This blog is an account of our lives and ministry in South Africa. Please click on the tabs above to learn a little more about us and what we do.

We hope you enjoy our blog. Please feel free to leave your comments, we love to hear what's on your mind!

(If you got here from facebook or Twitter you can read the rest of our blog at SmithSA.blogspot.com)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

1 week

Well, we just finished our first week back in South Africa.  It's been full of some great reunions with friends, some fun times visiting old sites and past times, and a few disappointments and remembering some of the challenges of living here. 

This is a picture of Kendi falling asleep while eating a cinnamon roll before bed.  
To watch a video of this click here

By now we've mostly gotten over our jet lag.  The 3 older kids are sleeping through the night, even though it can be a challenge to keep them awake in the afternoons and evening.  Isabel, our almost 6 month old, is still waking up twice at night, but the last few nights she has been going back to sleep.

It's been great to see old friends again, even though we haven't had a lot of time with everybody, we've been so busy getting settled in our house.  It's been fun spending time and getting to know Jeff and Abby another American couple that is working here (engageafrica.com).

The day after we arrived our friends threw a braii (bbq) for us and the kids cooled off in the pool.

We've been reminded of some of the challenges of life in South Africa.  Security is still an issue here, so we have to get used to bars on the windows, security gates, metal detectors at the bank, not driving with the windows rolled down.

There are way more bugs and rodents here than in Colorado.  The kids literally have over 100 mosquito bites on each of them, and we've now gotten into a ritual of putting on insect repellent before bed and closing the windows before dark.  The other night a giant sized rat, the size of a kitten, ran past me and into our kitchen.  We now have a horrendous smell of dead rat coming from under the cabinets.  Today I'm going to try to go to the hardware store to buy the tools I need to cut open the cabinets and try to get it out.  It is truly awful.

Jenny's dad is with us for two weeks and we haven't had a lot of time to take him site seeing, but this next week we will.  We did take him to Pilansberg, a nearby game reserve.  We didn't see as many animals as normal; I think because we've been having so much rain the animals stay farther in the back country where they can now find water.  We did see a ton of zebra and wildebeest, 2 rhino, 4 giraffe from very far off, a crocodile, kudu, impala, some cool looking birds, and several different deer varieties that I don't know the name of.  This next week we'll take him to the Lion Park which I know he'll enjoy.
 Click pictures to enlarge
This is a wildebeest and her baby
These birds build these nests that hang from the end of a branch.

The zebra is such an exotic animal.

This is boppy and the kids posing on the board walk out to the viewing hut.

It's been fun seeing some of the kids in the shelter.  They are growing so much, and it's fun to see their progress.  Most of the kids that we knew from before have been placed with extended family, or sent to foster homes.  Some of the older kids have been placed in other shelters that are better designed for older kids.  There is a lot of maintenance work that I need to get busy doing on the property.  It's been a very long time since they've had any body to work on things, so I have a long list.  I probably won't get started until after Don (Jenny's dad) leaves next Saturday.

One of the older girls from the shelter lives with Jeff and Abby because of her age.  She is around Madison's age, so they've become good friends.  Last night she went out to dinner with us.  David and Janis' daughter is the around the same age as well so they all hang out and do pre-teen girl stuff.  It's been good for Madison to immediately have friends again.  That is definitely helping with her transition.  Kyler has Malachi and Mathew to play with, the sons of our YWAM missionary friends, but they don't live on the property so Kyler doesn't get to see them as often.

This next week we'll visit Freedom Park for the first time since being back, we'll go visit Martha's orphans in Phokeng (a group of 50-70 orphans living in child run homes that a local lady feeds and helps mentor.)  We'll also hopefully go pick up our 2 new (very used) cars from Pretoria.  It will be great to have our own vehicles again, it gets old borrowing and sharing vehicles with other families (even though I am very grateful that we do have vehicles to share.)  We'll also take Don to the Lion Park and Carnivore restaurant where he can eat all the game meat he wants.

It's been great to be back.  We are so thankful for the generosity of so many people that have given us the opportunity to be here again.  We can't wait to get settled and start working.  There is so much to do.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Settling In

We have gotten everything unpacked and we are starting to get settled.  Madison and Kyler are adjusting very well to the time difference.  Kendi keeps falling asleep in the evening wherever she is.  We have an hilarious video of her falling asleep while eating a cinnamon roll, but we can't get it to upload.  Hopefully we can get it posted here.

Isabel has her days and nights messed up.  She naps very well during the day but is up every 2-3 hours at night and is very restless and fussy.  She is up more now than she was as a newborn.  That makes adjusting to the time difference pretty difficult for Lincoln and I!

We have had a TON of rain.  It has rained every day and night since we arrived.  I had to wade across the property today in order to get to the laundry room.  The water was up to my calves in places.

Tomorrow Lincoln and my dad are going to Pretoria to try to find a car for us.  We are using a car that is also being used by several other people, so scheduling to use it when we need it is a bit of a challenge.  But we are thankful that there is a vehicle we can use until we get our own.

On Thursday we are taking my dad to Pilanesberg, a game reserve that is near Rustenburg.  Finally he gets to do a little sightseeing!  So far he has seen the inside of our disorganized house, and the grocery store.  It will be fun to be able to take him on safari.

We are gradually getting back to work here at the shelter.  We are so ready and excited to see what God has in store for us!

Right now we don't have internet access in our house.  We have to sit on one of our neighbors' front porches in order to get a connection (thanks Jeff & Abby and David & Janis!)  So, we probably won't be updating our blog very often until we are able to get connected in our house.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

We arrived!

After almost 30 hours of travel we arrived at the the Lighthouse Shelter at about 8:30 pm on Saturday night.

Everything went pretty well.  We did have a minor hang up at the Denver International Airport when Lincoln forgot to remove our laptop from his backpack while going through security and it then tested positive for bomb residue.  After a supervisor was called and Lincoln got up close and personal with the TSA (I think in some countries they are now legally married) we were free to go on our way.

Madison Kyler and Kendi were great.  Kendi had a few melt downs, but for the most part they all three just watched movies or slept.  Isabel was pretty fussy and pretty much wanted to be held.

We received compliments from the flight attendants and other passengers about how well behaved our kids are.  So even though it seemed like Isabel was a disturbance, others didn't think so.

The weather here is beautiful - warm and humid.  It is a nice change coming from winter in Colorado!

We had a braai (BBQ) today with a group of friends and we are now trying to keep everyone awake so that we will all sleep through the night.  (All of the kids were awake at 3 am this morning.  It is now 5:30 pm and they are still awake.)

Thank you for your prayers for our travels!  We are so excited to be back and can't wait to share with you all that God is doing here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We're leaving tomorrow!

Tomorrow at this time our family, along with Jenny's dad Don, will be on an airplane headed to Atlanta and then on to South Africa.  

Please pray for a safe trip.  Pray that the kids, especially the younger two, will do well.  Pray that we have a fun time traveling and that we all get some rest!

We are so excited to get back to South Africa, but it has been a very emotional and sad week as we have had to say goodbye to friends and family (and Target and Mexican food) whom we will miss dearly!

Thank you for your prayers for our family, we appreciate them more than you will ever know! 

We will be in Rustenburg, just west of Pretoria.
Click map to enlarge.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The kids are practicing for the 18 hour plane trip

Madison, Kyler and Kendi have been playing airplane to get a feel for what it's going to be like on the airplane.  They asked me to set the kitchen timer for 18 hours.  Needless to say, they didn't make it that long!

Kyler is the pilot.  Notice there is 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class (as the kids called them.)  Madison and Kendi are in 3rd class.  I asked them why they weren't sitting in 1st class and Madison explained that they don't have enough money to fly 1st class.   I think it's humorous that even in their wildest imaginations, they still can't afford 1st class!

We got our Visas!

We got our 3 year Visas in the mail today.  They appear to be regular, not conditional visas.  They look exactly like our Visas from when we previously lived in South Africa.

It is a huge relief to have these!  Now we are focusing on getting everything packed up and ready to leave next week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Slave Trade in South Africa

I read an incredible article about the active slave trade today in South Africa.  Click on this link to go to the article on Time Magazine's website.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article written by E Benjamin Skinner:

"While South Africa invests billions to prepare its infrastructure for the half-million visitors expected to attend (the World Cup), tens of thousands of children have become ensnared in sexual slavery, and those who profit from their abuse are also preparing for the tournament. During a three-week investigation into human-trafficking syndicates operating near two stadiums, I found a lucrative trade in child sex. The children, sold for as little as $45, can earn more than $600 per night for their captors. "I'm really looking forward to doing more business during the World Cup," said a trafficker."

"Despite more than a dozen international conventions banning slavery in the past 150 years, there are more slaves today than at any point in human history."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1952335,00.html#ixzz0cJboheYk

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Visa Update

We were told by the South African consulate that if we sent in proof of our applications for the FBI background checks for Lincoln and I, that we could be issued conditional visas.  Then when we submit the results of our background checks, we would be issued regular visas.

Lincoln and I got fingerprinted about 2 weeks ago and sent in our applications to the FBI, now we wait 8-10 weeks for the results!

We immediately sent in to the South African consulate copies of our fingerprint cards and copies of our FBI background check applications.   We also filled out new applications for each of our family members and sent them in as well.  They arrived at the consulate at the beginning of last week.

After several phone conversations and emails this week with various people at the consulate, all of our visa application paperwork has been processed.  It now goes somewhere (I'm not sure where) for approval.  The approval process takes 1-2 days and if approved, they will return our passports and send us our visas.  

So, we should know something for sure by the middle to end of next week.

Please pray that our visa applications are approved quickly and with no more problems!