100 Days in ZA

What have you done in the last 100 days? Each day often goes by without even recognizing the significance of it. And most often we do not take the time to praise Him for that day. But can you think of all the amazing things that you have done in 100 days?? I would imagine that the Lord has blessed you in countless ways in 100 days.

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

On this day….this 100th day of living and serving and loving in South Africa…I would like to take the time and thank Him for this day; recognizing that this day and all the ones before and all the ones after are His.

So here I share with you the good, the bad, and the ugly…

In the last 100 days, we have…..

  • landed in our new country after 22 hours of travel time.
  • learned to live life with our team
  • fell in love the beauty of the sea and mountain as it collides to create this beautiful valley

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  • eaten some of the best calamari anywhere
  • moved three times
  • struggled to feel settled and get school work done as we transitioned through those three moves
  • house sat, chicken-rabbit-bird sat for friends traveling to America
  • explored Cape of Good Hope, V&A waterfront, Boulder Beach, Kommetjie lighthouse, and Table Mountain.
  • began building relationships with the amazing kids and staff at God’s Little Lighthouse

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  • seen posts of friends and families left behind and felt sad that we weren’t there to share in their moments
  • heard stories of poverty and despair and abuse and neglect that brought us to tears.
  • seen the smiles and hearts of those who share the same stories and learned that the Lord is the only way that they are able to have that joy
  • seen penguins, dasies, baboons, zebras and seals – all in the wild

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  • seen the girls get involved in a wonderful youth group.
  • learned how to braai
  • practiced haggling at the street side markets; bought giraffes and an elephant and a rhino at our favorite market
  • met people from Australia and Zimbabwe and the Congo and Malawi and England; realizing the cultural mixture that is this land!
  • learned what lekker and geyser and now now and just now mean
  • recognized that just because two people speak English it doesn’t mean that they are going to understand each other
  • adjusted to using rands instead of dollars to buy things
  • cried when trying to convert from rands to dollars and then pay for something and then realized it doesn’t really matter what it is in dollars
  • gotten completely frustrated with all the things that I don’t know
  • missed Mardi Gras
  • enjoyed a ZA wedding with an American bride and a Xhosian groom; watched as two cultures joined as one with love and laughter
  • had a read-all-day day at the beach
  • had that same read-all-day day at the beach interrupted by one shark siren after another; talked to the shark spotters and learned that 16 sharks were in the bay that day
  • watched the fishermen at Fish Hoek beach

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  • bought a car
  • made numerous trips to the traffic office and stood in line for at least 5 hours to get a traffic number and the same car registered
  • had that same car break down and have to be in the shop for a week
  • found out that same car needs to have the clutch tightened
  • cried because neither the repair or the needed service is in our budget
  • realized how blessed we are live somewhere that we can walk to so many places if we don’t have a car and that we have wonderful teammates who will chauffeur us if needed
  • figured out how to get internet and television set up
  • accepted the fact that things here move at a much slower pace
  • been frustrated at the slower pace that we thought we had accepted
  • had a sod-turning (ribbon cutting) ceremony for the new Extreme Response Africa office

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  • realized that the sod-turning ceremony does not necessarily mean that construction is going to begin
  • had colds and sinus issues that don’t seem to want to go away
  • found a house that we can make a home
  • unpacked 25 suitcases
  • furnished an entire house
  • got a dog – supposedly for security but she is already part of the family
  • watch this mountains around us burn

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  • prayed for rain, had friends all over the world praying for rain, and watched the rain start – at just the right time!
  • watched a community come together in a time of crisis
  • learned the word “ubuntu” and all it means
  • learned how to shop at the market
  • been brought to tears when I couldn’t find something at the same market
  • pulled out the winter cloths as all our friends in America post beautiful spring time photos
  • got a library card 🙂
  • missed friends and family
  • enjoyed a concert that mixed three different cultures into a beautiful symphony and lift the name of Jesus high

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  • welcomed friends from CIT to this amazing country
  • started violin and piano lessons as well as dance class
  • started homework help and tutoring with kids at African Hope Trust
  • feel in love with, at least, 120 kids
  • joined a cell group in a home right down the street
  • loved being able to throw the windows open every morning and enjoyed the mild weather
  • laughed at ourselves with the what is now normal wind-blown look
  • found a McDonald’s and Burger King for a little “Merican food
  • missed Mexican food
  • learned that I like butternut squash soup
  • wanted to meet our neighbors but can’t figure out how to when we all live behind walls and gates
  • made friends with the car guards at the mall
  • wrote an article for the Extreme Response blog about God’s Little Lighthouse
  • learned to surf; well, at least, two of us – Middle Sis and Little Sis

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  • been in the local newspaper – Big Sis
  • felt completely overwhelmed with all the changes
  • set up a time to FaceTime family each week
  • seen how xenophobia can tear a city apart
  • seen how love can unite a people and heal a community
  • learned to make playdoh
  • seen one daughter – Middle Sis – commit to couch to 5K and run her first 5K.
  • been scared to death of the largest and yuckiest spider ever seen
  • seen a little girls attitude change completely just because Uncle Ron said “I forgive you. Uncle Ron loves you”
  • cried on Ron’s shoulder and wondered if I could really do this
  • fell in love with this face – and so many more

IMG_0417 Wow! As I write this I am amazed at all the Lord has done in 100 days. And I am sure that even as long as this post is I have left out many, many things. It is definitely good for the soul to sit down and review His love and provisions. Even the hard times are times to rejoice in His love. Sometimes in the day-to-day craziness of life, it is easy to just go through the day without recognizing that today…this day…is the day that the Lord has made. My challenge to you – write down all that you are thankful for every day.

The very best soul care begins by rejoicing in all He has done!

Start right now…leave a comment of just one thing that you are thankful for today.  Be blessed! And know that the Lord is faithful and true.
Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

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The Beauty of it All!

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:5-8

The beauty that surrounds us in this place is breath-taking. Breath-taking in a way that I pray I never take for granted. There is no doubt as we drive over the mountains or along the coast that there is a God of amazing creativity.

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The beauty of it all! As the beauty surrounds, it does not void the hurt and the poverty and the violence and the despair. However, it does make us thankful and in awe of His creation.

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‘The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground.’ Ezekiel 38:20

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I Don’t Know

I don’t know! It seems that I have said that a lot over the last few weeks/months. And this is a fact that makes me so uncomfortable.

When are you leaving for South Africa? I don’t know!

Where will you be living? I don’t know!

THEN…once we were in Fish Hoek, the “I don’t knows” increased dramatically.

How many dollars is that? I don’t know

Where can I buy ______? I don’t know

What did he/she say? I don’t know How does this work? I don’t know

How do you get there? I don’t know

Which suitcase is _______ in? I don’t know

How do you covert to…..kilometres? Celsius? Grams? I don’t know

So many “I don’t knows.”  Transitioning into another culture is not easy. It isn’t suppose to be. The “I don’t knows” are far greater than the “I know thats.” And I am sure that they will be for a while. But each day, we live and learn. We are so far out of our comfort zone that we don’t even know what we don’t know. But we are learning that we don’t have to know it all. WE don’t have to have all the answers. Because there is ONE greater that already knows all the answers. In fact, He knows the questions before they are even answered.

“Therefore I say: Listen to me; I too will tell you what I know.” Job 32:10

“I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” Ecclesiastes 3:12

“The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” John 4:25

While we don’t know the answers to everything….in fact, we don’t know that answers to hardly anything at this point. There are a few things that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt. I know…..the Lord sent us to one of the most beautiful places on earth. His creativity is so evident in His creation. DSC_1544 DSC_1577 I know that….He placed this desire in our hearts. The beauty of this place is amazing. But the desire of our hearts is to serve the precious children of this land; to be a light that shines for Him in the darkest places.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4:18-19

I know that….whatever the Lord has planned here will be exciting, overwhelming, hard, and rewarding. The faces of His children will proclaim His name to the ends of the earth. The stories will be heart-breaking, but we know that He makes beauty out of the ashes.

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I know that….He already knows how we will live, the needs of our partners in the US, where I can buy whatever we need, how to convert to kilometres, Celsius, and grams, how to drive on the other side of the road, how to get to wherever we need to go, and so much more.

Instead of focusing on the “I don’t knows,” I chose to focus on what He knows.

If you would like to follow our journey more closely, go to our Facebook page and “like” it. We would love for you to join our journey!

Posting in community with The Grove:

Velvet Ashes: encouragement for women serving overseas

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The Countdown Begins

Trying to get back in the habit of blogging. During this time of transition and preparation, I just haven’t felt like there was much to say. But now, looking back, there has been so much that the Lord has done during this time. He has been with us each and every step – even before we knew where the step would lead. He has proven faithful and good and abundantly!

So….now another transition begins. 42 days!! 42 days until we get on a plane headed for South Africa. 42 days until we get to officially call Africa home.

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During this time, we want to transition well. We want to say goodbye well. We want to give God all the glory and honor. This time of transition started with a wonderful time with family in Maryland.  Thanks to some amazing friends, we had ALL of our VISA paperwork completed by Friday evening – and we were leaving for Maryland on Saturday morning. Since it was ALL in order and we were so close, we made a trip to the South African Consulate.

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After getting up at 5:30am, traveling through school traffic for 2 hours, finding a post office for money orders, navigating the Metro, and a 1.1 mile sprint, we arrived at the embassy at 10:30 and sat…..and waited. Then into a small cubicle – three or four questions, papers shuffled, money orders given, we were given a small smile. He asked “Do you want to pick this up in about 5 days?” NO…please mail it. Now, with that behind us, it was all relatively painless and we should have our VISAs in 5-10 days.

Thanksgiving was a great time of giving thanks. Exciting times with the Lippy’s who were home unexpectedly for a few weeks from the Gambia. For the first time in several years and the last time for several years, we were all together for Thanksgiving. God is good.

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Nothing normal about these kiddos!!! But they have fun together even after years of separation, they love each other and God, and they are ours. So I guess we will keep them. Transitioning well – not saying goodbye, saying see ya later. And who knows we might run into each other in South Africa, the Gambia, Nicaragua, or who knows where else.

Blessed with a beautiful snow fall.

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Thankful for all the God has done, is doing, and will do. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

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