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 them...it was an rare occassion that was formal enough to warrant Dan wearing a dress shirt. (I took lots of pictures!)
This past week has been an interesting one for us. It seems like the crime and violence you read/hear about in the news here is coming a little closer to home now.
Four families that we are friends with have had robberies or attempted robberies to their homes in the last WEEK. One of those families has had attempted break ins 3 times in the last 3 weeks.
Also, it is all over the news that foreigners are under attack in South Africa. As Americans, we are not the target this time. They seem to be focusing on Zimbabweans, Mozambiquians, and others from poorer African nations who have jumped the border and who are illegally residing in Johannesburg. These immigrants are very smart and many have started successful businesses or have taken good jobs in the city since they are willing to work for lower wages than the locals and also many of them are better educated and are more qualified for better jobs than the average black person here. No one is really sure why it has accelerated at this time, but the inconclusive Zim elections has increased tension in Southern Africa and many Zim people have fled here to South Africa for safety reasons. There has been a lot of violence in Zim lately too.
Dan's friend Matt who is a paramedic contacted all the Life Group leaders last Wednesday and put a group together to go down to the Alexandra Police Station to give assistance. They had around 1000 displaced people sleeping at the station hoping for protection. The ladies and kids were sleeping in a conference room and the guys were sleeping out under the stars in the gated parking lot. Many didn't have blankets and it is getting COLD here at night as our season is autumn moving towards winter.
Matt and Dan set up a makeshift clinic and the others from our church sorted donations and ministered to people through dishing up meals or praying for people. We were just learning about making God practical and real to people out on the streets at the Youth Camp and God provided this opportunity almost immediately.
I am definitely learning to trust God in new ways.
Please continue to pray for our health and safety as we minister here. God is good!
I need to ask a favor of you… In the future, our mission organization will only be sending 6 hard copy letters per year and will send the other 6 via email. If you could take 2 minutes to sign up to receive our letters via email, it will save me HOURS of typing all your addresses in. Go to www.onechallenge.org and click on the link in the upper right hand corner for “sign up to receive your missionary’s letter electronically” and then click on “E through I prayer letter sign up” and then scroll down to click on “Hartley”. They will send you a confirmation email. Thank you!!!
The comfort of our own bed, a nice portable heater, access to the internet, eating normal food again… We just got back from our first youth conference here in South Africa. We were roughing it on a farm about 5 hours away with 250 youth from the Foundation Ministries Churches. We enjoyed the experience and loved watching God work. We are now home nursing ourselves back to health. We all caught a bit of a flu bug!
There are a few ways that this African youth conference differed from retreats we have served at in the states. There wasn’t a huge draw like water skiing or snowboarding to get kids to come. There were only teaching sessions and worship and in the afternoon free time, they played soccer, watched a movie or flirted! We were surprised that so many youth came just for teaching and worship. By “youth” I mean anyone from age 12 up to 35. “Youth” has a different definition here. Obviously, there was a very diverse group of ages, races, and languages.
The accommodations were a little rugged at the camp. On the farm, over 80% of the buildings were under construction. The girl’s dorm was a converted stable. They slept 4-5 gals per stall! There was no heating, but at least there was electricity. I didn’t see where the guys slept, but Dan and I were glad we opted to stay off site at a nearby B&B.
A pastor from England came and taught on prophecy, hearing the Lord’s voice and how to practically take Jesus to people out on the streets. It was down to earth, challenging and very practical. On one of the days, he encouraged them to try laying hands on people and praying for healing. He figured if they were going to “practice” they could do it in a safe place where they could debrief later with leaders. Around 10 people raised their hands wanting to be healed and were prayed for. One young guy’s eyesight was restored, a seized neck released, a girl who broke her back the year before in a horse riding accident felt her back moving into proper alignment again. It was amazing! I think the youth were equaled shocked that their exercise of faith actually produced results. On the last night, the worship session lasted from 7pm-2am! These youth were hungry for an encounter with the Lord. We left around 11:30pm and transitioned my flute and Dan’s sound board to other people. Miesha was a trooper and was a delight to everyone who helped us care for her.
I don’t think the conference would’ve run without Dan! He was in his element serving behind the sound board all day every day. He was constantly adjusting the faulty equipment until it finally ran decently, he recorded all the messages, and in his spare time was soldering cables and wires. When Miesha let me, I was able to contribute playing flute on the worship team. The Holy Spirit moved in ways that are new to Dan and I and we are still processing some of the ways we saw God work. We are standing with open hearts before the Lord, expectant and eager to see what will happen in the future. We are thankful to have been a part of such a wonderful experience.
In the coming weeks, we are focusing on finalizing the plans for the short term teams that are coming to us in June and July. Currently, our sign ups have been super slow – we had 11 last year and this year we have 2 teams of 2. Since it is SO much work to prepare everything, we are planning to extend an invitation to South Africans to join the teams as well. It is obviously cheaper for them to help (no plane ticket!) and will likely take them out of their comfort zones as well. Please pray with us that we will have South Africans join us. We would love to have at least 6 people on each team, but will wait to see who God will bring. Please also pray that the details will come together quickly and easily. We have 4 of the 5 weeks planned, but need wisdom to know what to choose for that final week of service. There are so many different ministries we could choose to help. Please pray God will clearly guide us for that week of ministry.
Please also pray for balance for me! In addition to the short term team planning, I am trying to finalize a bunch of writing for the group with HIV/AIDS and hope to get a lot translated a head of time so that I can take those 5 weeks off to work with the teams without disrupting the lesson plans. Being Dan’s wife and Miesha’s mom are my most important priorities and I still haven’t figured out do everything else I need to do during Miesha’s sporadic nap times or after she goes to bed!
Dan is in process of researching the purchase of a slightly larger vehicle for us. The one we have currently has worked perfect for us, but with the addition of Miesha’s car seat it is becoming too small. It will work fine for one child, but since we eventually hope to have more children and we are constantly giving people rides, we’d like to upgrade now since the exchange rate is great, our mileage on the car is low, and we got some money back from our taxes this year. Please pray that our vehicle will sell quickly, that we can find a good deal on a larger vehicle, and that our finances will add up to keep us debt free. (Generally vehicles cost 50% more here in South Africa than the US due to high taxes and customs tariffs.)
Dan is also researching the purchase of a second form of transportation for him to drive. It will probably be a motorcycle because everything else is too expensive! We are currently sharing one vehicle and that is challenging. In this country it is not wise to be left “stuck” at the house without a vehicle and the team vehicle which we have often borrowed in the past is being sold.
Lastly, in the past 2 years we have been exceedingly blessed because the Lord has always provided over and above what we have needed financially through your support. However, in the past 4 months we have been “in the red” about $1000.00 per month. Please pray that the Lord will provide the needed finances for us. Perhaps you can help the Lord answer this one either by becoming a new financial donor, or possibly increasing your current support if it is within your budget. We are so grateful for your partnership in finances, but more importantly through your encouragement and prayers for us. We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you!!
Okay, this week something really weird happened at our house...something I have never seen before.
We have been wondering for awhile whether our rabbit is male or female and now we know. Our white bunny Marshmallow (pictured in the blog below) is definitely a BOY. We know this for certain because he was totally hitting on our female kitty Cheeto. To keep this blog PG I am not going to give details, but she could definitely sue him for sexual harassment!
Good thing Cheeto is neutered otherwise we might have a litter of "Bittens". You know, bunny/kittens.
More good money down the tube for therapy!
And yes, all our animals are named for food we miss from the states! Java is our dog (coffee is WAY better in the states) Pepsi and Cheeto are our cats, and Marshmallow is our bunny. Here there are no regular flavored marshmallows. You can buy chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and litchi flavored mallows. Yup - litchi. That one doesn't really work in smores.