December 30, 2008

We hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas celebration and a Happy New Year to you also!

We enjoyed a laid back Christmas brunch with two other missionary families and then had a quiet evening at home playing games with a gal from church. We also had our annual Boxing Day BBQ with the missionaries we work with. Dan had a horrible sore throat for a couple days (including Christmas!) but we are thankful it cleared up in time since the two of us led worship this morning for our teammate Paul’s church plant. It is an Anglican church so it was a little more reserved than we are used to, but it was an interesting change of pace.

Our church is sending approximately 20 young people on a mission trip this week to a small little town on the ocean called Kenton on Sea. Kenton is a party town and during the week between Christmas and New Year, approximately 8,000 young people pitch tents on the beach, listen to their favorite live rock bands, they drink WAY too much, they sleep around, and do drugs. Our church has a free coffee bar that is open all night to help kids sober up, there is a medic who helps with the obvious side effects of drinking too much, they watch out for the gals who might get taken advantage of and they have a lot of fun trying to engage people in conversations about God. They were a huge blessing to the community last year and saw a lot of people give their lives to Christ. Please pray that God will work powerfully in and through the lives of those who go, that they will have many opportunities to share the love of Christ and that many people will respond and give their lives to Christ.

One of the gals who came on our first short term team is returning to Africa to teach school in Bulembu, Swaziland for 1 year. We love Jasmine and are excited she is coming back! It just proves to us the value of short term teams since many who come for a short time end up coming back to commit for longer seasons! She lands on the 2nd, we are hosting a “welcome back” BBQ for her on the 3rd and then we are driving her to the Swazi school on the 4th. We will likely end up back at the Chomba’s home for an extra day or two and Dan can do a little more work on the building we are finishing for the orphan guys who live with Lewis and Maggie. We are looking forward to more time with this wonderful family!

Sorry it has been so long since I've written here. To resolve the picture issue I had to ditch internet explorer and start all over with a new search engine. Switching things around on my technology isn't my favorite, but at least now you can see pictures again. yeah! I haven't been paying much attention to my blog since I have been enjoying facebook so much! I'll post pictures of Miesha's birthday party soon. Smiles, Janell

December 17, 2008


All you really experienced and consistent bloggers out there - this rookie needs some help!

I no longer have the ability to upload pics into my blogs. The actual feature is gone from my "create" posting page. Any suggestions?

November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Africa!

We ended up with 100+ people for the Thanksgiving Feast at our church that we helped to coordinate. It was amazing to be able to share such a special holiday with so many people who we are becoming friends with. Dan carved 10 turkeys in an hour (with an electric knife!) and did a fantastic speech to give everyone a history lesson for the reason for thanksgiving. I went shopping for food for 6 hrs on Tues and then cooked for 3 days with Janet (who is a catering expert and should really count for 5 people) and the Bible students at the church. (these students also were on the Swaziland and Zambian mission trips with us earlier this year) It was really amazing – everyone loved it and has asked us if we can do it again next year. We are up for it!!

Dec 1st is World AIDS Day. It is a time to remember those who are suffering from AIDS and to raise awareness about the disease. Three families from our missionary team will be participating in a special service at Ennerdale Uniting Reformed Church with Pastor Wessie. We partnered with this church’s compassion ministry with our short term team in June and did AIDS visitation to homes and to Village of Hope Hospice Center. After church tomorrow, we will be returning to Village of Hope and I am excited to see everyone and to reconnect with some of the patients.

Then, this coming Thursday we will be hosting a Christmas Party for the AIDS ministry at Moroka Church of the Nazarene. I have worked with this group for almost 2 years and this will be our 2nd Christmas Party. Last year, this was my favorite ministry event of the year and I am looking forward to it very much. This is also a very handy way to utilize the thanksgiving leftovers from the church party - bring on the turkey!! The Bible students from our church will be helping at this event also. For some of them, it will be their first exposure to people who are sick with AIDS.

Thanks again for praying for my recovery from the operation. I think it is truly a miracle that I am doing so well and credit it to all the prayers on my behalf. I haven’t had pain in days (even with all the long hours of prep for Thanksgiving) and even the scar is really faint. God is good.

I’ll write a long newsy posting with pictures once we have completed the Christmas party on Thursday.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


November 21, 2008


While I haven't gone out much - this recovery has given me some good "deep thinking" time, I have read some books, have watched a couple chick flicks (thank you Barb!) and have decided to enjoy all the people who are giving to our family here. Sometimes it takes getting some of your guts cut out in a foreign country for me to slow down enough to realize how many people love us!!

For the many phone calls, e-mails, encouraging notes, flowers, CHOCOLATES, visits and meals - we are SO GRATEFUL. I was even given a very-hard-to-find-in-Africa Dr. Pepper! (thanks Michelle) Funny how much Dr. Pepper is speeding up my recovery!

I get the fantastic priviledge of planning two holiday parties and at this point I can do a lot of planning from my computer or while sitting down which is working well.

I am having fun searching for Thanksgiving recipes, checking out what Martha Stewart's website recommends for centerpieces, and trying to figure out where I can find autumn colored stuff when it is spring here in Africa. The Thanksgiving Feast is for a group of about 120 at our church. This morning in my Beth Moore study I was reading about Thanksgiving in the Old Testament. Well, actually it is when the Israelites were preparing to build the sanctuary in the desert so that the presence of God would dwell with them. Their songs of thanks and their outpouring of gifts - so many that Moses had to tell them to stop giving. It is one of the few times where the Israelites did things right!

I am trying to brainstorm creatve ways (besides an open mic to share what you are thankful for) that will cause my friends here to reflect deeply and meaningfully on how God has blessed them and to say thank you in a new way. If you have any ideas...please let me know!!

The week after our big Thanksgiving Feast at our church, on Dec. 4th we will be throwing a huge party in Soweto for my friends who are sick with AIDS. As usual, the party is already growing from "only around 25" to closer to 50. I think I am going to mentally prepare for 80 so I don't get surprised later on! This was one of my favorite events last year and I know I am going to love it again this year. We are going to do a Christmas program with a devotional by yours truly, some Christmas games, have a choir sing, eat together and have a special gift giving time. For many, this will be their only Christmas gift. When I asked my friends Mafika and Dumi what they wanted for their gift this year, their answers broke my heart. They asked for a toothbrush, laundry soap, and body soap. They need the basics this year. Since times are hard everywhere, those who are the recipients of charity feel the lack most keenly.

It will be so rewarding to be able to bless them all. Thank you to Fairfield Community Church for sponsoring this event!

November 17, 2008

Janell is home

Hey Everyone –

This is Janell writing and I am happy to be HOME and writing you myself! J I had no idea that this weekend was going to be so eventful. On Friday, I had actually started writing a letter to everyone explaining how everything had been fairly “normal” for us since Dan’s kidney stone, but I am going to scrap that letter and start over.

While spending time in the hospital is not my idea of a good time, I did receive good care, my inflamed appendix is gone forever, and I am the happy recipient of some great pain pills, so life will slowly get back to normal here. I am under strict orders not to pick Miesha up for 6 weeks to protect my internal stitches from tearing, but I have no idea how we are going to manage that one. My missionary friends are bringing meals this week which will help a lot. We actually have the Vanderhaar family staying with us through Wed and they have been super helpful to watch Miesha while Dan was at the hospital with me. Megan has been cooking…they have been a blessing.

I am so thankful that Dan turned down several opportunities to travel in the next couple weeks. Actually, he would’ve been in Zimbabwe this whole time if he had said yes to one request and could've been hunting this weekend with friends. Praise God he was home. He gets a gold medal for being a great husband and dad through crises time for both Miesha (chicken pox) and myself!

Miesha is pretty emotional. I am sure it was a bit confusing to have been gone so much. I am looking forward to snuggling with her again when she wakes up from her nap this morning.

THANK YOU all so much for your prayers for our family. It has been challenging, but we feel your prayers and are so grateful for the many friends we have here who are helping us also. Thank you for your notes while I was in the hospital. It was fun to hear from so many of you.


hosp update #2

I realize that you have gotten a lot of info on our family in the last few days, but I am not sure how to whittle down her email list. This may be the last email from me (Dan) on her computer. Hopefully the next one will come from her. I’m sure she would write from the hospital, but there is no connection there.

Janell came through her surgery really well. She is now appendix free. We hope and pray that was the issue. Only time will tell. Depending on how well she recovers, she may have to stay through till late Monday just to make sure she is rested. Here’s the irony, the nurses come in every hour waking you up by cleaning, and emptying the trash, and asking if you would like some tea (at 5 in the a.m.) and checking blood pressure, etc. Not so restful. So Janell is determined to fake how well she is doing, even if she is not, just to get out of there and sleep in her own bed. Praying for a speedy recovery might not be a bad idea in order to warrant an early release.

I think I have printed off 15 full pages of email well wishes so far. Thank you so very much. It evokes much emotion realizing how much we are loved. And Miesha too. I have received at least 8 sms’s (text messages) asking to watch Miesha. She is very flattered. We are grateful for everything we have received from our friends. It makes living on the other side of the world a touch easier.

Blessings to all of you.

Dan for Janell and Miesha.

Hosp update

Hey again,

OK, we have the scoop.

Things do not happen fast around here as far as hospitals go. And no one will do anything until you either pay up front, or sign your life away and commit to paying your bill. And it’s not one bill. It is the Dr., surgery staff, hospital, anesthesiologist, pharmacy, x-ray, blood lab, all on separate accounts even though it is the same building. It looks like a western hospital, but doesn’t work quite the same.

Anyway, the CT scan ruled out anything to do with Janell’s reproductive system, but did not really quantify her appendix. However, the doctor wants to take out the appendix just to be on the safe side. Who knows what an appendix does anymore anyway. I think it was to filter the moisture out of the body before the flood. After the flood it just became a placeholder. Who knows? Janell will be coming home a few ounces lighter.

Her surgery is at 2:00pm CAT. That is 4:00am PST(We are currently 10hrs ahead of the west coast). She will then stay over tonight (Saturday), and possibly Sunday night depending on her recovery.

Miesha is doing very well and as far as I know slept from 9pm until 5am, took a bottle, and then slept another 2 hours. That was very nice. Her 21 pox are going away and she hasn’t had any more appear for the last 2 days.

I think that is all the important info. Thank you for all of the love and well wishes for Janell. I have been printing them and taking them to her. They definitely brighten her up!



Hartleys are having a bad week

It is I, Dan, writing from Janell’s computer.

I am writing this message because Janell is currently sleeping in the hospital. It seems she is trying to outdo me on hospital visits here in South Africa. It wasn’t enough that Miesha came down with chicken pox three days ago, Janell wanted in on the action. She had some abdomen pain that started a few days ago. Then this morning she was sitting at her computer dripping sweat. I then knew something was wrong. Janell is usually freezing until the temperature reaches the mid 90’s. This morning it was only 71 degrees.

We spent the afternoon and evening doing blood work and ultrasound scans. No we are not pregnant, but we needed to rule it out. It looks as though she may have appendicitis. The doctor is about 80% sure, but is going to do a CT Scan in the morning to confirm. He needs to confirm that it is not something to do with her ovary.

So, would you please take a moment to pray for Janell.

That she will be at peace and get rest as she is on her own in the hospital. They don’t let anyone stay over for any reason. She said that she was sad I was going, but I think she is more sad that she won’t be waking up with Miesha at 3 a.m.

That the Dr. will be confident and accurate in his diagnosis.

Pray also that our little girl won’t be to miserable as she finishes her bought with the chicken pox.

Also for me as I will be a stay at home dad for a few days. I’ve got it all under control except the waking up at night part. I sleep pretty hard, (much to Janell’s dismay) and Miesha might end up learning to sleep thru because her dad might not hear her. Which might not be such a bad thing.

I will send an update out sometime tomorrow when we know more.

Thank you for all your love and support,


November 8, 2008


My sister finally convinced me that it was finally time to take the plunge and join

I had a bad experience with myspace (my site was hijacked and "I" started sending porn to random friends and relatives. SOOOOOOOOOOOOO embarassing!) so I had sworn of "those websites" forever. However, facebook has been pretty fun. I have found a lot of new and old friends and the picture posting stuff is easy. I am going to create a bunch of albums this week.

For all you facebookin' friends of mine - come and find me!

November 6, 2008

Election Response in Africa

Okay, I have to admit straight away...I didn't vote this year! We tried to set up our absentee voting ballots back in February and ever since then there has been issues. To make a long story shorter - we never got our ballots.

We have heard several times from friends here, "When America sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold." Meaning that, when America's financial infrastructure crumbles, so does the rest of the world's. When America makes policies on gay marriages, the rest of the world votes on them too. When America elects a new president, it impacts many things in other countries around the world.

In church on Sunday a guest pastor from Uganda preached and their country is really going to suffer because of the financial crunch in the states. They receive a great deal of foreign aid from 5 Western wealthy countries and without it, people won't get seeds to plant, they won't receive subsidy for education, no food suppliments, and things generally will just be harder.

It has been interesting to observe how our continent feels about the American Presidential elections. I never met one person in the last year who wanted McCain to win. EVERYONE wanted a black president and it didn't matter at all what his views or opinions are. Before the elections, someone told us that if Obama didn't win, it would prove that racism was indeed alive and well still in America. (What??) Since Apartheid (racism was the law) was only discontinued in 1994 in South Africa, here there is still a strong sense that someone's race (or tribe) still is the biggest factor in whether or not to vote for someone. If you don't think this is true - just you watch and see what the South African Presidential election results will be next year!

On the radio yesterday when people were calling in to discuss the results - people were actually crying with joy and dreaming about all the things Obama will do to help the continent of Africa. Kenya actually proclaimed a National Holiday in Obama's honor. Wow.

Dan and I are of the opinion that Obamba will have his hands completely full with trying to save the USA economy and will likely not be able to assist in solving the African problems as well.

We definitely do not agree with many of the things that Obama stands for, but we are excited that America does have a black president and we will pray for him like we do many other world leaders.

Randy Alcorn (I enjoy his books tremendously!) wrote a great blog today: Definitely check it out!

The answers are...

Slops =

Paw Paw =

Spanspek =

Thanks to all of you who guessed. And yes, Trayson...googling is cheating!



November 3, 2008

What did I buy??

Today, I wore my "slops" to the grocery store and I bought a "paw paw" and a "spanspek". What do you think these are? Leave me your guesses in my comments section and then I'll tell you what they are in a couple days!

October 27, 2008

Miesha is a M & M

I love M & Ms and I love Miesha...

Love Letter = Animals!

In my mom's group at church a couple weeks ago we were talking about "love letters from God" to people. The idea is from the book Captivating. Basically it is something in your life that is unique, unexpected or supernatural and is special and meaningful -basically it is like God shouting "I love you" to your heart. I am not explaining this very well...

Anyway, last Thursday I met up with some other missionaries at the Botanical Gardens to celebrate my teammate Sarah's birthday. As I was waiting for everyone, I saw around 100 butterflies in 15 minutes. I LOVE butterflies. I was pretty excited because I thought this was God's love letter to me this week. Then, about an hour later, I saw a pretty large tortoise. I have NEVER seen a tortoise at the Botanical Gardens and this was my 6th or 7th visit. I was excited and asked the Lord - is this the love letter? I kept walking around the garden and by the time Miesha and I were back at the entrance gate we had seen 3 tortoises and two funny looking rodents, a crazy colored grasshopper and this waterfall.

Both Miesha and the tortoise didn't want thier photo taken!

Even in the middle of a massive, crime filled city - there are still evidences of God all around me if I take time to look for them.

Then, today Dan brought home this funny looking creature:

He was working on our pastor's computer at the church and the groundskeeper found this cameleon. He was bright green when calm and turned real dark when we introduced him to our cat!

October 26, 2008

The Papaya Song is BACK!!!!!

Hello Everyone!

This has been a full week for us!

We really enjoyed family camp with our church last weekend. We caravanned with a family who just joined our life group and ended up being the first ones to arrive. We walked around the grounds for around 30 minutes and then unloaded everything quickly since the first storm of the rainy season was upon us! We haven’t had a good rain since June so this was welcomed, but it did complicate things a bit for family camp! There was intense thunder and lightening and the municipality of the county kept turning the power off to keep the lightening from damaging things. We ate all of our evening meals in candle light and had the evening sessions and talent show illuminated via generator. It was great atmosphere, but challenging because of all the mud and having to stumble around in the dark! We would do it all over again in a heartbeat. We loved getting to know everyone a little better.
Our Life Group's "Talent" for the talent show was pretty funny. We taught them two songs that were favorites of Dan's middle schoolers - The Papaya Song and Pharoah Pharoah. We made total fools of ourselves all dressed up in Dan's Hawaiian shirts and doing exaggerated motions - it was a big hit.

We were guessing that after a weekend of playing at camp together that no one would come for the evening service to hear Dan preach. We were joking all week about the four people who would come! We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were wrong. Dan printed 60 fliers to hand out and there were not enough for everyone. This was the first time that our church had heard him preach and he did a fantastic job!! It fit perfectly with the flow of the sermon series we had been going through all month and also the sessions at camp. It was timely, encouraging, and really blessed people.

We had lunch with the pastor and his wife on Monday afternoon and they asked Dan to consider joining the preaching rotation and also to be available to be a substitute pastor to teach when other pastors in the denomination are away. It was tremendously affirming! Thank you for all of your prayers!

In the 7 days of this week we had 11 meal meetings with different ministry partners. (Lots of eating!!) These last few months have taken us out of our usual communication with them and it was good to catch up with so many people. This week we hope to connect with a few more as well.

Dan is also working on the Thembe Orphan Homes in Pretoria again this week (or maybe it is next??). He loves serving through using his hands and tools!

Miesha is yelling at me wanting her breakfast and we have to dash off to church now. We love you all!

October 20, 2008


Who do you think she looks like now?!! I hope this is a phase...
(We teach our daughter bad habits when we are bored on long flights!)

New Hartley pictures

We were asked to contribute a picture of the three of us for a church missions pamphlet something or another and they needed it ASAP. We drove to the church and our friend Luke was photographer for us. As you can see by these photos...Miesha isn't quite sure about him!

Or, maybe she is just tired of us trying to capture her cuteness on camera...

I do love this one...

and this one!!

Funny Pumpkin Pic

I know this is a diversion from my usual genre of postings...but I couldn't resist! Happy Fall, y'all.

October 11, 2008

Village of Hope

One of my favorite days during that short term team was the Saturday we went to visit some patients at the Village of Hope - an AIDS hospice center. We decided that rather than going to sing and preach to them (since they get that quite a bit already), we would go in to pamper them and give them a special party. Approximately 15 ladies from the local church we are partnering with also joined us and we had a wonderful time being the hands of Jesus to love these people who are dying. We soaked their feet and rubbed wonderful smelling lotions over their frail legs. We cut their toe nails and painted the ladies’ finger nails. We did makeovers, we gave them chocolates and coke and brightened up their living room with lots of balloons. Some guys from the worship team went room to room singing worship songs to them. We took their pictures, then printed them and gave them back to them to keep or to give to their families. Ruth took my big book of scrapbooking pages from room to room and let each person choose the special paper behind thier picture. Every person's picture turned out pretty great, but there was one man in particular who had a very winning smile. As I was gluing his picture to the paper he chose, we realized that he had chosen a very "girly" page with phrases like "sassy ladies" and "girls just wanna have fun" in a cute white font on black paper. We had so much fun teasing him about it! One thing I have learned about hanging out with people who are dying is that they love to have their minds taken off of the fact that they are nearing the end. Treating them as if they are normal, teasing them, doing special things to help them know they are special help so much to build bridges. My friend Maria was cutting toe nails - talk about serving!! - and kept telling each sick person, "I left my glasses at home today, but I think I can still see your nails there and I don't think these clippers are too sharp" and they would pull away in shock not wanting to get cut until they realized that she was joking with them! Instead of being nervous about what you might "catch" from them, showing them Jesus's love is pretty easy and then it opens up their hearts to hear more of the gospel.

Usually an easy way to open up a conversation with a stranger in Africa is to ask questions about their family or kids. I wanted to talk with one lady and when I asked if she had children, she turned away from me, and refused to talk to me anymore. I could tell I had made a serious blunder so I asked one of the ladies to interpret for me and see what I had done to offend her. Apparently this lady had two little girls (ages 5 and 2) and no one from her family would agree to help her care for them. She left her little girls with a neighbor when she came to live out the last days of her life at Village of Hope. She didn't want to talk about them because she had no idea how they were or if they were being taken care of. Doesn't that break your heart? It sure did mine! It is hard for me to imagine being in such a desperate place, but it unfortunately is more common here than I originally realized.

God opened up opportunities for us to talk to some of these people and to say “Jesus loves you” in a way that could be received. One lady named Jostina told me that she was angry with God about being sick and lonely and I was able to tell her that this party today and the gift of being loved and cared for by us was evidence that God sees her and still loves her. She cried and gave me a hug. It was an amazing day!

The ladies from the church were so excited about how well the party went and committed to return every two months to do special days like this.

Since I know many of you are curious, Miesha does accompany us while we are doing ministry. However, in cases like this where she would be exposed to sick people, she stays in the car and Dan and I take turns staying with her.

Thank you for your prayers for us. They really do make a difference!!

This is what one of the team members said:
“My name is Kristen Lakjer, and I come from sunny California. Africa has been on my heart for many years. Through prayer and investigating different missions agencies, the Lord directed me to serve in South Africa with Dan and Janell Hartley. I didn’t know what God had in store for my journey to South Africa, but I had full trust that He would guide me a long the way, and He sure did!

I look back on my time here in Africa and there is one experience that stands out most in my mind. I have to tell you a story of Nkhnsane. I met Nkhnsane at Village of Hope, which is an AIDS hospice in Ennerdale. Nkhnsane is twenty-six years old with two daughters, ages seven and nine. What I noticed most about Nkhnsane is the joy she had. I could see the love of God shining through her face. Her smile was so bright that I too could not help but smile. The day I met Nkhnsane she was to go home for three days to visit her family. I was so happy for her. It was a blessing to me to see God being faithful to her, even though she was sick. She told me that everything in her life belongs to God, and that she gets by day to day because she has the love of Jesus in her heart. I was sad to say goodbye to Nkhnsane, not knowing what would happen the next day.

The next day we went to Finetown and made some home visits. One of the homes we happened to visit was Nkhnsane’s family’s home. It was such a joy to meet up with her again. I was able to meet her mother, father, and her two daughters. Even though my time was short with Nkhnsane, I was able to connect with her as a sister in Christ. I will always have her in my prayers and I ask that you remember Nkhnsane as well, because she is now back at Village of hope till she gets to go home again.”

This is her posing in front of the corregated metal shack that her girls and parents live in.

October 4, 2008

Finetown Recap

Back to the beginning...

We had Ruth and Kristen with us for three weeks in June/July and we did ministry together in Finetown with Pastor Terrance Wessels. All his friends call him "Wessie". We admire him and the work he and his church do in the impoverished community right down the street from where they live. In this photo, Wessie is in the front, Heather (dark blue) and Jenny (brown sweatshirt) are OC missionary teammates, Kristen is front left, Ruth is front right holding Miesha, Tina (in orange) and Helen (black and white stripes) are members of Wessie's church's Compassionate Care team. Micah Witherow (baseball cap) got the day off of school to come and help us do ministry. I am so glad that his parents let him do this. I think there is no better education than working with and helping people in circumstances which are different than yours. We loved working with this group!

Finetown isn't "fine" at all and it is filled with people deperate for a touch of love and the gift of hope. We worked at a project called Zanzele ("do it yourself") for a week. There are around 60 trained health care volunteers who work in pairs to serve those dying of AIDS in their communties. Zanzele also is a home where 28 orphan kids live with their foster mother Mama Linda. She is my new hero!

Zanzele also has a feeding project on the campus and they give free food to several hundred children each day and also assist some elderly people who do not have any money. The priority is to feed orphans and vulnerable children - can you imagine several hundred orphaned and vulnerable children in your small neighborhood? (vulnerable children is a definition given to kids in several types of situations. The most common scenario is they may still have one parent, but that parent is sick with AIDS and can't work/can't care for them.)

Ruth is a nurse in Canada and she and Dan did a first aid training for the people who work with those sick with AIDS.

Several people said it was a really helpful review and many said they learned something new! Ruth also did a workshop on how to process grief since everyone every day are surrounded by death and those who are dying. There were lots of tears, some good processing, and valuable counseling type listening techniques communicated. One thing I have observed about Africans and how they process grief is that they rarely give themselves permission to cry, to grieve and to talk about their pain. I have seen this several times with the parents are dying, the kids watch their parents get sick and waste away to skeletons, but they are not allowed to ask questions about what is going on. They know their parents are dying, but they can't ask "how much time do you have left? who will care for me when you are gone?" Many never get to hear stories about their parent's lives that are crucial to pass from generation to generation. (Can you tell I am passionate about this?!! This is why I am writing the Bible Study curriculum for my friends who are dying of AIDS. A portion of it is called Leaving A Legacy...teaching them how to write their life stories to pass along to their kids. It is now translated into the Sotho language!)

Below are the healthcare workers who attended the class. There were 4 health facilities represented and these leaders will in turn teach others underneath them to maximize the impact of this training!

Several of the ladies had deep pain that they were willing to share with the group. One lady shared the pain of growing up without her father. She tracked him down and wanted to have a relationship with him. She also asked him if he would help fund her education so she could become a nurse. She only knew him for one year before he died of AIDS and he didn't make any attempt to build relationship with her or to assist her in acheiving her dream of becoming a nurse. She was grieving the loss of a father (even though he was absent) and also her dream of becoming a nurse to help people.

Another lady had just buried a husband two months before and was struggling to process her grief with friends who had a difficult time understanding and supporting her. This training will be an amazing tool these gals can use to help people they meet to process grief.

October 3, 2008

Was going to feeling much better!

I was just browsing through my blog entries and realized that I really haven't updated you on anything that has been going on since June! And boy, there has been a LOT!

For 3 days this week, we went away on a retreat with our missionary teammates. This couldn't have come at a better time since Dan and I were EXHAUSTED and badly in need of rest. There was a point last week where if I was allowed, I think I seriously would've considered resigning from being a missionary and heading back to the states where life would be easier. Miesha wasn't sleeping well (cutting 4 teeth at once...cute little overachiever!) which means I wasn't getting much sleep, I had a sinus infection for 2+ weeks, we had just put my parents on the plane, we said goodbye to a good friend who just moved back to the states (we miss you Marci!) and we had either been traveling with teams or had people staying with us for 70 of the past 109 days. (yes, i just counted!) To top it off, last week Dan had a kidney stone and was in the hospital for 24 hours. Stressful! That came as the "icing on the cake" for me and seemed to suck the last ounce of energy I had left.

Last Sunday in church our pastor's wife Lisa prayed for me. She prayed for refreshment and renewal and for God to "refill my gas tank" so that I could keep going.

The last couple days were good in that regard. We did some swimming, some bike riding, some napping, and feel that our batteries are recharged. PRAISE GOD!

I think that I'll try to update you on our adventures in the past couple months in bits and pieces...starting from the earliest and moving forward from there. God did some amazing things in and through the teams we led and I am excited to share them with you all. (hopefully many of you will have already heard some of the stories because of our email updates, but I'll try to add more pics!)

Thanks for bearing with my lack of postings! I hope to get into a groove here soon. lol

September 17, 2008

it's been a long time

This is another posting to say "sheesh, I haven't written anything in forever!" and to again promise that I at least hope to post some really great stories and pictures soon. My parents have now been here 3 weeks and we have enjoyed their visit. My mom watched Miesha for me several times in the afternoons so I could "get stuff done" but instead of blogging I have prioritized SLEEPING and also trying to finish some 80 thank you notes from baby shower gifts given to Miesha in March. SO embarrassing!

Miesha is trying to cut 4 teeth at once and she is SO close - we can see all of them because her gums are so thin. She has been a little more "relational" (can't be without her mother for more than 10 seconds) and also is a little more fussy. For a week there she was up 4-5x a night again. I am tired!!

As much as we've enjoyed my folks here, it will also be nice to be just us again for a while. We have either had people living with us or we have been on the road traveling to do ministry/mission trips for 8 of the last 12 weeks. Miesha told me recently she wants to stay home for longer than a couple days this time.

I totally understand! More coming soon. (I hope!)

August 26, 2008

I am back!!

I know that I haven't posted anything in ages...sorry! We have been in Botswana and Zambia the last two weeks and we had so many adventures. Someday I WILL get enough time to write about a few of them. I have all these future blog post ideas floating around in my head. After 16 hours of driving (in one day!!) we got home from our trip late Friday night,recovered a bit on Saturday, went to church and cleaned the house and had a friend over for dinner on Sunday, Monday I did 10 loads of laundry, today we worked to clean up our yard and had some friends over for dinner, and my parents will land in about 9 hours and will be visiting us for 3.5 weeks.

I am excited for Miesha to get more time with them. She has cut two teeth and started crawling!! Such a cutie. She is going through a phase where she constantly wants to be held and climb up her parent's legs to try standing up. I hope my mom will hold Miesha and give me a little extra computer time.

I promise I'll post pictures soon.

Heading to bed. I only got 5 hours of sleep last night because I went to bed late and Miesha was up early. I hope this season of tiredness is temporary, but my friend Heather lovingly told me tonight that my days of sleeping in are pretty much over for the next decade. Sigh...

August 7, 2008

Resurrection Plant

I have a before and after picture of a plant that was given to me. A couple weeks ago with Kristen and Ruth we went on a nature hike guided by our new friend Oldrich. He is an expert in nature and conservation and has been creating a nature trail (takes anywhere between 4-7 hours to hike it) to bring in money and tourism for an impoverished community. Great guy and a really neat idea...

At the top of the hill, Oldrich broke off a couple pieces of a plant that looked like it had been burned. He gave me a piece and here it is:

This is the plant after it has been in water for 2 days. Pretty cool!

The locals call it the Resurrection Plant because it obviously looks dead and then comes back to life with water!

I haven't written in awhile because we have been out of town with Team #2 to Swaziland and then after we got home, all 3 of us have been really sick with head colds. Blech.

I am feeling a little bit like this plant before it got water. I am tired, prickly, feeling a bit dry and in need of some refreshment! Please pray for our family. We are in need of healing for our sickness and must be well before we travel up to Zambia early next week with Team #3.

I want to be like this plant and bust out with leaves and healthiness so that I can be a blessing to this next team and to the Zambians we will be ministering to.

So much to do...but if you are lucky, I may get one more blog posted before we go! However, when I get a few more minutes to myself, I have some amazing pics of Swaziland to post for you all to see.

Baby girl just woke up - gotta go!

July 9, 2008

Week 3 with team

In our sermon at church this Sunday we were asked a question. “Are you a human BEING or a human DOING?” The preacher went on to say, “The everyday love you show to people is what truly matters. This is the heart of Christ. The love of Christ you have received isn’t just for you, it is meant for you to give it away to others.” This summarizes perfectly what I have seen in the lives of Kristen and Ruth in the last three weeks.

Yesterday we took them to the airport to return home. We have really enjoyed our ministry with them and feel that together we were able to contribute to existing outreaches and to come alongside community leaders and pastors to help them have a deeper impact for Christ. Praise God!

Our Vaalwater ministry this last week was shorter and a little different than we had originally dreamed about doing, but God was definitely in it. We worked with the Africa Community Outreach ministry of Hamish and Terri Rodgers last Monday – Wednesday in a rural area that the locals call “the bush”.

In urban ministry, we have seen a lot of heartbreaking situations and have cried with many people here as they have shared their life stories with us. However, as we were working with the Rodgers in the bush, I found my heart breaking when I heard the stories of almost everyone that they introduced us to. Their ministry is an emergency response to the need they see all around them. They give out food parcels, they build homes for people, they give out baby formula, they purchase school uniforms so children can get an education, they do a feeding ministry which on an average week gives out 1200 meals, and they also work with farm schools to distribute food and supplies to the children.

The biggest need in this community is WATER. One reservoir is cracked and doesn’t hold any water, the other one has an open top to catch rain water which works, but it also catches rats and makes the water filled with disease from the decomposing critters. They have running water in some of the homes for one hour every second day. For the homes without running water, they share the 3 community taps with the other 10,000 people in their area. Can you imagine how much different your life would be without accessible water? No gardens for food, bathing is a luxury, everything is unsanitary since you don’t always have water to wash dishes or clothes, and you have to cook for several days on the days you do have water. While staying in their community, I thanked God every time I had running water.

I’ll share just one story with you: The patriarch of this family I met doesn’t have any legs and is in a wheelchair. Obviously it is impossible for him to find work. His 2 daughters 12 grandchildren live with him in a two room house pictured here (that Hamish and Terri built for them) and have one single bed – most sleep on the dirt floor. Terri told me that when she first met this family, the two smallest children were literally starving to death since they didn’t have any money for food. She pulled the little guys into her arms and said “these two are alive because of me.”

On Monday Dan and Ruth taught a first aid class to a group of 15 people. Most are either community leaders or are in ministry. They were so thankful for the training and said they learned a lot! You can see the first aid kits that were given to them in the picture.

On Tuesday we did a presentation at a farm school. Farm schools are a lot like what you would picture in America 100 years ago. It is a small one or two room building where grades 0-6 are taught at once by one teacher and grades 7-12 are all taught together in the other room. These classrooms are built on the farm property to educate the children of the workers.

Kristen shared her testimony and Ruth did a short hygiene presentation which brought tons of giggles as she used red paint to demonstrate how germs are spread. J We handed out sandwiches and boiled eggs and juice and then gave each of the kids a small toy. Since the children were on school break, they are not likely to get enough food at home so the sandwiches were a welcomed gift. (Kristen with some of the girls from the school)

Wednesday was “soup kitchen” day. We made hundreds of sandwiches to give away at 3 different locations throughout the day. The first one had around 200 kids, the second around 100, the 3rd around 300-400. There was a short gospel message, lots of singing and then food distribution time. I can’t tell you how much joy it gave us to know that at least the kids will go to bed with a satisfied belly that night. (Ruth is handing out milk)

Terri’s mother experienced a decline in her health while we were staying with them so they returned to Johannesburg to be with her and our ministry days with them were cut a little short. However, as several of us were recovering from flu bugs, a few more days of rest were just what we needed. Please continue to pray for “Mum” that she will experience God’s peace and that they will be able to meet her health needs in the coming days.

We have a few days to catch up on sleep and finalize some planning before our next team arrives on the 19th of July. Two guys are coming from North America to join a group of seven South Africans to do a work project in Swaziland. We are excited to be 1/3 of the way through our short term teams!
Miesha is a good little traveler and had a fan club everywhere we took her.

(pics coming soon!)

Week 2 with team

Hello Everyone,
We have had a really great week! Thank you for praying for us.

Early this week Monday through Wednesday we were in a township called Finetown working at a preschool. Finetown is not a very “fine town”. It is full of shacks and run down residences. People there are struggling to find employment and sustainable incomes to support their families. When we asked Pastor Wessie what we could do to help that would last after we leave the community – he said the teachers at this local crèche (preschool) could really use some training. I recruited our teammates Heather Witherow who was a teacher in the states for 20 years and Jenny Teichert who has taught Sunday School for 10 years. The two of them did a fabulous job and in usual African style, things were a little different than what we expected.

Heather wrote a wonderful summary so I’ll include it here for you to read:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13

Janell sent me a sms right before our time at Zenzele Daycare/Preschool in Finetown was to start saying, “Just a head’s up. Wessie has invited more teachers to the training next week.”

Have you ever been “all ready to go” with something, and then come to find out that you have more work to do at the last minute? That note caused me to fly into high gear and get more teacher packets and materials put together by Monday.

It was worth it.

Last month, Janell and Dan asked Jenny and me if we would be willing to help with their short-term team the last week of June. They only had two STEP people (short-term mission of two weeks) coming this year and needed us to help put together a hands-on workshop on how to teach, structure a preschool day, and provide materials. Their STEP people weren’t teachers, but would help us in any way we needed.

So, on Monday we set out for Finetown not knowing exactly what to expect. We put together a theme of “God Made Me” and modeled how to teach it to all the teachers with the children from Zenzele Preschool/Daycare/HIV/AIDS outreach. We were told to expect 120 children (ages 2-6). However, because the school holidays began this week, we had 40-50 children each day. In addition to them, at 1 pm or so, older children from the community come to the Zenzele facility to get a meal. Once there, they hang out. Throughout the course of the time there, we not only had preschoolers to manage, but the older kids too.

With the help of the other teachers who came to observe and learn, we had more hands to assist us and native Sotho speakers to help when we needed translation.

The little children had never done the things we presented. Playing with play dough, finger painting, coloring with a crayon, making a mask from a paper plate were all new experiences. So, we had to help them by hand in nearly every case. To say we were busy, is an understatement.

The teachers were so thankful to receive the packets and materials we put together for them. Gratitude radiated from them. But also need.

When Jenny asked them what their biggest need was, they all said, “food” in unison. Imagine that. Food is their greatest school supply need as a teacher. They feed their students two meals a day. Not only to teaching, the majority of the teachers prepare food for their children every day.

I put together a questionnaire for the teachers at the end of our time asking how they would like us to follow-up with them. Every teacher had a list, with food at the top of the list. Next were tables, chairs, carpets, toys, school supplies, and teaching materials. All of them asked for teaching on child development and more ideas on how to teach concepts and develop themes. Most of the teachers have never been trained in any way. Running a preschool/crèche provides income for their family.

We had twelve+ teachers participate in our training who represented nine different preschools/crèches in the Finetown Community. Each preschool/crèche has between 40-120 children in attendance.

It was a great week. If you would like to see more pictures and a little 10 second video of our time in Finetown, then please check out my blog…

Thank you for your prayers for me this week and in the future as we contemplate how to follow-up in Finetown.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Zimbabwe too.

With love,

We loved our 3 days working with the children and pray that the investment we made there will last far into the future. One quick thing to add – while Heather was teaching indoors, Dan was outside working on the play equipment. He quickly became everyone’s favorite because he fixed all the swing sets, slides, and jungle gyms. There was a lot more laughter on the playground once Dan finished welding! J

Wednesday night we left Johannesburg to go up to Kruger National Park and while we were driving I got a phone call that left a huge knot in my stomach. It was from Hamish Rogers, our ministry partner for the second half of this trip. He said that his mother in law had a massive stroke. They did surgery to remove an abscess on her brain and she lapsed into a coma like state for 2 days. They weren’t sure if “Mum” would last the weekend. They weren’t sure they would be able to be a part of the ministry plan we had put into place for next week. Wow. Talk about a change of plans. We weren’t sure what we were going to do. These ministry weeks take quite a bit of planning and I wasn’t sure we could come up with a comparable plan B in time. We did a lot of praying and asking the Lord for wisdom!

Praise God, we heard from Hamish on Saturday night that Mum was awake and sitting up and responding to people around her. This is a huge answer to prayer. We are also thankful to God that Hamish and Terri are still able to do ministry with us Monday – Wednesday this week. We will be working in an impoverished community called Leseding to provide some first aid and sanitation training as well as some youth programs and a feeding program. We hope to contribute towards and further the work they are already doing in their community.

We had a wonderful 2 days in Kruger Park and saw tons of beautiful wild animals in creation. It is always a fantastic experience!!

For this coming week – please pray for:
- our health! Dan, Janell and Kristen are sick with head colds. Please pray that Miesha and Ruth won’t catch it and that we will recover quickly!
- For continued healing for Terri’s mother
- For open doors as we minister in the community of Leseding.
- For Ruth and Kristen to experience all God wants for them here in Africa
- Safety as we travel
- FOR ZIMBABWE. Our brothers and sisters up there are really struggling as this was the week of the run-off elections. Please pray for God’s protection and provision. I am forwarding another email to you with Zim details for prayer.

We are so grateful for your partnership!

Dan, Janell, Miesha (and Ruth Richardson and Kristen Lakjer this month!)

Week 1 of ministry with team (June 16-22)

You are so important to what we are doing here!

Let me start by apologizing for not getting a letter out last weekend. It has been SO busy and each night sleep ended up taking priority. As we look back the past two weeks and at what is ahead in the next 14 days, we are thrilled at what we see God doing and are excited about what is ahead!

First off, last week Monday through Friday Dan worked long hours each day to frame in a building for a project called the Themba (hope) Orphan Homes. There are two buildings for orphan homes and another building for kitchen, living room, and offices. Dan framed in the kitchen/office and it was approximately 25ft by 50ft. He was recruited about a month ago to be the lead framer because most structures in this area are made out of bricks and they needed someone with expertise in wood framing to help. It was a delight for him to serve them in this way. In usual Dan style, he grabbed his tools and worked hard until his part was finished. He has no idea how many children will be living there or what the mission statement is for the ministry…he was just happy to help! J

Some other big news, Miesha has a new cousin! Dan’s older brother Jon and his wife Elena welcomed Natasha Gabriella Hartley into their family on June 9th. Congratulations Jon and Elena!

Our first ministry “team” consisting of two ladies from North America arrived on my birthday this last Monday. We have had an amazing 5 days with Ruth and Kristen. They rested and had birthday cake with me on Monday, we visited the Lion Park and had orientation with them on Tuesday, they did ministry preparation with us and met our Life Group Wednesday, on Thursday Ruth and Dan taught a first aid class for 40 home based care givers who call themselves the Angels of Africa. On Friday Ruth taught a class on processing grief to 9 lead caregivers from some local hospice centers. It was beautiful to hear them cry and open up and begin to process some of the loss they have experienced in their lives and to teach them how to help others process also.

We also got to deliver some baby clothes to a lady named Bebe who was going to abort her baby, but was convinced by a Christian lady named Linda to let the baby live. She told Linda that once she had the baby she was going to give it to her. Baby boy Ciyabonga (meaning “we thank you”) was born a week ago. Bebe agreed to nurse him for two weeks before giving him to Linda. Being a new mom myself I couldn’t imagine giving my baby away, but after meeting Bebe I have more compassion for her choice. She is a desperate lady. Her boyfriend is in jail, she has no way of making money and she is currently living in her sister’s two room shack made out of corrugated metal. She has two other children already and no way of providing for them. Although Linda already cares for 28 other orphan children in a house on the property where we have been ministering, she is happy to take in baby Ciyabonga as #29 and to deal with the interrupted sleep and weariness that comes with caring for an infant. Linda is my new hero.

Today (Saturday) we went to visit some patients at the Village of Hope - an AIDS hospice center. We decided that rather than going to sing and preach to them (since they get that quite a bit already), we would go in to pamper them and give them a special party. Approximately 15 ladies from the local church we are partnering with also joined us and we had a wonderful time being the hands of Jesus to love these people who are dying. We soaked their feet and rubbed wonderful smelling lotions over their frail legs. We cut their toe nails and painted the ladies’ finger nails. We did makeovers, we gave them chocolates and coke and brightened up their living room with lots of balloons. Some guys from the worship team went room to room singing worship songs to them. We took their pictures, then printed them and gave them back to them to keep or to give to their families.

God opened up opportunities for us to talk to some of these people and to say “Jesus loves you” in a way that could be received. One lady named Jostina told me that she was angry with God about being sick and lonely and I was able to tell her that this party today and the gift of being loved and cared for by us was evidence that God sees her and still loves her. She cried and gave me a hug. It was an amazing day! The ladies from the church were so excited about how well the party went and committed to return every two months to do special days like this.

Since I know many of you are curious, Miesha does accompany us while we are doing ministry. However, in cases like this where she would be exposed to sick people, she stays in the car and Dan and I take turns staying with her.

Thank you for your prayers for us. They really do make a difference!!

In the coming week on Monday-Wednesday we will be working in a local crèche (pre-school) and our missionary teammate Heather Witherow will be teaching 10 local crèche teachers some techniques for stimulating learning for these kids. The teachers haven’t had any formal training to be a teacher and a few haven’t even graduated from high school. When we asked what we could do to help that would last after we leave, they requested some teacher training…so that is what we are doing! There are 50 kids per teacher and they squeeze into their classroom which is a converted 40ft container! Currently they just sit and sing all day, so hopefully we can give them some tools to make it more fun.

On Thursday through Saturday we will be in Kruger Park doing some game viewing, then transitioning to a new town for ministry next Sunday.

Please pray that we will continue to have rest, good health, that Miesha will continue to be flexible and a good little traveler, and that the Lord will continue to use us to bring hope, joy, and compassion to those we meet. Thank you for being on this journey with us. We couldn’t do it without you!

(I'll insert pics soon!)

June 14, 2008

Miesha is 6 months old

A really wise friend of mine told me that the hours go by slowly, but the days go by fast when you have a baby. So true! Can't believe Miesha is already 6 months old. Even when she is an insomniac, she is my favorite baby in the whole world.

It is definitely winter here and she loves her fleece!

This one is my favorite.

I think she looks like a little doll.

So much personality already!! Love the sassy bow.

Maria is my new best friend

Today, looking around my home I had a funny feeling. An unfamiliar feeling. I have had this feeling before, but not in a long, long time. I felt serene and peaceful.

All my dishes and my laundry are finished at the same time! I look around at the rooms in my house and don't see a speck of dirt. It truly is a miracle!

It isn't like we are slobs, but Dan has been building an orphanage this week, then doing sound for a conference at our church this weekend and has been working 11 and 12 hour days. I have been prioritizing the planning for the upcoming short term teams every second that Miesha is napping. Our precious daughter has become a bit of an insomniac (stayed up till 12:30 last night, up at 1:30, 4:30, and again at 6am this morning!) Man am I tired!! Besides, spending time with our daughter is just WAY more fun than housework!

There was no way I was going to be able to get my house clean to my standards before 2 gals come to live with us for 3 weeks, so I called in reinforcements.

Yes, I had help. My birthday is Monday and as a gift to myself I hired Maria to come and clean today. She was here for most of the day and my house is now sparkling, my stress is GREATLY reduced, and I actually like where I live again!

Best of all, it only cost me the equavilant of $14 and Maria supports 10 family members. That is the best $14 I have spent in a long time. Warm fuzzies everywhere!!!

June 11, 2008

5 days till our short term team arrives!

Thanks to all of you who prayed for us this last week! It was an emotionally full week, but the Lord is sustaining us. This last Thursday we drove up to Vaalwater to see the ministry there for ourselves and to finalize the ministry details for that area. I thought that we were pretty “in touch” with the poverty and sickness here in South Africa, but rural poverty is so much more devastating than urban poverty. I have always wondered why people would choose to live in a squatter camp with all the issues there and the reality is that “home” in the rural area isn’t any better and you have a higher chance of getting a job in the city. In the Vaalwater township, they have very few subsidies and there are so many issues. (they get running water for one hour every couple days, 35% AIDS infection rate, unemployment, orphans, child led homes, teenage pregnancy, abuse, poverty, no sewer system, and more) The events and ministry we hope to do in their community will be like a drop in the ocean compared to the vast needs they have, but hopefully they will remember that they were loved and as we pray for them and encourage them they will know God loves them as well. I don’t even know how to begin to describe what we saw, but hopefully some pictures can help us share stories with you in the next couple weeks. We will be working in the Vaalwater and Lesiding communities with Hamish and Terri Rodgers and are looking forward with expectation to what the Lord will have for us there.

This is our final week of preparation before our first team of ladies arrives on June 16. Things are coming together smoothly!

About three weeks ago Dan was asked to be the project manager to frame an orphanage building this week. He has a background in framing and there isn’t any local expertise in this area since all the building structures are made of bricks here. The Americans who are building this orphanage are shipping all the lumber over in a container! The orphanage will be in Pretoria so he will have a substantial commute and be working long hours this week. Please pray with us that things will go smoothly and that he part of the project will be completed on time.

There haven’t been any new reports of attacks against foreigners in Johannesburg this past week – praise God! The city certainly has their hands full with figuring out what to do with 30,000 homeless people, but we have seen the church stepping up to support and encourage which has been a blessing. Please pray God continues to bring His peace and for wisdom for the leadership to know how to respond.

Thank you for your support of us!

the rollercoaster

(written one week ago!)

You know the feeling you get when you are riding a rollercoaster and you are making the long climb to the top just before you begin the fast decent into the loops and turns? That is pretty close to how Dan and I are feeling lately! The next couple months are shaping up to be very busy and although we are excited for all the loops and turns ahead of us, we still have some hard work to do before we are completely ready.

Local news: In the last three weeks, there have been attacks on foreigners and the shack burnings and business looting have left 35,000 people homeless in South Africa. 25,000 of those are in our city - Johannesburg.

Here is a blurb from a news article:
More Deaths as South Africa Xenophobic Attacks Escalate.
Tues, 20 May 2008 - News From Africa
Attacks on African migrants in and around the city of Johannesburg, escalated Monday with increased incidences of mob beatings, lootings, rapes and arson attacks. Local police, who have declared the attacks criminal, battled the mobs with rubber bullets in the affected townships. President Thabo Mbeki, ruling party leader Jacob Zuma, former President Nelson Mandela and Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu have condemned the attacks, which have mostly been targeted at Zimbabweans and Mozambicans, who are the largest non-South African Black groups accused by locals of taking their jobs and fuelling crime.

The short version is that South Africa used to be the land of refuge, the land of opportunity and a place of promise for struggling Africans to come to. Johannesburg in particular was a place where if you were a hard worker, you could find a job or start a business and support your family back wherever you came from. There is no way to know exactly how many illegal immigrants have jumped the borders (they don’t exactly line up to be counted in the census!) but tons more Zimbabweans have come south since the most recent presidential election stalemate up there two months ago. The cost of gas is increasing (equivalent of $4.50 per gallon) electricity (53% cost increase this year, while at the same time they are regularly cutting our power for hours at a time) and even basic things like bread have had a significant hike in price in the last month so people with limited resources are starting to get desperate. Crime has increased and the foreigners (specifically Zimbabweans and those from Mozambique) are blamed for many of the issues. People are being chased out of their shacks or their small businesses and their possessions are stolen. Thousands of people are fleeing back to their home countries scared that the mobs will hurt them. It breaks our hearts!

If you are interested in reading more detailed information, the internet has some well written articles. Go to, then click the link for “world” news, then “Africa”.

Although this is horrible news; as foreigners ourselves, we have been careful and are not afraid. THEY ARE NOT TARGETING WESTERNERS. However, we’d certainly appreciate your prayers for our safety in the coming weeks!

Here is a run down of what our schedule will be like in the coming months:

This coming week we are finalizing some team plans in Limpopo province Thursday and Friday, and in town we are putting a plan in place for Soweto since we are unavailable to regularly visit in the next months.

June 9-14 - Dan is going to use his construction background as the foreman for a team who is framing a house to be used for an orphanage.
June 16-July 6 – our first short term team is here doing ministry in Johannesburg and in Vaalwater with us. (More details to come in next week’s email)
July 18-Aug 1 – second team doing ministry in Motjane, Swaziland
Aug 8-22 – third short term team made of South Africans traveling to Zambia
Aug 25-Sept 16 – Janell’s parents visit!
Sept 21 – 27 - Dan goes to Zimbabwe (depending on how stable things are there)
Oct 6-10 - Team Retreat, ministry planning for 2009

If you are wondering when we are going to rest in the next four months – we are too! It will be busy, but we LOVE this time of year. We promise to take full advantage of the days we have between trips for “down time”. It will definitely be interesting to see how our precious little girl will do with all the travel. So far, she has proven to adapt remarkably well as we have traveled as a family.

Miesha continues to be a great delight to us and to many others. She is 6 months old now and is quick to smile at anyone, but still prefers to be held by her mom and dad!

There are other things that we are facing which we are not at liberty to share about at this time. Please pray for wisdom for us in these new and challenging circumstances. Thank you for your continued prayers for us and for your support. We can’t do it without you!

May 26, 2008

Cute Miesha pics

This weekend we help to put on a farewell party for our boss's boss - the Carlsons. They have served in Africa for 20 years and are now moving back to the states because Dean is going to become one of our mission's Vice Presidents. They are our closest missionary neighbors and we are going to miss them tremendously. I totally got my creative fix this week by putting together a memory book of notes and pictures for the Carlsons and by arranging the flowers for the centerpieces on the tables. Not only was their farewell a great event to honor them and to celebrate what God has done through was an rare occassion that was formal enough to warrant Dan wearing a dress shirt. (I took lots of pictures!)

Here are a few pictures of us at the event:

Miesha "riding" the giraffe mural.

Family picture.

My cute little girl!