November 22, 2011

Nathan's school photo - 2011

Check out out our little man's school looking like a little man...adorable! :)

Lottie Moon Emphasis

Hey everyone! We are still alive and pressing on with life and ministry in Swaziland. I know it has been like forever since I have had the chance to sit down and blog. Hoping to do more blogs in coming days and weeks. We did want to express our thanks to everyone that supports the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. We hope to emphasize different areas that the Lottie Moon Offering assists us personally here on the mission field. Because of YOUR gifts, we are able to drive out in the truck (bakkie) provided by our mission board to rural areas to teach and tell the Swazis about Jesus Christ. THANK YOU!!!!

May 1, 2011

Allen Family May Update

Hello everyone!

It is hard to believe that we are in MAY now! Wow...where did almost the first half of 2011 go already??? Lots happening and we are excited for the days, weeks and months ahead.

Our recent Easters services with many of our Baptist churches was an amazing time to reflect on all God did by sending HIS ONLY Son, Jesus, for ALL of us! It is such a blessing to worship with our Swazi brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of them we do not get to see too often so it is great to catch up on how everyone is doing in their own lives. Our kids were able to participate with the kid's worship and Lacie was even in the children's play on Easter morning. She had the only English line in the play as it was in siSwati but she was the angel that said, "He is not here!". What a testimony to share with others!

God continues to bring new people to our new outreach group at Ngowane, which is about 1.5 hours away from our house. The past couple of Thursdays, we were not sure what to expect because it is school break here in Swaziland but more than 50 people are waiting to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. This past week, the indvuna (chief's assistant) and his assistant both came to the Bible study. It is HUGE for community leaders to participate in Bible studies and shows us that God is ALL over this new outreach group. Continue to pray for leaders to rise up within this new group as they are already requesting to start meeting on Sunday mornings. Pray for wisdom as we proceed to serve alongside this new group.

Pray for our Baptist convention as they meet this Saturday, May 7, to evaluate the Easters services and for the convention to serve together in unity with all decisions.

Pray for Kym Pennington, our True Love Waits International consultant, as she is with our Swazi mission team this month to lead TLW trainings in three areas. She will be with our family May 16-18 to lead a training in the Hawane area.

On May 23 - 31, we have a team of five people coming from Clear Creek Bible College in Pineville, Kentucky, coming to serve with us. They primarily will be serving in the Ngowane (Hhohho region) and Lesibovu (Manzini region), our two newest outreach group areas. Pray for this team to have MANY opportunities to share the love of Jesus with the Swazi people!

On May 26 - June 30, Katy Hallock and Hunter Johnson will be serving with our mission team throughout Swaziland working mostly with children and youth. One big event they will be co-leading with one of our Swazi pastors, Pastor Mkhosi Fakudze, is our National Youth Leader's Retreat on June 3-5 in Manzini. Pray for their time in Swaziland to bear MUCH fruit and for amazing times with the Swazi people and our mission team.

On May 31, our team is blessed with SIX summer missionaries coming to serve with us for the months of June and July. They will be mostly living out at homesteads in the Shiselweni region sharing the True Love Waits message. Pray for Reh, Tori, Elizabeth, Adam, Tiffany and Jonathon as they prepare to come serve in Swaziland and for ALL the God-size opportunities while they are here with us.

Lacie starts the second term of school on May 3 (school term will be from May 3 - August 12) and Nathan starts on May 10. Pray for the kids as we adjust back into school routines, activities and all the ministry happenings, too.

As you can see, lots happening in the coming months so pray for strength and excitment to press on with ALL God has for our family, ministry and team in the coming weeks. May His name be continually praised!!!

Let us know of ways we can be praying for you and your family as well.

Thank you for your faithful prayer support and hope to hear from you!

April 10, 2011

An Update to an Update for the Allens

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Greetings from Swaziland! So much is happening right now that we wanted to update everyone on several items...

Praises/Prayer Concerns:
- Steven is leading a baptism service at Peace Baptist Church today and praising God that the weather is beautiful. Pray for those that are being baptized that they will stay strong in their new relationship with Jesus!

-Kids and I are home today as Lacie has yet another ear infection and keeping her low for the weekend to rest. She is doing much better and plans to return to school this week. Schools begin their term break after this week (schools close from April 15 - May 3 or May 10, depending on the school).

- Steven was able to visit the new work area with some of the members from Hawane Baptist Church this past Thursday. He was also able to meet the indvuna, chief's assistant, and was granted permission to proceed starting a Bible study. God keeps opening the doors! Pray for this new work to grow strong with a solid foundation of God's Word and Truth!

- Our recent missionary meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, was one of the best mission meetings we have ever attended. So many of us came to the meeting tired and worn out but left with a very refreshed heart and spirit to press on with all God has for our various ministries. We thank First Baptist Orlando for sharing with us in preaching, worship and leading our children. You all were amazing and God used you!

- Praise the Lord that we received word from the Minister of Finance that the container of 648 in-home care kits can come into the country tax free! Woo! Hoo! Pray now for the tranportation issues to get the container from Durban (nearest port to us and only one day drive) to us quickly. Pray for our team as we seek to train our churches in passing them out to the right people that needs these buckets.

- Our churches are busy planning our annual Easters services (Thursday - Sunday, April 22-25) as it is a time of them to come together for preaching, worship and fellowship. The group that met for the Convention was small but they were able to proceed with making final decisions for the services. Pray each life will be touched in a special way during the Easter services.

- Pray for our missionary team as we are looking towards a very busy American summer months with lots of volunteers and teams coming to serve with us, especially from May - August.

SPECIAL REQUEST: (sent out by our prayer advocate, Barbara Myers)
In recent weeks political developments throughout the Middle East and Africa have been major headlines. As country after country struggles with inner conflict and turmoil, others watch hoping it will not happen to them. April 12, 13 and 14 the trade union in Swaziland has called for strikes in Mbabane, Manzini and Nhlangano. Although strikes and discontentment are not new to Swaziland, in view of current events there is need for concern. Political heads of our country are calling the strikes against the law and rumors of military preparedness are spreading. What will be the outcome? Please pray these strikes will not end in riots and the military/police will not be called to provide order. Chaos usually follows when the military or police get involved. Pray peace will prevail over the nation of Swaziland.

Our family is busy planning ahead with petrol for vehicles, generators, groceries, running necessary errands over the weekend and Monday. We will try to write with an update during these days if we still have electricity, phone and internet. It is all in God's hands!!!

Let us hear from you as you are able to write!
Thank you for your faithful prayer support!!!

March 30, 2011

March Update from the Allen Family

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Greetings from Swaziland! Life has been busy and keeping us going but wanted to share a few praises and prayer concerns with everyone.

Praises/Prayer Concerns:
- Recent baptism service at Hawane Baptist Church on March 20, we saw 9 people baptized, including our daughter, Lacie. Praise the Lord! Check out my photos and a short video on my home page on Facebook.

- After much prayer, prayer drives and seeking the Lord, God is opening a door for a possible new work outside of Piggs Peak. The contact is through one of the families that attends Hawane Baptist Church. We were scheduled to visit there last week but the family needed to postpone until next week. Pray God opens the door completely if this is HIS plan to start a new outreach group that could move into a new church.

- Lesibovu Baptist Church is now finished with the walls of their new church building. They now will work on the roof and windows. Go God!

- Mphembekati Baptist Church has been relocated to a new piece of property as their church was too close to the community school. Pray for the church to continue to be a light in their community.

- Our family, along with missionaries from all over South Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, will be gathering this week in Johannesburg for our annual mission meeting. First Baptist of Orlando has sent a team to lead us in preaching, worship, encouragement and helping take care of our children with their own VBS type classes. Pray for safety as everyone travels, good health for the whole meeting...we typically seem to catch something at these meetings! :(, God to be with us in everything, great fellowship and refreshment for all.

- We are in the waiting mode to receive a container (approx. 600 buckets) of home care kits with Baptist Global Respones (BGR) into Swaziland. Our governement has approved the container to come in but we are waiting to see how much is the cost or if any. Pray the finance office will make a decision very soon and for them to find favor with seeing how these buckets will greatly assist their country. Pray for our team as we seek to train our churches in passing them out to the right people that needs these buckets.

- Our churches are busy planning our annual Easters services (Thursday - Sunday, April 22-25) as it is a time of them to come together for preaching, worship and fellowship. Many loose ends needs to be finalized and pray for our Convention as they make final decisions at their meeting this Saturday morning.

- Pray for our missionary team as we are looking towards a very busy American summer months with lots of volunteers and teams coming to serve with us, especially from May - August.

Let us hear from you as you are able to write!
Thank you for your faithful prayer support!!!
Steven, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen

February 27, 2011

February prayer update

We realize it has been awhile since you have heard from us but we are still pressing on. In the past several weeks, our family has been adjusting to the new school schedule/activities (feel like Mom's taxi!), three out of four of us were hit with the flu for several days, busy with ministry and dealing with life in Swaziland (phone out, internet down, getting things fixed, learning to wait). We look foward to all God has planned for our lives in the coming weeks.

- God is continuing to bring folks across our paths that need to accept Jesus into their lives. May all these new believers press on in their new walks with Jesus.

- We were able to baptize 9 people in the last month and several more are awaiting baptism, including our own daughter, Lacie.

- Steven started a new discipleship group with one of our churches to encourage them each week. The group consists of about 12 women that faithfully keep Peace Baptist Church going each week.

- Steven finally was able to do a prayer drive to check out a couple new areas for ministry. He came to a fork in the road and asked the folks along the road which was was better to go. He ended up on a road that took him about 1.5 hours away from our house. He said it was a good prayer drive but no open doors at this time. Steven hopes to check out another area soon.

- We have had LOTS of rain and enjoying cooler temps!

- Thank you to everyone that sent birthday greetings to Monica!

- Lacie and Nathan are enjoying their new schools and meeting lots of new friends. Nathan only goes Monday and Wednesday mornings, although he would love to go every day. Not yet!

Prayer Requests:
- Pray for Steven as he is currently teaching at three different Bible studies each week as well as a different church each Sunday to encourage our Swazi believers. Pray he is able to get the "office" time he needs to accomplish all God wants him to do each week.

- We have a few volunteer teams coming to serve with us in Swaziland in coming months. Pray for their preparations as well as open hearts for the Swazis during their time in Swaziland. Clear Creek Baptist College is coming in May, Hunter Johnson and Katy Hallock are coming in May/June, First Baptist Church of Washington, North Carolina are coming in June, Pastor of FBC Washington, NC and his wife (Jimmy and Karen Moore) are coming to Swaziland in July for part of his sabbatical leave, some of the camp staff of Camp Worldlight (Florida GA/Acteens camp) are coming in late July/August and there might be more! :)

- We will be attending our annual missionary meeting in Johannesburg March 30 - April 4 (our family is leaving on the afternoon of April 3 so Lacie does not miss another day of school). Pray for all the missionaries traveling from various parts of Southern Africa, including some of the islands, to this important meeting. Pray for First Baptist Orlando as they bring their pastor and team to share in worship as well as teach classes for all our missionary kids.

- Pray for our Baptist Convention of Swaziland as they are busy planning for our National Easter Services in April. A venue has been located, which is usually one of the hardest items to accomplish. The services are from Thursday - Sunday and a chance for many of our churches to come together for the Easter holidays. May the true meaning of Easter be shared and lives changed for eternity. Pray for all the logistical items still needed to be finalized.

- Nathan will have his 3rd birthday on March 7. Pray for a special day for our little bubba!

- Our crate from the USA has made it to African soil but it is in a warehouse in Durban. There has been a trucker strike in South Africa and we need one of those trucks to deliver it to Swaziland. Pray it is resolved soon and if possible, in time for Nathan's birthday!

- On March 2 and 3 (this Wednesday and Thursday), Lacie and I will be going to Johannesburg for updated appointments for Lacie's ears. She will be having an updated hearing test, CAT scan on her left ear and an appointment with the ENT doctor. Pray all the appointments go well, safety as we travel and our boys do well staying back in Swaziland. We plan to schedule a corrective surgery for Lacie in April. Side note: Lacie was born with an extra bone near her eardrum in her left ear causing what the ENT doctor thinks is her 30% hearing loss. It is now enough of a different in Lacie hearing similar words as she is reading more.

As alwasy, thank you for your faithful prayer support!

December 24, 2010

Visit to see Santa/Father Christmas

Our mission team recently had their annual end of the year retreat in White River, South Africa, which is just north of Nelspruit. In Nelspruit, we can visit big shopping malls, shops, bigger grocery stores, movie theater and restaurants. The malls were all decorated for Christmas and one of the malls even had Santa Claus visiting already the second week of December. This was the first time we have seen Santa visiting quite so early in South Africa. The kids were excited to see him but only from a distance away. Lacie kept saying she wanted to see Santa and was not scared. She typically does not like anyone dressed up in costumes, including clowns. She was fine until we got really close to him. Nathan followed Lacie's lead and decided he did not want to see Santa now. So, I suggested for Daddy and Mommy to go up as well. They were fine with that idea and did great with the "help" of their parents visiting Santa. So instead of a photo with the kids visiting Santa, we decided to do a family photo with Santa! :) Thanks, Daddy, for taking one for the family team as Mommy knows you do not like to take many photos!!! ;) It was a fun Christmas tradition for our family although the kids realize Christmas is more than just Santa, it is all about Jesus' birthday!!!

Steve, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen visiting Santa Claus in Nelspruit, South Africa

December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Allen Family!!!

Sanibonani! Greetings from Swaziland, Africa! We cannot believe that it is almost time for Christmas and the year 2010 is drawing to a close. Where did this year go as it passed by quite fast? As we look back over the past year, it is the first time our family spent half the year in one country and the other half in another. This year was our time to be in the USA for our stateside time and we were all over the southeastern part of the USA for six months. It was tons of fun to be in the USA again with family and friends, mostly in North Carolina and Florida. It was a great time to share with churches and folks how God is working in Swaziland and giving our family many opportunities to tell others about Christ. We did our best to not overwhelm ourselves with speaking engagements and have some special family times as well. Not always an easy balance but we managed to accomplish seeing much and doing several different fun things, too.

Some of our big highlights this year were: Lacie asking Jesus Christ into her life on Father’s Day in June, spending time with all of Steven’s siblings and their families as we honored his parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, special trips to Sea World, Florida Keys, Disney World, Georgia Aquarium, the zoo and sharing many memories with family and friends for several months. Steven also spent much of his stateside time writing and recording an archeological dig he did in Eastern North Carolina back in the mid-1990’s.

At the end of September, we boarded the plane once again to return to Swaziland to continue serving our Lord together as a family. We hit the ground running with ministry and getting back into the swing of life in Africa again. It was good to be back with our Swazi brothers and sisters in Christ. Lacie returned to school again, Bible studies continued, our women’s camp was a wonderful time for our Swazi women, new personnel arrived to join our mission family and Steve had his appendix removed. Yes, it has been a roller coaster ride in many ways!

The kids are growing and growing. Lacie is now 6 years old, graduated from kindergarten on December 1, starting grade 1 in January, looking forward to her summer break and placed 2nd at gymnastics national competition. Nathan is 2.5 years old, energetic, full of life and keeps us going. He is all boy and we love to see him learning new things all the time.

Our prayer is that you will seek and find the real meaning of Christmas wherever you are this year and to remember - Jesus IS the Reason for the Season!

Love, Steven, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen

November 7, 2010

Snow in Swaziland?

We have now entered the rainy season here in Swaziland and thunderstorms can come upon us rather quickly. We learned a long time ago to keep everything, except our refridgerator, unplugged when we are not using various appliances. Because we have rocks in our backyard, we tend to have lots of lightning hit very close to our house. The kids know our routine well and we all have torches (flashlights) in all our rooms as the electricity goes out quite often.
This past Friday afternoon, the sky looked very dark and I knew a storm was coming soon. I told Doreen Mabuza, our houseworker that comes to assist us with house cleaning twice a week, to go ahead and prepare herself to leave our house early. I was hoping she would have time to get ahead of the storm. Steve was at a Bible study for the afternoon and I was home with the kids. Nathan was still taking his afternoon nap. By the time Make Mabuza changed, the storm was practically at our house. We were expecting rain to come quickly but instead, a horrible hailstorm hit us fast. It started to hit our windows and sounded like it would come through at any time. However, it did not break the windows, praise the Lord! The kids were a bit scared so we immediately started to pray for safety for us and Steve as he was not home yet. Once the worse was over, I grabbed my camera to take a few photos and also assess for any damage. Not long after it was over, Steve came home and the whole storm went away just about as quickly as it had started. Whew....never can tell what crazy adventure we will have each day!

Looks like snow in our backyard but nope...just lots of hail!

Hail was bigger than golf balls but melting fast

Hail on the main highway as Steve was on his way home

November 5, 2010

Harvest Party 2010

No, our family has not decided to start dressing this way on a daily basis! :) We were part of an annual harvest party with missionary friends hosted by Doug and Tasha Myers and their kids. on Saturday, October 30. The Myers family has been hosting the harvest party for several years now. It is a fun time for our families to fellowship, dress up, kids visit nearby missionary houses to get candy/story time, play games, eat together, do lip sync songs, and just plain have loads of fun! It is something our family looks forward to doing now every year and we are anticipating next year's event. Thank you, Lord, for such a great missionary community!
Enjoy some of the photos taken that night.....

Allen Family Photo at Harvest Party - the hillbilly couple, doggie and Barbie

The "girls" photo - great friends!

Group photo with just about everyone

Mr. and Mrs. Hillbilly

October 26, 2010

Updated Allen Family Photo

Steve, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen

A Special Gift

After living in Africa for over seven years, we have gotten used to folks giving us different items as their way of saying thanks and expressing gratitude. Mostly, we are blessed with various fruits and vegetables from different people's gardens and homesteads. We have even been given a couple chickens along the way as well but they quickly become dinner for our family. Upon our recent return to Swaziland, the Khanada family from our Lesibovu Bible study and church expressed to Steve that they wanted to give our family a guinea fowl. They raise guinea fowls at their homestead. We were honored that they wanted to do this for our family as we know the Swazis work hard for what they do have at their different homes. However, we had to admit this was a new and special gift for us to receive this time.

Babe (Father) Khanada told Steve that he needed to have a cage or coop for the guinea fowl when we brought it home or it would fly away the first chance it could get away from us. This was news to us as we had always seen guinea fowl just running around, not flying. So, Steve took one morning last week to make a coop for the guinea fowl but knew it would be a temporary home. Steve and Lacie went to Lesibovu this past Saturday and was given our special gift and temporary pet for the kids, G the guinea fowl. She did OK on the 1.5 hour drive home to our house and Steve placed her in her temporary home. She spent a little while crying out but soon adjusted to her new surroundings. We gave her some food and water and said good night.

When we woke up the next morning, we now had TWO guinea fowls in our backyard. One was in the coop and one was on the outside. Our plan was not to start our own guinea fowl farm! :) G's new friend hung around the house for a couple days until Steve had the time to move G from her temporary home to our freezer for a future meal. As always, life is an adventure for our family!

G the guinea fowl and her new "friend" that showed up on Sunday morning

G getting ready to leave her home at Lesibovu

Hoskins Arrive in Swaziland

Our mission family is very excited to welcome Todd and Deborah Hoskins as they will be serving with us in Swaziland for the next two years. The Hoskins arrived in Swaziland on the early flight from Johannesburg to a cool, misty and overcast day on the morning of October 14. Our family was there to greet them with a sign made by Steve, gather their luggage and bring them to their temporary home. They were ready to go so I took them into town for an opportunity to see one of our grocery stores, ShopRite. Little did we know but the Hoskins have ShopRite back at home in Georgia so they said it was neat to have a reminder from home here in Swaziland. The day the Hoskins arrived was also the first day of our Baptist BoMake (Women's) camp and our team leaders, Wayne and Barbara Myers, were staying at our house during the camp. So, life was a bit hectic but fun for our mission family to be together off and on for a few days. Our kids LOVE having Aunt Deborah and Uncle Todd as part of our mission family and I am sure the kids entertained them in many ways! :)

The Hoksins are living next door to our family temporarily but the plan is for them to find housing in Manzini for their permanent housing. Todd and Deborah were only with us in Swaziland for less than a week before they needed to fly up to West Africa for our company's bush camp training. Steve led them to the main highway in South Africa and with the help of their GPS and our directions, they made their way into Johannesburg to catch their flight to West Africa. They will be back to Swaziland on Monday, November 22, after some orientation at our Johannesburg headquarters. We are thrilled they are here to serve with our mission family and we look forward to all God has planned for their time in Swaziland!

Todd and Deborah at Bible study at Lesibovu

Making new friends at Mphembekati Baptist Church

Greeting Mphembekati Baptist Church with Pastor Lloyd Dlamini as their translator

Visiting the Khanada family homestead with some of our Swazi helpers

Lacie holding their welcome sign at the Swaziland airport

Baptist BoMake Camp

What a blessing to have so many of our BoMake (ladies) gather together for three days of worship, choirs, testimonies, games, fellowship and learning more about the power of prayer! Our annual Baptist BoMake camp was on October 14-16 at Manzini Baptist Church and we had about 45 ladies attend camp this year. For most of these ladies, it was a journey to travel quite a distance from their homes to come to camp in Manzini. They look forward to a time of getting away temporarily from the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, working the fields, their jobs and taking care of kids and time to have fun being with other women. The women even played games like they were little children and enjoyed every minute of it!

The weather turned cooler for camp this year but we pressed on and made the most of everything despite the weather. Our speaker this year was missionary colleague and friend, Make Barbara Myers. She taught on prayer and not only just taught about prayer but had the ladies break into groups to pray as well as individual prayer. We know that God touched many lives at the women's camp this year and we look forward to future opportunities of serving our Baptist women.

Group photo of the ladies at the end of camp

Make Simphiwe Mavuso thanking Make Barbara Myers with flowers for
sharing with the women this year.

Nathan made a new friend

The women were blessed by clothes and other items given to our mission by fellow missionary friends. What a wonderful surprise and blessing to our women!

"I need another touch from the Lord!" :)

October 23, 2010

Back to our Swazi Churches

For the last six months, we have been in many different churches in the USA and although we always enjoy getting to worship our Lord in our heart language of English, we have missed being with our Swazi brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no time restraints here in Swaziland and our church services can easily last 2 - 3 hours each Sunday. For our family, we typically are heading to church by 9:30 or 10:00am and not home until the middle of the afternoon. It is still a challenge to keep Nathan to sit still for the whole church service but this is the season of our lives. Nathan usually makes it to the start of the sermon and then he and I take a walk around outside if the weather is nice. If the weather is not nice, I give him a break and we go sit in our bakkie (truck) for a snack. Our churches are all in siSwati, the heart language of the Swazi people and we have learned many of their songs. Our desire is to be able to fully teach and preach someday but we still have not mastered to do so quite yet. One thing we do love about the Swazi worship services is to hear the testimonies each week of all God is doing in their lives. Since we are not able to be with the people every day, this gives us a small glimpse into their lives as they share during the service. On some Sundays, it could be three to as many as 15 people choosing to go to the front and give a testimony. Because many of the Swazis do not worship together as a family, our prayer is that we can be a testimony to the church and surrounding communities that our family is going to be together for church on Sunday mornings. Each Sunday morning is a different adventure for our family and we look forward to watching God grow the different Baptist churches in unity, love and wisdom. Many weeks we are in awe of how we are able to learn more and more from our Swazi brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lacie hanging with some of the Swazi kids after Mphembekati Baptist Church.

Children's choir singing at Peace Baptist Church

The two treasurers counting the offerings after service at Hawane Baptist Church.

Yes, Nathan has to have one car to keep his attention during church services! :)

Lacie sitting with the kids during a church service.

Lacie's Latest

Our family has hit the ground doing all sorts of things since we have arrived back in Swaziland less than a month ago. Lacie has jumped back into school and a couple after school activities. We are blessed with a great mission community in our area and Lacie has a couple, very, special friends that are also missionary kids. She has enjoyed getting to have play dates with friends as well as play with her brother, Nathan, quite often as well. Lacie said she is happy to be home to her own room but she is missing our families back in the USA. Lacie remembered more from this USA trip and thankful for the special memories we were able to create with all of our family members. Lacie is also going out with our family to the rural areas for Bible studies and church on Sunday mornings. She loves all her Swazi friends but says she does miss not getting to attend kid's worship services anymore. Life is always full of transitions and changes, even for a missionary kid, too! Thought you would enjoy seeing some recent happenings in Lacie's life....
Lacie had "Children Around the World" at her school so she dressed up as "Miss USA"!
Our precious princess!!!

Lacie is reunited with her close friend, Ellie.

Lacie finishing her gymnastics competition

Lacie took home the gold....go Lacie!

Lacie with the welcome sign for Todd and Deborah Hoskins, our newest Swazi mission family team members, at the Swaziland airport.

October 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to Aunt Barbara

We wish we could be closer to our own extended families more often but that is just not possible with our family living so far away. However, we are blessed and have been blessed by a wonderful mission family that we serve with in Swaziland. From the time we arrived in Swaziland, we have served with Bobby and Jo Carol Elliott, Wayne and Barbara Myers, Fultz family, Grayson family, Al and Belinda Jordan, Mary Wood, Poe family, Kimber Ringler, Julia Tarr, Oakley family and Warren family. Soon we will add Todd and Deborah Hoskins. Our mission family tries to be together for major holidays and as close to birthdays as possible, too.

Tomorrow, October 12, is Barbara Myers' birthday and our family was able to be with Wayne and Barbara today for both mission business as well as celebrating Barbara's birthday. Our kids had a blast making birthday cards and putting up the birthday banner. We ate pizza for lunch and had ice cream and cake, which the kids loved getting to help Aunt Barbara blow out her candles. We are all blessed by our friendship with Aunt Barbara and we pray she has a fantastic birthday!!!

Aunt Barbara with Lacie and Nathan

The kids "helping" blow out Aunt Barbara's birthday candles

Updates from our Facebook group

Because we have had such a trial getting emails to go out with our africanonline email account, I decided to start a Facebook group to keep folks more updated on what is happening with our family and ministry. It is a closed group but if you are interested in joining on Facebook, just let me know. We did not want it open to the general public so all sorts of folks could write on the wall and so forth that we did not know. However, we know that not everyone has Facebook so we are going to try and update our blog with the group updates until we can get the email stuff all sorted out. Thanks for all your prayers and support!

It is hard to believe that we are all packed up and will be flying back to Africa tomorrow. We have had an amazing six months of stateside time and thankful for all God allowed for our family during this time. We wish we could have seen each and every one of you but not possbile. We are glad our paths did cross with many of you. More importantly, we are blessed with everyone's prayers and support.We hope to send updates more often so we can keep folks more aware of what is going on with our family, ministry and the Swazi people. God is doing exciting things in Swaziland!

Our biggest prayer concern right now is for our flight back to Africa tomorrow for our family. Traveling with a 2 1/2 year old is going to be a bit of a challenge so pray Nathan does well with sitting still when needed and that we are all able to rest some on the flight. We will land in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 27th, spend the night at our Baptist guest house and then head onto Swaziland on the 28th. We look forward to connecting with you once we arrive back home and sharing more stories of our African adventures. Thank you for joining us as we continue the journey God has called our family in serving HIM in Swaziland.

It is still hard to believe that this time last week, we were still in West Palm Beach, Florida finishing up packing and saying our final good-byes to family and friends. We wanted to say thank you for all your prayers for our family as we traveled back to Swaziland on Sunday/Monday on the plane and then driving in our mission truck on Tuesday to Swaziland. The kids did AMAZING on all the flights and Nathan even took two long sleeps on the international 15+ hour flight to South Africa. Praise the Lord! Lacie returned to school on Wednesday after our family arrived back in Swaziland on Tuesday. She was warmly greeted by her classmates and enjoyed being back into her routine. We have been slowly unpacking more and more each day and getting the house back in order. Nathan is just happy to be playing with his cars. Steve has jumped back into some of his Bible studies, mostly just re-connecting with the Swazis and hearing how God has worked in their lives. Our family plans to attend Hawane Baptist Church in the morning at their invitation and we are looking forward to being with them for worship. The youth leaders in our area were at the mission property this morning for a meeting in preparations for our annual youth retreat for our area in December.

As we get back into ministry, pray for
- our family as we adjust back to our lives here in Swaziland
- God's clear direction to know new work areas- upcoming National Women's Retreat on October 14-16 with Barbara Myers, our friend and co-worker on our Swazi mission family, leading the sessions on prayer.
- our Swazi mission family is getting new missionaries, Todd and Deborah Hoskins, arriving in Swaziland on October 14. Pray for their final days in the USA and special times with family and friends. We are excited to see our mission family growing once again.
- Lacie is taking her entrance exam to start grade 1 at Sifundzani Primary School in January. She will do great but she is a bit nervous.Lacie is finishing up her kindergarten (grade 0) school year right now. We are blessed and thankful for Al and Belinda Jordan that covered our ministry work and stayed in our house for the past six months. We were able to be with them briefly before they departed back to the USA. We cannot put into words how much we appreciated their willingness to serve our Lord in Swaziland the past several months.

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We have been so blessed to have Lacie in a small, preschool since she was three years old. It is literally five minutes away from our house with great teachers. They have Christian principles, even though it is not technically a Christian school. She has great friends there and we have loved the environment for her. Kindergarten or Grade 0 is the oldest class at the preschools here in Swaziland. Lacie is now preparing to start Grade 1 in late January, when our new school year opens. The school year for us is all-year round, January - December, with three term breaks. Right now, Lacie is on the list to get into Sifunduzani Primary School and we hear great reports from others that it is an excellent, private school. Primary schools are grade 1 - 7 so our little Lacie will be quite the little fish in a big pond next year. She will be taking her entrance exam on Thursday morning at 10:00am, our time. It is more of a time to see how Lacie does with listening skills, see where she is at with her basic learning skills, interacting with adults and so forth. We know she will do fine but she is a bit nervous. She is afraid she will be asked to repeat kindergarten, which is so not true. We should find out fairly soon if Lacie has been accepted into the school and finalize the plans for her to start in January. Pray that if this is where Lacie is to be in school that everything will work out. If it is not, God would close the doors tightly. If she is not to attend there, give us direction on other options. We have homeschooling as an option but not sure if that is the right one for us right now, either. Education is so important and we know we are at crossroads to an important decision concerning Lacie. We appreciate all your prayers and any advice of others as well.

Hope this catches everyone up on our latest updates....

Meet the Hoskins

Thanks for all your prayers for Lacie's entrance exam last week. All went very well and she did fantastic. We are now waiting to hear from the school if she has been accepted or not. At this point, it is a matter of space as the school only takes 60 students for two 1st grade classes. Praying for God's will to be shown to our family.

This week, our mission family will be receiving new personnel...yeah!!! They are Todd and Deborah Hoskins and will be serving a two-year assignment with our company. They will live next door to our family for a short time and then the plan is for them to move down to Manzini to be more centrally located. They will be doing church planting/developing in the Manzini area as well developing rural "schools" for leadership training, discipleship classes, etc. We look forward to all God has planned for their time in Swaziland.

Pray for Todd and Deborah as they are saying good-bye to family and friends for a couple years. They will fly out of the USA on Tuesday, arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday, spend night at our Baptist guest house and arrive in Swaziland on Thursday morning on the 7:40am flight, our time. Whew, they will need a few days of rest to get over all those travels! :) They will only be in Swaziland for several days before they head to Burkina Faso and Ghana for our company's 40/40 bush camp training.We look forward to sharing more about Todd and Deborah in future updates! As always, thank you for your prayers!!!!

October 2, 2010

HUGE thanks to the Jordans

Our family was so blessed to have Al and Belinda Jordan come serve in Swaziland while our family was in the USA for our six-month stateside assignment. Monica met Al back in 2000 when Monica was serving a two-year term with our company and Al came with our company as part of a Baptist Student Ministers discovery team. Little did we all know how much God would guide our paths to develop a friendship over the years. Al and Belinda also came to Swaziland in 2001 to cover the ministry work of former Swazi team colleagues and friends, Sy and Ruth Grayson, but they lived in the house next door. During the 2001 time, Steve came to Swaziland in June 2001 for a mission trip and met the Jordans and Monica returned in August 2001 to help lead the National Youth Camp. We also had the privilege of serving with the Jordans living next door to our family in 2005-2006 as volunteer coordinators for our Swazi mission family. So you can see there is much history between our two families.
It was not an easy six months with ups and downs in Swaziland but we are grateful for the Jordan's willingness to serve the Swazi people in our absence. We know God's kingdom was advanced because of their faithful hearts.
Thank you Al and Belinda for ALL you did in Swaziland!!!! We are blessed by you both tremendously and love you tons!!!
Monica with Al and Belinda before they left the mission houses.

Al and Belinda (also known as Paw-Paw and Aunt B) with Lacie and Nathan before they left Swaziland on Thursday morning

Al and Belinda Jordan and Gogo Maria Shandu with Steve, Lacie and Nathan on the morning we left Swaziland for our stateside assignment back in March.