February 9, 2010

Climb Every Mountain

One of my all-time favorite movies is "The Sound of Music" and hoping my kids will enjoy the movie one day as well. This past Sunday on our way to church a song from the movie came to mind several times. It is "Climb Every Mountian" because we literally climbed a Swazi mountain to attend church services with one of our churches. Ntsintsa Baptist Church has been a church since the mid-1990's but has always met in the Red Cross Building in the community "center". Until just recently, the church now has their own building for church and the people are so excited. The church was full and the worship was sweet with these precious believers in Christ. The weather was hot, kids were crying (including my own little Nathan!) but it did not dampen the spirit of the Lord filling this place for worshipping Him. We look forward to visiting with this church again soon! Enjoy the photos that tell the story better than words can this time.

Small, twisting road we had drive to in our truck to get to the bottom of the mountain path near the church. I must admit I was glad Steve was driving to church! :)

Steve, Lacie and Nathan almost making it to the top of the mountain path

Just a small part of the mountain path we had to climb up and down to get to church. NO way the truck was going on this path!

The new building for Ntintsa Baptist Church!!!!

Nathan hanging with some of his Swazi friends. Notice that Nathan loves to sit and squat just like a Swazi! :)

Steve preaching for the first time in the new church building, althought the church does have a pastor. It is typically tradition to have a visiting "mfundisi" pastor preach for services.

Beautiful scenery of a nearby homestead from the top of the mountain outside the church doors.

Steve was asked to pray for the newly elected church committee along with Pastor Maseko.

Church is over and making our way back down the mountain path

Ntsintsa Baptist Church literally up near the top of the mountain

Steve, Lacie and Nathan with Pastor Saiko (pronounced "psycho") Maseko

Nathan walking between the two pastors. Mmm...could be a third pastor one day?!?!?!

February 2, 2010

Praises and Prayer Updates - February

Dear Prayer Partners,

Greetings from Swaziland!
We have much to be praising the Lord for and we want to share with our faithful prayer partners. The month of January literally flew by us and we are busy trying to catch everyone up on things with our family and ministry.

- Hawane Baptist Church FINALLY received their plot of land for their own church structure this past Sunday. Praise the Lord!

- Wayne and Barbara Myers, our team leaders, returned from their stateside time at the beginning of January and are getting settled into their new home in Tshaneni. It is great to have them back with us, although we do not see them too often as they are still about two hours away from us.
- Al and Belinda Jordan will be coming to stay in our house and cover some of our ministry while we are in the USA for our stateside time from March - September. The Jordan's have served in both Swaziland and South Africa previously. We are thrilled they are willing to return to Swaziland to assist us, our team and ministry!
They will be arriving March 17 in Johannesburg and then coming onto Swaziland on March 19. Pray for all the logistics they need to finalize on their side before coming to Swaziland for six months.
- The National Youth Committee had a great meeting last month and began plans for the National Youth Leader's Retreat in late May as well as discussing ways to keep encouraging our youth in our churches. Continue to pray for the NYC as they faithfully lead throughout Swaziland.
- Lesibovu is being faithful each week, despite the many rainy days we have had the last few weeks. Their numbers are growing every week and we are excited to see what God has planned for this new church.
- We have had LOTS of rain!!! We keep saying this is the most rain we have ever seen in a rainy season.
- January 10-14, the Helgren family, who serve in Zambia with our company, came for a holiday to visit Swaziland and be with our family. We had a blast and enjoyed being with these precious friends very much!!! The kids loved playing together for four days straight! :)
- On January 12, Steve and I celebrated eight years of marriage and had the opportunity to get away to another part of Swaziland for about 24-hours without the kids a couple weeks after our actual anniversary. Thanks to Jacci and Janet and Gogo Shandu for all their help in watching the kids during that time!
- Our family had a wonderful visit with Don and Pam Lynch, our new associate strategy cluster leader. We have known Don and Pam for several years but our paths do not cross often with them. However, with the many recent changes of our company, Don is the ASCL for town/rural/country areas. They had never been to Swaziland so it was our pleasure to show them our beautiful country and the ministry God has for our family here. Pray for Don and Pam as they are moving from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town this coming week.
- Thank you to all those that generously gave to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering!!! We are hearing great reports of many churches that reached or exceeded their offering goals. God desires to accomplish much through the gifts given for others all around the world to hear about Him!
- Today, 11 years ago, Steve and I met here in Mbabane when he was on a volunteer mission team and I was just starting to serve my two-year missionary term. Steve had developed a kidney stone and I was asked to drive him to Nelspurit, South Africa, for more medical assistance. Little did we know all God had planned for our lives!
- Lacie started Grade 0/kindergarten and is loving being in school! I will be homeschooling Lacie while we are in the USA for our stateside this year and then she will re-join her class in Swaziland when we return in late September.
- I managed to catch tick bite fever this past month but praise the Lord, I did not experience the high fevers that usually occurs. I was able to rest for a few days and then get back into the normal routine of life again quickly.

Prayer Requests:

- Lesibovu has their first official work day to begin clearing their new plot of land on Saturday, February 13. Pray much is accomplished and the weather will be nice as the church starts their journey to building their own church structure.
- Pray for the Baptist Convention of Swaziland as they meet on Saturday, February 6, to make plans for the Easter services coming up the beginning of April. The Easter services is the biggest event for our all our Baptist churches and there is much to be discussed and planned. Pray for unity with decisions and God's leading on the venue, schedule, speakers, food plans, etc.
- Pray for First Baptist Church Belton, Texas, as they are considering coming to lead our National Youth Camp in August. This is the church where Al and Belinda Jordan are coming from and they are praying to finalize plans before they leave the USA in mid-March.
- Continue to pray for our churches to be faithful in serving the Lord in their lives daily among their families, churches, schools and communities. Many of our churches are without pastoral leadership and we are believing the God is going to raise up spiritual leaders for these churches.
- We are praying about where to start the next new work when we return towards the end of the year. Pray for God's direction on where He wants us to begin a new ministry for His glory.
- Our family will be leaving Swaziland on March 25, flying to the USA on March 26 and landing in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 27. We will be spending the first three months in northwestern North Carolina with Steve's family and then July - September in West Palm Beach, Florida. Pray for us as we are finalizing our speaking schedule with partnering churches as well as visiting with family. Our biggest prayer need is a place to stay while we are in West Palm Beach. The missionary housing we used last time is no longer available and there is not another option. If anyone knows of somewhere in the WPB area we can house sit or rent not too high for three months, please contact us ASAP. We know God is in control of everything! Plus, churches in the WPB/South Florida area, please contact us soon if you want us to speak at your church, Bible study group or other groups as our schedule is starting to fill quickly.
- Pray for Barbara Myers' mother, Shirley, as she recently fell and broke her hip. Surgery went well and she is in rehab now. Pray she is able to heal well and has no further complications from the fall.

Lacie starting grade 0/kindergarten and Nathan wanting to go with her!

Lacie and Nathan with the Helgren kids (Lily, Easton and Lauren) on one of the big rocks in our backyard on their recent visit.

Crossing the river to reach Lesibovu for weekly Bible study. (shows how much rain we have had - usually a dry piece of land)

Community elders marking the plot of land for Hawane Baptist Church

Updated family photo from this past Sunday

February 1, 2010

You have WHAT?!?!?!

Our five-year old daughter, Lacie, just started Grade O in school. It is like kindergarten and she loves being in school. She attends The Little Brown Hen Preschool, where she has been since she was in the 3-year old class so she with many of her friends each day. She attends school 8am - 12:30pm each day.

Last week, we had missionary colleagues visiting us as they had never been to Swaziland and wanted to touch base with our family before we left for our USA furlough time. We were busy with showing them ministry areas as well as local tourist areas, too, as well as keeping the family and home going each day.

Lacie came home from school on Wednesday and announced that she had "HOMEWORK"! I was like, what??? You are in kindergarten! :) Sure enough, she had homework and we had fun doing it together, along with Aunt Pam. Lacie had to cut out items in a magazine that went along with the short sound "a", like apple, animal, ant, etc. It was fun and Lacie was way excited to cut and then paste them in her "homework" book. I thought...girl, you have many, many years ahead of you for homework! :) I hope you stay excited as you are about learning and loving school. I work with Lacie at home, too, and preparing to homeschool her through part of kindergarten while we are in the USA for six months.

I thought it was just too funny that homework is already starting...wow! However, I must admit it will be fun to have yet another time to spend with Lacie watching her grow and learn new things in her life. I thought...mmm, I wonder how that is with our Heavenly Father in that He cannot wait to spend time with each of his children watching us grow and learn each day?!?!

Church plot FINALLY marked

Hawane Baptist Church was our first church plant that started as a Bible study at a local roadside curio market back in 2004. The doors opened for the group to begin meeting on Sunday mornings in 2005 and quickly, the group formed a new church, Hawane Baptist. It has been a great joy in our lives to watch this church grow and grow, not necessarily in numbers, but in their walks with the Lord. The church has waited and waited for their own land so they could begin building their own church structure. Praise the Lord, they were approved to use a community building that also serves as a preschool during the week. However, the church quicky was outgrowing this temporary structure. Steve and several members of the church tore down a wall that was dividing two rooms to add more space.
The church began requesting their own plot of land in 2007 but it has taken until yesterday to "officially" have the land marked as their own. Amazingly, their new land is plot of land just up from the temporary structure so the church is not moving far from its current location. On their new land, there is a run down structure that can be refurbished and part of their new church building. It has been a long road of "waiting" for Hawane Baptist but they never gave up. They kept their heads up and seeking God's direction for their church daily. The main reason for such a long delay, which is not the usual case here in Swaziland, is that the chief in the Hawane area passed away a few years ago now. The chiefdom is an area of five communities coming together. The communities have not been able to agree on a new chief so much is placed on the indvuna's shoulders in the different communities. The indvuna is like the assistant to a chief.
Steve collected the indvuna at his homestead at 7am to take him to the church to start the meeting. The meeting ended up starting at around 9am or so as they were waiting on one of the community elders to arrive at the church meeting. It did not take long once the meeting started and then the church fed the indvuna, community elders and church members at the meeting. Steve was asked to take the indvuna and community elders to the next community, Nkhaba, for another meeting and then Hawane Baptist was ready to start their Sunday morning worship service. Services yesterday was filled with much celebration, singing, praising God, shouting (literally), testimonies and preaching on Nehemiah (Steve did a wonderful job!). I actually got to hear most of the sermon, which is rare these days with an almost two-year old wanting to run around during the service. The church asked me to share with them at the end of the service and the biggest challenge I gave them was to continue to, "press on" in their journey as a church, their walks with the Lord, with their families and with their community. God has done much through Hawane Baptist Church and although they do not have a consistent pastor, they have sweet spirits that truly love the Lord with all their hearts. I look forward to seeing all God has planned for this precious church in the near future.
So, we challenge you...."PRESS ON"!!!!
Lacie helps to end the church service by singing, "Building Up the Temple".

The indvuna in the Hawane community leading the meeting for the
church to have their land "officially" marked as their own.

Hawane Baptist Church in their temporary structure.
It was a great day of celebrating all God has done through His church so far!

The indvuna and community elders "marking" the new plot of land granted to Hawane Baptist Church. The church is excited to start building their own church building very soon!

As with any "meeting", food is always served! :) It is custom to serve the community elders after any special meetings and Hawane Baptist did this graciously and with a servant's heart.