind us.  I felt hope.  I knew it was just a matter of time before I made friends. I would adapt. We were no longer strangers in this new city.  We were residents.

Later as I reflected on that smile, I realized that one person is all it takes to change someone’s scenario.  One person to say we can rent his house.  One person to offer Isaac admission at a school.  One person to share Christ with.  And ultimately, one Savior who died on the cross for us.  The power of one.

To close, I quote another Kidsweek song, “You paid the price for me.  Now the least I can do is live my life for you.”

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Alberto took some of his boys from Worcester on their first hike to a beautiful local waterfall.  

Alberto also recently participated in another Restorative Justice conference at the nearby Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison.  This is a very dangerous overcrowded under-serviced prison where Nelson Mandela was held. Out of such a place, 12 men gave their lives to the Lord, and a number of them made the very risky decision to leave their respective gangs.  The latter has potentially lethal consequences as the gangs are still active in the prisons. Praise God for the strength of our new brothers!

Although Cape Town is a very beautiful affluent city in parts, the poverty in other parts is oppressive.  The poor do not have many opportunities to earn an income, so many turn to crime.  It is easy to see why the jails are overflowing.   

I have started visiting a home where 14 foster kids live.  Interacting with the kids is challenging at this point, but I understand that trust does not come easily.

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Ana and Margaret returned on Sept 6. Ana loved being a nanny for a very special family, and Margaret enjoyed being with her friends again.  Margaret started homeschooling the day after she arrived.

Meanwhile, Isaac is being a diligent student at the American International School.  It’s mostly international, with only 18% American, and 55 different nations represented in their 400 students!

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Happy 13th birthday to Margaret and happy 17th birthday to Isaac.  We celebrated at Cape Town’s beautiful waterfront.  There were so many blessings to celebrate!

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Phoebe is showing off her new haircut! She recently expanded on her favorite 3-word sentence and made it a 5-word sentence: “I want more meat please!”  

We are having a challenging time finding affordable therapies for Phoebe here in Cape Town.  Not only are prices much more expensive than in Worcester, but therapy is not covered by our insurance. Please pray that we can find some good options for her.

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The surprise of the month is that Ana decided to return to YWAM Worcester to do a DTS (Discipleship Training School). DTS is an intensive 3-month discipleship course followed by a 2-month outreach. It is YWAM’s flagship course.  

Since Ana’s college doesn’t start until February, she had just the right amount of time to do the course.  She decided to do the course the night before it started! There are 7 girls from 7 different countries in her class, and 10 boys.  I am thrilled Ana took the initiative to do this course, and I am happy that she is not too far away!

Financial Request

Thank you to those of you who have contributed to our increased living expenses.  Our rent, Isaac’s tuition, and Phoebe’s therapies have increased our budget considerably.  We will be sending out a formal fundraising letter later this year.  

If you would like to help contribute now, please make a donation to Park Street Church with our name in the memo. The online giving link is parkstreet.org/give.  

This move has been a steep step of faith, so please join us in praying for the necessary finances to enable us to do what we believe God is calling us to do. We are very grateful to each of you who gives and prays for us. Thank you for your role.

Prayer Requests

1. God’s protection, blessing and guidance on what we do.

2. Protection for our new brothers in prison.

3. Wisdom to know how best to help the needy children we encounter daily.

4. Conviction for those in power who are only concerned about their own betterment. 

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Fynbos, pictured above, is the name of the indigenous semi-arid bush that thrives where we live on the Cape Peninsula.  It is protected under World Heritage laws, which means the invasive pine trees that have crept into the area (over the past 100 years) may be chopped down to make space for the reseeding fynbos. The battle between fynbos and pine is waging in court and on the streets at the moment, as residents love the local pine forest.

YWAM Worcester recently celebrated its 30 year anniversary.  In a huge home-coming event, people from all over the world returned to celebrate the spiritual heritage of this place.  What a blessing it was to be there!