Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Brain Dump

This is, incidentally, how my brain and head feels right now.  The new week is HERE and there is so much to attack.  It's going to be great, and I'm not even having that feeling like 'I can't wait until it's over,' just excited for the moments to come.  But lots of work to do.

So in preparation, I will do a quick weekend brain dump on you of the events of our weekend.  I don't think we mentioned during the week that Granny Jacoba was out with a BAD stomach flu all week, so we actually had to raise our own child, not okay, which we promptly let her know on her return this morning, but it did mean that we were a bit pooped by Friday with all the Kiers watching and playing that went on all week.  Friday we did a gym run, Casey met with Michael about Ubuntu, Kiers napped, we lunched, worked with our church who was hosting a mission team for the weekend, and then went to dinner with our Hillsong small group that starts up this week (YAY!).  Minkey, Ntokozo's cousin, who still lives with her estranged family here in CT, spent the night with us on Friday for the first time - big step!  Saturday was an early morning spin class for me, Casey, Michael, and Treswell visiting families to invite them to elite Ubuntu clinic (SO COOL!) and Kiers and I took Ntokozo and Minkey to the beach.  ICE CREAM.  WAVES.  CUTE TODDLER.  FUN.  Came back, hung with millions of kids that invaded our yard and home because church was holding mission (*sigh*), worship at the mission night, and went to dinner with friends for yummy Italian. SARAH TOOK TWO NAPS.  HOLLAR.  Sunday was OV church which was SO awesome because visiting preacher was LEGIT and so good and had 'altar call' and people came forward and were anointed and prayed for.  Just a moment to tell God that He is up to something, you know, He knows, and we are going to GO for it.  Very proud pastor.  *sigh*  Next was fight with brown daughter (see earlier post), anger nap, lunch and hang time, errands with girlies (they loooove each other), and then Hillsong worship night and dinner with a new missionary family here, the Kyle's, who have son Davis who is 4 and Kiers' new fav boy.  'YAY DAVIS' was heard throughout the night.  SO FUN.  BED EARLY.  CRAZY WEEK AHEAD.  LOVE IT. READY!!

Lots of love,

And In This Corner...

 We had our first fight.  It was bound to happen at some point.  I mean, for most relationships, a conflict can be defining because it shows important sides of both people in the relationship.  Ntokozo and I had never really had a fight before.  There were some times when I had to 'disipline' her or tell her how we expected something differently, but this was full-on fight.  The details aren't really important (they never are, right?) but in the heat of the moment, as I was driving around looking for my wandering, lost, brown daughter, I recalled something I had read recently in a parenting article specifically written for foster parents.  It said when you have a fight, make sure you as as the parent, leave the heat of the conflict when you are angry so you don't say something you will regret.  Upon reading it I thought it was a bit intense, for the heated people, but it stuck with me and I brought it into practice on Sunday.  When I found Ntokozo and picked her up, I didn't look at her or speak at first.  Finally I said, "I am very upset with you but I don't want to talk about it now.  Go to your room and we will talk later."  She was obedient, but I could tell she was shocked to see this new side of me.  So was I, honestly, and all I could think about were swear words and loud shouts as I fumed in that car, and later during my (restless) nap.  I did know DEFINITELY that I needed to wait to talk to her.  But here is the kicker in the whole thing.  Kieren.  I finally dragged Ntokozo off her floor (literally) where she was taking a pouty, coma nap, and took her and Kieren to the mall to get groceries and an ID photo that Ntokozo needed.  As we were driving and waiting and walking, Kieren continued to play with her sissy, and laugh with her, and talk to her, in the most adorable and sweet ways.  I told Ntokozo out loud, "how am I supposed to stay mad at you when Kieren loves you so much?"  I have a feeling I will think that many times in the years to come.  They are so bonded; it's beautiful.  Eventually I made Ntokozo talk about the event, when I was feeling better and could articulate my heart, and tears streamed down her face as she was so upset that I was angry.  Interesting.  But that little tip proved true, because there is something different in Ntokozo and something new in our relationship as I grow as her foster mother.  With all those years missing between us, things like conflict prove to be doubly hard, and so it's another challenge to work through and really try hard to do the right way.  But in all our significant relationships, conflict defines us, for good or bad.  In the end, we forced her to go to Hillsong and dinner with us (you WILL sing to God and eat Mexican food... we are so mean) and the day was fine even though we had a moody daughter along with us.  I don't know how this fight defined us, but I feel stronger.  I feel clearer.  No matter what this crazy one does, the brown crazy one, I will fight to understand her and love her and teach her.  And I know I will learn a lot about my brokenness along the way too.  What have you learned about loving yourselves or others in conflict?  Especially with children - would love to hear from you!

Lots of love,

Friday, January 28, 2011

In a Sea of Brown Faces

Thursday night I was required to attend a school meeting for Ntokozo.  It was my first real school meeting as a parent.  They talked to us about their uniform, the schedule, promotion requirements, and stuff like that.  Super exciting stuff.
The most interesting part, though, was being the only white face in a sea of brown faces.  I was certainly the ONLY white dude there.  It wasn't really a big deal, but it made me think, when was the last time I was the only _______ in a big group of __________?  What about for you?  When was the last time you were the completely different one in the group?  When were you the only woman in a group of men?  When were you the only athlete in a group of scholars?  When were you the only American in a group of foreigners?  I'd love to hear from you.  Leave us a comment and share a story.  


Women's Bible Study

Hello everyone!

Last night we had our first night of the new format of our Women's Bible study for Ocean View!  It is amazing to really be getting this started after MANY months of prayer and planning and discussion about this!  We had many new women from other churches which is such an answer to prayer.  I led my time of teaching (notes below) and really felt excited about it - and so encouraged when it was over!  Something new that you haven't seen or done before can be a bit overwhelming, so now that we have done one week of teaching and small groups I can 'see' it all so much better now.  My missionary friend Leigh Myers took one group and I took the other, and we discussed and prayed with the women for the rest of our time together.  It was passionate, open, and inspiring.  What more could you ask for!  It's so fun to see things moving in 2011!  Now that we are here in this year, we are experiencing all that we hoped as this year begun!  God is moving and there is much more ahead!

Lots of love,

Here is the link to my notes from week on of my 'John: Light of My Life"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Steps

We knew as a family that moving to Africa to serve God as missionaries would cause us to go to places we had never been and do things we had never done.  But some things we were a little ready to leave behind.  Teenagers, for example.  I mean, we both LOVE teens to death, and we were grateful for our years of ministry to teens at Grace Community Church, but that chapter was finished and closed, we got a cake, tears, and a party, and it was good-bye.  You know, it was like we defined those final days and moments, and went out with a bang.  'Casey and Sarah, great youth leaders...' could be seen on our graves of life in America.  That crazy God, sometimes he likes to bring things back in that you never saw coming.   He is crazy.

Turns out God has a thing for teenagers and likes our craziness mixing with theirs.  Not only do we find ourselves serving in youth ministry at our church in the Ocean View township, but God thought it would be a good idea for a teen to move into our house.  This just wasn't in our plan.  I honestly think people don't always believe this, like we were looking to be foster parents to an orphaned teen mom with an attitude.  Guess what people, we are strange, but not INSANE.  Again, God thinks otherwise.

We took our beautiful brown daughter, Ntokozo, out for a special dinner last night, without the cute and crazy white daughter.  We even took her to her favorite restaurant, the horrible 'Spur,' reminiscent of all that is bad about mass-made chain American restaurants.  We needed some time alone with Ntokozo  to talk about the future; our future as a family, and how she felt about it all.  When we asked her how she felt about moving in with us officially for the coming years to be our foster daughter, she exclaimed a yes, gave us a beautiful smile, and teared up.  That's about I needed right there, and of course I also got teary.  We did continue the conversation and talked extensively about what's hard for her and us being a family, and where we all need to grow.  It included attitude, communication, counseling, money, jobs, and roles.  It was great and open.  It was easy and strong.  We laughed, talked, had a (shockingly) great meal, and just enjoyed time the three of us.

So we are still 'praying' about this decision, but maybe you can feel where we are leaning...  It all is crazy, we know, it seems pretty much impossible and way beyond my capacity, and I have told this to God multiple times.  He seems to think differently.

But in my history, trusting Him and HIS ways and HIS plans are always the best choice.  So whatever these first steps hold, we trust Him.  We will be obedient and we KNOW that God will bring good things into our lives.  That's how He rolls.

Lots of love,
Sarah and the crazy Prince clan

Book Review: Drive

I just finished another great book: "Drive" by Daniel Pink.  It was also my first book to read on the Kindle that my in-laws got me for Christmas.  I really enjoyed my Kindle experience.  So easy to carry around, to highlight parts you like, and it looks sleek and cool.
The book was excellent and really pushed me to think different about motivation.  I really learned a lot.  It helps me to think through how to motivate Ubuntu employees, our volunteer coaches, and the players in the Academy.  It even challenges how we raise kids.
This is the description that the book gives of itself:
When it comes to motivation, there's a gap between what science knows and what business does.  Our current business operating system-- which is built around external carrot-and-stick motivators-- doesn't work and often does harm.  We need an upgrade.  And the science shows the way.  This new approach has 3 essential elements: (1) Autonomy- the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery- the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose- the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
So many things in the book make sense, but then you realize that we do things so differently.  I read this book now because I knew it would really inform how we move forward as an organization and it definitely did that. I would encourage you to read this if you have people you manage, children you raise, or your own work to do.  So, this is for basically everyone!
Overall Grade: A

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ubuntu Clinic Update!

Check out Casey's latest update on the Ubuntu Elite Clinics that were held Friday and Saturday last week.  Great stuff!!

Elon University Response

Just thought we would update you guys on the response we've gotten from our Elon University crew.  After they left Cape Town they headed up to Johannesburg and Kruger National Park to finish up their trip.  A few of them have emailed since then and it's quite encouraging.
Professor Prudence Layne:
I finally have a moment to thank you properly for continuing to engage with our students in a deep and meaningful way. All of them (some to tears) were moved by their interactions with the kids from Ocean View and you and Sarah. Yes, I'll definitely be sending more your way next year and I appreciate the offer. Please give my best to Sarah and the little one. She's adorable!
Senior Hannah Parker:
I wanted to thank you so much for allowing us to come to Ocean View and stay with your family last week.  I had so much fun getting to know you, Sarah, and Kieren.  I loved partaking in the soccer clinic and being able to talk with some of the boys about their family and hopes for the future.  Some of the stories have really stuck to me and I've been thinking about them everyday.  I am so impressed by everything you have done and hope that I will be able to come back to visit or at least see you back in the States. I definitely want to check out the books you mentioned and thank you for the recommendations. I hope all is going well back in Cape Town and thank you again for sharing your story with us.  It has really inspired me and I can't wait to wear the Ubuntu shirt back at Elon.  
Senior Casey Hekker:
We all had the most amazing time at Ubuntu with your family and friends, I wish we could have gone back everyday! You guys do an awesome job in your community, and I really enjoyed getting to see it and experience it for myself. You and Sarah are such an inspiration and I can't wait to get home and share your stories with everyone.  Thank you so so much for letting us come last week, I loved every minute of it. And who knows, maybe I'll be back soon :)  
I've been quite impressed with the students we've had from Elon the last 2 years.  They are really developing some great young people.  They are inquisitive, servant hearted, bright, and humble.  I hope they will continue to join us.  But I also love their reaction to our lives.  How amazing is it that they can see the truth of Jesus in our life and story.  That's such affirmation of what we're trying to do/be.


Weekend Update

Happy Monday everyone!

So happy to start another week - and time is flying by for us these days - you too??  It is almost the end of January - one month will be done in 2011 and only 11 to go!  Much to do still!

We had a great weekend with friends and spending time together as a family.  On Friday we had a braai with our good friends the Denne's and the Chittendon's.  Always great to have catch up time with some of the favorites!  Then Saturday we spent some time at home in morning (while Casey finished up another Ubuntu academy clinic - update soon!) and then I took Kieren, Ntokozo, and K's little friend Jensen to the beach.  Kieren LOVED having her bud there and they ran around for hours in and out of the waves (and it was a chilly and windy day, but these cute girls didn't mind!).  Jensen taught Kieren how to make sand castles, which can now be added to our beach activities.  Then Jensen's mom, my great friend Julie Ostrand, joined us all and we shared some ice cream.  Always have to have ice cream at the beach.  Always.  Then Saturday night we took out the 'World Race' missionaries to a cool spot on the beach called 'Polana' for a night on the town.  We had a late dinner at the yummy tapas restaurant, and then at 10pm a band gets going and we talked and danced.  So fun.  They are a cool bunch of young people and we have loved getting to know them!  Sunday morning we had church at the View and my co-pastor Kyle preached a GREAT message about looking for Jesus OUT in the world, not in the church.  Then we trucked the team over to Hillsong to hear the lovely Lucinda Dooley preach, and divinely she preached a very similar message about DOING justice and making wrong things right.  Ahhh, it was so challenging and wonderful.  Lunch with our mission buds and Michael and Rose Jenkins and then back to the View.  Casey and I were EXHAUSTED from the week and weekend AND Kiers still struggling to sleep with those big, bad molars coming in, so our church friend Charmaine James took the little girl for a few hours while we took coma naps.  It. was. AWESOME.  How great is our church community that they love to take Kiers any time!  They are cool.  Then we picked up our crazy two-year-old and went to another couples' house for dinner, Tim and Natasha Hoffman, who do great work at Living Hope coordinating all the volunteers.  They are really doing a wonderful job with that program and it's so fun to keep sending people over to them to work in our communities here that need help (!

Again, coma night of sleep and now we are up just checking emails after some hard workouts, and a pig-tailed beauty plays in the kids area.  Fun life.  Today we have an important meeting with Bethany, who runs the ministry that Ntokozo was brought to us through.  We are working on next steps for our brown daughter, and just want to make sure we are following our God.  She is crazy.  We are crazy.  Kiers is definitely crazy.  We are starting to think that God might want all of us crazies to just crazy it together...  Prayers??

Life is crazy and beautiful.  Wish you were here :)  Visit??  Come on, you know you want to!

Lots of love,

Photo from

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Divine Encounters

This past week, I had one of those strange days where I had many things planned, but instead the day was filled with strange and seemingly random encounters with various people.  However, by the end of the day it was obvious that it had been one filled with divine encounters.

Tuesday morning Casey left to take Kieren to her first day back at preschool (cute!) and then on to a meeting.  In just a few minutes he returned with a child.  He was leaving Ocean View and saw Minkey, Ntokozo's cousin, walking around nervously with her baby cousin Joshua.  Casey stopped to help, and Minkey was late to school, supposed to drop of Joshua but couldn't find the new location of his preschool and she was about to be locked out of school.  She called her aunt (the same one Ntokozo is 'estranged' from and had lived with before coming to our home), and her aunt asked if they could drop off Joshua at OUR house and she would come to pick him up.  So Minkey dropped Joshua in the car, shut the door, and hurridly walked off to school!  A confused Casey then showed up with the baby and asked me to watch him.  Joshua was crying and scared and I was about the same, and I kept thinking what were the unlucky odds that Casey would have seen Minkey THAT day.  I had things to do!  45 minutes later, Ntokozo's aunt showed up at the house, a woman who I had never met, but only heard horrible stories about from Ntokozo.  Dolly introduced herself and we proceeded to chat for 30 minutes.  I came to know a woman who tries her best, is in a bad marriage, trying to raise the orphaned children of her sisters, while also working and raising her own kids.  She is tired, but hopeful.  Dolly shared her love for Ntokozo and her hope that they can be reconciled because 'family is always family.'  I quickly realized God's hand in the morning and as she left was deeply grateful for the chance meeting with a woman who I too hope will be reconciled with the daughter of her deceased sister, Ntokozo.  I can't help but think ONCE again in this community, 'hurt people hurt people."  We have another example of that in Nitokozo's family - many troubled people that then hurt others, but it's so reassuring about HUMANITY when you see people's pure hearts and intentions to love even when they know they miss the mark so often.  But she thanked us for keeping Ntokozo and said she was really happy here, something we didn't honestly know.  Special.

Later in the afternoon, we were all hanging at the house, doing some work, and some kids knocked on the door and called for Casey.  It was Kyle Woodward, who comes to our house daily, and sometimes hourly, so we all looked at each other from the back of the house to try to force the other to answer the call.  Against my wishes, I walked to the front door to see Kyle, his brother Keegan (love), and another woman who I didn't know.  She immediately grabbed my hand and began talking to me like we were friends, and I realized she was Kyle and Keegan's grandmother (a YOUNG woman to be a grandmother, but that's how it rolls around here!).  She came bearing chocolates (so love her now) and began with apologies about why she missed Kieren's party (that had to do with her daughter's graduation and she got drunk... and then she told me like 3 times during our conversation...haha) but she wanted to thank us for the invitation.  But the best part was that she said wholeheartedly that she 'tipped her hat' to us and thanked us for spending so much time with Kyle.  It was actually very sweet and humble and rare.  And beautiful.

It was one of those days.  In mission work they don't come around too often; and I guess in life they don't come around too often either.  Those times when people just are real and open and show their heart.  I am half a realist and half and idealist.  Tuesday my realist heart was quieted and the idealist triumphed.  People do see good, they notice love, and 'sewing' into people is really what matters.  So thankful.  Divine.

Lots of love,

Friday, January 21, 2011


Last night was the kick-off for the new women's Bible study that I will be hosting for the community of Ocean View.  For the past year I have been hosting a weekly women's group where ladies can come and just open up and share.  It has been beautiful and truly transformed the lives of these women - and me!  They are incredible!  This year I feel like God has put it on my heart to mix some Bible study in with it, and break into smaller groups to share and pray afterwards.  Change is always a bit scary, but these ladies are coming along with me, and we will be studying the Gospel of John all year (helps that I am killing some reading on John for my Cornerstone classes too!!).  So last night we kicked it off and I invited every woman in the View that I knew.  We had about 40 gathered, and we sang, and then I shared the vision for the year, and how God was leading our community for the next year.  I have the phrase 'light and dark' on my heart and I believe God wants us to enter more deeply into the darkness of our own hearts and those around us bringing the light of Christ that can transform and expel it.  So it was fun to share more and get pumped up about that!  Then my friend Lucinda Dooley, pastor at Hillsong Church, came and shared an incredible message called 'When an ordinary girl meets and extraordinary God.'  It was truly an extraordinary message and really touched and challenged the women there.  Lucinda is amazing and unique but somehow she is so relatable and everyone feels so close to her when she shares.  It was brilliant and powerful.  Then the team that is still here working with us (a group called 'The World Race') finished the night with a prayer experience where you pray for every person as they go through a 'tunnel' of prayer and encouragement.  It was huge and women were sharing truth, prayers, and many tears.  Oh I just loved it all, every single minute of it.  These women are EXTRAORDINARY and I feel like they are starting to believe that from God.  This year holds so much potential and I am overwhelmed with excitement for my time with them!  What a kick-off!!

Lots of love,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ubuntu Update

Check out an update about the clinics held last week by Ubuntu hosted by Casey and the students who visited from Elon University at

Ntokozo Update

I have recently started affectionately calling Ntokozo my 'brown daughter,' and then Kieren my 'white daughter.'  I like it.

Just thought I would share an update on our sweet and sassy Ntokozo today.  I don't even know where to begin with this girl.  I feel like lately she is taking us on a bit of a roller-coaster ride.  Really, the whole thing is taking us on a roller-coaster ride.  Or maybe it's just God that's taking us on a ride.  When did I buy the ticket for this??

We were asked to foster Ntokozo as a 'safety family' in November, and she spent about 5 weeks with us until she went to Durban, South Africa to spend the holidays with her family.  We had no idea what to expect, but had an instant connection with this girl, and welcomed her into our home.  Those five weeks were really nice, we all worked well together, talked and laughed a lot.  Kieren was the skeptical one, and it took really the entire time she was with us for her to open up and really like this new family member (I think we saw Kieren's strong jealous side in those day).  Then Ntokozo left to be with family, and it was really sad for me (not helped at all bye Kieren asking daily, even hourly, for her 'sissy!).  I grew to love this crazy girl, and through our conversations about her past, abuse, and family life, was very protective of her.  Then she suddenly was back with us in January for a few days, then to Hillsong's summer camp for a few days, and now back in our home.  And NOW she is really showing her colors - all the beautiful ones and the dark ones, as well.  We are seeing a teenager these days, with attitude and laziness sprouting up more and more.  But what is really interesting about her personality, is that when she feels someone has hurt her, or she gets angry, she just completely shuts down and won't talk.  She stops communicating and turns off.  I KNOW that many teenagers do this too, but she takes it to a whole new level, where it takes hours or even a day for her to break out of it.  Last week she got mad at Casey because he started to question her list of new school supplies and then she just freaked and turned off.  I can only guess that because she has been hurt SO many times that she just shuts people or situations out when she feels she is about to get hurt.  But we are realizing there is a lot of work to do in this little heart, as Ntokozo really doesn't know how to work through problems or communicate at all when things get tough.  I mean, ALL of us struggle with this, so we have a long road ahead of us as we learn together.

We are meeting with the ministry that has taken on Ntokozo's case next week, as they have still not found a permanent home for her.  We aren't sure what her or our future holds, but we would covet your prayers in this journey.  Only God knows what is ahead!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My New Love

This guy has been around here the whole time.  We see him from time to time, but lately he has been around a lot.  Really, ever since Kieren has started talking and turned into a playmate rather than a baby, he is all over our house.

He has gone from being another kid to my new love

His name is Keagan, and his brother Kyle Woodard is a boy we have spent a great deal of time with in the past year and a half.  Keagan is only 4, but now he is starting to come around and play more and more.  Actually they both are around ALL the time, in our house everyday.  It's wonderful.  Their mother is addicted to crystal meth which they call 'tick' here and delivers alcohol to people around Ocean View.  She lives with them but the boys are basically raised by their grandmother.

Keagan has this hilarious laugh and he knows it so he laughs all the time.  We make funny faces at each other and play and he and Kieren chase each other around.  I have really fallen more in love with him and just pray that he will keep spending time in our home so we can love on him and help to form and mold who He is in Jesus.

And Kyle and Keagan brought Kieren a present.  Among all the Dora gifts, new clothes, bubbles, and shiny toys, I found a wrapped gift, marked from the boys with 'God loves you' to Kieren.  It was a small stuffed animal and it looks used.  Kyle told me that his mom wrote the card and he told her what to write, especially the God part.  It's the most cherished gift Kieren received.

Lots of love,

Ubuntu Update

Ubuntu Sports recently received a shipment of soccer gear from the USA, and we had a team of missionaries here this week help us build shelves and organize it all.  So exciting!  Check out details and pics on the Ubuntu blog at

Monday, January 17, 2011

Check out our Fiesta FUN!!

Kieren overlooking her festivities with JOY!

Kiers' beautiful cake, created by Granny Jacoba's daughter

The kids enjoying our jumping castle

Taking hits on our Mexican pinata

Dante (Kieren's boyfriend!) taking the soccer ball outside

Sarah desperately trying to create order as the View kids descend in all their craziness on the jumping castle...

Singing 'happy birthday' for sweet Kiers

The Prince's with the Musemena family, Antoine, Mathy, Christ, and Onesie

Kiers giving her bestie, Bailey, a good-bye kiss
Evan and Cameron Torrance

Granny cutting her cake for our guests

Ntokozo with her son Jacob (left) and her nephew Joshua
My View ladies taking in the whole fiesta!  They said they had never experienced anything like it - and neither had any of us!

Party People

So, we are continually adjusting to our new 'brown daughter' as I affectionately call her :)  She is PURE TEENAGER and all the attitude that comes along with it.  But she is also her own person, shy, overwhelmed, and still dealing with a lot of trauma, so we are constantly trying to push in the right places and draw back when needed, and who knows when we get it right.  One thing that is particularly overwhelming to her is when we have lots of guests over, even if she knows them.  She just doesn't like big crowds of people, and is much more talkative and open one-on-one.  On Saturday, with our BIG KIEREN FIESTA happening I had no idea how she would take it, but in the early afternoon she called her cousin Minkey (who she grew up with, is also an orphan, and still lives with their aunt and uncle, the ones Ntokozo is estranged from and lived with last), who had recently returned home from her holidays in Durban.  Minkey said she wanted to come to Kieren's party and bring Joshua, their aunt's son too (who Ntokozo also loves).  Of course we welcomed her, but were SHOCKED, because Minkey has hardley stepped foot in the our home since Ntokozo moved in.  We picked her up and she joined the chaos for the day.  Later in the day, Ntokozo's son, Jacob, was brought to the party by his foster mom, Nicole.  All afternoon Ntokozo was BEAMING and so proud to share her family, especially her son.  The girls from the OV that went with her to Hillsong youth camp this past week were also at the party and those girls welcomed Minkey into the bunch.  After the party, I hesitated to even ask Ntokozo how she felt about the day, assuming she would still be weary of it all, but she said she loved the celebration!  She was so happy to share her son and is really growing more comfortable with our community.  She then even mentioned for the first time that when she came to our home for dinner the first time, she felt like she had already been here and knew it would be her new home.  It must have come to her in a dream before our first meeting, she said, and she knew then she would live with us.  WOW, just wow.  I don't know if this story makes sense, but I was amazed to hear this, and how Ntokozo always knew she would come here.  And then she even liked our day of CRAZINESS celebrating Kieren.  It was a joy to have her family there, and I hope they continue to become a part of our life, as it's so important for Ntokozo to keep those family relations alive with the loss of her parents.  However, we are creating new family here too, and she is more and more becoming part of it. 

At the end of the day, that conversation with her was almost as special as the entire party for me.  Just made my heart so full, you know?

Lots of love,

Friday, January 14, 2011

White People

Throughout our travels around the world doing missions, one of the more interesting parts of entering a new community is seeing how they view and receive you as outsiders.  I can recall vividly being in the rolling hills of Jamaica as kids would run up to us shouting 'white people!'  They were very open to us, but obviously saw us as 'tourists' who were there to give them money or candy.  In Uganda we were called 'muzungus' and it was something also shouted affectionately, probably for the same reason.  Here in South Africa, because of the tumultuous and violent history between whites, coloureds (mixed race), and blacks, there is definitely not always a warm reception for white people.  In Cape Town, there are many tourists and missionaries, so sometimes the kids still are open to you hoping to get something in return.  Now, since we live in a township community, WE are the ones who are skeptical of the white people invading our space.  A couple weeks ago, a team from somewhere in the US was here doing mission work and they were walking throughout Ocean View daily.  I saw them in the 'flats' talking to people and kissing babies.  It almost seemed political, you know?  We frequently see white groups leading events for kids, complete with face painting and balloons, and as quickly as they descend upon our home, they are again gone in a flash and life continues for all of us.  It creates a strange uneasiness in our hearts when we see another gaggle of whitey's coming into our space.  Why are they here?  To help?  To take pictures?  Exploit?  Befriend?

Surely people have  had these same thoughts about US the Prince family as we have invaded this coloured community (yes, not everyone knows the famed Prince's all over the world...), so now we love bringing people into OUR world of Ocean View, letting them meet and chat to our community and friends, and see it through a new perspective that hopefully isn't as invasive to those we love. 

This week there are lots of white people in our world as so we have tried to welcome them with open arms into our hearts and lives and help them to see the beauty and courage of the people we live with here.  Last week a group of 30 students from Elon University in NC came to see the View and hear Casey and I share about it a bit, and we brought our friend Timmy Thomas who works for Living Hope and is a youth pastor to share his first-hand perspective of growing up in the OV.  It was brilliant and a perspective we could never have.  Then, this week, four of those students came to work with Casey and Ubuntu Sports for Wednesday and Thursday.  Casey put together a soccer camp for some View kids and had a great turnout and time with a big bunch of them.  Every day we had a late lunch with the students while they shared about their lives and we let them into ours, as well.  A remark that has stuck with me was a girl who said to Casey, "you guys just seem so happy and content!  It's amazing!"  They loved our stories and lives and truly didn't want to leave.  What is particularly special about this is that none of them are Christians, and it shows the power of profound truths that transcend religions and personal beliefs.  To help people is good, to see pure courage is always inspiring, and people are all just people wherever you are and whatever you wear and own.  What a privilege to share our lives with them.  Also this week there is another mission team of young people going ALL OVER AFRICA, and here for 20 days.  They worked with us yesterday and are helping Casey today with the Ubuntu gear that we just received from Raleigh in our HUGE shipment.  I am hoping (fingers crossed!) to get them to do a little fiesta set-up with me today too :)  And finally, there are some seminary students from Princeton Divinity School here also, working with Kyle and the Ocean View Methodist Church, one of whom I know from Raleigh!  Crazy.  Anna Shaw Harmon is here and had dinner with us last night and hung out with some youth from the OV.  So fun.  We will see them again tonight for some Mexican food prepared by my co-pastor Kyle.

What a life we have, and how small the world can really be.  We love sharing this world, and helping people to see beyond the crime and violence, and deeper than the dirt and dust.  The people are beautiful and it's an incredible world here.  There is one right where you live too, sometimes you have to just look a little harder.

Lots of love,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What a Day!

Oh my gosh.  Has there ever been a cuter picture??  NO!  Ntokozo back with us and enjoying a day on the beach with an ice cream, Kiers is sitting enjoying hers, but stops to smile, wearing her pink Dora sunglasses and her new PONYTAIL.  (By the way, she got a package today from the US with a BEAUTIFUL jewelry box, jewelry, and purple Tinkerbell sunglasses, but they will just NOT do, you know?)
I took the girls for an impromptu beach trip because it was such a hot day and we had a great time splashing in the waves and enjoying our picnic.  So fun!  Then we returned home because our shipment of Ubuntu donated goods from the States with some fun stuff for us too.

And Kieren got her first KITCHEN!  She loves kitchens and always plays in them when they are anywhere and now has her OWN in our kitchen!  
This is ALL Karen Latta and we couldn't have gotten a better present - of course unless she came here herself, or any of you for that matter :)

Kieren is really growing up SO MUCH!  She learned to say she is TWO and sung herself the happy birthday song all day.  She had such a hard time taking a nap or going to sleep at night because she was just too excited about the day.  I sat with her in her room until she fell asleep (our new ritual since she is scared of sleep these days...) and she kept sitting up and having conversations with her Dora, Boots, Diego (new from shipment), and 'Drake' dog (a stuffed animal that looks like the Latta's family dog).  I would tell her lay back down, and then she would be up again talking to all of them.  

My life is perfection. 

Lots of love,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sleeping Prayers for Sweet Kieren

Hey everyone!

Just wondering if you all could join us in sleeping prayers for our wonderful Kieren.  As many of you know, we have STRUGGLED with Kieren's sleeping for the past 6 months and it's really become a problem!  She will wake up screaming and will be inconsolable for hours sometimes (oddly as it sounds, my sister is having the same problems with my sweet niece, Kylie).  We have tried EVERY method, so thanks but no thanks on thoughts on how your kiddos broke through this dilemma ;)  However, I think what I have realized is that she is having bad dreams at night and wakes up terrified.  So even though she is exhausted, she fights sleep and doesn't want to be alone, even though she has a bright night-light and is obviously so safe and quiet.  Someone recently asked us if we are praying for her - duh!  We do pray for her and her sleeping, but really decided to pray in bigger and better ways asking Jesus to cover her!  I believe that God has given me a verse to pray over her; one that has brought me much comfort over the years.  So we are asking that you would join us in praying this over her as she sleeps!

"For He Himself is our PEACE." - Ephesians 2:14a

Honestly, it's worked the past two nights!  Last night she woke up around 4am, and she was screaming about a 'horsey' and how it was 'mine,' but I was able to settle her down and get her back to sleep.  We are praying that this is the beginning of many sound nights of sleep for our Kiers!  We ALL need it!

Lots of love,

picture provided by

Happy Birthday Pookie

My little munchkin turns 2 years old today!  I can't believe it!  It seems like just yesterday that this
was happening. What a life changing event! But I'm more in love with this little girl now than I was on that day. It just increases EVERY day. I think most men are probably like me in that their love for their kids grows each day. Women have an amazing love for their children even before they come out of the womb. But men need interaction and response, so our love grows as our child develops.

Kieren is now in the period where she is talking to me, expressing her feelings, and having so much fun. My little girl affectionately calls me "Casey". I remember when I thought it was so weird and funny that CJ Sasser called his dad, "Sass", but now I'm that guy! She can call me whatever she likes. When we turn on the TV together she laments, "No soccer, no soccer." So we watch football or basketball instead (yeah, right). She has inherited by 'gift' and when she expresses herself in that way she say, "I farted" and laughs. You know I love that! And most nights we head to bed, I read her some books, we pray to Jesus, I get my routine of kisses and high fives, and then I tell her how much I love her and how special she is. It's true and I fall in love with her more each day. I trust that my love will grow more and more each day.



Our sweet Kieren turns TWO today!  She is already singing herself the birthday song and telling us she is "TWO"!!  It's too much fun!  We have some students from Elon University volunteering with us today, but hope to have some special moments with our little girl as we celebrate her beautiful life.  What a JOY!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Great Adventure

We have recently been watching a documentary series that is also a book called 'Long Way Down.'  It was a motorcycle adventure trip created by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman where they travel on motorcycles from Scotland all the way through Africa and end in Cape Town.  Casey read this book a while back, but we have been watching the series on tv these past weeks over Christmas breaks.  These guys are amazing, and so winsome and hilarious; Casey says the book is an incredible read.  You follow them on their journey as they meet wonderful people and enjoy the surprise and thrill of adventure.  We have fallen in love with the continent of Africa and feel so thankful that we live here for this time in our lives.  Now we just hope that we get to see some of these incredible places while we are over on this side of the world (fingers crossed!!).

Check out this book or the dvd series if you get a chance - you won't be sorry!

Lots of love,

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sleep Strike

Kieren is on a sleep strike.  We are in the heart of the battle.  Her battle cry is 'AHHHH!'  Or 'more!!'  (more what, we don't know).  Or 'uppie!!' (she wants us to pick her up).  Last night she was awake from about 1am to 6am.  Yeah....  About that.

So today should be interesting.  Casey was up with her most of the night, but I too jumped into the war at times.  Not sure if anything we say or do will be intelligible, but we'll keep you posted.

On another note, Ntokozo is HOME!  We picked her up from the Cape Town bus station Saturday afternoon.  She has been gone for about 5 weeks, and is a bit shy with us, but slowly opening up more.  One thing that has really helped is that Kieren is REALLY HAPPY she is home.  She keeps running to her and hugging her legs, kissing her, and shouting for her 'sissy' to come throughout the house.  It is adorable.  Makes the sleep war hard because she is so stinkin cute the rest of the day. 

But we parents WILL BE VICTORIOUS!

We will not back down!  (too much....)

We will not give in!  (tonight, for sure, last night was hard...)

We will win this war!  (Please God we hope!  We need sleep!!  We are not as cute and funny as Kieren, just grumpy and old, so we can't get by like this!!  Lord help us!!).

And together let us say, "Lord, hear our prayers." 


Lots of love,

Home - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros Acoustic Cover (Jorge & Alex...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: The Grace of God

Just finished reading "The Grace of God" by Andy Stanley.  This book kind of surprised me with how much I liked it.  I received it from a competition on Michael Hyatt's blog (he's the CEO of the publisher, Thomas Nelson).  Even though I love Andy's preaching and leadership, I wasn't as excited as I should have been about the book.  I'm not even sure why.  And it even started a bit slow, but man did it pick up speed!!
It's such a great look at God's grace from creation all the way through to the beginning of the church.  We mistakenly link grace to Jesus and the New Testament, but Andy shows how it was there from the beginning of God's story.  He does such a great job at taking stories we may be familiar with and showing us how God's grace was filling that story.  He shows you context, history, and details in those stories that you didn't know about before.
Finally, he finishes with how grace should impact the church.  The final chapters are a bit haunting in how we operate in the church.  Grace should certainly be the mark of Jesus' church.  As Andy says, "The church is most appealing when the message of grace is most apparent."  If our churches will dish out grace like warm biscuits than the world will desire it.  But too many of our churches look inwardly, focus on the 'law', and create churches for church people.  Hear just this one last thought, "Like every church, we fight the gravitational pull toward creating a church for church people.  But that's a fight worth getting involved in.  It's a fight more and more churches are undertaking.  But I don't understand why every church wouldn't determine to become a church for unchurched people."  That's stinging to me.
Well, I'd recommend this book to anybody.  If you're not sure what you think about grace, explore it here.  If you've struggled receiving grace, or giving it, this book is for you.  If you're a church leader, this book is for you.  It's easy to read, paints a great picture, challenges, and encourages.

Overall Grade: A



Thinking this morning about how blessed we are to share this crazy incredible time in our lives with so many people we love.  

We have such an eclectic mix of friends, many colors, shapes, and sizes.  Things are similar to back in the States where we LOVE people so many, many of them fill our lives.  This year Casey and I are both writing up clear goals for the year, and one of mine is to make sure I focus on those friendships here that are really life-giving and fun.  There are a few of those for sure, and so those ladies are actually on my goal list to make sure I don't forget to carve out special time with them!  Yesterday, we went to our friends' Mark and Kate new house to help them move furniture (but we were late and missed helping.... missed isn't really the right word...) and then our other friends Wayne and Laural were also there who just returned from a trip to the US.  We talked until it got dark while Kieren 'penguin' toddled back from the guys to girls repeatedly (she has a walk that frighteningly resembles a penguin, but now it is also a penguin dance, so that's cool).  It was simple and lovely.  It was what life has to be about if you are really going to get through all the bumps and bruises and it's who you celebrate when the great moments pop up surprisingly.  I love friendship and am excited that it will be a focus of this year.  Hope you also have special people to share your life with; there is almost nothing better.

Lots of love,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New For You

Another (not near as important) newsflash.

We have made some simple changes to our blog that will allow you to respond more to our brilliant diatribes.  At the bottom you can now check a quick response that would be hilarious, deep, inspiring, or not cool.  Check one when you read - would love to hear your thoughts!  Also, now ANYONE can post comments to our blog!  Yes!  You don't need a 'google' account.  Just click on the 'number' of comments at bottom of post, and then you can either log onto your goggle account OOORRRR just click the 'anonymous' button and hollar at us!  Can't wait to hear from more of you!

Lots of love,


As if we don't ask for enough we have another thing you can be praying for us about.  I got rear-ended by a taxi van yesterday.  I'm fine, Kieren didn't even wake up from her nap, but it did kind of scare me and it messed up the car a bit.  I had never been hit that hard, so it took me a while to catch my breath, and I was sure that the car was crushed.  But it turned out to be a scratched bumper, a puncture in the bumper, and a broken taillight.  The guy who owns the taxi is supposed to pay for it, but I'm sure I'm going to have to stay on him about it!  The taxi owners don't have insurance so it's going to have to come out of his pocket.  You can be praying for that.

Last week some of you may have noticed that on facebook/twitter that I had posted about us experiencing some serious fraud and identity theft.  Well, you can keep praying about that, too.  Seems our card was skimmed and then cloned at an ATM here.  Basically these dudes put a fake face plate on the ATM that has a scanner that reads your car info as it goes into the real ATM.  From there they made a fake version of our card, took it to Johannesburg and spent over $8,000 over a 7 day period at Christmas.  They had a Merry Christmas!!  Seems to be a big racket with people here stealing the info, people there buying the stuff, people in the stores letting them buy with a fake card, and then people selling the stuff in markets.  I've made a case with the police here, so hopefully they will actually put the time & resources into it.  I haven't heard anything from our bank in the States, but we're hopeful that we'll be protected and get all that money back.  So, pray for grace & mercy with the Credit Union and justice with the police in South Africa.  

Like Sarah said recently, we've really come against some challenges this past year, but it's amazing how peaceful we are in Him.  Most of this stuff doesn't really bother me it sort of just rolls off my back.  We are dealing with it, but just not stressed, because God is our provider & protector.  

We would cherish your prayers, though!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Day Highlights

Holy Hot

Holy Hot Africa Day

Seriously.  I know you can't understand this because most of you reading this are still digging yourselves out from sweet Christmas snows, but here in South Africa is is crazy hot.  It's not really humid.  Just hot.  The air is hot.  Are we on the sun?  Yesterday at one point of deep misery (aided by my most recent sinus infection and migraine... they are my new stalkers) I was sure it was the apocalypse and Christ was coming back.  So I had a margarita.  Is that normal?  Today it was just as hot but the antibiotics finally began to kick in so I could go back to being a 'normal' (haha) person.  We have to work early in the mornings or late at night otherwise our brains are melting and our fingers sticking to the keyboards.  Casey and I are learning though, and went to McDonalds, seriously the only air conditioned place nearby, to work this afternoon and made Granny stay at our house while Kieren slept.  I felt a little bad, but then I took a sip of my ice cold Coke and washed away the guilt.

Did I mention it's hot?  Well this is also compounded by the fact that South Africans 'don't believe' in air conditioning.  When you ask them about it they say that they don't need it and it's a waste and then turn it into some argument against the wastefulness of America.  But really people.

It's like the days in Mexico, Grace friends...

Those hot summer days where you are covered in sweat when you wake up.  Then you eat breakfast, wiping the sweat from your brow.  Then you build a house, but expecting to sweat, so it's fine until you faint a few times.  Then you return to the colonia to take a cold shower and cool down, which you definitely do, until you turn the water off.  And then you sweat again AS YOU ARE DRYING OFF.  Then you sweat through dinner, and sweat as you lay in bed with the fan next to you facing you.

My new best friend

Remember that?  It's like that.

Except for you don't have the songs, or spagetti night, or Woo, or Spanish speakers, or late night taco runs.... ahhh now I'm sad.

You do have ninos, but they are just kids who speak english and affrikaans.  You have music blaring everywhere and the faint smell of marijuana in the air.  You do have popsicles and Coca-Cola.  You do have sunburns and smells.  And did I mention sweat?  I did?  Good.  Because you sweat.

But still, it's a beautiful life and we love it.  Kieren is LOVING the ocean now and just laughs uncontrollably as the waves hit her.  She is obsessed with her 'Dora' sunglasses and even wore them to the gym day-care today.

Now back to sweating.  Talk to you later.

"Look for yourself and you will find loneliness & 

despair. But look for Christ and you will find 

Him and everything else."

-CS Lewis

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Passion 2011

We are having a pretty incredible moment right now.  If you're not aware, 22,000 college students have gone to Atlanta for a gathering called Passion.  They are there to seek the face of Jesus and to live for His fame alone.  Tons of students that we have loved over the years are there with our group from Grace Community Church and their college ministries.
We have been trying this week to watch the sessions, but because our internet is quite spotty we never could watch one.  We've kept up on twitter and from a few texts from friends there.  But tonight we were able to watch the final session (from Louie's talk onward) while we ate our dinner here in South Africa.
It's an incredible moment because of the role that Passion has played in our journey with Jesus and getting us to this place.  I first attended a Passion event at One Day in 2000 and Sarah and I have been groupies ever since.  The more important thing than having some people or events to follow has been the way that Jesus has spoken into our hearts through them.  From that first time on the field in Memphis I knew that I would one day being doing what we're doing now.  And each time we were there our hearts continued to be broken for the world, for the 'least of these', and for the Name of Jesus to reign.  So here we are, trying to love the people of South Africa in unique ways that draw them to Jesus.  And we do it all while our little penguin baby that has drawn with marker all over herself walks, dances, and sings her way around our kitchen.   We're overwhelmed with what Jesus is doing in the world and that He allows us to be even a small part of it.  Thanks to Passion for speaking the name of Jesus in such profound ways that we couldn't help but move and 'carry' it here.


Monday, January 3, 2011


Last week I was able to see my busy friend and ministry partner, Danielle.  This is a woman who is CERTAINLY glad to ring in the year 2011 and write a new season of history.  The year 2010 began for Danielle trying to clean up her life after an abusive altercation with her husband and the decision to finally divorce him and start a new life with her three kids.  Over this year she continued her work at the most highly respected pre-school in Ocean View, finished her work at a local college in continuing education for elementary education, moved from her house to a 'Wendy house' (like a wooden tool-shed where people live in this community) and furnished the new home for her and her kids (her husband remains living alone in their 3 bedroom home).  It has been an extremely difficult year, but this woman always has a smile on her face, laughter in her voice, and praise to God in her heart.  She truly is grateful for each day God gives her and never lives as a victim but always makes the best of whatever she has.  We talked for months about when she would finally finish her extra college work and how we would celebrate, and she wanted to go to a winery to wine taste.  So last week we did just that, all dressed up, to celebrate HER!  She realized she doesn't even like wine (!) but we had a great day just talking and soaking up the summer day.  Danielle is a hero to me, a woman who exemplifies the life and love of Jesus Christ even when life is stormy and dark.  I am so proud of this woman and can't wait to see what this new year holds for her!

Lots of love,

Book Review- Message Remix: Solo

This whole year of 2010, yes EVERY DAY, I did a devotional from this book "The Message/Remix: Solo".  It works you straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  (Meant I was reading Revelation at Christmas, which was a little strange.)  It provides a larger text for you to read from your own Bible, then a focused, shorter part of the same text from The Message/Remix, some questions to consider, guides for your prayer time, and then steps to take that day.  It was a really helpful process for this year.  Every 7th day is a day of reflection that looks back over the previous 6 days.  Took about 15-20 minutes to do each day, which could be lengthened or shortened depending on the time & attention you give each step.  (It was perfect for my morning ______ time!)
If you're interested in a daily devotional that you can use all year, this is a great resource.  It's ideal for folks 16-25 years old, so since I'm still 25 it was perfect for me!  :)

Overall Grade: A-


Happy New Year!

WOW.  I mean WOW.  Today is one of the first days of 2011.  We will never have this year back again.  Someone on the radio said on the last day of 2010 to make this day count, but I thought, it seems a bit late if you REALLY have things you wanted to accomplish this year, right?  I didn't do an extensive goal list for this past year, but I always aim that each year will be better and stronger than the last, and this one didn't disappoint.  When I look back at 2010 it will have many memorable moments, and others that I will always try to forget.  Kieren's burn accident is of course one of most defining experiences of the year, but our friend Kelly Kosky also lost his leg in a bicycle accident, we traveled to the USA to see friends and family and raise money, spoke at youth camps, deepened our relationships in Ocean View, launched a new part of the vision for Ubuntu Sports, had a brick through our window and items stolen from our home, watched Kieren grow in life and joy, and recently were the unfortunate victims of identity theft ($8000 lighter thanks to that!).  Really, it's been a challenging year overall and we were forced to our knees before God time and time again.  Obviously this isn't a bad thing, and for us it's been a beautiful process of humbling ourselves before God in a way we have never known.  We are closer with our God, stronger in our faith, bonded in new ways as a family, and have a completely new love and gratefulness for life.  As we were reflecting on the challenges of the year, what is striking to both Casey and I is that we don't FEEL like it's been a hard year because we are happy and feel blessed.  Jesus has certainly taken our burdens and replaced them with His heart and vision for this world.  We see problems and need, some our own but most of those around us, but we know only God is big enough for them, but He is more than enough.  He is great enough and mighty enough and we might have never known that in so many personal ways without the hardships of this year.  I am certain we wouldn't.

We have shared a year with all of you and it's been such an honor and privilege that you have logged onto our blog day after day to follow our stories, pray for us, and join in this adventure.  We are eternally grateful for your support and friendship and feel you along this ride with us.  We are in a fresh year, and someone said at church yesterday, that 2011 has never happened in history before and it's our time to write it.  The opportunities are endless, the possibilities mind blowing.  The Prince family runs into this new year so excited about what God has ahead.  We are happy and full of life because of our God, and we pray His richest blessings on your life, as well.

Lots of love,

Photo courtesy of BluePlanet

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Eve Hike

This New Year's Eve I decided to do something different and planned a hike up a mountain in Stellenbosh (wine country) for the sunset of our last day of 2010.  Our fun friends Mark and Kate Chittendon came along, we packed some great picnic food, and went on our way.  Some of the hike was through the vineyards and then up the mountain we went.  It turned out to be MUCH MORE than we bargained for, a VERY difficult hike of over 11kms, but once at the top it was so worth it!  A great challenge and a lot of fun!

Kate and Casey starting out our hike through the vineyards

The view over the vineyards and that mountain is what we hiked - all the way to the top!!

We FINALLY made it to the top, and here is the sun setting on a beautiful New Years Eve night.

Happy and windblown...

An African sunset; there is nothing like it.

We were SHATTERED after our hike back down, but felt so happy and accomplished.   An incredible way to end 2010, with an adventure!  Hope your year also ended beautifully!

Lots of love,