There is a saying in Cape Town, “local is lekker;” meaning, local is good. Friday night, Wayne and I had the privilege to visit three youth groups. All of these churches are situated on the Cape Flats in communities that are riddled with gang violence, drugs and economic hardship. Since we serve on the provincial level, we oftentimes don’t get to spend quality time with local youth groups unless we are doing a training or an event; so it was great to spend time with these young people, sharing with them about the upcoming Anglicans Ablaze Conference and just being with them.
For our American friends, did you know that most of our youth groups meet on a Friday evening instead of a Sunday afternoon? The youth groups we attended were located in Bonteheuwel, Manenberg and Heideveld. If you want to find out more about the Cape Flats, check out “Overview of the Cape Flats,” which gives a decent account.
It’s hard to believe that we are heading back home soon. The time has flown by quickly. We have had a great time on our furlough and look forward to serving together as a missionary couple. Here are some of our experiences and highlights on furlough.
Wayne’s first trip to NYC
Wayne’s first snow
Wayne masters driving on the right side of the road.
Taking walks with Mom and Dad
Spending quality time with donors and supporters
Sharing our stories from the field with others
Meeting my bestie’s husband
Visiting Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum
Enjoying special friend time
Sharing in parish life again at my home church, St. George’s
Meeting a ton of new parishioners at St. George’s
Attending the SAMS missionary retreat
Wayne experiences his first Super Bowl and March Madness
Making my first pecan pie
Having random conversations with little brother
Hanging out with little sis
Chilling with big brother and getting spoiled by him
Playing and cuddling with my fur-nephew
Discovering Cook-Out Burgers (I could float back to Cape Town.)
Eating biscuits, sausage, and bacon (Once again, I could float back home.)
I’m looking forward to getting back home, although I’m sad to leave my family and friends here. When I’m in Cape Town, I miss my family and friends in the States. When I’m in Tennessee, I miss my family and friends in South Africa. It’s the tension but beauty of living cross-culturally and having two homes.
Important Note: We are running short on what we need for our monthly support. If you would like to partner with us in ministry by making a one-time donation or by making a pledge, please visit https://secure-q.net/Donations/SAMS/3296
Our time in the States has been a whirlwind—family time, friend time, meeting with current donors, meeting with potential new donors, raising awareness of our ministry, building relationships, and making time for rest, relaxation and fun. This has been our experience of our first missionary furlough. Unfortunately, our time has been sorely lacking on the rest and relaxation front, and I feel as though we are also falling short of having quality time with family and friends. It has been a balancing act, and I don’t think we have mastered the act; and now it is nearly time to return home.
Despite the busy pace of our time, it has been wonderful being Stateside; and we have loved every bit of time we have spent with family, friends and supporters. We have received much encouragement from everyone who is a part of our lives and that has flowed into our spiritual and emotional reserves, preparing us for the next leg of our ministry, one as a missionary couple.
There have been so many highlights, and there are many stories to share. I keep thinking about one, though, that I want to share with you. Not long ago, Wayne and I had the privilege to spend time with the youth at our church, St. George’s. After our presentation, when we were talking with several of the young people, a young man came up to me. He told me that he remembered my speaking to the youth before I left for Cape Town more than three years ago. He asked me if I remembered; I replied “yes.” He told me that he still had my prayer card that I handed to the youth (I didn’t remember the prayer cards.) and that he had posted it up in his room and has been praying for me every since. I couldn’t believe this–that this teenage boy remembered me and had been praying for me for the past three years! I nearly had tears in my eyes; it was one of the sweetest things I have heard. I know many people are praying for us, but to be reminded that more people than we realize are praying for us was extremely encouraging. Plus, Wayne and I work with young people in South Africa and knowing that this young man in the States is praying for us and our work with his South African counterparts is special to us in so many ways.
We are grateful for Joey’s prayer, and we ask that you join him in his prayer for us, especially as we prepare to go back to the field next month.
As I work at home today and listen to Christmas music, my brain is trying to wrap around the fact that this year I will be having a summer Christmas. It’s hot outside; yesterday was very hot—even for me, someone who loves summer and heat.
I overheard an American say that he was looking forward to spending Christmas in a country that wasn’t too commercial about it. I’m not sure about that, at least in regards to Cape Town. The shops started putting up Christmas stuff in early October, and the Christmas music has been blaring in them for some time. In some shops, it looks like Santa Claus’s factory blew up in there. It’s Winter Wonderland (in the summer) overkill. People keep warning me about the jacked-up prices (which is definitely true) and the upcoming holiday traffic. Apparently, the country pretty much shuts down from mid-December to mid-January to celebrate the festive season. After all, it is the heart of summer and school break. I, for one, am looking forward to having some quality time off before heading to the States for a while.
But I am so busy. It has been an intense two months of trying to get things organised and in a good place. Yet so much still needs to be done before I head Stateside. I’m trying to have my ministry work in good shape while I am out of the office; I’m trying to organise some training conferences for early next year. I have last-minute visa stuff to sort out, and I have to lay the foundation for my Home Missions Assignment. In addition, I need to start support raising. Whew.
Yet I am determined to enjoy every moment of my summer Christmas with my hubby and SA family and friends. So this year I will be dreaming of a balmy Christmas and walking on a sandy-beach wonderland.
Last week, my Nashville church, St. George’s, lost a beloved and faithful member. Across the miles, I feel the loss of Don, a dear friend and an instrumental role-player in my journey to become a missionary to South Africa.
I first started coming to South Africa with outreach teams from St. George’s, and Don was one of the organizers. I have many fond memories of him on these trips, but my favourite one is of his running in Soweto. In this township where so many white South Africans are too scared to venture in, Don, a short, white American man, would get up early in the morning to go running. I thought this was super cool but rather risky. Yet I enjoyed hearing his stories about the people with whom he met and talked along the way. I thought it would be cool to go running with Don one morning, but 1) I don’t run and 2) he got up really, really EARLY to go running; and I was always exhausted and ready for any extra minutes of sleep I could get on these jam-packed mission trips.
Now I wish I had gone running with Don, but I am grateful for this memory I have of him and for this lesson he taught me about perceptions of certain areas. Sometimes we just need to get out of our comfort zone and take a run—or a nice long walk.
Recently, I got to experience two celebrations with two groups of special young people—the opening of the school hall at Heathfield High and confirmation at my Cape Town parish church, All Saints Plumstead.
It was such a privilege and a joy to be at the school hall opening because I feel such a connection to that school, due to my relationship with the learners and teachers because of the Alpha course we ran last year and are currently running now. Plus, I have friends and family members who attended this school. At the ceremony, I got to sit with the teachers, which was a real treat; and I kept thinking of my dad, who taught school for 36 years. I truly believe for many children, after their parents and grandparents, teachers play the most important role in their lives. That was certainly the case in my life.
On Sunday, we had eight young people to get confirmed at my church. I know these young people quite well because my husband served as their youth leader for several years. It was truly special to witness them take this commitment, this important step in their faith formation. I know this commitment meant something to them, that they will strive to serve the Lord with all their heart; and that truly makes me happy.
When I think about the young people who were just confirmed and about the youth who are taking the Alpha course at Heathfield High, I get excited. In the States and in South Africa (and probably in every country in the world), many adults like to complain about young people. But when I look at the youth in both my countries, I see hope. Young people rise to the level of expectations, and we adults often have low expectations of them, which is a dis-service to them. We can do better than that. Let’s have great expectations for our youth; they deserve nothing less.
Trying to balance ministry, family, me-time, God-time and friend-time is hard. I more or less always feel the tension. Recently, I have felt it a lot and have not responded well.
When I get overwhelmed, stressed, or way out of balance, I get cranky and irritable. My to-do list grows, as I try to control what I can. When I don’t tick off everything on my to-do list, which I rarely do, I feel like I failed. This leads to feelings of guilt that, in turn, leads to more moodiness. It becomes a vicious cycle, and those close to me almost have to be saints to put up with me.
I feel as though I am disappointing a lot of people these days. I am so busy that I have little time to spend with my family and friends on this side and to talk with my family and friends on that side. Last Thursday, I had a stress headache, which is a huge warning sign that I need to slow down and take a break. So instead of going to the gym after work, I came home and watched a musical. I enjoyed it—yet I felt guilty about indulging in a luxury, watching a movie during a weekday. I had supper to cook, lunches to make, clothes to wash—why on earth was I watching a movie?
I think I am in need of a holiday, a real vacation in which Wayne and I can go away for a while and just relax. In the meantime, I am relieving my stress through musicals, which have become a sort of a mental escape for me. I can totally switch off and sing to my heart’s delight.
I admit: I am an over-achiever, a product of my American-driven culture. Being a missionary has not cured that part of my personality. On the contrary, I have carried that part of me into my ministry, which is not necessarily a good thing. When I don’t see the results that I want to see or expect to see, I feel like I am failing. But who puts that pressure on me? It’s me. I am my own worst enemy.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
In times like these, I try to keep in mind two of my favourite quotations:
God calls us to be faithful, not to be successful.”
Man is born to live, not to prepare for life.”
I pray, asking God to help me live in the moment and for wisdom on how to put my life back in balance. And I dream about what sort of musical my life would be if I could portray it in song and dance.