September 28, 2008

Swaziland Baptist National Youth Camp 2008

The National Youth Camp is a special annual event for our Swazi youth and a highlight each year for me personally. Although I was not as involved in the whole youth camp planning and camp event as in years past due to Nathan joining our family this past year, it was still great to see our Swazi youth for a short time each day. God really moved in the lives of many youth! Back in 1999 when I came to Swaziland as a two-year missionary, I helped to lead and re-start the national youth camp. It had been several years since the youth had a national camp. I spent the next year teaching the youth leaders the basics of how to plan and lead camp and the national youth camp was revived in August 2000. Since that time, we have had camp every August and more and more responsibilities are handed over to our national youth committee. Little issues are being worked on every year and no, it is not always easy but it is like watching a child grow more and more each year. God is so good! The youth camp this year was four days, August 28 - 31, and had around 190 youth coming from our Baptist churches all over the country. Each youth has to pay a camper fee of E30 (about $4 and pays for all their meals, place to sleep and assists with the rental of the school for the camp location) as well as their bus transportation to and from camp to their homes. The theme was being made complete in Christ and it is our prayer that each youth understands that only Christ can bring full completion in their lives! This past weekend, the national youth committee met to evaluate youth camp and yes, even begin plans for the national youth camp 2009 scheduled for late August. Let us know if anyone is interested in coming to help us lead camp or bring a team to speak, lead worship, lead games and just hang with the youth!

The National Youth Camp worship session under the big revival tent!

Swazi praise and worship style of singing and dancing to the Lord!

Our Baptist pastors praying over the newly elected and current representatives of the National Youth Committee. There are eight representatives on the National Youth Committee, two reps for each of the four regions of Swaziland. Lacie and her new little friend enjoying some hang time at youth camp! Lacie loved going to see the "kids" as she calls the youth each day at camp.

I'd like to teach the world to...drink Coke!

We have learned that you pretty much can go anywhere in the world and you will find a Coca-Cola to drink! So, of course, we had to introduce Nathan to Coke...just kidding! He has not had Coke yet and will not for a long time.
By the way, folks that know us well...we have given up buying Coke for home and only drink Coke now on special times because of the high cost. That is huge for us! Now of course, if we only had Dr. Pepper in Swaziland, we would be all over drinking DP! :)

MK's at Prayer Retreat

MK's (missionary kids) are a special group of kids! I have been around lots of kids growing up in minister's homes as well as other missionary kids. However, now I am raising two MK's of my own and they are such a blessing in more ways than one. I love that my children are exposed to different cultures and backgrounds on a daily basis. They know Africa as their home, not the USA. It is not always easy on that one as Steve and I grew up in the USA but God has called our family to be in Africa now.
Going to mission meetings and prayer retreats with our company is special times for not only the adults but for the MK's, too. Many of them do not get to see each other very often so they love getting to play with their missionary "cousins". On the mission field, the other missionaries are our family away from home. Our children have many missionary aunts, uncles and cousins here in Africa, although we all miss our family back in the USA at the same time.

At meetings, the MK's have their own classes led by volunteer groups so they can hear Bible stories, sing songs, play games, do crafts, etc. For Lacie, she looks forward to these meetings with great anticipation as she does not have a weekly Sunday school class to attend at church. Yes, many of our Swazi Baptist churches have Sunday school classes for the kids but it is not the same. For our family, we are in siSwati speaking churches each week with attending a different church on top of the whole process. Lacie does great being out in the rural churches and our family does have nightly devotions with her but it is not the same as her MK classes at mission meetings. Plus, these meetings give her a chance to be with other MK's that are all facing about the same issues and situations of growing up on foreign soil. What a blessing! On top of my children getting to be in classes (yes, even Nathan is class, too!), Steve and I have the opportunity to sit in sessions not worrying about watching our children as well as enjoying worship services in English. The next time you meet a MK or one comes to your mind, pray for them. They are a special group that are with their families on foreign soil experiencing all God has for them to learn as well as growing up to just be kids. We are thankful for our own MK's, Lacie and Nathan! :)

Lacie getting ready to perfom with her MK class the last night of our prayer retreat.

Thank you, Shadow Mountain Community Church, for your time you invested into our children during the prayer retreat.

Our MK's in action...go Lacie!

Puppy Love

As we were leaving the USA last month, our family had a layover in the Atlanta airport. We were able to see Monica's brother, sister-in-law, niece and two special friends. One of them was Monica's best friend, Jennifer Peavey, that she has grown up with since they were seven years old. Jennifer had her youngest son, Heath, with her and Lacie and Heath enjoyed some time at lunch together before saying our good-byes once again for a couple more years. It will be fun to look back someday and show photos to the kids! :)

Lacie with Heath Peavey - cute puppy love! Only God knows what the future holds...

Indian Ocean for the FIRST time!

Going to the ocean is always a treat for our family as we live in a country that is landlocked. However, Monica grew up right next to the Atlantic Ocean and misses getting to see the ocean. Our family was able to visit the ocean when we were in Florida in July so technically Nathan has been to the ocean already but he slept through his first visit! :) So, although the weather was much cooler and windy in South Africa last month, we had to visit the ocean for a few minutes. Our annual prayer retreat for our mission cluster was south of Durban, South Africa last month. Getting there took would take us almost nine hours by car so our family spent the night at Richard's Bay to break up the road trip for us. We had to stick our feet in the water and enjoy the ocean breeze for a few minutes, even though the wind about knocked us over! :)

Lacie absolutely loves the ocean but passed on getting in this time with the cooler temps.

Nathan's first time to be in the Indian Ocean. We missed the photo moment where he cried and was not too sure about getting his feet (and his pants!) all wet. It was too cute!

September 11, 2008

Happy 1/2 Birthday Nathan!

It is hard to believe that our little man, Nathan, is already six months old! Nathan officially turned six months old on September 7. He is such a joy in our family and we thank God for him every day. We look forward to watching Nathan grow more and more. Our prayer is that Nathan will grow up loving the Lord with all his heart. Nathan means "Gift of God" and we definitely know that Nathan is a very precious gift from God!

Nathan on his baby swing outside...yes, it is cold here in Africa...we are finishing our winter and going into spring! Nathan likes the outdoor swing but does not care for his baby swing in the house..go figure! :)

Special Grandparents

Our family is very thankful for the special grandparents that have impacted our lives in many ways. As we are celebrating grandparents this week, (National Grandparents Day was this past Sunday, September 7), we want to take time to say...Thank you, Jesus, for our grandparents! You all are very special to us and we treasure the memories we have with each one of you. Even though we are not able to see you in person much because of the great distance from us to you, know that we think of you often, miss you greatly and love you much!

Our family (Steven, Monica, Lacie and Nathan) with Steven's parents and Lacie and Nathan's Granddaddy Sidney and Grandmother/Gogo Glenda Allen during family reunion in August in Creston, North Carolina. We miss you and love you both! Come see us anytime in Africa!

Gogo Polly Trice (Gogo is grandmother in siSwati - the language spoken here in Swaziland) with her three precious grandchildren, Lacie and Nathan Allen and Caroline Trice, during our recent trip to West Palm Beach, Florida. We love you and miss you, Gogo Polly! Come visit us in Swaziland!

Grampie and Grammie Trice (Ron and Mary Trice) with Lacie, Nathan, Caroline and their newest addition, Maddison. Maddison is in the process of being officially adopted by Monica's dad and step-mom. We miss you and love you miss you, too! You are welcome to visit us in Swaziland anytime!

Monica with her Grandma Daisy Dean during our recent visit to West Palm Beach, Florida. Grandma, I love you and am so thankful for you in my life!

Steven with his Grandmother Graybeal. Grandmother Clara Graybeal went home to be with the Lord in July and we miss her very much. However, we know that she is now in a better place with no further pain or sufferings. Steven fondly remembers his grandmother in many ways and looks forward to sharing stories about her with our children.

Five Years in Swaziland!

WOW...we cannot believe that we have been serving and living in Swaziland for FIVE years already...whew, where does the time go? Steve and Monica landed in Swaziland to begin serving as missionaries on September 12, 2003. Our family has had quite a roller coaster ride but what joy to know that we are right where God has the middle of HIS plan! Since that time, we have added two amazing and precious children...Lacie Joy born on June 17, 2004 and Nathan Curtis born on March 7, 2008. We know we are blessed beyond measure! :)
We love serving the Swazi people and consider it a honor to work with so many that have such a deep hunger to know more about Jesus Christ. We are constantly striving to futher the kingdom of God here in Swaziland through leadership training. More and more, we want the nationals to take ownership of reaching their families, communities and churches for Jesus Christ.
We have no idea how long God has planned for our family to serve in Swaziland but we are thankful for tons of prayer support that has kept us going through the last five years. Thank you to everyone for your faithful prayer support!