This and That

Oh how time flies by these days!  It feels as if we have lived lifetimes in only a short 6 months.197 days ago we finally got to marry each other. Joy!! We hit the ground running and have yet to look back.

We have now been in Africa for 70 days and what a journey it has been! We are thrilled to be exactly where we know God has prepared for us to be. Have there been challenges? Yes. Have I had a bad attitude at times? Most definitely. Do we miss family and friends and the comforts of home? Heck yes. But I find myself daily reminded of the great gains there are in sacrifice. God blesses far beyond what we can conceive in our selfish, short-sighted, needy hearts. Is our marriage being shaped in powerful ways? Yes. And yes again. Are we gaining a new perspective on what’s truly important? Indeed. Have we been surrounded with a community of God-fearing people? Praise Him for this. Are we reaching for a God that is victorious, even in the greatest of earthly injustices? Absolutely. Our God is good, we need Him, and He is there for us. What an incredible opportunity it is to serve Him with what little we can offer.

For those of you who wonder or care remotely about what we’ve been up to the last 70 days, here’s a look into some of what has gone on in ministry, in South Africa, in life....

  • The kids here are on summer (yes, summer) break, and I was able to help out with holiday club last week. Big thanks to Brentwood Baptist Church from Nashville who brought everything we needed to put on a huge VBS camp for the kids and teens in all 4 communities in which Living Hope serves. The kids had a blast and smiles were abundant! Best of all, Truth was heard by all! With no school, there is a great need for the kids to have somewhere to be... off the streets...out of harm's way...even if only for a few short hours. The theme for the week was rooted in 2 Timothy 1:7, facing fears and trusting God. Please be prayerful that our kids can find the power of God to overcome the ever-increasing fears found in a lifestyle of poverty, disease, rape, hunger, and injustice.  Soak in some of these beautiful faces from the Ocean View community. http:// photo IMG_1742_zpsec683c9f.jpg http://  photo IMG_1707_zpse16409e5.jpg http:// photo IMG_1704_zps67fbf963.jpg
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  • Living Way tomatoes are here! The harvest is ripe and the picking has begun! Praise God for answering prayers as we saw an over 200% increase in tomato prices. Taylor and the other greenhouse guys will spend the next few weeks pruning, picking, cleaning, and delivering thousands (literally!) of tomatoes. Thankful to see the fruits of labor and to serve a God that can grow the very food we eat in abundance! Be in prayer for the Living Way students that will be arriving in Mid-January to begin the business training program. http:// photo IMG_0519_zps4e7523a7.jpg 

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  • Taylor was very excited to ride in a bike race in beautiful Stellenbosch country! He finished 15th out of 150 riders, and those ahead of him were world champs. That’s my man! He loves to ride! http:// photo IMG_1493_zpsb9c9effa.jpg
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving in true Tennessee style with BBQ, country music, and lots of friends! So much to be thankful for! http:// photo 1403299_10152116877361320_1259141631_o_zpsb3993ca8.jpg
  • Fires in Masiphumele have been alive as the heat and wind pick up. Devastation and destruction hit so quickly, leaving many people with nothing and taking the very lives of others. Please pray for the protection over their homes and families as they battle the flames throughout these summer months. http:// photo IMG_1614_zps00406743.jpg
  • As Living Hope became aware of some funding shortages, I shared with you about a “Face-a-thon” put on to raise some immediate funds. In order for the Life Skills team to receive a salary for the month of December, we needed to raise $26,000. Our great, big God provided $29,000 and made His name known among the nations. Please continue to be in prayer for funding as the Life Skills program still needs support for the upcoming year. If you have a minute over the holidays, like Living Hope’s Facebook page and go back in its history to Black Friday…the videos and stories are worth hearing! http:// photo 1476217_10152095886559868_244424198_n1_zpsb9e16da7.jpg
  • Mountain View Teens Christmas party was a success!  The wind was vicious all day but we "braiied" (a.k.a. grilled out), played soccer, and hung out in the park and had a blast! I have so enjoyed getting to  know these great teens! Please pray for them to make God-centered choices in years that often lend themselves to life-changing decisions. http:// photo IMG_1574_zps7655b091.jpg
  • I got to have a sleepover with sweet Briley this week! We ate BLTs, made friendship bracelets, watched a movie, and Bri donned new pajamas! This girl is not just a missionary kid, she is a missionary herself and truly shines the Light of Jesus! So thankful for her sweet spirit! http:// photo IMG_1705_zps6f6ef32d.jpg
  • A package from home! A package from home!! Of course my  mom thought of everything she knew my little heart would want and even a couple things Taylor got excited about. So simple but it absolutely made our day! Funny how your perspective can change so fast... We were ecstatic about sunscreen, ranch dressing mix, and food storage covers, And Christmas cheer was spread! http:// photo IMG_1565_zpsbccf830d.jpg http:// photo 78d23dc3-d05d-40f1-9f5e-b970be9b54f9_zps0ec4db3c.jpg
  • We got to enjoy caroling under the stars, having a picnic, gazing at the mountain, and holding up our glow sticks to "Silent Night" at Kirstenbosch gardens on Friday! It was a festive event and Jesus was preached as the reason for the season! Even if Christmas as we know it is a time to snuggle by the fire and sing, "Baby, It's Cold Outside"... In the absence of home, we are glad for things like this that can boost Christmas cheer and begin new traditions! http:// photo IMG_1731_zps80868db3.jpg http:// photo IMG_1737_zps4ee8270b.jpg
  • There is rarely a night that we miss a sunset! What a joy it is to live in a place that constantly reminds us of God’s glory! http:// photo IMG_1706_zps226b6a50.jpg
  • We bought a truck early on in our time here, and although we were pleased to be able to haul things around, the fuel prices were enough to make us croak! We thank God that He provided a way for us to trade in our truck and purchase a more reliable, fuel-efficient car as well as a small motorbike for Taylor get around. Our jobs take us both in separate directions and it is nice to have individual transportation. Thank God that He allowed us to get to a much better spot financially, but please also pray for Tay’s safety and for peace for this girl’s heart as her husband cruises around on that thing!
  • Ratanga Junction! In the words of a little boy named Barron…."it’s the best place in Africa!" We were excited to have the chance to go to a theme park in Cape Town and spend the day riding rides! Thanks to Brentwood Baptist for a few great hours of fun! http:// photo IMG_1654_zpsdd68645a.jpg http:// photo IMG_1653_zpsd6769d86.jpg http:// photo IMG_1649_zps86724cc0.jpg
  • Nelson Mandela (“Madiba” as he is referred to here in SA) passed away and the nation is mourning his loss. As many honor his life, character, and accomplishments, our prayer is that peace will abound. Please join us in praying that hope does not die with Madiba, but that Jesus will show up and show off in a world so desperate for a Savior. http:// photo IMG_1642_zps13f5633a.jpg

I could write even more, but by now you have read too much already. Know that we feel your prayers, that we are full of joy, and that as much as we miss home and family and dear friends, God is with us here. We love you and are so blessed to serve a God that is good…ALL the time.