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