September 10, 2021

It’s spring, and we are back in Cape Town!  Thank you to Park Street Church and all of you who welcomed us back to Boston in June and July.  You reminded us that we are still friends and family despite the distance, despite the challenges of the pandemic, and despite the passing of the years.

After such a packed and eventful time in Boston, it was hard to get excited about our return to cold, wet Cape Town and the lock-down restrictions of the pandemic.  We arrived on a freezing cold night last month, and my heart was torn.  I missed everyone in Boston so much, yet was welcomed by Alberto and saw the fruits of his labors in our house.  It was at that moment that I realized that I have two homes in two very different places, yet they are both home.

When I say “cold” in Cape Town, I mean “cold.”  With no central heating, indoor temperatures mirror outside temperatures, which dip to the 30’s.  We have seen snow on the mountains, and have sleet and hail.  We are grateful for our wood stove, which takes the chill out of our bones.

As I reflect, I am grateful for so many things.  Thank you for your prayers for Margaret when she went to camp at the end of July.  The whole experience was a miracle in terms of her openness to going, the timing, financing, etc.  She had a life-changing experience as she listened to amazing testimonies and saw the Holy Spirit working in and through her life and the lives of the other high schoolers. She came home with the scales lifted from her eyes, and excited to know God more deeply.  She is considering doing a DTS after graduation, which I am very excited about!

As parents, we want nothing more for our children than for them to walk with God, experience His joy, and want to grow in relationship with Him.  Sometimes that dream seems so distant, and other times it smacks us in the face and catches us by surprise.

Phoebe had a total of 14 appointments at Children’s Hospital while we were in Boston.  That is our new record!  She had a GI procedure, liver ultrasound, and eye exam under anesthesia on July 30, which necessitated our moving our flight back (and Margaret missing some school.)  The results of those procedures are that Phoebe has SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), a slightly fatty liver, and no diabetes-induced retina damage.  The SIBO we are treating here.  The fatty liver is possibly from diabetes, and requires no intervention at this point.  The clear eye exam is a blessing.  Phoebe is putting on weight again, so that is also a praise.  Please continue to pray for her and all her challenges.

I am so grateful for the doctors at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and our doctors in Cape Town.  We are able to do more tests in a short amount of time in Boston, and have everything covered by insurance.  In Cape Town, it’s just a bit more complicated and expensive.  But, the Cape Town doctors follow us more regularly, so all in all, it is a great team approach.

Personally, I am also feeling stronger and healthier.  I am also putting on weight again, so that is a relief.  I jumped back into my roles of teaching Spanish and leading our YWAM group.  As COVID restrictions start to relax here (despite the fact that only 12% of the population is fully vaccinated), it is a joy to start to gather with groups of up to 50 people.

We had our YWAM annual conference this week and discussed the importance of intimacy with God and vulnerability with each other.  We are only a remnant of what we used to be in terms of missionary numbers, due to a mass exodus during COVID.  Some people returned to their home countries to be closer to family during the pandemic, while for many it was a financial decision, as their missionary support dried up.  Again, I want to thank all of you who are faithfully standing with us and not giving up on us during this trying time.

And now, some words from Alberto…
Spring is arriving, and the vineyards are starting to sprout new leaves.  I thank God for the ways He has protected my family and me throughout the stormy days that are left behind.  I had my second COVID vaccine last week, which gives me courage to continue in strength and be responsible for the calling God has honored my wife and me with, here in South Africa.  Thank you for your partnership.

Please pray for the Department of Correctional Services, as crime has increased by 60% since the start of the pandemic, which means more overcrowding and stress for the incarcerated, and more work for the correctional authorities.  Prisons are once again closed to outside visitors, so we are currently focusing on outreach to prisoner families and ex-prisoners.

Kara, my dear friend and Missionary Care Team leader, visited me at my parent’s house shortly before our departure.

Ana Martinez from PSC and an OT student, worked with Phoebe for about 15 hours each week while we stayed with my parents.  This was an incredible blessing to us all!  We miss Ana!

Phoebe helped me point out family members during our PSC reception.

Our Missionary Care Team made this poster board for our reception.

Alberto and Edwin, our YWAM leader, putting the last touches of paint on the walls.  We now have a sturdy floor, leak-proof and freshly-painted walls, a new bathroom, a repainted closet, and an outdoor patio area!  Well done Alberto and friends!

Pictured above are some of the boys who play soccer every Saturday with Alberto.  Over the years, some of them have repeatedly shown up to play barefoot.  This has proven to be rather inconvenient, as some players have cleats.  Alberto finally decided to buy some of the boys sneakers from our newly created “soccer fund.”  Of course, the whole team will eventually want new shoes, but this is something we are happy to provide for the general safety of the team.

Margaret is pictured above in her school uniform.  She turns 18 next week!

Margaret started school immediately after we arrived.  She had actually missed the first week of school due to our needing to move our flights for Phoebe’s procedure.  Starting her senior year was quite emotional!  She is taking 3 AP’s this year (Art, Language and Composition, Statistics), Marimba, Voice, Business, and Gym.  She is stressed with a full academic load, and many decisions for next year.  She could apply to art schools or liberal arts schools in the U.S. or Europe, or take a gap year.  The good and bad of growing up overseas is that the whole world seems to be at your fingertips.  Nothing seems out of range.  Please pray for wisdom and guidance for us all!

Ana is pictured above with her ministry partner Maddie Mae on the day of her graduation, which she could not attend in person due to COVID.  She graduated from YWAM’s Brisbane’s Basic Leadership School, her cafe internship, and received an Associates in Biblical Study.  Since her Australian visa is tied to her classes with YWAM, it is about to expire.

The problem is that Ana is still in Port Macquire.  She extended her internship as the provincial borders are closed and she cannot get back to Brisbane.  Because the international borders are still closed as well, she cannot easily or cheaply leave the country.

She has applied for a visa extension, which would hopefully allow her to stay until the borders open up.  Please pray for wisdom for her, as there is just so much uncertainty.

Please read Ana’s latest update here.

Isaac (pictured with his roommate Michael) is in his senior year at Messiah University.  He completed his summer internship at Ambassadors Advisors in Lancaster, but is still interning with them remotely.  Since I only saw Isaac on the 4th of July weekend, I am really hoping he will celebrate Christmas with us in South Africa.

This is one of the best books I have ever read.  It is extremely insightful in providing a context for the current racial tensions in the U.S., which can be historically traced back to the forefathers of our nation and how they institutionalised a caste system based on race.  Parallels are drawn to Nazi Germany and the caste system in India.  This book is especially helpful in South Africa, where the legacy of apartheid continues and racial tensions and violence are mounting.

In order to have a voice here, we need to be aware of these tensions and understand the context in which we live.  As missionaries, we know without a doubt, that what the devil meant for evil, God can transform and use for His glory.  Working with multi-racial teams with YWAM and Hope Prison Ministry is an excellent example to the world of restoration made possible by the blood of Jesus.

 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:35)

A generous friend of a friend (from the Church of the Holy Nativity) sewed some vests and pillowcases for the children in a home-run program that we were associated with in our early days of being in South Africa.  Pictured above are some happy kids!  Sadly, most of the kids do not own pillows, so the teacher actually cut the pillowcases in half and inserted small pieces of foam, thereby doubling the number of kids who could benefit.

Prayer Requests

  • Movement of the Holy Spirit through the prisons
  • Guidance for our children to follow Jesus and not the currents of this world
  • Wisdom for Margaret’s senior year and college search
  • Open borders for Ana
  • Continued healing of Phoebe’s and my gut