Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kittens and puppies and bunnies, oh my!

For those of you in the States who have just finished Thanksgiving, I hope you're having a wonderful weekend filled with turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie. (Save some for me, will you?) We've had a busy week of trying to settle in and stay as cool as possible. While I'm excited to be back, part of me wonders how I'm going to survive the next three months of heat, because let me tell you, it's HOT here!

We arrived home Tuesday night to no water, but thankfully we were able to get someone to fix things by Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, the city has been putting in new pipes, which is wonderful, but "missed" quite a few houses in the process.

Unpacking has been quite a job. Not only had we not completely finished moving in when I left for the states, the house we rented for Luis and Fernanda is still being lived in by the previous tenants. They are supposed to move out tomorrow, but we will see. I know Luis and Fernanda will be excited to start moving into their own place as soon as possible. We're also storing a lot of furniture and supplies for their new house, so I'm looking forward to converting the garage into a school room once they are settled. We are so excited to have them here and look forward to working with them in the weeks and months to come.

They, along with Scott have already jumped into ministry. I'll be posting photos in the next few days and share with you some wonderful things that happened while we were gone.

Until then, enjoy the photos of our extended family. It will be time soon to find home for all the kittens and puppies, but we are enjoying them in the meantime.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Playing Chicken

After almost hours of driving, we finally made it home. The scariest part was playing chicken with semi-trucks coming toward us on the torn up rode with only one potholed lane, and a shoulder that was as rough as the potholes. (video clip below) The best part, according to the kids, was the new gas station with sparkling clean bathrooms and finding Guarana, their favorite soft drink from Brazil.

The kids could hardly wait to get home as puppies, kitties and rabbits were waiting for them. The puppies, as you can see, are absolutely adorable. We hadn’t even seen photos of them, so it was fun to meet them for the first time. The kittens were a bit less sociable as I can attest to with scars on my hands from trying to pick up one. It will take a couple days to tame them, but until then, they have taken over my living room. (I admit, though, they are cute!)

We also came home to meet David and Emily’s little Scott. What a sweetheart. The only bad thing was one, the heat, which was expected (even at ten o’clock at night) and two, the house has been without water for a week. It’s only our house, so Scott and Luis are filling up buckets from the neighbors.

Tomorrow will be another busy day as we begin to get Luis and Fernanda settled in their new house. It’s such a huge blessing to have them here! And while I'm a bit overwhelmed as to just how much has to be done, including getting our water working, and unpacking, finishing a book, and starting another school year, we're so excited to see what God has planned in the days and weeks ahead!

I'm ready to crash, so night all!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Winner!

Let me congratulate Emma who won a copy of the Bartered Bride! Thanks so much to all of you who participated in this fun contest!

We will hit the road early in the morning to head back to Mozambique as we weren't required to leave our passports with immigration. This is a big answer to prayer as we weren't sure how long we needed to stay. We will be back in SA soon to finish up the process and take care of some other things, but we are thankful to be heading home.

Please continue your prayers for Allen. He's had a couple good days, but the situation is still very serious. We are leaving it in God's hand and praying for wisdom for the doctors and peace for the family during this difficult time.

It's late here and I still have packing to do and a 12+ hour day ahead of us. Need to try and get some sleep tonight so I'll keep this post short and sweet. :-)



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yummy toffee giveaway winner!

Thanks so much to all of you who left a comment on my blog with yummy recipe ideas for the coming holiday season!

Congratulations to Joyful, who won my November contest! I'll be sending her a 1/2 pound of toffee, three holiday recipe books, and a copy of Montana Mistletoe. For those of you who are still waiting to win, be sure and stop by the beginning of next month when I announce another fun contest ... straight from the heart of Africa!

Many of you have asked me when Blood Ransom will be released. I just received the final cover image and the book will be going to print soon. It will be officially released in early spring, but you can pre order it here.

Thank you so much to all of you who are continuing to pray for Allen and his family. The family appreciates it so much.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home ... Almost


After a long flight followed by a short overnight stay in Joburg, we're now up in Tzaneen in northern South Africa with our new Brazilian teammates! It's so good to be back on the African soil even though we're not technically "home." One of the biggest surprises here has been the weather! We left a chilly Tulsa on Tuesday expecting warm, late spring weather when we landed in SA. Instead, it's chilly and rainy!

We'll be here for the next few days as we do all the paperwork to renew our residency visas. We started out out day at the doctor to get a clean bill of health along with Xrays--to ensure we don't have TB. Then onto the police station where I was finger printed--to ensure I'm not a criminal. :-) All this along with grocery shopping, a visit to the pharmacy, post office, and organizing school books and suitcases--I'm sure I've missed something. So yes, I'm tired!

One thing we brought with us was the kids new home schooling books and DVD's, but hadn't had a chance to look at them yet. The kids are so excited and begged to start school today. Now that's something a mom loves to hear. So we officially start the new school year on Monday and we are all very excited. We also decided that we will convert our single garage into a school room now that one of the couples are here from Brazil, and we won't have to store their furniture any more. Since I didn't think we'd have a space for school other than the dining room table, this will be a huge blessing.


I have great news from Allen's family. Yesterday, Allen’s vitals started to improve for the first time since he was admitted to the hospital. The ventilator is now only pushing 50% oxygen vs. 100% and at a lower pressure. We know that there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome, but we rejoice at this victory as it appears the pneumonia has been beaten back. More to follow as the doctors make their morning rounds.


Lastly, I'll be drawing the winner for the yummy toffee gift basket tomorrow, so you still have a little bit of time to sign up! I've had several people have told me that they are unable to leave comments. Know that I'm going to try and figure out what the problem is.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leavin' on a jet plane ...

As I sit at my sister's kitchen table (after staying up talking way too late :-)) our hearts are full and ready to return home. God has done so many amazing things on a trip that wasn't even supposed to happen.

We're grateful to so many people for making our stay such a blessing. The wonderful people at Sugar Creek and their awesome youth group and staff, our new friends at Katy who we now feel as if we've known forever, our incredible board, and all the friends and family we were blessed to see along the way. Thank you to each one of you who loaned us cars, took us out to eat, loved on our children, gave us a date night, and encouraged our hearts through prayer, phone calls, emails, and FB and blog comments. :-) We love you all!

We continue to lift up Allen in our prayers, and while it's hard to leave him and Janelle at this point, we know that Allen would want us back in Africa continuing the work that he's given over forty years of his life to. I've been humbled by your prayers and words of encouragement as we've walked with them through this difficult journey.

In the end, we look ahead to the coming year with great joy that God is going to do more than we ask or imagine. To Him be the glory!



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Book Giveaway: Erica Vetsch

While I travel home (YEAH!) I thought I'd leave you all with a fun book giveaway. My first historical collection was with Heartsong Presents, so I'm always happy to tell you about books from other Heartsong authors. Today, I'd like to welcome Erica Vetsch!

Lisa: Tell us a little about yourself, Erica.

Erica: Hi, Lisa. Thank you for having me here at Heart of Africa blog. I’m a home schooling mother of two teenagers, married to my beloved husband Peter, and I spend my days writing, reading, teaching, and doing the bookkeeping for our family business. I’ve been a librarian, a receptionist, a high school history teacher, and a McDonald’s burger-babe. By far, my favorite jobs are being a homeschool mom and an author.

Lisa: How long have you been writing, and how many books do you have published?

Erica: I started writing for publication in the fall of 2004. The Bartered Bride is my debut novel, and I have five more coming out between now and November, 2010.

Lisa: Congratulations! Tell me about the book you’re featuring today.

Erica: The Bartered Bride is an historical romance set in 1905 Duluth, MN. Two powerful families enter into an agreement to marry off their children in order to consolidate their fortunes and gain control of the shipping industry of Duluth. Both Jonathan and Melissa want out of the arrangement, and each is keeping a secret from the other. When the secrets are revealed, they must decide if they will allow the truth to draw them together or force them apart forever.

Lisa: What made you want to write this story?

Erica: I read the true story of The Mataafa, a ship that wrecked just outside Duluth Harbor during a terrible storm in the fall of 1905. The descriptions fired my imagination and the story came to life.

Lisa: What research did you have to do for this book?

Erica: I visited several places in and around Duluth, including the Lake Superior Maritime Museum, as well as the Minnesota State Historical Society Library in St. Paul. I read several books on the subject of the Mataafa, the history of Duluth, and the shipping industry on the Great Lakes. I really enjoy research, and eventually I have to call a halt to it and write the book.

Lisa: What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Erica: Definitely the research.

Lisa: And the hardest?

Erica: Keeping the story within the word count guidelines. The publisher is strict about the length of the stories they print.

Lisa: That can be tough. What are you working on now or going to write next?

Erica: I’m currently working on my sixth novel, due to come out about a year from now.

Lisa: What are you currently reading?

Erica: I’m working on research for a new series set in 1860’s Kansas at Fort Larned. I’m reading diaries and memoirs of military wives during the Indian Wars. Fascinating stuff.

Lisa: Tell us something fun about yourself that readers may not know.

Erica: I have a cat that I really love. When I got her, I thought and thought about what to name her. I had lots of names picked out from literature. Characters, authors, even historical figures. And I picked up the kitten and nuzzled her head and whispered, “You’re such a cute little Pookie.” And it stuck. My literary cat rejoices in the name of Pookie.


Duluth, Minnesota in 1905 boasts more millionaires than any other U.S. city. Tycoon Abraham Kennebrae intends to marry his grandsons off to three of the wealthiest heiresses in town and allow Kennebrae Shipping to gain control of Duluth Harbor.

Tempests rage, in the board room, the ball room, and on treacherous Lake Superior. Will hearts and helms survive? Will God prove Himself sovereign over wind, waves, and weddings?

Jonathan Kennebrae, oldest of the three Kennebrae brothers, finds himself backed into a corner. Marry heiress Melissa Brooke or lose his own considerable inheritance. Can he find a legitimate reason to avoid the wedding and still keep his fortune? But as the wedding day approaches, does he want to escape?

Melissa Brooke, only heir to her father’s empire, is bartered by her parents into a marriage contract to a man she’s never met. Can she trust him with her deepest secret? Can she trust him with her heart?

Link to Order The Book:

call (740) 922-7280 to order directly from the publisher.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book! I'll draw a winner on the 23rd (if I have internet :-))

Thanks for stopping by!


Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. US ADDRESSES ONLY PLEASE

Friday, November 13, 2009

Urgent prayer update

I just spoke to Janelle, Scott's aunt who asked me to post an update on Allen. He was just admitted into ICU with a serious lung infection and the next few hours and days are critical. We ask for your prayers that God will heal him and bless him with many more years with his family and doing the work he loves. Allen and Janelle have spent their lives in Africa serving God and have been a tremendous blessing to so many. Thank you to all of you who have continued to lift them up to the Father during this difficult journey they are on.

Scott and I will be at a board meeting for African Outreach Ministries this weekend, and then fly out on Tuesday to return home to Africa. Our time here has been blessed and we are grateful for the time we were able to spend with Allen and Janelle and so many of our friends and family,



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Update on Allen

Here is the latest update on Allen from Janelle. Thank you so much for keeping him in your prayers!

Dear friends and loved ones, those who support us in prayer.

I would like to give you some specific things to pray for with Allen. We are here in Wheaton with the children and Allen has done a lot of resting. But there are some things that have begun to give problems in his recovery from the radiation.

1. The fatigue has deepened as we have been here "resting". He has trouble climbing stairs, even just dressing and preparing for the day. Just these types of simple things leave him breathless and exhausted. Please pray that this will lift and he will regain his strength.

2. As a result of his fatigue, he has been breathing very shallowly. Now his chest has begun to hurt him and we fear that part of his lungs are collapsing because of lack of use. Please pray that he will have the strength to inflate his lungs and that health will return.

3. He also is having much trouble with his legs. They go into periods of cramping and it is very painful. This is particularly when he is asleep, which disturbs his sleep an can leave him tired from lack of sleep, as well as the fatigue.

But praise God:

1. He began having a problem with double synapses during the last week of radiation, where the brain would record things again, as though they happened twice of three times. But they had only happened once. Just in the last several days, this has really improved. We believe it is God's hand on the swelling of the brain and bringing down the irritation. We rejoice to see this getting better. Praise God for the improvement, that ask God that it will continue to improve.

Thank you again for all your prayers and expressions of love and concern. We praise God for each one of you who pray for us. God has heard your prayers - that's why I wanted you to pray about these specific things!

May the Lord shine his face on each of you today (and tomorrow and the next day!). :)

Janelle (and Allen)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Orphan Sunday

There's a sweet little girl I know. She's nine years old with big brown eyes and a smile that will melt your heart. She loves learning, and even though she's missed quite a bit of school because of illness, she works hard to keep up with her studies. It's been tough, for her though, because the country's political situation is turbulent and schools have been closed off and on the past two years. When she's not in school, she has an older sister and they love playing together.

Two years ago, her father took another wife. Not too long after that, the new wife, and her father died, leaving her mother and the two girls alone. Now her mother's health is failing, and the future is uncertain.

Around the world, hundreds of people are using today as a moment to highlight the plight of orphans in the world. Because this is such a vital ministry, I wanted to take today to share one way you can get involved. The mission group we work with, African Outreach Ministries, has recognized the needs of these beautiful children and in partnership with prayer warriors, supporters, and sponsors, are currently working with over 300 at risk children in southern Africa. Instead of placing these children in an orphanage, they live with extended family and church members and receive help with food, school fees, and medicine as well as spiritual and emotional counseling.


In the Western Province of Zambia within AOM churches, over 160 “children at risk” receive care and support from AOM. School fees are paid, school uniforms and shoes are purchased and the families of these children are supported emotionally and spiritually within the churches. AOM’s Zambian missionary, Grace Mulyata, oversees this work.


AOM’s orphan ministry arm in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is Themba Le’Ntandane (Hope for the Orphan). The ministry of Themba is directed toward destitute children who have lost one of more of their parents. Themba helps these children and their caregivers by providing school fees and uniforms, securing medical care for both children and caregivers, and by providing spiritual and emotional nurture for the family. Because of food shortages in the country, AOM has also been providing food for the children the past two years through the generous donations of people like you. Themba Le’Ntandane is supported by sponsorship programs, both within churches and through individuals.

If you're interested in sponsoring a child, or learning more about the children, please contact Janelle Avery by email.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to
keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

May our love for these beautiful children reach far beyond today!


Friday, November 06, 2009

Holiday Giveaway!

I’ve managed to avoid the swine flu, but ended up at the doctor anyway this week with what the doctor diagnosed as a “very bad infection.” Like I didn’t know! ☺ In the end, I feel as if I’ve lost a week, but I am gaining back my strength, and now feel almost 100% better.

With the holidays around the corner, I have an irresistible contest for this month! (Remember the chocolate hint?) My sister-in-law has started CK Creations where she makes and sells some of the best toffee you’ve ever tasted. So this month, I’m giving away a ½ pound of CK Creations along with a copy of my Montana Mistletoe and three holiday cookbooks! For the toffee, you can choose between Milk, Dark, White, and Peanut Butter, or a sampler box with all four flavors!

For a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below! For those signed up to receive my yahoo newsletter, you'll be automatically entered if you qualify. (North America mailing addresses only please for this contest.)

I’d love to hear from you, too. What’s your favorite homemade holiday treat? Leave a comment below and share! Recipes welcome! I'll draw a winner on November 16th!

For additional chances to win a couple great books, visit a new blog I’m a part of that is showcasing fiction from all over the world. This week, we’re giving a way a copy of Scared, by Tom Davis, and The Gentlemen’s Conspiracy by Nick Daniels. You won’t want to miss either one of these fantastic releases. Stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win.

And lastly, if you’re looking for the perfect gift to send to friends and family, order your own Almond Toffee by CK Creations. Email Cheryl here. It’s the perfect holiday (and anytime) gift!



Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. North America mailing addresses only.