Thursday, September 30, 2010

Festival in Pictures

Check out the festival video posted on the Ubuntu Blog!

Casey

The Big Five

Five Reasons Why Kieren is a Genius

1. Kieren loves to build.  And not in a strange, non-interacting way, but in a fun, come and help me way.  She builds leggos and blocks and cups and anything else around.  Genius.

2. Kieren is showing her true artist heart and has started to sing.  She loves most to sing the 'Dora the Explorer' theme song, but really just makes up her own tunes all the time.  I mean, come on, even Mozart wasn't creating music this young.  Genius.

3. Kieren thinks all men are scary except her Daddy.  Genius.

4. Kieren is also developing her comedic skills which we might take on the road soon to start a college education fund.  She remembers things that she or others find funny and brings them back again and again.  She loves to throw her head back and laugh from the bottom of that beautiful belly.  Genius.

5. Kieren has started to say 'love you.'  Genius.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fashion Show in Ocean View!

This week, on Tuesday morning I had a unique privilege to be a judge in a fashion show held here in Ocean View. It was the brilliant idea of the support group leaders at the Living Hope organization to hold an event that would encourage and love on the women and they came up with this! The large room was decorated in many colors and with flowers everywhere, even surrounding the long runway for the show. There were a few support groups there, but the largest representation in the show was Granny Jacoba's elderly group that meets twice weekly to encourage one another. They are a hilarious group and Kieren is loved by them all. Then my HIV support group members came to watch and another group of woman from 'Mountainview,' which is a township right near Ocean View that is much worse off with poverty and violence than the View. It is mostly filled with 'rastafarians' who don't work, smoke a lot of marijuana, and hurt their wives. So this group of women is a new group who are learning to trust one another and open up to God. Granny's group modeled first and had a BLAST with it. They were dancing and strutting their stuff! It was awesome! Of course Granny got the highest marks from me, but with my scores combined with the other two judges she was not crowned one of the Princesses, Queen, or 'Miss Personality.' Granny will always be MY miss personality :)
Then the younger women had their show, and at first only three ladies were signed up to walk, but as the show progressed more just kept jumping into the fun! We all clapped for them and cheered them on as they strutted down the runway smiling away. It was incredible. Then we crowned our winners for the younger women and those who were crowned queen and princesses jumped up and down, hugged their friends, and actually CRIED they were so happy and humbled. Honestly, it was so beautiful just to have a moment where they felt special and beautiful.

I seriously LOVE days like Tuesday where I reminded WHY we do what we do here, and how important it is to make people feel beautiful and special. Praise our God!

Love,
Sarah

The modeling runway with one of our elderly 'models' strutting her stuff

All the attendees having an impromptu dance party in between events!

The younger 'models' who were crowned at the show!  The two in the middle were the ones who cried when receiving their prizes!

A woman, Joanne, who lives in Mountainview who I have worked with before.  A beautiful woman who loved the day!

Uh oh, it's Granny Jacoba strutting her stuff.  You KNOW she loved this event!

Granny's best friend, Auntie Katie walking the runway at the end of the show.  That is NOT her real hair, but she swung it around like a top model!

The three winners of the elderly fashion show.  Beautiful!

Miss Personality.  Seriously.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interesting Study

CNN posted this article about this interesting study that the Pew Research Center did about religious knowledge in America.  It's a bit frightening, check it out here.
Not to brag, but TOTALLY to brag, I got 10 out of 10 right on the quiz.  I'm SO smart and spiritual.  ;-)

Casey

BLOG about Festival is finally up!!

Check out the blog about the Community Festival that Ubuntu Sports Outreach hosted this weekend.  It was quite the big undertaking for us.  It's all here at: www.ubuntusports.blogspot.com.

ENJOY!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Festival Thoughts from one of the TEAMS!

Hello friends and family!

We apologize for the late update today - but I (Sarah) am sick with a sinus infection and Casey has been busy all day working on some Ubuntu stuff that's been falling behind!  We are going to do a big update from the weekend with stories and pictures from the festival - coming VERY soon!

In the meantime, we have some of our 'girls' here hanging at the house, and they had a team of their own, so I thought we would get some of their thoughts!

Some thoughts from the 'Seven Stars' Under 11 team (made of ALL girls!!)


The team was Meagan, Roxanne, Annestacia, Courtney, and Chandre.

"It was good, and cool.  We played against boys and we thought we were going to get hurt but we didn't get hurt.  We played good and it was very, very nice.  Our team name comes from where we live because there are seven flats in our area.  We liked the t-shirts that Casey and them had on because of the colors.  During our last game I (Roxanne) was going to kick the ball and I kicked the girl and I had to sit down for two minutes.  But we still won the game.  It felt nice and exciting to win the game.  We think all the other kids had a fun time too.  We thought we would lose against Seapoint, but we did beat them.  We like playing against boys better because they can't hurt us and we laugh them out.  We scored first!  The Two Oceans guys kicked the Africans (black kids, as these were coloured kids).  We didn't have a half-time with our first game and we felt bad about that.  The game started late because the other team was taking photos.  There wasn't a referee there and Antony came late, but he is a good referee.  And 5-Stars guys played on the trampoline at the creche (preschool) (the girls are telling on them because they weren't supposed to do that!).  Casey did a good job because he told us when we were supposed to play the games on the microphones, and scores, and halftimes, and when it was finished."

Wow!  Not sure if you can follow that all, but those are the thoughts (recited to me as they are 'plating' or braiding my hair :)  They now just asked if there is going to be another One Valley Festival again - so that is a good sign!  It was a wonderful day and we can't wait to share more soon!

Lots of love,
Sarah and my girls :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Festival Tomorrow

Check out Casey's pre-Festival thoughts on the Ubuntu blog here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Funeral Service

Today was the funeral of Godfrey Jubelin, a man whose family attends and serves at a church, but a man I had never met. The family had been visited by my co-pastor, Kyle Woodward, but he is out of town this week, so they called me in. Stepping into something like this would usually seem like a burden to me, but since meeting this family I have been so inspired by their story. The man who died, Godfrey Jubelin, was married in Ocean View and had kids, and then left them all to start another family. He had 25 years growing another family in another part of Cape Town, and still called his kids frequently but never visited Ocean View. Then his second wife got sick and died, and then he was diagnosed with cancer. Facing death alone, he approached his first family here in Ocean View and asked if he could come back to them. So his ex-wife allows him back in the house, and the entire family cares for him for the last month of his life. And when I asked them how they did this, how they took him back and forgave him, they just said simply, 'Well, Jesus has forgiven us, so how could we not forgive our father?' Like it's really that simple, but to them it is. They honestly feel that it was a privilege to have Godfrey with them for his last month of life, and had great grief as we celebrated his life today. It is striking and beautiful. I feel so honored to have done this funeral today and serve this amazing family. Below is my 'sermon' that I shared at the funeral. I am humbled and thankful for this place of ministry and the amazing saints that God allows me to know and serve.

Click here to read the sermon.

Lots of love,
Sarah


This is my profile picture on facebook now, and it is getting many 'likes.' It is Kieren's favorite doll as of late, and it's from our friend Vivan who works for Nickelodeon. When we were in NYC this summer we visited a group of friends who work for MTV and Nickelodeon who served in South Africa this past year. Vivan took us to her office and was so excited to give Kieren a 'Blue's Clues' stuffed dog. Kieren was a bit 'crabby' at the moment, but was under-enthused about the dog. She waddled around the office and spotted this 'Little Bill' doll on a chair. She promptly grabbed and hugged the doll and they have been buds ever since. I call the doll 'brown baby' and am SO proud that Kieren chose her brown friend. It looks like her friends here in the View! I have now decided that Kieren will only have brown babies in this house if I can help it!
Love,
Sarah

A Letter

Hello all!

I thought this week I would share some bits of ministry I am doing here in the View. This is a letter I wrote to Felicity Jaffta, who is the daughter of Katie Jaffta who died a couple weeks ago while I and others were surrounding her in prayer and song. The family wanted me to share at Katie's funeral but Kieren felt it was time to leave (which was shared in a MAJOR outburst) and so I was not able to speak. Instead, I wrote Felicity a letter about our time with her mother and gave it to her. So here it is if you are interested!

Click here for letter.

Lots of love,
Sarah

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hello friends and family!

Our busy week continues and there are so many things we have to do! It feels exciting that there is so much going on and we are finding ourselves enjoying getting ready for all that is ahead. Tomorrow I will hold a funeral at our church for a man I have never met, and yet the story of him and his family has touched me deeply. I will share my 'reflections' from the funeral tomorrow. Also on my mind is my sermon for Sunday where we will be celebrating 'Women's Day' which is a national day here in South Africa that actually happened while I was in the US, but will be celebrated by our church women on Sunday. The women I love will be very active in the service and have been on my mind all week while writing this sermon. Also, I am in the works to create a Bible study for the women of Ocean View with both teaching and small groups, launched in January, but the thought and potential of it all has me excited and prayerful. Casey is running all around and busy for the festival happening Saturday and there are SO many teams signing up everyday! It's going to be a HUGE event! So I guess, in addition to the excitement of it all I just feel thankful to be involved in such great ministry. God continues to walk ahead of us and give us incredible opportunities to love and serve His people and it's so cool. We will keep you updated on the week and how things progress, but would really love your prayers for all of this!

Lots of love,
Sarah

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review by Sarah



"Friendship at the Margins" by Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl

I have been looking forward to this book for months, and I finally got my hands and head around it after hearing about it all winter. Casey read 'Friendship in the Margins' with our Ubuntu 'interns' and they all loved it and the conversations that naturally flowed from the challenges within this read. Chris Heuertz is a 'friend' of ours as he and his wife did some work at Duke Divinity before we went to South Africa in 2008, and we have followed their incredible organization Word Made Flesh for years (www.wordmadeflesh.org). The missionaries in this dynamic organization and community live among the people they serve all over the world in the poorest and darkest of places. They do not go in with clear goals and objectives for people, but rather allow ministry to grow and develop from the friendships that are born there. Honestly, WMF and their theology of ministry deeply formed our vision for ministry here in Ocean View and planted many seeds that we are now living and working out. Chris pushes his readers to a deep encounter with those they serve and invites us to move from a cause-based mission focus to a vision of friendship and coming alongside people. What we find in friendship is a place for building, learning, growing, and a mutual experience of God. This book hit me in some deep places because it speaks right into much of what we hope to do through living here in Ocean View but is very honest about the challenges in this kind of radical life. The hardships are not just the 'dangers' of living among people who poor and desperate, but the issues that arise as people who are wholly different in many ways come together to learn and authentically relate. I am humbled that God has given us a place to do this way of life and ministry and pray that God will continue to teach us how to truly honor Him and our brothers and sisters among us.

"The stories of friendships at the margins remind us of the power of hospitality and a hospitable presence. People are transformed when someone is willing to listen to their stories, to share a meal with them, to find their insights and concerns important or interesting. They are able to recover a measure of self-respect and a fuller sense of identity. But hospitality works both ways, and people on the margins also gain self-respect and recognize their own gifts when someone is willing to receive their hospitality." -Friendships at the Margins


Click here for Casey's thoughts on this book, from our blog in May.

Click here for a piece from 'Friendship at the Margins' in Relevant Magazine

Video interview with Chris Heuertz here

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pictures of Visit with Roxie and Ben Cash!

Roxie Cash with her son, Ben Cash. We loved our times with the Cash's!!

Our Monday support group, which Roxie attending - and the ladies all loved her!

Roxie and Kieren playing - they loved each other!

Kieren cheering on the Tar Heels!

Bubble time in front of the church

Casey, Antony, and Ben

Roxie and Sarah

The Prince's at the sunset at Noordhoek beach on our last night with these great friends!

Weekend Update

Hello everyone!

It was a fun weekend once again for the Prince family! Friday night we had our farewell dinner with Roxie Cash and our boys at the 'Toad,' one of our local favorite places to hang. It was such a fun time with her last week! Saturday we all did a bit of relaxing, Casey went to play soccer with the Fish Hoek team, and Granny took Kieren to a birthday party. I just got the update this morning from her, and it seems Kieren had a FANTASTIC time, dancing, playing, and running around with all the kids! I loooove it! She says pictures will come soon, can't wait! As an aside, I took Kieren to a birthday party a month after her accident here in Ocean View and she was timid and scared the whole time and I hated it for her, so it was such a JOY to hear she had a great time this go-around. Kieren is healing in all ways! Saturday night we hung at home to rest a bit. Sunday morning began early with church at Ocean View Methodist and our little friend 'KaKa' finally came back around! He is one of the boys we hung out with a lot before we went to the States, but after some of the other boys got in a bit of 'trouble' while we were gone, Kaka has also stayed away. So since he was at church I decided it was a good day to take a crew to the morning service at Hillsong. We packed the car full with a Treswell, Stacy, Cindy, the Princes, and Kaka in the VERY back (trunk) of the car. Don't worry, the trunk is open to the rest of the car, so he can breathe, etc. :) We had a great time at Hillsong together as it was a family day there. Then our friends drove our car home and we stayed downtown Cape Town to meet Jenks for late lunch and to watch the Manchester United soccer game. Afterwards we headed BACK to Hillsong for the night service (I know, we are SO spiritual) to hear the co-pastor Lucinda Dooley speak - and she was amazing as always. Then we finally drove home with our VERY sleepy Kieren and had friends over for a late pizza dinner. Whew! I'm tired just writing it again! This week should be a busy one as Casey is preparing for the ONE VALLEY festival on Saturday, and I will hold a funeral at Ocean View (a family I don't know) on Thursday and preach on Sunday. Hoping for a slow day today!

Lots of love,
Sarah

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Guest Post

This is a guest post from our Raleigh friend and recent favorite person, Roxie Cash. Roxie just finished two weeks in South Africa and spent this past week with us in Ocean View. I promise we didn't pay her to say any of this - she is just too generous and nice!! Love you Roxie!


I have been hanging out in Ocean View with the amazing Prince family. Oh yes, I actually had the opportunity to see their life in their township first hand. I am going back to the states with a clearer understanding of what they mean to the people they live with in Ocean View.
I have come to South Africa to spend some time with my son Ben who is going to Cape Town University. Ben took me everywhere while he was on his Spring break since it is spring here in S. Africa. I mean everywhere. I saw more in 18 days than I have ever seen on any trip anywhere. He showed me an amazing time. And I got to hang with Antony Burton who most of you know as well from Raleigh. He is in school here too.
But back to Ocean View, since I want to relay my moments there. First, Casey and Sarah and Kieren are so loved by this community of people who have more needs for love than I could ever fully grasp. I am convinced without a doubt that God surely put them here to love on these people. For sure, they are unique to the township. They are the only white people in Ocean View. They are a “stand out and be noticed” family. You would look at them and know that they are living among people that do not expect them to be living in their community.
However, strangely they fit right into the people’s lives. And that is not just by chance, of course. It is God’s work indeed. Casey is doing very good work with soccer. He is spreading the gospel through a sport that is so loved in this country. He is working with children who never would have the opportunities unless Casey was among them. Awesome.
I had more time with Sarah. The first night I sat in on a support group with women from the township. Wow – I mean really wow. I immediately heard their take on the Prince family and there deep love for Sarah and the changes her messages about Jesus have had in their very hard lives. I watched Sarah as they shared their prayer requests with the group and her sincere desire to have them hold God’s hand as they walk towards a better place where they can make real changes in their situations. They understand why she is there among them and they told me over and over that without the Prince family living in that house in that township at that time, things would be much worse. They really have hope for the first time. I met really loving people who have little reason to hug me like they did and take me in so quickly. I loved them right away.
Ok, that is a piece of the community, however. Sarah and Kieren took me on a walk around Ocean View. Some of the people live in homes that are small but nice. But most of the people live in shacks. Kids everywhere and men with little to do but just hanging out. Not a stroll through the park certainly. Sarah walks and waves and talks to everyone. She remains confident and smart about her surroundings. I’m pretty proud of her handling of a tough area to live.
But I am pretty sure that most of North Raleigh would not be hanging out in places like Ocean View. That is if you just were driving by, but if you took the time like Casey and Sarah to stop and live within the community, you would see it differently. I had the chance to see it more like they do. And I loved every minute I spent with them and the community. I could go on and on about the stories I heard, the people I met, the conditions I saw, the daily lives of Casey and Sarah and sweet Kieren. Kieren will be such a better person for this experience. I love the beauty and sweetness of that little girl. I love the type of woman she will become because of this time in Ocean View and for having such wonderful parents. But if I tell you everything about Ocean View then you won’t have anything to see when you come to visit the Princes in South Africa. I hope some more of Raleigh will come while they are here. It is worth the time.
I just want to end with thanking Casey and Sarah for opening their home and hearts up to me while I was in S. Africa. I felt so comfortable there. Oh – Sarah is quite the cook. She fed Ben and me well. Awesome food. I love you all so much and will remember my time in your home forever. I will pray for you and I will share my stories about the work you are doing through God in Ocean View.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Highs/Lows

During small groups, one of my favorite 'games' or ways to share about ourselves, is to share a 'high' and a 'low' from the day or week. A high would be the best thing that happened and a low, the worst. Well this has certainly been a week of highs and lows, so I thought I would share!

Lows: Obviously the funeral for baby Lauren has been a particular low. And in addition, just witnessing the deep pain experienced by my friends Antoine and Mathy has been heartbreaking for me. I went to visit them again on Thursday and they are disheveled and without words. They aren't really sure how to move forward at this point and are just making it through the moments. However, a HIGH was to be able to pray for them once again, and they fully enter into that space and are seeking God with their broken hearts. God is really the only thing we need.

Highs: We have been blessed to have a great visitor this week, the fantastic Roxy Cash! Roxy is a friend from Raleigh, and her four kids have been either friends of ours or moved through the youth ministry at Grace. Now Roxy's son, Ben Cash is studying this semester at the University of Cape Town and so she is here for a visit. She has stayed at our house this week and it has been a blessing to host her and share our world with her. This is a woman filled with joy, life, and generosity, and so she has enjoyed the many pieces of this country, but had a particularly fun time in the VIEW because Ben lived here during our winter (American summer) months with a family from our church. We have eaten meals together, shared wine and cookies and chocolate, and had so many wonderful conversations. Her visit has given us many highs this week and we have loved her here! It's also such a blessing to have people here because it reminds us how special Ocean View and the people here really are, and how beautiful this amazing country of South Africa is! We say good-bye to Roxy tomorrow, and will miss her until our next time in the States (unless she just wants to move here, which is also fine...).

Highs and lows are a normal part of life, and for all the lows we each experience, there are always highs to celebrate and enjoy. Ours have been a bit extreme this week, but we are, as always, thankful for our lives here and all the surround us.

Lots of love,
Sarah

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ubuntu Update


We have been really busy since returning to South Africa with a community festival we are hosting called the One Valley Festival. It's really designed to bring the whole southern peninsula valley together: black, white, colored all enjoying the day together. You can find out more details on our REDESIGNED Ubuntu Sports Outreach blog.
I'm getting really excited about the day. We originally starting planning this for May to be a World Cup Kickoff type thing, but we couldn't secure the right venue so we pushed it back till now. Even then it was sort of looming over my head and we weren't getting a ton of traction. But lately, things are really starting to move. Partly, or probably mostly, because we've really started praying about it and asking God to do something! Recently the provincial government agreed to provide an inflatable soccer field for the event (imagine a bounce house/ or jumping castle that you play soccer in, but the floor is the ground) which will provide an element of fun. Peninsula Beverages, our local Coke bottler, is providing a mini-soccer field and other items. And I even got a local guy to donate balls and bibs. The advertisement is in the local paper today and people are starting to talk about it in the community!
So, it's really coming together! Please pray that teams would sign up, families would come together (not just send their kids), and that the community would enjoy being all together.
We are doing a better job of updating the Ubuntu Sports blog, so keep checking that, too. You don't have to check as often as you do this one, but don't forget about it!

Casey

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reflections

"Children are not supposed to die...Parents expect to see their children grow and mature. Ultimately, parents expect to die and leave their children behind...This is the natural course of life events, the life cycle continuing as it should. The loss of a child is the loss of innocence, the death of the most vulnerable and dependent. The death of a child signifies the loss of the future, of hopes and dreams, of new strength, and of perfection."
- Arnold, J.H. and P.B. Gemma. A Child Dies: A Portrait of Family Grief. Philadelphia, PA: The Charles Press Publishers. Second Edition. 1994.


Yesterday I spent the day thinking about and praying for Antoine and Mathy and their family. I knew that the funeral was going to be sad and poignant, but I did not expect at all for the undignified tsunami of grief that was shown by the family. The funeral was led by their pastor at a local community church; the pastor is white and the church is very multi-generational and diverse. The service was beautiful and reflective and many shared (including myself) about God's promises and goodness. Then at the end, the undertaker came to take the tiny, open casket and the mother, Mathy wanted to see her baby one more time. This opened a wave of grief that could not be contained and she cried and screamed for the rest of the service and through the following time at the cemetery. She wailed and cried out to God and her baby as if the death was happening again right before our eyes. It was so fresh and tragic to her and I believe she shared her grief openly as was accustomed to her culture, French from the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the beautiful parts of the service was during the time of sharing when a woman from the back, sitting began to sing a praise song to God and the Congolese persons all shared in the song, including Antoine and Mathy. Then again during a wave of open grief from the family as they lowered the tiny casket into the ground, friends broke out into another French song, reminding us all of the family left behind in the DRC. Before the sand was shoveled over the casket, Antoine asked to share some words, which were to say goodbye to their daughter and to tell her that nothing separates any of them from the love of Christ. Then we all watched as the casket was covered with dirt and flowers were put onto with a cross bearing Lauren's name. The entire sight was devastating and unfair to this tiny life that had not even begun.

Antoine and Mathy's two children, Onesie age 5 and Christ age 3, were there the entire time, and were very well-behaved and a bit somber, although surely unable to fully comprehend what was happening. Although, Antoine did say when we spoke later last night that the funeral and burial helped them to understand now that baby Lauren is gone now forever with Jesus. The children will surely think of their baby sister, but do not understand the loss, whereas Antoine and Mathy have a long journey of healing ahead. I cannot begin to understand their present pain, but I do know with certainty that God is holding them firmly in His hand and that they will not be shaken beyond what they can bear. They are firm on the Rock of Christ and affirmed that with the funeral service that they fully planned. They will continue ahead when they are ready with lives that serve and bless God and others, but want to walk these days of grief with proper speed and attention. I spent many moments with them throughout the service and burial and feel privileged to be so close to these dear people. Surely there is a long journey ahead with them and I pray for the wisdom to know how to navigate the steps ahead. I do believe that the freshness in my mind from Kieren's accident gives me a particular push to help in these desperate moments as I know others helped us to survive during our darks days. This is what community is all about, and I am honored to do for others a tiny piece of what was done for us. Even more, in the community of God , we walk with a hope that never fails us and a peace that holds us in the greatest of storms. I do not feel overwhelmed or hopeless but I know that my God is big enough to carry even this load.

Thanks for your support and continued prayers for this dear family.

Love,
Sarah

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Funeral Today

Today was the funeral of Antoine and Mathy's daughter Lauren. It was honestly the saddest thing I have ever witnessed. God was woven through every single piece of it, but the grief was incredibly thick and nothing can take it away at this point. They had an open coffin and it was just too small. Not okay. God was there in so many ways, but it was just hard to watch these people I love so dearly in agonizing pain. I am privileged to have them as friends and will keep walking with them. Those are all the words I have right now and I will reflect a bit more in the day. Please keep Antoine and Mathy in your prayers.

Love,
Sarah

Monday, September 13, 2010

Africa map

I've tried to explain how big Africa is before to people and just can't do it. But this does it for me, check it out.


See, this place is HUGE!! Just wanted you to know!

Casey

Weekend Update

Hello friends and family!

What a great weekend we have had! It was the perfect mix of rest, family time, date time, friends, and ministry. Friday night Casey and I had a date night and saw the movie 'Inception.' So deep and interesting and thought provoking - see it! Saturday morning we awoke to a beautiful spring morning and so we took a hike with Kieren (in backpack) in the town of Kommetje near our house. It was a beautiful sight of the beach and waves from the top and wonderful to be together. In the afternoon we met up with some different groups of friends, one couple our friends Nathan and Mandy Ponti who live in Ocean View but spent the American summer in the US working at a Christian camp. They came for lunch to fill us in on their experiences, and it was a growing and encouraging time. In the afternoon Casey had a soccer game in Fish Hoek (Kieren and I got to cheer him on) and then dinner together as a family at home Saturday night. Sunday morning we had church at Ocean View which is growing more and more into such a home and welcoming community to us. Then we rested in the afternoon, then Casey went to lunch at Nathan Ponti's family's home, and I went to visit Antoine and Mathy and bring groceries with Kieren. Again it was a place of grief and questions for this sweet family, but you can sense God working and sewing Himself into their story. So many people have been visiting and helping and their church, a multi-generational and racial church who have completely taken over the costs and details for the funeral on Tuesday. I wept with them again, but somehow I leave again with a hope of what God will do in their story. I completely believe He is going to restore their lives and bless them double-fold. So many people are watching their lives, and love them dearly, and I can't wait to see the steps ahead. Still they need prayers in the present as they navigate these days. Sunday night we went to Hillsong Church for God to pour some love and encouragement into us - and He always does it there. There was a great speaker from the UK and she really challenged us to have a heart of service. It was beautiful and so encouraging, especially because we are feeling led to start a small group for Hillsong with our great friend Michael Jenkins. This was confirmation (especially as I prayed before the sermon for God to give me wisdom and guidance!). Then we had family dinner with our brother Michael and watched some soccer. It was such a wonderful weekend and I honestly just feel so blessed by my family and the people God has surrounded us with. We have such a diverse community here that teach us so much and love us in unique ways. We had our gym time this morning and now are excited for a great week!

Lots of love,
Sarah

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Antoine and Mathy

In the beginning of 2010 at Kieren's birthday party. Picture is Christ, Mathy, Onesie, and Antoine.

The Masumena family with my parents, James and Alicia Collins. During their visit in Cape Town, my parents were able to spend some time with the family and became very inspired by their faith journey. Now a group at my parents' church in Charlotte, NC prays continually for this family, even before baby Lauren's birth and death.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Waiting for the beauty from the ashes...

This morning we went to Antoine and Mathy to visit them. We stopped at the grocery store on our way to buy some food and coloring books for the kids, and I wanted to buy the entire store for them, just wishing any part of it would help. I know nothing will, and even though I can't imagine where they are, I do have some sense because of Kieren's accident so fresh still in my mind. I remember that people would ask what they could do and there was NOTHING they could do. All we desperately desired was for her to be healed, and we just needed Jesus. We drove up to their home, which is in the Capricorn township. It is a very dangerous and desperate area, with many refugees living there. Antoine and Mathy escaped to South Africa from the Congo where their lives were at risk. There are other Congolese refugees there, but they find themselves at home with many other refugee groups, as they are all persecuted by black South Africans. Antoine slowly came out to meet us and I could instantly see the anguish in his face. He looked as though he was in physical pain; and he might be feeling that way. We hugged and cried together as I told him I loved him. Then we went inside where Mathy was sitting with some other friends. She immediately stood up and began to wail. As I put my arms around her she fell into me and shouted, "No Sarah!" She cried out that I was going to come to meet her baby today and now her baby is gone. She was crying and wailing and almost unintelligible. The woman next to her turned out to be a nurse and immediately had us separate and sit as Mathy has been struggling with dangerously high blood pressure since the birth of her daughter and has to stay calm for her health. She calmed and we spoke a bit. Kieren was with Casey and I, and that immediately brought life and smiles into the room, as it had been a long time since Mathy had seen Kieren. I then spoke with Antoine and heard the full story of baby Lauren's death.

Antoine and Mathy took baby Lauren to the hospital yesterday for a routine check-up, and all was well and healthy with baby. They advised Mathy to lay Lauren on her chest as they traveled, as it was a windy and cool day in Cape Town. Mathy bundled Lauren in her jacket and covered her head as she fell asleep. When they returned home, at the front door, Mathy went to take baby Lauren out of her jacket and realized Lauren was limp. She called over Antoine, and the saw blood coming from the limp baby's nose. They immediately called their church and a member came in 5 minutes and took them to the hospital. Baby Lauren then vomited blood, and when they got to the hospital the nurses immediately took her back and didn't allow the parents to follow. They returned five minutes lately to tell them that the baby had passed away. They do not even know what caused the death to the seemingly healthy newborn, but Antoine thinks it might be a valve that burst between her heart and lungs, but I don't know if there is ever a way to know. And even then, it probably wouldn't help the deep heartbreak they are facing. We stayed for about an hour and talked. We ended in prayer with a group who was gathered at the house, led by myself and a chaplain from the Living Hope organization who was there. It was at the very least comforting for myself to bring these beloved friends to the throne of God and speak the truths that we all need to cling to in this time. Antoine left with another friend to make funeral arrangements for baby Lauren.

I left feeling both sad and numb and also just helpless. I wish there was anything we could do, but I know that prayer and love do make a difference. To have people to walk with you and help you survive is vital. They are sleeping and eating and I gave them some worship cds so that more truths could be sung over them. For myself, I was deeply sad last night just knowing these special people were suffering through such a tragedy. It makes you wonder why God would allow something to such saints; people who have devoted their entire lives to serving and glorifying Him. I was speaking later today to Lucinda, one of the pastors at Hillsong (they are AMAZING at loving us!!) and she was saying that maybe God allows things like this to those who he knows can handle it. I do know that Antoine and Mathy can walk through this and that this piece of their story will glorify Jesus, but presently all I can see are the ashes. I pray that He will make things beautiful and whole again and restore these dear friends.

Please continue to pray for this family and Casey and I as we minister to them.

Lots of love,
Sarah

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Prayers


Today turned from a simple and beautiful day into a cold and dark one, literally and emotionally. Strangely, it was warm and sunny much of the day and in the afternoon it quickly turned cool, cloudy, and dark. This is how the day has gone for me.

Granny Jacoba will sometimes ask me to visit a friend of hers to pray for them or just encourage them. One of these friends has been Auntie Katie. Katie is the cousin of Jacoba's best friend Aunt Katie (I know, same name). So I visited cousin Auntie Katie months ago as she was battling cancer, and it has been a reoccurring prayer request for Jacoba as she has watched her dear friend care for her ailing cousin. Since I have been back Jacoba has been asking me to visit cousin Auntie Katie who has gotten much worse, and then this week on morphine and just at home to be comfortable. Today, Jacoba asked me again to visit because they believed Auntie Katie was dying. So we waited until Casey could stay with Kieren and went together to her home. Jacoba's friend Katie was there, along with cousin Katie's daughter, Felicity. We sat for a bit and talked and were about to pray when Jacoba and Katie's entire support group (SWEET, old men and women) came to visit cousin Katie. We stood in a circle and I laid hands on cousin Katie, and we prayed and sang. Midway through the prayers I noticed that I couldn't see cousin Katie breathing anymore (which had been strong but labored before). When the prayer was done, I told Jacoba I believed Katie had stopped breathing, and indeed she had passed away as we encircled her in prayer, song, and love, lifting her to the Lord. In the prayer I spoke to Katie and told her that we loved her and we were ready for her to let go and be with Jesus whenever she was ready, and that is exactly what she did. It was a humbling, beautiful, and heartbreaking moment. The family began to grieve and almost immediately people came in to comfort, help, and say goodbye. I have never been a part of a moment like that before, and feel so privileged. Granny Jacoba says it was a moment she will never forget, and I don't think I will either.

Then this afternoon, as I felt the clouds hovering around my heart a bit, just feeling sad about witnessing death today, I received a text from my great friend Antoine. Antoine and Mathy are Congolese refugees that work for Living Hope and have been great friends since 2008 and an inspiration to many. Antoine and I had been talking this week because their third child, Lauren, was born a couple weeks ago, but mom and baby had to stay in hospital until this week because of complications. They were finally home and we were going to visit them tomorrow. Abruptly I received a text from Antoine telling me that their new baby just passed away. I had a brief phone conversation with him following the text, and I am going to go tomorrow to see what I can do to help. Obviously they are in shock and heartbreak, and I can't even imagine their pain and confusion. I was so excited to meet this little girl tomorrow and now I can only say goodbye with this grieving family. My heart is heavy.

Please pray for these families as they continue to say goodbye and work through their pain and confusion. Pray they will bring their entire hearts straight to the Lord who is the ultimate Comforter. Pray that God will use us to love and help, particularly our dear friends Antoine and Mathy and their two kids Onesie and Christ.

Love,
Sarah

Great Article

This is a great article I'd encourage you guys to read:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/opinion/07brooks.html

It's called The Gospel of Wealth. One of the guys quoted in the article is David Platt who recently wrote a book called "Radical". I haven't read it yet, it's come wildly recommended to me by friends. I heard him on a podcast recently and he's fantastic.
So, read the article and enjoy!

Casey

A.DOR.A.BLE.




Check out these cool BABY and kids shoes at the Tom's Website:
Tiny Toms website

Not only are these shoes so cute (for adults too, and Casey and I rock them out also), but for each one bought they give one to a 'child in-need' somewhere around the globe! I just hope they give a baby Tom to some cute brown or black baby somewhere! Can she and Kieren come together for a photo??

Sarah

Little Letters

This is a new blog theme that you will see inspired by my great friend Katie Hobbie at http://katieshobbie.wordpress.com/. Hollar Katron!


Little Letters

Dear creator of children's Toms,
I love you. You are genius for creating something so cute and special. But I don't know if the 'in-need' kids in India and Africa and the other places you do the 'shoe drop' to receive a free pair of Toms get how cool they are. Kieren's are already dirty and not ONE kid here in Africa has told her how awesome they are :)

Dear girls of Ocean View,
Thank you for coming to my house every day, and all the new girls I am meeting. Thank you for being so full of life and love and beauty. Thank you for dancing and coloring and playing. Stay perfect and pure. Promise??

Dear Kieren,
You are hilarious. Keep being crazy.

Dearest Kieren,
Can you please wake up after 7am? K, thanks.
Seriously.

My beautiful and perfect Kieren,
I think you are a genius because you have learned how to make a Leggo tower. What I think is always true.

Dear Spring,
Mmmmm. Everyday is so lovely with you, thanks for coming to visit. Stay until summer.

Dear South Africa,
You are so fun. The people who call you home are so diverse and special and unique. Thank you for always changing and surprising me. Please help me to meet more of your people, enjoy greater parts of your landscape, and continue to fall in love with you more. But don't tell America, she can be jealous.


Love,
Sarah

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review by Sarah - A MUST Read!


While home we were able to catch up with so many friends who we love, but I really cherished time with one of my best friends, Sarah Vervurka. She has been telling me about this book and bought it for me (score!) so I would read it too. I have heard so much about this book, and actually have recently started following Donald Miller's blog and am inspired by the work he is doing in the world of late (check out his blog at http://donmilleris.com). Well I don't really know how to sum up the book except for that it was FANTASTIC, INSPIRING, and an incredible journey that I hated to see end. Donald's writing style is humorous, self-deprecating, and insightful. He see's God and Christianity through a different lens and brings to life critiques and questions in a wonderful way. The book was deeply inspiring to me personally, as Donald challenges us to see our lives as a story, with the life ahead a chapters left unwritten. He believes God longs for our lives to be an incredible and awe-inspiring story, and sometimes we get lost along the way in hardships, boredom, or the 'American dream.' He has helped me to get back on the right path while sharing how he began to write the best story of his life, and I truly feel he could do the same for you with this book. This is a MUST READ! Get it, love it, share it, and let it move you!

I wonder if that's what we'll do with God when we are through with all this, if He'll show us around heaven, all the beauty and light coming in through windows a thousand miles away, all the fields sweeping down to a couple chairs under a tree, and we'll sit and tell him our stories and He'll smile and then tell us what they mean. -Donald Miller


Grade: A++

South African Humor

Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg





Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety
lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real
examples that have been heard or reported:

--------------------------------------------------------------------

On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where
you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

---o0o---

On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot
said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be
turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance
the appearance of your flight attendants."

----o0o---

On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your
belongings.. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's
something we'd like to have."

----o0o---

"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out
of this airplane."

---o0o---

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo , a
flight attendant on a flight announced, "Please take care when opening
the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as
hell everything has shifted."

---o0o---

From a Kulula employee: " Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth .
To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and
pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't
know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public
unsupervised."

---o0o---

"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend
from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your
face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask
before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one
small child, pick your favourite."

---o0o---

Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but
we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember,
nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines."

----o0o---

"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an
emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."


---o0o---

And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Kulula Airlines is
pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in
the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

---o0o---


Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank
you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the
insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal
tube, we hope you'll think of Kulula Airways."

---o0o---

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pictures from our hike on Saturday

On our beautiful Saturday afternoon, we took some of our Ocean View girls on a hike to check out the spring flowers and whales (see story on blog below). Here are the pictures from our adventure!


Sarah and Kieren on the hunt for whales

The girls checking out the beautiful view from the mountain top

Sarah and the girls at the top of the mountain

Casey and Kieren made great hiking partners!

Sarah's Sermon From Sunday

Click here to view my sermon preached at Ocean View Methodist Church on Sunday.

Whale Sighting

This is a normal whale sighting in South Africa

Would love to see this, can you pray God says 'yes!'

Definitely would not want to see this

It's a Beautiful Day

This is something we are saying a lot around here as we are REALLY enjoying SPRING!! It's so great to be here to witness this beautiful season as we missed most of it last year (well we were here at the end of it in October, but that month is a little hazy in our memories....). The flowers are blooming, the whales are swimming off the coastal shores (for real!), and the weather is warming up (VERY slowly). On Saturday we decided to take advantage of the day and take a hike as a family, when three of our Ocean View girls stopped in as we were leaving, and so we invited them along! Surely the had no idea what they were in for, and they whined a bit as we climbed up a nearby mountain overlooking the ocean, but the view and sounds (and lack thereof) at the top were too breathtaking not to enjoy! The had so much pride in accomplishing an hour and fifteen minute hike and loved our ice cream reward (okay, so we wanted the ice cream too). Kieren just babbled the whole way as Casey carried her in the backpack and it was a perfect view to see the many whales swimming below. It's hard to see actually how big they really are, but you can tell they are HUGE and beautiful. It's quite a site! What a gift to have such a special afternoon as a family and with our girls! Other than that, this weekend we rested and lounged around the house and have various get-togethers with friends. Sunday's sermon went great at Ocean View Methodist and Hillsong had a worship night Sunday night featuring a GREAT band from the UK. Pictures, notes, and other details will follow today. We are finishing up a morning workout at the gym (I take advantage of their Internet) and then look forward to a busy week. Casey has a lot to do with Ubuntu, checking up with coaches and schools, and working on the many details for the festival they will host at the end of September. I have many little things and meetings, but a main goal this week to plan a VACATION weekend for Casey and I in the next month of so! I will happen!

Lots of love, and hope you also had beautiful days this weekend!

Sarah

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review by Sarah

The Tortilla Curtain by by TC Boyle

Somehow in our crazy, chaotic traveling time in the US, I had some spare moments to read, and finished a great book on the plane ride back home last week. It was reccomended by a friend who visted here, Kate Berry, and she knows my love for race and relationships and all the drama that encompasses the two, and knew I would love this work of fiction. It centers around two characters, one man who is an illegal Mexican immigrant trying to survive in Southern California and the other a privileged white American struggling to find peace in the Southern California desert that is being invaded with intruders from the South. The tales weaves back and forth between their two lives and crashes together in pivotal and profound moments. These men are similar and wholly different at the same time. It brings up issues of race, family, relationships, environment, and compassion. I was riveted to the story by the end of the book and shocked by its conclusion. It was a great read, one that provoked me to further thought for days afterwards.

Grade: A-

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Special people


These are some special people. My 4 best friends from high school (who are still my best friends), our wives, and our growing families. We've all done pretty well for ourselves, haven't we?!? While we were home we got to spend about 45 minutes with all of them. It was WAY TOO SHORT of a time, but still a pleasure to be all together. 3 are still in Raleigh and Brad & Jenise are in Annapolis, MD. You would have thought we would get more quality time together, but it just didn't happen.
It's amazing to see where our relationships and lives have taken us. And it's really fun to watch them unfold. No matter what the next couple of years hold for all of us, I'm thankful for these friendships and all they have meant to me over the years. And I know that Davis, Griffin, and Paige have great parents!

Casey