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)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Visitor Location Map

It's been a year since I started tracking the location of each visitor to our blog.  (It's a map with red dots on the left side bar of our blog if you've never seen it.)  We've really enjoyed seeing how many people all over the world have been reading our blog.

Each year the map gets archived and reset so that it doesn't become a giant red smear.  Our map is scheduled to be reset in the next few days, so I saved our current map.

You can see below where each person who has visited our blog in the last year is located.  The larger the dots, the more visitors from that area.  (Click the map to enlarge.)


Friday, March 26, 2010

Twins (Don't read if you are afraid of creepy life-size dolls)

(We see and write about so many heavy and serious things that we experience here in South Africa.  This post is not one of those.)

That's right folks, we've had not one but *TWO* of these dolls donated!

The dolls had been left out in the rain and when I stood them up for their picture, tiny tears ran down the face of the blond doll.

I will be contacting Stephen King as soon as I'm done typing this post. 


Thursday, March 25, 2010


We get a ton of donations every week at the shelter.  Much of it is usable, and what we can't use at the shelter we take out to Freedom Park.

Today I was taking another load of donations to Freedom Park and I was sorting through it to make sure that what I was giving them was usable.  This is a picture of a doll that was donated to us.

An amputee psycho killer doll with nappy blond dreadlocks and disturbingly sticky lips.  Honestly, what child wouldn't be comforted by that?


Sad Sign

I was trying to think of a comment that was full of insight and wisdom to post with this picture.  I can't think of anything.  It just makes me sad.

I found this sign in a very poor area near the squatter camp of Freedom Park.  I've met many women in this area who have no way to feed their children other than selling their bodies to mine workers.  They know no other life.  Unwanted pregnancies and STDs are just a part of their reality.
~ Lincoln

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I was asked to be a guest writer on my friend Laurel's blog.  I thought I'd share here what I wrote.

What season are you in?

I am writing this during my "quiet time".

My 7-month-old daughter woke up an hour early from her nap and is now crawling around on the floor determined to get past the chair and pillow barricade I erected in a futile attempt to keep her away from the electrical outlets.  She is snacking on paper and Kleenexes.

My 3-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son are arguing about where they want to have their rest time.  My 3-year-old is upset with me because I'm not having a poonsee party with her.  (I have no idea what a poonsee party is.)

I don't know where in the house my 10-year-old (going on 15) daughter is.  Her life is full of drama right now.

The power and water are not on, so the laundry won't get done today and I have a half-raw chicken that was supposed to be our dinner sitting in a cold crockpot on the counter top.

This is the season I am in.

God has placed me here as a missionary in South Africa and I'm still not entirely sure why He has chosen this season of my life to do so.  I don't know if I will be here for 2 years or 22 years or more, but I am determined to enjoy this season while it lasts.  Every season is different; this season may be worse than the last season, but it may be better than the next!

Most days I feel that I've had a successful day if we all make it to bed alive, have eaten at least one healthy thing during the day and have changed out of our pajamas by noon.  Getting hair and teeth brushed on the same day is a bonus!

I recently read a quote by Beth Moore, "An unhappy woman usually needs a change of heart more than a change of circumstances."  I wouldn't say that I'm characteristically unhappy, but I often don't live my life with the joy that God wants me to have.  Many times our circumstances can't be changed, but our hearts always can.

My circumstances happen to change frequently.  In 13 years of marriage I have moved 15 times.  In that time I have lived in 2 countries and 5 US cities.  My growing kids also change my circumstances regularly.

I often look to the future, wanting a map or some idea of what to expect so that I can plan accordingly today.  For some reason God has not chosen to reveal those details to me.  I have to trust that His ways and thoughts are higher than my ways and thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,"
declares the Lord.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts."

He sees the big picture, the end of the dark tunnel, the other side of the huge mountain, my next season.

He is already there.

He has me where He wants me today so that He can get me to where He wants me to be tomorrow.

I will never again have the exact opportunities I have today.  I will never again have a 10-year-old, a 7-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old.  How does God want to change my heart today?  What am I missing out on today by waiting for a change of season?

You must excuse me now, I am the guest of honor at a poonsee party!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wear their shoes

 Today when I was in the squatter camp of Freedom Park I was speaking with a caregiver who counsels and cares for AIDS patients.  She is 48 years old, she walks probably 5-8 miles each day on her rounds to see her patients in 90-100 degree temperatures.  

She receives approximately $200 per month for her work.  Of that, about $75 per month goes to pay for funeral insurance to cover the cost of funerals for her immediate family.  (Imagine having so many family members dying that almost half of your salary goes to pay for the funerals.)

She cares for her own children and her grandchildren.   Her sister passed away last year so she also cares for her nieces and nephews.

She was telling me how she struggles because she has problems, her children have problems, and when she counsels her patients she takes on their problems.

After we met with an AIDS patient today who is struggling to survive, while at the same time struggling to raise two unruly teenage children, she told me, (in broken English) "Yesterday I was talking to this woman about all of her problems, and today I am wearing her shoes.  Her problems are mine."

I couldn't help but contrast this woman's troubles with the indifference that you commonly find in America (myself included.)  How often can we say that we "wear our neighbors shoes"?


Pictures of our kids

I have finally had the time to update our family blog with some recent pictures of our kids.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Backup Procedure

Today I was in the town of Phokeng building a playground for an after school orphan care program.  I was working with a young man named Tebogo who has been part of the program for a few years.  He is 18 and just graduated high school this last year.  A visitor from the states met Tebogo last year and committed to paying for his college education.  


A few weeks ago Tebogo began school at a local IT technical school.   It is interesting because he has probably never used a computer in his life, yet he is learning how to become an IT professional.  Today as we were working he was leaving to go to school.  He was walking away and as he got to the street he turned around and walked back to us. 

He asked Derek, my friend who is the local YWAM missionary, if he has a "backup procedure."  (Said with halting English in a South African accent.)

Derek replied, "What do you mean?"

Tebogo explained, "I know that you have several computers at home and I want to know if you have a backup procedure for your computers."

Derek asked, "Are you asking if I backup my computer to an external hard drive?"

This slightly confused Tebogo because I don't think his text book has yet explained what an external hard drive is.

He responded, "No, I just want to know if you have a backup procedure."

When Derek acknowledged that he does back up his computer, Tebogo beamed.

"That is good.  My text book says it is very important for you to have a backup procedure.  It is very good that you do that."

Smiling from ear to ear he picked up his back pack, walked past the pile of burnt trash, through the broken down gate, and down the nameless dirt road to his school.  

It was inspiring to see this kid...a nobody with no future and somebody believed in him.  Because someone saw potential in him and invested in his life, he now walks with confidence and boldness.  Hope for tomorrow is a powerful thing.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Video Update #2 - A life without hope

This week I visited a woman in Freedom Park whose second twin infant just died.  I had visited this same woman about a month ago when the first twin had died.  I'm not sure if I've ever seen someone with such a hopeless and helpless spirit.  It was as if she had literally given up on life.  

The local caregiver that has helped counsel this woman regarding her HIV medication told me that they've taken her off of the HIV treatment program.   They regularly do this when a patient is not taking the initiative to care for their own health.

She told me that this woman can get free clean water by walking 15 minutes to the HIV clinic, but instead she chooses to buy the dirty pond water that is sold by unscrupulous water peddlers.  She has chosen convenience over her own health and the health of her children.  

It is quite sad to see the human condition without hope.  I can bring her a sack of food to sustain her for the day, but only Christ can bring her the hope that she needs to turn her life around.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Playground Pictures

As promised, here are some pictures of the playground that we've been building for the orphans after school building in Phokeng.

I've been working with Derek, the local YWAM missionary and Tebogo, the oldest kid that hangs out at Martha's after school program.

 Rocco, our boxer puppy, was diligently guarding the tools in my truck.

Kyler was helping to dig a hole for one of the poles.

~ Lincoln

Monday, March 1, 2010

Video Update #1 - Freedom Park

I recently spent some time with Dr. Neil, a friend of ours that cares for AIDS patients in Freedom Park, a squatter camp that we visit once a week.  We were discussing the situation in Freedom Park and talking about the cycle of poverty there.

The video below gives you a small glimpse into the poverty and desperation that a woman with AIDS finds herself in after she has had several kids with several husbands/boyfriends and now finds herself with AIDS and no way out.

I remember the day a few years ago when it occurred to me that these women sell themselves not out of a love of debauchery and immorality, but out of a desperate struggle to feed themselves and their children.  These women often have such a hopeless and helpless spirit, that only the love of Christ can rescue them.