Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Smiles make my day

Isn't it amazing how much a smile can make your day change from good to awesome?

Yesterday I was in Kabokweni with the New Hope team. We had a good afternoon preparing for the feeding, spending time with the volunteers & waiting for the kids to arrive. It was a long, hot afternoon & the kids had barely gotten there when we had to leave.

Alan Bennet is leading the team from New Hope & had been here last June with a group of guys to see come along side of our ministry. Alan, Steve Horvath, Bill Hinshaw & Jeff Mitchel spent some time working on a home for Lucy & her two daughters. Lucy was very ill with AIDS and her teenage daughters were at risk in their little shack with no protection from a drunk, abusive uncle. Their new home was a blessing. Lucy has been very ill but has recently gone back on ARV's & is doing well.

As we were ready to leave yesterday, Alan asked if we could go by to show the team the home he had worked on. As we drove up the street, Lucy was sitting on the neighbor's porch & saw us. She jumped up waving & ran towards the road with a huge smile on her face! Well, we couldn't just drive on by! Hugs were given all around & Lucy just couldn't stop smiling. She took Alan's hand & walked him to her home. A couple of the guys pitched in & carried water containers up the hill to her home too. I don't think Lucy stopped smiling the whole time we were there.

I couldn't get over the excitement Lucy had to see us. And her happiness to show off her home. It made my day complete.

A smile...what a difference it can make in your day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New friends, new country-part 2

Texans are probably some of my favorite people. Kacy's team from BACC was here for about 10 days to love on Kacy, experience Africa & get their hearts broken. I had the pleasure of helping with their team. Great bunch of people!

We did tell them at orientation that our prayer was for God to break their hearts for the things that break His. I'm not sure it's what they bargained for, but our prayers were answered. Time after time, they saw God in the people of South Africa. They experienced being the hands & feet of Christ, while seeing how heart-broken God is for his children here. And they truly showed what the Body of Christ is all about. As they ministered to the children & volunteers in each community, they brought so much hope & joy. And left with tears in their eyes. And seeking more.

On Monday, we went to Kabokweni for the feeding. I took the team on to see the new Care Center that is being built, one of the volunteers homes & to see one of the homes we built in the community for a gogo & 6 grandchildren. As we got to Khatiwe's house, Pastor Steven just broke down crying. Her home is nothing more than a small metal shed. No windows, dirt floor, one room. We wouldn't even use it to store our lawn tools in. I told him that when Khatiwe first got the house, she was so proud that she finally had a place of her own. A few weeks later, she had a snake come in her house & was then very scared to have her 2 small children there. I took a visiting team down & we circled the house & prayed over it. I told him how I believed that the snake was just satan's way of trying to steal her joy. Seeing the house & hearing the story absolutely wrecked Steven. As a father to 2 young girls, he couldn't stop crying over Khatiwe's story.

On Tuesday John took Steven & Carly to Mbonisweni. The team had been out the week before to the feeding at Pastor Sthembiso's church, but we wanted to show them a few homes & share the dreams of a safe house in Mbonisweni. As John started telling them of the riots, fires, circumcision camps & other things that we had experienced over the past year, Carly got very quiet. And upset. And mad. She had already experienced the kids & how heart-breaking, but rewarding that is. But to see the other side, the side that most people don't experience, the side that is a spiritual battle, well, let's just say she was a little mad at John for wrecking her for Africa. She already feels like God is calling her to do more here. Not sure what that looks like yet. Her souvenir was a tattoo of Africa with the quote "If I don't...who will?"

Needless to say, our time with them was too short, but long-lasting. They experienced all God had for them & are seeking more. At our debrief, after everything was talked about, Steven asked his team, "So, now that you know, you are responsible. What will you do?"
Hmmm, I think I will use that.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New friends, new country

This past week I had the opportunity to go to Swaziland for the first time. A friend of mine, Kacy, had to renew her visa & since Swazi is only about 90 minutes away, we decided to go across the border for the night. I had heard how beautiful the country is & wanted to experience it myself.

Swaziland is the last remaining kingdom on the continent of Africa. The king has about 13 wives & marries from different tribes to ensure that there is no tribal wars. I would think that would create wars, not prevent them! Anyways, the drive was stunning. Mountains & views like you wouldn't believe. The first town across the border is Bulembu, which is an abandoned mining town. Asbestos was mined there & you can still see where they have cut into the mountains as well as the cable cars for transporting the asbestos. After the mining companies pulled out, the town was pretty devastated. In addition to the lack of jobs, AIDS/HIV are very high in the area. The town was left with orphans & people with no opportunities. A mission organization came in & bought the town. They now run the town as a tourist destination with all proceeds going towards orphan care. The goal is for the town to be completely self-sufficient by 2020. Care-givers & job training have been set up, homes converted to hotels, a honey plant started for jobs & a wonderful restaurant serves the tourist & brings in much needed jobs. All in all, it's a wonderful town with a future that seemed hopeless before.

And the best part of the trip was spending time with my friends Kacy & a team from her home church, Bay Area Community Church. You'll have to read the next blog for more about them!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

House update

I'm sure you have all been wondering how our house is coming along. We were able to get the foundation all bricked in and it looks great! The back-filling took a little time, since we were able to use the workers from the base instead of hiring outside help. But they worked on it when they didn't have other projects to do, so it was a little slow. The electric lines have been run down to the house & now we are almost ready to pour the slab. The workers have been on break for the last 2 weeks, so I'm sure it will be a few more weeks before they are able to get back on our house.

The next phase will be a bit more expensive & time-consuming. It will be the bricklaying part. But not only do we need all the brick, cement, labor & supplies for that, but we also have to have the doors & windows purchased as well so that the frames can be bricked in. It will be the expensive stage! But, it will really be the major part of the building. Please be praying for us, that God would provide all that we need in His time! Blessings!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Things are just a little different in South Africa

Instead of graduation, they have Matric. Instead of Senior prom, they have Matric dance. And there sure aren't a lot of dresses to choose from! What they do have is either old looking or a little too risque, and very expensive. Most girls here have them made instead. One of our friends in the states mailed Rae 2 dresses, but do to the wonderful customs here, we weren't able to get them in time. Instead, we had our friend, Anneke, make her one. They had a great time designing & sewing it. I had the wonderful ideal of the boots! We really went with the 80's Madonna look. And it came out great, don't you think?

The after party was at the Botanical Gardens. John was the good dad & picked her up at 3am. Because here, you can't drive until you are 18...which is great when your daughter goes out to a dance! But, look real close on the ticket to the after party...caution, roaming hippos!!! See, I told you thing were just a little different here!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ndobile is a friend of mine that volunteers to take care of children in Kabokweni. I shared her story at my church a while back & in an earlier post. When I first met her last year, she had a newborn & a toddler, was living on her own in a small shack, with not much at all. It was cold & she had nothing. After sharing, a couple of wonderful people donated money & ask that she get some blankets. Well, we did better than that! We were able to use the money donated to buy her a nice queen bed with everything needed. Sheets, pillows, comforter & lots of blankets! It was fun being able to shop for her & bless her like that. But the funnest part was trying to deliver it. She lives up the side of the mountain. You can only drive up so far, and then you have to hike up this path. The day we were going to deliver it, of course there were no men around! So 5 of us girls decided that we would do it ourselves. Oh my! Five women, 2 toddlers & a baby...what a sight! I carried all the bedding, while the other women carried the mattress & box springs. Ndobile had the baby tied to her back, in the true African style, and still managed to get the bed up the mountain. We had so much fun making the bed & getting pictures & Ndobile was very appreciative!

As we were walking back down the mountain, a man was walking up. I greeted him in Siswati & he started talking to me. The girls told me he said I was beautiful & wanted to know if I had a husband. I told him yes, but thank you. I was feeling pretty good, being with all the young pretty women. But then, Ndobile said, "Auntie, I think he doesn't know that you are old." Um, well then! So much for that!

But we did have a good time & not only blessed Ndobile, but worked a few muscles that haven't been worked in a while!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Things you don't want to hear your husband say when he's in another country

1. "They are taking us to jail now"
2. "My phone is almost dead"

It's really not good when #2 immediately follows #1!

To back up just a bit, John went to Mozambique with Pastor Sthembiso & some members of the church this past week for an outreach. They were working in Xiaxia with some friends of ours that have a Youth For Christ base. Sthembiso's church had been once before & were eager to go again. The trip was a short one, from Tuesday to Friday, with lots of driving over very bad roads. Not to mention the hassle of crossing the border, pulling a trailer loaded down with donations. Potholes a foot deep are common in Moz, as well as corruption. But the ministry time was well worth it.

In the town of Xiaxia, there is a bridge that you have to pass over to get into & out of the city. Getting in is no problem, but to exit the city, you have to pay a toll. Well, in their case, it was the Hotel California...you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!

I got a text from John that said, "Pray. Heavy fine or jail". So, I immediately called him. I thought he was already at the border of Moz & SA. Nope, just the city, and apparently without the paperwork that nobody had ever heard of. Evidently, there is a new law, that if you are transporting people, you need some paper. Or there is a heavy fine or jail. So, our call pretty much went like this: "Where are you?" "I'm in Xiaxia & they are taking us to jail NOW" "For what?" "Paperwork stuff. Mark is on his way but the guy won't wait. My phone is going dead, so you probably can't get a hold of me. Gotta go." "Turn off your phone & I'll call back in an hour."

Not a fun conversation! And then getting NO information for 3-4 hours is not fun either! But, it all worked out fine. Mark made it there before they took them to jail & impounded the vehicle, they convinced the policeman to let them go type up the papers they needed, took them to be stamped & then were on their way. And afterwards, it was easier to see God's hand in it...they were stopped 6 more times before they got out of Mozambique. If they hadn't been so close to Mark, they would not have been able to get the proper papers & probably would have been in jail...for who knows how long!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crazy Love, crazy day

I've been reading this book, Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I love to read at night, but I just can't read this one at bedtime. So, after my quiet time in the mornings, I pick it up & read a little. I usually can't even get though a whole chapter. I have to read a section & put it down. It just makes me search.

I'm on the chapter about "People of the obsessed". The section I was reading this morning was all about loving people. You know, not the way you or I love someone, but the way God loves. Hmmm. After having my clothes stolen off the line last week, I thought I was doing ok. We had found out who had taken them & I was actually heart-broken & sad for the person who did it. Hmmm, little pat on the back there.

"True love is loving a person after he has hurt you". Ok God, got it.

After teatime today, we went to the atm to withdraw money to buy the bricks for our foundation. The atm was acting weird, and a guy reached over my shoulder to push the language button. John saw & got out of the car. I pushed the cancel buttons, but it wouldn't give me back my debit card. After trying for about 15 mins., John went across to the bank while I stayed guard over the machine. If it spit my card back out, I was going to get it. Well, no luck. So, we came home & immeadiately logged on to check our account. So far, so good. Then I checked how to report a card lost or stolen. And immeadiately went back to the balance page. WHAM, R3000 withdrawn. My fingers flew over the page to report my card stolen & have it immeadiately deactivated.

So here I am, re-reading the section. And praying for God to give me His heart.

Right after that happened, we were going out to the home that we had just gotten ready for two teenage boys. We decided to do just the opposite of what satan would have us do. So, we went to the store & bought them some groceries. I snuck in a box of chocolate Oatees (cheerio's). I pray those boys were not only blessed with a home of their own today, but also a few things for them to eat.

But I'm still praying for God to give me His heart. Cause I really need it right now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Phase 1 begins!

So it doesn't look like much, but most of the footings have been dug and the river sand, building sand, rock & 30 bags of cement were delivered. Tomorrow, they will dig the footings for the bathroom & staircase and then start pouring the footings. Not too exciting to most people, but to us, it is a start & we are getting very excited! Next we will order the brick & then they will start the foundation. And so begins phase 1! More to come!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Setting down stakes

Setting down stakes is a term we often use to imply that we are here for the long term. Well, after being here for a little over a year, we are starting to set our own stakes down. We plotted out where our new home will be. I have to admit that it looks pretty small to me at this point, but everyone says it does at first. Still, it's pretty exciting. And a little oerwhelming. We will be building in the true African fashion. Step by step! We should be able to start digging the footings with in the next week. So, check back for regular progress or you can keep up with the building on our special website at http://mysite.verizon.net/resut3in/theshawsinafrica/

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deep in the heart of Texas!

Or maybe this should be titled: Texas is deep in my heart!
Either way, I am excited about going to Texas in 3 weeks. Yep, just 3 more weeks! I haven't been since we landed in South Africa almost 15 months ago. I can't wait to see how much my grandkids have grown, to hug my daughters & son-in-laws, to see my parents, sister, neices & nephew, hang out with great friends, go to my church, hear some awesome worship music, eat LOTS of mexican food, shop at the new Target and...well, you get the ideal! And, I get to fly Virgin for part of my flights. I'm pretty stoked about that!

I'll miss John & Rae of course. And all the people I do ministry & life with, both on base & in the communities. But I'll be back. I'm only spending 4 1/2 weeks in Texas. But hopefully, the blue bonnets will be in bloom, spring will be full-force, I can spend some time at the lake, catch up with friends, share a little bit about what has been going on in my life & get a little re-charged.

To all my wonderful friends who have made this possible, thank you so much! I can't express what your generosity means to me. This trip means alot to me. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When cliches aren't just cliches

Every Wednesday, I have tea with the ladies that volunteer in Kabokweni to feed & care for the children in the community. This past Wednesday, we all shared something we were grateful for. As we went around the room, it was so wonderful to hear everyone's heart. When we got to Lucinda, I just wanted to cry tears of joy.

Last year, TTH built a home for Lucinda & her two teen girls. They had been living in a shack that was very unsafe. Lucinda was very ill & not expected to make it. There were many days during construction that she could not come out of her shack to talk to us. But, over the last few months, Lucinda has not only improved, she has started volunteering at the care center to help the children there. She still has some rough days, but when able, she works in the garden or helping prepare food for the feedings.

Yesterday as we were sharing, she said the one thing she was most grateful for was that she was alive. How many times have we been asked what we are grateful for & our pat answer is, "Well, I guess I'm just grateful to be alive"? It really struck me when she said that, how much we take things for granted. Like being alive to see our kids grow up. Or to be able to have a roof over our heads or doors that lock to keep our girls safe.

Cliches really do have merit sometimes!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meet Steven. He's one of our wonderful workers here at Ten Thousand homes. He's been with us for well over a year and although he's very quiet, I have had the opportunity to talk with him quite a bit lately. He helps head up the construction on the homes & care centers in the communities. This past week, we had a team in Kabokweni working on the new care center. Steven was busy digging a "poo pit" with some of the guys. It was extremely hard work! They had to dig the pit 3 meters deep and were continuously hitting rock. During one of the breaks, I was talking to him & joking about how hopefully our footing for the new home would not be into rock. He asked when we were starting on our home. I told him hopefully soon soon (very soon). He told me he was taking a month off for personal reasons. I didn't ask more, but let it go. A few days later, Michael told me that Steven had taken off because his 4yr old daughter was very ill. Steven told him he was taking her to a specialist and that she was dying. We are not really sure what it is, he just indicated something with her stomach.

I have to say that somethings just never get easier. I am so heart-sick & heart-broken. My heart cries out to God. I want to do something. Anything. It is a truly helpless feeling. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child. I can't imagine the helplessness that he must be feeling. And every time I think of it, my stomach just feels sick. Sick that it is so common here. And I just want to stomp my feet & say, "No more God!" And as I write this, we get a text from Pastor Sthembiso that one of the girls in his community just passed away. A generation is being lost here. Kids and young people who could make a difference in this world. People, individuals. Not nameless, faceless statistics. And it just makes me sick.

Steven was able to take his daughter to a specialist in Nelspruit & word is that she is recovering & doing well. Thank you Jesus & thank each of you for the prayers!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blessing others & being blessed

Yesterday was a special day. The Home that was built by the YWAM Orlando team was dedicated prayed over. There are still a few minor things to be done, like a door to be hung, the floor to be poured in the old room & a few more panes of glass to be put in. But with the team leaving today for Rustenburg, we wanted them to be able to bless the home & the people they have worked so hard to provide a home for.

The Orlando team did a fantastic job with the help of 2 of our favorite workers, Steven & Simbisiso. I must say, I think it is one of the prettiest homes we have built. And during the building process, the team took the time to build relationship with the ladies that live near by. The kids loved playing with everyone & would often bring them mangos.

The team decided to take up a collection to get a home warming present. They were able to get quite a few necessities as well as some special treats for the kids! After the prayer time & presenting of the gift, the gogo thanked the team& told them that before they built the home, every time it rained she would not be able to sleep. Just seeing her smile blessed the team. I think they were as blessed as the family. And that's what it's all about!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Breaking ground!

Did I mentionin my last blog that there are 29 people on the YWAM Orlando team? They wouldbe tripping all over theirselves trying to build the one home, so we had them start digging the footin for the care center in Kabokweni.

My wonderful friend, Elizabeth, pictured above, and her group of volunteers feed approximately 140 kids 4-5 days a week out of her garage. Ten Thousand Homes has been in the process of getting a care center built on the donated land behind her home. There has been lots of prep work, from building a new road to erecting a water tower.

The past 2 weeks, part of the Orlando team have been digging the footing. Let me tell ya, it's some hard, back-breaking work! Some spots are nice & sandy, while others are solid rock! Here's a few pictures of them getting started. And while they are rotating out team, they all take time to play & love on the kids! More updated pictures to come!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January started off with a bang at Ten Thousand Homes! A wonderful outreach team from YWAM Orlando arrived the first week with the money they had raised to build an orphan home. Knowing they were coming, we asked Elizabeth to help us locate a family in need. She connected us with a Gogo (grandmother) who is raising 3 small children & had taken in 4 more girls ranging in age from 7-15. When we went to meet her, it was obvious that this family needed help & hope. They were living in a small, 1 room house with a roof that was a mix of patched tin & plastic. The 4 girls had been staying in a wood shack beside the house, but the recent rains had knocked it over & so it was unlivable.

After making the necessary arrangements, we went to work! The team was so quick that I wasn't able to get pictures of the original wood shack. They had it torn down before I got the last load of people out there! Then came the hard work! Hauling loads of brick, sand, water & rock down the hill was only the beginning. Working under the hot African sun doesn't make it much easier, but this team has done an awesome job! Here's a few pictures of the beginning stages of the new home. I'll keep you updated as the progress continues.

Please keep our Orlando team in your prayers, as well as the family that God has called us to help.