Monday, May 31, 2010

Kieren's Visit to Doctor Monday

Hello everyone!

Wanted to update you with the happenings of Kieren's visit to the hospital today to see the doctor and have her dressings changed. We had an appointment in a clinic in the Red Cross hospital (where Kieren has stayed, but in a different area) at 11:30. We waited in a room for a long time with many other mommas and babies and slowly had Kieren's dressings taken off and she was cleaned. Until that time, Kieren had been a great mood and even playing with other children and exploring the waiting room. But once I took her into the dressing room (where 2 other children were also being worked on and were screaming) she started screaming and crying and really didn't stop much the rest of the visit. It's such a difficult thing because she is obviously just traumatized by this accident, and especially hates being poked and prodded at the hospital. Later, when we finally were able to see the doctor (one of the same ones we have been seeing the past two weeks) she noticeably scared and upset to see him. After her dressing was taken off, we had to wait to see doctor and her wounds were wrapped in plastic wrap. This was problematic because the wounds were itchy and then began to bleed as she moved. Uggh, it was just bad, and as I asked a nurse for help, they re-wrapped her (annoyed) and rolled their eyes asking why I hadn't brought a blanket for her. MY FIRST TIME TO THAT CLINIC! So eventually we saw doctor and he continues to be encouraged by her progress - especially the healing in her face which looks great - PRAISE! However, they are still concerned by her chest and will give her another week to heal on her own, and if it does not then they will do a skin graft. AS I continue to appeal, we would LOVE your prayers for this because we really don't want further surgery! Pray for a full and complete healing for Kieren. Eventually, with the help of a family who understood this whole process so much better than I, Kieren was wrapped up again and I could finally take my exhausted daughter home. I think the whole think took about 4-5 hours in the clinic.

So obviously there is so much to be thankful for - we are seeing major progress and healing in Kieren's body and burns and even her opening up again to have the same spirit and joy that she had before the accident. God is DEFINITELY at work! However, there are a couple things that weighed heavy on my heart today. The first is that it is SO hard to continue to be served at this State hospital because you just wait and wait and wait and it's hard for these kids who are suffering! Which obviously makes it hard for us moms! And it's not just my white baby who struggles, but all the kids really struggle to wait so long. It's just the way it is for so many all over the world who don't have private health care, and SOME even don't have health care options at all!! It is such an eye-opener in so many ways, and I am thankful that we can receive care at all. But still, it's just a hard thing for all there and I wish we didn't have to go through all this. The second thing that is weighing even heavier is the WAY we are treated at this hospital. I don't really want to harp on this too long because I don't want to focus negatively on anything (it's a good time in life to stay positive), but we honestly feel that we are treated very poorly by the staff at the hospital in an unfair way. We feel that it is possibly because we are white and most of the staff is coloured (black and white mixed race) because the blacks in the hospital are also treated very poorly, while it seems not to be the case for the coloured patients. I even hesitate to write this, but I honestly just want to ask for prayer. Once again I was treated rudely by the staff today (a couple people who also work in the burn ward and have been rude to us before) and it brought me to tears and despair. I am honestly NOT a cry-er but I cry every time I am at that hospital and feel like it is adding unnecessary pain to an already traumatic experience. We would like an opportunity to speak to someone at the hospital about it in a respectful way, so that we can help others not to also be hurt.

Today I have been reflecting on this treatment and having a new place of understanding for my friends who have also been treated poorly simply because of the color of their skin. OBVIOUSLY I cannot truly relate from one place where I am treated badly, but the amount of pain it has brought gives me a new perspective into something I am already passionate about. I am thankful to know my true identity in Jesus Christ that makes all equal, free, and beloved because of who God has created us to be. Please pray for us as we continue on this interesting and challenging path!

Galatians 3:26-28
"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, or all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Lots of love,

Weekend Update


I updated some great pics and videos from our wonderful weekend, but thought I would also give a quick update about Kieren too! She has made some great steps as of Monday, which was so nice to see. Saturday was a harder day for her, and she was very overwhelmed at my 30th birthday party, which was hard. But she just went to bed early and we had a great time! Somehow we didn't take even ONE picture, but we did have 50 of our favorite people packed in our little house to celebrate. We had TONS of food thanks to some Ocean View friends and had a great time together. I felt very loved and it was just special to be with people that have become such an important part of our lives here. Sunday was a much better day, as we started out with taking Kieren to church and had a wonderful morning with our church family there. Everyone was so happy to see Kieren with her face bandages off and they cried along with me as I shared a testimony of the events of the past two weeks. They are a special group of people and God continues to bind us closer and closer. We rested for most of the day, just hanging around with our little friends playing soccer and watching soccer on tv. Then in the evening we took Kieren to Hillsong Church and she went back to Kids' Church for the first time! The children's ministry has been SO supportive with cards and prayers and love through this journey and they were so excited to have her back. She has been very timid, fearful, and clingy over the past two weeks, and cried when I passed her to others in the nursery, but did GREAT all evening with them! It was such a PRAISE! Church was wonderful, but the best part was that afterwards we had SO MANY people celebrating how great Kieren looked and how much she has healed. It meant so much to have them all share in the joy of what God has done and was even a great reminder to us. Wow, they are really wonderful. Then we went to dinner with a big group of people and Kieren played and ate the whole night. She is definitely turning a corner and we are daily seeing more of our little sweet girl.

Looking forward to a great week!
Lots of love,

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Congrats Kate and Mark!

We were so happy to celebrate the wedding of our wonderful friends here Kate and Mark this past weekend! They had a beautiful and unique ceremony and a blast of a reception. We had Granny Jacoba watching Kieren and so got to really enjoy an afternoon that went late into the night with some of our favorite friends. Congratulations to Kate and Mark!

The second happiest couple!

Casey and our great friend, Michael Jenkins

Casey and Wayne being 'cute'

The boys: Casey, Michael, Mike, and Wayne

Beautiful Kate and the girls, Meg, Laurel, Ashley, and me!

Women's Rally in Capricorn township

On Saturday, we had another fun outing with my lovely women from Ocean View. We were invited to a women's rally in another township called Capricorn and asked to share from our group. The church is called Sharon Assemblies of God and it's a new partner church of Ubuntu Sports. The women were really excited about the trip and 30 women paid themselves to travel and be a part of the day. So special! We had a great time, were encouraged, and hopefully were able to also encourage what God is doing among those women! I love these great women and feel so blessed to be a part of what God is doing among us!!


'Restoration' music group from Ocean View Methodist. Great friend Danielle singing 'Voice of Truth'

Restoration singing 'Voice of Truth'

Here are many of the women in Capricorn dancing to one of the songs. They would finish dancing for a song, sit down, and then get up again to dance to next song. Like 6 times!!

Video of dancing, singing, and joyous music at Women's Rally. Watch out for the one lady dancing!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Saturday

Hello friends and family!

It's Saturday morning and I am enjoying a quiet time alone in the house - WOW, this NEVER happens! Casey has taken Kieren to the hospital to have her wounds dressed again and check in with the doctor. Things are looking good with doctor and daily we are seeing improvements for Kieren. Her face is no longer bandaged and they have even washed her hair when they change and clean her dressings! The burns on her face are healing and she is gaining more pigment and color in her cheeks again. The burns on her chest are still not healed and we are continuing our prayers for their healing. The daily improvement is soothing and encouraging and it seems for all of us that normal life is happening more and more. We do notice that Kieren is more timid and fearful then she was before, which is hard to see. I think she just is traumatized from the accident, not around hot water or in the kitchen, but just overall in her life. She is very clingy to Casey and I, but also in that we see growth daily.

On Friday night we were able to celebrate the wedding of our great friends here Kate Newman and Mark Chittendon. Kate came to South Africa a couple years ago from Chicago to work with Living Hope and Mark is from Zimbabwe and here doing visual arts. They are a wonderful couple and I have grown close with Kate. We had a BLAST yesterday at their gorgeous and chic wedding in the center of Cape Town and then reception in a local place called 'The Foodbarn' with all our friends. What a great way to have a good time together!

Looking forward to a great weekend ahead!
Lots of love,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hello friends and family!

I am so sorry we have been a bit slow on the updates this week. It's been VERY busy and even has had a bit of celebrating with my 30th birthday and our 8-year anniversary on Tuesday! Whew - lots to be thankful for, and Casey and I even got to go out to a nice dinner Wednesday night together. Very special.

The week has been pretty busy as we have been home nursing Kieren to health and so it requires a bit more time and energy. The journey is very slow but we ARE seeing improvements in Kieren's burns which is a HUGE PRAISE! We have gone the the hospital to see doctors and get her burns re-dressed almost daily but were thankful to stay home and have a break today. Yesterday Kieren and I waited for a long time and finally were able to see the main 'professor' and our doctor along with about 10 medical students. They made note of Kieren's improvements - her face is looking healed although red, sensitive, and dry (all which is normal). Her neck is also healing well which means she has the bandages off her head - we can see ALL of her sweet face and hair! It's such a gift to her and us! The doctors still continue to have some concern about some spots of the burn on her chest, as they are healing slower than they would like. They continue to talk about the possibility of skin grafts (where they take a piece of skin from one part of her body and put it on wounds) but will not make a decision until 14-21 days after burn. So we still have time for God to heal our baby and that is our prayer! We truly believe that God is going to heal ALL the parts of the burn so she won't need a graft, and really don't want her to have that extra pain and scars. Please join us in prayer! Kieren's moods have been better and she is obviously feeling better. This morning her and I just ate breakfast, played, and got ready for the day - LIKE NORMAL! She is still in some pain, a bit wobbly, and moves slow, but we are beginning to see more of her smiles and hear her beautiful laughs. It's incredible. Granny Jacoba and I were talking today about how she is noticeably more timid then usual and has a fear that wasn't there before, so we are seeing after-effects of the trauma. Please also pray that God would fully restore her joy and take away this emotional trauma!

Casey and I also slowly returning to normal life, even though we both still feel we are in a sleepy fog. We haven't been getting enough sleep as Kieren has struggled to sleep at night (although last night she slept STRAIGHT THROUGH the night!! Praise!), so we are just tired physically and still worn out emotionally. However, we claim each new step and day and have been really focused on God and supporting each other through this. We are stronger than ever - work that God had been doing in our marriage in the months leading up to this accident and we are seeing the fruit for sure! So also be praying for our recover, also something that will take a while, but we know it will happen. Overall, we are just encouraged by Kieren's progress, and even more, encouraged by our God as He continues to lift us up and give us hope for all that will still happen!

Lots of love,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Casey is Published!

Casey has a connection and now 'working relationship' with a great organization in the US called 'Simply Youth Ministry' that comes out of Saddleback Church in California. They have a weekly newsletter where they include articles from youth ministers in their network. TWO WEEKS IN A ROW they have published our Casey! Check them out at the links below!

"You Need Community"

"Simple Youth Ministry"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: Forgotten God

I received "Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit" by Francis Chan in a care package a few months back. I was a huge fan of "Crazy Love" so I was really excited to read Chan's new offering.
It didn't disappoint and actually came on the heels of many things we had been discovering lately. Sarah and I have been doing a lot of discovery about the Holy Spirit and his involvement in our lives. We are realizing that we need Him more and more if we are going to be effective in the environment that we have been called. There is just too much against us to try and do it alone. I even wrote on my 2010 goals, "getting more in touch with the power of the Spirit." So, in lots of ways this book put words to lots of things that we have been dealing with and thinking through.
It really is a great look into an area that most Christians are missing out on. They are missing the power of the Spirit in their life and thus are living a really lessened experience with God. If we will allow the power and activity of the Spirit we will see amazing thing happen in and around us. We are starting to see that more and more in our walks with God.
I really want you guys to pick this book up. I know that I'm going to read it again in a few months because it deserves review. It's not long, and easy to read, I know you'll love it.
Overall Grade: A- (It's harsh to add the minus, but comparing it to Crazy Love has to drop it down one notch.)


Lessons Learning...

Over the last couple of months we have put a couple of quotes on the blog from a book called "Friendship at the Margins" by our 'friend' Chris Heuertz. We hadn't actually read the book yet, because we couldn't buy it in South Africa, but we knew we were going to love it. With the recent arrival of new Ubuntu volunteers we finally received the book. I just started reading yesterday, and haven't finished reading the introduction, but it helped me realize something.
Our focus in living in Ocean View is so that we can develop real and authentic friendships with people that are poor, struggling, and in need of hope. We didn't want to be the Christian people that come in, offer something to help, and then take off to our safe environment. You can't build real friendships that way. And we used to say that we wanted to be there for people in the beautiful and hard times in life. We wanted to be at weddings, funerals, graduations, when somebody got a new job, when somebody was abused by their husband; we want to be there for the best and worst parts of life.
Well, the tables were turned last week in an instant. Suddenly that really hard part of life was happening to us. But that's not how it was supposed to be, we were supposed to be there for them. The beautiful part of this story is that the friendships we have built since October allowed the "donor-recipient" roles (as Heuertz calls them) to be reversed. Our community here has been able to pray for us, provide us with meals, and serve us in other ways. Had we worked in Ocean View, but lived elsewhere the friendships wouldn't have been deep enough to allow that to happen. There would have been too much distance.
Yes, most of what happens here is us loving, serving, and empowering them; but often, and especially in this case, the roles were reversed and they were doing it for us. So, I'm thankful that God showed me that. There have been many blessings to come out of this whole struggle, but this is one of them. Our ministry in Ocean View is stronger and our relationships are deeper because of what happened to Kieren. We aren't removed or above the people of Ocean View. In many ways we are ONE of them. We have come with a unique set of skills, passions, and calling that will help build the community, but we are only part of what God is doing to build that community.
I know that God is going to teach us so much more through reading the book. To think I already got revelation and I haven't even started! What's going to happen when I get into the meat of it!?!? Be looking for a review of it really soon!


Weekend Update


Gosh, the idea of attempting to sum up the thoughts, feelings, and happenings of even this past weekend are pretty daunting! Really, the events weren't too strange, we really just hung out at home most of the time with our dear Kier-Kier and tried to love her really well, but we were blessed with many people surrounding us, feeding us, and believing for the great things ahead. A few highlights were Saturday night which was PACKED with sports watching and so we invited some friends over (who brought a GREAT Mexican feast to comfort us!). We hung out with some of our favorite friends, laughed, watched sports, and Kieren enjoyed it all. Sunday we had a good visit to the hospital, as Casey already blogged about, rested the afternoon away and went to Hillsong church at night. It was a worship night and at one point the pastor, Phil Dooley asked people to come forward who wanted healing. I came front, both for my own migraine headaches that we continue to pray about, and for our sweet Kieren. Phil saw me (he and his wife Lucinda visited us this week in the hospital) and prompted the entire church into a time of prayer for our Kieren. It was humbling and beautiful. We just continue to be beyond grateful for our community here and the extraordinary ways they are loving us through this ordeal.

For myself, what I have noticed most of all about this weekend is that as we have returned home and begin to think about normal life, I have begun to have a flood of different emotions about the happenings of this past week. In short, it has been trauma not only for me, but for Kieren. We all know that I am a 'feeler' anyways, but wow, this was truly a week of more feelings than I have ever had in my life. There are some moments that stand out and that I find myself beginning to work through. One is in the first hospital when Kieren been there just a short time and they were trying to get a reading on her heartbeat and oxygen levels in her body. Her limbs were ice cold and they could not get a reading, and when they did the oxygen levels were alarmingly low, causing them to rush in a group of doctors and nurses, take her to trauma room in hospital, and transfer her to Red Cross hospital for ICU observation. It's not so much what the medical people were saying, it was the look in that one nurse's eyes. She was alarmed. Then there were so many hard moments in the hospital, I mean just the first full day when if Kieren was awake she was screaming and writhing in pain, and that even while under heavy sedatives and morphine. As a parent, I am not sure if there is anything more excruciating to see your child in that much pain, second to losing that child. We also really struggled with the nursing and security staff at the hospital who grew weary of our many visitors which resulted in some very negative interactions. I was in a deeply fragile state and these looks and comments broke me (we DID speak with nursing staff later that day and worked through misunderstandings). It's hard to even describe the hospital, but I will say it's a STATE hospital and nothing like any hospital I have seen in America. They lack funding and staff, but TRULY the doctors are incredible there and the best in treating burns in South Africa. Then it's been just the grieving and questions. Will these scars show up when Kieren wears her wedding dress? Thinking about and longing for my happy and beautiful Kieren. Realizing I wrote a facebook status update recently with a picture of Kieren saying "Happiness is Kieren's face." Grieving for Kieren's pain, for the time taken, that the accident had to happen, that we hold vanity as something important in the first place so we are so sad when it's threatened.

And then there is God in all this. We KNOW God is in all this, and have clung to Him in a way we have never in our entire lives. He has blessed us abundantly with a community that is holding us up and literally helping us to make it through each moment of the day. His Holy Spirit continually breathes new life into us and takes us from despair to hope many times a day. We believe even when we can't see. But it's hard.

So this weekend, some of these things began to surface, and it's painful. It's just going to be a long process, and I can't imagine going through this alone. How do people keep walking through their lives when they face a tragedy like this without God. He is all we have, and He is truly ALL WE NEED.

Thanks for listening and letting me share the honesty of these moments. I believe sharing even the dark times will give God even GREATER GLORY when Kieren is fully healed and we see these times only as memories. Let's believe it together.

Lots of love,

What He Said...

Andy Chenlo, has been our Ubuntu intern for this first year of our time here ministering in South Africa. He is an American student on a gap year between graduating high school and starting college; he will begin at NC State this coming fall. Andy lives with a family in Ocean View and has become a 'fixture' in this place - EVERYONE loves Andy (or as in the case of the ladies, are IN love with him!). He is a special person with an incredible heart and a passion for God and people. He loves the kids who play at our house very well, but also can discipline and teach them in profound ways. People are already in mourning about Andy leaving in a month (he travels home with us to America in July) and truly, we also can't imagine our lives here in Ocean View without him. I caught up on some blogs this morning and read Andy's blog highlighting Kieren's accident and the beauty of prayer and love through crisis. So you can go to the link below to read his blog, and yeah... what he said.

Andy Chenlo Blog

Lots of love,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Healing is in YOUR Hands"

As I have been spending time at home and things are beginning to slow down just a bit, I am beginning to process and think through what God has brought us through this past week. A few weeks ago a covenant group from our church at home, Grace Community, sent us the new Passion worship cd, and it's been in the car. I hadn't really gotten a chance to listen to it much, but it played as I drove from the hospital for my first shower and nap on Tuesday after the accident. The song "Healing is in Your Hands" came on by Christy Nockels. This song turned into my declaration and prayer for the week, and will still remain. It takes themes from Romans 8 which tells us that we are more than conquerors over anything because we are loved by God, and we fight through HIS power. These truths have never been more profound before, and I grasped onto them with all my might. "No matter where I stand, healing is in your hands."

Healing has been in the hands of you, oh God, we see all that you have done, give you all the glory, and look ahead to the healing yet to be seen by our earthly eyes.

Kieren Update- Sunday

We recently arrived home from Kieren's appointment back at the hospital. She will have to go back every couple of days to have her "dressings" redone. They were in need, too, because she had been pulling on them so they were falling apart a bit.
They seemed pleased with the progress her face is already making. It seems like her healing their will be full. Her body has a few spots that they are worried about where maybe the Bio-brane didn't take hold like they had hoped. They even mentioned possibly wanting to do skin grafts. We are praying against that! We don't want her to have to have any more surgery and also don't want other parts of her body to have 'burns'. They say they will wait another 7-14 days to see how things are naturally healing, so please join us in praying that her natural healing (at the Hands of God) will be more than enough!
This time they wrapped her face less so you can see her much better. It will allow us to see her smile and laugh better! It also just reminds you who is under all those bandages. You begin to think the full mummy look IS your little girl. But it's not. There is a beautiful blonde baby under there! She even has a few hairs showing now. I'm hoping the new look will make her more comfortable, too. Now we have to put lots of cream on some small scabs on her face and keep things 'greased' up so that she doesn't get itchy and scratch open the wounds. Pray for that, too, that she won't be itchy.
So, though we are home, there is still a long road ahead and we still desperately seek your prayers.
We are doing pretty well as a family and have amazing people around us that are willing to help. I'm so thankful for them. I can notice that my fatigue is finally catching up with my attitude, so I'm hoping that will change soon. Otherwise I will strangle almost every kid in this community! We don't want that!
Thanks for all the prayers so far, they have been holding us up through all of this.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Home SWEET Home!

Hello everyone!

Yes! I am writing this blog update from my house in Ocean View, on my own couch, in my own clothes, as Kyle and one of our new Ubuntu interns, Ben play X-box and Kieren takes a second deep nap in her OWN crib. PRAISE! We got discharged this morning and couldn't be happier. The doctors were amazed and very pleased by Kieren's progress in the past 24 hours as her swelling went down, she opened her eyes, started walking, playing, and obviously was feeling much better. They opened her dressing today, checked her wounds, and decided she was ready to go home. She is still bandaged up like a little mummy, with only eye slits and mouth slit on her face, but you can see the beauty of this sweet girl anyways. Casey and I were talking about how somehow, even though most of her body is bandaged up, she is still as cute as ever! We brought her home, she slept the whole way and two hours in her bed on arrival. I think she just missed being at home and feels so at peace being back! Then we fed her a bit and took her outside to see her 'friends.' This was actually much hardened then I envisioned it in my mind, because the kids and people of the community have already begun to crowd around her with google eyes of pain and sadness. Uggh, it's just hard to have everyone STARE at her, and shudder at her pain. I am just so glad that she doesn't UNDERSTAND how they are looking at her, but I think it hurts me a bit. I keep reminding myself that the mummy look is temporary and she will be back to her beautiful self soon. It makes you question your desire for vanity, even for your kids, and definitely challenges me to question how I look at others. Is beauty really deeper than just what we see on the outside? For Kieren it surely is, but I know God is teaching me this lesson among SO many.

Kieren was a bit overwhelmed with all the people and new surroundings to get use to, so she was a bit whiny, but I passed her on to her granny, who was happy to sit with her outside and help her adjust. She quickly did and loved watching all the happenings of our yard today. Jacoba even put her in the stroller, which she loves, and she eventually fell asleep there until Jacoba transferred her to her crib for another nap. Sweet, sweet Kieren. We are praying for more miraculous recovery by the day and for her to adjust to her new life with the bandages and pain.

For me, I am doing okay, but recognizing that as we are moving out of survival mode, I am going to need to work through many different thoughts and feelings. It has been a traumatic experience for me as well. I do not have ANY guilt about the burns, I know they were completely an accident, but just the sadness of seeing Kieren in pain and the heaviness of days in a hospital nursing her to health has been incredibly difficult. I have never, EVER had to lean on God and His strength in the way I have this week. As we drove into our home of Ocean View this morning, in some ways it seemed like we never left, but at the same time I feel like a completely different person. The Prince's will never be the same, I am know and trust it's only for the better. God is working ALL these things for His good and I continue to see MANY of His scriptures come alive in our world. I have had many friends who are mothers reach out to me during this week, knowing that this accident has affected me in a personally emotional way, and it is true. But God is walking with me through every feeling and thought and will also HEAL me in every way. I take great comfort in our God and feel His mighty hands upon me.

Thanks for the continued prayers family - how God has bonded US together in an extraordinary way even across the world!

Lots of love,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kiers Thurs afternoon


I am sitting in the 'lounge' of the hospital as Kieren naps and just wanted to check in. We have had a great day here. The doctor checked her burns and they are healing well. They wanted to still keep her because of swelling in the face and body, took out all the tubes that were holding us in our room - PRAISE! We have played with her in the lounge today, she has walked a bit, played with toys, smiled and even laughed (although it sounds like an old man smoker's cough). She is definitely healing more today and the results are very visible. It's so encouraging. The challenge of the day was with the staff, nurses, and security here as they have gotten fed up with all our visitors - they had no idea the army the Prince's would bring into this place! They have been short with us at times, and my fatigue has taken their rebukes personally, but we had a great talk with the head nurse who wants to work with us but also has to protect the other kids. Great to talk with them and have an understanding. I was a bit heartbroken when Granny Jacoba came this morning and they wouldn't let her see Kieren, but I know she will see her soon. Casey and I got to escape to the B&B for a nap while the head of the pastoral care at Hillsong came and watched Kieren. I tell you what, that church has it's stuff together! They have loved us SO WELL! Some of our Oceanview Methodist peeps came here today too which was great. We are encouraged, exhausted, but held up by our God. It is amazing to me that every time I reach a time when I come to the end of myself and feel that I can't do it any longer, God jumps in and restores me and holds us up. He has been very present and faithful and we continue to give all the praise.

Keep the prayers coming! We pray for more healing for Kieren and a deep night's sleep for even more healing.

Lots of love,

Full Confidence

“Lord, we don’t have a religion that is a call to escape. We don’t have a faith that we just hold onto to make us feel better. We serve a God who came and dwelt among us, who looked oppression and brokenness and sin and pain square in the face, set His jaw toward Jerusalem and walked all the way to Calvary. And, so we don’t, when things are difficult, when problems are multi-layered and complex, we don’t pretend they don’t exist and we don’t pretend they’re easier to fix than they are, but we also refuse to be intimidated. Not ‘cause we’re so great but because the God who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. And there is no sin, there is no brokenness, there is no injustice, not all those things put together that are bigger than Your love, that are greater than Your power, so we go with the full confidence of knowing that our God is the God of all things and that nothing is beyond Your might or Your reach. And no person is so broken that they can’t be brought back to full restoration in You……Help us walk in the path you have set before us for the sake of others that we might be more fully transformed in that and through it.”
-Pastor Issac

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday's Kieren Update

Today's update is pretty good. Kieren had a pretty good night. Sarah was here with her and I slept at the Torrance's. Kieren slept for most of the night except for a few nebulizer treatments. She also is starting to drink a bottle again, which is making her fart and poop. Of course I'm proud of her for that. They took the catheter out and aren't making her take oxygen anymore.
Her color in her face is already better, at least the part you can see. When she is awake now she doesn't cry nearly as hard as when we first got there. It's more a whimpering and whining now. Her real problem now is that she is off the morphine and they are reducing her other pain meds, so she just has to battle through her discomfort more. Obviously that's not easy to watch.
We've continued to have amazing visitors. Last night our friends Laural, Kate, and Mark brought us dinner. Evan and Kerryn were back. And some of our OV Methodist friends came to visit (the James family plus Melda). That is so sweet because it's such a long journey for them. Stacy James is almost 16 and recently started babysitting Kieren some. She didn't like seeing her like this! So sweet.
This morning our neighbor Heidi visited. Then Chantel Douglas, the Children's Minister from Hillsong came to visit bearing a gift of books for Kieren. Mike Massingham was having a meeting at the hospital so he brought us some really awesome food (seriously Meg, that sandwich was SO good). Then, Chantel Norman and Rachel Correl, two other Hillsong Staff came to visit. We have honestly made the nurses so frustrated with all of our visitors. They don't come at the right times, there are too many of them, and they stay too long!! I love it!! I think we should make a deal that they will visit other families, too, if they will let us keep having them! And Chantel can sing for everybody since she's the Worship Pastor. One of the nurses actually asked me if I had Hillsongs on my computer and I was like, "Yes, but that woman you just kicked out could sing them for you since she's the Worship Pastor at Hillsong." She seemed to wish that she had let them stay.
Another amazing thing is that Mike Massingham got a local B&B to let us stay for free for a few nights. It's only 2 kms (that's like a 1.25 miles) away so we can be there, in and out, often. Such a blessing!
Again, we are humbled and amazed that God puts people like this around us. I just don't understand. Why is it that we are allowed to have so many people that will love, care, and walk through this with us? God is so gracious to us. He knows that we need these people, and they are responding.
To our friends back in the States, we know that you wish you could be doing those same things for us, but you are joining us on this road as you offer prayers for each of us. Please keep praying! Pray for Kieren's pain and comfort as they reduce her pain meds. Pray for Sarah's heart as she struggles to rest and deal with all of this. She just hates seeing Kieren in this much pain. For me, pray that I will love Sarah well. Push her into decisions, gently, and continue to affirm her verbally. And pray that we will continue to get, and take, opportunities to speak the truth of Jesus into this ward.


No Weapon Formed Will Prosper

Hello from Kieren's mom here,

I am writing this blog with my computer using Kieren's hospital bed for a desk. I just like being around her, and it seems like she does these hard moments too. If Casey has five brain cells then I have like 2 and they are fighting for the caffeine racing through my body. Not sure if any of this will make sense, but had a longing to share. There is obviously no way to share my emotions at this point, but I can say that I have reached the lowest lows of my life in the past two days and also never personally witnessed God's strength and power in such mighty ways. We feel a peace that passes all understanding, believe and see that NO weapon formed against us will prosper, and if Christ is for us, NO ONE or NO THING can be against us. Nothing ever separates us from God's love. People have made comments about us speaking about God, and want to assure we are not trying to put on a Christian 'show' for you to pretend that everything is okay. Everything is definitely NOT okay, but everything has never been more together in our lives. Christ is knitting together a story in our lives that we never imagined, but He will be glorified and we feel privileged to be a part of this chapter. I have never endured anything as terrifying and heartbreaking as seeing my precious baby writhe and scream in pain for hours, but in the quiet sleep moments my heart is secure in the plans that God still has for our lives. She gets better by the hour and day and will continue to recover to be even more beautiful and full of joy then before, I have absolutely no doubt. I have total peace and confidence in God, and I mean that in all truth. However, if you know me you know I am a deep FEELER and embrace my emotions, so there has been some dark times of sadness in this hospital. I cry, and grieve, and sigh, and wish for the days before this nightmare. But after my grief I take a deep breath and move on. Rinse and repeat. People have been overwhelming in loving and supporting us and the BEST thing you do is to pray for us and then to encourage or send scriptures. We are humbled (that word seems SO trite) at the love poured out, and it could only be from the author of love, our God. THANK YOU. We can do ANYTHING through Christ, but we wouldn't want to do it without you.

You know I love a good story, and God has got us in the middle of the story of our lives. We are telling it, and telling of His greatness and faithfulness. We can't wait to see each step unfold and see His mighty hand and LOVE. We know our God deeper and more profoundly through this. We would never ask for this to be our lives, but we can honestly say we would never take it back. God is too real and too good. He is TRUE and alive.

Love you all - keep the prayers coming! Our God is hearing them and loving our faith!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our Little Mexican Bull

So here is the best update I can give with the few brain cells I have!
Let's start with the fact that God is on the move. He is active and alive. If He is for us, who can be against us. Satan can, that's for sure, but God is going to have victory here in this situation and people are going to be ministered to and inspired by this story.
This morning Kieren saw the doctor and he said that it looked like she has about 20% burn. Basically, that's the percentage of her body burned. There are few spots on her face, right on her little cheeks. Then her neck is pretty burned and then down onto the left side of her chest and her left shoulder. With her bandages off she looks like the bionic woman, because the other side of her chest is perfectly fine. She's part human, part machine! Her burns are either superficial (what we used to call 1st degree) and partial thickness (2nd degree). Hot water burns are the best kind to get b/c it's a more pure substance. Not like flame, oil, or something else. There are many kids here dealing with that type of thing. Many of them don't have visitors and have been here for much longer. I'm sitting next to a boy named Demitri that has been here 3 months and he can't remember when he last had a visitor. He's playing a matching game on my iphone while I type.
Back to Kieren, sorry. Well, they decided to do a small cosmetic surgery to help ensure the complete healing of her burns, especially on her face. They kept saying that the surgery 'theatre' was very busy and that it would be late tonight before we could get her in. We went to have some lunch with Jenks (who is a seriously amazing friend, btw) while Kerryn Torrance stayed with Kieren. Then, we were going to head over to the Torrance's to shower and rest while Jenks stayed with Kieren, but as we were pulling out of the parking lot Kerryn called and said that they were taking her to surgery! It was such a miracle, b/c the sooner she had it the sooner the healing process could begin and the more effective it would be. So, they took her to surgery and everything went well. They put a thing called Bio-Brane on her face, neck, and chest. They cover it with that glue stuff that is sometimes used instead of stitches. This allows the Bio-Brane to adhere to her skin. It has all these healing components in it to help make sure she doesn't scar (hopefully, at all). Her face probably would have healed fine on its own, but we wanted to do everything we could to make sure she would look just as gorgeous in her wedding dress as we have always imagined!
She's been doing fine since then. They are doing some nebulizer treatments to make sure that the congestion in her chest breaks up. She's resting well otherwise. Right now she's really swollen up and wrapped like a mummy around her face and neck. Her body is a gauze t-shirt!
We have had lots of visitors today and are driving the nurses crazy. Jenks was here lots of the day. Andy and Granny Jacoba came for a while this morning (Granny was so broken hearted about "HER BABY!") and left with our new friends Karl and Julie Ostrand who are missionaries from Nebraska. Kerryn was here for a while and Evan stopped by later. Then Lucinda Dooley, one of the pastors from Hillsong, came for quite a while, and might I add, looked stunning in her hairnet and apron! Later on her husband Phil and Jon, the assistant pastor from Hillsong, joined us here. Phil didn't look quite as stunning in his hair net.
I really feel like Kieren is the most prayed for child on the planet right now! We are amazed at all the messages we have received and then knowing that people are even passing the message along to their friends and fellow prayer warriors. We are so humbled that our little Mexican Bull is loved and cared for by so many people.
You know, Sarah and I are the closest we have ever been to being in the center of God's will for us. We are growing spiritually and are at the healthiest place in our marriage that we have ever been. Frankly, Satan doesn't like it. He is seeing that we are reclaiming lives back to God throughout Ocean View and throughout the Southern Peninsula. He thought he could steal them, but God loves them all too much and we have been sent here to draw them back. Satan thought he could attack us through Kieren, but he only managed to strengthen our resolve. We knew that God was calling us into a difficult situation. Erwin McManus, a pastor I really respect says, "The most dangerous place to be is in the center of God's will." (I actually sent that quote to Pastor Phil on Monday afternoon in response to his sermon on Sunday. Whoops!) Obviously, spilling tea can happen anywhere at anytime. But our house is busy and full of visitors. Kieren is well loved, but you can't watch her every move. But that's exactly the life God called us to. To live open lives, with a hospitable home, that would invite people to experience Jesus. We will not back down from that call, even if it means stuff like this happens. We love Kieren with all our heart, but we love Jesus more. And Jesus loves her more than we could ever dream. So, if we love Him and He loves her, then we must lay her down at His feet and trust Him with her future. I know that this is only the first of many testimonies her life is going to tell. She's going to be an amazing evangelist, disciple maker, and lover of people. This is just the start. People in the hospital will know the glory of God by our being here. People in Ocean View will see the glory of Almighty God through Kieren's healing. And people in America will know that they were a part of petitioning God to have His way in her life. We trust Him the most!
We still cherish your prayers!! For Kieren's healing, that she would have absolutely zero scarring. For our ministry here in this hospital. For our own emotional and spiritual exhaustion. And mostly that God would be given glory. A lot was supposed to happen this week, so also pray that we would find a way to make some of it happen!
We love you and are humbled by your support!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Pray for Kieren

Tonight Kieren accidentally poured a cup of boiling water on herself. We rushed her to the closest hospital and after treatment there we were transferred to the Red Cross Childrens Hospital. Her burns are superficial and partial thickness and are mostly on her chest and neck. She also has spots on each cheek. The doctor's biggest concern is that her airway is damaged from the burn. Xrays look good though. And from the way she's been crying her airway must be fine!!

She is being admitted to the burn unit and we are told this is the best burn care in the Western Cape and probably South Africa. Looks like we will be here a few days.
Just pray for her healing, her peace, and that her pain would stay low.
We will keep you updated.

Love, Casey

Monday Update

Hello friends and family!

This Monday update is being written on Monday afternoon, as I have finally gotten to have some time on my computer just now! This morning I did an early morning gym visit with Kieren and then had a time of training for the support group leaders in Ocean View. We are spending time teaching them again the basics of being a support group facilitator and how to have a healthy group dynamic. This was our last of four trainings, and I think it's been a great time of growth for these leaders. They have a GREAT challenge ahead of them, as many of the people they lead in their groups have HIV or other health problems, and their lives are harsh and lonely realities. They have become hardened because of their pain and only know how to lash out and protect themselves. What these men and women are experiencing and learning in these support groups is PROFOUND and I truly beleive it's life-changing - just to love and trust other people and to BE LOVED. It's so awesome - I love these leaders and friends!

I also made a big trip to the grocerty store this afternoon as I'm trying to make just one big trip a week rather than going EVERY day (which ends up happenening WAY too much). There are a few reasons for this. One, we are NOT in America, so sizes of things you buy - like bags of chips for instance - are not MEGA FAT-SO size, but regular person size. So you just have to buy more. Our kitchen and fridge are smaller, so we can only have so much at our house. Also, since we live at 'Grand Central Station' we never know who is going to come by for meals or snacks. HOWEVER, since I have a new love of cooking, I'm trying to plan meals for the week and buy all the stuff on Monday. It's fun - who knew being domesticated could look so good on me?? This week we are having chicken pies (they LOVE pies here, kind of like chicken-pot-pie), taco salad, and a chicken and veggie soup. We have a salad meal at least once a week - I LOVE salad. I am going to make soup for the FIRST time, I have always been intimidated, but the depressing and FREEZING weather here has inspired me. Ohhh, I will have to go back to the store to buy some crusty bread for soup night.... yum.

Oh, so our weekend? It was random and really busy as usual. It is just a certainty that our weekends are packed full of ministry and time with friends. I think we have totally embraced it and really enjoy it! We played ultimate frisbee with some kids from Ocean View, had friends Shagmie and Lauren over for lunch, had other friends Nathan and Mandy and daughter Zephanie for dinner (and they cooked - YES!), hung with Kier Kiers a bunch, went on a great run (seperately but both with kids - hah! they will go anywhere with us!!), went to Hillsong Church last night and dinner with Jenks, and then I preached yesterday morning at Ocean View Methodist. Whew! There was surely other stuff too, but those were just some bites of it. We love our weekends so much! Hillsong was awesome and SO encouraging last night. And preaching at OV went great yesterday - God really spoke through me and gave me a great word for my congregation. I will post notes soon!

Well time to get ready for the girls bible study I lead - young girls who hang out here are SO excited about 'bible class' as they call it. I got them journals today so they can take notes and Hillsong is going to give us Bibles soon to give them. Incredible!

Lots of love,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Living in the Wild

So we do live in Africa, but people sometimes confuse Cape Town with the rest of Africa. Or as some people say, 'the REAL Africa.' We DO live in real Africa, but admittedly, it is not the same and as 'hard core' as many first imagine when they hear about our lives. We live in a city, and truly, our ministry is more like 'inner-city' work in the United States. We have internet, cable, and grocery stores. We do not have lions, tigers, and bears anywhere nearby, although we DO have dogs that roam around the township at all times - once even caused a scooter accident for our Ubuntu intern, Andy Chenlo as he barked and chased him down the road! Saying all that, we do have some critters that love to hang out in our house, and they do have a noted 'wild' side to them. Our house is build on some sort of water/lagoonish area so it's just damp and wet, even more than regular wet Africa. It rained so hard yesterday that it rose up the house and almost inside - some men of the church busted a hole in the concrete wall surrounding the house so the water could drain! Anywhoo, this sort of environment is evidently a lovely abode for both cockroaches and mice. I know what you are thinking, "I live in the woods and we have HUGE roaches," or "I went to Mexico once and bugs... blah blah..." I'm going to stop you. No, you haven't seen big roaches. These ARE HUGE, and you can see all their body parts, and they shine, and they look at you as they stroll through the kitchen as if to say 'whatEVER human...' So rude are they! I have seen less of those lately and I can honestly live with them. It's the other critter that I am having a problem with. It's the MICE. So yeah, early in our stay in the new Prince home, we would see tiny brown mice every now and then, one even deciding to hang in our living room for a couple nights, scurrying around. I can't blame him for wanting to watch tv, but he just wasn't invited. They pop up every now and then and we put out more rat poison and then don't see them for a while. They don't really use traps here, and I am fine with poison, I just imagine they evaporate into mouse heaven.

OKAY, so here is the story to tell you how WILD these animals really are. On Tuesday night I had a young girl in the church over for dinner. I am eating and talking with Stacy and see something out of the corner of my eye in the kitchen. "Did you see that," I ask. "What..." asks Stacy as she is RUDELY interrupted by a MOUSE scurrying from one cabinet to another. We scream a bit, and say EWWW and she tells me about some random thing her mom does and puts out pepper on the floor when she sees a mouse. So I do that obviously, and it makes sense, pepper is strong and these guys are obviously on a munchie run, so hope they have to go home with pepper mouths to find water. That was the end of that. THEN, on Wednesday morning, Kieren and I are hanging out, she's walking around and in the living room, and I'm getting something in the food cabinet, then decide to clean up some of the randomness in there and am throwing out a few things and organizing, and BAM!! Are you ready for this?? BAM! A mouse JUMPS OUT the cabinet and ON TO ME. Take that in a moment. The mouse jumps ON ME! I jump up and it jumps off and back to it's other cabinet home. I really couldn't even scream, checked my robe pockets for the next hour to make sure it wasn't there, and just felt dirty with the memory stain of the weight of the mouse on my chest. WHO DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?? I mean, he is already in the cupboard eating our chips (at least he picked a bag that was old, I was about to throw it out) BUT STILL. YUCK.



So just wanted you to know. We may be in city Africa, but it's still Africa. And the animals are WILD. Beware.

Lots of love,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Lately I feel like I am just trying to soak up the great moments. So often we focus on the bigger events, the due dates, checking off the lists, and just getting through. I realize that it's the small moments, the times that often pass by without notice, that we end up missing at the end. Like tonight, we finally got a night just alone the three of us to be at home. Casey took Kieren across the street to the 'flats' (the low-income apartments) to watch some kids play soccer. I made a random egg casserole dinner and we all got to sit down together to eat. But no sooner had we sat down then we began to hear music coming from our church next door as the band was having worship practice. Kieren immediately began to dance and then looked at me, whined, and put her hands out to tell me to take her out so she could go over there. I told her no, and that we had to eat, and she frowned and then began to eat and babble. She did this a couple times during the meal - and she just LOVES being at the church during worship practice! On Sunday mornings when they start worship (usually 10 minutes early!!) she runs to the front door and shakes the bars until we go over there with her. This baby loves music, singing, and dancing!

Another great part of our lives here is our relationship with our 'Granny' Jacoba. She is here almost every day to watch Kieren, but has become a part of our ministry and even our family. She is a treasure to us, we talk about her all the time, and truly just cherish her in our lives. She adores Kieren and the feeling is mutual. She is a HUGE part of the women's ministry I am doing and has even become a part of our church - although also still very faithful to her Baptist church. I look forward to hearing her greeting in the mornings!

Those are just a couple of the little things, but each day is made up of so many people that we love and feel privileged to minister to and with. Our lives are becoming more and more bound up with those here and I love it. It's home. Raleigh is also home, but this is too now. We have created a BIG problem :)

Lots of love,

Great Thought...

Friendship with people who are poor often exposes our excess. This is especially the case if we move in and out of one another’s worlds. We do not want to be guilt-ridden and anxious about our lifestyles, but we do want to move in the direction of justice and generosity. Getting a handle on simplicity that is full of grace is often challenging.

I (Chris) remember one incident well. I had just returned home from my time with the Missionaries of Charity in India. It was my first exposure to terrible poverty and death, and I was struggling
to make sense of the disparities I encountered everywhere on my return. One of my younger brothers and I were playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! (maybe the best video game ever) on the original Nintendo system. As we played, my brother said, “Man, I’m starving. Want to get something to eat? ” Given where I had spent the previous months, it set me off. I immediately thought of the corpses of the young men and women who had actually died of complications
from being undernourished. So I promptly replied, “Dude, you don’t know what it means to starve.”

My brother, in an attempt to restate his original comment in a way he thought would be less offensive to me, tried again: “I haven’t eaten all day, and I’m hungry.” Still upset, I replied, “Well, how about I call a bunch of slum churches in India to start a prayer chain for you? ”

It is not easy to move back and forth between different worlds, but I have had to learn that the grace and generosity I share with my friends on the margins is equally important for friends and relatives at home. Just because they aren’t as regularly exposed to the tensions doesn’t mean they deserve less respect or love. My lifestyle needs to be an invitation, not a bludgeon, that helps others to choose simplicity and generosity because it is appealing.

— “Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission,” by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl (IVP, 2010): page 128-129

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to share some of the pictures from my wonderful event this weekend! Four times a year, Hillsong Church hosts a women's event called the 'Sisterhood.' I had heard about it for a while, but was unsure of what it was and honestly a bit skeptical of these kinds of 'women's gatherings, but I couldn't stay away because of the enthusiasm of the Hillsong women! Furthermore, my new friend Chantel Norman, who is a pastor at Hillsong and spoke at the Ocean View women's rally, wanted to invite the OCEAN VIEW women to the next Hillsong event. I hadn't even thought of that idea! Furthermore, she thought that Hillsong might be able to charter a BUS for us to come! In just a week's time, all the details were worked out and we had a bus coming to take us to the event. Coordinating the day was a bit tricky, but somehow God perfectly worked out all the details. There were 85 people that rode the bus (YES that is a LOT of people, and somehow we all had seats!), and then five people followed behind in a car. Hillsong was incredible in the coordination of the event, as we had a 'host' who met us as soon as our bus got to the Cape Town International Convention Center. They helped us check in the children for children's church, find our way upstairs to the event, navigated us through the lines and helped us to get tea and cupcakes, then waiting until after the event, helped us back to the bus and passed out boxed lunches to each person. Our 'host,' Jo-Ann, even texted me afterwards to remind me to share the names of women they could be praying for that were especially touched by the event. We were all just blown away! The service itself was full of laughter, love, praise of God, and great teaching. Sy Rogers, who had been teaching all week at Hillsong was our speaker and shared about 10 women who had influenced his life and gave principles encouraging us to also be defining women. All in all, it was a very blessed and abundant day, and EVERY person I have spoken with afterwards was so thankful for the experience. Again, I LOVE this church and am so thankful for their partnership in the ministry we are doing in Ocean View! What a GREAT day!

Lots of love,

Women I love! Cindy James, Kaylee, Charmaine James, and Stacy James. The James' family are all a part of our Methodist church and they are amazing!

Sarah with one of my great Methodist leaders, Danielle

The 'Sisterhood' in action and my friend, Chantel Norman leading worship

Our 'gift' from the Sisterhood, bags of tea to use to share and fellowship with other ladies

Women excited after enjoying the Sisterhood

Coming home on our lovely bus - thanks SO much Hillsong!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Update

Hello friends and family!

Happy Mother's Day! First, to the best mom in the world, MINE, Alicia Collins. Wish I could have been there with you this year, Mom. You are a treasure with all the support and love you always give us kids. We love you! Second, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the beautiful mothers I know out there! You have taught me so much and I continue to follow you in the toughest, most rewarding, and most beautiful job in the world - motherhood. I was blessed to celebrate my second Mother's Day this year and it was a special one, indeed. On Saturday night, Casey surprised me by leaving out a dress and a note for me in the afternoon to be ready at 6pm. He whisked me off to a romantic dinner in town and we had a great time just the two of us. I am so blessed to have a husband who is thankful for my job as mother and partners with me every single day as we raise Kieren to be the little girl of God she was created to be. I LOVE being a mother and feel blessed to the relationship I have with my sweet Kieren. Casey and I were reflecting on our little bond, and how Kieren 'talks' to me more than anyone else. Now when we say 'talk', it's really just babble with a few real words thrown in there. It's hilarious because obviously Kieren really wants to have CONVERSATIONS with the rest of us, but her language hasn't caught up with her heart's desires yet. I have no doubt it will. In the meantime, her and I can talk for hours. She babbles to me, looks with great expression, joy, or concern as she tells me her stories. I respond with, 'really,' 'is that so?' or 'oh, yes, I agree.' It's a blast. I know we are communicating and she is my little buddy every single day. We have so much fun together making each other laugh and hanging out playing games, making faces, or seeing people. What a gift it is to be a mother!

The weekend was PACKED full because on Saturday I took 90 women from Ocean View to Hillsong Church in the city center of Cape Town for their women's event called the 'Sisterhood.' All I can say is 'WHEW!!' It was incredible, humbling, beautiful, spectacular, and we all left feeling deeply loved. I will share more soon, as I want to also post pictures from the day. Hillsong paid for everything, including a chartered bus and food for the way home. Incredible.

Looking forward to a great week - lots to do here and we continue to make plans for our visit back to the States in July and the ministry we will do there!

Lots of love,


Ubuntu Sports Outreach update at

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Video Update

A little update from our family. If it's off centered in your browser, go to Youtube to watch it instead.


Good-bye to a Great Friend

Hello friends and family,

This is a VERY late announcement, but as a family we just have not had the heart to share this with everyone back home as of yet. This past week we had a night free and decided to watch a 'light' movie that was on TV, the hit 'Marley and Me.' UMMM, not light at ALL. It's a great movie about a couple who bring a dog into their lives and follows their life journey and friendship with the animal. In our first year of marriage, we decided to bring a dog into our world and adopted a blond, Golden Retriever puppy, naming him 'Lance.' Lance quickly became a beloved member of our family, and we shared many adventures with him. He was big, happy, WILD, and very loving. Lance developed some anxieties over the years and had a couple problems here and there, but was a great fit for our family. We wondered how he would do with Kieren in his world, but he loved her and enjoyed her, even though it meant MUCH more time in the backyard. Kieren's first REAL laugh-attack came by watching Lance run around during a walk and her first word was 'doggie.' She still loves dogs and it's all because of Lance.

When we moved to South Africa, we truly battled with what to do with Lance and found him what we hoped would be a perfect fit with a generous youth group family. Months later we learned Lance's anxieties and fears overwhelmed him and he had a bad episode with the family's other dog and son. The family consulted a dog specialist and were advised that their only choice was to put him to sleep. The mother and son decided to take Lance themselves to say goodbye; so special and beautiful. We were heartbroken about this obviously, but not surprised, and very sad that our friends had to say our goodbyes. We are at total peace about it, but sad that our friend is no longer in this world. We had some moments of grief and good-bye as we watched 'Marley and Me' this week and I thought it was time to share the news. We are thankful to have had Lance as a great family pet and family member, and love that Kieren will always have a special fondness for dogs because of him.

Lots of love,

Are you a Slacktivisit?

This is from Donald Miller's blog (wrote Blue Like Jazz) and we thought it was really good and wanted others to see it. Hope it makes you uncomfortable, it did me!


Are You a Slacktivist?

A friend of mine has a non-profit in which he raises money to provide academic scholarships to kids in South Africa. It’s a terrific organization doing terrific work. He raises funds on the platform of Academic Equality, and mostly mobilizes college students to host parties and fundraisers then works closely with students who are being provided scholarships. As he started his organization, I couldn’t help but notice it grew much more quickly than The Mentoring Project, an organization I started to provide positive male role models for kids growing up without fathers. I couldn’t help but wonder why.

As my friend and I talked about it, we wondered whether organizations that simply raise money in America and send that money overseas weren’t easier to grow because, quite frankly, they don’t require you to change the way you actually live? I know that sounds harsh, but think about it, if you could feel like a humanitarian for simply wearing a t-shirt and attending an occasional rally or updating your facebook status, or if you could feel like a humanitarian for taking a few hours a week out of your life and working with an actual child in an after-school program, which would you rather do? In other words, would you rather wear a t-shirt that says you are a humanitarian, or would you rather be a humanitarian?

My friend shared with me a term he’d learned that summed up our current dilemma: Slacktivism.

Are you a slacktivist?

Now to be fair, organizations building wells and freeing child soldiers and stopping sex-trafficking are doing extremely important work, but I don’t think we should feel all that altruistic for throwing them a twenty in exchange for a t-shirt. People need more than money, they need other people.

What if you laid out all your non-profit t-shirts and asked how you were directly dealing with the issue? And what if you no longer considered yourself altruistic unless the causes you supported were actually making your life more complicated? What if slacktivism wasn’t actually social change? What if it was just another way of exploiting the poor and marginalized, using them to foster our own false identity as humanitarians?

Does your activism cost you anything besides money? And in exchange for that money, do you get a social commodity and identity as an activist?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lots to Learn

Hey there people!

Whew, it's definitely been a BUSY week so far, and I feel like much of what has happened I can't even remember. The reason is that we have been hearing from an incredible speaker who has been here visiting Hillsong, Cape Town. His name is Sy Rogers and you can check out some info on him at his great website: I have actually been privileged to hear him ago (which I suspected but confirmed in speaking to him personally today) as he came to a 'revival' during my time in school at Palm Beach Atlantic College (still a way cool school, check it out here). Sy has an incredible life testimony that precedes his speaking, as he lived a gay lifestyle until becoming a Christian 31 years ago. For now 30 years he has been serving in ministry but focuses his work on sexual issues. This a topic that is EVERYWHERE in our culture and rarely spoken about in church, and so over 1000 people paid and showed up last night and tonight to see Sy speak about sex and God's thoughts on the subject.

We also went to hear from Sy at a pastor and leaders seminar this morning and my mind is FULL of info and ideas. Seriously, this guy is an incredible teacher and speaks on sin, sex, and overcoming with Christ's power with a clarity that I have never heard. Check out some of his quotes or you tube videos! We are thankful for a great church to be worshipping at - Hillsong has done something incredible once again!

Lots of love,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kieren and her 'girls' we are hanging out with lately

Kieren happily in her pj time before bed!

Monday, May 3, 2010

13 Years Ago

13 years ago I was attending my Senior Prom. It was May 3rd. I had a great date, went with my best friends, and we really went all out. But at the same time my Mom was finally taking her last breath. We had our catered dinner at the Stonebridge clubhouse, took some pics, went to the dance where I was voted Prom King (I know, what a stud), went back from desert, ended up at some park, back to the Cash's for 'breakfast', and then I headed home around 4am. Some where between pictures and the dance, my Mom went to be with Jesus. When I got home that night/morning my sisters burst from the bedrooms and I knew that it had finally happened. My mom lost her 2 year long battle with cancer. It was inevitable, but you never want it to happen.
It's interesting knowing how many of the people that support us so much and follow our lives here on this blog don't know my Mom. You don't know her spunk or her sass. You don't understand the sacrifices that she made for me and my sisters. You don't know about the deep and special friendship that we have. You just didn't have the chance.
It's just so amazing all the things that she (and my Dad) has missed over the last 13 years. My high school graduation. The start of college soccer which she would have been so proud of. The injuries that would have freaked her out. The girlfriends that would have driven her crazy. The special girl from Florida that had stolen her son's heart. My college graduation that would have made her even more proud. My (very) brief professional soccer experience. My special wedding to that little Mexican woman that would be my partner and best friend. She missed all the years of ministry at Grace. And then she missed the birth of the most amazing and adorable little girl. My mom loved her grandchildren in a way that would make her youngest son (ME) jealous. I would have loved to have seen her with Kieren. And, finally, she missed our move to Africa. I often try to figure out what they would have thought about all of this.
Yesterday's message at Hillsong was about miracles. Jon, the pastor preaching, has declared that May is miracle month. I was joking a tad with Sarah later that maybe for my "May miracle" that my Mom would be raised from the dead. Sarah responded, perfectly, that she was pretty sure my Mom wouldn't want that to happen. She's been hanging out with, dancing with, and worshipping Jesus for 13 years now. Though Kieren is really cute, and our lives here are really amazing, they don't compare at all with what she's experiencing now in Heaven. It just reminds you how much better our lives will be in the world beyond than they are now.
So, I miss her! That's for sure. But I praise Jesus that she's with Him and enjoying the splendor of Heaven.



Weekend Update

Hello friends and family!

Here with my usual Monday morning update. This was a great one - the weather was picture perfect and we made sure to enjoy it all. We rested a bit more than planned this weekend because Kieren was sick with a bad cold (which turned into bronchitis - got medicine after a quick doctor visit this morning!). I always enjoy a weekend of laying low, but there were some great highlights. On Saturday night we had our Ocean View friends over for dinner, Nathan and Mandy Ponti and their two-year-old daughter, Zephanie. Zephanie is a shy girl, but she opened up so much during our play time and LOVED Kieren's ball pit in her room. Nathan works for Living Hope and they are a special family, going to work this summer in the States at a Christian camp. We are very excited for the opportunity and what God will do through them! Afterwards we went to a concert hosted by the Kingdom Covenant Ministries, which is a new church starting up; we are friends with the pastor and some of the leaders. The Methodist women were invited to sing, but I had no idea what a BIG party the event would be! It was a packed auditorium and people were dancing and singing and having a great time! One more reason we LOVE Ocean View - they know how to have a good time!

Sunday morning Casey went to Ocean View Methodist and Hillsong in the morning while I slept through a migraine. In the late afternoon we took Granny, Andy, and four of our boys to Capricorn for another church service. Casey has a new church partnership with Sharon Assemblies of God in Capricorn, a coloured township that we love to visit and work in. Casey was invited to share about Ubuntu Sports Outreach and I was asked (Friday!) to preach. The church was very warm and inviting, and were a great congregation of young and old. They also loved to dance so we had a great time! Casey did wonderful sharing his vision and many men expressed interest in partnering afterwards! The school they will partner with is one they have already been doing outreach in! It is surely a divine connection. Preaching was a gift for me as this group of believers were very excited to hear from God's word. We ended the night with a McDonald's dinner together!

One of the most special parts of the night was a surprise for all of us. As we were leaving McDonalds, I was walking next to Granny Jacoba and Andy was holding Kieren right behind us. As Jacoba and I were talking, she suddenly slipped on the ground and fell on her backside! It was so scary to see and we all quickly came to her side. The surprise was that Kieren looked at her fall in horror and immediately began to scream and cry! Granny was fine, and we helped her to her feet. Obviously we HATED seeing our beloved Granny falling, but it was this unintentional moment where Kieren showed us her deep love for her Granny with her frightened cries. Casey and I reflected on it later in the night, so thankful for Kieren's bond with this great woman who loves us so well.

Looking ahead to a VERY busy week with much on our plates! Prayers please for time management and good health for us with all God has for us!

Lots of love,

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Bible Study has Started

A few weeks ago we told you about us taking Reagan, Kyle, and Kaka with us to Hillsong one morning where they all raised their hand during the invitation time. I had a desire to start studying the Bible together. Finally this week we started. We are reading the book of John out of their new Bibles from Hillsong. On Wednesday we read the first 9 verses of chapter 1. So we learned two new names for Jesus (Word & Light), about John the Baptist, the basics of the Trinity, the names of the gospels, and a bunch of other stuff. They are so eager to keep learning that we met again on Friday. We again read 9 more verses. This time we had to explain the law of Moses and what it takes to become a 'child of God.' We do a lot of repetition and quizzing to make sure that they are really comprehending what we are talking about. We are only doing small chunks each time so that we don't get too much confusing them.
The other kids are already wanting to join in. Sarah's girls are eager to learn also so she is going to start meeting with them. I trust that kids are hungry for truth and to learn. I'm not sure that at Living Hope's Kids Club they really study the Bible much. They are sharing stories about Jesus, but not really reading the Bible together. I think at most Sunday Schools it's the same thing. So I'm excited to see how this might expand over the next couple of weeks. We will slowly work our way through John and see what happens. Please join us in praying that as we read the Word of God that their lives will be molded. And if you know of any really good Bible Study resources for Middle School aged kids let me know. Not fancy stuff like I would have used before, but outlines and things that they can be writing the answers into.