Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A secret

Not to be cheesy, but did you know that once in a blue moon, when Jed and I are just hanging out, like relaxing and watching TV, he'll quietly send me a text message from across the room to tell me he loves me? I have a great husband.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

24

I LOVE 24. Seriously. My parents sent seasons 3 and 4 for Jed's birthday, and we'd never seen a single episode before. Now we're totally addicted. (I can't keep up with Jed usually, but he fills me in on the episodes I've missed...now that I get the gist of it, I don't have to see every episode.) It's on right now, the part where Michelle pretended like she got the virus and fooled the guard so she could escape the bad guy. Awesome.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Africa Conference

Day 1 of the Africa conference was a huge success, if you ask me! We had workshops on what a Hands at Work office in Africa should look like, what the role of a Service Center Coordinator should be. Most of our offices (in Mozambique, Zambia, Nigeria, DRC, etc.) only have one or two staff members. They're usually people (like Lawrence and Luckson, who you've heard a lot about) who have a heart to serve orphans and widows in their communities. They make very little money, but they have big hearts. Ideally, each office will someday have four people--a Service Center Coordinator, a bookkeeper, a field coordinator, and an administrator. In the afternoon we had lots of meetings. I met with the Kabwe office to talk about their plans for this year. Then I met with a larger group of Zambians to discuss Hands at Work moving into a new area in West Zambia later this year. We're going to try to move into the area west of Mongu, near the Angola border. UNICEF estimates there are 100,000 orphans and vulnerable children just in that area. The tribal group there still operates under their king, and for that reason and others they have very few resources. It's very exciting to be part of the planning. We're praying we can mobilize the churches in that area to care for the sick and the orphans in their communities, and of course to connect churches from outside Africa to help them.

Many nights we host visitors in our homes for supper. Last night we had a big braai with Lynn and Jayme, and we invited the whole crew from Zambia. It was a great way to kick off the reunion!

Samuel from East Zambia, Lawrence from the Kabwe office, and Levy (our housemate)

Rhoda and Annie

Jacob, Samuel, James, and Lynn's mom, Marlene

Monday, March 16, 2009

Erick


This is my friend Erick, who works for Hands at Work in DRC. They're having major struggles with funding right now; in fact, everything that's available is being funneled to the orphans' feeding program right now just to keep it going. In the midst of this crisis, Erick is level-headed, as always. (A couple of months ago, Erick got robbed, and he described the ordeal in an incredibly upbeat, positive email. Let's just say he's a glass-half-full kind of guy. Here's a story, written by Erick, that tells a lot about who he is and why he does what he does:

A STORY
WHY I JOINED HANDS AT WORK

My name is Erick Rukang. I am a coordinator of the DRC Service Center in Likasi Congo. I am 36 years old and was born in Lubumbashi, a town situated at 120 Km from Likasi.

I graduated in 2005 in a Bible College, Kaniki, in Ndola Zambia. After graduating I went to Likasi far from my family for ministry. It was not easy because I was homeless in the town but I had to do church planting. God spoke to one lady who came to Congo to Start Hands at Work in Likasi while I was in Zambia, Margaret Chang, the wife to a Zambian friend, Dominic Phiri, so that they can offer me a shelter at their servant quarter house. By that time I did not know anything about their work and we were only friends and I was busy with my ministry. One year later George Snyman came to visit Hands in Congo, when he saw me he gave me a word of prophecy though I was not involved in the work and he told me also that ‘God appointed you for a purpose in this place like Elijah in the house of the widow of Sarepta and God will use you mightily but don’t despise the small beginning just be strong and later on you will understand it’. For sure I didn’t understand it but I wrote it in my my diary, this was end 2006.

Later on I felt very much pressurized by the challenges I could face while I was doing church planting at a point to quit my ministry but I could recall in mind God’s prophecies to stand my ground. Until one day when I was praying God spoke to me clearly to offer my time to the orphans and the dying what I never dreamed for though some friends in Zambia during a prophetic ministry when I was graduating prophesied about the very thing “Erick, we see you with a heart for the dying and the vulnerable and God will use you mightily in your country to bring impact and you will be a voice to the oppressed and from there God will start opening doors for you to start launching out even far away from your boarders.” Though I had all these words from God, my mind was somewhere else. The pressure was so strong and because of what I was facing, I started feeling for those people dying and those children who are rejected and forsaken.

The next step, I felt strongly to write a letter to Margaret, who was the Hands at Work Coordinator though we were staying together because I couldn’t express it in word. She got also surprised because all along she thought that I was too busy with my ministry. A week later she gave me the answer after consulting the HBC leadership. This is how I started this humble work. Because of obeying what God asked me though it was a volunteer work on behalf of the poor, God blessed my ministry on a amazing level and opened for me other opportunities I never imagined on a humble stage. God is faithful when we obey this mandate to minister to the sick patients, the widows and the orphans, people from whom we cannot expect any reward apart from the Lord. (James 1: 27)

Today, I am a Hands Service Center Coordinator in Likasi DRC and I start understanding the prophecy George gave me some years ago before I joined Hands. God has broken my heart in peace and I start enjoying the ministry to the needy and the dying, it is now becoming a part of my life. I enjoy smiling to those who are broken hearted and shake my hand to those who are hopeless and homeless because I have been there.


Sometimes God is taking us through difficulties and impossible situations to break our heart in order to create a heart of compassion in us to serve those who are broken and rejected and to feel what they feel even to understand them deeply so that we can whisper to their hearts :’Be strong God loves you still’.

Erick Rukang
Hands Work, DRC Likasi Service Center

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kruger Park, Sixth time's the charm

We went the Park to celebrate Jed's birthday last week. And we saw ALL of the Big 5 in about an hour and a half! That's an elephant, 3 rhinos, 6 lions, a leopard, and a bunch of Cape buffalo, plus giraffes and hippos and other great stuff. It was absolutely unbelievable. I didn't get any good pictures of the leopard, although we enjoyed watching her stalk an impala for a while. (She didn't manage to kill any...they saw her and made lots of funny snorting noises and ran away before she got close enough, although she must have been only 20 feet away from them, and about 10 feet away from us at the time!) I can't post the video, but here's the best picture we got. This lioness was on the road...only a few feet from us. The sun was setting, and she was enjoying the heat from the tar road. You can imagine, she was stopping traffic, and seemed to be getting a kick out of it all, and she was very relaxed.



We couldn't believe our eyes...

My near-death experience

Well, I delayed posting about my near-death experience for two months...I thought maybe I'd never post about it, but these pictures were just too funny. This is me explaining to Lynn and Jayme, Laura, and Dara, how I recently had stopped on the highway at 6am in the morning (with a bunch of other Hands at Work people) to help some people who had recently had an accident on the highway. Fifteen minutes later I found myself diving into the ditch, full of 8ft high grass, to avoid a small semi-truck careening toward me at 100km an hour. Everybody involved in the accident ended up being okay (although that seemed doubtful for a while, with two vehicles overturned in the ditch and the passenger of the semi pinned in his vehicle for an hour). All this on our way to a funeral. Ugh.

This is me with my drawing of how it all happened.


Believe it or not, this is completely candid. It really is quite a story.


Okay, this one is unrelated. Dara bought this Africa puzzle for her nephew, and we spent hours racing to put it together. Laura and Dara got ridiculously good at it...I think the record was 1:48 or something like that. They got even better than Jed at it, which I know you will all appreciate is unusual. (Honey, I'm sure if you would have had more time, you could have smashed their record!)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Conference time and eating worms

Conference time is right around the corner, and already time seems to be...accelerating somehow. Remember conference time from last year? It's the time of year when all our partners come from our offices in Africa (SA, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Nigeria, DRC, and Mozambique) for a week of workshops and learning and all kinds of good stuff. The week after that, we go to a nice lodge where we're joined by our church partners and country offices (in US, Canada, UK, and Australia), where we talk about how we can get the churches outside Africa to help support the church in Africa to care for the sick, dying and orphans.

It's the busiest time of year around here, which is why we haven't been blogging much. We've been getting to the office early and leaving late. But we've been enjoying the days so much in between craziness! We're eagerly anticipating Pam's arrival in a couple of months.

I really want to tell you about last night. We went to Shangana Village with Jayme and Lynn, Jayme's parents, Maureen, Mbecki, and little Uchenna. It was a cultural experience, similar to what we did in Lesotho. There was dancing and music and delicious food. And...drum roll please...I ate a mopane worm! It was fried, with all kinds of delicious spices and sauce...didn't taste at all like a worm. I didn't get a picture, unfortunately. (That was the last thing on my mind, actually. All I could think was, Kim would be so proud of me right now!) But here is a photo from Wikipedia of harvested mopane worms, just to give you a taste...(Pun! Oh, Michael Scott)...


Once when we were walking around Kabwe in Zambia, a lady offered me one. It was dried. I didn't think I could handle the crunch. (They were everywhere in Zambia though. We don't see them as often around here.) Anyway, I think I've been feeling a little guilty for not trying them ever since. I feel much better now!