Monday, October 26, 2015

The Low-Down on Dar and My Last Blog Post

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania . . . our new home!

I can't say enough thanks to all of you who prayed for our transition to Tanzania.  God has been so good and has poured out abundant grace.  We've slid into life here quite easily and feel that all of us have navigated the changes well.

- The Tanzanian people are so friendly and the bigger missionary community has welcomed us with open arms.

- The girls are enjoying Haven of Peace Academy and meeting lots of kids.

- I'm enjoying all the fresh fruits and veggies and it's great living by the ocean again.

There are a lot of similarities to South Africa- a lot of same foods in the grocery stores, driving on the same side of the road, the heat, many of the same plants and animals.

But, there are also a lot of differences.  I have to soak my fruits and veggies in a wash before we can eat them.  The stores have a smaller selection of things and cost a lot more.  We have to dress a lot more conservatively.  Traffic is CRAZY!

The girls love the opportunity to ride in a bajaj!

 Kyle is settling into his role as Regional Administrator and we are both enjoying getting to know the missionary families.  Coming up in December, all of us will be traveling out to South Sudan to visit the missionaries there.  We are looking forward to seeing where they work and learning about what God is doing in that war torn country.

This leads me into why this is my last blog post . . . 

The nature of our ministry is ministering to other missionaries.  Kyle and I are so incredibly excited about this and love the opportunity to build into others.  In South Africa, blogging on our ministry and life was a chance for me to share what we were doing.  Now that things have shifted a bit, our ministry is involves other people's stories.  I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing in a blog what is going on in others' lives.   I will continue though to post our adventures on Facebook.  If you would like to get our email updates, please contact us at

Thanks for all your prayers!

Our first temporary house

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Wow has this furlough gone by fast.  It feels like just yesterday we were saying goodbye in South Africa and boarding the plane.

Some of those goodbyes are still raw on our hearts.  Maybe that's why March 1st still feels like yesterday.  We have moments of missing potjies, the Indian Ocean, curry, and of course our friends.

But, God has blessed us incredibly during this furlough.

            Lots of time with family
            Lots of miles safely traveled
            Lots of church visits
            Very few illnesses
            Loads of fun and
            3 trips to Harrisburg, PA for events/trainings at ABWE

 Hiking in Missouri

 Fun with cousins!

Helping at ABWE

But, as the time draws near for the move to East Africa, my heart can get anxious . . . . really anxious.

Will the language come quickly?  Will we make friends?  Can I handle all the different challenges?

These are the questions I have to continually leave at God's feet.  Sometimes more than once during a day!  My tendency is to think, "I've already done this type of move once.  I know how to navigate new cultures.  I remember the struggle of language learning.  I've got this!"

But the fears are still there.  My heart is still anxious.  The dependency on God is still needed.  

That's why I'm so glad for the promises in scripture!  Knowing who has called us to serve in East Africa and trusting completely in who is going to walk the road with us is reassuring! It almost makes it seem silly to ever worry.  But, as the worries creep up, I find myself going to the passage below and finding courage.  What a faithful God we serve.

Lamentations 3: 21-24
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
great is your faithfulness.
therefore I will hope in him.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Before leaving for the mission field, I read a book called Third Culture Kids.

Actually, I read it twice . . . .

The first time the content scared me to much that I had to read it a second time to wrap my mind around the information and what the book was actually trying to say.

In a nutshell, the book describes the challenges of growing up in a country (or many countries) that isn't their parents' country.  It takes a look at how children adopt particulars from their host country which keeps them from fully fitting in to their parent's culture, yet at the same time, they don't fully fit into their host culture.  Hence, they have a "third culture"- a mixture of it all.

The scary part of this book is the hurt and confusion that can last long into adulthood.  But, the upsides are the incredible coping and people skills these Third Culture Kids have and their ability to navigate the world with a unique perspective.

After living in South Africa for 8 years, this is the first furlough where I'm beginning to see what this book is all about.  Our girls have become a mixture of our American culture and South African culture.  They have things they absolutely love about both cultures, yet struggle to be "fully" either one.

While in Michigan in March, we were traveling to a church on a Sunday morning and one of my girls burst out in tears.  She blurts out, almost in anger, "I don't even know what the trees are here or the names of the birds!  Shouldn't I know.  This is where I was born!"

My heart hurt for her.  Kyle and I come home to familiar.  We recognize a maple tree and an oak tree.  We know the names the red-winged black birds and starlings.

But, people often ask our children, "Are you happy to be home?"
Of course they answer, "yes"-  that's what they're supposed to say. But sometimes I wonder how much of what I call home feels like home to them?

After asking for a "serviette" for the 20th time and not being understood, one of my daughters throws her hands up in frustration and says, "But I don't want to call it a napkin!  I like calling it a serviette.  Can't I keep calling it that?  Why do I have to change?"

This furlough, I've watched the struggle with the things that they've adopted from South Africa that don't fit here in America.  They honestly desire to be normal here, yet in no way want to give up parts of South African culture.

"Mom, I really miss how people walk us to our car when we say goodbye at a house.  It was nice.  Will they still do that in Tanzania?  Even if they don't, can we keep doing that?"

Already they are recognizing that some of their South African selves might not fit into their new "home".  This worries them.  Honestly, it worries me.  I want my kids to happy and feel like they fit in.

But it's not all negative!  One of my great take-aways from the book was that supportive parents who keep dialog open and don't force one specific culture on a child can help them navigate these confusing waters.

So how has this looked in our family?  Well . . . we're still learning.  I'm so thankful for a third-culture husband who can speak into this from personal experience and help me understand what the girls are going through.

The promises from God's Word have given incredible strength.  We talk frequently about having our roots down deep in God, not necessarily in a country.  Hebrews 11:13b-14  "and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland" . . . . 16 "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."

We remind ourselves that our citizenship is in heaven. Phil 3:20-"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ"

He truly brings comfort to our girls, not necessarily taking away the hurts, but giving a peace about who they are in Him.

As a family we try to

- validate the emotions, let the tears and frustrations be real
- encourage the girls to be exactly who they are
- let them keep the habits and cultural items from South Africa that they want to carry with them
- talk frequently of God's blessings in our life and our citizenship in Heaven
- talk about this things we enjoy in each culture
- LAUGH together as we make mistakes

Helping once a week at a rural school for orphans and vulnerable children

Lots of packing and unpacking

They can sleep anywhere!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Routine . . . What???

There are a few words that should never go together.

Anchovies and Peanut butter

Kids and Mountain Dew

Furlough and Routine

It's so good to be back around family and friends.  To eat foods we've missed.  Freeze to death waiting for the car heater to warm up.  To remember that we can make a right turn on red. . . .

But to fit in all the fun things, family visits and church meetings- means routine goes out the window.
-bedtimes change (even the beds we're sleeping in)
-new churches every Sunday
-traveling nonstop
-last minute schedule changes
-surprise visits from friends and family

Please don't think I'm complaining.  Staying up late and laughing with family,  skipping school to play in the snow, changing plans to drive through a different state and visit a new church . . . It's great!  We wouldn't change any of it.

So, I guess I'm asking for a little grace from everybody who runs into us :)

If we seem distracted
If the kids are crazy
If I can't recall your name right away
If I'm yawning through our visit
If my soon-to-be 5 year old doesn't reply when you say Hi to her . . .

we really mean well.  We're just a bit tired and trying to soak in everything.

Soak in all the hugs, laughs, Mexican food, play dates, and conversations!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Less than a week . . .

It's hard to believe I'm even saying those words.

Less than a week . . . until we move from South Africa.

Less than a week . . . until we have to find a new "normal"

Less than a week . . . until our children leave the country they call home.

But, through all the goodbyes, tears and unknowns, God is showing Himself big in our lives.

He's showing Himself to be a loving God that even cares that our kids were praying for great homes for their dogs (prayer request granted).

He's showing us how to have joy even when we feel sad. . .  We are still laughing a lot!

He's teaching us that He is in control and even though we can't picture life in Tanzania.  He's got it all in His hands.

Bottom line-  Through the goodbyes we are finding joy.  It has been joyful serving in South Africa and we have lots to celebrate.

We celebrate



Beautiful Country.

God's Creation.

Please pray with us that we would continue to celebrate right up until we get on the plane March 1st!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Needless to say, I went to bed in not the best of moods.  Not for any particular reason, just really not looking forward to Thursday.

Kyle had just had two very long days teaching pastors.
I had just had two very long days cooking for the pastors.
Abby is at camp and I miss her.
Laundry was calling.
Kyle and Emily would be gone all day at the game park.
It is supposed to be REALLY hot.
Someone was coming to the house at 7am (they are from out-of-town) to buy my wicker chair.

Kyle’s alarm went off at 4:45am, he and Emily quietly slipped off to the game park . . . and I couldn’t fall back asleep.

Definitely not any smilies on my face when i finally dragged myself out of bed and got ready to meet a stranger at my gate.

6:45am-  my cell phone rang. They were early and at my gate.  Ok, maybe my face was tipping into a frown.

I walked out to the gate to be greeted by a bubbly women probably my age that instantly greeted Natalie, guessed her age and started sharing about her boys.  We chatted casually as we walked to the house to look at the chair.  I mentioned my oldest was at church camp.  Her eyes lit up and she shared how her nephew had just given his life to the Lord at a camp and is now on fire for God.  

She decided to take the chair.

We slowly walked back to the gate.  She was all smiles talking about the Christmas season and way they’ve tried to focus on Christ as a family.  I mentioned a book I was reading, shared a story from it and we both laughed.  Her laugh was so genuine.

As we said goodbye and they pulled out of the drive, I couldn’t help but notice that now I was smiling.  That 5 minute encounter with a lady whose name I don’t even know lifted my spirits, pointed by morning towards Christ, and has kept a smile on my face all day.  (We are many hours ahead in our day for all of you reading this in America.)

I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Do I uplift people in such short encounters?  In 5 minutes, can I point people to Christ?  Do people leave an interaction with me in smiles?”

Great questions to ponder  . . . . with a smile on my face!

By the way, I’m really enjoying the book mentioned above.

“How to Raise Selfless Kids in a Self-Centered World”  by Dave Stone 

Friday, December 12, 2014


I’ll admit it has been awhile since I’ve posted.  

Probably because every time I sit down to write, I’m completely overwhelmed with all the things I could write about.  Making the transition from working in South Africa to Kyle being the Regional Administrator in East Africa (meaning moving to Tanzania) has consumed my thoughts and heart.

Here are some of the topics I’ve considered writing about:

-the constant encouragement from friends and family as we make this transition
-the incredible number of prayer requests on my heart
-delights of the heart as we head into the celebration of Christmas
-future fears that need to be turned over to God

Let me touch on just the first point.  It is one that brings such incredible joy.

First a question for you-

Did you ever stop to wonder why God included the personal greetings at the end of some of the New Testament books?  Have you ever been tempted to skip over them?  I mean, we don’t know them personally anyways?  :)

Here are a few:

I Cor 16:19-20
“The churches of Asia send you greetings.  Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.  All the brothers send you greetings.”

Philippians 4:21-22
“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.  The brothers who are with me greet you.  All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”

3 John 1:15
“Peace be to you.  The friends greet you.  Greet the friends, every one of them.”

2 Cor 13:12
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints greet you.”

I’ll let you look up these next two for yourself. They are longer personal greetings.
2 Timothy 4:19
Colossians 4:7-18

But, I’m glad God included them.  It reminds us of how intentional and relational God has meant us to be.  As relational beings, we can provide great comfort and encouragement to each other as we interact, listen, laugh  . . . greet with a holy kiss . . . .

I’m sure the New Testament church loved getting to the end of the letters and hearing the personal greetings, being reminded how much they were cared for and missed.

This has rung so true for me over the last couple months.  Greetings, encouragements and reminders that we are being prayed for have poured in since announcing our move to Tanzania.  I have felt wrapped in love and “lifted up” even when I have wanted to doubt.  God has used so many of you to touch my heart and point me to Him.  

Thank you.

But let me leave you with a request.

There are so many missionaries on the field this Christmas season who are missing family and friends horribly and working hard to find their joy in the Lord.  If you know somebody in that situation, please drop them a note, pray for them, send through your “holy kisses”  :)