January 25, 2008

2 visas down, 1 to go

Thank you for praying with us about our Visa situation. After living for a week as illegal aliens, the visa paperwork was finalized today for Dan and I – PRAISE GOD! However, we still have a problem - they didn’t process a visa for Miesha like we asked them to. So, we need your prayers still for all of her paperwork to go smoothly through the process next week. When we fly to the states in a couple weeks, it would be our preference to bring Miesha back to South Africa with us!

January 19, 2008

Visa? What visa?????

Today our visas expire and new visas have not been issued to us. Originally we thought we’d make a mad dash to Swaziland with the Witherow family (also waiting on new visas) so that on our return we could get a 90 day visitor visas and buy ourselves a little more time. Then we learned that we would only be issued a 7 day visa. Since it takes a nearly a full day of driving to go to Swaziland then back again, we agreed it wasn’t worth it. We have a representative who specializes in immigration services working on our behalf and he has told us not to be too concerned or worried. The typical response when these types of things happen is… “This is Africa.”

We’ve been hearing that phrase a lot lately.

This past week we were without power on four separate days for four to five hours at a time. South Africa does not have enough electricity capacity for the consumption needs of its people. As a result, the national electric company has employed “load shedding.” Load shedding is when they turn off the electricity in different regions of the country for periods of time to help offset the need for power. The neighborhood we live in is called Weltevreden Park…we are now calling it Weltevredren DARK.

So far this week, we haven’t been told when it is going to happen, so it’s very difficult to plan. One night, I was making dinner….zap…the power goes off and dinner plans change just like that! I am in line to purchase a few things at a store, then the power goes out and the entire mall shuts down…have to come back another day. At Miesha’s Dr appt, the credit card machine charged us 4x instead of once, and two weeks later we are still waiting for the money to get credited back to us because of technical difficulties. Yes, “This is Africa.”

Another big concern is that when the electricity goes off, it makes it very difficult to leave the house because our security system is affected. Do we leave the house and leave it vulnerable to some one breaking in…or do we stay and keep watch? “This is Africa,” and we don’t ever know what to expect. Yesterday, during our team prayer time at the Witherow’s house, (and yes, the power was off once again!) John got a text message from our security company that five armed men were loose in that neighborhood after just robbing some one at their home. The load shedding puts us all more at risk. John stood watch at the end of prayer time, to make sure everyone left safely. Another team family had their gate derailed Thursday night at 3am. We praise God that their dogs scared away the potential intruders. Dan is at their home as I write this trying to repair the damaged gate so they will feel safe again.

Please continue to pray for our safety.

Dan, Miesha and I want to say a huge THANK YOU for the hundreds of emails, and numerous cards and packages we’ve received in the last month congratulating us and celebrating with us in the birth of our daughter. We have also received many Christmas cards this week! (Mail delivery is a little slower here) We loved getting new pictures from many of you – I have put the updated ones on our fridge. Thank you so much! If you have updated pictures of your family – please send some to us. (compressed pictures via email are easiest) It has been two years now and if you want us to recognize you…

We will send out a USA itinerary in our February email letter to you all. We will be home a few short weeks to rest and be with family, but we hope to connect with many of you as well. Right now, between a beautiful little girl who wants to be held all the time and our electricity issues, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like for emailing and planning (or cleaning the house, or sleeping!).

Miesha is growing and becoming more alert and fun every day. We love her to pieces!

Thank you for praying with us for continued health and SAFETY here in South Africa as well as for our Visa situation to be resolved quickly.

January 14, 2008

Witherow boys and Miesha

Our teammates John and Heather Witherow have "done life" with us for 4 years now as we prepared to come and then adjusting to Africa here together. We moved to Africa within 23 hours of each other and God has used them to be such a tremendous blessing to us. They have 3 wonderful boys and this blog is to tell you some cute stories about them.

Their son Jake age 5 is really great with Miesha - always checking in on her and making sure she is happy. When she was crying the other day at their house he asked if we could put a Thomas the Train video in. They make him really happy and he was sure it would make her feel better as well! At first he was a little confused about her name since she was born at Christmas time. Since Christmas is about baby Jesus coming to earth, he mixed up baby Jesus and baby Miesha. Our little girl was called baby Jesus at their house for a couple days!

Then, this week their youngest Caleb, age 4, has started pretending to be baby Miesha. He'll go up to his mom lift up his arms, say he is baby Miesha and "cry" asking to be picked up. Pretty cute!

January 3, 2008

Happy New Year to you all

We are so grateful to have had a lovely WARM Christmas here in South Africa surrounded by friends. We certainly missed family, friends and fun traditions from home, but this year our homesickness wasn’t near as bad as last year. We made some new traditions of our own (home made ice-cream on Christmas!) and it helps knowing that we will be home in a few short weeks to be with family. Miesha was a fun distraction as well. She loves to be held and everywhere we go people are happy to accommodate. It is still pretty quiet here and we are trying to catch up on some end of the year projects and emails and SLEEP. We have one more restful week ahead of us and then our “normal” routine will pick up the second week in January. We will help to welcome Jasmine, another short term missionary, who will be here for 6 months helping with home schooling some team kids who will be transitioning back into the Canadian school system later this year.

At church today, instead of the usual music and message, they had a fabulous British style brunch for the few of us who are still in town. Of the 40 of us who attended, 18 were visitors! It was a fun international morning as we connected with families from Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, and also new families from Johannesburg too! Pastor John had us thank God for His goodness to us in 2007 and it was wonderful to hear so many different languages expressing praise to God. I love how international and colorful our church is. We picked up a bit of Portuguese when we were in Mozambique last year and I am going to need to invest some time with my language notes before the Brazilian family comes over!

Praise report – a couple weeks ago we were concerned that Miesha’s paperwork (birth certificate, passport, ID, etc) wouldn’t be finished in time for us to fly home. We were told by a few “experts” that the process should take 8-10 weeks. We took Miesha on an outing to the US Consulate last week and it turns out that everything is going to be ready in 3 weeks time. We are so grateful! Please pray that the process will continue to go smoothly. Above is a cute baby passport picture. (4 days old)

January 2, 2008

giving birth overseas

Sorry for not posting more pictures sooner. Miesha is 3 weeks old today and she has been crowding out my former blogging timeslots in my schedule. Who am I kidding, there is no more schedule! No complaining here – being a mom is so great!

Giving birth in a foreign country…honestly, I have to tell you that over all it was a really good experience. Not that I am super surprised or anything. South Africa is a unique country in that it has both the most modern and the most rugged of options for medical care. We live in the biggest city in the country and since we have international insurance, we were able to have our child at a nice private hospital 3 minutes from our house.

The place was clean, the staff were friendly and other then the fact that occasionally they would forget we were English speakers rather then Afrikaans speakers, it went great. Most everyone figured out we were Americans with funny accents pretty quick and switched over to English for us which we were super grateful for. Our Doctor was the biggest culprit in forgetting! He was chatting with the nurse in Afrikaans while breaking my water and then turned to us and said, “So, we’ll cut her out in about an hour.” He totally forgot to explain in English the new complication and how important it was to do a c-section get baby out quickly. Dan and I were a bit shocked!! It was also weird to be coherent, not feeling anything, and not being able to understand a thing the Doctors are chatting about while cutting me open.

Although I would’ve preferred to have family nearby, a Dr who explains my surgery in English, and be able to recover in the super nice rooms at Salmon Creek Legacy Hospital…I am grateful that our baby is healthy and I am recovering nicely as well. God is good.