Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Our Christmas this year was absolutely wonderful!  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Sawbonna! (Hello!)
Today was another wonderful, blessed day in Swaziland!  Again, we started off waking up at about 6-6:15 to be at breakfast and head out to our church at about 7:45.
When we were pulling up at the church, all the village children came running down the hill to meet us. Man, I love that sight.  All these children running to meet and greet people they just met two days ago, and probably the only white people they have ever seen.  The joy, the love, the openness they all have... I LOVE AFRICA!

Anyways, today was our last day at our church.  I kept repeating to myself, "Take it ALLL in. This could quite possibly be the last time you EVER see these precious kids that you have fallen in love with in two short days... don't miss a wink." Needless to say, today was a day that I will never forget.  And I don't think I can, either, because I have about 800 pictures from the day; each picture with its own background story and beautiful memory.

Our days have consisted mostly of bonding. Bonding with the moms, teenagers, toddlers, babies, gogo's, and all the community people.  Bonding is most important, creating relationships with the people in our village, even if nothing else gets done, is all that matters.  And bonding is definitely what we did.  We did build and plant them a garden and teach Bible School to the children, but most of our time was consumed in making relationships... which made it so much harder to say goodbye.

My heart is just so overwhelmed here.  There is so much to take in during the day; so much that I store in my journal in my heart and hope to never forget; so much, that I just wish I could have had a camera crew to follow every step of the way so that not a single breath could be forgotten.  From the looks in the children's eyes, the deep sadness dwelling in them cutting a hole right through me, to the times of joy where I feel I could fall on the ground and laugh for hours with these new friends while they make fun of me because I can't say a word right, for the 20th time, to hearing them worship, in that tiny, stick church building.  There were so many times today that I just wanted to freeze time and sit there forever.  so many memories that flood to my mind when I close my eyes... in just 3 days I have done more and learned more and lived more than I ever have, and just thinking about it and reflecting on my time at the small 33' X 33' stick church makes me wants to cry.  The ugly cry.
I just have to pray that God come speak to me.  That He come sort out all my feelings of sadness, anger, longing, love, confusion, and joy.  I am so angry that I had to leave these people.  I could have stayed for the rest of the summer, no lie.  I am angry at the circumstances they live in.  The poverty, the death, the disease, the hunger... it just doesn't make sense to the human eye.  But what is even more confusing is their joy and their faithfulness.  When they praise God, they sing whole-heartedly, holding nothing back.  When they talk and live, they have so much joy.  And I find myself thinking, "Joy from what?  These people, from the world's eyes, appear to have nothing, yet they have EVERYTHING.  How can I get some of this joy?"  I have yet to find out... for I am NOT finished, I am not letting go.  I will not forget them, and I know the Lord has plans, great plans, for them as they continue to live with such joy and faithfulness.

Back to the goodbyes.  We started the morning off by hanging out with the children for a while, the boys played soccer, I taught the teenage girls how to play volleyball (which they thought was the COOLEST game in the whole wide world), and Mrs. Burns and the garden team finished up the last of the planting of the garden.  After that, we handed out clothes to the children, moms, and grandmothers.  That went very smoothly, and everyone was so grateful for their new treasures: underwear for child, an article of clothing for child, bar of soap, article of clothing for mother/grandmother, underwear for mother/grandmother.  Since when have I been so ecstatic about a used shirt or underwear or soap?  Lots of evaluating the life I live has been done and is being done.
After we got finished with handing out our goodies, we bonded again... at least I did.  That is pretty much ALL I did the WHOLE time.  We shared lunch with all the people there, which they were also grateful for.
In the afternoon, two groups headed out into the community to pray and visit the sick.  Very hard.  Very heart-wrenching.  No words can describe what it is like to walk into a room with a person dying of AIDS.  They don't understand what AIDS is and what it can do... but we do, and my heart aches for them.

There is more about today, some praise-the-Lord only-God-can-do things, but it is past midnight, so that will have to wait.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Destination: Africa. Day 2

Sarah here.
Hello from Africa! We are safe and sound in Swaziland.  I plan to post my daily journals of our Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday traveling, but for now, I will start with today.  It is almost 11 pm (Swazi time), and I am running on very little sleep, so bare with me.

July 19, 2010
Destination: Jesus Is the Answer Church in Swaziland, Africa

Today was our first day of serving the people of Swaziland.  We started off the day waking up at 5:30 to shower and make it to breakfast by 6:40.  There are 300 people on our Heart for Africa trip, so we were put into teams of about 10 each (we are the largest group with 23 people, Stroups, Burns, Pastor Thomas, a group from Atlanta, and a group from Taiwan), and larger groups, called waves, to split up breakfast times.  There are 3 waves (teams 1-10, 11-20, 21-30), and we are in wave 3... which is the best because we have the latest breakfast!  And it also means that we have the shortest commute, wave 1 travels about 2 and a half hours each way to their church, wave 2 travels about 2 hours, and wave 3 travels about an hour.  Our group, though, has an incredibly short commute; we only have about a 20 minute drive to our church.
So, moving right along, we ate breakfast, which was really good.  The juice, though, wasn't as good... we had some sort of guava juice and lemonade-looking, but NOT tasting, juice.

Then we headed to our church.  Being at the church and loving and living with the people of the surrounding area was indescribable.  I love this country!
So much happened today, so many stories to tell.  Each person, each child, each house had their own story, but they will have to wait for another day because it is 11:30 PM Swazi time, and I have to wake up at 5:30 tomorrow morning.

Our first day was a huge success, and I have 629 pictures (yes, 629 pictures from JUST TODAY!) to prove it... which also all have their own story to tell. I am too tired to go through and pick out my favorites...
I hope to post a real journal tomorrow and a few videos I shot today of all the children and women singing "Jesus Loves Me" and breath-taking songs in Siswati (not sure how to spell that).

Goodnight! Or good evening to those back home!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Time To Dance...

a time to weep,
a time to laugh,
a time to mourn,
and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:4

I love this recent conceptual photo shoot of Sarah on pointe.  The elegance of pointe and the rustic atmosphere of our 100 year old barn mixed perfectly for these exceptional treasures.  I just had to share!

Bridal Shower and Faith Like Potatoes

Happy Monday!  On Saturday, a few friends of mine and I had a gorgeous bridal shower for one of my good friends, Cindy Ford's, son, Josh's, soon-to-be-bride.  It was a beautiful shower!  Six ladies from our neighborhood, seven including me, hosted the shower.  
The Hostesses and Bride (L-R): Nancy, Me, Julianna (bride), Lorrie, Jamie, Becky, (Kristi and Jerrie not pictured).

I was so amazed at how beautiful the shower was!  There were gorgeous flower arrangements everywhere, only china and crystal was used for serving, the cake was beautiful, and Becky's house accommodated everyone very well!

Between the seven of us who hosted the shower, we have twelve daughters ranging from twenties to two (Ella)... so we have LOTS of showers ahead of us!

After I came home from the shower, the kids swam, I laid out by the pool, and we enjoyed our (VERY HOT) Saturday afternoon.  

The weather here has been SO HOT that all we can do is either swim or stay inside. I don't think it has been below 95 degrees for most of June, and it is hot ALL DAY LONG... from 8 am to 8 pm it is humid and in the 90's.

Then, it was designated Family Movie Night.  We watched Faith Like Potatoes.
It is about a family who works and runs an orphanage in South Africa.  I missed the first 15 minutes of the movie because I was popping popcorn, so I'm not exactly sure how it all started... you'll just have to see for yourself!
I cried, I laughed, I bawled, and I held on for dear life to see what would happen next.
This is a great example of what can happen when you just have faith.

*I hope you had a good Monday!  And for your next movie night, be sure to watch Faith Like Potatoes.