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!