Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book giveaway winner!

Congrats to Megan who won my last contest. Thanks so much to all who stopped by and posted. I enjoyed reading which books you're reading this summer!

Our family will be spending the next couple weeks together before our oldest heads off to boarding school the end of August, so I'll be taking a short break from blogging.

Until I'm back, I thought you might enjoy this video that I posted several years ago from Kruger.

Be a blessing!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

July Summer Giveaway!

For all you wonderful readers, here is my third and last giveaway of the summer. I'll draw one winner out of all the comments who will win a copy of Blood Ransom, Blood Covenant, and An Ocean Away!

I don't know about you, but our summer (winter here) has been incredibly busy with over thirty visitors which included five groups/teams coming through. Last week was our English Camp and the last of the summer activities, so while it's been great, we are ready to get back into a routine. (Is that even possible?)

As for the contest, please leave a comment and if you'd like, tell me what you've been reading this summer. Be sure and leave a way for me to contact you as well. Drawing closes Saturday night at midnight PST. (Feel free to spread the word!)

If you have read my Mission Hope Series or An Ocean Away, would you consider leaving a review on Amazon and/or other online sellers? Word of mouth is what sells a book!

Thanks so much!


This contest is valid only in the US. 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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

English Camp Day Four

On Thursday, Jayden and I were able to hang out at the English camp and had a great time. God has really moved this week among the campers and staff, and I know that there will be many amazing stories to be told.

Here are a few highlights from the time we spent with them on day four.



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blood Ransom for 99 cents!

If you haven't read Blood Ransom or would simply like a eBook version, my publisher just let me know that you can buy it here as an eBook for just 99 cents for a limited time!

This is the book that was recently nominated for a Christy Award and while I wasn't able to attend the banquet, I was so excited to get this medallion in the mail this week.

Just for fun, here's a sneak peek at the beginning of the book.

"And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9 NLT


A narrow shaft of sunlight broke through the thick canopy of leaves above Joseph Komboli’s short frame and pierced through to the layers of vines that crawled along the forest floor. He trudged past a spiny tree trunk — one of hundreds whose flat crowns reached toward the heavens before disappearing into the cloudless African sky — and smiled as the familiar hum of the forest welcomed him home.

A trickle of moisture dripped down the back of his neck, and he reached up to brush it away, then flicked at a mosquito. The musty smell of rotting leaves and sweet flowers encircled him, a sharp contrast to the stale exhaust fumes of the capital’s countless taxis or the stench of hundreds of humans pressed together on the dilapidated cargo boat he’d left at the edge of the river this morning.

Another flying insect buzzed in his ears, its insistent drone drowned out only by the birds chattering in the treetops. He slapped the insect away and dug into the pocket of his worn trousers for a handful of fire-roasted peanuts, still managing to balance the bag that
rested atop his head. His mother’s sister had packed it for him, ensuring that the journey — by taxi, boat, and now foot — wouldn’t leave his belly empty.

Once, not too long ago, he had believed no one living in the mountain forests surrounding his village, or perhaps even in all of Africa, could cook goza and fish sauce like his mother. But now, having ventured from the dense and sheltering rainforest, he knew she was only one of thousands of women who tirelessly pounded cassava and prepared the thick stew for their families day after day.

Still, his mouth watered at the thought of his mother’s cooking. The capital of Bogama might offer running water and electricity for those willing to forfeit a percentage of their minimal salaries, but even the new shirt and camera his uncle had given him as parting gifts weren’t enough to lessen his longings for home.

He wrapped the string of the camera around his wrist and felt his heart swell with pride. No other boy in his village owned such a stunning piece. Not that the camera was a frivolous gift. Not at all. His uncle called it an investment in the future. In the city lived a never-ending line of men and women willing to pay a few cents for a color photo. When he returned to Bogama for school, he planned to make enough money to send some home to his family — something
that guaranteed plenty of meat and cassava for the evening meal.

Anxious to give his little sister, Aina, one of the sweets tucked safely in his pocket and his mother the bag of sugar he carried, Joseph quickened his steps across the red soil, careful to avoid a low limb swaying under the weight of a monkey.

A cry shattered the relative calm of the forest.

Joseph slowed as the familiar noises of the forest faded into the shouts of human voices. More than likely the village children had finished collecting water from the river and now played a game of chase or soccer with a homemade ball.

The wind blew across his face, sending a chill down his spine as he neared the thinning trees at the edge of the forest. Another scream split the afternoon like a sharpened machete.

Joseph stopped. These were not the sounds of laughter.

Dropping behind the dense covering of the large leaves, Joseph approached the outskirts of the small village, straining his eyes in an effort to decipher the commotion before him. At first glance everything appeared familiar. Two dozen mud huts with thatched roofs greeted him like an old friend. Tendrils of smoke rose from fires beneath rounded cooking pots that held sauce for evening meals. Brightly colored pieces of fabric fluttered in the breeze as freshly laundered clothes soaked up the warmth of the afternoon sun.

His gaze flickered to a figure emerging from behind one of the grass-thatched huts. Black uniform . . . rifle pressed against his shoulder . . . Joseph felt his lungs constrict. Another soldier emerged, then another, until there were half a dozen shouting orders at the confused
villagers who stumbled onto the open area in front of them. Joseph watched as his best friend Mbona tried to fight back, but his hoe was no match against the rifle butt that struck his head. Mbona fell to the ground.

Ghost Soldiers!

A wave of panic, strong as the mighty Congo River rushing through its narrow tributaries, ripped through Joseph’s chest. He gasped for breath, his chest heaving as air refused to fill his lungs. The green forest spun. Gripping the sturdy branch of a tree, he managed to suck in a shallow breath.

He’d heard his uncle speak of the rumored Ghost Soldiers — mercenaries who appeared from nowhere and kidnapped human laborers to work as slaves for the mines. Inhabitants of isolated villages
could disappear without a trace and no one would ever know.

Except he’d thought such myths weren’t true.

The sight of his little sister told him otherwise. His mind fought to grasp what was happening. Blood trickled down the seven-year-old’s forehead as she faltered in front of the soldiers with her hands tied behind her.


Unable to restrain himself, Joseph lunged forward but tripped over a knotty vine and fell. A twig snapped, startling a bird into flight above him.

The soldier turned from his sister and stared into the dense foliage. Joseph lay flat against the ground, his hand clasped over the groan escaping his throat. The soldier hesitated a moment longer, then grabbed his sister’s arm and pulled her to join the others.

Choking back a sob, Joseph rose to his knees and dug his fingers into the hard earth. What could he do? Nothing. He was no match for these men. If he didn’t remain secluded behind the cover of the forest, he too would vanish along with his family.

The haunting sounds of screams mingled with gunshots. His grandfather fell to the ground and Joseph squeezed his eyes shut, blackness enveloping him. It was then, as he pressed his hand against his pounding chest, that he felt the camera swinging against his wrist. He stared at the silver case. Slowly, he pressed the On button.

This time, the world would know.

With a trembling arm Joseph lifted the camera. Careful to stay within the concealing shade of the forest, he snapped a picture without bothering to aim as his uncle had taught him. He took another photo, and another, and another . . . until the cries of his people dissipated on the north side of the clearing as the soldiers led those strong enough to work toward the mountains. The rest — those like his grandfather, too old or too weak to work in the mines — lay motionless against the now bloodstained African soil.

In the remaining silence, the voices of two men drifted across the breeze. English words were foreign to his own people’s uneducated ears but had become familiar to Joseph. What he heard now brought a second wave of terror . . .

“Only four more days until we are in power . . . There is no need to worry . . . The president will be taken care of . . . I can personally guarantee the support of this district . . .”

Joseph zoomed in and took a picture of the two men.

A monkey jumped to the tree above him and started chattering. One of the beefy soldiers jerked around, his attention drawn to the edge of the clearing. Joseph froze as his gaze locked with the man’s.

Someone shouted.

If they caught him now, no one would ever know what had happened to his family.

Joseph scrambled to his feet as the soldier ran toward him, but the man was faster. The butt of a rifle struck Joseph’s head. He faltered, but as a trickle of blood dripped into his eye, he pictured Aina being led away . . . his grandfather murdered in cold blood . . .

Ignoring the searing pain, Joseph fought to pull loose from his attacker’s grip, kicked at the man’s shins. The soldier faltered on the uneven terrain. Clambering to his feet, Joseph ran into the cover of the forest. A rifle fired, and the bullet whizzed past his ear, but he kept moving. With the Ghost Soldier in pursuit, Joseph sprinted as fast as he could through the tangled foliage and prayed that the thick jungle would swallow him.

Happy Summer reading!


Blood Ransom
Copyright © 2010 by Lisa Harris
Used with permission from Zondervan
Visit Zondervan's website for more information including the audio version.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Water Well Dedication

For those of you who have followed the frustrations we've had in digging a water well in Massavana over the past two years, I'm so excited to share that the village now has water!

A big thanks to those who have generously given to make this possible. Here is a short video with some of the highlights from Sunday as we had a church service followed by the dedication of the well. The weather was cold and rainy, but even that didn't dampen the joy that was felt that morning.

On other quick note, this week is our annual English Camp that is being run by a team from Sugar Land, Texas. Ricardo from Brazil is leading the worship time. There are forty-three campers and staff and things are off to a great start. Gabe and Mariah are there with Scott and are loving it. Please pray for the campers, that their lives might be deeply touched by God this week.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

And the winner is...

Congrats to the winner of Lynne Gentry's Monologue Performance of the Reinvention of Leona Harper, Juanita Handshumaker!

Thanks to all of you who shared how God is reinventing your life. If you haven't read the book version yet, be sure and check it out here--with its nineteen five star reviews. If you missed our Skype interview, you can catch it here!

Happy reading!


Cooking from the heart of Africa

We've had many, many people pass through this summer as a part of mission teams or simply to see us and our ministry which has been great. One of the things most have been surprised about, is the fact that when it comes to cooking--and I've done a lot of it recently--everything has to be made from scratch.

And I mean everything!

Because many recipe books included ingredients that I can't get, I have a long list of meal ideas that I use along with a computer file filled with recipes that I can make here. And I'm always searching for more.

So what do we eat? Here are a few examples.

~Sausage pizza means making the dough, sauce, and even the sausage. (No, I don't make my own cheese)

~Soups are all made from scratch. We love butternut, carrot, and potato.
~Peanuts for snacking are bought raw and roasted.

~Chili and cornbread means no mix for the cornbread and a favorite chili that is said to have been served on the Union Pacific Railway.

~Any brownies, granola bars, or desert items are all made from scratch.

~We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables from the market including my favorite breakfast, a fruit smoothie with papaya, oranges, bananas, and passion fruit (my very favorite). Passion fruit also makes some fabulous deserts!

I think I get the most complaints from my kids for the lack of variety. I mean, there are only so many ways to serve chicken and rice. They also miss snack food (ie junk food.) Over all, though, it's just something you get used to. Personally, I think food from scratch typically tastes better and is better for you which I like.

The photo below is a "snack food" they enjoy, though I don't know what it's called other than a pea/bean they eat in the village.

There are some convenience items I try to have on hand from South Africa, but everyone knows that when they are gone, they are gone. Some we can find here in Moz, but they are often very expensive.

Peanut butter
Salad dressing
Cheese/sliced cheese
Lunch meat

Our last group arrives tomorrow night, so I've been preparing today for their meals over the weekend that will include Brazilian beans and rice with yummy farina which is dried and grated manioc--like a potato--cooked in bacon, oil and onions. Yes, this is so good!

They will spend next week at our annual English Camp (where I don't have to do the cooking!). We will also show the Jesus film Saturday night and dedicate the well in Masavana on Sunday, so there are lots of exciting things ahead. I'll be sharing photos and updates throughout the week.

So what about you? Do you like cooking from scratch, (even if you don't have to)?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New water well almost ready in village!

For those of you who remember the well we attempted to put in Massavana two years ago, it ended up being a long and frustrating journey. But we are thrilled to report that we have finally been able to contract a new driller and have struck water!

We want to give a special thanks to those who donated to this new well that will be presented to the village next weekend after the foundations has time to dry. This is a huge praise!



Friday, July 08, 2011

Don't try this at home

I recently was held up on my way home. And no, I don't mean a car jacking, or traffic jam, or an accident. It was...well for a lack of a better term...a coconut crossing. A young man had scaled a tree and was dropping coconuts onto the ground from the top of one of the trees onto the narrow dirt road in front of me.

I've always found it fascinating to watch them climb these trees, so here's a short video showing you how. But please don't try this at home!


(PHOTO: Selling coconuts on the side of the road)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

On being candid

It's not always easy being candid. You know what I mean. Letting people in on both the good and the bad in our lives. If you're like me, you'd rather people think that everything is great. No problems. No sweat.

Well...not always. Because that's not real life.

Today I received an email from a friend that really touched me. She thanked me for being candid about some of life's struggles on my blog.

"...sharing some of those things has helped me realize that every one of us face challenges in our life on a daily basis. We as Christians though should never feel like we are alone in these challenges. God is the pilot and in control...we just have to turn all things over to Him."

I love what she had to say. Because while everyone of us face challenges in our lives, as Christians we also need to remember that we're not alone. No matter who we are, we all share so much in common. Ordinary people, wanting the best for our families, wanting to be loved, wanting stability and peace.

Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 13:11 "Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." (NIV)

On another quick note, if you missed my Skype interview with friend and author Lynne Gentry on her new book Reinventing Leona, you can catch it here. Because of some technical difficulties that erased most of the comments for the contest running with it, we're extending the contest through July 14th.

Be a blessing today!


Monday, July 04, 2011

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and left a comment for my summer giveaway! Congrats to Patty Wysong who will be receiving copies of Blood Ransom, Blood Covenant and An Ocean Away!

If you didn't win, I'll be hosting one more giveaway later this month, so be sure and stop back soon!

Short reminder for today.

On Saturday, I was hanging out my laundry and ended up watching a dozen birds feeding on our papaya tree. Remember when Jesus told the people to "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

For me, it was a powerful of His love for us. Hang on to His promises today!

Happy Fourth of July,