March 19, 2019

Prison ministry continues to thrive.  There is such a hunger in the prisons for hope.  Alberto’s team recently completed a week-long “Restorative Justice” conference.  The participants are prisoners who are usually quick to want to change, but struggle with its implementation.  The pressure to conform to their former lifestyles of crime is almost impossible to resist.  But Christ makes a way, and shows the path.

An integral part of the transformation process is support from family members, who are usually the ones who suffer the most.  They often have no idea why their family member is in prison.  They suffer ridicule and rejection in their communities, as their family member was a menace to the peace.  He was an agent of violence which often created a cloud of fear in the community.  And financial stress also follows when the incarcerated is no longer able to be the bread-winner for the family.

Alberto now spends one day a week visiting the family members and listening to their stories.  It is an excellent way to show the love and mercy of our Father, and an integral step in reconciling prisoner to family.  Sometimes the families are so destitute that Alberto buys them a bag of potatoes or mielie-meal (a corn-based staple) and a chicken.  They cannot believe that someone would visit without threatening them or requesting something from them.

Destitution is a huge problem here, and probably the thing that I struggle with the most.  It seems like an impossible challenge to address.  Immigrants pour in over the border daily looking for a better life here, only to be met with xenophobia.  People beg on every street corner.  Children come to our house daily asking for a slice of bread or cup of water.  Yet, the rich continue to get richer here and live lavish lifestyles.  It is a hard contrast to swallow, and one I hope I never get used to.  Please pray that we will always have our eyes on Jesus, and be a light shining to those who do not know Him.  And pray we will have the wisdom to know when or how to help, as the need is overwhelming.

Isaiah 42:5-7 tells us what we as the people of God are called to:
5 This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

May we all walk in a manner worthy of our calling.

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Phoebe now attends a special needs school, which is going ok.  The staff is loving, although the school is incredibly under-resourced in terms of supplies and equipment.  Her facilitator Kirsty is wonderful, so thank you for praying for that connection.

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In case you missed the exciting news in our last update, we bought a house in Cape Town.  We move this week!  It has a lot of character, including a variety of fruit trees: passion fruit, olive, avocado, and lemon.  This is our fourth move in five years, so we are hoping for some stability going forward!

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Above is Margaret’s school picture from the American International School of Cape Town.  9th grade continues to be challenging academically.  Socially, there is a high turn-over rate among the students and staff since foreigners are generally issued three-year visas.  Margaret will lose another good friend in June.  But, Avy recently started at the school, and she is Christian!

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Ana is more than half-way through her School of Biblical Studies.  Click here to read her recent update.

She arrives on Saturday for her spring break, since tickets are much cheaper now than at Christmas.  We can’t wait to see her again.

She recently posted this on facebook:
These are some of the reasons I smile:
1. I am fully loved by Jesus!
2. He has given me the most incredible family who I get to see in 5 days!
3. I am surrounded by the most incredible men and women who I call family as we study the Bible
4. I live in Hawaii ?

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Pictured above is Isaac enjoying the snow with his friends at Messiah.  His engineering classes are challenging.  He is trying to add in a philosophy or business minor.  He is also working at Cick-Fil-A.  He is not coming home for spring break, which means we have not seen Isaac since August, and he has not slept under the same roof as us in a year.  This is the sad reality of living so far away.  I miss him.

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Praise God our drought is over, as rains were plentiful last winter.  Sadly, our next challenge has started: daily black-outs, aka “load shedding.”  The “load” (demand) is “shed” (decreased) by cutting power nation-wide anywhere from two to seven hours a day.  Unmaintained generators are the cause of decreased production ability.  Not only is this incredibly inconvenient, but also has a strangling effect on small businesses and traffic (since most traffic lights are down).  As most house stoves are electric, we are grateful for our gas camping stove.  And we’re grateful we didn’t have electricity outages at the same time we had water restrictions!

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Merry Christmas to us from our amazing Barnabas group!  It took almost three months to arrive, but better late than never. And how we loved all those thoughtful presents!