Living Between Paranoia and Compassion

anxiety-bwWho left the front gate unlocked? That was my first reaction to the youngish looking man with a 3-year-old child perched on his shoulders. He didn’t knock on the door, but paced around on the front porch, peering in the windows.

Kevin wasn’t home. The man spoke with a delayed slur. He was missing several teeth, his cheeks hollow. If I was going to make assumptions, I’d say he was on tik, or crystal meth as is it’s called.

He asked for bread and water for him and his son. February 1, his son turns 3 years old. Do I have any toys? Continue reading Living Between Paranoia and Compassion

Our “New” House!

We were growing anxious. Sleepless.

We had 12 days to find a house in South Africa. The market was flooded with people looking for rentals in this beautiful area.

We needed bigger, at least three rooms. We wanted to live both near downtown shops, church and close to Masi.

We didn’t want to pay a lot of money. We are still surviving on 30% support levels, so we weren’t expecting beach front property.

12 days to find a home. Then buy all the appliances, furniture, bedding, etc.

Oh boy, it was getting close. The owner called us to see if we wanted it. Yes, we will take it. FINALLY, after almost two years of living in someone else’s home or with someone else’s things, we will have our very OWN. Thank you Jesus.

It is 102 years old. It has some challenges…

Wearing My Zebra Pants

100_0443Last weekend we went to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. It’s a fabulous shopping experience on the harbour. A group of five guys dressed in zebra striped work out pants, ala the Hulk Hogan era, were wowing the crowd with their limbo skills. Not only could they duck under the limbo stick while chanting, they even lit the stick on fire and then shimmied underneath it. Not so much as a hair was burned but the crowd gasped at the near misses. One guy had a serious afro and I’m not sure he realized just how close the outer limits of his hair came to being toast. Continue reading Wearing My Zebra Pants

Uprising

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 1.52.27 PMThe Masi teens and leaders rebuilt a shack yesterday. It took 8 hours of hard work. If you receive our newsletters, we once mentioned a boy named Bobby. It’s his house. There was no roof, just tarp. Cape Town winters are cold, rainy and very windy. There was no floor, just dirt.

The teens decided to rebuild it. They didn’t have fancy sponsors. They weren’t trying to raise money for a summer camp, or field trip.
In the words of one of the leaders, “His house is not right. The conditions are very bad. I mean, we all live in shacks, but his is not right.” Continue reading Uprising

Why Does God Make Some People so Rich When Others are so Poor? Does He Hate Us?

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This week in our Masiphumelele teens’ club we have been inviting questions, tough questions.  We have been asked about the reliability of the Bible, about trust in Jesus, and how to navigate traditional, African religious worship as a follower of Christ.  Today came the toughest question yet,  “Why does God make some people so unbelievably rich when so many others are so unbelievably poor?” Continue reading Why Does God Make Some People so Rich When Others are so Poor? Does He Hate Us?

Thanks Big Guy

Group3-300x168Living Way’s Worker Readiness Course prepares employees for the workforce by teaching tangible skills such as work ethic, time management, hygiene, conflict management, CV preparation, interviews, dreams and goals. (from living hope website)

Kevin received many notes of thanks from workers who benefited from his maths tutoring. Our favorite is this one:

To Kevin,…maths has become a little easy now thanks to you, you made things much clearer.  Thanks big guy, you are awesome.”Ntombizanele

Being the 6 foot bald guy has its privileges.
To Kevin, (Living Hope volunteer)…maths has become a little easy now thanks to you, you made things much clearer.  Thanks big guy, you are awesome.”Ntombizanele – See more at: http://www.livinghope.co.za/changing-lives-through-living-way/#sthash.7Am7aLGx.dpuf

We Made It!

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 2.04.08 PMAfter 27+ hours of traveling, we arrived in Cape Town. All 7 of us and our 22 pieces of luggage.

It’s been 3 weeks since we spent our first night in our new home. A few observations about South Africa:

-It’s winter here. It’s cold. Especially inside where there is no central heating. Cold, people.

-I (Cristi) still struggle with shifting the car with my left hand and staying on the left side of the road when driving. Kevin is a pro.

-The language is beautiful. Yes, it’s English. But, honestly, I still can’t understand sometimes.  For instance, a friend send she would be by to drop something off to me “just now.” In my American mind, that means “pretty soon.”

Not so. After 3 hours of waiting and starting to wonder if she’d changed her mind, Karen came. “Just now” means later. “Now Now” means right now.

If someone asks to “touch sides” with you, they aren’t getting frisky. It means “get in touch or touch base.”

Cooking has been an adventure. First of all, the rest of the known world uses the metric system. This means that I have to do some fancy math calculations to figure out:

-I’m buying 2.2 lbs of meat when the sticker says 1 kg

-The speed limit is NOT 100 mph

-Gas (petrol) is R10.23 per litre. Which means $5.50 a gallon.

These are just few examples. You all know how much I LOOOVE to do math. Curses.
Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 2.04.32 PMWe spent time in Masi, at Holiday Club, playing soccer and watching kids play lots of soccer. Kevin will be focusing his energy on the community of Masi. You can read the history and circumstances of Masi HERE.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 2.04.19 PMThis is the view outside our house, after a rain. Cape Town has got to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Overall, it’s been a fairly smooth transition. Although, if you’ve ever received customer service within 12 hours of your request, kiss that person. We waited nearly 3 weeks for Internet, the phone company knows us by sight and the bank…grrr. But all is set now.
Screen Shot 2013-07-27 at 2.04.39 PMThe hardest part has been missing YOU. Our phones don’t jingle with text messages, the kids aren’t at someone’s house or playing with friends, family BBQ’s are not a phone call away. Homesickness was inevitable, but we had no warning it would be this painful.

When you transport a flower from one environment to another, it inevitably dies a little. We had deep, deep roots. And digging in will take time.  But, given the support and prayers from you all, we will eventually flourish. Please keep us in your prayers.

Cristi

Cease Striving

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 4.44.24 PMTwo weeks ago I spoke at church about giving up everything for the Kingdom.  Cristi and I have been led by God into this place where we give up most of what is comfortable and familiar and homey and give ourselves to helping the poor and the afflicted, all for the Kingdom of God.  We have walked this road, step by step, eyes wide open.  But, sometimes the cold, hard reality hits.

At work this week, I was struck by the fact that we are giving up our “safety nets”.  Here in the US, the land of opportunity, we rely on our safety nets.  When things get hard financially, we have opportunities to help ourselves.  We might be able to work some overtime, find a second job, or even get a better job.  If things get tough enough, there is government assistance or help organizations.  I have always given lip service to trusting God for everything, but in reality, the land of opportunity is always there.  It provides a safety net if God doesn’t come through.

What struck me is that in less than four weeks,  we will be walking the tight rope without a net.  As missionaries on volunteer visas in South Africa, we cannot work.  If things get hard, I can’t deliver pizza or work the night shift at the Kroger warehouse.  We will be thousands of miles from home in a place where we only know a couple dozen people.  Wow!  Swinging from the trapeze without a net.

Of course this is nothing new for God.  The Bible is full of stories of people following Him, regardless of how crazy, and of HIm coming through each and every time.  He fed millions of people for 40 years as they wandered through the desert.  Elijah was fed by ravens.  The disciples followed homeless Jesus around for 3 years after giving up their occupations.  Each time conventional wisdom was probably not on their side, but God was.

We aren’t fully supported and we find a peace in this.  This is where God has led us.  We have been warned, cautioned and advised.  Some have prayed for doors to close and others have encouraged people to pray for us because we have “inadequate support”.  To which I think, though the whole world be against me, if God is on my side, I am happy with “inadequate support”.  Imagine Elijah telling a fellow prophet, “God had me prophesy about this drought, and now he wants me to go to a desert ravine” and the prophet replying, “Don’t go.  With this drought you will have inadequate support.”  Or after Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to drop their nets their father says, “Don’t follow that homeless rabbai.  You have inadequate support.”

We are seeking the kind of faith we find in the Bible.  But, how can we live normal 21st century, middle class American lives and expect to find an extraordinary God?  We have to give up our safety nets.  That is where we will find Jehovah Jireh, the LORD my provider.

But, the realization that this next step is so close is kind of scary.  (Of course, it is not an act of faith without the uncertainty.)  We wrestle with the tension, knowing God will provide and also knowing that if He doesn’t we are in deep, deep doo-doo.

We have already seen Him provide in amazing ways with a house and furniture.  We are certain that He has a vehicle or two already waiting for us.  God will continue to show Himself to be faithful and He will get the glory, especially because of the doubts.

God is amazing in how He orchestrates the details.  I was telling Cristi about my thoughts and discussing them with her, as I was doing some reading.  Wouldn’t you know, that a few minutes later I read Psalm 46:10, which is about the kingdom of Judah not worrying about the threats from the Assyrians, the most powerful nation in the world at the time.  God was going to protect His people.  It was appropriate for me just the same.  “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It seems that if God can save Judah from impending doom, He can take care of the needs of a family of seven in a foreign country.

Kevin

Cape Town, South Africa

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