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.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Jungle Gym

We recently wrote about a team of college students from Arizona who were here working with our friends, Chris and Amy, to build a house for Mama Agnes.  Last year this group built a jungle gym for Mama Agnes' kids.  There are no public parks or playgrounds in our area for kids to play on, so over the past year, Mama Agnes' jungle gym has received a lot of use and was in great need of repair.

Amy's brother (who led the Arizona team) and his wife and family stayed after their team left to repair the jungle gym and add swings.

When the repairs were complete, we went and got the kids and brought them to see the new and improved playground.

The kids were so excited, they especially loved the new swings.

The kids waited through long lines for a chance to swing

 Mama Agnes with her kids in front of the improved jungle gym


Friday, June 24, 2011

Father's Day Hike

We often miss the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we're so happy when we discover places that remind of us home here in South Africa.  We've recently discovered this "mountain" sanctuary (yes, I put mountain in quotes) about 45 minutes from our house.  We took the kids there for a hike on Father's Day.

It's winter here in South Africa now, so the vegetation is dry and brown.  But is was still a pretty hike, and so nice to be out in nature.  I love that it's warm enough here during the day in winter to do things like this!

There aren't any public parks or greenbelts or anything outdoorsy anywhere near us.  Everything is privately owned and you have to pay a pretty hefty fee to enter.  This hike cost our family a little over $30.

We hope you had a wonderful Father's Day!


Monday, June 20, 2011

A New House for Mama Agnes

In May we began work on the construction of a new house for Mama Agnes.  Mama Agnes is one of the ladies in the community that we work with who helps reach out to orphans in her area.  She feeds between 80-100 kids every day from the porch of her mother’s house.  Agnes has her own plot of land, but she has never been able to build a house there.

Last year missionary friends of ours, Chris and Amy Stubbs, hosted a team of college students from Arizona.  They built a playground on Agnes’ property.  This year the same team returned to build a house for Agnes.

We started the project a week before the team came.  Two other missionary friends joined me along with 2 local guys to help dig the foundation.  We had to hand dig the foundation, and of course, the ideal location on the site was also the rockiest location.  Despite the massive amount of boulders on site, we managed to dig the foundation within the first 3 days.

Then we poured the foundation so that it would be ready for the team to arrive on Saturday.

Even though the college students were not professional construction workers, they learned quickly how to lay bricks and did a great job.  Each day they pushed harder and harder to get the job done by the time they left.

Within one week they built all the walls for this nearly 900 square foot home and put the roof on.  They also dug the trench for the plumbing pipe to the septic tank, and poured the foundation for a fence along the back of the property.  Mama Agnes and a few of her family members came out and worked with us most days.

The project is being funded partially by the Arizona team and also by a group of high school students from California who visited here a few months ago and returned home to put on a fund raiser for Mama Agnes.  It’s great to see so many different people and groups come together to make Agnes’ dream a reality.

Lincoln and Jenny laying bricks around the roof beams 

Madison and Kyler scraping mortar off the window frames

Kyler and Madison painting

There is still a long way to go to complete the house.  The speed of construction slows down greatly when it’s just a few people doing it, instead of a team of 14 people.  We still need to finish the brick line to fill in the gaps around the roof beams.  Then we will plaster the inside of the house, then paint, then pour the concrete floor, then install doors and security gates, then glass in the windows, then kitchen cabinets, then plumbing and electrical, closets, then the septic tank.   There’s still a looooong way to go, but we’ll get there eventually. 

We are so grateful for God’s provision for Mama Agnes.

Amy Stubbs, Jenny, Mama Agnes and Lincoln in front of Agnes' house


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Youth Day

Today is Youth Day in South Africa.  On this day in 1976 students in Soweto (Johannesburg) protested the mandate that their classes be conducted in the Afrikaans language.  Many innocent children and teenagers lost their lives in the resulting battle called the Soweto Uprising. 

Photo Source: Fair Use

This iconic picture of a fatally wounded 12-year-old boy named Hector Pieterson became known around the world.  After firing teargas at the protesting students, police opened fire on the crowd, killing and wounding many.  More than 500 people died and it is estimated that over 1,000 were wounded in the uprising. 

Youth Day honors those that lost their lives in this stand against Apartheid.

For more information about Youth Day, Hector Pieterson and the Soweto Uprising visit these links:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pilanesberg Game Reserve with Phokeng Kids

We recently had a volunteer from our home church in Colorado, Red Rocks Church, helping us with our work here.  While Liz was here we took all 40 of the kids from Martha's House to Pilanesberg Game Reserve.  Martha is a woman who cares for orphans and needy children in her community.  The kids live about 30 minutes away from this amazing reserve, but to our knowledge, not one of them has been there.  This was their first time to see these animals.

Here are some picture from the trip.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Long Heart

For the last several weeks we’ve been building a new house for Mama Agnes, one of the ladies we work with who cares for orphans in her community.  (I’ll write more about the construction project later.) 

The first step in construction is to dig the foundation for the walls.  I brought along a Tswana friend of mine, Johannes, to help us dig.  Johannes is a very hard worker, and I have to admit that he put me to shame with his digging progress compared with mine.  I couldn’t help but compare Johannes to John Henry, the American folk hero notable for winning a race against a steam-powered hammer.  In fact, John Henry is my new nickname for Johannes.

The spot on the property where Agnes chose to place her house could not have possibly been more rocky.  Actually “rocky” is a gentle term.  It was practically solid boulders all the way around.

The foundation after it was dug and the boulders removed

There were several times when we came across very large boulders that didn’t want to move.  I simply wanted to leave them in place and dig the foundation around the rock.  Even though this would have been a reasonable choice, Johannes insisted that he could get them out.  Johannes has the personality and work ethic that says, “If you tell me it can’t be done, I’m going to do it.”

After removing one of these impossible rocks, Johannes leaned on his shovel and told me, “You just need to have long heart.  It will come out.”

I’m humbled by the work ethic and wisdom of this modest gardener.  There are many times in my life where I need to have “long heart.”

Johannes standing next to his stony nemesis