Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

We just finished shooting fireworks from our roof while watching a fantastic display in the neighborhood, but I wanted to stop and wish all of you a very happy and blessed 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is wonderful time of this year
Being with friends and family that's been far not near
Christmas is being with the ones you love most and about JESUS CHRIST above
A kid ounce thought Christmas was all about presents and fun
But when his parents told him that Christmas is about God's son
He felt ashamed of what he said in the past
So he confessed to the Lord and finally at last
He prayed to the father on Christmas that way
And had a wonderful, joyous CHRISTmas day

byMariah L. Harris

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why power outages make me thankful...

It's hot today. We're in the middle of summer and if I'm not sitting in front of my fan--or even better in front of an air-con--I'm sweating. And I hate sweating.

The power has been off a lot lately. The last outage lasted from about five this morning until eleven. Even in opening all the windows I couldn't escape the heat and my frozen stuff in my freezer started to sweat as much as I was.

On top of that, our water has started shutting off about five each evening which means you have to plan to wash dishes early and take afternoon showers.

But power outages always get me thinking:

About all the women and children who walk a mile each way to get water to cook and bath.

About the women who cook all their meals over a fire every day.

About the women and kids who work in the hot sun in the fields to provide food for their families.

About the kids who walk several miles to school every day in the hot sun.

About the smiles of those we built houses for--small, one room, no electricity or running water.

About how much I have to be thankful for.

The needs that we see everyday around us are the reasons we started The ECHO Project. If you haven't checked out what The ECHO Project has done this year, please do. Through many generous donations, we have been able to help with education needs, housing needs, micro loans for business, medical needs, and much more.


This month, we were able to buy school supplies--a big thanks to all the kids at The Fellowship in Katy, Texas--that will be distributed next month to kids in need. We are also in the process of setting up a store for David, our main evangelist, to enable him to be self-supporting.


One of the new ways we are raising money for The ECHO Project is through a brand new on-line shop. We are selling stunning photographs of African Wildlife and from other places around the world that include wall art, bags, clothes, iPod covers, mouse pads, photo cards, and much much more. We'll have lots of new items available weekly. You can also make requests for specific items not yet available. The best part is that 100% of all profits will go directly to The ECHO Project.

You can check out some of the products below or visit the site here.

May we all be truly thankful for the blessings in our lives this Christmas season.

In Him,


Friday, December 09, 2011

Safari Highlights

While it feels about a hundred degrees in our house, we've just put up the Christmas trees and lights so it's beginning to feel like Christmas (of course, a bit of snow would really help!)

We spent the past two weeks together as a family in South Africa, enjoying having Gabe, our oldest, home again from boarding school. We did some shopping, resting, reading, enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner (a few days late) and spent a day at Kruger. You can watch a short video below with some of the animal highlights from the park.

After some family time, we headed up to Tzaneen for an African Outreach Ministries board meeting and enjoyed spending time with some of our dear friends there. We also spent some time with our new team members, Jaco and Inge who will be joining our ministry in Mozambique in February along with their three boys. We are so excited for their arrival and will be sharing more about their family and the wonderful talents they will bring to the work here.


I'm also thrilled to share that I recently signed a contract with Revell Books for a three book romantic suspense series! The first book will be out in 2013, and I will be sharing more about the series as the time gets closer. I am so excited about these stories, and can't wait to share them with you! In the meantime, I've got some new things coming to this blog for 2012 that I think you will really enjoy, so stay tuned!

Lastly, if you haven't got your ebook copy of Undercover Cowboy, it's on sale through Christmas for only 99 cents. You can find it at Amazon and other online sellers.

And now for our Kruger Highlights...

Be blessed!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Try our video maker at Animoto.

This week, our family will finally be all together again and I'm so excited I can hardly wait. Gabe comes home for his school holiday and Scott returns from his trip to the States. So what am I most thankful for this week? Guess that's pretty obvious!

I won't be doing much (if any) blogging over the next few weeks as our family spends time together except to maybe post a few photos, but I did want to wish each of you a very happy Thanksgiving and a very merry Christmas.

Be blessed today and enjoy time with friends and family,


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Women of Faith

God has such an amazing way of bringing people into our lives when we need them. Aimee is another missionary who has been living near us the past few months, and we've all enjoyed so much getting to know her. She works primarily with women and a couple months ago helped us start a study for our women with some fantastic resources in Portuguese. It has been such a wonderful encouragement for me and the women have loved it as we learn more about God through a study of women of the Bible.

Emily (standing next to me) and I will continue to lead the study as Amiee heads back to the US for her furlough this week. The women planned a surprise good-bye party for Aimee at yesterday's study and bought her the traditional cloth that is worn here around the waist and as a head piece.

Please pray for the wonderful women in our study (several were not able to be there yesterday) as they grow in their faith, and for Aimee as she travels back to the US.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011


 It’s hard to believe that 2012 is right around the corner. I always look forward to the New Year, as it’s a fresh start with new dreams, ideas, and goals. One thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is what I want to accomplish in the coming year and how I can get there. What are my dreams in ministry, mothering, and writing?

Here are my five ways to make it happen. They might sound elementary, but for me it’s been a good reminder of how I can keep myself on track in following these dreams.

¨     Start today, not tomorrow: I’ll let you in on a secret. You don’t have to wait until New Years Day to start working on your goal. Okay, I know you know that, but if you’re like me, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll try again next January 1st. After months of too much Mexican food and all the other yummy things I love to eat while in the US on furlough last year, we returned to Africa, but weeks went by, and I kept putting off getting back into my normal exercise routine. Trust me, I had a lot of excuses and I was busy, but one day I decided it was time to stop making those excuses and lose those extra unwanted pounds. And to stop putting it off. It would have been easy to just wait until January, but now, I’m so glad I didn’t keep waiting until tomorrow.

¨        Take a leap of faith: Last year, Scott told me he wanted me to start a non-profit that would help fund many of the projects needed to help people’s physical needs. To be honest, I didn’t see myself running a non-profit. At all. But the need was great, and despite the fact that I felt ignorant on the subject I knew I needed to at least try. In looking back over the past first year, I’ve been amazed at how God has been so faithful, because it certainly wasn’t my brilliant marketing skills. To date, over $10,000 has been raised to build houses for the homeless, pay for medical care, fund micro-loans, distribute vitamins, pay for school supplies for those in need and much more. So even if something is outside your comfort zone or normal box, don't let that stop you. Take a leap of faith and watch God work!

¨        Set small, daily goals: This is something I’ve learned to be essential in my writing. An entire 85,000-word novel is daunting…unless you tackle in small pieces. Set a goal for a week, a goal for each day. Give yourself some wiggle room, and then go for it…One day at a time.

¨        If you get off track, don’t beat yourself up: Let’s be honest, how many of us start full speed on our goals in January, but by March we’re completely off track. So what do we do? We quit. (I know, I’ve been there!) But think about it, it doesn’t matter if it’s April or October, reset your goals, start moving toward them, and you’ll see progress. That progress is a huge motivation!

¨        Find an accountability partner: It always helps to have someone cheering for you, and it’s even better if they are reaching toward the same goal. Blog about your journey, join a group or a ministry to get you started, find a prayer partner, tell a friend and in turn you will see your motivation grow.

The bottom line is that it’s never too late to follow that dream. I don’t care if you’re eighteen or eighty, God can use our talents, gifts and dreams. Just be willing to step out on faith and trust Him. 

"If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."  I Peter 4:11

So what about you? What’s your dream? How can you start making it a reality today? I love to hear your thoughts as well as ways that have helped you make it happen!

Be blessed,


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Giveaway Winner

Thanks so much to all of you who left a comment in my holiday giveaway. I loved hearing from each one of you and it was encouraging as well to be reminded about what is really important in life.

Congratulations to Jess who won the 2012 wall calender! I'll be sending you an email today.

Blessings to each of you!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Just in time for Christmas...

In case you missed the news, UNDERCOVER COWBOY is available now for the first time as an eBook, just in time for the holidays! And to make it even better, it's now on sale through Christmas for only 99 cents! So if you love Christmas, cowboys, romance, and a thread of suspense, you can order now for your Kindle, Nook, and other online places ebooks are sold. 

Pinkerton detective Cole Ramsey has been hired to investigate a rancher suspected of sabotaging his neighbor's property. But Cole's investigation might be compromised when he falls for Abigail Covington, the rancher's daughter. An inspirational Christmas novella. 

On another writing note, I was excited to learn that BLOOD COVENANT is a "Best Inspirational Novels 2011" nominee in the suspense category from Romantic Times! The awards ceremony isn't until April, but it's exiting to be on the nominee list.

Lastly, don't forget to leave a comment on my last post for a chance to win a stunning animal wildlife wall calender for 2012 from the heart of Africa! 

Have a great day!


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Heart of Africa Holiday Giveaway...

Things have been busier than normal here, it seems, between school, ministry, and writing, but I guess that's just life, right? Summer is here full force, which means it's HOT. Thankfully, we get a few days of relief with the rain every now and then. (Though not often enough for me!)

Looking back at 2011, it's been a challenging year in many ways, but what a blessing to see God's faithfulness every step of the way. One of the most exciting things has been the opportunity to help with people's physical needs through The ECHO Project. You can check out here for an update for what we have been able to do with our donations and find ways to get involved and make a real difference in the lives of individuals.

Now for the giveaway...

Near the end of every year as a thanks to my blog readers, I like to give away something from the Heart of Africa. This year, it's a 2012 calendar filled with animal photos! Leave a comment below and tell me what you're thankful for this holiday season, or what you are most looking forward to. As for me, I'm so excited that our family will all be together as our oldest (Gabriel) returns home from boarding school to spend the holidays with us. I'll draw a winner Sunday night.

Happy November!


This contest is limited to a US address only. 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.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Devotional: Where does one start?

Scott recently wrote this devotional. It was a challenge to me not only as something we want to teach our disciples but for me personally as well. 

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Have you ever been troubled by the words of Jesus?  I have.  As a young boy, I remember these words of Jesus troubling me. I remember thinking to myself, “What if I stand before Jesus and he says he doesn’t know me?”  Thankfully, today I understand grace and salvation much better.

But the words of Jesus are still true and clear. Some people (if not many) who walk and talk as if they are Christians will be surprised to learn on the Day of Judgment that the Master never knew them.  Look at what Jesus says in the second part of the verse 21.  Jesus says the key to entering the kingdom of heaven is doing the will of the Father.  So the question is, are we doing the will of the Father?

First, we must know what the Father’s will is. It isn’t difficult to find out what God’s will is. Just read Scripture and take the words at face value as being true, then act.  Make them the guide by which you think and act.

It is this second part, the actual living out of God’s will, that I find is the hardest part. Why?  Because I still have so much of “me” at the center of my life and decisions, and not enough of Him. I have tried by my own power to change the old self and make myself new, but the truth is we can never do it on our own. Jesus knew this, so this is one reason why He sent us the Holy Spirit.  Only God can change us, if we will seek Him and let Him.  But it demands a total surrender to the Father’s will.

This concept of letting the will of the Father dictate what I do, where I go, how I spend my time and my resources, etc., is at the very heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  It is what I am striving for in my own life, and it is what I am trying to teach the new followers of Jesus in Mozambique.  My prayer for them, and for each of us, is that we will be transformed completely by the will of the Father.

So where does one start?  Here are a few exercises you might try:

·       Read the Gospels and highlight passages where Jesus talks about the “Father’s will.”
·       Reexamine the 10 commandments. (Exodus 20:1-17)
·       Meditate on the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:1-7:29)
·       Memorize the first and second greatest commandments. (Matthew 22:37-39)
·       Practice really loving one another. (John 13:34-35)
·       Become humble as Christ was humble. (Phil. 2:1-11)
·       Start rejoicing – always and in all circumstances. (Phil. 4:4; James 2:2-4)
·       Go out and serve / bless someone you don’t know.
·       Give generously of your time and money.

Therefore, I urge you, brother, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”   Romans 12:1-2      (written by Scott Harris)

Be blessed today,


Saturday, October 29, 2011

FREE International Recipe Book!!

For those of you who don't know, I'm a part of a wonderful blog group that helps promote International Christian fiction. As we celebrate two years of blogging together we've put together a collection of favorite foods for our readers!

"Travel with us around the world as we sample delicacies that uniquely represent our home countries or the settings of our books. 

Try our exciting selection of entrees, sides, mains, desserts and snacks:

• Peanut soup from Bolivia. 
• Chicken croquettes from Brazil. 
• Cornbread from Tennessee, USA. 
• Cranberry salad from Australia. 
• Bobotie and Cape Lamb Pie from South Africa.
• Mennonite stew and spicy chili from Canada.
• Passionfruit and coconut cake from Mozambique.
• Pavlova from New Zealand. 
• Scones from England. 

And many more! Over 40 recipes in all."

And best of all, you can get it as an ebook for free!

Our International Recipe Book is available as a free eBook download at Smashwords.                                                 

Once you've downloaded the recipe book, please check out our blog that is written by a large number of wonderful authors from all over the world

Happy cooking!!


P.S. A black & white print version of the recipe book is available at Create Space for 6.99 plus postage.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hope for the Homeless Video

Thank you so much to all of you who have helped with this project both financially and prayerfully. It was a week of hard work, but lives were changed! Here is a video recapping the highlights of the week. Some of the footage moved me to tears as it is hard to imagine people living in such difficult conditions.

If you have a small group, ladies class, or children's program and would like a simple way to get involved while making a big difference, we'd love to hear from you! Please check out the "Get Involved" page on The ECHO Project website or shoot me an email.

Be blessed,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Cowboys, Christmas, and Romance

I don't know about you, but I'm finding it hard to believe that the Christmas season is upon us. Despite the hot weather on our side of the world, my children are already making their wish lists (and checking them twice). 

If you love cowboys, Christmas, and a whole lot of romance, you will want to check out Undercover CowboyNow available as an eBook for only $1.99 for your Amazon Kindle and all other eBook Readers!


Solving his case could cost him his heart. 

"Pinkerton detective Cole Ramsey has been hired to investigate a rancher suspected of sabotaging his neighbor's property. But Cole's investigation might be compromised when he falls for Abigail Covington, the rancher's daughter." 

An inspirational Christmas novella.

Happy Reading!


(This novella was originally published in print form as a part of the novella collection Cowboy Christmas with Tyndale. Available now for the first time as an ebook.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hope for the Hopeless: 2nd Update

Scott and the team were able to complete two of the houses today and continued to work on three and four.

The first house was presented to a single mother of six. They didn’t have a roof over where they slept, so if it rained, they had to move under a tree. Tonight they will sleep in a house with a roof and a door. Scott said that for some of the kids, it would be for the first time.

The second house was presented it to an old woman who is deaf. She is so thankful and said, “I want to live here now!”

Lastly, Scott asked for prayers for the team that it won’t rain tonight as clouds are moving in. They are sleeping in tents in the middle of the bush and would prefer to stay dry so they don't have to deal with drying things tomorrow as they try to finish up the last two houses.

Be blessed,


Help for the Hopeless

For those of you who might have missed some of my previous posts, Scott is currently about four hours north with some of the disciples from here. Thanks to the generosity of those who gave toward this need, they are spending the week building house for several elderly who don't have anywhere to live. During the evening, they are spending their time sharing God's word. Follow up will be done through the disciples of missionary friends we know.

Here is an update from Scott. I will have photos and video to share after they return home tomorrow.

"I slept much better last night after finally working out the bedding and sleeping bag issues. Even with my little mat, the ground was hard, but after adding some air it was better.

We have made progress over the past two days. We have two houses framed and started on the 3rd. The only thing lacking on houses 1 and 2 is the thatching. We were lacking grass because someone had died in the family of the people who were to bring it. 

The living conditions have been very bad. The first woman made the guys laugh when she shared how she had to sleep with her feet out the door because it was too small and they would get wet. 

The second place was even worse. The structure the women was living under had fallen halfway. She said that when it rains there isn't any dry place so she just has to wait until it stops raining and then mover all her stuff outside to dry. 

I was not prepared for the 3 place. It was for a mother with 6 children. There was no roof and actually only had had something to break the wind on two sides. Even David got a bit choked up. 

Mornings come very early - even for me. I am awake about 4:30 each morning, but try to stay in bed at least until 5. 

Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God's amazing mercy

It's something I don't think of often enough. God's amazing mercy. I just finished reading Jill Eileen Smith's third book Bathseba in her series, The Wives of Kind David, and was reminded again so vividly of God's mercy and forgiveness. 

You probably know the story of David and Bathsheba. How David brought her to his bed and then had her husband killed when he found out she was pregnant. As a consequence of this sin, the child died. 

There was a detail in the story, though, that I don't remember reading about before. After the death of their child, Bathsheba became pregnant again with Solomon, the son who would later be king after David. Here is what 2 Samuel 12:24 & 25 says:

"The Lord loved the child and sent word through Nathan the prophet that they should name him Jedidiah which means 'beloved of the Lord.'"

As I read this story, both in the Bible and in Jill's book, this stood out to me as significant. David's sin was immense, and yet God's mercy, forgiveness, and love was even greater. 

David wrote about God's amazing forgiveness in the book of Psalm. "'I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone." 

No matter where we've been or what we've done, our God's love and mercy is greater.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit with in me." Ps. 51:10

You can buy Jill's book online or at your local bookstore. It's definitely worth the read. 



Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ministry Update

1. Women's Bible Study

Two weeks ago, we started a weekly Bible study for the young women we are working with. A missionary friend of ours has been using a fantastic study on the women of the Bible and those who have come seem to really enjoy it. Please pray for these sweet women as they grow in their faith.  

2. Houses for the Homeless

Scott will leave with a team of disciples on Monday to build houses for a number of elderly who don't have anywhere to live. Thank you so much to those of you who gave and made this possible. I will post updates and photos once they return. Please keep the team in your prayers. You can find out more about this project here.

3. 2012 ECHO Project Animal Photo Calendars

Many of you bought 2011 calendars while we are in the States last year where all profits went to benefit The ECHO Project. If you're interested in a brand new 2012 calendar, we are asking you to help us out. If you are a part of a small groups, Life Group, weekly Bible studies, or women's classes, would you consider hosting an ECHO Project party? We even have a fun program put together for kid's classes as well where they can learn about missions and help make a difference. 

It's simple, and you can do it as a part of your weekly get together. We have packets we are sending out that include everything you need including a DVD and a sample of the stunning photo cards we are offering along with the calendars. Not only will this help us spread the word, but it will also help us raise money through donations for the calenders and photo cards. You can learn more about how you can be a apart here or send me an email.

Be blessed!


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Sound of Silence

I don't know about you, but I'm finding it hard to believe that it's already October. Despite the raising temperature on our side of the world, my kids are already dreaming of a white Christmas (I can guarantee they won't get that one) and are asking if it's time to start playing Christmas music.

For me, I'm just wishing time would slow down so I can get caught up, or at the least a few extra hours per day would nice. Too bad life doesn't work that way, isn't it?

Sound familiar? I know I'm not the only one struggling to keep up with everything (including this blog!) My never ending to-do list made me start thinking this morning, though, about what is important.

The Bible has many verses on finding rest in the mist of what sometimes seems like chaos. Jesus was the ultimate example of how frequently left everything behind to spend time with His Heavenly Father. The examples of finding quiet and rest are plentiful as well.

"I will fight for you; you only need to be still." Ex. 14:14

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret..." Ps 37:7

"Be still and know that I am God." Ps 46:10

"Be still before the Lord." Zech 2:13

"Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong." Job 6:24

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters..." Psalm 23:2

"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of strive." Proverbs 17:1

 Here are some questions I am asking myself today. I'd love to hear your thoughts about finding the sound of silence in your own busy day.

  • Am I just spending my life multi-tasking so I can cross off the next project, or am I really seeing and hearing those who are around me and need me? My kids, my husband, my friends, and ministry...
  • Am I finding time to get away every day and spend time with God?
  • Am I feeding myself and growing spiritually?
  • Am I getting the rest and exercise I need to be able to care for my family?

Find rest in Him today,


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to host an ECHO Project FUNdraiser!

Today, I'd like to share something new we are doing with The ECHO Project

All it takes is three easy steps.

1. HOST AN ECHO PARTY: Start with your small groups, collage group, or Sunday school class. If you're a youth or children's leader, plan a mission’s month for kids.

2. SHARE THE POSSIBILITIES: We've got you covered! Both our Adult Fundraising Kit and Children’s Fundraising Kit--for only a $20 donation to cover costs--includes a study guide, discussion questions, a DVD, and everything you need to highlight specific needs in Mozambique and how you can make a difference. Then you can help raise money for The ECHO Project by selling earrings and bracelets--made by a young Mozambican in our micro loan program—along with 2012 calendars, and stunning photo note cards.

3. CHANGE A LIFE: All donations from your fundraising will go directly to make a difference in the lives of people here in Africa. The ECHO Project strives to help in the areas of Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity.

Check out our website to find out more about what we are doing. The “Get Involved” page has more information about the Fundraising Kits. 


Monday, September 19, 2011

Spring has sprung..

One of the the things I love about spring is the stunning flowers filling up our yard. I went around yesterday and took photos of our garden which as you can see is beautiful right now. The back wall is a cascade of flowers and the house is lined with bougainvillea blooms and roses.

The only downside of spring is the reminder that summer is right around the corner as the weather starts heating up. Summer is the one season here I would really love to skip. :-) For now, though, I'm planning to enjoy spring and the beauty it brings.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo Cards & Whale watching


Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to vote for your favorite animal on my recent blog poll! In connection with The ECHO Project, we're busy putting together some FUN fundraising packets for this fall. We will be offering some stunning photo cards--along with 2012 calendars and jewelry made by one of the young men we are helping with a micro loan business--as a way to raise funds for this ministry. You can find out more about how your small group or children's class can get involved by visiting our 'Get Involved' page.

Thanks to your votes, the winning animals that will be on this year's cards are:





Lilac-breasted Roller (who actually tied for fifth with the Zebra).


While I wasn't able to spend a lot of time at the beach during the past few months because of our busy schedule, I was still able to spend a couple afternoons whale watching. Last week, we went there for our day off and I was amazed at the number of humpback whales we were able to see from where we sat along the beach. It truly was amazing!

They come every July-September, but I don't ever remember seeing as many as I did last week. This week I brought my camera. The photos aren't great, but it still give you an idea of what we saw. Unfortunately, I think there time here is almost over for now as only saw a couple yesterday.

Be blessed,


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

An ECHO Project Success Story

If you would have told me a couple years ago that I would be be involved in starting up a non-profit, I probably would have run the other way. It simply wasn't something I saw myself tackling. Funny how God has a way of taking us in directions we would never imagine going on our own.

Over the weekend, I sat watching Emily show me what her daughter Rosie had been learning, and I realized that this is why we started The ECHO Project. We want to make a difference in the lives of individuals. Rosie is one whose life has been changed through those who are helping us make a difference.

Rosie stopped talking at about 18 months. After several years of trying to get a diagnosis, we finally found out that Rosie most likely had contracted encephalitis about that same time. This left her unable to speak. Her needs were communicated through screaming or tugging on her mother.

The biggest problem was that there really aren't any resources available for situations like this where we live in Mozambique and the situation continued to become more and more frustrating. Then about two years ago, someone told me about a DVD program that teaches sign language to children and offered to buy it for Rosie. It seemed like the answer we were searching for. At first, Rosie's parents thought the idea was crazy and that it wouldn't work. You have to realize that we don't know of anyone here who speaks sign language and likely they have never heard about it.

But I convinced them to give it a try--and the results have been amazing. Not only can Rosie now communicate with her parents via simple sign language, but she wants to learn more. This year, realizing how well her mother Emily was doing teaching her and how much she was learning, I told her that The ECHO Project would sponsor Rosie (now seven) to help her with her schooling. Again, I've been blown away with how well both Emily and Rosie have done.
We bought simple workbooks, primarily pre-school and Kindergarten. Emily combines the sign language with the workbooks, so Rosie can sign the words that she is learning. She is now writing words, spelling, learning math, and can even speak some words. It's an exciting story that's only just begun for this sweet young girl.

HOUSING FOR THE HOMELESS UPDATE: We are so excited to share that as of today, all the houses have been sponsored. Thank you!!!

Be a blessing today!


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

UPDATE: Homes for the Homeless

The response to the need to build houses for four elderly individuals who are homeless (See my recent post) has been overwhelming and exciting! Praise God! Within a couple days, we already have the four committed sponsors we needed along with several more groups and individuals wanting to get involved.

Thank you!

We will keep you updated with the building of these houses in the next few weeks through The ECHO Project blog, website, and our Face Book page. For those of you still wanting to give, we have a number of other projects including the January distribution of school supply packets for those in need, seed money for our microloan program, and the ongoing distribution of vitamins and basic health medications in the villages we work with. All donations go directly to help those we work with.



Monday, September 05, 2011

I need your opinion!!

As a part of our fall fundraising for The ECHO Project, we are going to be offering ten stunning animal photo cards for a fifteen dollar donation. You can find out more about this on The ECHO Project website , but for now I need your opinion.

So what exactly do I need from you?

I need your help in deciding which five animals should grace the front of the photo cards. All you have do to is cast your vote on the right sidebar of my blog. I will then take the top five animals and use them in for the cards. I'll keep the voting up through the weekend.



Sunday, September 04, 2011

Opportunity to make a difference!

There is a great need, a couple hours north of us, where half a dozen elderly people are living under trees because they don't have homes. Mel and Mandy, two single women from England who are considering working with us, are currently helping to provide simple structures for these individuals who truly are the poorest of the poor.

Scott would like to take several of our disciples later this month to help build four of these homes. To find out how you can get involved to make a donation toward or to sponsor one of the houses please visit The ECHO Project website.



Friday, September 02, 2011

Confessions of a Boarding-school mom

I've been thinking a lot lately about the word control. I don't know about you, but I like to be in control. But while I like to think that I am in complete control of my life and what goes on around me, the truth is, there's really very little that I'm in complete control of.

Yes, we can exercise to stay healthy, eat right, send our kids to the best schools, and never miss a day of work, but does that guarantee that we'll never get sick, our kids will never get into trouble, and will never lose our job?

Sending my eldest off to boarding school has been a reminder of the fact that I 'm not in control of everything. The first day of school he sent me a message telling me school was awesome. I was relieved. The second day the message had changed to "today was hard."


As a mother I had a million questions, but I'm fifteen hundred or so miles away. So even if he told me everything that was wrong, I couldn't help him with his homework paper, fix any squabbles with friends, or remind the coach to go easy on him--all the things my motherly instincts wanted to do.

The truth is, I'm really not in control. And I never was. Our children grow up to become their own person. From a young age, they start making choices. Yes, we guide and teach them but we can't be in control of all of their decisions or even control some of the things that happen to them. Neither can we second guess everything we've already done in the past. (Yes, there's another tough one). We all know that life can be hard. I have friends with children facing chronic illnesses, job loss, marriage issues, but where does that leave you and I?

We each have today, this moment to be the best friend, mother, spouse, we can be. To learn from our mistakes, to deal with the situations we face, to change what we can, accept what we can't change, and realize that we have a Heavenly whose bigger than all of our issues and problems and who knows exactly what we are going through.

Jesus had some amazing advice in Matthew 6, because he knew life wouldn't always go as we planned.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?"

I'll leave you with some photos from Scott and Gabe's trip to boarding school. And by the way, Gabe's last message to me this morning was that he got and A+ on his first English paper. Now there's something to make an out-of-control mom smile.

Be blessed!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Last Safari Adventure

On our last trip to Kruger, we experienced some amazing things, several being things I'd never seen before including watching a pack of wild dogs and witnessing two female lionesses stalk impala on two separate occasions.

What I realized, though, is that as wonderful as video and photos are, even they aren't always enough to completely capture everything happening from the roars of the lions feeding, to the haunting sounds of an impala taking its last breath. Some scenes we couldn't capture on video because the animals had slipped out of view, but we could still hear them as we watched the pride of lions over a period of two days from our mission guest house situated just outside Kruger with its stunning view into the park.

This will be the last of my safari footage. I hope you have enjoyed what I've shared. This video was also partially filmed and produced by Jayden and Mariah.



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back on Safari with Wild Dogs

On our last afternoon at Kruger, we stumbled across a pack of wild dogs along the side of the road. Wild dogs are one of the animals that I had never seen before at Kruger, so you can imagine my excitement to not only see them in the park, but for the chance to watch them lounge on the side of the road. They are simply gorgeous animals as these photos will show you.

More photos from our recent safari coming soon. Enjoy!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seasons of change

In so many ways, this year has been a season of change and transition for our family. And this week marks yet another huge change as Gabriel leaves today to attend boarding school at RVA in Kenya.

Many years ago, I remember feeling frustrated at a job I had. I convinced myself that I was going to have the same job the rest of my life--a thought I hated. When the day came that I was able to quit, I was struck by the lesson it taught me. Life is one of seasons. There are good seasons we long to hold onto forever. And sometimes there are seasons filled with pain and longing for something better.

What Solomon said in Ecclesiastes is so true. There is a time and season for everything. And as we send Gabriel off to boarding school, I'm reminded that once again, our family is going into another season. Life will be different without him as he leaves a hole in our family while he is gone. But I also know that this will be a season of new beginnings and growth for him as he begins high school, something I'm truly excited about for him.

Whatever season you are in, (and this goes for me too!) may we learn to be content. Change what needs to change, learn from the experiences faced, help others along the way, enjoy the memories we're given, as well as the moment we are in. Because in all the ups and downs in life there is one thing that remains constant, and that is the promises of our Heavenly Father, who was, and is, and is to come.

Be a blessing today,