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.
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!
- 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.