June 11, 2008

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 http://www.yahoo.com/, 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!

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