December 18, 2007

Proud Parents

For unto us a child is born…
Isaiah 9:6a

Miesha Noelle Hartley
born in Johannesburg, South Africa
At 12:12pm on 12-12-2007
7lbs 8oz, 20 ½ inches

Proud Parents: Dan and Janell

We were a week overdue and went to the hospital last Tuesday night to get induced. When the Doctor broke my water Wednesday morning they saw meconium in the amniotic fluid which means that Miesha had a bowel movement in my womb. They made the decision to do a C-section to prevent her from getting any of that in her lungs and we were holding her 90 minutes later. We are so grateful to God that she was born healthy! I am a little sore from the surgery and am moving slowly but other then that both Miesha and I are doing great. She is absolutely delightful and we are enjoying the process of figuring her out. We have deliberately planned a quiet schedule in the next couple weeks and we have great support from our missionary teammates and our friends from church who are bringing us meals.

A few of you have asked…Miesha is pronounced Mee’-sha. The meaning is "who is like unto God". Obviously the online vote was largely in support of the middle name Noelle and the meaning is "born at Christmas time" We agree with you all!

I’ll be posting more pictures in the next couple days.

Thank you for your love and prayers for us in our new adventure of parenting!

December 8, 2007

weird fruit

So, I was at the store yesterday and bought some apricots. I got home and ate tasted funny. I just figured it was because it was African, not from the northwest. Then I looked at the label more closely. The store had marked them as apricots, but the label underneath said NECTARICOTS. Yup, it is a funny hybrid Nectarine/Apricot combo. Weird.

No baby news...I am just sitting around eating weird fruit waiting for her to make her arrival.

December 7, 2007

no baby yet

Being overdue is not fun. Our Dr. said that he will induce labor at one week past which would be the 12th of Dec. At least we have an end date in sight. I am very ready to carry her on the outside rather then the inside!

This was on last Tues at 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant!

We do need her to come out soon because we need the maximum amount of days to get her birth certificate and passport in process so it will be ready by February when we have tickets to fly to the states. We have a short window of time.

The city of Johannesburg becomes like a ghost town from about December 15-January 10 as at least 50% (if not more!) of the population goes out of town. The malls are practically vacant, no traffic... (Sound like your December shopping experience?!!) Everyone goes on vacation for like a month. Tons of businesses shut down for the month and last year we found out that most churches cancel 3 Sunday services. Yup, no Christmas Eve, Christmas, or New Years service. We seriously had a hard time finding a church to go to for a Christmas service! A little different here.

Something else that is a little different...listening to Christmas music in the car with the air conditioning on!

Promise to post when baby Miesha is born.

December 4, 2007

African Speed Bumps

In South Africa they have a couple of different names for speed bumps - most common is "speed humps" but my personal favorite is "traffic calming devices".

This photo is of an African speed bump - don't know about you, but this doesn't do much to calm me at all! And yes, that is a MASSIVE SNAKE!

This photo was not taken by me or anyone else I know...hopefully it is from a part of Africa God will not call us to visit!


This is Skyler Franzen and I on Thanksgiving evening. Her family had us over for a fabulous American style turkey dinner.

This is our "twins" picure!

November 26, 2007

Christmas Party on Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving was a little different than usual this year. Not only are we far from family, the weather is HOT and it feels more like we should be having a 4th of July BBQ then cooking a turkey…this year we had a Christmas party on Thanksgiving day!

Through the sponsorship of Fairfield Community Church in Idaho and a few other couples who support us, we were able to have a fabulous Christmas event with the group I have been working with at Moroka Church of the Nazarene.

For the last couple months, I have been driving into Moroka once or twice a week to get to know a group of people who are all HIV+ or who have full blown AIDS. They were referred by the Red Cross clinic next door to come to Moroka Church for food. The church has a sponsorship from a local grocer to get “day old” food on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are three Gogos (grandmas) who come to the church 6 days a week to cook this food for approximately 70 school children who wouldn’t get a meal otherwise and then on Tuesdays and Thursdays these adults with HIV or AIDS receive a hot meal also and a few veggies to take home with them. I have also been helping them by giving them vitamins, pain medications and topical creams to help ease the pain in their sores.

This group of patients go to the Red Cross clinic for a checkup and then come next door to the church and do beading together for a couple hours until their lunch is ready. I talked with Gogo Thelma (in the brown and yellow dress with hat) who is in charge of this program about doing a Bible study and health lesson with this group during the time they are waiting. She was SO excited she cried and kissed my neck like 10 times! She knew something was needed, but didn’t know how to do it alone. So, my teammate Heather Witherow and I have been writing Bible studies and health lessons and Gogo Thelma has been either teaching the lessons or giving them to the group to do as a home study. Since only 2-3 out of the group have a passage level of English, we have also been working to get the lessons translated into Sotho and Zulu.

(By the way, Gogo Thelma is Buhle Bhembe’s mother. I have written about Buhle and her work in Slovoville often and many of you in Seattle have met her and her husband Pastor Themba last July.)

God has provided a Sotho translator named Maria and I am very excited about working with her. Maria is a 21 year old orphan who is struggling to find work. In the meantime, she is teaching Sunday School at Moroka church and is also helping out with the children’s program for the 70 kids that come for food every day after school. This translation work with me will be a much needed source of income for her and I am looking forward to working closely with her to build into her life also. (Maria is the one wearing the yellow shawl in the photo)

Back to the party…5 days before, Gogo Thelma and I finally connect via phone and she tells me that the party will be from 10:30-2:00 and (to my surprise!) she had invited several other groups to join us. Since I was in charge of the budget, the news that the party was not for 15-20 people anymore, but she was expecting 60+ and it was turning into a health conference with speakers…well, it was a little challenging for me to adjust to initially. I recruited Dan right away to help me and another teammate Jenny Teichert also came to help which was wonderful – couldn’t have done it without them! That is Africa for you – keeps you on your toes!

We arrived early to help with set up and decorations and 10:30 came and went…no one showed up. By 11:20 we had 6 people there. I was really skeptical about the projected 60 people coming, but sure enough close to noon a steady stream of people came and we filled up the church sanctuary. There was a nutrition lesson, a lesson on HIV/AIDS and then I gave a short Bible lesson that was translated. It was well received!

Jenny and I led some Christmas games while Dan grilled 150 hot dogs. Don’t think they are used to playing Christmas games, but boy did they shed their stuffiness when they saw there were prizes for participating! After, there was a buffet line with lots of interesting African salads the gogos made in addition to the hot dogs.

We then passed out parcels of food and gifts to the group of 15 from the church who have been faithfully coming on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They were SO thankful and grateful. They burst into song and clapped and danced holding their gifts high over their heads. The pictures don’t adequately show how much fun it was. I kept choking up thinking of how such a small parcel could bring such joy. It was SO humbling for Dan and I to be the channel of blessing from you all to this special group. They live on the outskirts of society since there is such an awful stigma about people who have HIV or AIDS and to be included and to receive a special gift…it was overwhelming.

Who knows if they will have another Christmas with us?
Evelyn’s sister died of AIDS the day before the party.

Another lady in the group – Nono – was in the hospital getting treatment and couldn’t come. Honestly, the government hospitals are in such bad shape, I’ve heard many who are sick say they’d rather die at home then endure the hospital. That tells you how sick she has actually become.

Below is our Moroka patient group with Pastor Themba, Pastor John and the Gogos who cook. It’ll be a miracle if 6 of the people in the photo below will be with us next Christmas.
Tough to tell who the sick people are isn’t it!?

Please pray for Evelyn’s family as they grieve and please pray that Nono will get better and have more time with us and her children. Nono’s husband died of AIDS in 2000.

We are so thankful to all of you for helping to make this event possible. This is why I love living here.


PS. 10 days until our due date - baby Miesha should be coming soon! We’d love prayer for a smooth delivery and for peace as we are so far from family at this special time.

November 19, 2007

Baby Shower #2

This last Thursday the ladies from Breakthru Life Church hosted a “stork tea” or baby shower for me. It was beautiful, very memorable, and really different then the shower hosted by the Americans! It was wonderful to get to know some of the gals better – thank goodness for name tags. We played a game, then they went around the room and all told me the 3-5 minute version of their life story (complete with an embarrassing moment!) so I could get to know them better. There was a baby shower dance for me… which actually wasn’t as cheesy as the pictures make it look. I did however get wrapped up in this gauzy pink fabric at the end!

The song they danced to was Twila Paris – May the Lord Bless You and Keep You – it was a beautiful and very worshipful song. There was an extended time of prayer and several of the gals had words from the Lord about Miesha which was amazing and really blessed me. The gifts were great and then we ate goodies together till super late.

Dan and I spent a couple hours last Saturday finalizing things in the nursery. Here are some pictures. I really like how it turned out. A couple of you asked why the crib is so tall – we are going to put a mosquito net over it eventually. Then don’t have screens on ANY of the windows or doors here which gets problematic on really hot nights with bugs. Bugs are bigger here…but that is for another posting!

Just need a few more of those fabric boxes, then it will be perfect.

Went to the Dr today and he said everything is progressing great. Miesha is now 7lbs and we have around 2 weeks left. He thinks she’ll come early and with the heat now – that would be fine by me!

November 14, 2007

the countdown begins!

I had a wonderful baby shower a couple days ago. My missionary teammates threw me a great party and it was so fun to have so many of my favorite women all in the same room. Including the kids who came, there were 25 of us – I felt very loved!!

I want to “introduce” you to some of the women in my life here through this photo.

In the back row: Zanelle (the friendliest lady at Jabavu church. She and her husband just took over pasturing another local church…I miss her!), Sarah (OC team), Denao (my friend Buhle’s step daughter), Maria (she is translating the Bible studies and health lessons I have been writing into the Sotho language for me), Trully (a Sunday School teacher at Moroka church – helped a ton with our short term team), Ria (our office receptionist), Lunga (Buhle’s daughter, one of my favorites!!), Michelle and little girl Tori (missionary with Impact Africa – she and her husband helped us a ton with short term team planning, they’ve done it for 17 yrs! We watch Survivor at their house every week – they are only 2 seasons behind in Africa. I am trying my hardest not to cheat and look on the web to find out who wins!), Heather (OC team), Corina (we trade books back and forth), Barbara (OC team), Angie (Zanelle’s daughter, she left Jabavu to start a church plant with her finance), Buhle (the friend I do the most ministry with – I write about her all the time!) and Annie (OC team daughter). Middle row: Mpumi (Angie’s cousin), Makhotso (I have been informally discipling her about a year now), Marci (another missionary friend with Impact Africa), ME, Heather Witherow (OC team – came to Africa the same time as us), Lesedi (Angie’s son), Jenny (OC team, Annie’s mom). Front row: Isabelle and Michaela (OC team, Barb’s girls), and Skyler (Michelle’s other daughter).

I am positive that is more info than you wanted or needed, but at least now you can refer back to this photo when I write about these ladies!

As I write this, we are exactly 3 weeks away from our due date. We have been in meetings all day for the last two days, hosted mom’s group at my house, had one shower, one to go this week, am planning a 40th birthday party at our house for Friday morning, then am coordinating 2 Christmas parties in the next two weeks…not to mention Thanksgiving. Thank goodness I only have to make pies! I am tired and feel even more so thinking about what is ahead. Baby Miesha can come anytime after Thanksgiving and then I think we’ll be ready. In South Africa, most everyone takes their vacation between Dec 10 and Jan 10 and the entire city of Johannesburg (the size of Los Angeles) feels like a ghost town. The business you'll experience in December with year-end everything and all the holiday parties...that is November for us. I am looking forward to our slower schedule in December to adjust to being a mom!!

As I am sure most of you know – my husband is amazing. A couple months ago Dan decided he’d love to make the baby crib and changing table. He went to a baby store, found a crib he liked, took a couple photos, went to Builder’s Warehouse (a sorry substitute for Home Depot!) and bought all the stuff he thought he’d need and came home and made this fabulous crib. Here are a couple photos of the process.

Our Doctor keeps saying he is convinced Miesha is going to come early. I am not sure to believe him or not. Regardless, she is coming a lot sooner then we originally expected and I am glad that she is coming before the heat of summer really kicks in. It is really starting to get hot here.(remember, seasons are opposite…southern hemisphere/northern hemisphere!) The waiting game begins!!

November 3, 2007

8 months pregnant and Kruger National Park

Our missionary team had a gal from Oregon come and shadow us for the month of October. Erica is considering joining our organization and has a heart for Africa. We thoroughly enjoyed having her with us and it was fun to plan her itinerary and show her around. She went to Zimbabwe and Swaziland and visited local ministries in Johannesburg with myself and other teammates.

On her first day with us, we took her to the Lion Park just outside of Johannesburg. The animals there are relatively tame and provide some great photo moments.

Dan and I are with a very friendly giraffe named Gammit and Erica is in the lion cub pen.

This is a rare "white" lion with bluish eyes. Gorgeous!!

Since Dan and I work with short term missionaries and short term teams as a part of our job description, we did lots of driving with Erica around Southern Africa. While normally that isn’t a big deal since we LOVE traveling, being 8 months pregnant made the time in the car a little more challenging. I calculated out that Dan and I spent 30 hours in the car in 3 days last weekend. I think that is a record somewhere…at least for doing that voluntarily.

We showed Erica through Kruger Park and saw some fabulous animals. I’ll post some of my favorites here:

Also, my friend Beckie F told me I should definitely try to get a picture of me pregnant with an elephant over here. She was convinced that no matter how big my belly was that an elephant in the background would make me feel smaller. We captured that photo moment in Kruger!! This was a smallish elephant, but that is okay. I didn’t really want to pose next to a huge one.

Pregnancy in South Africa

In case you haven’t guessed yet by the voting buttons and the timeline till our due date………yes, we are pregnant and are expecting our baby girl in late November or early December. We are going to call her Miesha and would love your vote for her middle name.

Some fun facts about pregnancy in Africa:

At the black African church in Jabavu that we’ve been attending off and on since we’ve arrived, they don’t say “pregnant” or “pregnancy”. When they started noticing my growing bump, they said, “Oh, you are blessed! When is the little blessing due?” I really like that!

Another English speaking multi-racial church near our home that we have been visiting asked if they could do a baby shower for us. They keep calling Dan’s cell phone to ask him details about dates, girl or boy, etc. We picked a date together and he called them back, just to find out that baby showers in South Africa are surprises. That cultural tidbit we did not know before!!

I was invited to my friend Lollie’s baby shower. She is a white African and an Afrikaans speaker (this usually means her ancestors were Dutch). While most others here call them baby showers, in this case I was invited to Lollie’s Stork Tea. That was a first for me! Her sister emailed me the invitation and directions to the tea garden and it said this: “Jy word vriendelik uitgenooi na Lollie se ooievaarstee. Sien asb uitnodiging!” Yeah, I didn’t understand much of it either. (I was the only first language English speaker invited!!) Of course my email filter thought it was junk and I didn’t find it till after the shower, so I called Lollie to ask for directions. I realize now that since showers are surprises, I ruined that for her without knowing it! That is living in a new culture for you. Sorry Lollie!

This photo was taken at 7 months pregnant. I'll post an updated one soon.

What the heck do missionaries actually do?

We’ve asked ourselves that often in the last 21 months!! We have hosted tons of people in our home - often it is pastor who needs a bed for a night or two and a ride to the airport. We love having pastor’s families over for dinner too. This provides a GREAT opportunity to encourage and challenge them in their life and ministry – we love it! Sometimes it is plucking chickens, giving food hungry kids at a feeding program, or stringing beads and swapping life stories with a group of HIV+ people. Sometimes it is preaching at church or teaching at a conference. Sometimes it is planning a trip for American teams to come and experience life and ministry in Africa. Sometimes it is fixing computers or cars or plumbing or any of the other thousand things my husband knows how to fix. Sometimes it is writing/teaching Bible studies. I seem to spend a lot of time cooking and driving in my car to random places in Southern Africa. Lol!

It seems to boil down to a few things for us. We want to help Africans become more like Christ, we want to give tools to African leaders so that they can grow their churches, reach more people for Christ, and serve/be lights in their communities to draw more people to Christ.

Our mission organization calls themselves a “Barnabas Mission” and I really gel with that idea. Quick background – Barnabas was a guy in the New Testament of the Bible who served alongside this superstar missionary named Paul. Barnabas was just an ordinary man, but he was nicknamed “Son of Encouragement” and basically helped Paul be the extraordinary person in ministry he was known for. In translating this to our life here in Africa – we are not the upfront people all the time. Rather, we serve Africans and work alongside them, coach them, teach them, and love them so that the Africans can better reach the people in their circles of influence for Christ. Doesn’t it make sense that the people who understand the language, culture, history, customs, and cuisine the best are the ones on the front lines communicating the truth of God to others?

We think so too.


In how many languages can you greet someone?

Confession here – I LOVE TRAVELLING!! One of the greatest perks about being a missionary is traveling and learning about people in a bunch of places. As a teenager, I was blessed with the unique opportunity to travel to a bunch of different countries on short term mission trips. I feel that during those trips, God opened my eyes to what He was doing in the world and I remembering praying “If you want me to…I’ll go.”

At that time I didn’t have any idea to which country or culture I would be interested in ministering to, but seemed drawn to Europe since that was where I was most familiar.

God brought me a wonderful man and I have been married to the love of my life for 7 years now. Wow – I am so blessed!

We had the same heart to serve overseas and told each other that we would each visit the other’s favorite country and see if God was leading us to move there and minister. Our first trip was to see South Africa and the plan was to see the Czech Republic next. Well, it was obvious to me that the Lord was drawing my heart to Africa also, so we started the process of formally joining a mission organization. (We never went to Czech!)

After a couple years of raising support, we moved to Johannesburg, South Africa in February of 2006.

I promise that being a missionary is one of the greatest and hardest careers in the world. Our first year here, we were commissioned to “learn language and culture” so that we wouldn’t make as many cultural blunders as missionaries in the past and could earn credibility with the Africans. That turned out to be quite the endeavor! The country of South Africa has 11 nationally recognized languages and at least as many different cultures to learn about. We took Zulu language classes formally and were coached by language tutors in Northern Sotho, Tsonga/Shangaan, and Afrikaans. In addition to the 11 in SA, when we traveled to Mozambique, we tried to pick up some Portuguese and when we traveled to Zimbabwe, we tried to learn some Shona. My brain felt scrambled all year…actually it still feels that way!

We couldn’t possibly retain everything, so now I have the greatest little cheat sheets on 3x5 cards that I keep in my purse to refer back to as needed. Everyone you meet who has gone to school knows way more English then I know of any of their language, so after I attempt to greet them properly, we switch into English after that. It truly does make a difference to Africans to know you are at least trying to learn about their language and culture. We have tried to make a habit of asking “what is your first language” of people we meet in order to greet them or say “thank you” in their language. It is fun to see their faces light up in appreciation.

So, the final tally is: I know how to say hello in 25 languages

That is another fun perk about being a missionary!