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)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Visitor Location Map

Every year in April our Visitor Location Map is reset and all of the red dots identifying our visitors' locations disappear.  It's a little sad to see a blank map each April!  So, each year I have copied that year's visitor map and put it in a post.

Here is the map of all the visitors to this blog in the past year.  The larger the dots, the more visitors there were from that area.

Click on map to enlarge.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nice To Meet You!

Photo Source: oooh.oooh

When I look at the map of all of the locations of our blog readers  (right over there in the column on the right side) I am amazed that there are so many visitors from all over the world!

I would love to put a name with those little red dots.  Please take a minute to introduce yourself in the comment section below!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good News South Africa

 Photo Source: babasteve

South Africa - The Good News is a website devoted solely to highlighting positive news and developments in South Africa.  Almost all of the news we hear from the regular news sources is negative, highlighting the violence and crime.  The creators of the site say that they are aware of the challenges facing South Africa, but instead of focusing on the problems, they want to focus on the solutions.

Our friend and fellow missionary to South Africa, Rebecca,  recently posted on her blog "Called To Love The One" several stories about different women she knows who are trying their best to make a positive impact in South Africa.

Though much of what we experience on a daily basis is negative (crime, poverty, abuse, starvation, AIDS), there are many positive things happening in South Africa.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Donations of Items

One of the most commonly asked questions we get is if we can receive donations of items.  We can almost always use any donation of usable, like-new items, especially baby and children's items.  However, the cost of shipping such donations to us is usually prohibitive.  It often costs more to send the items to us than they are worth.

If you would like to send us a donation of items, please check with us first to make sure we will be able to use what you would like to donate.  Then you can check with your post office or shipping company to see if the shipping costs are affordable to you.

The address where we can receive donations:
Lincoln and Jenny Smith
PO Box 132 Waterfall Mall
Rustenburg, South Africa

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quotes That Inspire

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Franciscan Blessing, Author Unknown

Friday, March 11, 2011

South Africa Statistics

 People often ask where exactly in South Africa we live.  The town in which we live is called Rustenburg.  It's about an hour and a half northwest of Johannesburg and almost directly west of Pretoria.  (Click on the above map to enlarge.)

Rustenburg got it's name from the Afrikaans and Dutch languages and it means "town of rest."  According to the most recent National Census done in 2001, there are 395,539 inhabitants and Rustenburg is reported to be fastest growing city in South Africa.

For more information about our town, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rustenburg

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Story is Your Life Telling?

Photo Source: WagsomeDog

I’m currently reading a book by Donald Miller called “A million miles in a thousand years.”  The premise of the book is essentially that our lives are a story and it’s up to us to write an epic story.  The book has really made me think about our work here in South Africa. 

Donald writes, “Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life.  It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it.  It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life.  People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen.  But joy costs pain.”

Our coming to South Africa was a great story.  Within a year of our pastors asking us if we’d like to return, our church rallied behind us in support, a ton of money was raised, we bought our plane tickets, sold our home, and moved around the world.  It was a whirlwind… an avalanche… a tornado of activity, vision, dreams, and plans.

It all sounded like such a good idea.  But then we arrived in South Africa and our plans didn’t work out like we had planned.  The vision, and dreams, and plans didn’t happen like we had expected.  Such is life, and so we changed our plans, and moved forward with a new vision. 

But here’s the thing about new plans and new visions, they stretch you, and force you to grow.  I knew I was suitable for the old plan, because I came up with it.  I had designed the plan with my gifts and talents and previous missions experience in mind.  Maybe that’s why God doesn’t want me on that path.  Maybe he wants me on a path that forces me to rely on him.  Seems like I remember reading something about, “in my weakness, He is made strong.”  I don’t like my weaknesses; they make me uncomfortable.

So here I am with a new vision and a new plan, and it turns out that I don’t really have the gifts and talents to pull it off.  Maybe God could better use someone with another skill set.  

I want to live a great story, but it’s a lot of work, there’s resistance, and struggles, and uncertainty.  Donald Miller writes, every person “faces resistance when trying to create something good.  Resistance, a kind of feeling that comes against you when you point toward a distant horizon, is a sure sign that you are supposed to do the thing in the first place.  The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be.”

I could convince myself that I’m not the right person for the job.  I could make excuses because I don’t have the right skills for what needs to be done.  Donald Miller writes, “I used to believe charming people were charming because they were charming, or confident people were confident because they were confident.  But all this is, of course, circular.  The truth is, we are all living out the character of the roles we have played in our stories.”

The hard work is worth it, because in the end, the story is not really about me.  Donald Miller quotes Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor.   “He said to me, I was a tree in a story about a forest, and that it was arrogant of me to believe any differently.  And he told me the story of the forest is better than the story of the tree.” 

The story is really about God’s love for South Africa’s children.  I simply get the honor of writing the story for my little group of children in the town of Phokeng.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Cheetahs at the Lion Park in Johannesburg

Lincoln's parents where here visiting us for a couple of weeks.  It's so nice to be able to spend a little time with family.  We did all of the typical tourist stuff, but we had an exceptionally amazing experience at the Lion Park in Johannesburg.   The park has recently added a cheetah enclosure to drive through.  I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

As we drove up to a group (pack? gaggle? *)  of 3 cheetahs they all walked toward our car and checked us out.

*Interesting side note - Mystery solved by Melanie in the comment section.  It is a "coalition" of cheetahs.  Melanie also gave a link to a site Collective Nouns.  Trust me, it's more interesting than that name suggests!

They seemed to really like Isabel.  Lincoln got a little angry when I used Isabel as bait (with the window up), but as you can clearly see in the window reflection, she greatly enjoyed it all.

They came over for a closer look.  I love Madison's face in this picture.  In the very next picture taken, you can see her behind as she is climbing over the seat to get away.

 This one scraped it's claws down the window for a couple of minutes.  

 And it put some scratches into the car paint.

 There is something about Lincoln's truck that animals find irresistible.  About 6 months ago we had a lion climb up on the back and play with the spare tire.

 And since were at the Lion Park, I thought I'd include a cool shot of a lion.