December 17, 2009

Allen's Christmas Letter 2009

Greetings from Swaziland, Africa! We pray extra blessings on each of you during this special season of celebrating our Savior’s birth, Jesus Christ.

As we look back on the year of 2009, we have much to thank the Lord for in our family. Ministry has been challenging, exciting, fun, and busy all at the same time! God has done many great things this past year with the Swazi people and it is only a privilege to serve with such amazing people. We are thankful for all the volunteers that have come to Swaziland this past year to work among the Swazi people. Our mission team reduced as three units returned to the USA and we miss them all greatly. We are blessed with many prayer partners that faithfully pray for our family, team, ministry and the Swazi people. Without you, we could not continue the work God has for us to accomplish in His timing.

Our family is doing well and staying quite busy balancing family and ministry each day. Lacie is now five years old and will start kindergarten/grade 0 in January 2010 at The Little Brown Hen Preschool. She has attended half days there for the past two years. The school year here is from January – December, with three school term breaks. She started ballet, gymnastics and swim lessons this year. She loves them all and even placed first in her age group for the Swaziland gymnastics competition in November. Lacie asks many questions about “asking Jesus into her heart”. We know God is working on her tender heart.

Nathan turned one this year and is quite an active little boy! :) He loves cars, trucks, trains and balls. He loves anything that moves or he can throw. The kids play well together and one of Nathan’s favorite words is “Sisi” (siSwati for sister)! We are blessed with two, amazing kids…thank, you, Lord!

Steve took the trip of a lifetime to Israel this year with Southwestern Seminary to assist with their Tel Gezer project, an archeological dig. He thoroughly loved his trip and one he hopes to do again someday in the future. Monica’s mom, Gogo Polly, came for a visit on her summer break and our family enjoyed having family visit us in our African world. Lacie and Monica made a quick trip to the USA in October as Lacie was one of the flower girls in Monica’s cousin’s wedding in Florida. It was a fun trip for mother/daughter and the “boys” had their male bonding time back in Swaziland.

Our family is looking forward to our stateside time in 2010 as we will be in North Carolina from end of March – end of June and in West Palm Beach, Florida, from end of June – end of September. We want to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We are sending you hugs and love from Swaziland to your family! May God richly bless each of your lives in a special way in 2010!

Love and prayers,

Steven, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen

Something to think about....

With 1 week before Christmas REMEMBER:

JESUS is Better than Santa

Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies
JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited
JESUS stands at your door and knocks.. and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?"
JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly
JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry"
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.

Santa's little helpers make toys
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree
JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.
It's obvious there is really no comparison.


We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.
We need to put Christ back in Christmas.


Jesus is STILL the reason for the season.
May the Lord Bless and Watch over you and your loved ones this Christmas 2009
And may He prosper and bless the work of your hands in the New Year.

November 20, 2009

Lasik Surgery Adventure

Whew...what a past several days for me! I found out on Monday morning that Lasik surgery will never happen for me. I was very disappointed to hear this news but glad the doctor had enough wisdom not to do surgery with possible complications. I had so looked forward to being able to wake in the night and actually read the clock or be able to jump out of bed to get to one of the kid's rooms quickly without the need to reach for glasses or even read signs or license plates from any distance. However, I am grateful for glasses and the ability to see most things! :)

Back in February, I saw the eye doctor for a consultation about Lasik surgery and he asked me to stop wearing contact lenses for at least six months. It seems the blood vessels on my cornea were deeply affected by many, many years of wearing contact lenses. I have faithfully worn my glasses (except for a few rare exceptions of wearing contact lenses) in hopes of having Lasik surgery this year. However, it was just not meant to be as the blood vessels had improved but not enough to have Lasik surgery without possible complications. I am a candidate for PRK laser surgery, which will have the same end results. The PRK surgery is a bit more evasive and has a longer recovery time vs. the Lasik surgery. The doctor was ready to schedule me for the surgery this past Tuesday but I could not stay in Johannesburg for a week as well as take care of Nathan all on my own in recovery, too. I am not sure if I am going to do this surgery and would love to hear from anyone that has had PRK laser surgery. If I do decide to proceed with the PRK surgery, our whole family will go over to Johannesburg sometime in the next couple of months so we are all together for my recovery time. Please pray that I make the right decision on whether to proceed with the surgery or be content to wearing only my glasses for the rest of my life.

The trip to Johannesburg was quite an adventure in itself as Nathan ended up getting sick Sunday evening, not long after we had arrived at the guest house. I had bought Clover First Growth Milk in small boxes for him to drink to make it easier for traveling. I did not realize all the extra ingredients (like iron and so forth) that is added to this "special" milk as Nathan normally drinks full cream (whole) milk every day. Well, he had an allergic reaction (the best I can tell based on the fact that his daddy is lactose intolerant!) to the milk and poor little guy threw up five times in just a few hours. It was Nathan's first time to throw up so he was quite scared and did not like it one bit. Once it was all out of his system, he turned over and was back to his old, usual self. Praise the Lord it was nothing else and he bounced back quickly.

Whew....always an adventure!

November 15, 2009

Allen's African Adventures - November

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (NASB)

Thank you for your continued prayers on behalf of our family and ministry in Swaziland. The work is greatly enhanced and empowered by your prayers on our behalf.
Since we last wrote we have had some encouraging developments in the work in the Lesibovu community. This is an area about an hour and a half southeast of Mbabane. Last month we had our second baptism service and baptized nineteen new believers. We have continued holding weekly chronological Bible story lessons every Saturday. This week we had over one hundred adults, youth and children present. The church has begun conducting Sunday morning worship services on their own, with different members taking turns leading. I have reduced my preaching there to once per month. Last Sunday the church held its first Sunday school, with assistance from members from Hawane Baptist Church. We also celebrated our first Lord's Supper together as a church family. On Thursday I met with church members and local elders concerning a plot of land for the church. The location which the church had requested was granted and a down payment made. The only thing left is to have an official celebration with the putting in the boundary stakes by the local authorities. Please pray that nothing would create division among this enthusiastic group of believers. Pray that strong internal leadership would continue to develop.

We are the only IMB personnel in Swaziland at the moment, as Wayne and Barbara Myers are in the US for their stateside assignment. They will be returning in January. Please pray that the Myers would have a time of refreshing in the states as they visit with family and friends. Pray also for their safety as they travel to different churches to speak about the ministry work in Swaziland.

Please continue to pray for various churches that are seeking plots of land on which to build. The plot for Hawane Baptist Church has still not been officially marked due to an unresolved issue between two competing chiefs for the area. Mpembekati is also seeking a plot as their church is being relocated due to the construction of a school on land which they had previously been granted. Other churches currently have buildings under construction. Please pray that the churches would be able to see these projects through to completion (Ntsintsa and Victory Baptist Church).

Please pray for the upcoming National Baptist Women's Retreat, which will be held December 17-19. The theme is, "Power of the Journey" based on II Corinthians 3:5. Hannah Poe will be the keynote speaker for the event. You may recall that Greg and Hannah Poe, and their two sons, Joshua and Elijah, served on the Swazi team for two years in 2005-2007. The whole family will be coming to minister December 10 (leaving the USA) - December 25 (arriving back in the USA). Please pray that they would have traveling safety and a wonderful time of ministry and reconnecting with old friends in Swaziland.

Thank you for your prayers for Monica and Lacie as they took a short trip to the states for a cousin's wedding last month. They had an enjoyable time visiting with family and friends, and Lacie had an opportunity to serve as a flower girl in the wedding. Their trip was an enjoyable and safe one. While they were away, Steve and Nathan stayed behind to continue ministry. Nathan was a real trooper, and he and daddy had some good male bonding time. It is good, however, to have the family all back together again.

Please pray for Monica and Nathan as they will be traveling to Johannesburg on Sunday, November 15th. On Monday, Monica will be having a medical consultation in Johannesburg for possible Lasik eye surgery. If all looks well she is slated to have surgery on Tuesday. She is really looking forward to seeing normally again without the need for glasses or contact lenses. Steve and Lacie will be staying in Swaziland in order to continue ministry and schooling. Please pray that Monica will be able to proceed with her surgery and have a good outcome.

As the holiday season approaches, please remember to give to the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This year, more than ever, the International Mission Board is in need of everyone's financial support if the work of missionaries, such as ourselves, is to continue around the world. God is at work and this is your opportunity to join in HIS activity and plans! The goal for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is $175 million.

***Remember, we live in Africa and there is no guarantee that our e-mails are received or even sent out correctly. If you have written and not heard from us, please write again. We would rather receive e-mails two times than not at all.***

Family Blog -
www.allensinafrica.blogspot.com - leave us a comment so we know you stopped by to visit! - Be looking for new stories shortly....
Skype - allensinafrica
Monica and Steve are both on Facebook so look them up!
Team prayer blog:
www.swaziprayerbytes.blogspot.com

Blessings and love,
Steven, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen
IMB missionaries to Swaziland

Baptizing a new believer at Peace Baptist Church

Getting ready to show the JESUS film to a primary school

Precious children at Ntsintsa Baptist Church

Church under the trees

Preparing to take "The Lord's Supper"

Steve, Monica, Lacie and Nathan hanging out after church at Lesibovu

September 15, 2009

Updates on Requests....already!

First, Steve just phoned me from Johannesburg and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, our time. He will go to the hospital (Linksfield Hospital) around 12pm, our time, and then spend the night for observation. I know he is so ready for this kidney stone to be removed. The doctor says the cysts found are insignificant and does not see them as a problem at all. Praise the Lord! Not sure if Steve will be coming home Thursday or Friday. All depends on when he is released and if he is on medication and cannot drive home yet. Thanks for all your prayers!

Second, Barbara Myers also just phoned me and the movers just arrived at their house. The movers are packing up everything now and then meeting the Myers in Tshaneni at 8:00am to unload their stuff in their new house. Pray everything goes smoothly and no problems with the mover's trucks (reason for delay with movers today) until all their stuff is safely in their new house. The Myers will not have much internet service until they start their stateside time in a couple weeks. I know they appreciate all your prayers as well.

Third, Lisa Warren sent an email to me this afternoon to let us know that Sarah Warren's MRI results show that there is NO tumor...praise the Lord!

Allen's African Adventures - September 2009

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be."
Philippians 3:12 (New Living Translation)

PRAISES & PRAYER REQUESTS:
Thank you for praying for the National Youth Camp last month. We had about 175 youth from our Baptist churches all over Swaziland. The theme was "God Chooses Me!" based Eph. 1:4-5. The speakers did a fantastic job and the national youth committee led the camp in unity and focus together. All in all, we know that many chose to return to their first love, Jesus Christ, and pray for all the youth as they press on in their personal walks with the Lord. The National Youth Committee met in Mbabane this past weekend to evaluate youth camp, turning over of new old to new committee members, and sharing new ideas and vision for the coming year. The NYC desires to host at least three leadership retreats for our youth leaders in the coming year for further training and learning more about our Heavenly Father. Pray for direction, unity and logistical planning for these upcoming leadership retreats as well as planning for national youth camp 2010. Attached are a couple photos from youth camp. One is the national youth committee (a few former reps included) and one of a morning teaching time.

Lesibovu, the new outreach group that was started back in February, has had three Sunday afternoon services. It is better for the people to meet in the afternoon vs. morning at this time. We had been allowed to use the community building for Bible studies each Saturday afternoon until last month. Steve had talked to the community elders way back and permission was granted. However, the Zionist group in the area is not happy about an evangelical group coming in to share with "their" people. They are quite surprised that we keep coming each week and now are doing Sunday services at least once a month. We are meeting under the trees, which is no problem on most days but the rainy season is starting. Pray we are able to find a building or home to meet in for Bible studies and services. The enemy is NOT winning as we have seen over 60 people pray to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This past Sunday, we had their FIRST baptism service and it was an exciting time for everyone. We had eight people follow the Lord in believer's baptism. We know that many more are desiring baptism but was curious about the whole process. In a Zionist baptism, folks are dunked repeatedly and not just one time. We sense that several people were hesitant and probably a bit scared, too, to choose something going against their cultural beliefs. Pray for the ones that have accepted Jesus in recent months that they would grow each day following Him. Pray for the folks that followed in baptism this past Sunday as they share with their families and communities how Jesus has changed their lives. Pray, too, for leaders to rise within this new group for training to lead this new group as they grow into a church. Attached are a few photos of the recent baptism service.

Pray for Steve and I as we are prayerfully seeking the Lord about a new work area in the Hhohho region. We plan to do a prayer drive in the next month or so. Pray for God to guide us and for open doors and receptive hearts as we pray and talk with Swazis in different rural areas.

Pray for several churches that are currently trying to obtain plots for building new churches or shifting existing churches. Hawane Baptist is STILL waiting to have their plot of land marked by the community council. They will get ready to start building their church very soon. Victory Baptist and Ntsintsa Baptist were recently approved for new plots for their churches and both have begun building their new churches. Victory plans to move a bit closer to the main road and use most of the existing church materials. Ntsintsa Baptist has met in a Red Cross building since it was started in the 1990's and desires to have their own church. Mphembekati Baptist has to move their existing church due to being too close to a school. Peniel Baptist recently lost their church meeting place so they are seeking a new one temporarily until they can begin building their own structure.

SWAZI MISSION TEAM NEWS:
Pray for Wayne and Barbara Myers as they are moving this week to their new home and ministry in Swaziland. They are moving to Tshaneni from Nhlangano, where they have lived since 1994. Pray for the move to go well and the movers to arrive on time and accomplish everything quickly. It is about a 2.5 hours distance between where they had been living and now going to be. It is in the same region that they assist but on the other side of Swaziland. Pray for this new work area and for great relationships to be established with nationals. Wayne and Barbara are also preparing for their upcoming stateside time starting September 23 - end of the year. They will be in Kentucky and the southeast part of the USA for time with family and sharing in churches. They are still in need of borrowing a vehicle for their time in the USA. Please pray they are able to find one this week!

Please continue to pray for the Warren family as they are adjusting to being back in the USA. Pray for direction on employment and ministry opportunities for Bert and Lisa as well as for the kids (Jessie, Matthew and Sarah) as they are back in school again. Pray for Lisa's parents as they adjust to living in the Warren's house and for her father's improvement and rehabilitation after his stroke this past April. During kindergarten assessment Sarah’s pediatrician notice a weakness in her right eye. She was referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist and was prescribed eyeglasses as well as a “pirate” patch. She underwent a MRI on Friday and the family is waiting to hear the results today (Tuesday). She has a follow-up appointment on the 12th of October. Please pray for God’s will in this situation and that He will be glorified.

When we were home in the USA for our last stateside time, Monica's home church helped us come up with a way to remember to pray for the Swazi people. Will you join us in praying for them daily?

Pray for the Swazi people:
S-salvation please pray for the salvation of the people of Swaziland.
W-workers please pray God will provide workers (leaders) to lead Swazi Baptist churches.
A-AIDS please pray the Swazi people will understand how to stop the spread of AIDS.
Z- Zionism pray the Swazis will turn from Zionism (African Traditional Religion) to follow Christ.
I-increase pray the number of Swazi Baptist churches will increase.

FAMILY NEWS:
Thank you for all the prayers for Steve recently concerning his latest kidney stone attack. Steve is on his way to Johannesburg today (Tuesday) to see his urologist and more than likely, he is looking at having surgery this week to have it removed. He has not been in constant pain the last three weeks though so that is a huge praise. He did have a CT scan done recently and it was discovered that he has four more kidney stones "waiting" to come some day as well as cysts on his left kidney stone and liver. Pray for the doctors to have wisdom in everything this week and for Steve to have complete healing to his body. He has still been pressing on with ministry and life in general but know he is not quite himself. The kids and I stayed in Swaziland this time so pray as we are apart from one another. We will keep everyone updated as we are able to do so.

On September 29 - October 16, Lacie and I will be taking a short holiday to West Palm Beach, Florida, to visit with family and be there for Monica's cousin's (Tarrah and Jesse) wedding on October 10. Lacie is going to be one of their flower girls. She is way excited! Steve and Nathan will be staying in Swaziland as Steve already took part of his holiday time this year with his trip to Israel. Pray for all of us as we are separated from one another. Friends will be helping Steve with Nathan while I am gone. Plus, he is a great daddy anyway! :) Pray for safe travels for Lacie and I to the USA and back to Africa and special times with family and friends.

Pray for our family to have strength and wisdom as we balance family and ministry each day. Pray for our walks with the Lord to grow more and more and specifically direction for our family as we lead/teach Lacie and Nathan to love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts. Since the weekly church services are conducted in siSwati it is difficult for the children as they don't understand what is being said. Pray that we would continue to find ways to make weekly worship at home positive and meaningful for the children, especially Lacie.

During the third school term, we need to get Lacie's name on a list for grade 1 at one of the two private schools in our area. We hope to visit both schools in the month of September to make the final decision. Although Lacie is only starting kindergarten in January 2010, we will be gone for our Stateside for six months next year. We need to have Lacie on a list for school before the school year ends this year. We are leaning towards one school but we want her to be in the right school environment that will be best for Lacie.

As of now, the plan for our USA time next year is that we will be leaving South Africa around March 26 or 27, 2010, and landing in Charlotte, North Carolina. We have to be at a conference at home office April 5-10 in Richmond, VA. We will be in North Carolina for the first three months and Florida the last three months. We will return to the mission field around September 26 or 27, 2010, for another three years or so at this point. If anyone has contacts on a way we can borrow a vehicle for either our three months in North Carolina or three months in Florida or the whole six months, let us know. Also, Florida family and friends, we are also looking for a place to stay (house sit or rent) for our time in the West Palm Beach area as there really is not enough room for our whole family with anyone for quite that long. Probably will be in Florida around mid-late June - end of September. Pray for all the logistical planning and speaking schedule to be finalized in the coming months.

National Youth Camp 2009 - morning session

National Youth Committee 2009-2010 (couple former members, too!)

Steve and Sandile baptizing at Lesibovu

Lesibovu starting church services

Two adorable kids hanging in the rural area!

August 26, 2009

Pray for Swaziland Baptist National Youth Camp 2009

I cannot believe that it is time again for our annual youth camp tomorrow. Wow, it seems like just the other day that camp ended in 2008! Youth camp is very special to me as it was in 2000 that I was able to help re-establish our national youth camp and the forming of a national youth committee. The youth committee, made up of eight youth representing the four regions of Swaziland, works all year long in planning and preparing or youth camp. The committee changes through the years but is an opportunity to raise future leaders for our churches.
Some years, we have been blessed with volunteer teams to come lead and assist with youth camp and other years, we use national leaders for camp. This year, the committee has asked Lad Chapman, missionary friend, to lead as our main speaker for the evening and Sunday morning worship services. The theme is, "God Chooses Me!", based on Eph. 1:4-5. Lad's wife, Crystal Barkhouse Chapman, and I grew up together in the same youth group at First Baptist Church, West Palm Beach. We had seen each other in over 10 years and then we have been reunited in Swaziland. It really is a small world!
A few years ago, we started having youth camp at a school because we outgrew any buildings of our Baptist churches. Camp has always been planned in late August because it is a term break from school for all our students. This year, we will be having camp at Mbekelweni Lutheran High School. Camp is not the same as back in the USA. The students here will sleep on grass mats or cardboard boxes on the floors of the classrooms of the school. Basins of water will be the classrooms for washing and bathing every morning. Toilets are outside and not the convenience of indoor ones. However, the presence of God is alive and real! Worship is sweet and lively at the same time. Most of the youth do not see each other except at youth camp each year as our students will come from literally all parts of the country. It is a highlight in many ways!!!
*Pray for final logistics of youth camp tomorrow morning.
*Pray for Lad Chapman, Kelly Woody, Pastor Gamedze and other speakers sharing at camp.
*Pray for safety as the youth will be traveling from all over tomorrow.
*Pray for the youth to come with open ears and receptive hearts to receive all God has for each one of them.
*Pray for the election and selection of a new national youth committee during camp.
Here are some youth camp reflections from camps past....
The beautiful Kingdom of Swaziland

Lad Chapman, main speaker, for youth camp 2009

Takes a LOT of food to feed the youth camp crew

Sunday worship service - ending of youth camp
Hanging with great friends

Youth Camp under the big tent - morning worship service

Always time to play some fun games at camp! :)
Praise the Lord for the many ladies that sacrifice their time to cook for our youth!

National Youth Committee 2006 - this committee works hard all year long and I am so thankful for them and blessed by their commitment to serve the youth, churches and communities.

August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Gogo Polly

Happy Birthday Gogo Polly!!!!
Sending you love and hugs from Swaziland! Wish we could be there to celebrate with you this year but we plan to join you next year when we are back in the USA for our family's stateside time! :) Pray you have an amazing day and lots of fun with Uncle Mike and Caroline!
We love you very much!
Lacie and Nathan (Monica and Steve, too!)
Rare photo of Gogo Polly with both Lacie and Nathan....our son, Nathan
does not like the camera as compared to his big sis, Lacie!
Gogo Polly with precious Lacie at Summerfield's

Gogo Polly hanging with cutie Nathan

The Stones are BACK

No, we are not talking about The Rolling Stones or any other group but rather Steve's good 'ol kidney stones. Kidney stones seem to be a part of Steve's life as he is now facing the 6th one! ;)
It must be some sort of a genetic thing for him as several folks in his family have all faced the good 'ol stones. He has tried various diets over the years to avoid "making" more kidney stones but all seem to result in more stones rather than stopping them.

The stones are kinda sentimental to Steve and I as we met as a result of one of his kidney stone attacks back in February 1999. Steve was on a volunteer mission trip with a group from First Baptist Church, Washington, North Carolina, and a kidney stone attack hit him while out in the rural area down in the southern part of Swaziland. I had arrived in Swaziland in January 1999 to serve two years as a youth ministry worker missionary with the International Mission Board. Steve was taken to the Mbabane clinic and they did all they could for him. He was not able to pass this stone on his own with the meds so I was asked to take him to Nelspruit, South Africa, about a two-hour drive from Mbabane, Swaziland, to see a urologist. Surgery was needed and I stayed with her supervisors living in Nelspruit. Little did we realize at the time, but meeting like we did gave a whole new meaning to "Romancing the Stone"! Plus, Steve likes to share with folks that he met me when he was "stoned"!!! Ha! Ha! Everyone thinks Steve is the quiet one but he has some really good stories and jokes to share!

When Steve and I returned to Swaziland to serve as career missionaries, Steve had an ultrasound right before we left the USA. The scan showed that Steve had three kidney stones in his system and we did not know when they would decide to make an appearance. The first stone caused problems when we were in Kenya in January 2005 for Steve to finish modular class with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Steve eventually passed the stone right after we got back to South Africa before we headed home to Swaziland. The second stone decided to come last month, July 2009, when we were already in Johannesburg taking my mom back to the airport for her return flight to the USA. Again, he was able to pass the stone within a couple of days. Now, the third and we pray FINAL stone is causing issues and we are praying Steve can pass the stone in the next 24 - 48 hours.

Steve got out of the Mbabane Clinic last night around 6pm, our time. He has felt pretty well, with the help of some great meds! :) On our way home, we stopped to get take-away pizza at Debonairs Pizza in town. Wow, take-away two nights in a row is really a treat for our family! Steve thought is would be appropriate for him to order a Stoney Beer in honor of The Stone. By the way, Stoney Beer is a ginger beer so no, this Baptist missionary/pastor is not drinking! :)

So, as you can see, there is a history of stones in our family and we are praying for a new kind of stone or gem to come our way now. Mmm....diamonds are cheaper in Africa!?!?

August 22, 2009

Daily Life with the Allen Family

Thought you might be interested in learning how crazy life can get for our family....

It all started last night when Steve got a call from one of our pastors that they needed him to be at a meeting with the community council/elders of one of churches first thing this morning. The meeting was for the council to show and mark the land for the church's new plot. Steve had to leave the our house by 7am to collect our folks and be ready for the meeting by 8am. Steve dressed up for the meeting as this is expected since he is a pastor and was on his way early. By 9am, the ladies of the church brought out tea and sandwiches for a tea break. By 10:30am, the elders still had not come (which is typical with Africans as they are normally not on any set schedules) but Steve had a Bible study to head to by 12:30pm. The ladies of the church told them to go ahead and leave as the elders were now in another meeting and did not know when they would be finished. Steve took our folks back to catch their bus home and he headed home for a quick bite to eat.

Kelly Woody, our True Love Waits International consultant, is here with us in our area and along with three of our Swazis, were going with Steve to Bible study at Lesibovu. Kelly planned to teach the True Love Waits presentation with the adults and youth and Steve and Ntombi were going to lead the children at Bible study. Well...they left on time and Steve, Kelly and Maria headed to our local grocery store, Spar (great meeting place as it is not far from the bus rank/station), to collect Ntombi and Jane for the Bible study. However, they got to the Spar parking lot and discovered they had a flat tire on the mission truck. Steve changed the tire in the parking lot and then discovered the spare tire was flat, too! Big time bummer! So...the plans to get to Bible study, unfortunately, did not happen today. It is always difficult to cancel Bible study out in the rural areas because folks are waiting all along the roads to be collected for the Bible study time. Praise the Lord, we do have a cell phone (amazing that so many folks have cell phones but yet no running water or electricity at their homes!) for one of the men that attends the study faithfully each week so he was able to tell folks nearby that the study had to be cancelled today. Too bad, we had not no way to get word to the kids waiting on the side of the roads. Hopefully, they did not wait too long for Steve today and realized he was not going to make it.

Meanwhile back at the Allen homefront with Monica the kids (Lacie and Nathan)....
We were eating our lunch, which was not much for Lacie as she has been under the weather, and watching the monkeys in our backyard (yes, we do live in Africa!). Nathan is our bread boy and wants bread at every meal. Monica was eating such a healthy meal of hot dogs and potato chips! :( Nathan had his usual yogurt, fruit and bread. We have been blessed with great eaters and Nathan loves to eat! :) He was shoveling in his bread roll (small part had gotten hard and Monica did not realize it!), which is normal, but this time, he began to choke. He had a large piece stuck and it was not coming out. Amazingly, Monica stayed calm (for the most part!) and immediately flipped Nathan upside down and hit his back about five times. Praise the Lord, the piece of food eventually came out. Monica was praying and praying to the Lord to help Nathan get the food out so he could breathe again. It was a scary few moments but praise the Lord, Nathan is OK! After it was over, Nathan was crying, Monica was shaking and Lacie was hugging us all! What a precious big sister!!!

We decided it was a night to get take-away (carry-out) from Nando's restaurant (chicken place), which is a real treat for our family. Kids are bathed, dinner is over and we are now watching a family movie. Steve is working on his artifacts collection and Monica is finishing writing this short story about our family.

Whew....we say all this to tell you that there is no "normal" or "typical" day in the life of our family, which we are sure if the case with most families. We are often asked, "What is the typical day of a missionary?" so here is one day....

God is always teaching us new things each day and we are so thankful for His grace, love, mercy and unending faithfulness. Even though things do not always turn out as we plan, God's plans are bigger and better than we can ever dream or want for our lives, even in the simple and daily things of life.

So....how has your day been? :)

August 10, 2009

Allen's African Adventures - August 2009

Dear Prayer Partners,

Thank you for praying last week for the first Sunday worship service in the community of Lesibovu. Steve started a chronological Bible storying class in this area in February. There was definitely spiritual warfare in play Sunday. All of the family members were fighting colds. Thunderstorms and torrential rains began in the early hours Sunday morning in what should still be our dry season. Half of a major concrete bridge on the way to Lesibovu suffered a collapse. At a place where the road crosses what is usually a wide, dry river bed, the water was flowing about a foot deep. Despite the rains and high water, Steve made it to the church for the service. Thirty people braved the inclement weather to come to the service and one man prayed to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is a huge praise as men are typically hard to reach in Swazi culture. This makes the 50th profession of faith in the Lesibovu community since the Bible study started. Please pray that those who have made professions of faith would remain faithful to the commitments that they have made. Pray that Steve would be able to effectively disciple these new believers. Pray that a church would be started in this community and that leadership would develop internally.

Steve had a wonderful experience on his two-week archaeological trip to Israel last month. He participated in a project at the biblical site of Tel Gezer, sponsored by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Steve used vacation time to pursue one of his long-time passions - archaeology. He has really missed his former profession and enjoyed getting back into the dirt again. He had the opportunity to uncover walls and lots of artifacts of Gezer from the time when the city was destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century B. C. When Steve's artistic abilities were discovered he was immediately put to work doing artifact illustrations, which will be used in next year's publication of the site progress report. In addition to working at the archaeological site during the week, weekend historical and archaeological fieldtrips were taken to biblical sites such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, Megiddo, Hazor, Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Herodiom, and Capernaum. While visiting the Jordan River, Steve was asked by two of the archaeological project participants if he would baptize them. After questioning them about their salvation he did baptize them in the Jordan, with fish nibbling at their toes. That was a truly memorable experience. The trip was life changing and contributed a lot to Steve's understanding of places that were key in the biblical story. (A couple of photos from the Gezer excavation are attached at the end of this message.)

Our team is sad to report that our fellow team members, the Warren family, have had to end their term early to return to the states, due to a medical issue in Lisa's immediate family. Lisa's father, Lloyd Claiborne, suffered a stroke several months ago and is being released from the medical facility where he has been treated. Lisa is an only child and her mother is not physically able to handle the care of the continuing needs of her husband on her own. Please pray for Bert. Lisa, Jesse, Matthew and Sarah as they returned to the states this week. Pray for their readjustment to life in the states, for employment, schooling for the children, and for the strength and wisdom to know how to minister to the needs of the father. Mr. and Mrs. Claiborne will be moving to live with the Warrens. Please pray for the adjustments for all of the family members to these new living conditions.

Our family was blessed to have three guests for part of the summer. Monica's mother, Polly Trice, was able to spend about five weeks in Swaziland with our family during her summer break from her job as a school nurse. It was great having her here to spend time with the family. Our children do not usually have the opportunity to spend extended time with family, so it was a special treat for Nathan and Lacie to have Gogo Polly here. Part of her trip overlapped the time that Steve was away in Israel, which gave Monica help with the children and special times together as mother/daughter. Hunter and Brinkley Johnson, from First Baptist Church, Washington, North Carolina spent about a month ministering with our family, the Warrens and the Myers this summer (winter on our side). Steve has known both of these young ladies since 1995, when they began attending the same church. Both of these sisters have been to Swaziland multiple times. This was Hunter's third summer to spend in Swaziland and Brinkley's first trip that was not part of a team. They ministered in a wide range of teaching roles and locations among our Baptist churches in addition to working with mission partners from another denomination with medical clinics. Hunter also was the keynote speaker for the annual planning retreat in preparation for the Swaziland National Youth Camp. It was great having Gogo Polly Trice and the Johnson sisters with our family.

Please pray for the Swaziland Baptist National Youth Camp which will be held August 27-30 at Mbekelweni Lutheran High School. The main camp speaker will be Lad Chapman, who works with Children's Cup, an orphan ministry in Swaziland. Lad's wife, Crystal, and Monica were in the same youth group at FBC West Palm Beach, Florida in the states before they both ended up in Swaziland years later. The camp theme this year is "God Chooses Me," based on Ephesians 1:4-5. Please pray for Pastor Chapman as he prepares and leads the sessions for the National Youth Camp. Pray for the national speakers who will be sharing in other teaching times. Pray that the hearts of the Swazi youth would be open and responsive to the word that God has for them.

***Remember, we live in Africa and there is no guarantee that our e-mails are received or even sent out correctly. If you have written and not heard from us, please write again. We would rather receive e-mails two times than not at all.***

Family Blog -
www.allensinafrica.blogspot.com - leave us a comment so we know you stopped by to visit! - Be looking for new stories shortly....
Skype - allensinafrica
Monica is part of Facebook so if you are on, let her know. Steve has joined, too, so look him up.

Blessings and love,
Steven, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen
IMB missionaries to Swaziland


What a cutie! :)

Hanging with Gogo Polly during her visit to Swaziland

Steve having the time of his life....doing archeology!

Tel Gezer Archeological Project

Hunter and Brinkley Johnson receiving their gifts from Maria Shandu at the National Youth Leader's Retreat in June 2009.

July 26, 2009

Lacie's Sports Day

video

Lacie had her sports day at her preschool, Little Brown Hen, yesterday, July 25. It was really cute seeing all the 2 through 5-year olds doing their races. It was like a Field Day from back in the USA. There was no serious competition for the wee ones. Everyone received medals and sweets at the end of the races. Lacie did not like the "egg race" as she was afraid she was going to drop her egg! Too cute! It was really cold, though, so we about froze cheering all the little kidddies! :) I know we are blessed for Lacie to have these opportunities of fun times growing up in Africa. Enjoy!

June 3, 2009

Allen's African Adventures - June 2009

Allen's African Adventures
June 2009

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that
works within us to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NASB)

The month of May was one busy month for our family, mission team and ministry but God did some great things. As always, we treasure and cherish your prayers and support for our family, ministry, team and the Swazi people.

Praises/Prayer Requests:
- Steven is faithfully teaching at a new outreach area called Lesibovu each Saturday afternoon. The group is averaging around 50 people, including children, youth and adults. In recent Bible studies, 28 people one week and 11 people the next have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Praise the Lord! Continue to pray for this new outreach group and God's direction in reaching the Swazis for Jesus. Plans are being discussed to start a Sunday morning service in July.

- Because of some doctrinal issues that arose among our national leadership at recent national meetings, a leadership retreat was held on May 22-23 that was addressed by the missionaries. Discussion was wonderful and very well attended. Continue to pray for wisdom and discernment as we seek to teach the truth of Jesus Christ. There is false teaching that is easily influencing people all over Swaziland. Plans are being discussed for a follow-up retreat with our national leadership in July.

- Hawane Baptist Church has been "promised" a plot of land but they are having quite the time to get the community council to come and mark the property for them. They will be meeting with the community council this Sunday for a meeting and a hope for a date for them to come mark their property for them. Pray the meeting this Sunday goes well and for a date of the marking for the property to come soon. The church is quite eager to get started on building their own structure. A baptism service is planned for June 14, pending weather conditions.

- Next week, Hunter and Brinkley Johnson (sisters) will be arriving in Jo'burg on June 9 and staying until July 8. They will be serving with our mission team leading in children and youth Bible studies, leading our national youth leader's retreat, and other ministry opportunities. Pray for their safe arrival to Africa next week. We are trusting God to do mighty things during their time in Swaziland. Hunter and Brinkley have both been to Swaziland several times so we feel like we are welcoming "home" some of our own family members! :) They will be serving with our family in the Hhohho and Manzini regions from June 10 - June 22.

- Another exciting visitor coming is Monica's mom or Gogo Polly to our children. Gogo (siSwati for grandmother) Polly Trice arrives in Jo'burg on June 12 and will be with our family until July 17. Pray for her safe travels and health as she is with our family for several weeks. We are all looking forward to fun times with Gogo! :)

- On June 26-27, we will be having our National Youth Leader's Retreat at Manzini Baptist Church. Hunter and Brinkley Johnson will be leading this important event this year. The theme is "The Leader God uses...." and will be an awesome time for all our youth leaders. Pray for God to meet them in a special way and teach them new things they can learn about leading the vast amount of youth in our churches.

- It is sad to report that members of Victory Baptist Church have been threatened and beaten by youth in the community. The police have been contacted and we are praying for a speedy solution to this situation. Many of our women are fearful in attending church or getting out right now. Pray for God's comfort to these being attacked and threatened.

- Thank you for praying for our daughter, Lacie, with her surgery early this month. She is doing well and recovered from her tonsillectomy. Lacie did have a scan done on her left ear and the ENT doctor discovered that Lacie was born with a bone not in the right place. He believes this could be the reason Lacie has been experiencing some hearing loss in her left ear. We praise God for this great report! Plans are being discussed for surgery on her left ear later this year for the ENT doctor to remove the bone that is potentially obstructing her hearing. We will keep you posted. On another note, Lacie lost her first tooth and that was quite a funny story!
Nathan is walking everywhere and into everything. His favorite word is, BALL! He really keeps us on our toes right now! :) Nathan also had a minor birth defect corrected earlier this month and he is doing great, too.

- God has given Steven a fantastic opportunity to do something he has always dreamed about doing in his life. He is going to Israel for an archeology dig!!! He will be joining about 50 other participants through a program with Tel-Gezer project with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for two weeks this month. His trip will be from June 21 - July 8. Pray for safety and a wonderful experience for Steven. He is way excited and we are thrilled for him, too.

- We have a new team prayer blog that Monica has created and maintaining for our mission team. We are thankful for the folks that upkeep our team's website and partnership prayer website. We wanted to build another avenue for folks to pray for our team, family and ministries as well as share stories and photos. If you have ever been on one of our volunteer teams and would love to share stories or photos, please send them so I can add them to the blog. Personal stories add so much!
Check out the new blog and leave a comment!
www.swaziprayerbytes.blogspot.com

***Remember, we live in Africa and there is no guarantee that our e-mails are received or even sent out correctly. If you have written and not heard from us, please write again. We would rather receive e-mails two times than not at all.***

Family Blog -
www.allensinafrica.blogspot.com - several stories updated recently - leave us a comment so we know you stopped by to visit!
Skype - allensinafrica
Monica is part of Facebook so if you are on, let her know.

Thank you for your faithful prayer support!!!
Steven, Monica, Lacie and Nathan Allen
IMB missionaries serving in Swaziland

May 28, 2009

Congratulations Andrew!

CONGRATUALTIONS ANDREW!!!!
We are so proud of you on finishing high school...what an accomplishment!!!! We wish we could be there in person to celebrate with you but know that we are thinking of you this week. Although we do not get to see you too often, Lacie talks about you quite a bit! In fact, she took your senior photo this week to school for her show 'n tell day. She also wore her, I Love Hockey, shirt as well. It was way too precious! You are loved and missed greatly! I am sure both Lacie and Nathan will look forward to spending time with you next year when we are home for our next stateside time.
Know that we are praying for you and your next chapter of life. God has great plans for you and we look forward to watching it all unfold! Jeremiah 29:11
Much love and prayers,
Steve, Monica, Lacie and Nathan


Aww....Lacie and Nathan love their cousin, Andrew!

Lacie "learning" to play a bit of street hockey! :)

Lacie LOVED getting to wear Andrew's own hat one day at lunch...very special!

Lacie lost her FIRST tooth

Lacie came to me yesterday telling me that her tooth was hurting a bit. After inspecting the tooth, I saw that it was almost about to come out. WOW...her first tooth is coming out. It was hanging barely inside but she wanted her Daddy to have the honor of getting the tooth out. So, we headed out to Daddy's office and he finished the job! :) We all gave high fives and Lacie just kept smiling. We found her tooth pillow (given to us by Sarah Warren!) and put her tooth inside to wait for the tooth fairy. We went to church last night (rare treat for our family but friends from another mission organziation is hosting a huge pastor's conference. It was so special for me to sit with Steve in a service (where he was not preaching) and the kids were watched by volunteers in children's church. After I came home with the kids, (Steve stayed with several of our pastors/leaders for another session at the conference.) we got ready for bed and I asked Lacie if she wanted to put her tooth under her pillow for the tooth fairy to come get her tooth? She said no way. She wanted to leave her tooth pillow by the phone so we could CALL the tooth fairy for her to come get her tooth. Way too cute!!! :)
When she got up for school this morning, she had E10 in coins (about a little over one dollar)waiting for her and she is looking forward to going to town soon to buy her OWN candy!
Now she tells us that ANOTHER tooth is loose....we told her the goal is to not lose all her teeth at one time! So, I have one child getting his baby teeth and one starting to lose her baby teeth. Steve said it may not be too long before he starts to lose his teeth and
needs his first set of "false teeth"....what a hoot! :)

Lacie's FIRST tooth is gone...what a smile! :)

Lacie's tooth pillow and little tooth (the little white thing to your left of the pillow!)


The tooth pillow is ready and waiting for the PHONE call to the tooth fairy!

BALL!!!

Nathan's new favorite word is....BALL! Every type of ball...the soccer ball, basketball, football (yes, the American one!), volleyball (thanks, Kimber!), dryer ball from the dryer, ALL balls!
He is definitely all boy in many ways...cannot wait to see what sports he likes to play.


Meet the Lesibovu Area

Back in February, the Lord opened the door to begin new work in an area called Lesibovu, which is south of Manzini and about one and half hours from our home in Swaziland. Steve was invited by the indvuna, chief's assistant, to come show the JESUS film and lead in a week of revival services. Through these opportunties, hearts were changed and several made decisions for Jesus Christ. Folks asked when could Steve come back to teach them more about God's word. Steve started going every Saturday afternoon to this new work area and sharing the love of Jesus Christ. Each week, the group is hungry to hear more about Jesus and how much He loves each one of them. This past Saturday, May 23, 28 people out of the approx. 50 people in attendance decided to make the most important decision of their lives and chose to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior....Praise the Lord!!! We thank God for His faitfulness and for all our new brothers and sisters in Christ! Pray for God's peace and comfort for all these new believers as many struggle with leaving behind deep, seeded traditional beliefs. Pray for their thirst to be fulfilled by the true source of living water, Jesus!
Enjoy the faces of Lesibovu...Bible studies, times with the kids, showing the JESUS film, talking to local schools, etc....the Swazis are beautiful creations of God!












Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Lacie and Mom enjoyed a fun day together on Mother's Day with other friends as Daddy and Nathan were back in Swaziland. Our family spent some time together before we lost our "boys" to Swaziland. On Mother's Day, we ate at Mugg and Bean for lunch after attending church, shopped at the mall a bit and spent time together. Lacie even bought me beautiful flowers...go Lacie and where did you get the money?!?! :)
I LOVE being a mom and sooo blessed with two beautiful and precious children that God has given to Steve and I!!! Steve and I are also thankful for the great moms God has given to us, too, even though we could not be with them in person on Mother's Day. We thank God for them in our lives! We love you!

Hang on tight, Lacie!

Lacie and her friend, Ellie Anderson, both had their first ride on a camel while Lacie and Monica were hanging in Jo'burg follwing Lacie's tonsillectomy surgery a couple weeks ago. Friends came from Swaziland for a holiday and to hang with us for a few days. We had a blast! The camels were at a craft market and the girls were way excited to go on it all by themselves. We just told them to hang on tight! :)
Lacie and Ellie on the camel ride....Lacie finished her ride and asked when she could go again? :)

After it was all done....Lacie did not want to get off! Oh, the adventures of growing up in Africa!

Hanging at the Hospital

Last month on April 28, our family left home in Swaziland and headed to the big city of Johannesburg for both kids to have different surgeries. Lacie was scheduled to have her tonsils out on April 29 and Nathan a corrective birth defect procedure on May 4. Well....Lacie ended up getting a cold that went to her chest so the doctor was not comfortable in doing the surgery as scheduled on April 29. He then postponed the surgery until May 5. In the waiting game for the kids to have their surgeries, they both also caught a stomach bug. Needless to say, we rested quite a bit, watched a LOT of movies and did our best to be patient in the waiting time. God was so good to give us missionary friends that helped us out in many ways during this time, too. Both kids did have their surgeries and did very well. Steve and Nathan were able to return home to Swaziland on May 8, while Lacie and Monica were released to return home on May 13. We thank God for great medical facitilies, doctors and a company that sees the importance of gret medical care for the whole family.
While we were in Jo'burg for this visit, Lacie's ears, nose and throat doctor, Dr. Hockman, had a CAT scan ordered for her left ear. Lacie has currently been dealing with about a 30% hearing loss in her left ear. It has been discovered that Lacie was born with a bone that is not in the right place of her left ear structure. Plans are now being discussed on when the next surgery will be done to prayerfully correct her hearing loss. This is a HUGE answer to prayer!!! Although from a mother's heart, it was hard to hear that my little girl has to endure yet another surgery in her little life. God is much bigger than surgeries and we know He will take care of her!
Praise the Lord we are all home again and doing great....thank you, God, for taking care of us!
Lacie and Daddy hanging out before her scheduled surgery

Nathan not quite sure what is happening but doing his best to hang in there!

Aunt Jane teaching Lacie how to play the card game, Uno. Lacie did pretty well for a four-year old but thought her Leapster game was better! :)

Mommy and Nathan in his scrubs right before his surgery procedure. Isn't he just too cute??? :)