Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I could be confused with Bear Grylls

Monday was a public holiday here so I went caving with some okes. Pete Flynn, who is Andy’s partner on, invited me to come along. It was a few other people from Pete’s other company. There were a total of 5 of us. What happens is that you park down in Kalk Bay and hike up the mountain for about an hour. Once you get to the top you have to find this one small trail that takes you to a rocky area. The cave is not a big hole in the side of the mountain that you expect. We actually had to climb down this little hole into the cave. We were down in the cave for about 3 ½ hours. It just keeps going and going! Totally amazing! Of course it’s pitch black, so you have to take a torch (translation= flashlight). And it’s wet and dirty so you wear old clothes.
It’s not just walking around either. It’s climbing up rock formations, down rock formations, squeezing into small little passage ways, and sometimes just walking normal. It was simply incredible and so hard to describe.

This is me climbing down into a hole.

What raised my anxiety level was having dinner with Andy and his wife Cath the night before when they tell us the story about Andy getting stuck in that very same cave for about 10 hours. He tried to fit through a very small space called “The Narrows”. He didn’t quite make it through and in trying to fight his way through he got wedged in the rocks. He was trapped. Oh, I failed to explain that he was horizontal and crawling on his side. Luckily some of his friends were still behind him and were able to go back out and call for help. By the time they came back a few hours had passed. Eventually the firemen came to help, but it still took about 7 more hours to get him out. They had to get a harness around him and create a pulley system that eventually pulled him up and then out. Pete crawled under him and held Andy’s head up for about 10 hours! So, that little story made me a little anxious. Andy’s a little bigger than me, but not by much. (I mean, who can compete with my ghetto booty and giant legs? There is a chance one of calves would have gotten snagged in a rock.) We did eventually get to that section and I politely declined. Pete started to go through, realized it wasn’t a super idea and turned back.

Pete in "the Narrows". Yes, this is the right direction.

Just another crazy adventure in Cape Town. This place is Hectic!! Bear would have been so proud.
Cheers, Casey

Monday, April 28, 2008

Good Times, Great Soccer

Hey friends and family,

Thought you might like to see some shots of our Sunday afternoon activity of hanging out with some soccer guys from the nearby Masiphmalele township. These are the guys Casey plays with during the week, and they play games on the weekends, which Casey joined in on this weekend. Our flatmate Mandy and I 'rocked up' (a SA phrase) to the field to meet the guys and support them. Long story, but the great soccer ended up not being played by Casey because the Masi team got booted out of the fields because too many teams showed up - classic Africa. But we did get to hang out with the guys and chat together enjoying the beautiful day! These guys are really cool, and it's awesome that Casey has formed friendships with them!


Casey and Zuches

The Masi guys hanging out

Casey all dressed up and no where to go!

Warming up with the guys

Sarah and Mandy

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book Review

Is Belief in God Good, Bad, or Irrelevant?
By Preston Jones and Greg Gaffin
Reviewed by Casey

A just finished up this book which was recommended to me by my friend Jock Murray. I brought with me to Africa. It’s an interesting concept. It’s basically documentation of an email conversation between Preston Jones, a history professor and Christian at John Brown University, and Greg Gaffin, lead singer and songwriter for the punk band Bad Religion who also has a Ph.D. in zoology. Preston is a fan of Bad Religion and decides to email Greg and spark up a conversation. What follows is their back-and-forth on the merits of religion, the use of science, and how those play together.

Greg is pretty jaded and bitter and way too smart for me. When he’s writing about scientific things it’s all stuff I know nothing about. Preston was patient and handled himself well.

All in all, it’s an interesting concept, but not the type of material that I am often interested in. It definitely stretched me to think about new things. My struggle was that often Greg didn’t make much sense, at least to me.
If you are into some of the struggles and dialogue between religion and science, you may enjoy it.

Overall Grade: B-

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What is Compassion?

What is Compassion?

The answer becomes clear when we look at the word compassion, which literally means come (‘with’) passion (‘suffering’).

To have compassion is to suffer with.

It’s not feeling a detached pity but sharing the pain. Moving towards the compassionate experience makes us available with empathy to another.
Once divine compassion wakes up and stretches out its tender arms inside us, we’re never the same again.

We’re compelled to suffer with, wait with, cry with those around us. We want to relieve their as much as we’re able.
And by relieving theirs, we relieve God’s. We do it for no reason except that compassion asks it.

- Sue Monk Kidd, "The Heart That Waits"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ajax 2 - Pirates 0

The night out to the soccer game with my friends from Masi was terrific. Picked Sonwabo and Monde’ up at Masi Baptist, we met Zuks as he got off the train in Fish Hoek, and had a quick dinner at KFC. Which, by the way, they love!! Then, we picked up our friend Andy (that you’ve been reading about) in town on our way to the game.

We got there early enough to get good seats as the stadium filled. Ajax Cape Town is a partner of traditional world soccer power, Ajax Amsterdam. The Orlando Pirates are one of the country’s traditional favorites. Ajax is fighting for first place this year while the Pirates are having an uncharacteristically poor season. In South Africa soccer is the sport predominately supported and played by blacks while whites have traditionally played more rugby and cricket. So, Andy and I were two of maybe 100 whites, which was awesome!

Ajax scored a nice goal off of a corner kick right before half time. Over the whole game they controlled play, had the most possession, and created the most chances to score. They got another goal late in the game as the Pirates were pushing up trying to score.

It was a great experience. Definitely pushed our relationship forward and gave us great time to talk. Thanks to everybody that contributed to my soccer ball fund and made it possible.

I forgot to take my camera, so I don’t have any pictures, sorry.



Leadership and Self-Deception by Arbinger Press
Reviewed by Casey

This book was recommended by our new friend Mike Jenkins (refer back to Rugby). The book was a short and interesting read. It’s about a leadership principle that we often deceive and betray ourselves by focusing blame on everybody else, seeing the people we interact with as objects instead of people, and by not seeing our own flaws. They were great principles, but it was taught in a creative and engaging way. The book follows the story of a guy starting a new job as an executive with a particular company. The company really values the principles and they teach it to all their new executives. So, you are seeing them teach the guy, and how he reacts and process through the information. It made learning the material more engaging.
Sarah and I both read it and enjoyed it. We are trying to make sure that we aren’t “in the box” towards each other. You have to read it to find out what that means!

Overall Grade: B+

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flipping Some Charts

Hello everyone!

This week has been filled with many encounters with the support group leaders of Living Hope, and it has filled me with such great joy and encouragement. These humble and gifted leaders spend hours each week leading small groups of people in their communities, and these places become beacons of life, laughter, wisdom, and care. I spent an hour yesterday in a group in Capricorn, and most of the conversation was in Afrikaans which I don’t understand the least of, but it didn’t even need translating. You can easily comprehend when people are speaking deeply, sharing life, and laughing with joy together. These groups are truly life-giving, thus why it has been such a honor to teach them these past couple weeks in the curriculum on this new flip-chart curriculum. I took a couple pictures at the Capricorn training this week, and I just wanted to thank you all for your prayers and support these past couple weeks as I have undertook this new training. I am really excited because by my fourth training yesterday, I have become thoroughly confident with the material and it has been challenging to me as well. It is the called Lifestyle Intervention For Empowerment Program or LIFE and it is all about the deep emotional strain that can also easily aid to chronic disease and pain. It’s about helping people to see the reality of their own lives, understand their inherent value and worth, and empowering them to set goals and move forward with their lives. It is profound stuff and could truly transform the lives of people in these communities in ways that medicine and clinics never could. These support leaders have such potential in their groups and I ask that you would pray for them as they lead people through this curriculum – that people would take it in deeply and be empowered to make deep and real changes in their lives.

God is so good, and what a privilege to lead people towards their own empowerment and fulfillment! Love it!

Lots of love,

Support Group Leaders in Capricorn

Leader Maggie at her house

Maggie's CUTE doggie!


“When the Heart Waits” by Sue Monk Kidd
Reviewed by Sarah

There are times in life where the action in our world seems to only be happening on the inside of us, within our hearts and minds and souls; When the Heart Waits has been written for such a time. Personally, my time in South Africa has been much of an inner journey of growing and transformation and Kidd’s book has been a lamppost in many of those moments through this book. The work is an account of her own inner transformation, which she brings to life using the metaphor of a butterfly coming to life through the incubation time in a cocoon. The end goal is beauty and flight, but it takes a lengthy process of waiting and growth. For those who either find themselves in the midst of a time of waiting and growth, or would like to pursue such a time, I encourage you to pick this book up as part of your roadmap through your personal voyage. Kidd at times can be deeply emotional and considerably verbose, but still a welcomed fellow journeyer.

Overall Grade: B

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

“I Give a Damn”

Hello everyone!

My blog title is not an attempt to live out the freedom I have been given in Christ through my foul language, but an introduction to something that I would love you all to check out. We have been able to meet so many incredible people here in South Africa, and there are many ways that they are reaching out to help others and make this world a better place. In March we were invited to the launch of a new organization called ‘I Give a Damn’ by our side-kicks (or vice-versa) Evan and Kerryn. We spent the evening hearing seeing a beautiful vision come to life, and we are excited to get involved ourselves. The ambition of I Give a Damn is to use the popularity of social networking to bring people together to help with projects and needs that are local and personal. You must be ‘invited’ to be a part of the web-organization, and once you are on, you are linked with friends and friends of friends who have created various ‘causes’ that they are asking you to contribute to. The idea is not that people would give astronomical donations, but small gifts to help people they trust help those in need. One example of a cause we could have (and maybe should have) created was that recently we paid the rent of a woman that I work closely with here. Her family was about to be evicted and needed time to find a new place to live. We would have created the cause of the site and invited all of our friends to contribute. If about 20 of our friends contributed $20 each that would have just about covered it. So, it’s very organic and it’s based on the trust that you have for Casey and me. The money would be funneled through ‘paypal’ and through I Give a Damn and onto us. Low overhead, high trust, maximum impact.

We shared a meal last week with the creator of the organization, Andy Duncan, and it is such a privilege to see his heart come to life in this dream. He simply believes in the good of people and that together we can accomplish so much more. This is a move away from big non-profit organizations where there ends up being great overheads and only a small percentage of the money donated actually reaches the people. With I Give a Damn there is a very small overhead and reports are given back to the site on exactly how the money is used. It is based around the social network and the friendship and trust of those involved. Casey and I are brainstorming a couple different ideas, and we will have them posted as ‘causes’ before we leave, but we would love you to check out the site now if you are interested. To really get involved and see all the causes you have to be invited as a ‘friend,’ so if you would like to check it out email me at or Casey at and we will officially invite you.

It is amazingly encouraging to see the many ways that people are trying to make this world better right in the midst of so much suffering and pain. This is a simple way to get involved, and you can even create your own cause! My hope and heart is that some of you in the States would create causes and begin the chain right in your own communities. So pray about needs around you and let me know if I can help in any way. You don’t have to go to Africa to make a difference – there are SO many needs right around YOU!

Let’s keep being the change we want to see in this world!

Lots of love,

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Weekend of Treats

We had such a fantastic weekend here. On Friday we had a braii (cookout) with our friends Mike and Meg Massingham and Mike Jenkins. Mike and Mike work together for African Encounters (the same company that Mandy works for). Such a great meal!
On Saturday I went to Mike’s house again to watch the Sharks (their favorite team) play rugby. Meg’s sister and bro-in-law were there. Mike and Mike were trying to get Brian to take them to the Stormers Rugby game that night and sit in his company’s box. Somehow I got invited, too. It was incredible! Rugby is a REALLY big deal here. The league is called The Super 14. It’s five teams from here, 5 from Australia, and 4 from New Zealand. The crowd was electric because it was a really big game and watching from the box was fantastic. All the food and drink that you want! (You know I like that!!) A great view, and a TV with replays if you want to see something again. The Stormers won to move from 8th to 4th place, which is huge, because only the top 4 makes the playoffs. Such a great time. Thanks to Group Five Building!

Sunday morning we ran the Milkwood race. I ran the ½ Marathon (21Ks), and Sarah and Mandy ran the 10K. The course was spectacular and the weather was perfect! I actually ran a really good race. It was my 3rd fastest ½ Marathon time, which really surprised me since I haven’t really been training like I normally would. I’ve been running, biking, and playing soccer a lot, but not on a normal training schedule. After the race we joined Uncle Richard and some of his running buddies for brunch at this Farm Village near Red Hill. In the afternoon we visited the Green Point Market and I went to play poker with one of our new friends Andy and some of his mates. You sort of have to just throw yourself into things here.
We’ve really been blessed by everybody’s hospitality, but more than that by the great friends we’ve made. People like Mike, Mike, and Meg, and our new friend Andy (who Sarah is going to blog more about soon). Since Evan and Kerryn abandoned us for America we’ve really had to branch out, but it’s probably been good for us. Actually, Andy is a friend of Evan’s as is Uncle Richard so it all comes back to him.

It was a weekend of fun treats. Ready for a great week!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Using My Passion

I wanted to write and let you know about an exciting thing that has been developing here, sort of ‘on the side.’ There is a little field near our house on the corner of the shopping center. When we arrived here I noticed a group of guys would play soccer there a few afternoons a week. Eventually, I rocked up there and asked if I could play. I thought it was just a pick-up game, but after a week or so I found out that it was an actual team and this was their practice. I continued to play with them and they’ve really welcomed me in. The senior team is made up of guys mostly around 20-25 years old and they have a junior team of high school guys that also trains with them. All the guys live in Masiphumelele, one of the townships where Living Hope works.

I’m really excited about the relationships that are developing. A few weeks ago, after practice on Thursday, they had told me that they were playing on the Sunday coming up and asked me to come. I told them that I would try, but they called me again on Sunday to make sure I was coming. I couldn’t tell if they wanted/needed me to play, or if they just wanted me to come. Well, I got there (I came prepared to play just in case) and they just wanted me to watch, but it was so cool, because they sort of wanted to ‘show off’ for me. Since then I’ve taken one of the guys, Monde, to dinner after practice. That helped me to get to know him better and also gave me more insight into the lives of the other guys. Now, I see the guys all the time when I’m driving through Masi, so it’s cool to stop and chat. This week they made me stay after practice for their Team Meeting. That was neat that they wanted to include me. They are starting in a new league, which they would let me play in, but it doesn’t make sense to get registered at this point. They are also playing a gambling game on Sunday that they said I can play in, but I’m running a ½ Marathon in the morning, so I don’t think I’ll be up for playing that afternoon! (The gambling game is basically where they challenge a team to play them for R100, which is about $13. Each team puts in R100 and the winner takes all. This is how they pay for their equipment. Since they are the best team in Masi, they win a lot of money, but most teams won’t play them anymore.) It’s just so cool that they’ve welcomed me like this. I’m obviously really different from them, but they haven’t allowed that to stop them.

Now, I’m praying for a vision of how to take these relationships further and really work Jesus into the equation. This Wednesday I’m going to use some of my soccer ball money and take Monde, another guy on the team that he’s supposed to choose, and Sonwabo (who is a Life Skill Educator in Masi and is the Youth Pastor at Masi Baptist Church) to a professional soccer match in town between the home side Ajax Cape Town and the Orlando Pirates. The Pirates are one of the traditional favorites in the country, so it should be a big crowd. I’m really excited about the opportunity to further the relationships and try to connect Sonwabo with these other guys. I think Monde could be a potential volunteer for Living Hope, so I’m hoping Sonwabo can reel him in. Please pray for this time and for my continued relationships with these guys. I want to support their team and them as people. I’ve even considered trying to get some of them to the States to play for a college program and get a great education. If one of them came back to South Africa with an U.S. education, he would have immense opportunities open up. That could affect multiple people and generations. Please pray that I would know how to support these guys and that God would give me the opportunities to share with them.

And pray for the ½ Marathon on Sunday morning. It’s called the Milkwood. It’s supposed to be a spectacularly beautiful course along the beach from one of the lighthouses. Sarah and our flat-mate Mandy are going to be running the 10K. One of Evan’s friends, ‘Uncle’ Richard, is going to be with us also, but he’s preparing for a Marathon next week, so I’ll only be able to keep up with him for about a mile, at best.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hello friends and family,

It’s Thursday night here and thought I would send some updates on how this week went. It has been a great one, but exhausting and I have been battling a bit of sinus problems. So by the evenings, I am toast, but God is definitely at work. I was able to lead two trainings this week in communities called Oceanview and Masiphumalele for support group leaders. The support groups are organized by Living Hope and are similar to our small groups in America, but based around health needs such as HIV, chronic disease, or new mothers. These leaders are extraordinary and lead groups of people each week who are suffering and struggling through major life difficulties, and they care for them with the love of Jesus Christ. The training I was doing with them was created by the City of Cape Town, and is a flip-chart that leads group members towards seeing their true reality and taking responsibility for their own futures. It is GREAT curriculum, and it was a privilege to lead these leaders through it. We had great conversation and worked through some deep stuff. Thanks so much for your prayers – God showed up in a big way! I felt so inadequate to lead these gifted and blessed people, and recognized my need for God to speak through me – which He (of course) did! This week also included meeting with the support group of refugees from the Congo, meeting with other support group leaders, some counseling work here and there, and working with Living Hope in various and random ways. And I saw a kick-butt sunset on Wednesday night. God is so amazing and beautiful and He speaks to us in so many ways if we quiet ourselves to hear Him! I am so thankful because I am doing what I have been longing to do for so long, which is working with the last and the least. God promises are true, and yet the oppression these people suffer under is real and excruciating. We are desperate without Him, and true life satisfaction and purpose is only found in God. Casey and I are looking forward to a nice weekend to regroup and refresh with a braii (their BBQ), wine tour, worship night, and a race on Sunday morning. Don’t worry – we know we are being spoiled by God!

Love you all!!

These are all the same sunset! Beautiful!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Book Review

As an aside, we haven't read all these books in the past week, but finally have decided to blog about what we have read here in Cape Town. We encourage you to check them all out!

"Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott
Reviewed by Sarah

For anyone who needs a different perspective on Christianity, or just has a ‘few screws loose’ like me and needs some solidarity, this book is a treasure. Lamott shares her life journey towards God and her true self, in this poignant and comical memoir. The reader of this manuscript will run the spectrum of emotions alongside Lamott, and certainly find many places along to way to relate and learn from her stories. Ultimately, I felt like I found a friend in this book, and was able to give myself a break from taking Christianity so seriously all the time. I am reminded by Lamott that our God is to be enjoyed, treasured, and worshipped in the midst of tears and laughter and everything in between.

Overall Grade: A

Book Review

"Long Way Down" by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
Reviewed by Casey

It feels like I lost two friends yesterday. I finished a fantastic adventure with Ewan McGregor (of Star Wars fame) and Charley Boorman. They wrote an awesome book about their adventure riding their motorcycles from the northern tip of Scotland to Cape Town. I was, obviously, first intrigued by their destination. But this book was fantastic because you really felt like you were a part of their adventure. Seeing the landscape, getting the flat tire, falling off the bike, meeting the people, waiting for hours at the borders, all the parts of traveling, especially across Africa.
The extra special part of their adventure was that they would stop in specific spots along the way and do visits with UNICEF, which is the world’s leading children’s organization working to protect children affected by crisis including war, natural disasters, and HIV. It was amazing watching their hearts being opened up to the pain and struggles of these kids. Some of the struggles I had heard about before, but some I hadn’t.
Previously, these guys had an adventure called Long Way Round where they rode their bikes around the world. (I think from London around to Manhattan.) I’m definitely getting that book and the DVD when we get home. If you love adventure and the idea of having an extended journey with your best mate, then I’d really encourage you read this. I loved it! It’s not a short read, and about every 20 pages there is a bad word, but it’s fantastic!!

Overall Grade: A

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Hey everyone,

Thought we would send along another video update of our thoughts at this point - only one month to go! Thanks for all your love and support!

Sarah and Casey

African friendships

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to share some fun pictures from Sunday night! We shared the evening with Diane Reeve and Jeff Ricketts, friends from Tampa. I got to know Diane very well this summer as we journeyed around Uganda together in August. Sharing Africa creates a bond that can't be broken! Diane and Jeff were doing business in Cape Town and we shared a great evening of laughter, conversation, and good food (as Casey illustrates). It's a blessing to share this with friends!


Book Review

"Soul of Politics" by Jim Wallis
Reviewed by Sarah

Although I have owned this book since seminary when it was wholeheartedly recommended to me, I finally picked it up here in South Africa by the encouragement of my old professor, Peter Storey. Peter was encouraging me to dive into the questions and answers unearthed in post-apartheid South Africa that are brewing right under the surface in the United States; Jim Wallis the author being on the front lines of Christian protest and social-justice in America. This book is THICK in content, language, and themes, but if you are truly interested in the political and religious discussions that should be happening among Christians, this is a book for you. I can’t say that I agree with all the answers Wallis brings to the table, but I do agree that his questions are profound and essential. It might take you a while, but it is well-worth the hours and brain cells!

Overall Grade: B+

Book Review

"A Mile in My Shoes" by Trevor Hudson
Reviewed by Sarah

As the subtitle aptly describes it, this book will take you on a journey of ‘cultivating compassion.’ Hudson writes this book from a place of tremendous wisdom, growing up himself in the pain and oppression of apartheid in South Africa, but from the side of the advantaged. Even though he was while, Hudson from an early age took a protest to the systematic cruelty of apartheid, and led by example as a minister and leader. Through his own desire for a compassionate heart, Hudson began to lead those in his congregation on what he titled a “Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope,” and found a practice to take people into the shoes of other and towards a new heart of compassion. This book is exceptional and invites individuals or groups to journey towards the true, compassionate heart of God.

Overall Grace: A+

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Book Review

“Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
Reviewed by Casey

This book may be my new favorite book. Shane is a good ol’ boy from East Tennessee that is now living in a new kind of community in a poor section of Philly. He shares much of his experience there in Philly, working with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, serving the war-affected people in Iraq, and other initiatives he was a part of as a student at Eastern University and Wheaton. He really challenges you to come close to the poor and to experience life with them as your friends and neighbors, not just your charity. This book inspired me to consider how we could live our lives differently. Shane really takes the scriptures seriously, as they were written, not the American-contextualized versions that we believe now.
The only parts I thought were weak was when he got pretty political about the war in Iraq. I appreciated him sharing his thoughts, especially because he has been there and seen how the war affects the normal people there. But he basically just talked about opposing the war without ever proposing an alternative way to free the oppressed people of Iraq. Whatever you think about the war, complaining about it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, we need to think of ways to free and assist oppressed people. I just thought he got off base a little there.
Overall, it’s such a fantastic book. Please read it and let us know what you are thinking, what parts are hard for you, and what inspires you.
Overall grade: A

Pepsi and Paloney Dates

Casey and some of the girl leaders

So, Holiday Club is over. We finished on Thursday. It was an interesting experience. I had to deal with my ‘American-ness’ early on as things probably weren’t going quite like “we would do them.” It’s an important thing to do learn that it’s not always best for the American to ride in on his Red, White, and Blue horse and save the day. Things need to be self-sustaining here, so if I had taken charged and changed things then it wouldn’t have helped the ministry in the long-term. My attitude needed to, and did, change. I really began to enjoy my time with the little kids and trying my best to mentor the teenagers as leaders.
That’s really what I can celebrate from the club. It seemed, in the end, that some growth happened in those girls. They served and led in some really important ways. I was really proud of them. And we developed quite a report with them. At the end of the day the girls would serve the kids their lunch. Steve (the Englishman), Stanton, and I would stay out of the way and eventually the girls would bring Pepsi and Paloney sandwiches (basically bologna) down to us. We’d all sit together. Talk about the day, fart (of course), laugh (not just at my farts), and have a great time. It was neat to see how that time developed and how it changed our relationships. By the end of the week the girls were really sad to see it end. They made Steve some well thought-out cards and had a hard time letting us leave.
I’m really excited to be going back there this week and starting to figure out how to take them to the next level of being leaders all the time and with the regular Kids Club. You can be praying for that process.
On Wednesday we took the whole group (7 years up) to the beach. One of the other branches (Masiphumelele) was also there with their kids, plus several other random camps, so it was total chaos. The water is freezing, so the kids would go in for a while till they couldn’t take it anymore and then they would come and bundle up under towels and blankets to get warm. Steve was, of course, in the ocean acting like a shark, while I roamed the beach playing soccer and talking to a guy from London wearing an “OBX” shirt. It was a great day! We didn’t lose a single kid either, at least not that we’ve heard of yet!
All my regular jobs are over now, so I have to be really self-motivated now. I have my final meeting with the different teams this week to talk about teen clubs, and then I’ll get working on writing that. I also want to spend some time pouring into different Life Skills Educators, so I’m going to be trying to meet with them. That’s so humbling, though. I’m so amazed at what they do and who they are that you feel like you don’t have anything worthwhile to teach them, but you trust just sharing your different experiences and taking the time to listen to their hearts will be very fruitful. Please keep praying for the writing of the Teen Club program and these relationships.

The hectic scene at the beach - look at all those kids!!

Our friend Steve from the UK playing in the water

Friday, April 11, 2008

Beginnings and Endings

Hello everyone,

Well, it's time to send some updates from the health clinic that I have been working at here. It was formerly called the Hospice clinic, but because of the success of the ARV drugs given to HIV patients, less and less people are actually dying of AIDS. So they rarely see death at the clinic, and patients are often there for long periods of time. A blessing in that is that I have gotten to know some of them pretty well, as I drop in and out throughout the week to visit them. This was a week of new beginnings and bittersweet endings.

Early in the week I came for a visit and spoke with my friend Malcolm. Malcolm has diabetes, and because of it has lost his leg. With other illnesses as well, it has taken a very long time for the stump to heal, and most days Malcolm just lays in his bed. I struggled working with Malcolm from the beginning because I sensed he was a bit apathetic and really didn't want to work towards actually getting better. Each day just came and went. So this week I was taken aback to hear Malcolm excitedly say he was being moved to a new clinic for two weeks for intensive rehabilitation. We talked at length about it, and he was aware that he was going to have to work hard and suffer through some pain, but he was ready to walk and get healthy again. For the first time ever I heard him say that he wanted to get on with his life. It was so special to celebrate with Malcolm because people so often give up in the clinic, and he has decided not too. I pray that he works hard towards health in the next two weeks, but more I pray that he dreams big for what his life could still be after leaving the clinic.

Conversely, the week closed with a poignant ending. My friend Patricia, that I have spoke about on previous blogs, was an elderly lady in the clinic suffering from various illnesses. In the past few weeks her health had taken a dive, and it was clear she was coming to the end of her life. I came to visit her often, and just sat with her praying for her and stroking her hand and hair. When I came early in the week her eyes were clouded over and she could barely recognize me or even move. It was deeply painful to see her in this agonizing state, and I prayed for peace and that she would let go. She said to me recently that she doesn’t have any more family and no one to talk to, so she would spend all day in her bed just talking to Jesus. I know she found great contentment in our Lord. I learned on Thursday that she passed away early that morning. What is beautiful is that her friends from her church came and sang around her and prayed for her on Wednesday, and after that, the nurses shared that she was finally able to surrender and stop fighting. She let go to meet her Maker. I talked with many different people working for Living Hope yesterday, and they all shared beautiful memories of this sweet lady who touched many lives. I feel so privileged to have been able to share some moments with Patricia, and I will always remember her beautiful spirit and the way she would call me her ‘darling.’

As I was talking yesterday to a friend named Pat, a missionary working here, she shared something fascinating about the African people. She said that it has been uncovered that until recently, many African languages didn’t even have a word for ‘tomorrow.’ It wasn’t necessary, and evidently tomorrow wasn’t something they really thought about. This was profound to me, as I have seen for myself a struggle for the African people I know here to vision about what they could see tomorrow, both in our world and in the next life. In one week I was able to share life with two South Africans both moving courageously towards tomorrow, one in this life, and one in the next. God has so much for our tomorrows, and may we live each day fulfilling more and more of those dreams.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Book Review- “Adventures in Missing the Point” by Brian McClaren and Tony Campolo

So, we want to start sharing some book reviews with you guys on the blog. The first reason is because we want to share some of the amazing things we are reading with all of you with the hope that you will enjoy them also. But, it’s also a shameful way for me to show people that I’m finally reading books and sort of enjoying it. With no TV, what else was I going to do with my time? I might have to try this at home some, too.
So, here’s the first review.
“Adventures in Missing the Point” by Brian McClaren and Tony Campolo. The is a very interesting book by two very interesting guys. They tackle different issues in 3 different areas that Christians and the Church are missing the point on. The neat thing is that one guy will write each chapter and then the other will comment on what they have written at the end. Sometimes they agree, sometimes disagree, and sometimes add more stuff. But that keeps it interesting. They have some fresh things to say about each subject and really push you consider the ways that you have ‘missed the point.’ On some of the issues I think their arguments could be stronger. I wasn’t really convinced to think differently be some of their arguments. Overall, the book caused me to think and consider how I’ve missed the point. Definitely a book I would recommend and I’ve already given it away to a friend here that has already finished it.
Overall grade: A-.


Hello friends and family,

We surely miss you all this week! There have been so many people in and out of our lives here, and we think of you all the time. I honestly don’t think we could do this with your prayers and support. Hope you feel like you are a part of this – because you are!! I have been feeling a bit homesick now this week, missing the normalcy of life in Raleigh. We just take it one day at a time here, and God continues to show up.

I have had a hectic week working with many different people and places of ministry. One support group leader I have started working with is named Antoine. He and his wife Mati have two young kids and are here in a township called Capricorn. They are refugees from the Congo. Their story is mind-blowing because they fled their country because of civil war. They were forced out by a rebel group because they were working with an NGO that talked with people about AIDS, and the rebel group assumed they were working with the government and white people. It’s hard to understand, but they left their country and came here with nothing when Mati was six months pregnant with their first child. They have suffered a great deal and had many challenges here, but have begun to form a new life in Cape Town. They now work with other refugees in Capricorn, and I went to Antoine’s support group last Thursday made up of refugees from the Congo. Antoine asked me to speak about leadership, and I came with a message I felt God had put on my heart. One of the main things I taught about what how God was calling them to be prophetic leaders who gave a new and creative vision ahead for how people could move forward. They were deeply moved by our discussion, and have invited me back next week to talk about their personal challenges further and to dream ahead with them. Mati told me that when she goes to church she never feels as if they pastor speaks to them, but in our time together she felt like I was able to speak to her heart and situation. It was profoundly humbling. I went back to see Antoine and Mati yesterday and we had a deep conversation about their troubles and what God is calling them to. I was able to share scriptures and really encourage them about what God is doing now and what He is preparing them for. It was a special and even sacred time where I knew God was speaking through me. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to be used by God in this way. These people have exceedingly difficult lives here in Cape Town, because they are oppressed even by the black South Africans in their communities. They fled lives where they had education, respect, and peace, and now they find themselves in oppression and hopelessness. The Bible is coming alive in a way I have never seen before among these people because God’s words are written just for them. God’s heart beats and breaks for the oppressed and broken. We often read Jeremiah 29:11-13 for our own purposes, but this letter is God actually speaking to the Israelite people who are exiled, just like my friends here in Cape Town who are exiled from the Congo. Hear these words anew through their unfortunate circumstances:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I invite you to pray by name for Antoine and Mati, and pray for their dreams and hopes that God has put in their hearts. They know this time in Cape Town is for God’s purposes, to teach and refine them, but they ultimately hope to go back to the Congo to speak and minister to God’s people there. We must pray for their strength, pray for perseverance, and pray for peace in the midst of oppression and waiting. Mati shared this scripture with me, and I think it is a fitting vision for us:
“How good and pleasant is it when brothers live together in unity!” -Psalm 133:1

Love you!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Red Hill

So, I’ve been telling you about my work in Red Hill, but I never really explained the story about Red Hill. During Apartheid the whites realized that Simon’s Town (a Navy, coastal town near us) was becoming to diverse and integrated. So, they forced all of the blacks out of Simon’s Town. A man living nearby owned a significant amount of land. He allowed the families, with no place to go, to rebuild their lives there. That’s how the community of Red Hill was established. The city government has never supplied basic utilities (power, water, sewage) because it is private property and it was never the long term plan for them to stay there. But they have been there for at least several decades. So, it is obviously a very poor community. However, recently things got worse. Right before we came, I think early February, they had some massive wildfires. Many people lost their homes. The community is broken up into 3 basic communities, the Top Camp, Middle Camp, and Bottom Camp. The communities are differentiated by how far up the Hill they are. The fire mostly only struck the bottom camp. It got right to the edge of the middle camp, but never got all the way there. Most of the families have been displaced. Some ministries are helping them to rebuild homes, but it will take a while to accomplish all that. So, it’s been a rough time for this community.
So, I’ve been doing some work there and my major task is trying to train and equip some of the older kids (pre-teens and teenagers) to be leaders in this community through the Holiday Club and hopefully long term with the Kids Club. I think I wrote about how that had been a challenge initially, but I think we may have gotten over the hump. These girls are really warming up to me and some are doing an excellent job leading. They all do a good job serving, but a few are really taking on the Leadership part. Today as we ate our lunch (shredded bologna sandwiches, yum) we sat and talked and goofed around. I was a bit gassy (shocker, I know), so that was giving them the giggles and sort of opened them up. We had a great time. Hopefully over these last 3 days of club I’ll really be able to draw out the leadership potential in them.
Here’s some pictures of the day. The other white guy in them is Steve from the UK. He’s out for 2 weeks and he’s just fantastic with the kids. He’s been an amazing help.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Sarah's Monday

Hey friends!

Casey will be sending an update and pictures too - so get ready for that!

I had a fun Monday and wanted to share it with you. After hanging out at the holiday club in Red Hill with Casey (so fun!) I headed off to be with some support group leaders. I helped out with a group that meets in a town called Muizenburg, in an elderly apartment community. The group is a larger group and they were incredibly warm and lively. Angela, one of the leaders, taught about blood pressure as a nurse took their blood pressure. It was a great time to talk about health, share scriptures and a devotion, and have some tea and cookies. These women share life together in the complex, and thus have a neat kinship with one another. It was such a pleasure to lead them in scripture, and we even did exercises together! Enjoy the pictures!

Doing exercises led by Angela


Angela leading blood pressure talk

Group discussing