Friday, October 29, 2010

Loving on my View women

One of my favorite times of the week is Monday nights, and that sentiment is shared by a group of women here in Ocean View because it is when we get together for our women's group.  It's some women from the Methodist church but other women from many other churches and it has become a lively family.  This month we have been studying the Proverbs 31 women and having a Bible study instead of our usual sharing.  It's been a rich time of learning and sharing as we are challenged by God to grow into the women He longs for us to be.  This past week was our final study of Proverbs 31 and we even had certificates of completion of the study (seriously, people around here LOVE certificates) and a celebration for Charmaine James' birthday.  It's been such a wonderful group and now we are going to evolve into a weekly Bible study for the women of Ocean View instead of our small and intimate group.  It's a big change but these women are ready to reach out and love others.  I am so excited for what is ahead!

To read Proverbs 31 Bible Study, Week Four, click here.


Good Things

This weekend we are excited about what is happening at Hillsong Church Cape Town as they are taking their 'Heart for the House' offering.  Wow, I just realized how weird this is that I am writing a blog saying I am excited about my church's 'money' weekend - but I am!!  There are so many exciting things happening at Hillsong, and each year they take one big offering for church building and major outreach and call it 'Heart for the House.'  This year they are focusing on a project in a township of Cape Town called Gugualetu where they are building dormitories for a school named Timbuletu that is for physically disabled kids.  This dorm will change these kids lives and it's been an incredible project.  Hillsong is also moving soon into a new church building we are renting, and so we are taking an offering for that, and on Saturday will help hundreds of other church peeps to clean and build and remodel the building.  We are excited - again, isn't this STRANGE!!  We just love this church and the life it gives us and so many in this city.  We truly have a HEART for this house and the bigger HOUSE of God!  You can check out more info about it here:


Time For War


So we need you guys to really come around this new relationship with Ntgozo and PRAY for us!  We have let Bethany, the head of Baby Safe ministry, know that we want Ntgozo to come live with us for a month, and she has said she will now speak with Ntgozo and family, but we haven't heard anything back yet.  I am now living in a new anxiety!  Before I was anxious about the whole idea of letting this stranger come to live in our home and now I love this beautiful young girl and am anxious her family won't let her come to live here!  Ntgozo did tell us that her aunt and uncle she lives with do not want her to live with a foster family and instead just want her to move back to Durban with her other family, where she lives in a rural area and will likely not even finish school.  God is working in her life HERE and her son is HERE!  She wants to be here, she just needs a loving environment.  When we met with Bethany two weeks ago she told us that she believes there is a spiritual war on Ntgozo's life and now I agree.  I feel like I feel it even.  God is doing incredible and beautiful things in her and the enemy is trying to stop every bit of it.  So we need prayers.  We need faith.  We need you to fight for Ntgozo's life in prayer and ask God to make something big and miraculous happen so her family will release her to come live with us.  It can happen!

We'll keep you updated, and in the meantime, be on your knees!

Lots of love,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review by Sarah

“Ministering Cross-Culturally” by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

"Missionaries and others who accept the challenge of cross-cultural ministries...must, by the nature of their task, become personally immersed with peoples who are different. Following the example of Christ, that of incarnation, means undergoing drastic personal and social reorientation. They must enter a culture as if they were children – helpless, dependent, and ignorant of everything from customs of eating and talking to patterns of work, play and worship. And they must do this in the spirit of Christ."  -Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

This book was recommended to us by our great friends and fellow missionaries serving in Paupa New Guinea, Caleb and Adrienne Weir. They went through extensive training leading up to their service on the mission field and this book was a great piece of learning to them, and now it has been to me as well! I would recommend this book only to people who desire to serve as full-time missionaries cross-culturally as it is an extensive look at the needs to engulf yourself in a foreign world and culture. It can be a bit dry at times, but has many personal reflections of a family who went to serve and live among a very foreign culture in Asia and learned they must fully immerse in the culture and people around them. This is a desire of ours and the reason we have moved in to the place we serve here in Ocean View and helped to build my framework and understanding of what we are doing. You need to be intentional about ministry! Christ came to live and dwell among us and it was how God wanted to share His deep love for us, and so I believe it is a beautiful way to do ministry and share the love of God with others. For us, we are CONTINUALLY challenged with how we need to immersed more and more in the culture here, but truly because of our efforts we are seeing God work in miraculous ways!

Grade: B-

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mexicans Building Bridges

Well as an update to our prayer request for our new relationship with Ntgozo, we met her last night.  One of the women at the Baby Safe ministry, Danielle, that is disciplining her brought her to our house to meet us.  We chatted for a while, and then Danielle left her to have dinner with us.  Danielle is an American missionary serving here and has been spending time with Ntgozo since April.  They obviously have a great relationship and Ntgozo was quiet, only answering direct questions while Danielle was here.  But then it was just us and her!  I invited her into the kitchen to help me make dinner, and learned it would be her first experience of eating Mexican food!  Count on the Mexicans to build bridges for Jesus.  Good stuff.  So we chopped and mixed and talked about school and small stuff.  We played with Kieren and blew bubbles.  She helped prepare and began to grow more talkative.  What I first noticed about Ntgozo was her beautiful smile and her face lights up when she smiles at you.  As Ntgozo grew more comfortable with us, that smile came out more, we saw more of her beautiful face, and she began to light up our house. It was truly incredible, but even as we asked deeper questions about her parents death and other struggles over dinner, she would speak about her hardships with grace and strength.  She doesn't seem angry or bitter, but even hopeful.  She was shocked to hear that Casey was also an orphan and REALLY shocked to learn we were both pastors.  Conversation became more and more comfortable and we all began to laugh.  Amazingly, Kieren was very comfortable with Ntgozo from the beginning which is VERY rare for her as she is showing her shy personality these days with new people.  The two even ended the night with Kieren showing Ntgozo her toys and them talking together.  She mixed up some amazing American cookies to finish up the night and then we took her home.  We gently explained that we would love her to stay with us for a bit and have her be a part of our lives, and she just seemed almost confused and overwhelmed by the idea.  I think to live with us is SO different than her life now, and she is a shy girl, but she said she would think and pray about it.

As we drove off after dropping her off all I could say is, "I love her."  And I do.  Already.  She has a beautiful heart and spirit.  She glows.  I want her in our life and I want to see how Jesus continues to transform her reality.  As we were sitting in the lounge right before we left she said that one day she wants a job and a house for her and Jacob (her son) and she wants it big enough so she can have people there and help them too.  Beautiful.  I want that for her.

So now we wait to find out her decision!  We are eager to know and ready for her to be in our lives.  Crazy how my anxieties have already been replaced with joy and an eager expectation.  Only God.  Only our great God.  He is amazing.

We will keep you updated but we pray that she will come to stay with us this week!  Please be in prayer for this big relationship, and THANKS for all your beautiful support!


Major Prayers Please!

Hey everyone!

Okay, so today is a big day for us and we really, REALLY need it to be bathed in some major prayers.  Our close support community has been praying with us about this decision, but we have waited to share it all with you until we knew where God was leading us.  We have received an opportunity to begin a relationship with a young girl and we feel that God has led us to her to love and support her in this time in her life.  Her name is Ntgozo and she is a Zulu 16 year-old girl.  We have learned about her through a partner ministry called Baby Safe that does incredible ministry around us in Cape Town, and one of their places of service is to counsel girls about to get an abortion.  They met Ntgozo at the hospital as she had just given birth to her baby son, but had been unaware she was even pregnant.  She is an orphan, and has been living with an aunt and uncle and the baby came out of a rape.  The family doesn't want the baby, but through counseling they learned Ntgozo did want to mother this child after she graduated high school.  So the ministry found a foster family for the baby, but in the meantime Ntgozo's family wants to kick her out and the environment has become increasingly abusive.  So we are going to do an emergency foster situation with Ntgozo until she can be placed with a foster family, meaning she will live with us for 1-2 months.  The incredible part is through meeting her, the Baby Safe ministry women have started to disciple her and she is now learning and believing in Jesus Christ.  God has given her a second chance at a life that seemed doomed and we believe God wants us to open our home to her and love her through these next years.  She goes to Ocean View High School which is literally right down the street from us, so after she moves in with her new family she can come and spend a great deal of time with us learning to be a mother and love Jesus over the coming years.

Up to this point I have mostly FORCED Casey to speak about this prayer request because of the multitude of feelings that overwhelm me by this situation.  It is such a tragic story and emotionally I know that Ntgozo must have major trauma because of her life of abuse.  I feel helpless and overwhelmed by it and my mind just wants to run in the other direction in fear.  I am honestly terrified.  Not of if we will be 'safe' with her, but just the complexities and extreme nature of her broken heart.  But we serve a great God and I do truly beleive all the things I say about Him, and so trust (with a trembling heart) that He is leading us to her.  We can't change her and heal her wounds, but I know that God can.  So all I can do is show her Jesus and love her and pray that He can do a mighty work in her heart.  I have NO IDEA how this is going to look, it's hard to even imagine our home now with a 16 year-old girl, but God is ahead of us, sovereign over this, and has a plan.  I am SURE of that. 

Today, a girl from the Baby Safe ministry is going to bring Ntgozo to our home, we will share time with her and have dinner, and then take her home.  After that she will decide if she feels comfortable with us and even wants to move in for a time, so the ball is in her court.  We just need prayers and we just need GOD.  This is way beyond us.

Today my heart is FULL of emotion, but I have brought my anxious heart and my life to Jesus this morning.  I have been worshipping thanks to the beautiful music of Hillsong United, and  these lyrics have been moving and building up my heart. 

"The Greatness of our God" by Hillsong United
"Give me eyes to see more of who you are
May what I behold still my anxious heart
Take what I have known and break it all apart
For you my God, are greater still.

No sky contains
Or doubt restrains
All You are
The Greatness of our God
I spend my life to know
And I'm far from close
To all you are
The Greatness of our God"

So here we go.  Into another adventure.  As I sang this morning in my heart at the gym, I watched the CNN updates about violence in Mexico, and cholera killing those in Haiti, and other tragedies overtaking our world.  I couldn't help but think how crazy we must be to CHOOSE to step into another tragedy.  But our God is greater still and I do believe His love conquers all.  How could I NOT step into this life and share His love that has transformed me.  So here we go.  Prayers please....

Lots of love,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fun With the Rascals

There are so many facets of missionary life, and one of the great ones is that it puts you in a 'professional' group with other crazy missionaries just like us!  People are always coming through Cape Town or connect with us as fellow missionaries and it allows us to meet many incredible people.  We have just had such an experience with our new friends Brent and Erin Raska.  They are pastors and seminary friends of one of Casey's high school buds, and got connected with us as they were traveling around Africa at the end of a year-long time of serving the church in Zambia.  They have been traveling around to teach and empower lay leaders and pastors in the church all over Zambia to strengthen what God is doing.  It was an incredible journey for them and now they are just learning what God is doing around other areas in Africa.  We had a great time with them (Erin had a bad cold but is now feeling much better!) and loved having them in our Ocean View world.

The Raskas are continuing on their African travels for a bit and then heading back to NYC to finish a time of serving their church there.  To follow them and learn about their incredible adventures you can see their blog at  Erin shared last night at our women's group about something beautiful she has learned living in Africa about advent and hope, and you can read her beautiful thoughts here, "Christmas Redeemed."  Enjoy!

Lots of love,

Kieren Pics!

Some happy Kieren pics of her playing recently in our lounge.  This is her with her 'baby' pushing her in a stroller.  A favorite activity.


Happiness with her Daddy.

Pondering what to do next...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Touring Cape Town

What do you do when visitors come to see Cape Town and all that it has to offer?  Well take them to WINE country, of course!  We have some beautiful scenery here all around us and evidently the perfect soil to grow wine, and so we hope to take our new missionary friends, Brent and Erin Raska to tour some wineries today.  Poor Erin is still under the weather and so enjoying some great rest still this morning, but we hope to take them around soon.  I'm sure we'll also take them on one of our legend hikes, and then plan to drag them around for our church-marathon Sunday with morning at Ocean View Methodist and evening at Hillsong Church.  They are wonderful people who have done incredible mission work in Zambia this past year and so it's awesome to be able to host and treat them!  Prayers that Erin can feel good enough to enjoy it all!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tim Keller Lecture Notes

Casey and I went with some friends on Thursday to hear American pastor and author Tim Keller.  He pastors a church called Redeemer in New York City and it is a thriving and alive church (see it here). 

"Tim Keller has said Jesus told his disciples that they were "a city on a hill" that showed God's glory to the world (Matt. 5:14-16). Christians are called to be an alternate city within every earthly city, an alternate human culture within every human culture, to show how sex, money, and power can be used in nondestructive ways."

For our purposes, Tim spoke to church leaders and lay leaders throughout our communities sharing a vision for the cities of the world, where he believes culture and trends are formed, and where Christians should be having a great presence and showing a new way of life.  It was an exciting day of learning and challenge and a strong movement in Christian life.  Certainly, Tim is not advocating another 'program' to put at our churches, but inviting people to be on the forefront of culture and lead people towards a full life in Christ rather than just responding to the changes made around us.  Below I have a great article by Tim and then my extensive (and assuredly boring) notes from Tim's three lectures.  I typed them out as he was speaking to us and just thought I would share if anyone was interested!


Article: "A New Kind of Urban Christian" by Tim Keller

Tim Keller Lecture 1 Notes, "Why God Loves Cities"

Tim Keller Lecture 2 Notes, "What Kind of Churches are Effective in the Cities?"

Tim Keller Lecture 3 Notes, "The Church Relating to Culture" 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So Much To Learn

Gosh, when I get in an environment where I begin to learn I always come back to one central theme, I have SO much more to learn.  I have been thinking this week as I am reading and learning and listening to SO many incredible and insightful people that there are MANY people in this world with awesome gifts and wisdom!  I love being a student and am just enjoying soaking it all up.

This morning I went to the Bible Institute near where we live and watch some of the sessions that had been taped from Monday's sessions at the Lausanne Congress.  We learned some fascinating information about this venture that aims to take gather the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.  There are delegates there from all around the world, except the 400 delegates from China who were not allowed to leave because of their government.  I learned that there are 1.5 million Christians in China and the church there is flourishing even under severe persecution.  After a time of worship together with the students there we watched a 30 minute video historical look at the history of Christianity and the mission movement.  It was all things I had learned before in my Biblical Studies classes over the years but such a great perspective on it and great to hear it again because there are a million details!  Our history is complicated and complex!

Then we watched an exposition on the chapter of Ephesians 1 and it was some great teaching.  I was reminded of the richness of this text written by the apostle Paul and he is urging God's people to labor in introducing the riches of Christ to people all over the world.  The Bible encourages us to never lose the wonder, treasure, and victory found in the Gospel of Christ.

If you want to follow the conversations and work of Lausanne, check it out here.

Today has also been a day of friendships, both new and old.  I was able to talk with my sweet friend Laurel, hang with my Ocean View 'girls' Megan and Jadine, talked for a while with a new Hillsong friend who goes to the Bible Institute Marilize, and we are hosting new friends Erin and Brent who are friends of a friend and missionaries from Zambia.  These new friends will be staying with us from tonight through Tuesday morning and we are excited for them to see our incredible community and the beauty of Cape Town!  Prayers for Erin who is sick with an awful cold at the beginning of long-awaited time in Cape Town!

Tomorrow we will attend the lecture with Tim Keller all day and we are SO excited to share that time with some of our friends, as well.  I am most looking forward to hearing Tim speak about the urban church and the mission field there as it really applies to our work in Cape Town.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review by Sarah

This is a book recommended years ago by a fellow lover of reconciliation, Kristen Ertel, and I FINALLY picked it up.  I am glad I read it now because it has taken on a completely different heart and meaning living in this context.  This book is completely true to its subtitle and is an incredible strategy for community development; which is something that has been filling my thoughts lately.  I have been praying and soaking up my township community of Ocean View and my heart breaks especially when walking around during the day. People wander, have no place to go and no purpose for their lives.  In their boredom and pain they turn to drugs, alcohol, and violence to numb or work out their unexpressed and stuffed emotions.  John Perkins is a light in the darkness and speaks from a deep life of experience as he was a major part of the Civil Rights movement and still a voice in the justice movement around the world.  Perkins himself grew up in the deep south, became an educated and successful man in California, and then chose to move back to rural Mississippi to make a real change in the hardships of his people.  In his ministry he created a three-part strategy of relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution.  Perkins and his ministry lived out these principles and were finally able to truly see the Gospel of Jesus come alive and make a difference in the African-American world of the South.  This book was wonderfully inspiring and challenging and still has me thinking about my heart to see the Gospel alive in my community.  The sacrifices Perkins and his ministry made are striking and show his true belief in God's power to change and free people.  He reminds of us this call from Jesus and invites us to answer it as well.  I hope I have the courage to listen...
"He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'"  -Luke 10:2

Overall Grade: A

Learning Today... from home

So in true African style, the entire 'Global Link' system that is supposed to link hundreds of venues, schools, and organizations around the world to the Lausanne Congress around the world is not working so far this week.  Classic.  We are now back home and I plan on spending much of my day reading papers and blog entries online about the topics that are being discussed and we hope tomorrow to see the link with some of the talks from the conference!  Glad we had many summers in Mexico that taught us to be flexible :)


Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning Today!

So this is where we go each week for Hillsong Church, the Cape Town International Convention Center.  It's a cool place to be and right in the heart of Cape Town.

This past Sunday we didn't have church there (but in the Westin Hotel that is the high-rise right behind the CTICC) because the Lausanne Congress is meeting there for eight days.  Unfortunately you only can come to the conference if you have an invitation, which we do not, and I'm only a tiny bit bitter about...  No, you have to be like REALLY important to have an invite, so maybe next time :)  Instead we are going to one of the live link offerings by video being offered around the city.  We will be going to the Bible Institute in Kalk Bay, where this will be our backdrop, so not a bad deal, really.
We will be going to the link Tuesday and Wednesday morning to hear parts of the conference and then on Thursday we will go to a speaking event by the author and pastor Tim Keller about church and mission. That will be with him LIVE and with other great leaders in our town, so that should be fun! Overall, it will be a great week of learning and connecting and we are excited. We will keep you posted with what we learn and who we meet!

Lots of love,

Sarah's Sermon From Sunday

Click here to read Sarah's sermon from Sunday at Ocean View Methodist titled 'Give All.'

This is Why...

The skyline in Cape Town on a beautiful night is something spectacular to see.

We are fortunate enough to have a car and with our weekly trips to Hillsong on Sunday night we get to see beautiful Cape Town at night weekly.  We take it for granted though, because it is such a treat, and we were reminded of that this weekend.  We finally were able to take Antoine and Mathy with us for a Sunday night Hillsong outing and it was a beautiful Cape Town spring evening.  We went a bit early into town which was nice to introduce them to a few of our Hillsong friends and sit outside in the city a bit.  The evening worship service was amazing AS USUAL and the message spoken by head pastor Phil Dooley was EXACTLY what Antoine and Mathy needed to hear.  It was titled 'What Do You See' and was all about seeing our world with eyes of faith.  They need HUGE eyes of faith right now after walking through the tragedy of losing baby Lauren and now heading toward their vision of moving back to the Congo and starting an AIDS NGO to serve their people.  They are still walking towards great grief and pain and were deeply encouraged by the message that God obviously wanted them to hear.  We then went to dinner at a place called 'Arnolds' in downtown Cape Town with a group of old and new friends.  It was a usual sort of spot for us on Sunday night, but afterwards Antoine and Mathy admitted it was the nicest place they had ever been.  They remarked that in their five years living in Cape Town they had never been to the city at night and had an experience like that.  We had a great meal together (Antoine had crocodile which is a usual meat served in the Congo!) and great fellowship and conversation.  One new friend even connected and prayed for Mathy which was a beautiful moment.  They were pretty much overwhelmed by the night and so blessed by it all.   They just kept thanking us over and over.

It was SO humbling to share the time with these special friends.  We both remark from time to time that God has obviously ordained our friendship because we have such a strong and deep bond with one another.  I love and cherish these people so much and just feel honored that God would bless me so much that I could bless them.  It is a real privilege and was all I hoped it could be - a night away from their community and hardships to worship God and enjoy the blessings of life.  God is so amazing.

Other than that, we had a wonderful weekend together as a family!  We spent Saturday mostly at home together, Casey and I both taking runs near the beach, taking Kieren for a hike with our 'girls,' watching rugby with friends and dinner out.  Sunday morning I preached at Ocean View Methodist and enjoyed a blessed Sunday with our church family.  After Kieren's nap we went to a local beach for ice cream and a walk before picking up Antoine and Mathy.  It is warming up here, we are putting our heaters up in the garage, and pulling out the summer clothes!  So nice!

This was such a great weekend, and just a reminder of WHY we do what we do.  We are truly blessed to be a blessing, and as trite and simple as that can sound, it is profound when lived out in life.

Lots of love,


Friday, October 15, 2010

A Few Things....

A few things,

First of all, OMG I need to take more pictures of us and ESPECIALLY of Kieren. I will try to get on that this weekend. She is SO cute right now and fun and repeating EVERYTHING we say. It's hilarious. But while you are thinking of her, say a little prayer for her as she has a horrible cold this week. For her, because of her asthma, that was diagnosed while in the States this summer, when she gets a little cold it turns into a major ordeal with phlegm, coughing ALL THE TIME, and fevers, etc. She was pretty miserable yesterday which was so sad; hoping for a better day today.

Today should be a fun day. Casey and I have found out about some colleges that are hosting 'links' to the Lausanne Conference that Casey mentioned a couple days ago.

It is a conference bringing people in from all over the world to speak about poverty and development. So we get to go hear from a few of the delegates today and enter part of the conversation. Very exciting! My mind is filled lately with questions about poverty development and how we help people to holistically develop when they are born and raised in a situation like Ocean View. They are stuck in such a depressing mindset and it's hard to watch it day after month after year. I went yesterday to visit a friend in Ocean View, Maggie, that I have ministered to over the past year. I have seen many glimmers of hope in her life and even prayed with her after a sermon I preached to receive Christ as her Savior (so cool!). But she is depressed right now and STUCK in a life of nothing and not sure how to move forward. She has a young daughter, Mia, who is adorable and full of life, but Maggie is on the edge of going back into a bad relationship and has been 'looking' for work for over a year, but not really pursuing it that hard. It can just feel helpless for young women in this community and I want to learn how better to vision and plan with them to develop and grow their lives. This place inspires me and puts a fire in my gut to learn and move forward! It's pretty exciting.

It's a major SPORT weekend as Casey will go with friends tonight to watch a double- header (two games) of soccer and then we will watch a Rugby semi-final game tomorrow with friends at our home. On Sunday I preach at Ocean View and then HOPE to take Mathy and Antoine with us to Hillsong and dinner. For some reason taking them is complicated, and so this is the third time we are trying and hope it works! They continue to move forward but could really use a night away and some spiritual encouragement. Hope to throw in some time outside in there as the Cape Town weather is warming up and we are hoping for a beautiful weekend! So much to enjoy!

Hope you have a great weekend ahead too!
Lots of love,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Exciting Cape Town

This is an important time in Cape Town.  The 3rd Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization is happening here starting this week.  It's brought a lot of energy to know that many church leaders are among us here in Cape Town.  The Congress first happened in 1974.  They had another in 1989.  And now they are meeting again.  It's an invitational type of event with delegates from all over the world.  Our buddy Christ Heuertz, that we have mentioned here before on the blog, will be one of the delegates.  So will Andy Chenlo's aunt.
There are some corresponding events happening throughout the city while people are in town and we will go to a few of those .  There is also a global link that people can watch around the world.  There is probably a hosting site near you.  Check out the Lausanne website for much more info.


Ubuntu Update

Check out the Ubuntu Sports Outreach blog to see Casey's latest update.  Good stuff!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fashion Show

The girls who come over to play during the afternoons find many things to do at our home, and a recent game is 'fashion show.'  They had watched me get ready and put on my make-up a few times and decided they would like to do the same, and then it turned into an event!  I think they look beautiful!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sarah's Talks from Youth Retreat

Click here to read Sarah's first talk from the youth weekend (second talk in the series).

Click here to read Sarah's second talk from the youth weekend (third talk in the series, as Casey did the first and fourth).



Things I realized this weekend

I realized a few things this weekend.  A few of them were while we were on the retreat.  A few happened elsewhere.  I realized that...

  • It's really nice to be at a Youth Retreat and not be in charge.  
  • It's really fun to stir up trouble on youth trips, like Woo always did.
  • It's possible to make teenagers go to bed around 10pm as witnessed on Saturday.
  • I still really enjoy being around a bunch of kids for the weekend.  
  • I think that everything my little girl does is totally hilarious or completely adorable.  I can't help myself.
  • Hillsong is a very easy church to bring people to.  I'm thankful for that and want more churches to be that way.
  • I can still get really hyper because of a great worship service.
  • Ubuntu Sports Outreach is on the move, about to explode, and step into an exciting season!

Weekend Update

Hello friends and family!

Well we have had another great weekend in ministry and are so thankful for all God has done!  It was an exciting one as we spoke at the Capricorn Community Church (they are baptist 'affiliated' but not called Baptist - semantics....) youth retreat!  The campsite was near our house which was helpful as Kieren never could figure out how to take a nap or sleep AT ALL with all the noise around.  First impressions of the kids as the arrived was taken in through our EARS as they were so loud!  I mean I have been around groups of loud and noisy kids before but this group of almost 30 early teens were like a stampede everywhere they went!  Honestly, I think they scared Kieren until about the last day when she finally warmed up to them :)  But I think it's because they are in an environment where they are always feeling judged, always looking at others, in harsh family situations, and so you put them in this beautiful camp setting and they came ALIVE!  It was truly awesome.  The theme of the weekend was 'Reality Check' and we used reality shows as a theme to talk about the reality that God has for their lives even at a young age.  Casey spoke the first night about Jeremiah and his challenge was to 'chase the race' that God has before them.  I spoke Saturday morning about Esther and I helped them to follow her in the theme 'give, get, and GO!'  Then again I spoke Saturday night about Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler and pushed them to surrender ALL to God so He could make them new.  It was a beautiful time of worship and reflection afterwards.  Then Sunday morning Casey finished up by talking about David and how we have to 'forget fear' and run ahead knowing that God loves us even when we fall.  We think the kids really 'got' our messages and had a fresh encounter with God.  We loved hanging out with them, being in a beautiful environment, and just seeing them have a blast.  They ran, yelled, laughed, sang, jumped, and loved every minute of their time away.  It really was fun to see how profound a weekend away can be for kids living in a hard township environment, and we felt very privileged to get to share the time with them.  I am so proud of our friends Shagmie and Lauren Levendall and the great ministry they do with these teens, along with their strong group of adult leaders.  It was TIRING for sure (I seriously took a nap EVERY day of the weekend, including Friday) but such a blast.  Then Sunday afternoon we came home a rested a bit before our weekly Hillsong Sunday night outing.  We had a BIG group of friends that ate dinner together in town afterwards, and this weekend Kieren even had a buddy!  We have new, GREAT friends Brad and Kate Senekal who have a daughter, Bailey who is 2 years old.  Kieren and her are becomings buds and they are Hillsong friends too so they joined us after the service.  It is pretty funny trying to keep TWO toddlers from total late-night meltdowns in public, and nice not to be the only one making a scene :)  Brad is South African and Kate is American and they met here in Cape Town and also have a heart for Ocean View and live very close to us.  God continues to bring such awesome people into our lives that bless us!

Well we are still a bit fatigued from the weekend but excited for another week ahead here.  Thanks for your prayers this weekend!  We will post our talk notes and hopefully some pics soon!

Lots of love,

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fun Ahead

Please pray for us as we head off for a youth retreat this weekend that we are speaking at!  Our friend Shagmie Levendall is the youth pastor at Capricorn Baptist Church; Capricorn is a nearby township.  There will be about 30 kids and leaders at a camp near where we live and we are PUMPED to spend time with these young people.  Can't wait to share the great things God does!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Challenging Thoughts...

This is a blog post from a great leader in the States on Reconciliation.  His name is Chris Rice, and he was a student with me at Duke and now has helped to form the Center for Reconciliation (see it here) that is at my alumni, Duke Divinity.  It's a great center and I would love to do anything with them!  So our other friend, Chris Huertz, posted this blog by Chris, some of his thoughts from a recent conference at Duke on reconciliation and friendship.  Click here to see Chris Rice's thoughts titled 'Embracing the Ambiguities.  The article speaks to some of the tensions that arise when we befriend people 'at the margins' or who are different from us, and it gives a peak into some of the struggles and thoughts I have been having lately.  I wonder how I can have authentic and full relationships with people here in Ocean View when we are so different and there are places where we can never understand or be the same?  I am thankful that other people are asking these questions and wrestling to find answers along with me!

Bible Study with the Women

We are slowly making a change in our Monday night Ocean View women's group.  We have been spending months just coming together and sharing our stories and lives.  This has been revolutionary to these ladies because in our community you never share openly, especially as a woman, because people use it against you and gossip about you to tear you down.  People are very hurt in this community and as I fully believe, 'hurt people hurt people.'  So to come together and learn to trust and care and listen and love one another is a beautiful new thing for many of these women.  Our time together is often one of the highlights of my week.  However, we have grown so much and God is blessing the group so that every week my living room is FULL to capacity and we probably have about 30-40 women that come in and out of the group.  I have felt a tug from God calling us to grow and reach out to others so they can be blessed like this group of women have been.  So very slowly I have unveiled a vision for these women to start a weekly community Women's Bible Study for women in Ocean View.  The time would have teaching and then 'small groups' to discuss, be accountable, and connect.  They have been cautious to let go of something so good, but are jumping into the vision to spread the blessing we are experiencing.  The goal is to launch the study, where we will study the Gospel of Luke, at the beginning of January!  So please pray for this process!

In preparation for the change, I thought it might be nice to start a bit of Bible Study in our weekly support meetings, and so for the month of October we are studying the Proverbs 31 woman.  The women confessed that they have never really studied the Bible and don't know much of it themselves, so this will be empowering and deepen their faith.  We started Monday night and it went great!  You can see a copy of my leader notes here.  God is moving with these women and I love seeing it unfold!

Lots of love,

Sarah's Day in a Nutshell

•something i accomplished today:  painted a chalkboard on Kieren's wall (bought the paint a year ago...)

•something i screwed up today: getting my daughter to eat healthy today.  She has eaten cereal and dry    bread... I am thinking she is sick today, or just trying to make a fool of me...

•something that I am trying to get done: my talks for a youth retreat that Casey and I are speaking at this weekend.

•something funny or cute my kid did or said: Kieren woke up from her second long nap talking and singing.  The best.

•something yummy i ate today: it's really a 'drink' but a can of Coke.  That is a special treat to me and it's heavenly.  But also had my usual Diet Coke.  Don't judge.

•something i read today:  few blog posts and My Utmost for His Highest - my devotional

•a tv show or movie i watched today: right now watching Oprah as I catch up on internet.  Tracy Morgan from 30 Rock is on.  Love him.  Want him to be my friend.

•something i did today that i hardly ever do:  led the weekly Bible Study for Ocean View Methodist.  It's Wednesday mornings, and mostly the older crowd of our church, but I love the opportunity.  They are wonderful.

•something i did today that i do every day:  sung 'Dora the Explorer' with Kieren.  She is obsessed.

•something i am thankful for right now:  Casey.  He is busy out today working, visioning, and planning for the next phases of Ubuntu.  He is so inspiring and amazing!

Festival Follow-up

Hey folks, I just posted a little festival follow-up on the Ubuntu Blog.  Check it out!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Great Article

Great article by a guy named Shane Claiborne; an open letter to 'non-believers.' But pretty good, even from the believer side....

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

Antoine and Mathy

This week I was able to have some time with Antoine and Mathy and their kids Onesie and Christ.  I went to visit them on Sunday night and catch up with what has been happening in the past week of their lives.  Antoine is back at work and they are really working at moving forward with their family.  I was overjoyed to meet them at their house and see their faces filled with smiles.  They had spent the day with another close family from their church and I could see and feel that something has lifted from their pained spirits.  We talked and shared about things that have been developing since Lauren's death, which is such a strong thing and shows how they are growing past the tragedy of the death.  Antoine is facing challenges with his co-workers as they believe in African witchcraft and that another person has caused their daughters death, and Mathy has also been speaking with people in her ministry that believe differently than their Christian beliefs.  I think it is evidence that God is continuing to create environments where they can share their authentic faith with others and I see their hearts and the longing to express their love for their God.  As we talked I told them to not feel pressured to begin to minister to these people, but when they are ready, obviously God is already bringing people into their path to share with!  How incredible that God is already using Lauren's death and the attention that the family is getting for His glory.  They feel thankful for all the love that has been expressed to them and the many ways that people have surrounded them during this time.  In their opinion, the 'white people' love in a very different way during tragedy and they have been very humbled.  All this is deeply humbling to me and I am so thankful that God has used our family and others to carry them.  God is amazing and they are already looking forward again to their plans and dreams to move back to the Congo and start an HIV ministry there.  These people are truly saints and I can't wait to see what God does through and in them next!

Thanks for your prayers for this dear family and please keep them coming!
“Let’s change our language. Let’s not talk about ‘the poor’ anymore. We talk about our friends. The problem is, most of us don’t have friends who are poor. That speaks to the poverty of our friendships.” — Chris Heuertz, co-international executive director of Word Made Flesh

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sarah's Sermon From Sunday

To read Sarah's sermon from Ocean View Methodist Church on Sunday click here.

Monday Update

Hello everyone!

I am feeling so strange today because I am for some reason SO EXCITED that it's Monday!  I don't know what the annoying deal with that is, but I think I'm just looking forward to another week of life and ministry in Ocean View.  It could be that Casey and I had some VERY relaxing time this weekend as we were able to get away for 24 hours by ourselves with no sweet Kieren!  I did miss her, but then I just took a long nap, and ate TONS of great food, and stayed in a cool hotel in the city with Casey, and slept some more, and had a million conversations with my best friend, and that helped me get over it :)  We took some much needed time away and even though it was only 24 hours, it was very renewing and fun.  We came back Saturday afternoon and took a hike with Kieren - or now Casey calls them 'adventure treks' as we have all been inspired by Kieren's new best friend, Dora the Explorer.  The only problem was that after 20 minutes of singing in her backpack on the hike, Kieren promptly fell asleep for the rest of the hike as she was EXHAUSTED from her fun weekend.  Our great friend Danielle stayed at our house with Kieren and her two kids Joshua and Natalie and everyone had a great time.  This family is going through a rough patch (I shared about Danielle a lot this summer in the States) and so it was nice for them to just be away in our house.  One of the kids thanked Danielle for 'spoiling' them and letting them stay at our house.  Wow, too sweet and  humbling.  It was a win for everyone.  Saturday night we had dinner with our wonderful friends Wayne and Laurel Denne at their home.  They are incredible people; Laurel was a volunteer with Living Hope a few years ago from the US, met South African Wayne and the rest was history!  They are encouraging and wonderful friends.  Sunday morning started with church at Ocean View and I preached but with some  help from Casey.  I realized this week that our church family here had never heard Casey's story from high school of losing his parents and all God taught him through that, so he shared and I preached a short sermon on Romans 12:1-2 because Casey lives such a great LIFE of worship no matter what is happening.  Then we went to Hillsong Church in the city for a morning service and afterwards had lunch with Michael Jenkins and friends.  We noted that Kieren is becoming more and more fun to take to restaurants and really enjoys the time out too (this might be strange for toddlers, but she does great!).  Then we picked up Ben and Antony from UCT to bring them to Ocean View for our One Valley Festival wrap-up and celebration with the planning team, volunteers, and coaches.  It was a lively time and I hope Casey will share more this week.  We finished with a big group at our house for a pizza dinner.  Whew!  Even with a time of rest our weekends still end up being very full!  It was all great and we are excited for another week ahead.  Casey is working through more Ubuntu visioning and planning and I will be leading various ministries at Ocean View Methodist while my co-pastor Kyle is on holiday in the States.  Lots of do, but as I said, we are excited!

Lots of love,