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)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Moving Day

After a few obstacles (the biggest being an illegal squatter living in the garage of the house) we are moving today.

 Photo Source: TheMuuj

Our new rental house is owned by someone in our local church and they have reduced the rate for us because we are missionaries.

This house is large and has a ton of space for all of us (and room for guests too!)  The yard is beautiful and will be great for the kids and our Rocco our dog.  We know it is a huge blessing from God.  Thank you to those of you who prayed that we would find the perfect place!

Our hope and prayer is that we can stay in this house and not have to move again for a long time.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Something Strange in the Neighborhood

Photo Source: OSVALDRU

When I checked this blog yesterday, our link and post title colors changed to purple and blue for some strange reason.  I didn't change any of the design settings, so I'm not sure what happened.

All of the titles and links are supposed to be the same color - a dark red, not blue and purple.  What colors do you see?

I don't have time to figure out how to fix it before our move tomorrow, so I apologize for the aesthetically unpleasing colors on the blog right now!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quotes That Inspire

Photo Source: Javier_Bak

 If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Mother Teresa

Monday, October 25, 2010

What We Do

In South Africa, a generation of children are raising themselves because their parents have died from AIDS.  These orphaned and vulnerable children are at risk of repeating the cycle of poverty, disease, and abuse that their parents were trapped in.

Imagine raising yourself and your siblings from the age of 7.  Who would teach you how to care for your body, prepare your food or educate you?  Who would teach you discipline, the importance of education, or a strong work ethic?

The orphans and vulnerable children of South Africa don’t need a handout, they need someone to care for them and mentor them into becoming responsible members of society with character, wisdom, and intellect.  The goal of our ministry is not simply charity; it is to protect these children physically, mentally, and spiritually; and to help raise them up into productive men and women who love God and will help shape the future of South Africa. 

Currently our primary focus is working with orphans living in child run homes in the town of Phokeng, South Africa.  We work closely with the local YWAM team who has partnered with a woman name Martha living in Phokeng.

Years ago Martha became burdened for the orphans in her community and started feeding them a hot meal each day.  The children would come and hang out at Martha's House and that has evolved into an after-school care center with around 40 children attending daily.

Lincoln has taken on a leadership role with the team that is working in Phokeng, helping to define the purpose and vision of Martha's House, as well as coordinating daily activities for the children.

Click here to read all of our posts about Phokeng.

In the future we hope to recreate this program model in other areas of South Africa, reaching countless other orphans and vulnerable children.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

South African Unemployment Rate

 Photo Source: ChiBart 
South Africa currently has an unemployment rate of 25.3% (in comparison, the rate of unemployment in the U.S. is 9.6%.)
Here is a Bloomberg article about South Africa's unemployment and economy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cultural Insight

Yesterday morning I was at my weekly men's Bible study and we started talking about how Africans view Americans.  There are two African pastors in the Bible study and it was very insightful to hear their advice on how to leave a good impression with the people that we are ministering to.  What I learned was both insightful and disturbing.

In African culture a pastor is the most respected person in society, more respected than a wealthy business man or a politician.  Because of this respect, a pastor is expected to dress nicely.  I was told how a pastor is expected to always dress in nice pants and a nice shirt, and if they are visiting a home they should wear a suit coat and tie.  If a pastor does not dress like this then what they say will not be accepted.

Pastor Gordon told of a story where he was shopping at a grocery store and met a member of his congregation.  He was wearing shorts, sandals, and a button up short sleeve shirt.  The man in his congregation was very disappointed and told him that it is OK if he wants to dress like that at home, but when he is in public he should dress more like a pastor.

The part of the discussion that really disturbed me is that a pastor is expected to not do physical labor, and he is to always be exalted and  honored among the members of his congregation.

In African culture, when you go to a funeral, which happens frequently, all the men at the funeral shovel dirt onto the casket in the ground.  If a pastor decides to help shovel he will be strongly discouraged from working.  He will be told, "No, No pastor.  You must not work.  Your are here to pray and read scripture.  Not to work."

A pastor that insists on working will not be respected.  In a church service a pastor must always be seated on the front row, even it is a standing room only meeting.

This goes so strongly against my American views of the Bible.  I am really struggling with my role as a missionary.  On the one hand I feel like I should submit to the cultural norms (like in my clothing) in order to be heard and have influence.  But on the other hand I feel like it is my spiritual responsibility to push their norms and challenge unbiblical beliefs.

By the African standard, Jesus would have been discouraged from washing his disciples' feet.  My personal leadership style is to lead by serving others.  This is obviously a style that is not respected in African culture and I will need to find a balance.

James 2:3-4 says, "If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say "here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet, "  have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?"

As a missionary I walk a fine line of fitting within the culture that I am trying to reach, and at the same time challenging and bringing a correct Biblical view.  This is not always easy.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

School Uniforms

In South Africa, public school is free but school uniforms are required to attend.  Many kids don't have the resources to buy new uniforms every year.   For orphaned and vulnerable children getting a decent uniform can be an insurmountable task. This year General Motors South Africa partnered with Martha's house to provide new uniforms for the kids in Phokeng.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

South Africa Stories

The sound of whimpering was heard coming from a trash pile in an illegal squatter camp called Freedom Park. A group of young boys searched the trash expecting to find a puppy, but instead they found a newborn baby that had been thrown away. Hours old, with a wet umbilical cord, his tiny body was wrapped in plastic.  He had blisters on his neck where his mother had attempted to strangle him.

He was brought to us in a cardboard box.

He has now recovered and is a healthy vibrant boy with a brilliant smile. The name he was given by his rescuers is a name that means, “To make peace with someone.”  He is a boy with so much hope for the future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Moving . . . Again

At the end of this month we're going to be moving to a new house.  We just moved a month and a half ago, so the last thing we want to do is move again.  Our plan was to stay where we are currently while we looked for a more suitable place to buy or rent.  We thought we'd be here for a bit longer, but an opportunity arose to rent a place that is twice the size of where we live now for just a little more rent each month.  The house is on the other side of town from where we are living now and closer to the stores.

The new place also has a large yard so the kids can play safely, and Rocco, our boxer, has plenty of room to run and play.  We hope that this will be our last move for a long time.  As much as we don't want to move again, we are excited to get into the new place.  We are so thankful God made this house available to us!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Team Member Story

In July and August we had a team here from our home church, Red Rocks Church.

Kristy, one of the ladies on that trip, was particularly impacted by what she saw and experienced here.  Shortly after the trip she wrote an email to the team members, sharing about how she was struggling to adapt to life back in the states after what she had experienced here in South Africa.  With Kristy's permission to share, here is a portion of that email:

"The comparisons to how we live in the States to what they live in is obviously drastic. Since I've been home, going out to eat even makes me uncomfortable. We waste so much here and are served so much on our plates alone. I've started asking if they serve 1/2 portions... the answer is always no.

When we were in Freedom Park we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. My mom will tell you I've never been one to eat the crust. I've just never liked it. But ugh, I couldn't bear to NOT eat it because I was thinking this could be a meal for one of the sweet children I'd spent time with. I know I may sound crazy but these are the things (among many others) I've thought about since I've been back in Colorado.

Daily, I think of walking through Freedom Park on our home visits. We visited AIDS patients, brought them food, water, and prayer. The stench of hopelessness hung over the shacks of those we visited. The people of Freedom Park struggle with poverty, death, and the sickness they've named "our disease." (Known to the rest of the world as AIDS.)

Daily, I think of what a gift_____________
- it was to be born in America (or any non-3rd world country)
- it is that I was not an orphan
- that my parents adopted me
- that it was a specific and true plan that they are the ones that have me
- that they are still with me on this Earth and they raised me in a loving, supportive home
- that even though I'm an "only" I have friends that I love like family
- it is to have an education
- to have a job that doesn't cost me selling myself
- to be healthy
- to not have to eat dirt or live in it
- it has been to teach all those great kiddos that have been put in my care for a school year
- that I can walk outside my door, drive down the street, or hike a trail and not be afraid that I'll be mugged

I could go on and on... 

Make your list. 

Finally I'm thankful for the gift of knowing the difference."

One of the things that we love about our work here is being able to see lives changed in this way.  The people who come to work with us go home different people than when they arrived.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quotes That Inspire

Lincoln and I love great quotes and have quite a list of them.  I will be sharing some of our favorites.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."  Mark Twain

Do you have a favorite quote?  Please let us know what it is!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

About Us

Lincoln and Jenny Smith
Madison, Kyler, Kendi and Isabel
The Smiths
We were married on December 6, 1996. Lincoln has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Colorado Christian University and he is a master electrician. Jenny graduated from Rockford Master’s Commission in 1994, and she now home schools our 4 children; Madison, Kyler, and Kendi and Isabel.

Our Calling
Jenny has felt a calling to work with children in crisis situations since she herself was just a child.  In 2005 our family made a decision to live intentionally with our lifestyle, ministry, purpose and resources.  We felt led of God to choose a lifestyle that was outside of the norm in order to make the greatest impact in our world. God clearly tells us in scripture to care for orphans in their time of need. (James 1:27)

South Africa 2006-2007
We were accepted as missionaries associates with the Assemblies of God World Missions and in early 2006 our family sold everything and moved to Rustenburg, South Africa to work at a children’s shelter. The shelter cares for at risk children who have been abandoned, lost their parents to the AIDS pandemic, or have been taken away from their parents due to abuse or neglect.

From 2006 to 2007 we helped run the shelter, doing everything from taking children to doctors appointments, to administrating adoptions, to construction and maintenance to running countless errands.

We were also involved in mercy ministries in the squatter camp of Freedom Park on the outskirts of Rustenburg. In Freedom Park we visited patients in the final stages of AIDS, bringing them food and water and praying with them.

In 2007 God closed some doors for us in South Africa and we knew for certain it was time for us to return to the US.  We loved our time working in South Africa and really fell in love with the shelter and the children. We truly felt like God was leading us away from there at that time, but we knew that we would always be involved with South Africa in one way or another.

Back in the US
When we returned to the states I (Lincoln) felt like God wanted us to work stateside to help support the children's shelter where we had worked and missions in general.  I went back to work as an electrician, figuring that I could just make a decent living and we would support missions with our own resources.

Over time we came to the realization that we needed to multiply our efforts. We knew that we could give a little bit of money to missions, or we could invest in a way that would allow others to get the vision and become personally involved in missions.

An Idea
I presented an idea to our pastors at Red Rocks Church.  I told them that we would pay for them to go to South Africa with me if they would be willing to bring back what they learned and present it to the church. Basically we wanted to foster a relationship between Red Rocks Church and the shelter.

In February 2009 we took that trip. They caught the vision more than we could have possibly hoped.

The first day I took the pastors to the squatter camp of Freedom Park where we took food to terminally ill AIDS patients and prayed with them. A few nights later we were all up at 2 in the morning, not able to sleep because of jet lag, talking about Freedom Park.

They told me that all three of them felt that God was leading them to send our family back to Africa.  They said that it was clear that I was made to be in South Africa. Which is cool, because that's exactly how I feel.

Back to South Africa - 2010 

We returned to South Africa in January of 2010.  Right now our primary focus is on a community called Phokeng.  We work hand in hand with the local YWAM missionaries that are involved in outreach to orphans living in child run homes in the town of Phokeng. This ministry involves providing food, housing, and life skills to children who have lost their parents to AIDS, and are currently raising themselves and their younger siblings. We also host teams and individuals from the U.S. that want to work with us in any area of our ministry.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blog Changes

I'm almost finished with changes to the blog.  I've changed the template and the background colors.  Several people commented that our previous colors and header picture were too dark, I think these new colors lighten things up a bit.

I've added tabs at the top to easily find information about us and what we do.  I'm still working on the FAQs and the Get Involved pages, I'm hoping to have those finished in a week or so.  If you have any questions about us or what we do or life in South Africa, please let us know.

I've also added a column on the right and now all of our blog information is on the left and the different ways to subscribe and our follower information are on the right.

I'm still working on getting the header picture to stretch all the way across the top of the blog, it's driving me crazy to have it aligned to the left!  (Edited:  I spent some more time messing with it and figured out how to do it!  YAY!)

Please let me know what you think of the changes!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Prayer Request

Please pray for our family's health.  We've been sick almost constantly for the past 7 weeks.  It's all cold and flu related.

Kyler's asthma has also gotten pretty bad.  There have been a few occasions where he can't even get a full breath in without coughing.  I've been giving him nebulizer treatments a couple of times a day and that seems to be helping a little.

Lincoln and I are also not feeling well and we're not getting much sleep because the kids are sick and up frequently at night.  We are both very worn down.

Please pray that we can get over this sickness and stay healthy!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Changes to the Blog

I'm in the process of overhauling our blog.  (If you get an automatic email alert and read our blog on email, or if you read our blog in a feed reader, come and check out the new changes!)

While making changes, I realized that the background template I've used since I created this blog is being taken down on Friday, so I will be messing around with new backgrounds and layouts.  If you visit the blog over the next few days and things seem a little wacky, be assured that things will be back to "normal" very soon!



Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

South Africa Statistics

- Local doctors estimate that there are 2 million orphans due to AIDS in South Africa.

- Aid groups estimate that some 38,000 children are trapped in sex trade in South Africa.

- 70,000 babies are born with HIV every year in South Africa.

- UNICEF reports that 5.5 million people are living with AIDS/HIV in South Africa, the highest number of any country in the world.

- In Sub-Saharan Africa six people are infected with HIV every minute. Another six die every minute because of the devastating disease.

- Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10 percent of the world's population, yet they have more than two-thirds of the people currently living with AIDS.

-1 out of 4 High School students in South Africa is infected with HIV.

-Women and girls are six times more likely to be infected with the AIDS virus than men.

South Africa Stories

The last request of an HIV positive woman, as she was moving away to die, was that she wanted someone to take her 3-year-old son. The boy’s father had continually raped the mother and the son, and the mother did not want the little boy to stay with his father.

When the young boy arrived at the children’s shelter where I worked at the time, his little eyes were so sad. I can’t even imagine what horrible things he has been through in his short life. He allowed me to hold and comfort him. I rocked him for a while.

He only spoke Zulu and didn't understand English. I talked to him and prayed for him, asking God to translate my words of love and comfort to him.  He adjusted quickly and in a few short days, he warmed up, laughing and smiling continually.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Martha's House - Mission, Vision and Values

We have been working with Martha in Phokeng and the YWAM team to come up with a Mission, Vision and Values statement.

Martha’s House: Mission, Vision, Values

Mission Statement:
Martha's House exists to provide orphaned and vulnerable children with a Godly, supportive environment where their needs are met and they are mentored into becoming healthy, productive members of society.

Vision Statement:
This project endeavors to break the cycle of AIDS and poverty within the community of Phokeng by meeting the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of orphaned and vulnerable children.

Our goal is to see that orphaned and vulnerable child in Phokeng are:

These serve as guidelines for our conduct and behavior as we work towards our vision.

Christ - Jesus Christ loves them deeply and wants to walk with
Love - God loves them and has a future for them
Respect - Respect for themselves and others is essential
Work Ethic – A strong work ethic is the key to success
Education – Education will open doors in their future
Positive Transformation – As their lives are changed, we want them to become a catalyst for positive change in their homes and communities.

Each activity or event must in someway work towards supporting the overall Mission, Vision and Values:
Small motor skills
Problem solving
Arts and crafts
Bible lessons
Sex Ed/ Abstinence Training
Computer Training
Job Skills Training
Cooking/Nutrition Skills
Safety- Traffic safety
Expand horizons- Find out their dream and match up the kids with a mentor (spend the day in a salon, spend the day with a teacher, with an engineer, pilot, etc.)
Help with further education (assist children in finding grants/scholarships)
Story time

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Photo Studio Video

I've finally had the chance to put together a video of the photo studio we put on in Freedom Park, a local squatter camp.