August 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos

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

Photo

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

Photo

Clearly Phoebe is the most photographed member of our family!

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

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

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

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

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

May 17, 2019

Here is our new house!  It is in a calm, beautiful setting, which makes it a blessing to return to after the stress of the day.  We are already enjoying lemons and granadillas (passion fruit) from our very own trees.  And there are no security bars on our doors and windows since we now live in a much safer area.  We have a long mortgage ahead of us, but at least we are not paying rent to a landlord looking over our shoulders.  (I’m still in complete awe of God opening doors for us.  It is so hard to get a mortgage in this country, especially if you have an unconventional income like ours!)

Although we are only over the mountain and 15 minutes from our previous home, it is still a big transition.  We didn’t know anyone in this area before moving here. While our neighbors are all lovely, we are starting from scratch, once again.  Although exciting, it is also exhausting and stressful.  We didn’t even know where the closest store was to buy milk our first day here!  (Siri, where can I buy milk?)  It strikes a chord deep within us that we don’t have a solid foundation here.  We are constantly reminded that God is our foundation, and that human connections are slow to come by.

We long to reconnect with people who know us well. And for that reason, we have planned a trip back to the U.S. in June and July.  It’s been two years since our last visit, so we are excited to see as many of you as possible.  Stay posted for more details.

National Elections

South Africa had its presidential elections last week, and the ANC (Africa National Congress) won once again.  President Cyril Ramaphosa remains president, and has the challenge to oversee Africa’s largest economy in a country with a 27% unemployment rate (most of which are young people).  Lack of job opportunities and corruption have made people weary.  This was the country’s worst election in terms of voter turn-out: only 65% of voters voted.  Six million eligible youth chose not to register.  The youth, traditionally politically active, have stepped aside in resignation.  They see no future.  (source: www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-48211598)

What a challenge for us Christians!  These bleak statistics reflect the desperation many young people feel today.  The prisons are full of people who are capable of working, but have chosen the wrong path due to limited opportunities, and have entered into a cycle of crime.  But that cycle can be broken.

Psalm 146:7 declares:
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free.

Alberto participates in a prison prayer walk every month, pictured above, declaring victory against the powers of the enemy through the blood of Jesus.

There is Hope

Alberto recently met a prisoner from another African country who was the pioneer for the heroin market in South Africa. He used to give people free samples in order to assure a steady client base.  He was sentenced to time in prison for something completely unrelated, and will soon be released.  He recently participated in a Restorative Justice conference, and heard the Gospel for the first time.  He was Muslim.  Not only did he commit his life to Jesus, but he became saddened by the ripple effects of his actions and now wants to make amends.  Please pray that he can be a positive agent of change when he is released.

Ana came home for spring break last month.  Phoebe was so happy to see her that initially she wouldn’t let anyone else get close to her.  It was great to have Ana’s help and enthusiasm as we moved to our new house.  She returned to Hawaii just before her 22nd birthday.

Ana is in her last term of School of the Bible.  In June, her team will embark on a three-month outreach through the northwest U.S. states teaching the Bible at various churches.  Topics will include an OT overview, Messianic predictions throughout the OT, God’s covenants, and an overview of the NT (the later being Ana’s focus).  The team will also spear-head a youth revival conference.  We will sadly not see Ana during our U.S. trip.  (Photo credit: Ana Santos)

Isaac just finished his final exams and is back in Massachusetts with my parents.  He is taking a class and working this summer.

Margaret is about to start final exams for 9th grade.  The stress is on!  She’s had a busy term playing soccer and being in the school play, pictured above. She is excited to come back to the U.S.

Phoebe has had a challenging term at school because of the school’s insecurity about her diabetes, but things are improving, thanks to her doctor’s involvement.  Her facilitator is wonderful, and the teaching staff loving.  I wish Phoebe could tell me about her day, though!

Prayer Requests:

  • Phoebe: for wisdom to know if her school is a good fit, or if we should come up with a different plan.
  • Margaret: for peace as she prepares for her exams.
  • Alberto’s knees: which are both sore after painting our new house.
  • Prison authorities: to be willing to allow more inmates to participate in the ministries Alberto’s team offers.
  • Recently released prisoners: protection and guidance since pressure from their former lives is almost impossible to resist, plus they are seen as a threat in their home communities.
  • South African leadership: to seek God.
  • House-sitters: for God to send us good house sitters while we are away.
  • My friend: for healing as she undergoes her 3rd round of chemo for breast cancer.

 

 

November 2018

We have started attending the very dynamic Hillsong Church.  It was Margaret’s choice, as she was growing weary of our previous church.  Hillsong Church has amazing worship, and a simple message: Jesus Christ is Lord.  The church is full of young people, and reflective of the racial demographics of the area.  It is a joy to see young people take leadership roles in worship, greeting, collection, etc.  The sermons are seeker-friendly and Jesus-focused.  Last week’s sermon was “What is evangelism?” and today’s was “What is worship?”

This church is extremely active in reaching the community with the gospel and acts of service, which includes prison ministry.  Since many of their people work alongside Alberto, it is really good for our family to attend the church.  Alberto has been working with them (and the Mays) to launch a church plant inside the prison.  Today was the third Sunday service, with an incredibly positive response from the attending prisoners.  (At this point, only Alberto is at the prison church, while the girls and I are at the high school location.)

It is so exciting to be part of a growing Christian movement!  Young people are coming to the Lord in great numbers.  There is a thirst for Him that is driving them to their knees.  This is evident not only in the church, but in the prisons and on the soccer field during soccer ministry (soccer games are followed by a short devotional).  Questions of eternity become much more pressing when sad things happen, like the death of a soccer player due to gang violence.  Since this tragic event, the number of boys wanting to join the soccer team has doubled.  Boys who were hesitant to show their interest in Christ have since taken a stand for Him.

Another interesting thing is that occasionally Alberto runs into Spanish-speaking prisoners.  Who would have thought that Spanish would be helpful in a South African prison?  Sometimes Spanish tourists come to South Africa and commit crimes.  One prisoner came as a drug mule, since Cape Town is a strategic location for not only the gospel, but also the drug market.

Please pray for the prison ministry, the church plant and the soccer ministry.  Also please pray for a new car for Alberto.  His present one is old, and is constantly in the shop for repairs.  This is negatively impacting his off-prison visits to family members.  (Keep an eye out for our Barnabas group’s fundraising letter!)

Lastly, please pray for wisdom to know what to do about Christmas.  Having an international family is both a blessing and a challenge.  Expensive Christmas fares make it prohibitive for us to all be together.  Pray that we come up with a good plan, so everyone is happy.  (Send Isaac to Hawaii to be with Ana?)

We also want to thank everyone for your generous support. We couldn’t be here without you partnering with us. (Also keep an eye out for thank you postcards to all our amazing supporters!)

On that note, Merry Christmas to you all.  May the joy of our Savior’s birth be with you.

Ana is in Kona, Hawaii doing a nine-month School of Biblical Studies with YWAM.  It was challenging for her to adjust to a big campus far from anyone she knew, but she is adapting.  The vibrant Christian community and location help, as does the eye-opening Biblical teachings.

Ana’ss Bible course is extremely demanding, as it covers every book of the Bible in depth.  Each book is read five times while students diagram and chart the story of God’s redemptive plan for His people from the beginning of time. Ana is learning what I studied in seminary, although doing it in a more cohesive manner!

Isaac seems to be loving Messiah College: friends, classes, track, investment club, and food!  He also appreciates all the evangelically-sound churches in the area.  His scholarship requires that he attend certain classes on social justice, which has put him into contact with some other missionary/third culture kids.

Isaac’s track team is pictured above.  As you can see, he is still enjoying his long hair and beard!

Margaret is finishing up her first semester of high school. While she thoroughly enjoys the social scene, the academics are challenging.  She has a six-week Christmas/summer break.  Unfortunately, the ocean water in Cape Town never warms up enough for a comfortable swim, although it is beautiful.  We’ll see if we can drive to warmer waters at some point.

Phoebe is about to end her year at the Montessori preschool.  It’s been a good place for her, and Placky (pictured above) has been a great help.

These three pictures of Phoebe were professionally taken on school picture day.

Phoebe’s hand healed very nicely after her recent burn.  We’ve made many visits to the local Children’s Hospital, and the scar is already fading.

Phoebe will start a half-day at Glenbridge Special Needs School in January.  We are in the process of interviewing facilitators for her, as Placky has other plans.  We are looking for someone with autism expertise, who can connect with Phoebe, and will have the gift of helping her achieve her potential.  Please pray for this person, and also pray for provision for the salary, which is more than I had anticipated.  Professional facilitators come with a higher price tag.
Phoebe’s next unfortunate event was that she was bitten by a dog.  A usually-friendly dog was surprised when Phoebe backed into him, and snapped at her instantly.  I was right next to her, and disappointed that my reflexes weren’t fast enough to protect her from this incident.  But again, she healed quickly and without complication.

Lastly, Phoebe’s liver counts continue to be high.  A recent ultrasound showed no damage to the liver, and blood tests echoed no auto-immune activity.  That is a praise!  It is still unclear why her liver counts are high.  Fortunately, I am remain in touch with Phoebe’s GI doctor at Children’s Hospital Boston, who says that the local doctors are doing everything he would do.  Please pray that her liver counts normalise.

My mom and dad came to visit to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday!  Since they were both born in South Africa, there was much catching up to do with relatives and old friends.  Pictured above is my mom’s brother and his family, all living around Cape Town.

September 27, 2018

Comings and goings…that sums up these past two months.  Ana, Isaac and Margaret returned to Cape Town last month, and then Ana and Isaac turned around and left again!  It’s really hard to say goodbye, especially when they don’t have return tickets!  Add to that some of Phoebe’s recent challenges, and it’s been a tough month (for those of us left behind).

Below Alberto gives an update on the prison ministry:

The correctional facilities are a tough environment. Every day is different from the one before.  As a Christian man, l try to rely totally on God.  The moment that l try to think that l can manage on my own strength, l give the enemy a chance to play games with me.  Lately, there has been much talk about human rights violations in the prisons, due to overcrowding.  Criminal activity has increased because of this, as prisoners want their voices to be heard regarding their rights.  Prison wardens are often the target of violence.  Please pray for this situation.  Also, please pray for the ones who are being saved by the blood of Christ, that they will continue to be encouraged to see Jesus as their final destination and not to let this world disturb them with its fake beauty.

PSC Short-Term Team came to minister in the prisons last month.  It was great to have them.  Tatiana is still here actually.  We also had a visit from Philip (a PSC friend), and Todd (who is also still here).  It’s always such an encouragement hosting people from home!

YWAM Conference  Our annual YWAM Muizenberg conference took place last week.  Entitled “At Home,”  all Cape Town YWAM staff came together to seek God and hear each other’s stories.

I am always amazed at what God is doing through my fellow YWAMers.  They have a passion for Jesus, and a heart for this city.  They are doing something about the poverty and brokenness surrounding us by engaging with the communities. They also disciple people in and through the city, as Cape Town is a strategic springboard to reach the nations.  YWAM is a diverse group of people in terms of race, culture, and socio-economic background.  It is the body of Christ, and I am honored to be part of it!

Ana returned from Boston with the news that she wants to do her Bible course (School of Biblical Studies) in Kona, Hawaii, instead of Cape Town.  As Kona is the international headquarters for YWAM and has more of a college-vibe, I understand the appeal.  She’ll be gone for about a year!  The Bible course is nine months, with an outreach after that.  YWAM is all about putting things into practice immediately!

In case you did not see her last letter, please see it here.  If you would like to receive updates or support Ana directly, please contact her at ana@paradas.org.

Ana is pictured above, leaving us!  I’m so proud of her travelling half-way around the world alone.  There’s a 12 hour time difference between us now!

Isaac returned from an amazing DTS (Discipleship Training School) outreach in Zambia and Zimbabwe in August.  He is pictured above with Virmz, the school leader, on graduation day.  He only came home for a few hours before we dropped him at the airport, where he then flew directly to Messiah College’s international student orientation.

Friends Dereck and Lea Plante picked Isaac up from the airpot and helped him set up his dorm, pictured below.  (Thanks for the picture Lea!)

I had many different emotions as Isaac left: proud that he is well-grounded in Jesus, relieved he was able to finished his DTS before college, happy that he has a vision for using engineering for missions in the future, sad that he is so far away, disappointed that I wasn’t there to help him move in, but overall overjoyed that he has the opportunity to attend college.

Margaret started 9th grade last month.  High school has been great, as the drama of middle school is now a thing of the past.  Finally, Margaret can say that she is happy here!  She has some great new friends, although we are still praying for a Christian friend.

She is pictured above on her 15th birthday, and below at the school’s Homecoming dance.

Phoebe has had a challenging last couple of months.  She burned her hand, and her school said they can no longer accommodate her.

Phoebe must have burned her hand on the electric stove.  (I don’t like electric stoves.)  Although she never cried, the blister on her hand was concerning enough to warrant a trip to the ER, where the blister was popped and wrapped.  The doctor’s concern was that the puss could affect her diabetes.

We returned to the hospital’s Burn Department for three more appointments, and had to wait on average five hours each time to see the doctor.  Being surrounded by seriously burned children from all over the province broke my heart, especially when the wounds were gruesome and visible for all to see (wounds are wrapped with plastic wrap while you wait for the doctor.)  As it is winter here, many poor people use fire for warmth and cooking, and children are prone to accidents in crowded settings.  I was grateful Phoebe only burned the side of her hand.  Now that the burn is healing nicely, our trips to the hospital are over.  Hallelujah!  (Thank you Tatiana for coming with me one of the days!)

Phoebe’s second challenge came when her preschool said that they cannot accommodate her anymore.  I was a bit frustrated by this, as we had received such a warm welcome last year and even have a wonderful aide, Plaky.  I know there are no other schools in the city equipped to work with a child with a dual-diagnosis, as I had called 15 schools last year.  Only the special needs public school could help.

Then in a miracle from God, the special needs school called us last week, saying Phoebe’s name had come off the wait list, which we’d been on for two year.  So, Phoebe (and I) went for a trail visit.  The staff seems lovely!  Phoebe can start there in January.  She will have the same schedule as she has now (8:30-12:30), which is ideal, as I can administer her insulin with lunch.  I am amazed at God’s provision and timing!

Now we are working on sending Plaky to a training program on autism recommended by the school, which will equip her with more skills and techniques to help Phoebe.  Unfortunately, neither the training, Plaky’s salary, nor the public school is free.

Drought Update

Thank you for your prayers.  We have had a cold, wet winter!  Water restrictions have been somewhat relaxed, as dam levels continue to rise, well above everyone’s hopes and dreams.  God certainly answers prayers without holding back!

Praises

  • Praise God for the hunger for the Gospel in the prisons.
  • Praise God our kids have the opportunities that they have!
  • Praise God for rain.

Prayer Requests

Alberto: the power of the Gospel to manifest in the lives of the prisoners, and that their changed lives will be evident to their families and victims, so that healing can begin
Joanna: grace as she adjusts to having Ana and Isaac so far away
Ana: fundraising for her YWAM course
Isaac: a good first semester at college
Margaret: a Christian friend
Phoebe: healing for her hand, and guidance on training Plaky
Financial Opportunity

Thank you to all of you who have made it possible for us to be here.  We appreciate your partnership!

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.

 

July 25, 2018

A Restorative Justice (RJ) campaign took place last week at Pollsmoor Prison, which Alberto participated in.  Although it is open to all prisoners, only a select few decide to take the challenge and complete the six-day course.  Now that it is over, the follow-up starts.  Families and victims are contacted so restitution can be made.  It’s a long road for all involved, but Jesus is the foundation.  The number of men who commit their lives to the Lord each time is just amazing. Of course, the challenge is to walk out that faith.  The following verse encourages us all to do that.

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents– which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. (Phil 1:27-28.)  Amen!  May we all conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.

August 9-23 PS’s short-term mission team will be here to do prison ministry.  We are very excited for their arrival!

Isaac is in Zambia, or possibly Zimbabwe.  If he hadn’t given away his phone, I’m sure he would communicate with me more regularly, right?  I got an Instagram account to follow some of his teammates, but even they have not been posting recently.  I think they are actually far from the reaches of the internet, thoroughly immersed in their two-month outreach as part of their Discipleship Training School (DTS).  (I am grateful for the one picture I have received!)

Isaac and his team started in Asia, as you may remember, and had an incredible time exploring God’s creation and delving into His truth.  It’s been life-changing, to say the least, and Isaac’s love and commitment to the Lord has grown exponentially.  He returns to Cape Town mid-August, just in time to catch his flight to Messiah College in PA, U.S.A.  I miss that boy!

Ana and Margaret are pictured above on the 4th of July at Camp Deer Run, where Ana is a counselor and Margaret was a camper.  This camp holds a special place in their lives, and we are grateful for the Christian community that makes it the girls’ home away from home.  Margaret just finished camp actually, and is now with my parents in South Weymouth.  She returns to cold South Africa next week, when school starts again!  I can’t wait to have her back.

Ana returns to Cape Town next month to staff the ETW DTS.  Ok, those acronyms stand for Experiencing The Word Discipleship Training School, through YWAM (Youth With A Mission).  Got it?  She is still in the process of raising money for this ministry, which you can read about in her letter here: Ana’s newsletter.  Please contact her directly at ana@paradas.org if you are interested in supporting her.

Margaret graduated from middle school just prior to her departure to the U.S.. She starts 9th grade on Aug 1.

For the second year in a row, friends from the Church of the Holy Nativity sent money to the preschool that our friends started in Worcester.

While the older kids were away during the winter break, Alberto, Phoebe and I went on a camping/road trip with friends to Namibia, the arid country to the north.  We appreciated the barrenness of the desert, lions in the game park, unusually-shaped rock formations, and refreshing hot springs.  My favorite part of the trip, however, was sitting around the fire talking to our Christian friends!

Etosha National Park, although almost completely dry, does have a few remaining water holes that attract animals from far and near.

Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa.

Phoebe was a great traveler and companion.  It was not always easy to get veggies and meat to make her diabetic-friendly meals.  I am in awe of God’s provision and care for her, as we didn’t have a single moment of worrisome blood sugar levels.

Our camping companions, friends from our days in Worcester.

Alberto celebrated his birthday in South African style, with a braai.

Phoebe celebrated her 11th birthday on May 30.

Today an autism consultant observed Phoebe in her preschool setting, and will give practical suggestions to Plaky (and us) as to how best work with Phoebe.  I am thrilled that the school is so committed to helping her learn and grow.  They really do love her!

Drought Update

Thank you for your prayers.  We have had some great winter rains lately.  Despite this blessing, our dam levels are still low, so our drought status continues.  That means we are still under tight water restrictions.  There has been no mention of the proposed desalination project.  I heard the project ran out of money.  (Budgeting is a bit of a challenge here!)
Praises

Praise God for openness to the Gospel in the prisons.
Praise God our kids have the opportunities that they have!
Praise God for our safe camping trip.

Prayer Requests

Alberto: the power of the Gospel to manifest in the lives of the prisoners, and that their changed lives will be evident to their families and victims, so that healing can begin
Joanna: wisdom as she coordinates details of kids’ comings and goings
Ana: fundraising for YWAM
Isaac: his team to touch many with the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Margaret: grace as she returns to South Africa and starts school again
Phoebe: helpful guidance from the autism consultant
Financial Opportunity

Thank you to all of you who have made it possible for us to be here.

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.

May 25, 2018

I’m having trouble keeping track of my kids.  Isaac is in Singapore this week, Ana flies to Boston on Sunday, and Margaret flies to Boston in a few weeks.  What an amazing blessing for them to travel the world like this!

Isaac has been backpacking through southeast Asia for two months now.  He is doing a five-month Discipleship Training School with YWAM where they backpack through Cambodia (his favorite), Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines for three months.  Speakers from their mobile classroom have covered such topics as “Nature and Character of God,” “Father heart of God,” “Identity in Christ,” and “Fear of the Lord.”  The classes have been so life-changing that Isaac just got baptised.  Praise the Lord!  There is one more month of lectures left before outreach begins.
You can read more about Isaac’s trip here:
Alberto, pictured above with fellow teammates, recently attended a Hope Prison Ministry training entitled “Addict to Disciple.” This program did not focus on addictions, but rather on the heart: the vacuum in the addict’s life that can only be filled with Jesus.  Only when that hunger is quenched by the Living Water can he be free of his addiction.  And making disciples of Jesus, after all, is what it is all about!

Alberto and his teammates have been using the manual as a guide, and have seen many young men give their lives to the Lord.  Actually, they come running to Christ, amidst their tears.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Mt 9:37)  David Bliss used to share that verse with us, and I am seeing that it is indeed true.

A number of graduates received their Restorative Justice certificate recently, having successfully completed not only the one-week program, but also the follow-up meetings.

Joanna recently celebrated her 47th birthday by zip-lining in the mountains outside Cape Town.  It was a wonderful day!  Ana and Margaret also enjoyed it.

Ana recently celebrated her 21st birthday!  I’m in a bit of shock actually!  Praise God for Ana’s life and her commitment to follow Jesus.  She is excited to fly back to Boston this Sunday, and hopes to see many of you before heading to Camp Deer Run.  After camp, she will return to Cape Town to staff the DTS, where she just made a two-year commitment.  She is in the process of raising money for her support, so please consider joining her support team.

You can read more about her story here:
Ana’s newsletter

Margaret is in the final throw’s of 8th grade.  Thank you for praying for a Christian friend for her.  She has a new friend from Portugal, via Poland.  And yes, Margaret also cut her hair!  She also recently volunteered with children on an olive farm.

Phoebe is enjoying her facilitator, Plaky.  Thank you to the few of you who have stepped forward to help with Plaky’s salary.  I am relieved that we can cover it now!

I recently found an autism coach who is going to visit Phoebe’s Montessori preschool and make some recommendations to the teacher and aide, both of whom are very committed to Phoebe’s unique style of learning.

Autism is tough though, and Phoebe has many sensory issues.  Taking off her clothes is a challenge in these cooler months, so we have become very creative in keeping her clothing on.  Also, she continues to grind her teeth.  We have started seeing a homeopath for this, as nothing else has worked.

Her diabetes is well-managed, but requires constant attention, including many middle-of-the-night glucose readings.  We have had a couple of low readings, so want to investigate a continuous glucose monitor.  This will be the ultimate challenge for a sensory-sensitive child.

On a more positive note, Phoebe’s speech is coming, slowly but surely.  “Time to eat,”  “Lunch time,”  “Meat please,”  and “I want to eat” are her favorite phrases.

To the left, Phoebe is pictured, not too happily, after her haircut.  (It took three of us to cut her hair!)
We recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Brian and Freddie Jones, from PSC.  It is always nice to have friends visit from home.

Drought Update

Thank you for your prayers.  We are still in a drought, as our dams are at 21% capacity.  It could take years to fill them.  Desalination projects started supplying water earlier this month.  We have had a few good rains as we enter the rainy season, and continue to pray for more!

Pictured above is our 2500 liter water tank that will collect rain water from our gutters this winter (declaring that in faith).  We can then fill buckets from the tank for many household needs.  We have a love/hate relationship with the buckets: love that we have water, hate carrying them.  It’s a good way to empathise with the populations who use buckets for water throughout their lives.

Financial Opportunity

Thank you to all of you who have made it possible for us to be here.

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.

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.