15 August 2010

The Himba and the Holy Fire - August, 2010

Pam and I had a rare opportunity to visit a Himba village. Unlike tourists who come to snap pictures of a people that live off the land and still dress as their ancestors did, we wanted to know the people. We sat down and conversed through our Himba translator and asked many questions. They even asked about our kids. The women cover themselves with red ochre which is a combination of goat or sheep fat mixed with a special red clay. It was fascinating to hear how the people have adapted to the elements and their genius in doing things. For example, our translator showed us the wooden pillow that the men use. A man will lie on his right side with his head on the “pillow” and his wife will sleep on his right arm. At night, the people will sit around the “holy fire” and discuss things and ask the ancestors or their “supreme god” for assistance. Sadly, all of the people are needed for the village to function, even the kids, and very few ever leave or learn a second language. I could envision a missionary sitting around the fire and telling Bible stories. We do not want to change the positive elements or even the dress of their culture, but we just want them to know Jesus and let him transform the crucial elements in order to be faithful to him.

The Peoples of Sun-scorched Southern Namibia - August, 2010

Namibia is a very beautiful country. The southern part borders on or is in the Kalahari Desert. In our research to learn about the peoples and how to reach them, we also learned quite a bit about the country. I remember reading about the settlers along the mighty Omaruru River in the town of the same name. It turns out that on a good year the river will run for only 2-3 days.

We met and talked to many inhabitants of the land such as
the Nama,

the Basters,
the Coloureds and the Damara.

What a joy to talk with many of these people and to especially meet some dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. The Nama are part of the overall Khoi-Khoi peoples and are found mostly in Southern Namibia. The Basters are a combination of the Coloureds originally from South Africa (African mixed with Malay and European White) and the White German and Afrikaans farmers, primarily around Luderitz. The Damara are a Bantu tribe that seemed to have lost most of their cultural identity or at least merged with the Nama. It is a wonderful combination and I pray that all of these peoples come to be our family members in the Lord.

Kruger, our Great Dane: 2000-2010

When we arrived in South Africa in early 2001, less than a week later we adopted a solid black, gangly, Scooby Doo looking puppy that we named Kruger. He has been a member of our family and a devoted pet and watch dog. After a good long life, he contracted bone cancer in his left shoulder that had spread maliciously and we sadly had to put him out of his pain. I praise the Lord for devoted pets that we are able to share our lives with. Every relationship that we have is on loan. If we want to have permanent relationships then they must be through the Lord. Please make sure that your relationship to him is permanent.

A Partnership made in Heaven; Northern Texas and Northern Namibia - July, 2010

As you may know, the Bi-Fork Association of Texas adopted the Mbalantu people. At great expense, people like you have traveled many miles over the past two years to plant a church. The last team in June witnessed to a man who came to the Bible Study named Erastus (Hawaiian shirt). He was trained for 5 months by YWAM and seems to be theologically sound. He was willing to teach the Bible study after the team left and they taught him to use a disciplers’ guide. He has been meeting weekly with an average of 15 people. There are other men in the study including David (in red shirt & hat) who owned a bar and a disco. After accepting the Lord, he does not serve alcohol anymore that I know of, and closed the Club Jet Disco where the Bible study now meets. We went out with the team this time, inviting more to come to the Bible study. The next day, team members as well as some Bible study members went witnessing and helped repaint over the disco sign and ¾ of the inside (it was completely black with a disco ball and mirrors), so that it would not hinder people from coming. They are already asking questions about starting a new church. Praise the Lord for his marvelous works and for the faithfulness of the members of the Bi-Fork Association. Pray also for the members and leaders of the Bible study.

Black Balloons and a Black Tuxedo - July, 2010

As of 23 July 2010, I have officially been living and breathing here on planet earth for 50 years. It seemed to have happened awfully fast. The only one more shocked than I was my dear mother. Oh well, did I celebrate the day with mourning and black balloons? No, instead I donned a black tuxedo and Pam wore a black dress and we went ballroom dancing with each other. However, later on some of our missionary friends with Pam’s planning completely surprised me with a party. Pam, thank you and everyone else for your thoughtfulness. By the way, if you know the Lord as your personal savior, 10,000 years old is not even the beginning. (John 6:51)

Upington; an Oasis in the Kalahari Desert - July, 2010

The town of Upington in the Northern Cape of South Africa is called the Green Kalahari. The Orange River flows through the middle of this dry land and gives life to people, animals and plants. The farmers ship raisins from here to destinations all over the world because of the size and sweetness of these raisins. In fact, the longest runway in the southern hemisphere is here due to the shipping of the raisins and it also serves as an alternate landing spot for the space shuttle. The Johnstons live and work in this area and proclaim the Gospel among many people. They work with new churches, assist other churches and have Bible studies in French, Swahili, and Afrikaans for people from all over Africa. Pam and I enjoyed working alongside them and seeing the work that the Lord is doing. Please pray for them as they spread the Word in a dry and thirsty land.

Let the Children Come - June, 2010

We spent two weeks with the Cape Town Team reaching out to students in three schools (grades 6 through 9) in poor townships in the Xhosa areas. The first week we worked alongside the Cape Town Baptist Seminary students and the second week with the Forest Hills Baptist Church from Raleigh. What a privilege and an honor to minister together in Jesus’ name. According to our records, 587 children came to the schools to attend the holiday Bible club (VBS) and to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. The amazing thing was that the schools were actually closed due to the world cup. One mother came by to see what was going on because her son who does not like school was up early Saturday morning and off to school. Another mother talked about the immediate and welcome change in her teen daughter’s actions such that both of them are going to church. I praise the Lord for the 287 kids who accepted the Lord and pray that their lives and witness will save countless others. Follow-up work has begun in the schools and Bible studies have started there as well.

14 August 2010

Go USA! - June, 2010

A few days later, we invited a group of Americans over to watch the USA vs. England game. We sang the national anthem, cheered and had a good evening.

Uruguay and France Battle it out on Opening Day - June, 2010

We continued our stroll along the fan walk on our way to see Uruguay and France battle it out on the field. We cheered, Pam and Matthew blew their vuvuzelas, and I enjoyed my bright blue earplugs. The vuvuzelas are not bad inside the stadium, but I was not taking any chances. We had a wonderful time. On the train ride home, some fans had enjoyed themselves too much, but it was an exciting day. Speaking of exciting, we were heavily involved with ministry opportunities because of all the heightened interest, the excitement and openness, and the chance to interact with visitors from places that do not have open access to the Gospel. I am thankful that many who live here and even those who left SA took Jesus along with them in their own heart.

Soccer World Cup 2010; It’s Time for Africa - June, 2010

The big news here in South Africa for June/July (and the rest of the football loving world) was the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The country was primed and ready to host the world. Even the three of us got in the middle of the happenings. Our day started with a ride on the Metrorail train and then a stroll along the fan walk with tens of thousands of others towards the new stadium.

We stopped along the way to eat lunch and watched the SA versus Mexico game on television, but this was only the beginning.

Rugby en ‘n Lekker Braai - May, 2010

One of our favorite sports here in South Africa is rugby. Pam and I enjoy watching it and the boys enjoyed playing it. While Matthew was here, we were blessed to see the Stormers play the Blue Bulls in Cape Town for the Super 14 Semi-final game and also to see the South African Springboks beat the “chickens” from France. Naturally, a “lekker braai” (a tasty barbeque) with chicken sosaties, boerewors (beef sausage), and braai bread is a wonderful event in itself. Matthew is our cook and although he prefers cooking over wood logs that burn down to wood chips; he reluctantly agreed to use my charcoal and fire-starters. It was baie lekker (very good).