Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting A Little Personal :: Part 1

flower

I don't even know where to start but God is doing good things! He's been speaking to me the past several months and it seems that there is a theme to it. I'm still praying and processing but I want to at least get some of my thoughts down. With more to come!

The end of last year I was starting to feel a little tired and weary. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, although I kept praying and asking God what I needed. The beginning of this year, I entered the busiest season of my life since having kids. I know it was so right to lead the training school. God was able to speak some things to me that I might not have gotten otherwise.

When March rolled around, the voice from God was even stronger. He began speaking to me through other people even...that He saw that I was weary. That was encouraging, but He also spoke some other things to me that are harder to share. It's nice to be comforted but when He starts speaking the hard stuff, it's a little harder to handle. He showed me that my priorities have gotten, as they say here, skewed and that I was withdrawing from relationships. OUCH!

So now I'm working to get the rest I need and to be refueled by God. There's more to this story that I will share in the coming weeks. Please pray for me if you think of it. I'm seeking God regarding what the next season should look like for me as far as where I spend my energy. I'm also still processing a lot of things with God. Stay tuned tomorrow to see the passage that God keeps bringing me back to!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tender Treasure :: Nandi

love her smile

Beautiful smile, beautiful face, sweet sweet spirit. Those are some of the words I would use to describe Nandi. She lives in another community, 30 minutes by car, yet by the grace of God, ended up in Mama V's home. Her story is heartbreaking, especially knowing she is a young girl who hasn't even reached the teen years.

Her mom worked the streets in prostitution in an effort to provide for her family as a single parent. Unfortunately this decision will prove fatal for her as she has contracted HIV and is getting sicker and sicker. With Nandi's mom too sick to get out of bed and no food in the house, Nandi also took to the streets to find food. I shudder to think of what this young girl might have gone through just to fill an empty stomach.

sweet, sweet girl

With Nandi's mom in the hospital, and no one to care for her, Victoria took her in. Some days, when I go to Mbonisweni, Nandi is so content to just sit in someone's lap and feel a warm touch or loving arms embracing her. She is desperate for a parent's love.

Every once in a while, Nandi takes a taxi to go and visit her mom. This causes much worry to Mama V, especially when she is gone for days and days. But what young girl wouldn't want to go and see her mom? Please pray for her. Pray that God would protect her when she goes to visit her mom. She is there right now and has been gone for many days. No one has been able to get a hold of her mom. Pray for Nandi's siblings, wherever they may be, that they would experience the love of God. Pray that Nandi would find her comfort, peace, and joy in Jesus.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Off The Needles :: Winter Warmers

toasts

Despite popular belief, it can get cold here. But it's not that Connecticut, freeze your limbs off kind of cold. Just cold enough to need some winter warmers. Like toasts, for example. And I'm not talking the kind with butter and jam. No, these look better with, say, coffee? That's right. A simple little knit to warm your arms on a cold day. Joshua liked these toasts so much that he requested his own. I love that he loves my little projects! Check out this super easy pattern here.

keeping warm

Joshua picked a blue tweed for his. I'm so happy he loves wearing what I make for him! It makes this mama's heart happy!

climbing the tree with toasts

Jeremy has requested a winter warmer of the non-toast variety. This pattern will really challenge my knitting skills. I hope to report a successful knitting project to you soon!

So as you most of you are enjoying your warmer weather, we are pulling out our sweaters, scarves, hats, and yes, toasts to keep warm this winter.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Ten Thousand Homes Video

Check out our newest Ten Thousand Homes video! You'll see my handsome husband in most of it! :) You can also see a shorter version here.



Meanwhile, here in S. Africa we are celebrating Freedom Day today. It commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on this day in 1994 where anyone of voting age, regardless of race, was allowed to vote. We're celebrating like we would celebrate most summer holidays in the states. With a braai!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Garlic Clove Chicken

garlic clove chicken

If you read my recipe posts, maybe you have picked up on my love of the crock pot. It's fabulous. Put something on in the morning when I have more energy and eat a nice meal at the end of the day...when energy levels are well, less. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered the Year of CrockPotting blog. Yes, right up my alley. A whole year's worth of Crock Pot recipes. I tried the Garlic Clove Chicken recently. It was simply amazing. The chicken was so tender, it was literally falling off the bone. I highly recommend you go on over and check it out!

Side note: If you don't have a crock pot, you can also cook this, covered with foil, in the oven on 300F for about 4 hours. I did it this way, and it was just as good as the crock pot!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Girl's Club :: Pen Pals Across The Seas

handing out pen and paper

I had the privilege this week of going with Keri, our staff member who works in Mbonisweni everyday, to the girl's club program that runs every Thursday at the primary school. The numbers vary from week to week, but this group of grade 6 and 7 girls are loving being able to get together and just talk about life skills type of stuff. This week they continued their series talking about boys and the reality of the decisions these girls face. Although giggles are heard throughout the classroom, I know just being able to be open about this topic and find a safe place for them to share is so valuable.

the words to write

After the discussion time, the girls were able to read their letters that came all the way from Germany! Hannah, a school teacher in Munich, visited us last year and had the idea of starting pen pals with her students and some of the kids here. The girls were so excited to write their pen friend across the seas. After about 45 minutes to an hour, we realized that we needed to continue the letters next week. The girls were putting their best into it and being very diligent about their artwork. It was priceless to see the excitement on their faces.

writing

Hannah came here last year and came up with this idea as a way to do her part in the orphan crisis. It's so exciting and such a blessing to see ideas come to life!

reading the letter

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Today is world malaria day. Did you know that there are 1 million deaths a year due to malaria and 109 malarious countries in 4 regions? For more info, check out this site and the World Malaria Day site.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Silly Son Becomes Smarter?

My husband informed me the other day that I might have a new addiction...knitting. Ouch! I don't want to think I am addicted. I simply can't resist the cute patterns I find that I know would be perfect for so-and-so! And to make something with my hands. I just can't seem to resist this creative outlet.

The other day I walked from the bathroom to our bedroom and found this.

copycat

knitting boy

This is exactly how I look in the evenings (ok, maybe some other times of the day, too) when it's quiet, peering over my computer at the pattern on the screen. Ok, maybe I do have an addiction? Please, no!

Did you know, though, that knitting is actually good for your brain? Watch this to see what I mean!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Birthday And A Bunny

cake!

Tuesday we celebrated Isabelle's first birthday! It's so awesome to welcome a baby into this world and see them as they grow and discover new things. Isabelle is such a joy to be around and such a content baby. I love her smile and all her expressions. It's always so much fun to see those little ones start to develop a personality! I love it!

birthday girl and her parents

Keeping with my gifting a handmade, I decided to try my knitting hand at something new...a stuffed animal! I really wanted to make Patty the Puppy because I know how much Isabelle likes dogs. But I quickly discovered that trying to learn to crochet AND make a gift in time, was way too much to expect of myself. Patty will have to wait until there's no time crunch. Instead I went with a rabbit pattern from Knitting Daily. It definitely tested my skills, figuring out how much to stuff and seaming the arms and legs, but I was pleased with the results. I even knit a little sweater vest to dress it up (thanks Joey's House!)

isabelle's bunny

it's a bunny!

I have a crocheting lesson lined up when the students get back from outreach. Maybe Patty will come along sooner than I think!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tender Treasure :: Lucia

lucia

Although Mbonisweni is not her "home," Lucia has certainly found the elements that go into a home here at Mama V's. Lucia never knew her father and last year her mother tragically died in an accident. I am told that her life was taken by a crocodile (gasp). With no where to go, she came to Mama V's. Fourteen years old, separated from her siblings and both parents dead, Lucia had much to be sad about. Last year she wasn't even able to attend school because she didn't have a uniform or school fees. Now, with the help of Ten Thousand Homes, Lucia is in school. I am so impressed with this young lady. She's not at Victoria's for a handout, but she serves and blesses the kids that come to the feeding programs in Mbonisweni. And she does it with a smile on her face.

All the schools here in S. Africa, private or state, require that each student wear a uniform. And each school charges school fees. If a child doesn't have a uniform, they are unable to go to school. As you can imagine, this is extremely difficult for orphans who have no way to earn income. Please pray for these kids. Pray that God will provide for them to be able to go to school and that He will even lead us to the ones who need His provision. Can you imagine only getting a 7th grade education because you couldn't afford the fees to learn?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four Year Old Stories

love

How can this pretty little face ever do anything wrong or get into any trouble? I know any of you moms of 4-year-olds aren't fooled! So, Courtney, here's the 4-year-old stories I'm sure you're dying to hear!

My precious little angel is, shall we say, a bit on the stubborn and strong willed side. Our friends who live with us over here would laugh and say that is even an understatement. She is constantly challenging us to see what she can get away with. I wish I could say I am always the perfect parent, never getting frustrated and being so patient with her, but unfortunately that is not the case. Let me just tell you some of her strong willed stories so you can see what I mean.

sleeping child

I can't remember if I've told this story here or not, so forgive me if this is a repeat. Last year, we decided to send her to school a few days a week to get acclimated to going this year. By day 2 (DAY 2!!) she decided she wanted to eat her lunch in the sand pit. When another teacher kindly informed her that lunch is eaten at the picnic tables, she decided, rather than giving in, she wouldn't eat her lunch at all. This lasted the REST OF THE YEAR!! Stubborn, I tell you.

sibling love

On our recent vacation, she started challenging us again. Every morning she simply refused to get dressed. Joshua and I went to the mall one morning and waited an hour and a half for Jeremy and Emma Grace to join us. She simply would not get dressed and when we tried to dress her, she squirmed until it was impossible. Then she decided not to use the toilet when she had to pee. She would hold it all day. I don't know how she did it, but she found a way. Until she realized that you reach a point where you can't hold it any longer and it just comes out.

So Jeremy and I were left with a decision on how to handle this because it didn't just last one day. We decided we weren't going to let her run the show and ruin our vacation. Or have one of us wait in the room with her ALL DAY until SHE was ready to go. It simply wasn't fair to anyone. So we started (both of us, mind you) holding her down and dressing her. And when she had to go to the toilet, either I would hold her on the toilet until she went, or if she peed, I would discipline her.

beautiful

This actually worked really well. One day she even decided she liked what she was wearing! And the peeing thing stopped quickly because she realized it wasn't worth getting the discipline.

Now that school has started, getting dressed in the morning can still be challenging and sometimes stubbornness rears its ugly head. But we will stick with it, knowing that she is testing us and knowing that (fingers crossed) this too shall pass. I keep thinking that I really need to go ahead and read Have A New Kid By Friday!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reading...Rachel's Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott


Can you believe it was 10 years ago today that we watched in horror as the tragedy at Columbine in Littleton, Colorado claimed the lives of 12 students and one teacher? I just finished reading Rachel's Tears, a book about Columbine victim, Rachel Scott, written by her parents.

It is truly a fascinating book of a young woman who was not scared to stand up for her faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ. As you read the journal entries and see the drawings of this amazing young woman, you can't help to wonder if she walked in the gift of prophecy. Even the title of the book, Rachel's Tears, is based on a sketch she did the morning she was martyred for her faith. Her eyes, with 13 tears flowing down onto a flower. Thirteen people were killed that day before the shooters turned the guns on themselves.

This book inspired and challenged me in many ways. Through the pages I saw weaved the importance of relationship versus religion. Rachel was able to reach out to so many people because she didn't shove religion down anyone's throat. She was very open about her love for Jesus, but she had an amazing love for people and reached out to them simply because she wanted to and because they had value. Isn't that what Jesus was about? In my own life, I don't want religion to get in the way of loving people.

I would definitely recommend this book. I felt like I couldn't put it down. You will feel challenged in the way you interact with other people and to start "Rachel's chain reaction."

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I received this book FREE by becoming a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson. Check out their site for info on how you too can review books!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some Chocolate Dipped Macaroons, Anyone?

macaroons

I've wanted to try my hand at making macaroons. Just because they sounded good and I wanted to try something new. I found this recipe in a magazine we get here called Ideas. Full of just that. Ideas from crafts to cooking to yes, even knitting. Here's this super easy recipe (conveniently converted from grams and milliliters :)).

2/3 cup flour
6 1/2 cups coconut
1 tin condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla
dark chocolate and milk for dipping

Stir together the flour, coconut, and a pinch of salt. Then, pour in condensed milk and the vanilla. Stir.

Spoon teaspoonfuls of mixture onto greased baking tray. Bake macaroons in a preheated 350F oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Melt dark chocolate bar and some milk in pan. Dip macaroons in chocolate. Don't skimp on the chocolate. It makes this delectable treat muy bueno!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Swimming Lessons...

the water bike

looking pretty

"Yikes! It's 2:40, kids! Time for swimming lessons! Let's get swimming costumes on!" A frantic dash to the blue bakkie and we're off! Dodging the mongoose running across the driveway to the tall, safe grass on the other side, we make it to the main road.

image borrowed from wikipedia

Turning left, something catches our eye on the tar road. Could it be? No! Yes! It's a snake! Slowing down (I know...not smart after I thought about it later) it was confirmed. Indeed a snake. Feeling threatened, this cobra raises his head and flares his hood. A sure sign that we need to be on our way.

Excitedly talking about our snake encounter, we continue traveling on the Yaverland road. Crossing the stop sign, we are just about there. We will make it to swimming on time! But wait! What is that? It's like a huge lizard. "Kids! Look!" Strutting his stuff, we watched the largest lizard I've ever seen slowly walk across the dusty road. According to Wikipedia, komodo dragons don't live in S. Africa but if I didn't know any better, I would have sworn that's what it was!

After an uneventful swimming lesson (you know compared to the excitement of the journey), we made it back home, bummed that we didn't have a camera to document the findings. But we know what we saw...

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Although the snake and lizard findings were on 2 separate occasions (mongoose are an every day adventure), the story is otherwise true, no fiction about it. I tell you, living in Africa is an ongoing adventure to be had! Come join me in it anytime! (It's not scary, I promise!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some Activities Before The School Grind

Tuesday I asked the kids what they wanted to do on their final day off before going back to school for 2nd term. Their picks were a craft (oh, yes, of course, always ready for that!) and a scavenger hunt!

I've had my eye on making this yarn basket and when I showed it to the kids, they were so excited about it! A little extra yarn is no problem in these parts! Be forewarned. This craft is fun but as you can see, it is quite messy!

yarn basket in progress

messy project

While we were waiting for daddy to come back with more glue, we started the scavenger hunt. Joshua really gets into these. Emma Grace and Arielle (their cousin) just follow him around, getting sidetracked here and there. I wrote up the clues and hid them everywhere - outside, in the house, the office, pavillion. Ten clues later, Joshua found his prize in the fridge! A McDonald's toy (thanks, Mom, for all those you sent) and a candy.

scavenger hunt

a clue!

This is such a fun game for the older kids. Gets them thinking and out of the boredom rut! Thanks to my friend, Christine, for sending me the list of kid's activities! You really should start a blog, Christine!

We returned to the yarn baskets after the scavenger hunt. Joshua finished his. Emma Grace was on to other things so hers is to be continued...

yarn basket

yarn basket

To make this craft, simply blow up a balloon to the desired basket size. Place in a bowl. Dip 8-10 inch yarn pieces into glue and stick on balloon. After glue has dried (it took Joshua's about 2 days), pop the balloon and you have a basket! Perfect for loose change, crayons, hair ties, small toys, anything!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back From Vacation...

Although most of you probably didn't know I was gone! I'm a little sneaky scheduling posts so I can truly enjoy being away without any pressures. We took a very l-o-n-g Easter weekend, leaving on Thursday and coming back on Monday. With the DTS students just leaving and the kids being out of school (they went back yesterday) it was the best time. We decided to go to the same spot as last vacation. I know. A bit boring. But with kids, sometimes I feel like it's good to stick with what you know!

We had fun just being together (although a certain 4-year-old decided it was time to play some not-so-fun games...more on that later) and the kids had a few firsts. Like learning about the plight of sardines along the Wild Coast at the Imax (Joshua loved it!) and seeing a movie in actual 3D!

Here's some 3D madness for you...

watching it in 3d

squints look a like

looking cool

Of course, there has to be yummy treats on vacation!

licking the spoon

The best meal? The espetadas at Braza, a Portugal, Mozambique, Brazil, Angola grill. Tell me, Nina, are espetadas a Portuguese thing?

yum...espetada

The hotel was having an Easter egg hunt so we let the kids participate.

looking for the goods

finding candy

This was Joshua's attire everywhere he went. Toting along in his backpack his prized journal given to him for his birthday by Uncle Zachary and Aunt Anneke. Never know when you might be inspired to draw or write! (Anneke painted the front of it.)

a boy and his backpack

a boy and his journal


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