thankful: November 26-29

11.16.12
1. Two great hours of Bible study with Carlene.

2. A productive afternoon of school work.

3. Rest. Much needed rest.

11.27.12
1. Tutoring resumed today! So happy to spend time with the kids again!

2. Making upcycled Christmas cards and playing outside to celebrate the end of term.

3. Butternut soup with Amy.

4. Planning for Choose to Wait next week. It’s good to get the ball rolling, however slowly.

5. An unexpected opportunity to talk to John for a few minutes.

11.28.12
1. An absolutely gorgeous day. I’m so much happier, energetic and productive when the sun is shining!

2. Assembly this morning and the chance to share these truths: I have value; you have value; sex has value.

3. The ability to simply laugh when tutoring is canceled yet again because the students are not coming to school.

3. Taco night with guests.

11.29.12
1. Themba’s Camp Zion t-shirt–it put a huge smile on my face.

2. “What to do with your Thanksgiving”, an excellent sermon from Rankin Wilborne at Pacific Crossroads, our church in Los Angeles. You can (and should!) check it out here.

3. That Sunbury’s internet is capable of downloading a podcast, period! Living alone in a quiet house, I’ve been listening to many, many sermons.

4. This soup for dinner. After a smoothie and nuts and fruit all day, tonight called for a get-every-pan-in-the-kitchen-dirty sort of meal. So worth it!

Check out the recipe here at 101cookbooks.com. I’ve never been disappointed by anything on this site. 

5. That God is for me!

a week of thanks: November 14-21

Last week, Sunbury was hit by a lightning storm that took out, among many other things, our internet. Today, repairs were finally completed, allowing me to post a week’s worth of belated thanks. 
11.14.12
1. Impromptu girls movie nights. Carlene, Amy and I were all separately working at our computers when a massive lightning strike put an end to any productivity we had hoped for. Instead, we  got together and watched a movie on Amy’s laptop, which still had a full charge.

2. Safety in a pretty big storm. The lightning struck very, very close, possibly hitting the tower on top of my house. The blinding white flash and deafening crack were enough to make it feel like my heart stopped for a few seconds!

3. A change to spend some time getting to know Bobbie while running errands in town. We stopped to see this new oddity just down the road from Sunbury. How did anyone, in the middle of sugar cane fields, get a motor bike on top of a telephone pole? We have no idea.

4. That we worship the one true God. Today, Zandi, who works here at Sunbury, was explaining to us that her husband is training to become a sangoma (or witch doctor). Zandi is actually planning on starting ZEBS (Zion Evangelical Bible School) in January, so it will be interesting to see how she handles the collision of contradicting faith and culture. Without the Lord, wouldn’t it make sense to turn to the only “hope” you know? How scary and uncertain and confusing our lives would be without the hope of the gospel! Please pray!

5. Because of the students’ exams, tutoring has been canceled for the next two weeks. I’m not entirely sure what that will mean for my schedule yet, though I am disappointed that my time with the kids has, at the least, been cut in half. Still, I’m thankful that the change or failure of our plans comes as no surprise to God. I am reminded again to come before Him with open hands. 
11.15.12
1. The safe arrival of my Uncle Dick and Aunt Laurel (Carlene Seghers’ parents) who are here at Sunbury for the next six months.

2. The internet guys who were here ALL day working to restore our connection.

3. The simplicity of a shared meal.

11.16.12
1. Waking up to the sunrise.

2. A full, long, productive day taking care of fried routers and printers in Durban. The damage could always be worse! 

2. Cold coffee on hot drives.

3. Quiet, restful nights.

11.17.12
1. God’s divine appointments in my life- the way He can take a situation that seems at first a disappointment and turn it in to incredible blessing.

2. Hot-from-the-dryer laundry (and neighbors who let me use their dryer, particularly on rainy days when my nifty laundry tree isn’t an option).

3. Dinner and coffee with friends.

11.18.12
1. This reminder from James 1: 26-27
    “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 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.” Sobering.

2. Any chance to “talk” to John. I’m thankful that God cares about even the little details and answers prayers about quickly passing lightning storms and cooperative (albeit terrible, which really makes the cooperative part all the more impressive) internet connections.

3. Lively games and fellowship with the Seghers family and my Uncle Dick and Aunt Laurel.

11.19.12
1. Freshly baked muffins that make my kitchen smell wonderful.

2. Being able to finally finish calendars for ZEBS with minimal frustration!

3. Precious time each day with Carlene.

4. Homemade happy chicken soup for chilly, quiet evenings.

5. For unique demonstrations of God’s creativity.

Almost missed this guy.

Baby gecko

This palm-sized spider was, thankfully, very dead. 

11.20.12
1. Mornings that begin with God’s Word and coffee. Every morning should start like this.
2. Sunshine! It seems so very rare lately.
3. The opportunity to serve by organizing Sunbury’s library. Vuvuzelas, anyone?

I came across a bunch of very old, illustrated children’s songs, including this gem from the fifties. Fitting, don’t you think?

3. The truth of Philippians 1:6 which says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God isn’t finished with us. He is working good in us. Sanctification is a process.

11.21.12
1. For families I miss dearly.

2. For a morning “away” in Ballito to run errands and restock my kitchen.

3. For comfort in a foreign country. I could feel at home here.

4. For simple pleasures, like the discovery of free range eggs and poppyseeds at the grocery store.

5. Running into familiar faces unexpectedly, especially when you’re the foreigner with very few potential connections in the first place. 

6. Friendly conversations with the checkers at the grocery store. 

7. For homemade pizzas and the community of brothers and sisters who gather each Wednesday evening to share a meal. 

8. For my mom’s willingness to help with an online order I couldn’t place myself. Birthday shopping: check! 

9. Perpetually muddy feet. 

10. The smell of fresh basil. 

thankful: 11.13.12

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances,
 for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Today I am thankful for: 
1. My giant brick of a study Bible. People in other parts of the world would do just about anything to have unrestricted access to this book. I should be more grateful. 
2. The religious freedom we still have in America. 
3.  Rain that held off long enough to get through both tutoring sessions. 
The storm rolling in. 
4. The joy of kids who love to read. I so enjoy having to tell the children that yes, it’s really time to stop reading now and no, we don’t have time for one more story because I really don’t want them to walk home in a downpour. They love books and I love that they love books. 
Sphelele and Lihlethemba
Philasande
5. The joy of reconnecting with the same children I tutored in 2011. Zinhle, for one, has grown up from a shy, quiet, pretty serious little girl into the sweetest, talkative, thoughtful young lady—or slightly older little girl! I’ve said so many goodbyes that I thought would be forever, or at least this side of heaven. What a blessing to meet again much sooner!
 I’m in deep trouble, falling in love all over again. I don’t want to think about the goodbyes to come. 
Saying goodbye to Zinhle in May 2011. 
Sweet Zinhle today. 

thankful: 11.9.12

1. Friday was a long day. After assembly in the morning, Amy and I drove into Ballito (about 40 minutes away) to run some errands. We made it back just in time for my  back-to-back tutoring sessions. By the end of the first, I was tired. Just really, physically tired. I love being with the kids, but I wasn’t sure if I could muster the enthusiasm for another group without a few more cups of coffee.

The coffee wasn’t going to happen. I breathed a prayer for miraculous energy as I drove back into San Souci and loaded up the next group.

My prayer was instantly answered. The entire way back, the voices of the children drowned out the roar of the bakkie and instantly lifted my spirits. How could you listen to a chorus of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” followed by a harmonious rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” and not have an immediately improved mood?

As we pulled into Sunbury again, they sang the song we’d sung that morning at assembly. I learned the song when I was last here and taught it to the first grade Sunday school class back at our home church in Zion. Then, just a few weeks ago, the South Africa team from this summer introduced our congregation to the song during their convocation report.

“Akekho Ofana no Jesu” — There’s no one, there’s no one like Jesus. There’s no one, there’s no one like him!

2. My grandma, Neda Petreman, who is celebrating her birthday today. Decorating the church, working on craft projects, having sleepovers, games in the car, eating popcorn, birthday lunches, trips to the beach, trick-or-treating, campfires in the backyard– so many wonderful memories over the past 21 years!

3. The smell of rain. 
4. A sea of green sugarcane blowing in the wind. 
5. Great thunderstorms (particularly great thunderstorms that don’t lead to power outages!). 

thankful: 11.8.12

1. The chance to help a child learn to read.
2. A healthy body. I worked out this morning and was quickly reminded of my ungrateful neglect. Ouch.
3. Piano music. I’m so thankful for my husband’s ability- I can’t imagine a life without music!
4. Banana “ice cream”: blend 1 frozen banana with 1/2 cup coconut milk. Add cinnamon and nutmeg or a spoonful of cocoa powder. It’s delicious.

thankful: 11.6.12

Today I am thankful for:

1. French pressed coffee and good conversations at the Bisher’s
2. The privilege of spending the afternoon with these guys:

 My Tuesday 4th-5th grade group. 

3. The joy of the children. They exhibit remarkable enthusiasm for something as ordinary as punctuation and get excited over the simplest things, like viewing photos of themselves or seeing monkeys (I’m glad I’m not the only one still a bit excited by animals regarded by most South Africans with about as much enthusiasm as a squirrel would render in the US). Last week, we had to stop everything we were doing to rush outside to watch the monkeys.

Oh, and the kids  LOVE to sit in the front seat of the baakie. “Miss, miss, isihlalo” is a request I receive at least twice from each child every day. We were on our way back to San Souci today when I realized that the child sitting in the front seat beside me wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. Now, it’s not like the kids in the back have any form of restraint whatsoever (apart from my reminder every day that they must sit still because the road is very bumpy), so it almost seemed silly to ask, but I suggested that she use the seat belt.

She had no idea what I was talking about. “Excuse me, miss? Seat belt?” I explained again, showing her my belt. She was still completely confused. I pulled over to help her and realized that getting to ride in the baakie at all is probably much more exciting than I could ever possibly understand.

Philasande, Zinhle and Lihlethemba walking home.

I am so blessed!