flotsam and jetsam

flotsam and jetsam

  • In a moment of creativity (or strangeness), I decided to change the name of my "weekly download" to "flotsam and jetsam". I'm intrigued by that phrase, and smile at the idea of being able to use it!
  • The week started off with a "Girls' Night" for all the Thrive staff and intern women. It was a fun night of face masks (not on me!), laughing (yep, I did a lot of that!), talking (some great conversations), and snacking (my favorite pastime).
  • The last piglet count I heard was 110! That just makes me shake my head in amazement (and slight grossness)...
  • Some great (yet challenging) things I heard/read in the past few days:
  • "Many times God will send you what you need in a package you don't want." -John Bevere
  • "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle
  • "The truth is good enough." -Charles Martin
  • "The only thing harder than waiting on God, is wishing you had." -Steven Furtick
  • Natalie and I have had a lot of fun together this week. One of the highlights for me was coming home to a cooked dinner. The name of the dish? "You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta". Yum-my!
  • We went out four-wheeling this weekend (enjoying our new-found 80-degree weather). It was fun to show Natalie around the base, (try to) get up close and personal with some animals, and bounce around so much that we've been achy and sore ever since. Although we've been friends for a decade, we don't have many pictures together. So we were excited to take a self-portrait of ourselves while we were out in the far back corner of the property. The sun was really bright, and we ingeniously figured out a way to block it from our eyes so that we wouldn't be squinty in the picture. This is what we ended up with:

weekly download

My week's comings and goings...

My friend Natalie arrived for a two-month visit. It is so great having her here; I smile at the thought of having many more weeks of this goodness.

Niel left for the States on Tuesday. He's gone for a month on a whirlwind trip (please keep him in your prayers!). I miss him a lot.

There is so much I want to learn -- so many books to read, teachings to listen to, people to spend time with -- but not nearly enough time to do it all. I wish I could soak it all in via osmosis. But I can't. So I'm learning one book at a time. One teaching at a time. One engaging encounter with someone at a time. Progress, I've realized again, comes one step at a time.

We are on week 3 of demolition of our conference room and eating hall. We've gone from this:

to this:

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  • We got health insurance for the first time! Seems monumental somehow...
  • Niel heads to America on Tuesday; he's going for a whirlwind four-week trip. It's been a hectic week trying to get everything ready, but things are coming together.
  • Just today I finished up work on the sixth curriculum I've worked on in the past several weeks. Some I wrote, some I edited. All took a long time. As much as I enjoy it, I'm glad to be done. For now.
  • I was challenged to amend my work/email habits to make my days more productive: to only check email 3 times a day, and keep my Outlook switched "offline" in between. I'm not quite sure I'm ready to take the plunge yet. Maybe in the week(s) ahead.


  • Finishing and finishing well are completely different goals. That will yield completely different results.
  • I was reminded that to maximize His impact, Jesus focused His time and energy on a select few. There is freedom in that for me, because I often feel the pressure of being torn in many directions. There isn't enough of me to go around. But there wasn't of Jesus either. Even though the 9 would have complained and disagreed with His "special favors" for the 3, He continued to put His best into the best.
  • Is my spiritual "will to live" strong enough that I will do whatever it takes to get to the bread of life and living water?
  • Just like Caleb, I want to "think differently and follow God completely".

weekly download

This was a week full of learning and challenge...

  • John Bevere also said: "Grace empowers us to do what truth demands of us." Mmm. That's good stuff right there.
  • Something new we're doing this term with our interns has allowed me to see a different side of them, which I am really excited about. I was able to see two of them in action in a teaching environment this past week. And they did awesome! I can't wait to see the others as the term progresses.
  • I went into my Missions class feeling completely exhausted and drained, and came out of it feeling totally energized. We had a great (but challenging) discussion, that is hopefully going to lead to some positive changes (personally and as a team).
  • Thursday night we had a barbecue for our entire ministry team -- staff, interns, and Outreach Staff. We figured a "Family Dinner" was in order since the Outreach Staff were leaving the next morning. Everyone enjoyed the food and fellowship (I hate that churchy word), and it flowed wonderfully right into Family Night. The whole evening felt very comfortable. Not sure how else to describe it, but it was as though everyone just felt very comfortable with each other. It was sad to see part of our team leave the following morning...
  • A "Snapple Fact" I read this week (inside the lid of one of my Snapple drinks) informed me that Long Island (where I'm from) is the largest island in continental U.S. Who knew?!
  • Construction has begun as we rebuild after the fire. It is exciting and overwhelming all at the same time! (But more on that another time...)
  • As I type this, I am watching a show about hippos...and it's made me incredibly happy.
  • Oh yeah... Remember the pigs? We now have 57 piglets!

weekly download

I’ve been a bit disconnected this week. I spent Monday through Friday up north in South Africa at a game reserve. The first few days were spent with the interns on a bit of a getaway/retreat. The second half of the week was debriefing with our Outreach Staff (summer interns).

Lows of the week:
Being out of the office
Having friends visit our house (and not getting to see them)
Not having reliable internet
Feeling extremely tired

Highs of the week:
80-degree weather
Late night talks with a friend
Seeing a three-week old baby elephant
Lots of hippo action
Swimming in a very warm pool
Paddle (pedal?!) boating for the first time ever
Hearing/seeing how God has changed lives

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Random thoughts from my week...

  • My hombre celebrated his birthday this week. And by "celebrated" I mean drove Thrive Trip to safari five hours away, ate yet another meal at Carnivore, and had a migraine all day. Sorry your day wasn't too exciting, Niel. Happy Birthday anyway!
  • Thrive Trip finished up and headed home. We got to spend some time with them on safari their last two days. It really was amazing to see how much God worked in their lives during the trip. All of them went home changed!
  • I've gone to bed after 2:00 AM most nights this week. I wish I could work the night shift; I totally function better at night.
  • We celebrated Christmas last night. The interns decided to celebrate "Christmas in July" and invited us to join them. They decorated their living room beautifully and exchanged Secret Santa gifts. It truly felt festive, and the cold weather made it feel pretty Christmas-y. (More so than it does in the scorching heat of December!)
  • We have been having gale-force winds the past few days (over 50 mph!). Friday night the wind was so strong that it blew the roof off of one of the cabins. A cabin we had mission team members in! Yikes!

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My thoughts are real scattered and I'm struggling to even remember what I did this week! Let's see what I can recall...

  • We have Thrive Trip with us! For years we have wanted to host our own mission trip for young adults from across America, and last year (around this time) we decided to go for it for 2007. Having our team of 8 here, with our 2 incredible team leaders, is the culmination of a dream. And I believe it's the seed for many more Thrive Trips to come. (What are you doing next summer?)
  • We've been doing some fun and different things with Thrive Trip (since they're our own team). We had a session on vision the other night, and Niel did an awesome job teaching. It was a priceless moment to see someone get it when Niel explained vision and purpose as something you are constantly thinking about, something you can't seem to get out of your head. One of our interns discovered her passion, and in that, her purpose. I just love it when we can help people realize the potential and purpose with which God created them!
  • In our staff development meeting on Monday I was reminded of this principle: Deferred obedience is still disobedience. My prayer is that I would hear God's voice clearly and obey immediately. Why should He keep talking to me if I haven't acted on what He's already shown me?
  • One of our interns is back in the States for her sister's wedding. It's not the same without her here. I miss hearing her laugh...
  • I had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in quite a while (aside from quick "hellos" in the grocery store). It was great to catch up and hear about her recent adventures. She had been in our youth group when we first moved to Harrismith 9 years ago. You've come a long way since then, Melissa!
  • After we dropped off a team at the airport, Niel treated me to a great dinner in the city. More than the good meal, what filled me up was our conversation. With all our busyness in the past several months, it felt like we hadn't talked like that in a long time. I just soaked it in. I love you, Niel...
  • We recently got some pigs that we are raising and breeding on the base as an income-generating opportunity for the ministry. Yesterday Niel and I walked down to the "piggery" so he could show me and explain to me what the whole plan is. (It's quite a distance from our house, and let me tell you -- by the time we got back, we were both wiped out! I so need to get in shape!) Niel laughed at me because the whole time we were with the pigs, I was jumpy and squirmy and kept pointing out all the nasty things they were doing. The mamas are huge (I call them "hogzillas") and they are just plain gross. And the noises they make! How we ever decided it sounds like "oink" is beyond me... Yes... Even though I've lived in a rural area in Africa for 9 years, and have lived on our sprawling property for 5, I am still more a city girl than a farm girl.

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My weekly mind dump...

  • Our friend Dave was with us for the entire week. He's visited off and on over the past month (mostly over weekends), but it was really great to have him with us for an extended period of time. He left today to spend his last few days in Joburg, and then he flies back to America on Thursday. It was sad to see him go; we've gotten used to having him around! He and Niel have had a blast, and he'll be sorely missed. Even though Amy wasn't with him, having Dave here made her feel closer as well... I miss you, Kitty!
  • We took the Outreach Staff to Royal Natal National Park yesterday. We spent some time hiking around, and they enjoyed a photo scavenger hunt. (Somehow, there was a bonus prize for taking a picture of me in nature!) It was a beautiful day, with the sky as blue as ever.
  • Though we've had a few days lately with temperatures in the 70's, earlier this week it was cold and windy. Very windy. It kept reminding me of a line from a Caedmon's Call song: "There's only One who sets loose the gales and ties the trees down tight." I've always loved that...
  • There was some very random music playing while we ate a local restaurant last night. When we heard "We Didn't Start the Fire", we couldn't help but laugh!
  • We spent quite a lot of time without power this week (causing more frustration in me than it probably should have). I realized how little I hate being powerless (in more ways than one).
  • I spent hours chatting online with my mom and dad this week, in an attempt to help fix my mom's laptop. (No luck.) While we were mostly talking about Outlook menus and computer frustrations, I was still glad to connect with them. I wish we could come home for a barbecue this week...
  • This morning I was reminded of a verse that I love: "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the rooftops." I love the verse for many reasons, but this morning I seemed to be challenged about my hearing. If I want something to speak in the daylight, if I want something to shout from the rooftops, I need to listen. And I need to listen closely. I need to quiet myself more than I do so that I can hear more than I'm currently hearing. While I often say (indirectly) to the Lord, "Listen, for Your servant is speaking", I want to say (like Samuel), "Speak, for Your servant is listening." Then I will have something worth speaking in the daylight and shouting from the rooftops...
  • Niel surprised me with the personalized "Yankee" license plate for our car. (For those wondering, the "FS" is for "Free State", our province.) Seeing it makes me smile. Aside from it just being humorous to see "Yankee" on my car, I smile because while my car reminds me of God's love, my license plate reminds me of Niel's.

weekly download

My week...

  • I played miniature golf the other day, and I got not-last place. With the closest course three hours away from us, I don't play very often... I was delighted just to not come in last place!
  • On the Fourth of July we took our interns up to Johannesburg for the day. They enjoyed the chance to walk around a mall and catch a movie. Then we took them to our favorite restaurant and to see the live production of The Lion King. A-mazing!
  • Remember my new Bible? Uhh.... yeah. Haven't really started using it. My old one is too "flannel-PJ-comfy" to give up just yet...
  • Niel ate (with a small bit of help from a friend) a whole chicken at Nando's today. It was an impressive feat!
  • Friday afternoon was a bit sad for me. When we arrived at Hope House (the interns' orphanage outreach), I learned that two-month old baby Hope had passed away. I think it was the flippant way the caretaker told me the news that made it hit me so hard. I am grateful to have had the chance to hold, care for, and love Hope during her short life..
  • We spent this afternoon driving through Qwa Qwa and across the border into Lesotho. It was freezing outside, but the sky was beautifully clear. Made for some great pictures.
  • Tonight was an interesting one. Full of prayers and tears. And reassurances of God...

weekly download

This week was full and busy, but a good one nonetheless....

  • My birthday came and went (and as for my age, suffice it to say that I am now older).
  • We had our first Outreach Family Night. During the year, we have Family Night every two weeks with our staff and interns. A night to just kick back and hang out together in a non-ministry setting. During June, July, and August when we have Outreach Staff with us (summer interns), we change things up a bit. We now have Family Night each week, and it's a time for worship and ministry in addition to fellowship. This week's was great, and it's got me looking forward to them more than I thought I'd be...
  • Today it was close to 70 degrees outside. Such a stark difference from just days ago when we had the biggest snowfall we've had in years. We had some serious snow! It was freezing, but it was beautiful. Pristine. God's handiwork. Couple that, though, with the fact that we have no indoor heating... Yeah, makes things a bit interesting!

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Ready, set, go!

  • This week was a bit of a blur. Niel was in a different town everyday, and I feel as though I barely saw him...
  • We had some ministry guests from the pastoral staff team of Mt. Ararat (a church in VA). They came to Africa to check out some ministries they are considering partnering with. We had a great visit with Greg and Susan. Getting to share our vision and passion was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. They were fired up about what God is doing here and asked us to pray for them as they return home to share all they saw, learned, and experienced with the rest of their church leadership team.
  • I spent a lot of time with kids this week, with a day at Limakatso and a day at Hope House (a new orphanage outreach I take our interns to). At Hope House, I held two-month old Themba for about two hours straight. What a beauitful gift from God his life is...
  • I enjoyed a long walk with a friend yesterday. She shared with me a personal victory in her life -- the outworking of Christ in her -- and it left me encouraged and excited. THE highlight of my week!
  • I read some great things this week, like this, and this, and this.
  • I reconnected with an old friend whom I met on my first mission trip 14 years ago. Craziness!
  • I got a card in the mail from my mom which said: "Ask me what beauty is, and I will show you my daughter." Wow. That did wonders for my heart.

What are some highlights of your week?

weekly download

What a week! Here goes...

  • I had only two days in the office last week, which was definitely not enough time to do all that I needed to do!
  • We spent the weekend in a staff development time -- learning more about ourselves and each other through personality and spiritual gift assessments. VERY informational! I discovered (again!) that I'm more of a leader than I give myself credit for. More on that later...
  • Our friend Dave spent the weekend with us, and although we hardly saw him (because we were in non-stop sessions), we still managed to have a great visit. He said quite a few times how amazing it was to see how "big" we are now. Dave and Amy were on staff with us back in 2000/2001, when it was pretty much just the four of us. We've come a long way since then, and one area it's most obvious is our much larger team of staff and interns.
  • Niel made a great statement in his sermon on Sunday, touching on the matter of singleness: "Rather be in the will of God without someone than out of the will of God with someone."
  • I was reminded again of this principle: What you believe determines and impacts your decisions, and your decisions determine and impact the outcomes of your life. If we're unhappy with our outcomes, often we try to just change our decisions. If that's all we change, we still get the same outcome. We must change our beliefs. We need to ask ourselves: What are the deeply held beliefs that led me to make the decisions that brought me to this place?

Happy Monday!

weekly download

Some random snippets from my brain as I think about the past week...

  • We are getting close to the launch of our new ministry website. We had a "website preview meeting" with our creative director, and it got me really excited! I can't wait till it launches so you can see why I'm pumped!
  • We lost an entire mission team for about 15 minutes yesterday. I would've thought something like that is impossible, but we managed to do it! (Now, just to clarify -- no one was in any danger, and the team leader didn't even know we'd "lost" them!)
  • We took a mission team to a new game lodge for their end-of-trip safari. It is much nicer than the lodge we used to go to, and the team really enjoyed the experience (as did Niel and I). I'm looking forward to taking the next team there as well.
  • Last night I heard a testimony about the ministry happening by the mission team. One of their ministry groups met a man who had suffered a heart attack quite a while ago and hadn't been able to talk since. They prayed for him and ministered to him and his familymembers. When they returned the next day, the man was speaking! I love when God shows up so mightily! Not only did the man receive supernatural healing, but the team's faith was encouraged and strengthened as well!
  • On Wednesday, we drove to Piet Retief for the day. (PR is Niel's hometown, where he grew up and youth pastored before we launched Thrive Africa.) It's about a 3-hour drive each way, but it was so worth the trip. We got to spend some time visiting with friends we don't get to see very often (and we were even given an apple pie -- my favorite dessert!). It was a nice break before our travel days with the team and the upcoming week, which has us on the road quite a bit.
  • One of our closest friends is visiting South Africa for 6 weeks. He'll be coming to visit us next weekend, but we unexpectedly got to see him last night while we were in Joburg. It was so great to see Dave and spend some time with him, although it made me miss Amy even more!

That's all for now!