Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a great Halloween!  Our day started out with church as usual.  After church, we came home and grabbed some lunch.  Steve hasn't been feeling well, so he laid down to rest and I ran out to the grocery store.  Remember back in the summer, I mentioned that I was having a hard time getting onto a regular schedule?  Well, this is probably the first time since then that I have been to the grocery store to full-on buy groceries.  I've been there picking up this or that, but it's just been crazy.

I have even let my couponing go (gasp!) and so today, my receipt said I only saved 12%. Boo.  Anyway, I did manage to get everything I needed (I think...didn't really make a list...baby steps!) and still came out about $10 under budget.

Tonight we went over to our friend's house (the Moores) who have been hosting our LifeGroup this month.  Have I told you how much I love my LifeGroup?  For the Station Hillers, I'm sure you've heard me say that about a time or twenty.  :)  We did hot dogs and s'mores around the fire pit.  Between that and the wonderful company, it was heaven!

Then those that wanted to stay, went trick or treating in their neighborhood.  We had a bit of trouble getting Jenna to settle down and get into costume and then we had a wardrobe malfunction with it.  By the time she was dressed, everyone had left to go trick or treating, so we didn't put on any makeup or anything.  But here she is anyway...the Countess of Darkness.
We hit a few houses and then Jenna was ready to go home because she was cold and Steve was really feeling awful.  All in all, she got some good loot.  And we had bought a bunch of stuff to give away, which we didn't, so we have plenty of sweets in the house.

On another note, if you don't know already, next Sunday is Orphan Sunday.  Our church is recognizing this day and has asked for family photos of those that have adopted or are in the process.  This weekend, I was determined to get the scrapbook pages done for our dossier and part of those pages are 2 posed family photos.  I quickly disovered I didn't have hardly ANY recent family photos with all three of us in the picture.  So, when I found out they needed one for Orphan Sunday, I figured we'd better just take one.  And here we are...
And it only took about 3 takes to get it.  If you remember this post, you'll know what a miracle that was.
Anwyay, I did get those pages done for our dossier.  I had one family picture from Easter, so I used it and the other one, we had to stage at my sister's house last night.  Considering it was another on-the-fly picture, thought it turned out pretty good.
We are STILL waiting on the doctor's letter.  Once we get it, we will be done with our home study except for the sign off by the agency.  And we are lucky that now we have everything to go in our dossier.  We have to get each of these items county certified, then state certified and finally authenticated by the Chinese Embassy.  So, we still have a long way to go, but we are getting there.  The doctor's office did call late last week and said the doctor was "working on it today".  Now, I'm not sure what he's "working on" since all they had to do was type the letter I WROTE for them onto their letterhead, sign and have someone notarize it.  Of course, now I'm worried that they are adding stuff to the letter which hasn't already been approved by the agency.  What can I say?  I have to have something to worry about.

One last thing about our adoption...we have a fundraiser starting soon.  I am pretty excited about it and hope that each of you that keep up with me on this blog will help me on it.  It's not anything huge, but more information to come soon, I hope!  Stay tuned!

Happy Halloween!


It's gonna be a quick one...

I haven't gotten in bed before 11:30pm any night this week.  I know I can't keep going like this (considering my alarm goes off at 5:30am), so I'm going to at least be in bed by 11:30 tonight and then next week is gonna be different.

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed this week.  Like Beth Moore says, "Why can't we just be whelmed???  Why do we have to be OVERwhelmed?!"  One of the things that I think I'm processing from South Africa is my busy-ness.  I work 40+ hours a week, keep up (kinda) a home, parent a child with homework and studying several nights a week, work very hard at our new church and paperchase for our international adoption.

Here's my most recent revelation.  I'M TOO BUSY.  Monday night we are generally home.  Tuesday night I have my ladies Bible study.  Wednesday we have church in which most nights I am doing PLACE sessions while Jenna is in KidLife and Steve practices with the band.  Thursday night Steve is out of the house with his men's Bible Study.  Friday Steve bowls in a league and I am responsible for taking care of Jenna.  The weekend is when I do the laundry that has  piled up all week, pay the bills, make a grocery list and buy groceries.  Not to mention my babies on Sunday morning at 9:30, church at 11:00 and then usually a PLACE session after that and finally Lifegroup at 5:30.  All that on top of waking up at 5:30am Monday through Friday and not getting home from work until 6:00 or after.

While I was in South Africa, they cautioned us about "South Africa time".  There, people don't get in such a huge hurry like we do here.  If someone's neighbor is talking to them and they need to be somewhere, they don't look at their watch and rush off.  They continue to talk until the conversation is over.  It can be maddening sometimes because we aren't used to that at all.  But coming home, I think I'm being convicted about my busy-ness.

I have been just inches away from a mental breakdown all week.  Work has been crazy.  Home has been crazy and I feel like I just can't get on top of it all.  My philosophy is I can deal with a chaotic home life.  Or I can deal with a chaotic work life.  But I CANNOT deal with them both being crazy because I have to find refuge somewhere and if both are nuts, then I have nowhere.

Anyway, I'm really starting to think and pray about what I'm going to cut from my life.  I have an idea of what that is, but I'm not making any rash decisions quite yet.  But if my life change affects you, either directly or indirectly, please don't take it personally.  I just have to let some things go.  And I'm learning to say no.  It is VERY hard for me, but I'm learning.

This post has gone on longer than I intended.  My PC says 11:28 so if I'm going to make it to bed by 11:30, I better wrap this up.

For those that are wondering, the adoption is going OK.  We are still waiting on Steve's doctor to finish his letter.  I actually wrote the letter for the doctor and had it pre-approved by the agency to be sure it said what it needed to and it's been the better of 2 weeks and the doctor still doesn't have it ready.  It's so frustrating at times, but I know God's timing is perfect, so I'm trying not to stress.  Once we get that letter, we will have completed our home study!

Then we have just a few additional items to gather before we have the dossier complete.  However, this week I finally had 30 seconds to look over the agency instructions for the dossier and found out I have to have all my documents COUNTY certified, then STATE certified and then AUTHENTICATED by the Chinese Consulate.  That's all before it actually GOES to China.  Oh yeah...and the county certification has to be done in the county in which the notary is from.  Looking at our documents we have something from Davidson, Williamson and Cheatham counties.  FUN TIMES.  I have to figure out how to do that and where to go in each of those counties.  But praise God it's only 3 and not 30.

I think it would be a load off just to have the doctor's letter done.  Because now that it's taken so long, I worry that the doctor is rewriting the letter and it won't have the necessary information in it and then we'll have to start all over and I might age out of this program by the time he gets it right.  Not really, but dang, sometimes it feels like that.  I try not to compare myself to other people who have gone through it, but it's hard.

OK, I've commenced to rambling.  It's late.  11:33 and I've missed my own deadline.  This girl is going to bed now.



South Africa-the end

So, Monday morning we came back to the house, took a few minutes to shower and get ready and then we headed out for one last day of sightseeing.

It was marvelous that our flight didn't leave until close to midnight because it gave us the entire day to look around.  we went to District 6 Museum.  You can click over to learn more, but basically this area of town was, once upon a time, a happily settled community of black south Africans.  Then, by the early 80s, the entire community was taken over by white south Africans and bulldozed. 
After leaving we went to beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens.  I am usually not the garden-type person, but this place was unbelievable.  We ate a delicious lunch there and I tend to think that even though we spent several hours there that we didn't see it all.

We also visited this great overlook point where you could see Cape Town.  It was wonderful and so fitting for our last day there.

Can you see us?  We are all on lions doing Saddle Ridge Ranch!  Except for Dustin who somehow looks like Samson up there about to take down the temple pillars.

After all this, we headed back to the team house to begin (or finish) packing.  It seemed to me a very somber occasion.  Not a lot of talking going on while packing.  Then came the time I was dreading.  We rolled our suitcases out and loaded up the vans.  I didn't cry but leaving was sad.  I was excited to see my family, but not excited to be getting back on those airplanes for 20+ hours.

We went to a super neat little restaurant to eat, called Harbour House.  It sat right on the rocks and you could see the waves crashing on them right outside the window.  Dinner was great, but it wasn't as light as the past few meals.  Our waiter took one last picture of us...
After dinner, it was to the airport.  We told Clynton goodbye curbside.  Everyone checked in without incident and we said good to Danielle and Amy.  We had just a short time to wait before the plane boarded.  The flight was long and I was able to sleep a few hours.  Because of the heightened security, the lines in Amsterdam were long and we didn't have a layover at all.  Even though the flight was fine and I missed South Africa I was very glad to get my feet on American soil.  We had to clear customs in Detroit and that went off without a hitch.

The flight from Detroit to Nashville went so smoothly that we actually touched down in Nashville about 20 minutes early and for the first time EVER, our gate was very close to the front, so we got right off and were at the security gates in just a few steps.  Jenna ran to meet me and Steve had to hold Katie tight because she was so excited to see me.  It was so great to see them again.

Coming home felt a bit weird.  I felt out of place in my own home for a few days and actually felt depressed as well.  this is all a normal part of the re-entry process.  In addition, my ears did not ever unstop when we flew in from Detroit.  Thankfully, Wednesday morning my ears were unstopped.  However, all that drainage had settled in my throat.  I survived at work until about 2:30 on Wednesday.  By Thursday, my throat wasn't as thick but I left about 4pm just to beat the traffic and get home in time to get some rest.  Friday morning I woke up sick as a dog.  My head felt like it was going to explode.  And by the time I got to work, I would have welcomed the explosion because it would have relieved the pressure.

I went straight to the clinic at work as soon as I got there and the nurse diagnosed me with a sinus/upper respiratory infection.  She gave me antibiotics, steroids and a cough/decongestant med.  I didn't make it past noon before heading home.  I took my meds as soon as I got here and then laid down.  Just that extra hour or two of rest did me a world of good.

By Monday I was back to normal and even felt less sad, although not a day passes that I don't see something that reminds me of South Africa.  I would love to say I'm definitely going back soon, but this time next year, I hope to be in China (or home with my new daughter!)

The team is having a get together on the 24th and I cannot wait!  I can't wait to see the team I grew so fond with and who experienced this most amazing journey with me.

So, friends, that's it.  That is my trip to South Africa in a nutshell.  There's so much more to tell.  And if you are interested, I'd love to share.  But for now, this journey is in my past and I am attempting to process everything I saw and experienced while there.

Thanks to all of you who prayed for me while I was gone.  The prayers were definitely felt.  Today finds me focusing on the future...and bringing my girl home!


South Africa-the End is Near

After a pretty good night's rest on Saturday night, we headed out on Sunday morning to King Of Kings Church.  We finally were blessed enough to hear John Thomas preach.  The church was celebrating 10 years of Living Hope and it was absolutely marvelous to be there on such a special day!  Part of the celebration was that some of the kids from Ocean View happened to be there performing!  So I got to see them and some of the LSEs one more time before heading back.

After worship there, we went to visit Masi Baptist Church which is a small church in the township of Masi.  Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I got there, but what I experienced sure wasn't what I had in my mind.  In this very small church building, there were a nice handful of men and women.  There was some talking going on when we arrived.  Since it was all in Xhosa (pronounced CO-sa), I wasn't exactly sure what was being said.  After just a few minutes, this congregation spontaneously busted out into a praise song.  And I'm not talking about your "Shout to the Lord" with a full orchestra either.  I'm taking, loud, beautiful South African music begin sung by these men and women using only the beat of a makeshift drum.  It was so...native.  I wish I had a video of it.  This went on for a while and then they started moving about and praising.  The song would come to a close and then someone would begin to testify.  This went on for a while until we had to leave.  During the time I was there, even though I had no idea what was being said or sung most of the time, I could close my eyes and know these people were praising the same God that I did.  It was the experience of a lifetime and one of the highlights of the trip to be sure.

After church (the second time!) we left and headed to lunch, which ended up being at KFC which makes me laugh.  We all got a big kick out of going halfway around the world to eat KFC.  Then we went to Haut Bay which is pronounced HOT bay if you want to say it with a South African accent.  :)  We spent some time at the Sunday Market where I bought a couple things and then Clynton took us to see the seals nearby.

Clynton called this guy "Big Daddy"  :)

After running around sightseeing most of the day, several folks were sick and tired and so we got back to the Team House.  We were given the opportunity to spend our last night in South Africa at a house in one of the townships in which we had served.  Now, I'm just going to be honest with you all.

I did not want to do this.

And the primary reason was because I was terrified of what I might be faced with.  But from even before we left the US, I had said I was interested.  I just had a feeling even then that God was wanting me to again, step outside my comfort zone.  I was determined to do it.  Once I committed, there was no going back.  Ultimately, of the 6 of us that stayed the extra days, 4 of us decided to take advantage of the opportunity.  So, after we packed up, Clynton dropped myself and my teammate Dustin off at Bernadette's house in Ocean View.  It was nothing like I expected.  The house was small, but comfortable and inviting and Bernadette was a fabulous host. 

We hadn't been there long when her little girl, Aimee, came in with a friend.  Aimee was not able to attend holiday club, but much to my pleasant surprise, the friend (Tatum) she brought inside had been to holiday club every day!  It was so nice to see her again and the girls entertained us by doing VBS songs and trying (unsuccessfully) to teach me the circle games.  I mean...just look...are they not the cutest!?  Plus, they really loosened up around us.  Tatum said I was using "whitey language" and they couldn't get over that I didn't "plait" my hair but would sleep with it loose.  One of them asked me if my teeth came out and not understanding what she was getting at, I said "No, do yours?!" and she then showed me her wiggly tooth.  Apparently, in South Africa (or at least in their home), when you pull a tooth, you put it in your shoe and a mouse comes and gets it and leaves you money.  SO adorable.

The evening with Bernadette, Ivan (her husband), Aimme and Robin (her son) was quite enjoyable and I werer pleasantly surprised.  In the morning, Bernadette fed us breakfast and before we knew it, we were on our way back to the Team House for the last full day in Cape Town.

I think it was about then that I started feeling sad to be leaving.  Up until that point, I was able to just not think about it.  Tomorrow I'll blog about the last few places we went and about our last day/evening in Cape Town.  Stay tuned friends...


Adoption Update

I've gotten a couple questions about how the adoption process is going and so I thought I'd insert a quick post here about that.

I had fully intended to get everything done for the home study before I left for South Africa.  They call this part of the process the "paperchase" and better words have never been spoken!  The first few documents we got completed with very little trouble.  Then came the doctor forms.  For China, you really have to have a full physical with lots of labs to prove you are healthy enough to adopt from there.  I knew I would have no problem since I'm healthy, but Steve's garden variety of health problems could be interesting. 

I mean, I knew from prior conversations with our agency that his problems shouldn't hinder us from adopting, but there's just a lot of documentation that has to go along with any surgeries or prescription medications that are being taken.  Because his endocrinologist knows quite a bit about his medical history, we started there.  After 3 weeks of having the form and the VERY DETAILED instructions on how to fill it out and attach the needed informational letter, we received the document back only 1/2 filled out, signed by the doctor (which is a problem because it is supposed to be notarized) and the attached letter had very little of the required information in it.  When we tried to work with their office, they kind of got upset with us and acted put out.  I had no idea that a person who took the pains to spend YEARS in medical school would not be able to read a form with instructions.  They acted like they'd never done that before.

I had already made an appointment with my doctor and figured it would be oh-so-simple.  And for the most part it was.  Except that she's a doctor out on her own...just her a few staff in a new office without any way to check my eyesight or blood.  The nurse tried twice to draw blood but couldn't get a vein.  Thankfully, my co-worker Erica (who also goes to the same doctor) warned me about pin-cushion Patty and after 2 tries she sent me down to the actual lab downstairs where the phlebotomist (one of my favorite words to say!) managed to get a vein with the first poke.  I think she could have hit me from 10 feet away she was so good.

Anyway, the form was filled out except for the vision part and the labs.  The office said the labwork should be back in just a few days.  I was hopeful I could have both mine and Steve's forms before leaving for South Africa.


My doctor never did call and I finally just told them that I was leaving the country for 2 weeks and I'd pick it up when I returned.  Since they are a small office, there was no notary to witness the doctor's signature so I'd have to take my own.  Thank God for my friend Page who has already traipsed all over creation notarizing documents for us!  Surely, I thought, when I returned from Cape Town, there would be a voice mail stating the paper was ready.  NOTSOMUCH.  Finally, after multiple phone calls and much worry, I have the document in hand and yes, it's notarized.

In the meantime, I charged Steve with doing whatever it took to get his form taken care of while I was gone.  Proudly, he made an appointment with his regular doctor, took blank forms, took the incomplete form that the other doctor filled out and the instruction sheet and today we finally got the call that his form would be ready for pick up tomorrow morning.  Now, before we celebrate too much, I want to see that form with my own eyes and ensure it is filled out and notarized correctly.

You might wonder how in the world someone could mess it up, but trust me, the rules for international adoption are so strict in some cases that you could easily have to redo the entire form if you aren't careful.  After I get that form in my hand (with the accompanying letter which I'm praying they did), then I will only rest easy when our family coordinator blesses those forms herself.

One the social worker finishes writing up the home study, it will go to AWAA for approval.  After AWAA approves it, we will start the process of getting an appointment with the USCIS which is one of the biggest steps in the process.  And since we aren't quite there yet, more information about what that entails will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, a couple prayer requests...pray that these forms will all be correct and acceptable.  While I don't want anything to cause problems and want everything to be perfect, I might seriously have a mental breakdown if I find out one of these things have to be redone.

Secondly, there is the slight (VERY SLIGHT) potential of having some hefty funding for the adoption.  It would be wonderfully, marvelous if that came through.  But I want only God's will so pray towards that end.

Finally, the issue of Steve traveling without Katie is still out there.  I know God has that all under control, but with it just kind of hanging out there and us not knowing what we will do...well, it just gives me something else to worry about.

Thanks for your prayers.

And just to end the day on a super-positive note...Jenna got her first report card of 3rd grade today.  THAT GIRL MADE ALL As!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That's my smart girl!!!

South Africa-After VBS

As you can tell, the posts about South Africa are winding down.  After a long week of VBS and lots of kids, we had fulfilled what we had come to do.  I think it is safe to say, we all came expecting to pour ourselves into the children and change their lives.  But oh, how our God has a different plan.  No doubt we poured ourselves into the kids and LSEs, but the blessing was most received in them touching and changing our lives.  There is no doubt that each of the 17 team members on this trip have been forever changed. 

Departure from the LSEs and volunteers on Friday was difficult, but we knew that they were not new to the comings and goings of volunteer teams from the US.  Somehow, that made leaving them just a little bit easier for me.  Plus, most of the LSEs and volunteers have Facebook accounts so even from the other side of the world, we knew we could stay in touch.

One thing I didn't touch on was what happened during our nightly debrief meetings.  Almost without fail, there was always a story from one team that would touch us all and give us pause.  But right along with those stories were stories of hilarity and fun.  Thursday night, Amy asked the teams to act out (charade fashion) the most memorable event from that day.  Here are just a few of the action shots of that night.
Beth and Dustin-no, she didn't really hit him but it sure looks like she is about to.

I sure wish I could post the picture the immediately followed, but it might get someone fired from their job.

Don't ask.

And I say again, don't ask.
Needless to say, we laughed until we cried.  And not just this night, but several nights.  I think these times, along with the serious ones, were what bonded this team so tightly.  I have heard from other team members since we came back how unusually close we feel to each other. 

Saturday we had all day as a free day before the first part of the team left.  Since their flight didn't leave until midnight, a bunch of us had the opportunity to go to a safari.  We were very excited about that until we realized it meant we'd have to leave the house at 5:30am.  Nevertheless, 8 of us braved the early alarm and hopped in the van to make it to Aquila which was about 3 hours away.  About an hour away from the house, I realized I had left my memory card in my roommates computer as I was uploading pictures to Facebook the night before.

I seriously thought I was going to cry.  But my sweet friend Jaina had a camera similar to mine and she let me take pictures with hers while she videoed.  And was it worth it! Being so close to these amazing animals was stunning!  In fact, there was a point where it was so beautiful and surreal that it brought tears to my eyes.  I would have felt silly about that until I turned around and there was someone else doing the same thing!  We had the best tour guide named...wait for it...ROMEO. 

Saturday afternoon we returned from the Safari in enough time for the first travel group to get packed up and ready to go.  We ate at a sweet little restaurant called Mama Africa and then sadly bade farewell to about 2/3 of our team.

Sunday would be our last night in South Africa and it would prove to be a memorable evening at that.  Stay tuned...


South Africa-VBS

Finally, the day we had come halfway around the world for arrived.  It was VBS day 1.  I'll be honest, I had no idea what to expect.

Breakfast began at 6:45 so we could roll out at 7:30.  I was ready to help with the story and ready to sing some Saddle Ridge Ranch songs.  But whatever I had anticipated was not at all what I experienced.

The three of us arrived at the Ocean View Civic Center to meet with the LSEs and volunteers.  The first hour was uneventful and just busy with putting up posters and decorations.  Then came call out.  Call out is where the LSEs walk out into the township and basically encourage the children to come to holiday club.

I'll tell you right now.  I was terrified.  I had no idea what to expect.  Turns out, I had nothing to fear.  What I experienced was a very peaceful township.  The kids came out from everywhere and wanted to hold your hands, walk by your side and ask you all kinds of questions.
I felt a little like the pied piper with all these children following us down to the Civic Center.  The picture above was taken by my team mate, Sarah.  Most days we walked up to the outskirts of Ocean View to an area known as Mountain View. 

As the LSEs would arrive back with kids, they would play circle games.  To us, these would be games like Duck, Duck, Goose.  It was quite interesting to watch these kids play their African games.  I wish I could say I understood everything that went on, but I didn't.  But it was fun nevertheless.

I enjoyed watching the kids play their native games, however, my favorite part by far was the worship songs.  We of course did the normal VBS songs which have always touched me, but the songs these kids already knew were even more fun.  Hearing those kids singing, "Jesus is my Super Hero.  He's my star.  My best friend".  And these kids sang and danced like He is their best friend.  I jumped around and sang my heart out with the best of them.  I'm sure they thought I was some kind of crazy white American, but I didn't care.  I wanted to experience the ultimate joy they had.  I think I might have gotten a minor taste.

Monday's storytime was fine, but I will admit, the younger kids were tough.  There were 4 rotations and 3 of them were all happening in the same room.  So while I was trying to teach the kids the story, the day's memory verse, the theme, we were competing with noise from the song and dance rotation as well as the craft.  To give you a visual, this is what the room looked like...
So, at the end of day one, which I would consider a success, we decided I would do the older kids instead of the younger because the younger kids did not understand English as well.  (Incidentally, most everyone in Ocean View speaks both Afrikaans and English).  Come Tuesday morning, my LSE counterpart was MIA and so as if I wasn't out of my comfort zone enough, God pushed me even further.  To ease the distraction of craft and song/dance, they moved storytime outside and for 4 20-minute rotations, I told the stories of VBS.  By the end of the day, my voice was shot and I was hot.  And if that wasn't enough, God was going to push me even further in that I had to present the story on the day the plan of salvation was taught.  I was in some kind of a tizzy the night before.  But after talking with Danielle, my roomies and praying, I was as ready as I would ever be.

I wish I could tell you that I did great and kids came to know the Lord as a result, but I don't know that.  All I know is that I laid out the story the best I could in ways I hoped the kids understood and pray that God used me to somehow plant a seed.

By Friday, my LSE counterpart was back, so my voice got a rest and I was very ready!  All in all, the week was exhausting but amazing.  These are just a few of the sweet faces that touched my life.  And these are the faces that I watched touch my other team members' lives.  I can't explain how it happened, but I was blessed enough to witness lives changed.

After noon when the kids had gone home, we'd have a quick break and then it was time for Teen Club.  There were fewer teens than children, but listening to the LSEs teach these teens...HOLY COW.  Listening to them speak was like being back in youth group myself. These faces are the future of Cape Town.  And what a bright future it is!!

And this, my friends, is the team of LSEs and volunteers that rocked my world.  The poured their very lives into these children every day and continue to do so long after I've left their beautiful city.  I miss them and see their faces every time I close my eyes to pray.
I never dreamed I would fall in love with a group of people, a township of kids, a traveling team of 17 or a Team House of servants like I have.

The minute I close my eyes to pray or worship in song, I'm immediately transported back.  I can see the faces of Meaghan. Ashwyn. Tamaryn. Joy. Melissa. Clynton. Danielle. Tracey. Matthew. Jaina. Beth. Simone. Casey. Natasha.  And nameless others who crossed my path while thousands of miles away from home.  I can still hear their voices.

And tonight I pray that God continues to break my heart for a people that need Him.

South Africa-Day 3

After seeing the townships for the first time on Saturday afternoon, Sunday came as a welcome respite for me and I'm sure many of our team members.  We were so honored to attend King of Kings (formerly Fish Hoek Baptist) where John Thomas is pastor.  Unfortunatley, we were unable to hear John Thomas preach as he had a guest speaker (some of us did get to hear him the following week).  However, the worship songs were so much like home...Mercy Seat and Shout to the Lord just to name a few.  It was just what I needed to refill me before the week to come.  Oh, if I'd only known just how much refilling I needed!

After leaving King of Kings, we headed over to Masi Baptist which is the church in the township of Masi, but unfortunately for us, no one was there because they had all traveled together to attend a funeral.  There's one thing that can be said for these sweet South African people is that they come together when there is a need.  But not being able to experience that church service was just another ploy from Satan to keep God from being glorified.  But our God doesn't give up that easily!

After leaving Masi Baptist, we headed to a few different places for sightseeing. We stopped for lunch and we all split up.  Several of us ended up having lunch with one of the former LSEs.  During lunch, it turned a bit rainy.  Despite the rain, Clynton stopped and let us get up close and personal with some African penguins.  It was quite nasty by the time we arrived, but a few got a little more up close than others! 

After leaving the pengins, we took a drive to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.  By the time we arrived, it wasn't raining anymore.  Cape Point was quite interesting. It was once thought to be the point at which the Atlantic and Indian Oceans come together.  You could either ride a trolley car up or hike up.  It didn't actually LOOK that far up when I started...
See those teeny tiny cars?  That's where I started!

There was a point where I thought I was seriously not going to make it.  I'm sure my other more in-shape team members are laughing right now, but for this overweight and out of shape girl, it was quite a climb!  Of course, the view from the top was spectacular!

And the trip along the way was quite entertaining on a variety of levels.  Babboons lined the walkway all the way up and down.  They weren't afraid of you and didn't pose a threat unless you had food on you. 

That is another of the things I so loved about South Africa.  Wildlife can be found just about everywhere.  Such a testament to God's wonderful creation.

Cape Point was just as beautiful and it is the most south western point of the continent of Africa.  Not many people can say they have been to the tip of Africa, but I can!

There is a group picture of us here, but I didn't take it with my camera but this will show you where we were.

After leaving these beautiful places, it was time to head back towards the Team House.  But first, it was on to drive through the 3 remaining townships.  First came Masiphumelele.  Masi is one of the largest townships.  1 square mile with 40,000 people living there.  The next township we came to was Red Hill.  And then finally, when I wasn't sure how much more I could endure, we ended in Ocean View, where I would be serving for the upcoming week. 

In each of these townships, we got out of our vans and prayed over the team members who would be working there.  I'm here to tell you, there is no feeling like having other Christians lay hands on you and pray for you as you prepare to do God's work.  Again, it was just the infilling that we needed.  The next day would begin a week the likes most of us have never seen or experienced before.  At least, that's the way it was for me.  I had no idea what I was in for.

I'm not sure why God seemed so much more evident in South Africa.  Perhaps because when you strip away all the extra stuff, you are left with all that really matters.  Or maybe it's because when you have no other place to be but down on your knees, you find that God really DOES come to you where you are.  I saw God everywhere I looked in South Africa.  From the majestic mountain peaks to the crashing waves to the sweet smiling faces of the children we worked with. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Monday was to start our week of "holiday club" or Saddle Ridge Ranch. 

And it would also mark the beginning of an awakening in me...in many of us...