Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Off to Mozambique

Scott left for Maputo yesterday, one of the main cities in Mozambique, in order to work on our registration. For us to work there full time, we have to have permission from the government, a process that never moves quickly. When I asked him how things went today, he told me it was like taking one step forward and three steps back. It's all a matter of visiting government offices, speaking to the right people, and making sure your paperwork continues through the long line of offices and stamps.

One huge praise regarding our upcoming move has to do with Gabriel. We've been testing him all week to see if he can tolerate a curative dose for malaria. He is highly allergic to the preventative and with the deadly dangers of the disease, moving would not be an option if he couldn't tolerate the medicine. We are praising God, because Gabriel hasn't had any side effects! For us, this is continued assurance that this move is what God wants for us.

Please continue to pray as we negotiate through this difficult process.



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

School system

Janelle recently shared some interesting insights into the African school system. Her experience in particular is with Zimbabwe. The system is based on the British system they inherited from colonial days. With school fees difficult to afford, it's exciting to see some of our orphans excel despite the circumstances facing them and their country. This is a photo of some of our Zambian orphans.

GRADES 1-7 (called “junior school”) At the end of grade 7, the children will write a battery of exams and these will determine into which “stream” they will be placed when they enter high school (called senior school in Zimbabwe). The children are “streamed” according to their abilities to perform.

FORM 1-4 Form 1 is the first year of senior school. At the end of Form 2, they will again write a battery of exams, but these again will only determine which stream they remain in. They do not eliminate the children from school if they don’t pass. At the end of Form 4, they write the very important “O Level” exams (O for “Ordinary” level). These exams will last over a period of several weeks and the children will write several extensive exams in every subject they have studied. These “O Level Exams” determine whether they are allowed to continue in school. To get a “pass” at “O Level”, the student must pass at least 5 “O Level” subjects. But just getting a pass in 5 of your O Levels doesn’t ensure that you get to continue on in school.

Only those students that get very good passes in a number of subjects are granted a place in a school to do “A Level” studies. For the vast majority of students, this is the end of normal (or ordinary) high school. Only a few are permitted to go on to do “A Levels”.

“A Levels” When a child is “allowed” to do A Levels, they will normally choose only 3 subjects, and they will do extensive studies in these subjects for two years. At the end of those 2 years, they will write a battery of exams over those 3 subjects. Only those students who do exceptionally well in the “A Level” exams will be permitted and given a place in a university.

University There are only about 3 universities in the country and there is great competition for those places. At university, the government pays for fees and boarding. We help our children with transportation to and from classes, and the university. We also supply incidental things they need. There are no “part time” jobs available for the children, and no way to make money. So we help them where they need it, financially, as well as standing by them emotionally and spiritually as they move up and out of their homes.

Children have done very well if they pass “O Levels” well, they have done very very well if they pass “A Levels”, and they have been exceptional if they are accepted into a university.

We rejoice that we have had one of our orphan children who has completed university. We have now had 4 of the children pass their “A Levels” well enough to be accepted to university. And we have also had a number pass very well in their “O Levels”. We are very proud of each one of them. They have done so well considering their difficult home situations!! We praise God for each one of them.

Coming soon, update on the recent trip to Zambia, and how to win a Taste of Africa (hint, everyone signed up for my newsletter or blog feed will be automatically entered in the drawing. Sign up for both and your name will be entered twice!)



Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spring Has Sprung!

It's been an extremely busy week, with little time for anything extra like blogging. Scott's been teaching every night this week at our Bible Training Center for Teachers. This is held at Allen and Janelle's house the third week of every month. It's a great opportunity for those who would like to attend a Bible school but don't have the financial means or opportunity. Here in South Africa, we run the classes in Tzaneen and have been active in training teachers to run the courses in other places around the country.

We've also been working out more of the details for the food relief program for our orphans. We have several volunteers from here who will help drive the food into the country. For more information and regular updates, please click here.

Scott leaves next week for Mozambique to continue working on getting our residency papers that will allow us to move into the country. He'll also be trying to secure housing for us. Please continue to pray for this transition as there are still many details that have to be worked out, many which are time consuming yet essential.

On the writing side, I'm excited to announce a sale to Love Inspired Suspense! Final Deposit will come out in September 2008. They've already given me a deadline to have my cover art details in by Monday morning, so things are already rolling.

Interested in winning a free copy of my Christmas novella collection Montana Mistletoe that's due out in September? Check out the official Montana Mistletoe blog spot here for details of the contest and our upcoming blog tour.

In the midst of my own busy schedule, I've been reminded of how important it is to not let the urgent outweigh what's really important. Paul said, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." II Corinthians 4:18

Be blessed today!



Monday, August 20, 2007

Zimbabwe Orphan Relief

If you've been following my blog posts the past few weeks, you've heard about the urgent situation facing the people of Zimbabwe. After the River Glen Church hosted a camp for the orphans AOM supports, many of them through sponsors, we realized that with the current food shortage in the country, something had to be done to ensure these children have enough food to eat. People are leaving the country at an estimated 4000 per day, but our orphans are some of the most vulnerable. They can't leave, and the food they need is becoming more and more scarce.

Below is a video with more information on what we are planning to do, but we need your help. If you personally can help, or if you are a part of a ladies class, Bible study group, or know of a church who might be willing to be a part of this relief project, please let them know about the need.

We've set up a blog at with all the details.



Thursday, August 16, 2007

Flying with Eagles

If I look ahead at the next few months, it's easy for me to find myself in a bit of a panic. Moving to another country is simply not easy. We have to work with governmental offices to get required permission to stay, find housing when options are extremely limited, start learning Portuguese, make sure the kids stay up with their school work during all the changes, keep on track with my editor deadlines. . .like I said, it's not easy. And that doesn't even begin to add into the formula the actual ministry work which is the reason we're doing all of this.

Stress, no matter what's going on in your life, is always there at one level or another, so I know you can understand what I'm talking about. Ever have those mornings when you wake up and wish you could bury your head under the blankets so you don't have to deal with life? Even good things cause stress and leaving us needing to come up for air now and then. I'm very excited about moving to Mozambique, but that doesn't take away all the stress of wondering how in the world I can find the energy to do this.

I often read through the Psalms when the worry hits. David has a way of reminding me that God hasn't left, and that He cares for every aspect of my life. Yesterday, I needed a spiritual pick-me-up, so I turned to the Psalms. On my way there, though, something in Isaiah caught my eye.

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who put their hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

This is probably a familiar verse to many, but it's such a powerful reminder. We don't put our hope in money, careers, possessions, or even relationships. We put our hope in God. And He in turn will give us the strength we need for each day.

One of the most incredible things I've ever done here in Africa is a flight we took last summer on a small plane. We flew over Victoria Falls and the pilot got permission to circle over the falls. The view from the air was amazing and it's an experience I'll never forget. I was flying with the eagles over one of the most spectacular places God created.

He wants us to put our hope in Him. To trust Him completely for what you need.

Put your hope in God, and fly!

Enjoy the view!


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Off to Zambia

Early this morning, Scott, Allen, and Janelle, along with a South African Christian, left on one of Mercy Air's five-passenger planes for Zambia. They will be making three stops along the way for fuel and clearing customs, which makes for a long trip, but much shorter than if they were driving.

The rest of the week will be spent training leaders from Zambia and Zimbabwe. They will be discussing how to build evangelistic house churches, Moses vs. Joshua leadership, church planting movement principals, as well as sharing and prayer time.

Please pray that this trip is a blessing to both our team and the leaders.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cross Country Boys!

Last weekend the boys ran cross country. It was Jayden's first race, so you can imagine how much he enjoyed it. Living in a rural area means we travel farther to sporting events. The nice thing about this race, though, was that it was at the entrance of Kruger Game park, so I packed a picnic lunch, and we made a day of it inside the park. Unfortunately, we saw few animals, but it was still a great day.

As you can probably tell by this post, one of my favorite past times is to spend time in the game park. Here's a link to a home video (not mine) taken at Kruger National Game park. It's about seven minutes long, but this is unbelieveable footage. You can check it out here.



Friday, August 10, 2007


Okay, so I'm not really talking about exercise here. No. It's been an incredibly hectic week with no internet that has put me behind on a few crucial projects. Isn't it interesting how computers, meant to make our lives easier, instead only adds to our work load?

Ministry wise, Scott is preparing for a trip to Zambia on Wednesday, then will be teaching here in Tzaneen for a week the day after he returns. Please pray that his time in Zambia especially, with leaders from Zimbabwe and Zambia, will be beneficial and encouraging.

In the next few days, I'll be posting what you can do to help those suffering in Zimbabwe. Scott and I have felt moved to organize monthly food relief for our orphans as the food situation becomes critical.

So, as I catch up with life, thought you might enjoy a recent picture of the kids with a couple of their friends.



Sunday, August 05, 2007


One of the enjoyable things about living away from the city is the sense of community. Sports events become family outings full of food, games, vegetable stands, and local craft items for display. With the twangy sound of Afrikaans music playing in the background and the smell of vors rolls in the air--forget the American hot dog when there's a thick meat vors, a fresh bun, and tangy sauce around--events like the annual kaskar bring familiar faces together for a day of fun beneath the African sky.

Here's a taste of last weekends kaskar.



Thursday, August 02, 2007

Massachusetts Brides

Two days ago I received a copy of Massachusetts Brides hot off the press! I'm always so excited to hold my 'baby' for the first time after putting in so many months of work.

Massachusetts Brides is a collection of three of my Heartsong Presents historicals set in Massachusetts in the late 1800's.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

Three Massachusetts women find themselves in difficult situations mired with past tragedy, mistakes, and prejudice. Will love help ease their burdens?

After losing her husband and daughter in a fire, Michaela Macintosh never planned to love again. She certainly didn’t imagine that her heart would be torn between two very different men—her brother-in-law and a handsome widower. Would the Lord desire her heart to be safe with Philip or rekindled with Eric?

When Rebecca Johnson discovers she’s about to make the biggest mistake of her life, she cancels her plans and moves to Boston. There she takes a position as a seamstress in a furniture shop where she hopes to mend her broken heart. Luke Hutton stops by the shop on an errand for his mother and falls at once for the dark-haired beauty who works there.

Adam Johnson’s brother was killed by a Polish man, and he judges an entire people based on one man’s actions. When he falls for a Polish woman named Lidia, will his head or heart win out?

This book is available this month at your local Christian bookstores and Walmart. If you would like to buy a signed copy from me, please email me here.

I have a short video of the kids racing last weekend in the area kaskar competition, but our Internet has been down all week and is not fast enough today for me to do much, so you can look forward to finding out exactly what is a kaskar competition in the next few days.