Wednesday, March 16, 2011

do we HAVE to come home?

It's our last day working at The Village. We were hoping to get the children's house finished, but because of the rain, I don't think we'll make it. We are working hard to use the time we have left to get as much accomplished as possible!

This morning, Mal, Tonya, and Ellen worked on painting shelves. Bob, Jeff, and Alex built bunk beds. Andrea and Amanda sanded the container, so it can be painted. Chris was able to take some family photos for Brian and Lois and Louis and Amber. I spent most of the morning cleaning up the kitchen and baking some sweets.

Pray for Laurie; she has a sore throat today. Because tomorrow is a busy day with travel, we decided to take her to the doctor. He gave her some meds, and she's stayed home to rest today. Hopefully she'll feel better in the morning.

Tonight, Monica and Lerato have a school program at 6PM. The whole team is going; they will have a BIG cheering section. :) It will be fun to see them perform, and to see some kids from The Pines as well.

How can I summarize the trip? We had so many amazing opportunities and experiences. I'm so thankful for the team God chose. It has been a blessing to serve with and get to know some great people. It has also been wonderful to spend time with Louis and Amber & Brian and Lois. I admire their energy, fervor, and love for what God has called them to do here in SA. Being around them for the past two weeks has been a blessing and an encouragement. Playing with their children has been a joy.

It's so difficult to explain this experience, but God has definitely worked in hearts. He's reminded me to be joyful in EVERYTHING. He's given me sweet fellowship in serving with fellow believers. He's allowed me to be used in a small way in His work for RHI. Seeing God at work halfway across the world from home . . . He is so great. How GREAT is our GOD.

Tomorrow, we'll pack up and leave The Village around 8AM. After a visit to the Apartheid Museum, we will go to a shopping market. Our plane leaves from Johannesburg at 7:30ish. We arrive in Des Moines at about 11AM. And that's that. :)

Thank you for all your prayers and support. Your little comments of encouragement the past two weeks have brought smiles to all our faces.
See you soon!

-Abby for the team

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


How is it possible that we only have a few days left here? Time has FLOWN! Andrea and I are babysitting Drake and Meredith for the afternoon, so I have just a few minutes before I need to get back to the fun. :) As you'll see in the pictures, we built a fort under the kitchen table, and we made a kitchen out of play dough.

It was fun to skype with our home church Sunday! As you heard, it was quite rainy most of the day. We spent some time organizing all the gifts for hospice and the hospital. A few of us also went to House of Hope. Playing with adorable babies -- it's a rough job, but someone's got to do it! :) We played some games in the evening. The kids' favorite game is to climb on Jungle Gym Jeff (see picture).

Most of Monday was spent loading and unloading the cement blocks for the second children's home. Each brick is approximately 32 lbs, and we hauled about 9 tons of bricks. Our arms will be super buff when we get home . . . we hope. Today, they're pretty much like jelly. :)

This morning, a group went back to hospice, and another group went to Morning Star. Thankfully, the sun came out, so we were able to work on the children's house. Jeff and Bob built some shelves for bedrooms. Brian worked on the bathroom. Laurie and Mal started painting the trim around the windows on Brian and Lois' house. The others were busy, too; but I haven't seen anyone since lunch, so I'm not sure what they're up to!

Our muscles are tired, and our hearts are full. We've had opportunities to fellowship with some believers here, and it's been a huge blessing. Spending time with B&L and L&A has been wonderful. Thinking about leaving is impossible at the moment. :)

Love to our families and friends.
-Abby for the team

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Just got home from a GREAT Sunday morning church service! The others are working on fettuccine alfredo for lunch, so I'm taking a quick moment to cram two full awesome days into one blog post.

Friday, we shopped around Welkom in the morning. Andi, Laurie, and Mal all bought African dresses. The salesman was VERY excited to help them! Louis said it was for two reasons; 1- no white people wear those clothes. 2- no one under 40 wears them either. :)
We shopped at a store in the mall and bought gifts for children in the hospital and the hospice. We also wandered around the grocery store and bought some African sweets. After a quick lunch, we drove to Boskoppe Lion Park. It was AWESOME! We had the best, most informed guide to tour with us. We all got the chance to play with baby lions, tigers, and lynxes, but the coolest part was when Louis, Chris, Amanda, and Jeff got to go in the cage with 10-month old leopards! We got some sweet pictures and videos to show you when we get home! All four escaped with just a few teeth and claw marks. :)

Saturday, we all slept in a bit and met in the park at 10AM. On the second Saturday of every month, Welkom has an outdoor market with lots of vendors. None of the items were very African, but it was still fun to walk around check out everything. After lunch, we left to tour Thabong. Okuthle, who attends the church here, let us see her home. We also visited one of the cemeteries for children. Most of the afternoon was spent canvasing for the church. We split into two groups and visited almost every house. People are SO friendly and welcoming! After we met back at the church, some teenagers were there; they were shouting for us to come into one of the classrooms with them. Louis said we could go, so we followed! The teens were practicing a play/musical and performed the whole thing for us! Of course, much of it was in a language we couldn't understand, but the singing was beautiful. It was an awesome experience. In our car on the way home, a few of us took time to pray that the canvasing would be fruitful. God answered in a BIG way!

This morning at church, we had about 70 people! Last week there were 40. God is always good. :)

So many more things left out, but not time to share them all. Thanks for your prayers.
-Abby for the team

Friday, March 11, 2011

Comments! :)

Getting ready to eat lunch and head to the Lion Park, but just wanted to let you all know that we Love LOVE LOOOOOOVE getting comments on the blog! Everyone gets excited to read them, so please, COMMENT! :) It makes us feel like you're a part of what we're doing, and that someone is reading this! :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011


We're all tired and weary tonight. Lots of work has been accomplished, and we are READY for a day off tomorrow. We will do some shopping in Welkom to buy gifts for children in hospice and the hospital. After lunch, we'll pack up a supper and head to a Lion Park for a tour, a barbecue, and a chance to play with lion cubs. Excited for that!

Andi, Mal, Laurie, and I finished painting Brian & Lois' house today. It's satisfying to see the project finished. Ellen and Tonya stained doors and trim, as well as painted the floors in the children's house. Jeff put up soffit. Chris spent the day at Morning Star, which is a daycare for HIV positive children. Amanda worked all day in Amber's garage sorting clothes for future RHI kids. Louis worked on plumbing in the children's house. Bob worked on trim, doors, and the kitchen.

The inspector came by yesterday and said that everything looked fine, and that we didn't need to have him check anything more. It is a huge blessing not to have that deadline hanging over us! But the girls -- Monica & Lerato -- will probably be able to move into their house next week. Lois also hired the first two house mamas today; they are very sweet. It's cool to be here for this phase of RHI. Seeing all the hard work come to fruition and seeing God's plan be fulfilled is amazing. We've witnessed many instances of His sovereignty: choosing these two couples for this ministry, bringing Monica & Lerato to them, and a team of MANY girls to complete some big projects. We are blessed to be a part of His plan for The Village.

Prayer Requests:
-to complete the work projects quickly
-to be an encouragement and blessing to the missionaries. The couples have put in some LONG hours this past month. We want to give them some rest and refreshment.
-to rejoice in every circumstance

Thanks for your prayers. We can tell they're working. :)
Love from the Team,

1. South African Sunset
2. Bob & Monica
3. Monica in "her room" -- where her bed will be.
4. Drake joining the girls for a makeover
5 Jeff & Alex working hard
6. You can take the girl out of Iowa, but you can't take Iowa out of the girl! :)
7. Children's house

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Another day! It's nice and cool this morning; not too hot! I heard that our Iowa friends have been getting some snow . . . We've been getting some nice sunburns. :)

Devos this morning were about rejoicing ALWAYS. Yesterday was a great day to learn that lesson -- several things came up that were unplanned, and the day was a little hectic. Thankfully, we have an extremely flexible team that goes-with-the-flow.

Tonya and Ellen spent the day painting/staining door in the children's house, and cementing cracks in these holes in the ground (I don't know what they're called or what they're for :) ). Andi, Mal, Laurie, and I took most of the day and primed Brian and Lois' house. Bob and Jeff helped put a sealant on the floors in the children's house, and continued work on the doors. Amanda and Louis finished cementing and smoothing the side of the Niehoff house. Chris watered the plants on the property and also helped in the children's house. I babysat Lindie in the afternoon while Lois interviewed and met with the prospective house mothers. Ellen and I have volunteered to do all the cooking for the team; so far, no one has died. :)

There are a lot of jobs to be done! Several men from Welkom arrived yesterday to dig the foundation for a workshop. They are here working again today. Yesterday, our challenge from morning devotions was to be willing to help with any task. But I have to say, I'm thankful I don't have to dig in the South African dirt with a shovel in the hot sun . . . maybe next week. :)

We're making some fun plans for the weekend; we'll visit a lion park and have a barbecue there on Friday night. We'll visit the townships, tour Thabong, canvas for the church, and eat lunch at a local restaurant on Saturday.

Prayer requests: Bob's back has been really bothering him. Pray for less pain as he works. Pray for encouragement and energy for Amber as she cares for her two kids and the two girls living with them; it's a lot of work! Pray for the two house mothers that will be hired today. And pray that we can get everything completed for the inspector's visit on Friday.

We miss you all. Love,
Abby for the Team

PS - you can see from a couple of the photos the area that's been dug up by the illegal miners, which is near The Pines.