Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This is the Day

Today I was running around doing many random things, but my schedule opened up so I could go and attend the HIV support group that I have helped to lead ever since we were in Cape Town in 2008.  It was a beautiful day today in Cape Town and there was just some joy in the air, even when I walked into the door of my friend Bernadette's house.  Many members of the group were there today, and even a couple who haven't been in months.  We shared food, talked, and closed our time together in prayer.  It was simple and fun.  As I was sitting there watching my friends laughing, talking, and teasing one another I was hit with how profound this group is for those who attend.  In this group, in their own space, they all belong, have confidence, and show their true selves.  Most likely for most of the them, they spend many of the other hours of their week hiding in shame and loneliness, but not when they are with one another.  They are truly a family and with one another they belong and are special.  What a gift that I get to be there and love on them.  Tomorrow the entire globe will come together to celebrate World Aids Day and to spread knowledge and awareness.  Here in Ocean View my friends will gather at the free clinic to encourage others to get tested.  My friend Alleta will share publicly about her status and empower others to know their own status.  It is remarkable and courageous, and these are people truly living with AIDS, not dying of the disease.

Images from etnies.com and learn.swancoll.ac.uk

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Celebration

Kieren and Sarah enjoying some time on the trampoline

Ntokozo with Briley, the daughter of our missionary friends Courtney and Joey Lankford

Kieren enjoying a REAL biscuit - they don't have those here!

Casey and Sarah

Ntokozo and Sarah

Kieren happy!  I told you it happened!!

The adults gathered and enjoying our FEAST!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekend Update

Hello everyone!

It's another Monday morning and I am strangely chipper today!  Just finished my workout and I don't know how I have this energy as Kieren got up at 5am AGAIN today - she is still having trouble sleeping, but overall improving in her health.  I think her asthma is the main cause of a lot of her ailments at this point, and it's hard to know when to call the doctor or just do another round on the nebulizer.  Either way, Kieren and I had FUN together yesterday.  That's right, I said it, we played and laughed and I saw glimpses of my fun daughter again!  She is an emotional being and I think has been so sad at  being sick, but yesterday definitely was feeling like herself again for part of the day.   I honestly think she has grown up in the past two weeks, but I didn't notice it because she was hidden by her pacifier and 'lovee' at ALL times.  Kieren has the greatest smile - it is HUGE - and it's nice to see it again around our house.

A new first in the Prince home on Sunday - Casey got his first migraine headache!  This was NOT something I wanted to share with him and it was sad to see him suffer all day.  Headache meds only dulled the pain a bit,  but even when he ventured out Sunday night for a planned birthday dinner for a friend he was almost silent all night.  I miss my crazy Casey!  He was sleeping this morning when I left, but I am hoping the night brought some relief.  What is the deal with the Prince's lately?!?

Other than our ongoing illnesses, it was a great weekend.  Ntokozo finished up all her exams in high school (they still have almost two weeks of school still where they do NOTHING) so we celebrated with a fun movie and dinner at home Friday.  Saturday was friends and our Thanksgiving celebration with Americans and then Sunday was resting at home and dinner out.  With all my free time on Sunday, Ntokozo and I got the grocery shopping for the week done and I planned out meals (done at 4am when Kieren decided to be awake coughing).  Now I am ready for this week - how DOMESTIC am I?? 

Looking forward to another great week ahead.  Casey will be gearing up for an upcoming Ubuntu clinic that will be held in December and I am working on various church stuff and continuing to devour books.  It is going to be a good one!

Lots of love,

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

Okay, so why is it that no one told me how EXHAUSTING it is to have kids?!?  We are having a time over here with sick Kieren.  Poor thing, she has been sick so long she is just SAD.  Actually, as I write this, it is Sunday afternoon, and I don't want to jinx it, but I think she might have made a turn towards health and happiness again because she is actually HAPPY this afternoon for the first time in like 2 weeks.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.  Thursday was a long day, however, and by the afternoon I had just come to the end of myself.  We are so blessed to have Granny Jacoba with us, because she helped with Kieren for much of the day, but I was still DONE by the evening, and it was Thanksgiving on top of that.  I thought it would be no big deal that we were postponing our Thanksgiving celebration for Saturday, but for some reason not being able to share that day with our families, and then not being able to call because of internet problems was really heartbreaking.  Then Thursday evening I had my final Parenting workshop at Ocean View Methodist to lead and I just didn't have it in me.  I considered many times just cancelling, but I am working on making my 'yes's be 'yes,' so I put some random things together and dragged myself over there.  We ended up having a large crowd and even some men, which made it worse for my then guilty heart.  But I opened the night with confession about my fatigue and how this week has taught me only that I'm not sure I'm strong enough for this parenting stuff.  We prayed together and spent the night discussing some great scriptures, sharing stories, and just learning and leaning on one another.  I prayed with my friend Dalena who also almost didn't come and was having major problems with her adult children, and so we just laid ourselves out before God.  We even had a random drunk guy come in and give a mumbled speech to us; which was really sad because he was really telling us that kids follow their parents and to not be like him.  The guys prayed with him and escorted him out; but I bet that didn't happen at YOUR bible study this week!!  It was crazy, because at the end of the strange night I was revived and encouraged.  And then on Friday night, one of our favorite families, who were there on Thurs, randomly stopped by and took Kieren for the night.  SO SPECIAL.  That's how it works around here, people just pitch up and help out without even asking.  It was humbling.  Kieren is so loved and we are so cared for, and all that I experienced this week just underscores one of my main teaching points of this workshop as a whole, that we care for kids TOGETHER as a family and church community.  It was amazing to experience that for myself this week!

Check out my rand-o notes from the workshop by clicking here.

Lots of (community) love!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Update Video

This took forever to put online, but it's finally here!  Enjoy!

Pictures at www.quotablecards.com

Kieren Update

Poor Kiers!!

She has been battling for the past week and we are only seeing small glimpses of hope - but we take whatever we can get!  I took her to the doctor AGAIN yesterday because she was screaming of an unknown pain for hours - so unsettling!  We saw a new doctor because our normal one had patients and it was SUCH A BLESSING.  Because of Kieren's time in the hospital and many doctor visits in the past year, she became terrified of even walking into a doctor's office. 
We bought her a play medical kit to talk and play about doctor tools, and have seen some improvement in her anxiety, but still she is so upset at the doctor (totally normal for any kid!).  So we went to see a new guy, Doctor Levine, and he was incredibly compassionate and WONDERFUL with Kieren.  He was very gentle and talked her through every part of the examination and she only cried at the throat gag check (I cry too then....) and was so quiet and calm the rest of the visit.  PRAISE!  I was so proud of her and thankful for this new doctor.  They really don't have many specialized pediatricians here, so this guy is such a great new part of our team :)  He even called us this morning to check on Kieren!  So she now has a bad ear infection and the bronchitis hasn't cleared.  We are continuing our same course of antibiotics and hoping to see results through the weekend.  In the meantime we try to manage her pain, but she is just SAD.  SO SAD.  She cries at everything and just wants to sit on the couch with us - very strange behavior indeed.  It is heartbreaking to see your little one in this state, especially for so long!  She is just miserable, and Casey took the two-hour night shift when she was up screaming and in pain.  Needless to say, Casey and I are DEFINITELY struggling from caring for her and just sad also!  Luckily we have Granny and she took her all day yesterday.  We have different plans today and through the weekend, so hopefully we can keep her distracted while her body heals.  Prayers for this sweet girl!  I miss her laugh!!


Book Review by Sarah

'Generous Justice' by Tim Keller

"In Christ we receive grace, unmerited favour. Nevertheless, in the mind of the Old Testament prophets as well as the teaching of Jesus, an encounter with grace inevitably leads to a life of justice. (p49)"
Oh my gosh, this book has just rocked my world.  Tim Keller is an incredible preacher and pastor in New York City, and we went to a seminar of his on the 'Urban Church' a month ago.  He has an incredible vision for the church, justice, and  unity.  I bought this book at his seminar and have been so excited to read it - and it did not disappoint!  There are so many nuggets of deep Biblical wisdom in this book, but he share and challenges in a way that is inviting and not judgemental.  The read is filled with great and humbling stories of him seeing justice played in his church and world, and what happens when we miss God's call to 'do' justice to those around us.  I am obviously someone that LOVES this subject matter, but I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter and learned so many new things, perspective, and incredible truths from God's word.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who cares about justice, doesn't care about justice, or just wants a great read to learn about God's heart for the world.  You won't regret this one!

Overall Grade: A+
"I believe, however, when justice for the poor is connected not to guilt but to grace and the gospel, this ‘pushes the button’ down deep in believers’ souls, and they begin to wake up." (p107)

"It is also impossible to separate word and deed ministry from each other in ministry because human beings are integrated wholes – body and soul. When some Christians say, ‘Caring for physical needs will detract from evangelism’, they must be thinking of only doing evangelism among people who are comfortable and well-off." (p141-142)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Book Review by Sarah

"Ikasi" by Sharlene Swartz

Recently a book was recommended to me, written by a South African author exploring the moral lives of teenagers in townships.  Ughh it was SO GOOD and just really fit me where I am at right now and with all the things I am thinking through.  God is really challenging me lately to reach out to the youth and teenagers of Ocean View and this book helped me to get into the minds and hearts of what they are working through in their lives.  The township teenagers of South Africa are incredibly unique because they are the first generation to be born and grow up in the chaos and horrors of these streets.  It has formed them in unimaginable ways and produced a unique moral landscape for them to work through.  This book was insanely academic and probably would BORE most of you, but really informed my understanding of the moral life of the teenagers around and us and gives me great hopes for the steps we long to make toward them.  Of importance are mentors and space to process and think through who they want to be and what choices they want to make.  The youth are not lost and beyond hope!  I am so thankful for this work that has deeply moved and inspired me!

Overall Grade: A

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is so strange to be around the world for such a special day!  Sad to say, but the South Africans choose not to celebrate our American story of pilgrims, Indians, and food-induced comas.  Shocking!!  We will be getting together with a group of Americans and South Africans on Saturday for a feast of ridiculous proportions.  I am getting together coloring and activities for all the kids and we are bringing Casey's favorite dish - green bean casserole!  Fun!

Today, as we think about all the fun our friends and family are having without us in the States, we are reminded of all we are thankful for.  Most of all we are thankful for our great God, who has gifted us with more than we could ever deserve or imagine.  We love being together as a family, and have a life filled with laughter, joy, and craziness.  Ntokozo has now blessed our family for a season and we are so thankful for the joy she brings into our home.  Living in South Africa is amazing and always full of surprises and we are so thankful to serve our God here!

We are so thankful for all of you and your constant prayer, support, and love!  You all are amazing!!


Image from eyehook.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


We missed celebrating an important anniversary with you all last week - last week it was one year of having 'Granny' as a part of our lives and hearts!  She reminded us many times as the date came upon us, and we hugged and reminisced on the day.  It's honestly hard to believe that Granny Jacoba has only been a part of our lives for ONLY a year - it seems like we have always known her.  She is truly our family now, and she OFTEN tells us about how Kieren is HER baby.  She says that no matter how many kids we have or are in and out of this house, that Kieren will always be HER baby.  We all like that just fine :)  Granny is such a special person, and I love being able to share all the special and difficult moments of our lives with her.  She is always praying for us, caring for us, laughing with (or at) us, and just a important part of every day.  On Mondays we spend a good time 'debriefing' the weekend and frequently catch up on what is happening in our hearts and relationships.  She is loyal, loving, strong, and Godly.  There is no doubt that God brought her into our lives and WHO KNOWS where we would be without her!  We celebrate Granny and our time with her!!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Young Adults Spiked Desire to Volunteer Article

Check out this interesting article, published in the NonProfit Times, about the recent spike in interest by young adults to volunteer and reach out.

Read article here: http://www.nptimes.com/09Jul/bnews-090728-1.html

“We’re seeing some dramatic volunteer increases in areas experiencing the brunt of economic challenges, perhaps indicating a ‘compassion boom,’” (Robert) Grimm said, in places hit hard by the recession, like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and New Jersey.

We know a place that could use a 'compassion boom' - OCEAN VIEW!  Come work with us!!
Ben Cash (trying to steal the Lankford's adopted daughter, Bristol) and Antony Burton with the Prince's as we said good-bye this weekend.

Saying Goodbye

It's so hard to say goodbye....  these words are on my heart this week as we have had to say see-yah to our good buds Ben Cash and Antony Burton.  Casey and I took Ben to the airport last night and I couldn't believe that our time with them is officially ending.  What is CRAZY is that when they got here they found themselves in a NUT-SO world as Kieren was in the hospital (literally) with her 2nd degree critical burns and Casey left the hospital to go pick up Ben.  NEEDLESS TO SAY, we were a disaster of a family at the time, and that was poor Ben and Antony's welcome to this beautiful country.  They didn't jump back on the next plane, and slowly fell in love with the complexities, issues, beauty, and people of this great nation.  It's been six months since they got off those planes, and they spent their first two months living with families in Ocean View and then completed a semester at the University of Cape Town.  They have always been guys full of laughter and fun, but it was so amazing to see them in THIS place for this time.  Particularly the community of Ocean View just fell in love with these guys and are SO SAD that they are leaving.  It honestly feels strange that they are going back to the States; like they are supposed to just be here, not there!  We have gotten so use to them coming around, hearing them on the phones, seeing them with Granny and the people of Ocean View, and it's just strange that they won't be a part of our lives here.  It also is a moment of WAIT, we are the crazy ones who live in AFRICA by the way!  We are so thankful for our time with them, all their service in the community of Ocean View, the ways they connected with people we love, and all the ways they opened up and learned about love, race, and justice while living in this fascinating country.  These two are special and will surely be missed.

I can't help now but wonder, WHO IS NEXT to come and live in this crazy place with us?!?  The invitation is here - come and join us!!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend-ish Update

I don't know why I feel the need to be all religious about my weekend updates, but I feel like something is missing when I don't cover our crazy Prince weekends!  This one was a bit blurry because I was shackled in a sinus infection / migraine haze that has only released me fully this (Tuesday) morning.  It's just after 5am, and I have Kieren down AGAIN to sleep for a bit, but now I'm awake.  Little one is battling too right now; we took her to the doctor yesterday and she has another bronchial infection.  Because of her asthma, when she gets a common cold, it produces a bad cough and can turn into infection.  She has gotten much less thanks to our great asthma meds from the States, but this one has hit her hard.  She can barely stay sleeping for long, coughs all the time, and is basically just miserable.  Luckily we have great community and an awesome Granny that help keep her distracted and she is only miserable and sick with us - why does it work that way parents??  So we are all on the mend and Casey is just holding it together.  We have had a guest staying with us for the past week, a new US friend who is doing work here in Masiphumalele and Ocean View and was connected through a ministry partner.  So Greg has been joining in the chaos, along with Ntokozo and it's always a house-full of crazy no matter what.  Ntokozo went with Danielle, a woman who disciples her, to see her aunt and uncle who she lived with before us, yesterday, and it was civil but strained.  They are upset that Ntokozo left them, even though they were horrible to her while she was living there, and the relationship is very strained with much of the family now.  Please pray for Ntokozo as she navigates through this new world of venturing out on her own towards a healthy and happy life, but not losing her family relationships.  Our weekend was filled with church, friends, a music therapy concert hosted by our great friend Kerryn Torrance, and other things I'm sure that I can't remember but I know were wonderfully lovely :)  It feels good to be moving towards health and hopefully I can get the rest of our family on track now - so prayers for us as we hobble along over here!

Lots of love,

Hair Did

Weekend update is coming soon, just resting today as I am sick and Kieren is sick too - yuck!  But, wanted to share a picture of Ntokozo from the weekend, and she REQUESTED I take this picture!  On Saturday night she had her hair 'did (relaxed) and walked in this house shaking that hair around like a model!  She was so proud of it :)  Love it.  How beautiful is this girl??  And she keeps opening up inside and out, like a flower.  We love her and are blessed more each day of growing as a new family!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Go USA!!

Just wanted to share some of the pictures from our outing to cheer on the USA national team play some great soccer last Wednesday night!  They played the South African national team (Bafana Bafana) and won 1-0.  Okay, so the game was a little slow, but we had great company to make up for it!  We took some of our friends and even a couple of a 'boys' who had never been to a Bafana game.  It was a great night!!

The boys
 The boys walking up to the game
Proud 'parents' with our boys after the game
 Sarah with our missionary friend, Julie Ostrand

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Steps

I have shared this month about our prayer requests for our parenting workshops at Ocean View Methodist and tonight was our third time to meet, but tonight we had a special guest speaker.  His name is Peter Lovick and he works for a part of the Living Hope ministry called 'Living Grace' (see their website here).  He came to speak to us about the huge topic of substance abuse and what the church can be doing about it.  It was a GREAT message, something that he shares with churches and groups all over Cape Town, and he works right here near us and is a total resource for our community.  Wow, I don't even know how to describe all the knowledge he just gave us, but it was a mix of a call from God to reach out the broken and addicted in our community and just an understanding of addiction and how it affects people.  It was a beautiful call to our church and we were SO ready to receive it.  He is launching a program that was started in the United States called 'Celebrate Recovery' (see the SA site here) and will partner with churches like ours to help communities while he runs a full recovery center.  Wow, it so exciting because our church and community is really ready for this, to be a place of openness and grace and truly see people come to full healing.  I am buzzing with excitement (which is WEIRD huh because it's all about addiction and brokenness!!??) but I really believe God is moving us to a place where we are going to be used in new ways in Ocean View.  Exciting stuff!  Please be praying for us!!


Book Review- Around Africa on My Bicycle

I'm so SAD to finish this book.  I started it way back around June, but didn't read at all while we were back in the States.  When we returned I started reading again, fell all the way into it, and never wanted it to end.  This guy from Cape Town, Riaan Manser (pronounced like Ryan), decided to put his life here on hold and ride a bicycle around the perimeter of Africa!!  Isn't that insane!?!?  He basically hugged the coast, or as close as possible all the way around.  Usually ignoring warnings from many people about the area just ahead that would be too dangerous or rough.  He originally planned to do the trip in one year.  It ends up taking him 2 years and 2 months.  It's amazing to read about his adventures, the way people supported him, and the hospitality that he experienced.  He almost never found people to be nearly as 'scary' or 'dangerous' as he had been warned.  Along the way he is forced to use several different languages, enters different religious contexts, travels through different types of weather, sees tons of amazing sites, and meets incredible people.
There are 2 reasons I love this book.  The first is that I have a sense of adventure like this, but I know I'm too cowardly and coddled to ever do anything like this.  So, as I read, I can experience all the adventure through him.  The 2nd reason is that I love this continent, so it was so incredible to experience it, in all its grandeur, through his stories.  If you're like me with either of these then you will enjoy this book.  Towards the end I avoided reading because I didn't want the story to end.  I think that's a compelling statement about my feelings.  But if you do pick this up, be ready for the investment in time and emotions because it's 700 pages and gripping throughout.
Overall Grade: A


Ubuntu Sports Update!

Check out a new update from Ubuntu Sports Outreach at www.ubuntusports.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hillsong Men's Conference

This weekend Hillsong hosted their 2nd Men's Conference.  It's funny, last year we went to mostly meet people, and by this year we actually know a whole lot of people!  Michael and I were in charge of sports this year, so we even had a job!
Wanted to review a bit of the content and what I learned.  The speaker was an Australian chap named Steve Penny.  The main theme of the weekend was from 1 John 2 where he writes about boys, young men, and fathers; so Steve was moving us from boys to fathers.  The first night was focusing on Isaiah 53 and being despised and rejected by men.  So much of that rejection for men comes from their fathers.  We get it from other places, but you see it most in a man's relationship with his dad.  Well, my dad was no saint, but he was a great father, so I have never experienced that hurt.  But you know that so many men in that room did experience it AND every colored or black man in that room experienced rejection and being despised during apartheid.  So, we have to pray for healing, confess our faults, and move forward.
The Saturday morning was from Proverbs 30:18 and the 4 Faces of Adam.  Last year Steve talked about the 4 Faces of Eve, so this was connected.  The 4 faces of Adam are vision, wisdom, purpose, and passion.    We have to be aware of which face needs to be on at what time and how they relate to the faces of Eve (friend, mother, wife, and lover).  This was encouraging to me and I can see the times that I wear the faces well.
There were 2 other messages by Phil Dooley & Eddie Andrews, but I missed Phil's while I was setting up sports fields.
Steve's final message was about us becoming fathers and showing the father heart of God to those around us.  This was a great message.  A few things he said that I loved were,
You become a father when you take responsibility to shape the hearts of others.
Fathers take responsibility for the fatherless in their nation.
All that we are doing here with boys and now are time with Ntokozo was really affirmed by those statements.  He finished by saying that we need to be growing to have a Father's heart for Social Responsibility.  This is how:

  1. Own the domain of forgiveness (Matt 6:14)
  2. Add Value to others (Matt 6:26)
  3. Provide (Matt 6:31)
  4. Give generously of good things (missed the reference) 
I really enjoyed this message and was greatly encouraged by it.  Well, that's my recap.  By the way, we took sports to a whole new level at Hillsong and the guys really enjoyed it.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Update

Hello friends and family!

Recovering from another great weekend in the Prince world!  I think there is a new level of crazy around here, and I can't even blame it on Ntokozo, we are just crazy!  Casey spent much of this weekend at Hillsong Cape Town for their annual Men's Conference and had a great time.  I am loving how we continue to meet and get connected to more of the incredible people at Hillsong, and our family there just grows and grows.  We are so grateful for that 'house' and how it builds us up in the life God has chosen for us.  I did some RESTING on Saturday and took TWO naps which was lovely.  Saturday night we had an American missionary family who are new to Cape Town for dinner - complete with their FOUR kids.  It was utter chaos, but they are an incredible family, the Lankfords, and you can check out their awesome blog at www.thesedreamsofmine.blogspot.com.  They are truly an amazing bunch and I can't wait to see what God uses them for over here!  It's going to be epic and entertaining!  Sunday morning, I preached at Ocean View Methodist, and told the congregation at the beginning of my message that I felt like that sermon was a conversation I had been having with them for a week and I couldn't wait to get it out.  It was a pretty heavy semon, especially because I told them that the way the church in the View treats the teenagers is the 'new apartheid.'  They didn't love that, but there was much response verbally and emotionally as I shared.  I know it 'hit' them and they are very excited that Casey and I are going to work with the youth at our church in the coming year.  Much is ahead.  We rested a bit during the day Sunday because Casey ran in a half-marathon while I was preaching (busy guy, hey??) and was pretty worn from the windy race.  Sunday night we went to Hillsong and then out to dinner afterwards.  The guest speaker at Hillsong spoke about the work of the Holy Spirit and Ntokozo was very touched and moved by God, which was incredible to be a part of.

And here we are again for another Monday morning!  These weekly updates seem to happen more quickly these days as time is passing rapidly.  I am noticing Christmas decorations around the 'shops' these days, which feels strange because the weather is gorgeous and blue and sunny and warm.  We are beginning to make our Thanksgiving and Christmas plans, and can't help but feel a bit home-sick knowing how far we are from so many we love.  However, there are new traditions to be made, and our family here continues to grow deeper and wider.  We are thankful and life is rich.

Happy Monday!

Sarah's Sermon From Sunday

Here is my sermon preached at Ocean View Methodist Church this Sunday on taking the Light into Darkness.  I am very excited about this sermon as I feel it captures my heart and passion right now!

Read sermon HERE.

Lots of love,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thinking and Feeling

WHEW!  It's Friday morning and I am READY for a rest this weekend!  I was up LATE last night because I couldn't sleep.  My body was tired but my mind was racing with ideas, my sermon for this weekend, Ntokozo, Kieren, ministry, friends, things to do.......  I could not shut it off.  I use to have this problem all the time but really had been able to rest well in the past months, so I realized this morning that I am NOT doing a good job with balancing everything.  There has been TONS going on, but throw Ntokozo in the mix and that adds a whole 'nother level to everything.  Part of it is that I am preparing for a sermon for this weekend on parenting and I am really going to invite our church to enter into the brokenness of our youth and teens in Ocean View with Christ's heart.  Living with Ntokozo, I am getting a glimpse not only into her world, but also into the teenage world of Ocean View and Masipumalele (a black township down the road, and many of it's teens go to Ocean View High).  It is a HARD world for a teenager around here; full of violence, sex, and drugs and I am learning about it as Ntokozo shares about it.  In some ways she really keeps away from it; she is an outsider from another part of Durban and very shy.  HOWEVER, she is also a teen mom herself, and so OBVIOUSLY she is not completely naive.  Brokenness is something that Lucinda Dooley preached about at Hillsong last week and it's something that happens to us but can also be something we chose.  The brokenness of the youth in Ocean View is so painful and foreign to many Christians that they just stand at a distance and judge and keep them away as much as possible.  But to choose to enter into their brokenness, knowing that their 'naughty' acts are only a symptom of something much deeper that is hurt and broken, is a hard thing, and feeling it this week it is threatening to break me for sure.  It's just a hard world, and it challenges the power and truth of Christ.  But I know God sees these teens and weeps and longs to enter into their lives, if only we would reach out to them, and be His hands and feet.  So that is the mandate, the prayer, the urging, to our church, and it's one I am walking alongside them in.  Casey and I have been meeting with youth pastors in Ocean View and had a big braai on Wednesday to start having a monthly gathering for all the youth ministries in the View.  It's going to be cool; I am excited and terrified and exhausted all at the same time.  And then there is Ntokozo, in my own home.  We laugh and talk and make chit-chat, but so easily something heavy and difficult comes up in our conversations, and I must choose to enter in.  I am seeing God begin to redeem and heal her, but the brokenness still there can be overwhelming.  So pray we will continue to step in, choose to walk with her in her pain, and pray that God brings this experience out in my sermon this weekend - if I make it :)

Thankful, tired, and still loving life.  Wouldn't have it any other way.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Little Letters

Dear "movies,"

Just writing to tell you that you are on my mind lately.  I miss you.  Remember when I use to rent movies weekly and I was up to date on the latest and greatest?  Remember when I even went to the theater to see you?  Oh sharing hot, buttered popcorn together.  Special memories.  Right now they are only memories as I find I never have the chance to see you anymore.  The television is a part of our lives still, but I find I can barely stay awake at night for one episode of anything, so I don't even want to try a movie.  I can't be a movie tease.

But I want to share what is happening in your absence.  So much.  Mostly it's in the afternoons when we spend time together as a family and children gather in our home and yard.  Yesterday was a really special day because our favorite kids happened to be over and there was just a happiness in all of us.  We were laughing and running and playing, and Kieren thought it all was a blast.  Our newest family member, Ntokozo, is still taking in all that our lives encompass, but she had a sweet moment as my 'girls' sat in her room (the office) and talked to her quietly about the new clothes we had bought her, and what it was like to live with us.  They are really embracing her already and she smiles a lot when they are around.  When they leave the house Ntokozo hugs them all.  Also, when Megan came in to our house yesterday she said she missed me and gave me a strong and long hug.  I can still feel it.  I am so thankful.  I love our lives and the laughter and joy that fills our days.  It is busy and exhausting, which is why I long to sleep like 12 hours a night and thus don't have time for you, but I suppose we will be reunited one day again, long in my future, when the house is quiet again and my days are easy.  I won't be as tired, and I will enjoy our time together, but I will remember special days like yesterday and be so thankful.  So thankful.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Just sharing some shots of a usual day of playtime in the afternoons at our house!

Kieren and her friend Bailey playing with Megan and Jadine
 Stacy, Jamie, and Megan after they we did their make-up.  This is a DAILY request, but only happens on special occasions!

Book Review by Sarah

"Brag!  The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It" by Peggy Klaus
Brag! is a book recommended to me by a mentor and friend, suggested a few years ago.  It was during a time in the US when I was trying to figure out what was 'next' in my career and wanting to take the right steps.  I immediately bought the book, but the when it came to my house I couldn't even handle the title and put it on the shelf.  It made it's way on our shipment to Africa, and I finally picked it up again last week.  This book is a quick and fun read and very encouraging for any on a path of trying to share with others what you are passionate about. I have realized on my journey that I know God has given my gifts and abilities but I don't always know how to tell others about those traits, and I think many of us feel shy about sharing our strengths, not wanting to 'brag' too much!  Well as the old adage goes, if we aren't going to share about our strengths and passions, then who will?!  We are our own best cheerleaders but we often don't really know how to articulate them out loud to others, and this book will easily help anyone to do just that.  I would recommended this book to anyone who wants to learn how to brag better and move towards new opportunities with confidence and strength.  I know I will.

Overall Grade: B+

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend Update

Hello everyone!

It's another Monday morning, but I must admit that I feel a bit worn this morning, a departure from my usual chipper Monday self (I can't believe who I am turning into, but I like being oddly happy!).  We had a busy weekend as usual, but I think the added new family member Ntokozo (pronounced En-tah-koh-zoh) brought a new level of emotional strain!  But at the end of our first weekend, I had a BTT (bed time talk for you non-campers!) with Ntokozo before she went to bed and she assured me she is not running away this week!  She has said that we are 'funny' (obviously I always love that, but is she laughing WITH us or AT us...) and that she enjoyed her weekend.  She makes the funniest faces when I ask her questions, like she is ALWAYS surprised at our world.  I think she is.  What I loved most about our talk Sunday night was that she said she feels relaxed here and can read and study very freely.  She says can rest and relax and her 'brain doesn't hurt' from all the bad things going on.  Wow.  Pretty profound.  It's so interesting because this is a child, and she really does struggle to communicate what she is thinking through, but I thought that spoke volumes.  I told her that we want our home to be a place where she feels safe, peaceful, and loved.  I told her that we love having her here and just want her to enjoy her time and have space to think and pray.  It was a heavy family weekend as I had to jump into some various counseling ministries with family, and the power and pain potential of a family is deeply weighing on my heart.  Our homes have the power to make or break people; to build them up for a life of greatness, or completely tear them down to rubble.  Around Ocean View you see more of the latter, but my prayer is that our home is a SPACE where God can do deep healing and love in Ntokozo's heart.  We went to Ocean View Methodist on Sunday morning like usual and then went to a later morning service in the city at Hillsong.  Pastor Lucinda Dooley's message was about brokenness, and creating that space needed for God to heal the cracks in our heart that prevent us from living how we were created.  It was perfect for Ntokozo and she said last night she was really touched by it.  But Lucinda's second piece of her sermon really touched Casey and I both (as he shared in his last post below), and God is challenging us to continue to embrace a life of brokenness, laying everything down for the kingdom of God.  Living with Ntokozo is a constant reminder of pain as she shares little pieces of her life with us, but we embrace her with the love of God that can transform her pain into beauty.  The potential is great, the possible risk even greater, but our hope is greatest of all.  We love having Ntokozo in our home already and look forward to the days ahead.  I think we will laugh and do fun things together, but I PRAY that she will find hope and courage and healing and love in our space.  Only God can do that, so please join us in inviting Him deeper into her life.

Lots of love,

Broken Heart – Photo credit to Hypermania37@dreamstime.com

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sticks & Stones

I originally didn't want to write a post about this because I wasn't sure how people would respond, but today during church I realized that you (the people who care about us) just need to know.
I'm going to give you a little civics lesson.  In England they celebrate a holiday called Guy Fawkes day.  It's commemorating some guy (pun intended) from the 1600s that created a plan to assassinate the king, but was caught, supposed to be hung & quartered, but killed himself right before he would be killed.  For some reason, England celebrates this day with fireworks and good fun.  Some of the former English colonies continue to celebrate some version of this holiday.  Unfortunately, in our community, it is celebrated as a day to act ridiculous, stupid, and a bit violent.  It's bad enough that several kids that I know didn't attend school on Friday because they are scared at what the other kids will do.  And they say the teachers can't do anything, "because it's Guy Fawkes Day."
Well, we went through the whole day with no significant difference.  But about 11pm I was watching soccer and doing some things on the internet (all the girls were asleep or in bed) when I heard the terrible sound of a brick coming through our kitchen window bouncing off the sink and onto the floor.  Obviously I jumped up to investigate, freaked out, and readied myself for what else may be coming through.  Nothing else came through that window.  It was obviously a Guy Fawkes Day stunt ("prank" doesn't work for something like this) that we were the target for.  My nerves were now on edge as I tried to figure out what to do.  I investigated around the house, called our security company, and tried to work through it all logistically & spiritually.  I eventually fell asleep about 2am once the nerves calmed enough.
Today's service & message at Hillsong were helpful for me in dealing with it.  Through it all I was reminded that God asks for us to lay down everything at his feet, to trust Him for the results, and to walk in faith.  I know what we've gotten ourselves into here in Ocean View, but sometimes I want to pretend that it isn't what it truly is (unsettled, broken, and sometimes dangerous).  The reality is that stuff like this, having our car broken into, people trying to steal from our house, and things like that are probably going to happen a couple of times a year.  We'll have to deal with it.  Each time I have to keep walking in faith knowing that God is still God and that our troubles are just part of our lives here.  I can't ignore it and it doesn't really help to hide it from you.  
So that's a small part of our weekend.  We actually had a fantastic weekend, this was just the one hiccup.
Thanks for your prayers & support and if you meet anybody named Guy Fawkes tell him I'm not a big fan.
Cheers, Casey

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ntokozo Update

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to pop in with an update on our newest family member, Ntokozo.  Okay, so everyone, her name is pronounced En-tah-koh-zoh.  Does that help?? :)  She was brought to us by the woman that ministers to her through Baby Safe, Danielle, on Friday afternoon, and this new chapter has begun!  What is so interesting to me (among like a MILLION other things), is that just having Ntokozo brings so many different thoughts and feelings and questions into my mind.  It makes you think about every little step you do in your house, and if it honors or offends someone who has been brought up with so much less.  We live our lives just how we want to, and rarely honestly think about how others would think about it; but we no longer have that luxury.  I wonder how Ntokozo feels about our guest bed?  Is our food too 'white'?  How is Kieren raised in comparison to kids she is around?  Wow, Kieren has a little too many toys, right?  I'm going to grab my sunglasses, does she even own sunglasses? And the list goes on....  But underneath the questions, is the reality of this new world and I think overall it's going well.  It is obvious to me that Ntokozo is pretty overwhelmed by it all, but I don't think she hates it, it's just very foreign.  We had dinner plans last night so we took Kieren to a baby-sitter and left her home alone.  She worked on homework and I think she welcomed some space of quiet in the midst of a lot of change.  This morning we had a slow wake up and made lunch for a day at the beach.  We took a long route on the coast to Camp's Bay, which is a beautiful, tourist beach near the city.  There we met a group of people from Hillsong for a beach party and hung out all day in the beautiful Cape Town sun.  Michael Jenkins and Casey played volleyball while we hung out with some others.  It was relaxing and gorgeous and almost felt like we were on vacation.  Ntokozo was very quiet all day but seemed to enjoy the new scenery.  We came home and rested and then had our Hillsong friends Brad and Kate over with their daughter (and Kieren's new bestie) Bailey.  We had dinner and hung out watching rugby and the girls playing. Again, Ntokozo was quiet, and would talk a bit when we asked her questions, but just seemed to take it all in.  Then she just went to bed pretty early, around 9pm.  So that is that, our the end of our first day with our new family member, Ntokozo.

Thoughts?  I don't know, it's hard for me being so umm... verbal (really??) and then living with someone so quiet.  It's hard to 'read' her and know how she is feeling about all this; I wish I could just get in her head for a minute.  It must be SO MUCH to take in, and when I did ask her some questions, she is feeling many things, as she is missing her family a bit, but also glad to be away because they are abusive (which she spoke a bit about).  So complex, so painful, and so BIG.  That, I think, is where she is.  WE, the Prince's, are at peace, just knowing that we have been obedient to God, and knowing that only God can really make this work anyways.  She needs healing, love, security, and lots of God.  We pray she can find all those things while living in our home.

Major prayers still needed!  Keep them coming!!

Love you,

Friday, November 5, 2010


We are starting a new focus and theme for the month of November at Ocean View Methodist Church, and it's all about FAMILY!  I am so excited about this because my co-pastor, Kyle, and I have been talking about preaching and teaching in themes for the past year and we just struggle to coordinate it all.  So finally it's FAMILY MONTH!  We will be preaching about family life each Sunday morning, but I am also hosting parenting workshops every Thursday night.  We are doing this instead of our usual Monday women's meetings, which has actually been a bit sad and we all already miss the time together.  But last night we had over 20 people and even two men at the workshop!  We had some activities, discussion, I did some teaching, and then we ended by praying for one another.  Family life is a major topic in the Ocean View community!  Because of the daily strain people have on their lives with violence, substance abuse, lack of jobs or adequate pay, and general hardships in life, family ends up being a place where all the emotions and pain come out - at one another.  It's hard to raise children in Ocean View, and so the topics and discussions really hit a nerve last night, and it was lively and challenging.  I am so thankful for a growing community that wants to engage these important topics, and we even had some new people join in!  I am excited for the change and growth we will experience over the coming month!!

Lots of love,


Credit Image: Londonnfp.com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ntgozo Update!

Thanks everyone for your prayers this week on the waiting situation with her family.  We THINK she is coming now to move in here tomorrow (Friday)!  So please keep your prayers COMING that her family would release her and have a peace about her staying with us.  We have also learned today that the Baby Safe ministry is looking for another home that Ntgozo can move in in the next couple months so she would NOT go to Durban over Christmas with her family.  They are nervous that if she goes with her family to Durban they will make her then stay there with her other (deceased father's) family.  This would be bad for so many reasons: one, there is nothing for her in the rural area her other family lives and she would likely not finish school.  Second, her son then might be taken away from the new foster mom that is about to take him over, because part of the arrangement is that her son can come out of the foster home if Ntgozo lives close.  Okay, many details, but they all NEED prayer!!  But wow, the thought that tomorrow she would come and stay with us for a month or two is exciting - and scary!!  Our lives are about to change, so please pray, pray, pray!!

We'll keep you updated, but it looks like great things are ahead!


Hang out time at the house...

I love this picture for a few reasons.  I just found it on my phone and it was taken Tuesday because that was when the little blond girl, Kieren's friend Bailey, was hanging at our house all afternoon.  Her mom and dad are our new friends Brad and Kate who also go to Hillsong and are awesome.  The funny thing is that I have no idea who took this phone, but I think it was taken by my OV girl Jadene, who is not in the picture.  Her sister Megan is in the pic too, as the girls were also over hanging out.  LOVE THIS.  So Casey is sitting with all the girls and who knows where I even am :)  I love our life!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Top Five

Here are the top five highlights of our Hillsong Connect Group (small group) that met last night

1. FOOD.  Food just makes people happy, but good food can make people ecstatic.  We shared dinner tonight with our new group as we are getting to know one another and everyone brought stuff to share.  Michael Jenkins and his sister Rose, who are our hosts, made some great pita sandwiches and brownie dessert.  It was divine.  And fun. 

2. DIVERSITY.  It was such a great mix of people, which was a huge part of our hearts in starting this - and we always love a mix!  There were married, singles, parents, Zimbabweans, Coloureds, Americans, kids, South Africans, and even a Mexican :)  We had three of our friends from Ocean View there and that was my favorite mix.  Everyone totally interacted as we ate and it was a great fellowship.

3. CONNECTING.  It is the name of the group, but we all really got to do it last night.  A good number of us are friends that connect when we can, but this is an intentional place to REALLY share our lives.  It was great to be together under that purpose, it made me feel even closer already to people I've known for a while.

4. CARE.  One of my main goals personally for the group is to care for our members.  That means celebrating birthdays, coordinating food and transport so we can all be there and fed (I gotta have my snacks), and just checking in with the major things happening with one another.  I had a great and much needed conversation with a friend updating me on some major things happening in her family that need immediate prayer.  Also, another friend just finished a huge work project that is a new venture for her, so we could celebrate that together.  We need care, ALL OF US, and I hope that continues to be a focus of the group

5. WORD.  Michael Jenkins shared a short message with him about some thoughts that have been on his heart and mind.  He shared from Matthew 13:
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
   45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

 It is a familiar passage to all of us, but he really challenged us by a few words in this passage.  One that really hit me was the JOY that the man had when he found the ultimate treasure.  He gladly sold all that he had to obtain the true treasure and all else in his life paled in comparison to what he had found.  Do we find this same joy in the treasure of Jesus Christ in our own lives?  It was great food for thought, and something I am still chewing on this morning.  I am so excited to be with this new community and gather around the Word of God as it challenges our lives in new ways.

Exciting stuff to come!

Lots of love,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Musings

It is Tuesday morning and I am sitting in an office at the new preschool that Kieren is going to start at.  I LOVE THIS PLACE.  Casey teases me because I am a big nerd about it, but it's heavenly to me.  It's called 'Enchanted Gardens' and it's very hippie-esque.  I want to be a hippie so I will go ahead and begin living my dreams through Kieren at age one...  There is a farm here, and a sheep named Jared roams around and came to say hi to Casey and I today.  He's like a dog.  Kieren is loving it and just ate lunch with all her friends.  I spied on her and it was deliciously cute.  I have been asked how I feel about her going to 'school' and I am the one pushing it, so in some ways very READY, but also like, awww she is growing up!  So mixed feelings.  This will be a great place for her to socialize and grow and learn.

My thoughts and prayers for this week are about Kieren as she grows and learns.  She is recently obsessed with coloring and circles.

She exclaims these words throughout the day and we must promptly get out the supplies or draw circles on the chalkboard wall in her room.  She loves shapes and has a puzzle book she does hourly with different ones.  Kieren is laughing a lot lately and Casey and I both fight to be the main comedian in her life.  We will do anything and her laugh is as delicious as ever.  She throws her head back in abandon and cackles.  Too fun.

Oh, another obsession is bubbles, so we spend a great deal of time outside blowing and popping them.  She is very active and happy these days, and just learning so much.  It's so fun to know she will now be at school learning things I didn't even think of - like today she painted here for the first time!  It was brilliant!

What a gift of JOY Kieren is to our lives, and we are thankful and blessed.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Weekend Update

Hello all!

So I am a big nerd and STILL sore from our work at Hillsong this weekend!  We went on Saturday to help with renovations on the new building and Casey and I were outside on 'landscaping.'  That meant Casey and Michael Jenkins helped cut down massive, overgrown bushes and I was 'weeding' a big area that will become a new parking lot.  At times I used a spade sort-of thing and was working hard because I was SO sore and tired the rest of the day. 
My favorite was people trying to chop down overgrown grass and weeds using a shovel as a machette. Very African.

It all reminded me of days of working in the yard on Timber Ridge, ahhh....  We don't have a 'yard' anymore since we live on the church grounds, and we let them keep it pretty simple.  I like that so we don't draw attention to our house like 'rich white people live here!!' - our yard and outside of our house are very understated.  Just like our personalities :)

We had a great time helping a couple hundred people 'love the house' at the new Hillsong property and got to meet lots of new people.  Many of our friends were there and it made us all so proud to be a part of the new building.  Before, Friday night we had a big braii 'cookout' with a bunch of our friends and had a great time connecting with people.  There are some new mama's in the bunch and some moms-to-be, so that was fun.  Kieren hung out with a friend, Lana, who just turned 4, and they were playing and laughing HYSTERICALLY.  Too cute.  Back to Saturday, after landscaping, we hosted a going-away party for Kindra, one of the long-term Living Hope volunteers who is leaving today.  Then went to Jenks house for some rugby watching and another braii.  Antony and Ben joined us for the weekend, and Kieren had her first rugby lesson from Ben.  She loves Ben, shouting 'BEN!' all the time.  Kieren and I left early to put her and me to bed :)  Sunday we had church at Ocean View and they were all SO excited to have Ben and Antony there.  They even made them share in our testimony time!!  They did great, and visiting Granny even sang a song.  She has an AMAZING voice!!  When we kidnap her and bring her to the States for a visit remind me to make her sing for you  :)  Then we rested a bit Sunday afternoon, Casey and some boys watched some soccer, then went to the Muizenburg flea market with the Ostrand family, Americans who recently returned to SA to serve as missionaries full-time.  Then Hillsong and dinner afterwards.  Yes, WHEW is right.  Did I mention I took TWO naps on Sunday.  One normal one and then I was still tired so just laid down again to rest and pray.  Delicious.

Monday is here again and we are excited for what is ahead!  Our minds are eagerly FILLED with Ntgozo and still don't know if her family will let her stay with us.  PLEASE PRAY for this situation and even that we could connect with the family so they don't think we see them as 'bad.'  I think there are a lot of emotions involved in this whole story and even things we don't know yet, you know?  Other than that lots of other stuff too, but just excited to see all the fun things God surprises us with.  He is sneaky!

Lots of love,