Winter

We are having a cold spell here in the Southern Hemisphere. I’m from Kansas originally, so I know cold, but the last 10 years in the tropics have really thinned my blood. It’s cold, and I’m looking forward to Tuesday!

We had to do a little shopping to stop the shivering… jeans, socks, sweatshirts, and leopard pajamas.

Yes, leopard pajamas. We have a couple of cool cats now!

The House Search

House hunting is hard!

We are still looking, but hope to find a great new home by the end of the week. Please pray with us for a house for our family to make a home in, a place where we could welcome many church friends and family!

First Things

As the jet lag lifts, we are starting to explore our new home: Johannesburg! Here are some highlights from our first few days.

We started setting up our new life right away: phones, banks, cars, houses… there’s a lot to organize in the first few days! We were told that setting up a bank account could take days – and the right connections – but First National Bank came through right away! Yay FNB!

Getting phones and banks organized the first day wore us all out, so we slept well that first night. Naomi gets the Sleeping Beauty prize – we’ve had to wake her up each morning so far. Jet lag’s got nothing on this girl!

It hasn’t been all work though. The girls and I got to run around with our hosts, the Russells, yesterday, to tennis lessons, a shopping centre, ballet class, and a library! A library! Living in a big city might not be so bad! 😉

Lots of new things, but also some good old friends! It wouldn’t be our first choice to see Kellen and Becca in a hospital, but we were SO excited to see these dear friends from Malawi, to catch up with them and to pray with them as they trust the Lord day by day. Please be praying for Kellen as the doctors and his body fight against East African sleeping sickness.

In the last couple months we went from autumn weather in Malawi, to summer weather in California, to now the dead of winter in South Africa. It’s cold here!!! It’s 65 degrees now, but it got down to 42 last night! We are definitely not in the tropics now! But we are starting to figure out how to live here.

Moving

If you haven’t kept up on our newsletters lately, you really should catch up!

We are moving to South Africa! Like, right now! We checked in at LAX, and flying to SA over the next couple days. 😏

While we fly, you can catch up with us here:

March 2019 Newsletter

May 2019 Newsletter

June 2019 Newsletter

America 2018 :: Week 2

Week #2 started with a trip to the optometrist. We were all (over)due to get our eyes checked. Results: Abigail gets glasses! It’s a very slight prescription, but with as much reading as she does we thought it might help prevent some eye strain.

Abi also got a referral to an ophthalmologist! There were a few little spots on one of her retina, so we found a pediatric retinal specialist in North Hollywood.

The Dr was fantastic, and this was such an interesting visit!

We got to see her optic nerve, the center of her vision, and the 3 little spots on her retina. They are little “chirpies,” basically little freckles or scars on the retina. The Dr asked if she had been poked in the eye lately, and we remembered that someone had thrown a stick in her eye about 6 months ago. “Yep, that would do it!” he said. I’m so thankful for the Lord’s protection of Abigail’s eye. Chirpies are generally harmless, but we’ll see the Dr again next time we come to the States just to make sure there has been no change.

The rest of the week was busy with meetings and dinners with friends and supporters. Every once in a while we had an hour or so as a family, whether at home or on the road between meetings, so we tried to maximize those times. A kite tossed in the back of the car can be lots of last minute fun for our family!

Another family event of the week was Abigail’s lost tooth! She woke up one morning and came out with a tooth in her hand, “Look what came out in the night, Mom!” Biting has gotten more difficult, and she has two more loose teeth, so she may be on a smoothie diet before long!

A highlight of Week 2 was the Malawi Market! We decorated a room at church with chitinji fabric, put up lots of pictures about life in Malawi, and opened a little “market” as a way to share Malawi with many friends who have not been able to visit us in Malawi. Matt got to share about the ministry in Malawi…

We got to see and catch up with lots of friends!…

And everyone got to do a little bartering for some Malawian nicknacks.

We had a fantastic time catching up with lots of friends on Week 2! We are so thankful for these special days with friends!

America 2018 :: Week 1

We made it to America! It doesn’t matter how you cut it, it’s a very long trip from Lilongwe to LA. But everyone was in good spirits, and we enjoyed one another’s company for the entire 35 hours of travel time! That might be a first!

If you’ve talked with us about travel any time in the last couple years, you’ve probably heard about our short trip to the States in 2016 when we discovered Naomi’s propensity to get air sick. This time we kept a rigid schedule of Dramamine (which is hard to do when crossing time zones!) and supplemented with Zofran a couple times. We made it all the way to LA without incident – whew!

Once in LA, welcome jet lag! It was, um, very exciting. For some of us.

She could hold out for a while, adamantly refuse to sleep for rest time, and then be asleep within 2 minutes of opening a book!

Naomi wasn’t the only one who slept quite a bit the first week: Matt spent a lot of hours in bed this week too. The poor guy came down with a ferocious cold and cough on our second day in the States. He lost his voice on Tuesday evening, and didn’t really get it back until Sunday! If the cold wasn’t enough reason, the lack of a voice forced us to cancel almost everything on the schedule for the first week. Even in the moment we realized that we, Matt especially, were really tired and we needed the extra days of forced rest. So we took it slow and enjoyed the quieter days.

Meanwhile, the girls found the drinking fountains! Grace Community Church has a number of drinking fountains, and since we are in the missionary house right next door, we stop by for a sip almost every day! The girls are not very good at actually getting more in the mouth than down the shirt, but practice makes perfect!

AND, just around the corner from the favorite drinking fountains is the church’s brand new playground! This place is super-busy on Sundays, but deserted for most of the rest of the week, so the girls have it to themselves every day. There is nothing like this in all of Malawi. We try to teach our girls that there are special things we only enjoy in Malawi, and there are special things we only enjoy in America. This playground is high on the list of special things in America!

Also special to America is the dishwasher. The girls have taken it upon themselves to load and empty the dishwasher every day! No complaints from this mama!

Week #1 – a quiet week of rest and discovery.

3 Months Stateside

Today we fly out of Lilongwe with tickets to return in early December. We will be furloughing in the States for these 3 months, and are looking forward to seeing many friends and all our family. We will be sharing about the work in Malawi in lots of churches, from Missouri to California to Washington state. If you’d like to how it’s going in Malawi, our schedule for speaking at churches is in our latest newsletter.

But first, we have to get there! America here we come!

Local Favorites #3

I’ve never considered myself to be a collector, but I noticed recently that I collect unique earrings! And so, I present: my earring collection!

For Christmas the girls (with the help of a handy elf named “Dad”) made an earring frame for me. It’s a simple frame made of Mulanje cedar that holds a piece of window screen. It is perfect!

My earring collection, both as unique pairs and especially as a whole, leave no doubt where I live. Elephants, baobab trees, crocodiles, and the shape of the African continent are shapes related to Malawi, but the materials are all local and unique as well: teak wood, ebony seeds, crocodile teeth, porcupine quills, bone, and coconut shell are some of my favorites.

The only problem now is picking which pair to wear!

Construction

While Shelbi was teaching at the conference, the 6 men of the GCC team went to work. On Monday Shelbi, Abigail, Naomi, and I went to check out the progress on the church property.

The guys had been hard at work with surveying equipment, so there were lines all over the ground representing future buildings.

To get a look at the rest of it, Shelbi’s husband, Sean, took us on a tour.

They’ve been charting out and digging septic lines.

Digging the septic pit and leach field, as well as a cistern to collect and store run-off from our heavy Malawi rains.

They’re also making an awning for our current storeroom, which I believe will eventually be the maintenance area. Sean, Edgar, and Christopher are busy, but not too busy to strike a pose for a picture or two!

And they’re just about ready to lay pipes for the septic system. Abi and Omi were giving it a go to see if they were any good at construction. They are significantly better at wearing pink tutus and posing for cute shots than they are at construction, but they had a great time pretending!

It was fun to see progress on the land! I’m sure we have many, many months of construction ahead, but I’m looking forward to the day when both the church and CAPA can move onto this property!

CAPA Wives Conference

One of the blessings of having the GCC team here was the opportunity to have Shelbi Cullen teach the wives of our current and graduated CAPA students. These wives have seen their husbands stretched and grown over the course of their studies, and they wanted to learn too! So we put on a Marriage and Family conference for them.

We had 20 CAPA wives in attendance, and a few missionary wives joined in each session. Shelbi covered an amazing breadth of information as she took the wives through the gospel and the authority of Scripture, and then brought the Word to bear on their daily lives as wives and mothers.

Naomi, whose husband finished the MDiv program in April, did a fantastic job translating for Shelbi. The men at CAPA study in English with all English-speaking professors and classes, but not all of their wives speak English – or at least are not as comfortable in English. If you’ve never heard how teaching works with translation, listen to the clip below as Shelbi shared part of the gospel and Naomi translated for her.

We are thankful for the opportunity to invest in the wives and families of our CAPA students. And as a bonus, we – the missionary wives – were also encouraged and loved on by Shelbi!

I am thankful for this good friend. Her wisdom, faithful teaching, and likemindedness encouraged my heart! As a true friend and true sister, Shelbi draws my mind to the greatness and grace of God. I pray that the Lord would let me do the same for the women in my life!