Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Summer Update

Dear friends and supporters,


We wanted to give you an update before the school year kicks off for us this coming Monday.  It has been a very busy but blessed summer (& winter for our time in South Africa) for us as a family.  For those of you in the Bellingham area, we are glad to hear the smoke from the BC wildfires is finally dissipating and you are able to breathe the lovely PNW air again, though we continue to pray for a stop of the spread of ongoing fires in the larger region.

SOUTH AFRICA:

To remind you, we were able to find tickets at a really good price for a needed visit to South Africa from end of May until mid-July.  Our main goal for the time was to connect with family in Johannesburg as well as find a way down to Cape Town to connect with friends and ministries we were previously a part of.  We were given the opportunity to share with Thandi's home church about the path God has led us on in Texas, as well as with their Friday night youth group.  Thandi shared with the youth about letting down defenses and allowing God's Father heart to minister into every area of our lives.  It was a really powerful time, as the youth leader told us after that 90% of the kids live in fatherless homes, an epidemic that we all know is sadly global but especially acute in SA.  We just wished more youth were not away at the time, but trust God ministered to those present (pic below).

In our last email we shared about God's amazing grace and providence over enabling us to get into the country with only copies of the kids' unabridged birth certificates.  While we were thankful and knew it was God that gave us favor at the Port of Entry as well, we knew we better get some new originals before flying back out and risking being detained.  We initially attempted this at a Home Affairs office in Joburg, but decided to not pursue after the branch opened nearly an hour late and we were queuing with scores of other unfortunate souls for hours without even getting into the building.  We prayed and felt we should apply back at the Home Affairs office we originally got both their birth certificates at during our planned two week stay in Cape Town.  As it turned out, we took our rental car and were able to make the journey south and got up early the next morning to wait all day (7:30-3:30) and get the documents we needed.  It was exhausting but thank God we got new ones printed without a hitch and were even able to renew both of the kids' South African passports (which would have been a much greater hassle and expense from within the US).  We were also blessed to enjoy the hospitality of our dear friend Dwayne, who helped with the kids that day and put us up in his flat the entire two weeks we were in town.

I believe those of you with FB were able to see some of our photos posted during that time as well as our time we were able to get all the family together at a game reserve back up north.  We had a wonderful time overall, as we simply asked the Lord to use us as He pleased, and believe He did in sowing good seeds and words of His truth/encouragement into various family members and friends seeking His will for their lives and ministries.  Thandi felt so blessed to get to spend so much time with her mother and siblings.  Her sister Nelisiwe, who is doing very well working for a prominent SA-based company and serving the Lord, was very gracious in hosting us for the several weeks we were in Joburg.  We got to connect with all the other siblings, though some from Mozambique we just had to continue to keep in prayer.  It was also great to see both Busi and Elisha embrace their South African identity in many ways, truly enjoying the land and times with cousins and friends.  Elisha, who previously would only get excited by the American flag (which we love to see in him), is now recognizing the multicolored South African flag and says, "That's our flag too!"

I personally was very excited to get back to our hometown in the Cape, where God laid so many foundations for us as a family and gave us so many great friendships, and God knows I truly miss it.  Yet, I was blessed with such a sense of peace even as we came down from the mountain pass (sprinkled with a dusting of snow) to see beautiful Cape Town laid out before us...God gave me peace that I wouldn't long to be back here and try to relive the past times, but that He had been faithful to enable us to move out when we did, knowing we needed to enter into our next step in the journey He has us on.  I was so grateful for this gift of peace, knowing that I often struggle to not dwell on what could have been in the past and to just enjoy the present season.

Lastly, I wanted to share a very cool connection that God orchestrated from my outreach in Houston with high school students last summer.  We got to take the students for some worship on the street and practical outreach in one of the tougher neighborhoods in a ministry called Hip Hop Hope, which is under a larger ministry called Disciple the Streets (http://www.eyesonmeinc.com/disciple-the-streets-dts.html) which really targets the roots of gang culture and see God's redemption come there.  Anyways, just before we left for this ministry I had connected on FB messenger with a fellow missionary family that used to be back in South Africa and had now returned to their hometown of Houston.  We arranged to meet up downtown where our entire school was having an urban quiet time (which I recommend trying...plz contact me if you want more clarity on what it involves), and I heard how discouraged this family was and seeking God for how they could connect with missions-minded people in Houston, with the intent of keeping connections alive back in S. Africa.  As I listened to their hearts and knew we were headed to HHH next (something they had never heard of), I invited to join our team and see what God was doing in this ministry.  They loved it, got some of basic training the ministry offers for the streets, and we lost touch.

Now, as we were driving back to Joburg from Cape Town, I reconnected with this family who were back in a town just inland of Cape Town and they shared with incredible joy how God was using them to do a Disciple the Streets ministry with local gangsters, leading the troubled men (and women) out of unhealthy community into true community centered on obedience to God's Word!  It was so amazing to hear the husband, Sean, share that this movement (and they are planning to take this other kind of DTS to the gang-ridden streets of the Cape Flats, through some key people of peace I gave them contacts for) came largely out of them getting connected to this ministry back in Houston a year ago....we just praised God together for His loving providence and were once again reminded of just how simple (though not without obstacles/trials) it can be to carry out God's perfect will if we are only willing to obey His leading.

SUMMER IN TEXAS:

After our return back to Tyler, I was able to get a few weeks work in with a soccer friend of mine who owns a roofing business.  The long hours and incredible heat kept me quite exhausted for the rest of July, but I was so grateful to have the opportunity to earn some money.  I can tell you another thing: The quickest way to improve your Spanish is to work with a Mexican construction crew!:)

At the beginning of this month my parents were able to fly down and we were able to trade cars with family friends of ours in Dallas that have two family vans.  Equipped with a van that astounded me with its effortless turning radius, we set out for a road trip with the rents in Pensacola, FL, keen on getting in some good beach time before the end of summer.  It turns out another friend I went to high school with now lives and works at a resort in Pensacola and ended up getting us an incredible rate for our three nights there.  What a blessing! 
We ended our time with my folks taking them to a genuine Texas rodeo...quite entertaining!

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • The primary one now would be my stepping in full-time as the main 4th grade teacher at CHS, and for Thandi as she has stepped down to focus on homeschooling Elisha for this year in prep for homeschooling Busi as well in the years to come
  • Clarity on other work to be involved in including coaching, helping at the library and getting time to spend with the Gambian community
  • More to come, but please also share any prayer requests you have for us...we want to keep in better touch

Thanks and many blessings to be a blessing wherever God takes you....
B, T, B and E

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