Sunday, September 30, 2007


I've had several people ask me about the differences between the States and Africa, and I have to say that even for a writer, who is supposed to thrive on a good description, I've had to stop to think about my answer.

South Africa is unique, with its first world veneer. There are shopping malls, movie theaters, Mac Donald’s, and acres of huge estates. Contrast this with miles of squatter camps, high crime, and AIDS. If I look beyond some of South Africa's development, into Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, I see the obvious lack of infrastructure, poverty, and scores of street vendors on every corner.

Yet there’s more to this continent than the poverty and AIDS. There’s something that draws me back and makes me long to return when I’m gone. I see the smiles of the children, and their love for family and learning. The dedication of grandmothers taking care of their children, joy without possessions, and a hunger for the spiritual world.

Maybe part of me wants to fix what’s wrong. Children going hungry. The lack of education, and most importantly, the thousands who still don’t know about the God who wants to draw them back to Him.

For all these reasons, my heart is still in Africa.

PHOTOS: My mom, sister, and I at the symphony. And a book signing at Mardels Bookstore with Vickie McDonough.


1. We are still in the process of selling both houses, but both contracts are still on track. Please pray that we can close soon on them without any problems.

2. God has blessed our sweet orphans in Zimbabwe with enough funds to feed them for the next year! Praise God! Thank you so much to those of you who have been a part of this. Because of this we are no long taking donations (though if you are interested in becoming a sponsor to an individual child, let me know) I will continue to give up dates on our Orphan Blog. Scott will be driving up there next week with food.

3. Scott is planning to buy our tickets for Brazil this week, which makes things very real! Once I return from the States, I’ll have about three weeks to pack up our house for the big move. Please pray for a smooth transition into language school, especially for the kids who thankfully, can’t wait for home schooling to start. (Hopefully this will last!)
4. I'm off to Houston in the morning where I will be speaking. Please pray for a safe trip for my mom, sister, and I.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Orphan Relief Update


God has been doing amazing things in regards to the food relief for our precious orphans in Zimbabwe. It really was a leap of faith when we decided to do something to help, but our prayers have been answered in many ways as we not only raised money to pay for the food, but searched for what foods would benefit them the

As of this week, we have enough money raised to supply the children and their caregivers with food well into 2008!!! To those who have helped in this effort, thank you so much!!

Janelle recently answered some questions that you might find interesting.

1. Who purchases and distributes the food to the children and their families?
Cornelious Moyo is the director of the ministry of Themba Le’Ntandane. He is the one who has been “sourcing” food. He has driven to an rural area about 60 to 70 miles from Bulawayo where he has found a farmer who will sell him maize (the bulk corn that is then ground into meal). He will bring the maize to Bulawayo and store it at his private home. He has prepared a room for it so it will be safe from both rodents and thieves!! :) Then he will be the one to distribute it to the caregivers of the children (grandmothers, mothers or aunts).

2. How and where is the actual food purchased?

Cornelious has found the maize there within the country, although it is a distance from Bulawayo. He is planning to buy enough maize to last the children till the end of March, knowing that the source will soon dry up. But that only takes care of the staple, “mealie meal”. We have found a source of a high protein mix (soya bean based) here in South Africa that is dried and prepared and packaged for long term storage. It is spiced and ready to cook by adding water. We are planning a trip in the next couple of weeks to take up 3 pickup loads of this food for the children. Scott will drive, and there are two other volunteers here in South Africa that say they will drive their trucks up to deliver food. We have called an importer at the South African/Zimbabwe border and asked about taking in food. He says if it is only a pickup load, they don’t give you hassles (but they will probably charge customs!). But he offered, if we had trouble, he would come to the border and help us get it through. So that was all good news.

3. What food will be purchased? How, if the food is secured outside of Zimbabwe, does the food get transported to Bulawayo?
As I have mentioned, the maize has been found in the country, and the soya mince will be brought from South Africa. Cornelious has been looking for cooking oil and beans for the children, but hasn’t been able to find any. He will continue to look, but just the maize and soya mix will be able to sustain the children. The caregivers may be able to find other vegetables.

4. Finally, on what basis is the food distributed to each person, and who actually handles the final distribution?

The food distribution will be handled by Cornelious. It will be distributed according to the children in the program. There are now 158 children, but the food also feeds the household, including the caregiver. Feeding the caregiver is as important as feeding the children. She is often not well and weak, but she is the one who keeps the family together. She provides the primary care and nurture for the children, and her health is so important to how well she is able to do that.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me personally. I will also be updating our blog site where you can get more information.



Monday, September 24, 2007

Popping in

Wow! I've had such an incredible week. Running non stop, visiting friends and family, speaking to a women's group, signing books, attending a the ACFW writers conference. . .yes, I'm exhausted, but it's been great.

I left Grand Junction last Monday for Dallas. Spent a great time with my friend Jan, then the next night went to stay with Lynne, writing buddy and friend. Our church had planned a surprise shopping trip and make over for the conferance that left me feeling incredibly pampered and loved.

Thank you Creekside church!!!!!

Early Thursday morning we left for the American Christian Writer's Conference. With about five hundred in attendence plus editors and agents, this is a great way to connect with other writers and leaders in the business. Beside attending some of the great classes offered, my goal for the week was to connect with other writer friends, my editors, agent, and follow up on some contacts I made last year--which is exactly what I was able to do. Barbour Publishing took their authors out to dinner Friday night which was so enjoyable. Thank you Barbour! I was also able to reconnect with an editor interested in working with me and my international suspense series, so I'm just so thankful for God working things out for me to come.


I'll be at my moms until going back to Africa next week. Speaking at a few ladies events, signing books, and just enjoying being with my mom and sister. I know I owe several of you emails, so I'll also be trying to catch up this week. Will post more photos as well.

Please pray for Scott and that kids as they make due without mom. Schools out now as well, but Scott's an awesome dad and I know they'll do great.



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Update from Dallas

Quick update from here. Arrived in Dallas yesterday after a nice time in Grand Junction where I enjoyed seeing old friends, speaking at a women's retreat, and having a book signing. Time was too short, but it was great being with my in-laws.

This will be a busy week in Dallas as well. I'll be visiting some close friends, and running a few errands until Thursday, when I'll be attending the American Christian Writers Conference. This is a great time for me to connect with friends, editors, and learn from the best on writing and publishing. Next week I'll try and post some photos.

Great news on the home front!

I talked to Scott briefly this weekend. Not only has our Dallas house sold (closing October 1st), but we just recieved an offer for our house in South Africa! I've been blown away at how God continues to work out all the details of a moving situation that is completely overwhelming to me. But nothing is impossible for God!!!

Praise Him for His faithfulness!

Please to continue to pray that these deals will both go through. Pray also for my energy level that is pretty low right now, and the next three weeks are going to be very full as I attend the conference, spend time with family, and speak at several churches. Pray also for Scott and the kids as they make it without mommy.



Sunday, September 16, 2007

Finally made it. . .

450 kilometers to Joburg by car.

17 hours to Atlanta via Dakar.

4 hour flight to Salt Lake.

1 missed connection.

6 hour delay

1 final flight.

Being with friends and family again. . .Priceless.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Missing Q

The big news from this side of the world is that I’m headed back to the states tomorrow. My wonderful mother is flying me back for three weeks. Not only will I be catching up with my mom, sister and her family, I’ll also be attending the American Christian Writer’s Conference in Dallas, speaking in Grand Junction, Dallas, Tulsa, and Houston, and participating in a book signing in Tulsa for my latest releases.

It’s always a bit of a shock when returning to the States. Driving on the right hand side, seeing a fast food restaurant on every corner, and discovering that, yes, people really can wait in queues (lines). Even after only a year or two away, I always find that so much has changed. From technology, to TV shows I’ve never seen, to music I’ve never heard. And quite honestly, trips to the supermarket always leave me wishing there weren’t quite so many choices of hairspray and shampoo.

What am I looking forward too?

Staying up late with my mom watching British comedies.

Going to Starbucks with my sister.

Catching up with my on-line crit partners, editors, and other friends

Eating real Tex-Mex--and at least one pizza and a sausage biscuit from McDonalds

Shopping with my mom.

And of course, finding those missing queues.



P.S.After realizing how old our most recent family photo is, we took the above photo yesterday so I have one to give to friends and family.

This amazing photo was also taken yesterday of Gabriel reading
Landon Snow
(a book that just happens to be published by my publisher, Barbour) And it wasn't even a homework assignment! While I try to daily instill the love for books in my kids, like most ten year old boys, Gabe would rather be riding bikes or playing on the computer than reading, so I was quite thrilled to snap this shot!

Monday, September 10, 2007


Okay, so I wasn't actually busted, but Scott and I did spend the morning at the police station being fingerprinted. How does that sound for a fun way to spend your morning? Picture walking down a long, narrow hallway, past offices with chipped paint and torn carpet to a tiny room marked Fingerprinting. On the table there's a pile of ripped pages from a telephone book used to blot the ink, a tube of black fingerprinting ink, and a roller used to spread the ink on a metal plate.

Despite the interesting methods used, I have to say that the officer who took our fingerprints was incredibly friendly and made us laugh through the whole experience. That included telling us that traditionally it's believed that our right hands are stronger because they are given to us from our father, while our left hands are weaker because they are from our mothers.

Hmmm. . .I'll have to think about that one.

Now I'm sure you're asking why the fingerprinting? Why the background check? Well, God has an amazing way of saying no to what we think we want, then showing us what He wants. Something that's always better. A couple weeks ago, we were set to go to Portugal for six weeks to work on our Portuguese before moving to Mozambique, but our teacher suddenly backed out on us.

And we were back to square one with little time left.

After a lot of prayer, fasting, and getting advice from several people, God put us in touch with a school in Brazil. Yes, Brazil! A week later, not only do we have a school that will give us private lessons, but a furnished, three-bedroom house to rent within walking distance from the school! And the house is even set up with internet!

So, we started working on our Brazilian visas today--thus the criminal background check. If everything works out we'll be headed off to Brazil the first of November for six months. (instead of original six weeks).

And speaking of police stations and being busted, we also found out that our visas for here in South Africa were done wrong, and in fact, when Scott flew back into South Africa from Mozambique last week, they told him he could be arrested even though the mistake wasn't ours. Scary. The person who gave us the visas actually gave us too much time! So after the police station, we rushed on to Home Affairs to straight out that mess which hopefully will be resolved by tomorrow--without any surprise trips to the police station for another round of fingerprinting!



PS Since they didn't me take a photo in the police station, I thought you might enjoy this sunset from Mozambique.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Montana Mistletoe Blog Tour!

Welcome to the fourth stop on our Montana Mistletoe blog tour!

What is the premise of the collection?

LENA: Four lifelong friends made a pact when they were in college to be married by the time they were 28. As the deadline looms, each keeps busy with expanding career and experiences faltering Christmas spirit. Lori is a major struggling to bolster the small town's economy, Madison runs a Christmas store and often travels to build up stock, Deanna is the town's director of tourism on a campaign to put her town on the map, and Kathy is a writer living in California who has lost her small town faith. When romance arrives in Mistletoe, Montana, in unexpected Christmas packages, will each woman be able to accept the gift?

What’s it like working with three other authors on one story? Challenges, rewards?

KIM: This was my first novella experience, and I really enjoyed it! Sharing ideas with four other writers takes things in directions beyond your own imagination, and you have fellowship and feedback while you're writing. The challenge is getting the stories to "mesh"--making sure they lead into one another with everyone's story balancing the others. But it was great fun working out the "kinks."

Is there a character who you relate to and who made an input on your life?

DEBBY: My character, Deanna, was stubborn about not allowing Anthony back into her heart for fear of having it broken again. Working with her and helping her deal with her fear of being abandoned by her true love opened my eyes to how we need to allow the Lord to work in our hearts without interference.

What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

LENA: God’s way is always better than mine. His ways are higher, as are His thoughts. I need to stay close to Him, so He can reveal His truth to me through the process. And to trust Him to be in charge of my writing business.

Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

LISA: One of my dreams is to write International suspense, set specifically in Africa. There are a few things brewing in that area that I’m waiting to see which way they go. One of the things I love about writing and reading is the chance to visit different time periods and places.

If you want to learn more about the authors of Montana Mistletoe, check out Lynette Sowell’s blog on September 10th here.

Winners! Winners! Winners!

Want a chance to win a FREE copy of the book and a $30 gift certificate to For more information, visit our official Montana, Mistletoe blog by October 1st!

Lena's Website Debby's Website

Kim's Website Lisa's Website

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Taste of Africa contest!

I’m giving away a FREE Taste of Africa! Full of sweets, sauces, tea, and recipes. Anyone signed up for my newsletter or blog feed will automatically be entered into the drawing. If you’re signed up for both, you have two chances of winning! Drawing will be held around November 1st.

You can sign up for my newsletter here. For automatic blog updates, you can sign up right here on my blog. So sign up today!

(For this contest, North America addresses only please.)



Monday, September 03, 2007

Good-bye for now, Kristi!

I met Kristi about a year an a half ago. She's been in Tzaneen now for two years with the Peace Corps and has such a wonderful heart for people. We've enjoyed hanging out together, baking brownies, eating Mexican food, and bowls of popcorn.

Kristi's a lot like me. Once Africa gets a hold of your heart you have a hard time shaking it. So, I expect to see her again somewhere on this side of the world one day soon. For the next couple months she'll be trekking across Africa to see the gorillas and a number of game parks throughout Uganda and Kenya. (Need I say, I'm so jealous?)

We'll miss you, Kristi!