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!

July 27, 2016

Surprise!  We have moved!  We now live in Cape Town, just over the mountain from Worcester.  (Pictured above are the movers.)  Days before he left for the U.S., Isaac decided that he wanted to stay in South Africa to finish school, instead of attending Boston Trinity Academy as planned.  I was overjoyed and immediately made arrangements for a new house to rent close to the school, for financial aid, and to transfer our spiritual and ministry umbrella from YWAM Worcester to YWAM Muizenberg (Cape Town).  And now, one month later, here we are unpacking in Cape Town!  The fact that everything fell into place so quickly is a reassuring blessing. 

YWAM Muizenberg is currently a short drive from us.  Interestingly enough, this was the base we originally applied to before coming to South Africa.  Because of their housing shortage, we were redirected to Worcester. YWAM Worcester and YWAM Muizenberg have a close relationship, due to their proximity of under 2 hours.  Next month YWAM Muizenberg is starting a class on “Children at Risk.” As Alberto has one more required class to take, this class will be perfect!

How does this impact Alberto’s ministry?  His prison work will remain unchanged, as he will continue visiting the prisons in Worcester, Paarl and Cape Town.  His work with the rehab center was turned over to a South African man, so the timing of Alberto’s departure was good.  His work with the boys will be impacted, but he plans to continue visiting them a few times a month. 

How does this affect the rest of the kids?  Ana will be attending university in Cape Town with the new academic year starting Jan 2017.  Student accommodation is hard to come by, so having our home nearby will be important.  Margaret will continue to homeschool, and is excited to be in a city again.  Phoebe will be closer to the Children’s Hospital and Down syndrome center, although she will have to start over with new therapists.  I am sure Cape Town has a fine selection of therapists though!

Pictures

Phoebe helps moving boxes

Happy 9th birthday to our princess!

Alberto is listening to the boys he works with.

“Braaing” with the boys (or having a cook-out!)

Last month we dropped Isaac at the airport.  He is currently working in Boston, but returns to South Africa Aug 3, in time for classes to start Aug 4.  He will be attending the American International School of Cape Town.  It is international in its diverse student body, but American in its curriculum.  This is a great combination for Isaac.  

Although we received a significant financial aid package, we still need people to help us cover the difference.

Margaret’s friend Jordyn (and her mom) visited us in South Africa after a short-term mission project.  Margaret then flew to Boston with them, and attended Camp Deer Run (at full scholarship) in NH.  She is now visiting friends and family, and will return to South Africa with Ana Sept 5.

The Saff family came to visit the Mays and us!  We have welcomed so many people this part year.  It has been a huge blessing!  Please know you are always welcome to visit! 

Ana and Isaac volunteered at Park Street’s Kidsweek last week.  Ana is still working as a nanny.  She returns with Margaret Sept 5.

Financial Request

If you would like to help contribute to Isaac’s tuition at the American School, or help with our increased living expenses (our rent has doubled), 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.

May 31, 2016

We are in the midst of busy days at home and in ministry here in South Africa, as you will see from the pictures below.  In this section, I will share Alberto’s thoughts on his work with the kids in the community:

Working in the poor racially-segregated communities of South Africa is very difficult. Most of the young men I work with live with one parent or a relative.  Usually they are hungry, and often they are abused by someone who was supposed to protect them.  

The Lord has brought me here to encourage these boys, so they can find hope in Him. He is the only Way they will find refuge.  Jesus has paid a big price for our rescue and for our freedom.  He understands betrayal.  It is not easy for these boys to learn to trust again.  It is not easy for them to speak about love, as they are used to a culture of lying and hurting in order to survive.  For them, respect comes through being tough and hurting others.

Yet these boys are good at working with their hands.  They are good artists, dancers, and musicians.  When jobs come their way, in enables them to buy food.  It is not enough for clothes and shoes, though.  Work is therefore not a way of life for them.  Crime is.  I am trying to teach these guys about the consequences of following good verses evil.  

Prisons here in South Africa are full of Coloured and Black people.  Society, especially in the wake of such strong color divides and prejudice, is failing them as well.  Please help me pray for these guys to come to true freedom through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He paid the price for all to be saved and know freedom.

Pictures

When a donation (from one of our donors) came in for the preschool, the teacher decided to build a playground! Alberto helped with the building and participated in the inauguration ceremony!  Kids here have few safe places to be, let alone a place to play!

I donated some of our old children’s books to the preschool, since they had none.

Winter is approaching, which means we have very cold nights!  There is a big push to provide warm blankets and hats to kids in the community. (My mom knit this one!) 

Last month we dropped Ana at the airport.  She is currently a live-in nanny at our friends’ house!

Ana got her driver’s license last week! This was one of her goals while being in the U.S.

Alberto’s new car…finally!  Thank you to all of you who made this possible.  This car will make our lives much easier!

Sweet Phoebe at speech therapy. 

This will be our new family size for most of the upcoming year!  Releasing Isaac has been the single most difficult thing I have had to do.  Neither the best schools in Cape Town nor his precious family could tempt him to stay!  I am not sure when we will see him again, as he is traveling on a one-way plane ticket. At least Ana has a return ticket!  

Rebecca came to visit us last week! Rebecca was Phoebe’s volunteer during Park Street Church’s Christian Formation Hour, made possible through the Enable Boston ministry.

Kid Update

Ana is enjoying being a nanny and catching up with friends in the U.S. She recently completed her college applications for schools in Cape Town. She returns to South Africa Sept 6 and will start university here in Jan 2017.

Isaac finishes homeschooling next week. He leaves South Africa June 11, at which time he will stay with my parents in Weymouth and work for the summer. He starts Boston Trinity Academy in August.

Margaret is still homeschooling.  She is excited to leave South Africa late June, with her friend Jordyn, who will be here on a short-term missions trip. Margaret will attend camp at Deer Run, NH before returning to South Africa with Ana on Sept 5. 

Phoebe turns 9 next week.  Her latest sentence is “More food please.”  This is now her favorite sentence, replacing the former favorite “I want meat.”  We are now working on “I see meat.”  (Clearly food, and specifically meat, is a big motivator for Phoebe!) She is fortunate to have many dedicated therapists here.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the boys that Alberto is working with, that they will know there is Hope.
  • Continue to pray for rain for South Africa. 
  • Pray for our safety and protection.
  • Praise that Isaac’s id arrived.
  • Pray for Isaac’s departure from South Africa to Boston on June 11. 
  • Pray for me when Isaac leaves! 
  • Praise that Phoebe’s birth document arrived.  We now have all the necessary documents for the whole family!
  • Praise that Ana has finished her college applications for Cape Town schools.  Pray that she will get into the right school!