Wednesday, February 28, 2007

He had to remind me... - Zana

So, today was hmmmm…fascinating. Coming down off the natural high of being so successful in our work day yesterday we were under a vicious attack today. We spent the majority of our day working around the kitchen table with our laptops out and piecing together our information. As we get closer to the end product there are less jobs for our team of 9. It became a little frustrating as we came to the end of the day and realized we are far from done. Three days in the same room…hashing through tons of information with the same people can be a little taxing.

Since I had already been mentally weak when closing the day unsure of my purpose and if I should be here began to take it’s toll. I ate dinner fast and went to my room (which I found in a mess because the construction workers that had been working on the team house had left all their mess ON MY BED including a 10 gallon bucket with water and dirty rags in the middle of the floor). I became ANGRY! I immediately went to the word. Reaching out to God to calm me before I started to break stuff. As I opened my bible a copy of the Living Hope mission statement fell out. I read it over and over again. To reach others for Jesus Christ kept jumping up at me…how easily I forget. He had to remind me of the big picture. The big picture is what it’s about…everybody has different skills and He sent me and 8 other amazingly talented people to come together with our business brains and rejuvenate Living Hope with the proper tools to continue bringing hope and the good news to the third world communities in Cape Town. What an honor to be a part of such a revolution…one that may change the face of Living Hope forever. Now, after much prayer time together and recognizing that Satan is so persistent in trying to discourage us due to fear of our potential…we are ready to move forward with full force in completing our task. We are proud of our work and know it’s going to rock their world. Thank you all for continuing to pray for us. With completion approaching, we still have challenges in tying it all together.

PS. I will be sharing my story tomorrow night at the staff retreat. This particular story of my life is one that I hold very close to my heart. Please pray for me to have the strength and peace in being able to communicate it effectively to the LHCC staff so that it would impact as God intended since I strongly believe that my suffering and redemption is the reason I am here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Transformation - Nato

As you might have read, yesterday was an extremely hard day for the marketing team. A combination of figuring out the Living Hope culture, the South African culture and our own team dynamics made for a long afternoon meeting. Last night we regrouped and prepared for a full day of meetings, which led to tough conversations. Our team was either relying on our own skills too heavily, not trusting in God to work through us in a vastly different culture, or feeling like there wasn't a purpose for them on the team, as well as lacking a real sense of unity. We prayed and asked for prayer in our team meeting last night and went to bed wondering what would lie ahead for our next 10 days.

This morning, we woke up and had great times alone with God. Leah was reading in Matthew 6, "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes" (the Message) and shared this with the group as we were preparing for the Living Hope group to arrive.

Throughout the meetings today, God continually showed Himself working. During various portions, each person found themselves at the helm of the meeting, an expert in the required field. Everyone began to see ways in which they were uniquely essential to the marketing team and ideas were brought to the table for both international (US, UK, etc) and South African initiatives. We finished our meetings around 3 and were able to spend the rest of the afternoon spending time with one another. This included going to the beach and hanging out at a restaurant patio called Skabanga (which we subsequently found out means 'mischievous' in Xhose). All that to say, by the end of today, solid bonds had been formed among all members of our team and we had seen so much accomplished for Living Hope. Praise God.

Interesting Food, Good People and Tea

Today was a good day for the Care Support Team. We were asked to spend the day training two separate groups of people. Lay counselors serve in hospital and clinic settings and give pre and post counseling to HIV pts. Life Skills Educators work in schools, townships and community centers all over the city. They provide government funded prevention education, creating safe environments for kids, meeting physical needs by providing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and teaching about Jesus. Each group has high stressed jobs as they deal with life threatening illness, drug, alcohol and sexual abuse on day to day bases. Some days Lay counselors could potentially tell up to 10 different pts that they have HIV.

We started the morning playing the “Human Knot” game. Good times! Lots of awkward moments but a great way to get to know one another. They spent some time mapping out their journeys, and talking about what is stress and how they might deal with it on a day to day basis. We broke for tea-which is ironic in this setting but very British of them. We had small group discussion where the counselors had a time to vent. One of the life skills educator shared a story about a little boy who came to one of the after schools club. He showed up with chicken pox and they told him that he couldn’t come. He showed up the next day and said he knew he shouldn’t be there but could he at least have his sandwich because he was hungry. Our group couldn’t fight back tears.

We had the opportunity(if you can call it that) to eat some native food. Minced Beef and Vegetables that had a cinnamon, minty flavor with rice and a side of mashed pumpkin! I asked Jean-Luc, from the Congo, who was sitting next to me what we were having and he said “I don’t know I just eat it”

We spent the afternoon goal setting and praying for them. We really do think it was an effective time. They were so appreciative of our approach to this training. We went in asking to hear their stories and boy did they talk. I would venture to say that we learned more from their faithfulness and passion and deep love for their community. These men and women love with purity.

Tomorrow we get to be with support group leaders! We will cover how to lead a Bible study, what is self worth, and how to be a support group leader. So more details to come!

I am thankful for Leanne, Brent, Laural, Sam, Brittany, Julie, Tammy, and Lesli and for their sensitivity to the hardships that were discussed today. It is hard to hear the stories and the hardships that these people encounter daily but our team has approached each opportunity using knowledge and encouragement. I think we are all learning to trust in the HOPE of Jesus as our Healer.

Monday, February 26, 2007

We're definitely in another country! - Dave H

What a great day! It wasn't without its challenges, however, but God is teaching us through those. We toured all of Living Hope's facilities in Cape Town this morning and had a wonderful lunch at the beach. After that we split off into our different teams - Marketing, Construction and Care Support.

-The marketing team has an incredible task of helping Living Hope develop a marketing plan. Most of the people on the team do this for a living, so it seemed natural to help in this way (and Living Hope asked for it because of the expertise of the team). What the team found out today is that we are in a very different country and things don't necessarily work the same way they do here as they would in the States. They knew that and had even prepared for that, but today experienced it. Tonight as we shared as a large group, the marketing team was very humble and shared that they feel the task may be impossible, given the time frame. But they also acknowleged that God can do the impossible. So, we are begging you to pray that the Holy Spirit will do a divine work in their meetings over the next week and a half. This may sound discouraging, but we are all actually encouraged knowing that God is the only one who can make it happen!

-The Construction team had a great day of working within the metric system (ha!) and learning all kinds of new terms for equipment and supplies. The person that works at living hope handed Ethan a tube of caulk and Ethan asked him what they called it - he said "sealant." Ethan asked if he had ever heard of caulk and the man looked puzzled and said, "yeah, I've heard that word before, but I'm not sure what it is." So, we have laughed at the differences and are enjoying being able to help construct a new office for an employee who will be with Living Hope very soon. Pray for safety for our team and that we can be efficient in finishing the task!

-The Care Support team went to a township called Red Hill today. It's basically a village of about 1000 "squatters" who live in shanties made of whatever the people could find. Fifty percent of the people in this township are HIV positive, so the environment seems very hopeless. The team was able to help lead a kids club with a local resident, Zolaka, who is so on fire for Jesus. She is loving on these kids and wants to share the love of Christ however she can. She is so proud of a new house she is building and showed the team where it was. The reality is that it's a shanti that still needs a roof, and when she gets the money to buy the roof, she'll finish it. In the meantime she's sharing her own food, which she does not have much of, with people in need to help them. Zolaka is being used by God. In our orientation this morning at Living Hope, we were told about a fire recently in a township called Masi. The fire started quickly, and because the winds are so strong here and the shantis are so close together, it swept into about 100 shantis that housed about 500 people. No one even had time to react. I was thinking about that today as we talked about how dark Red Hill is, and we prayed tonight that the wind of the Holy Spirit would blow on the fire of Zolaka to ingite the entire township.

Thank you for praying. May God be glorified!!!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

3, 2, 1 (Brent)

Pardon me if I am a bit cheesy in what I am struck with today. I would not take the time to post either, since Kyle already did, but today has been an interesting day and is worth another mention. John Thomas said that serving in Cape Town can kind of create this “spiritual schizophrenia”—from one street to the next you see the difference between first world and developing world. It really is amazing and hard to describe. Anyway…

3 Languages: We have dealt with at least three languages already today: British English (it can be tricky sometimes), Afrikaans, and Xhosa (one of the three “click” languages—yes Jon Merryman, click—a whole 2 hour worship service in click, with translation for the most part).

2 Oceans: Cape Town is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. They actually look different—the Atlantic is more blue, while the Indian is more turquoise. Apparently the Indian Ocean is about 5 degrees warmer, too, and only a few km away from where we are staying and overlooking the Atlantic.

1 Bird: a parrot named Coca…you can see LeAnne’s picture. Wow…


3 Generations: We were told about three generations of women living under the same roof of no more than 12’ x 12’, all HIV+, all isolated from one another’s status. The chaplain here at LH knew about all three, but they withheld the news from one another. HIV status is highly secretive and stigmatic, even within family units. (They now know and are living with this together rather than apart.)

2 Decades: We heard of a girl who believed her life would not amount to anything so she decided she would have sex with as many people as possible and enjoy it to the “fullest.” She decided to rack up countless partners and get HIV so that she would be dead before she was 20—then it would not matter if the poverty in her life kept her from earning a decent wage: she’d already be dead. She is well on her way and is HIV+.

1 Village: Red Hill. Maybe only 1,000 live here on the side of a mountain. There is spotty electricity and only one water source for all the people who call Red Hill “home.” It is estimated that 50% of the residents of Red Hill are HIV+. We go there tomorrow.

Chicken with Coca - LeAnne

We're in South Africa - Kyle

Hey, folks. After eleven grueling hours on a flight from London, we arrived in Cape Town at 6:00 am South Africa time, just about the time many of you were going to bed. The baggage claim and customs process took about two hours and ended with four lost bags. No fear, the bags have now been recovered. We took a beautiful, scenic drive around Table Mountain to The Team House, where we are staying. We had breakfast, got settled in and went to church at Musiphumelele Baptist Church, a church plant of Living Hope. The church is located in Musiphumelele, a area of shanty houses where one in four are infected with HIV/AIDS. We quickly learned services do not have a specific start time, follows no order and has no certain end time. Most of us could hardly hold our heads up we were so tired, but the service was highly spirited. It was done in both English and an African dialogue. We enjoyed worshipping with these folks. The kids loved having their pictures made by many of us.

After services, we went for lunch with John Thomas, founder of Living Hope and his family. We had a great time of food, fellowship and learning about Living Hope. After a short break and dinner, we did planning for a busy day tomorrow and have just finished a time of reflection and worship. For many of us, today was a day of firsts-first time to step foot on the continent of Africa, first time to worship in a dual language service, first time to see Cape town and the Indian Ocean.

I think I am speaking for most of us when I say that I experienced many emotionals moments today. Maybe part of that is the lack of sleep, but more importantly, God was moving. Thanks for praying for us. Keep it up! We need rest desperately.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hangin' at Heathrow - Dave H

The day has been long and somewhat uneventful, with the exception of Angie's passport falling into the check-in desk in Chicago. Thanks to the maintainance man and Ethan disassembling the counter and getting the passport out, all is well and she's with us! For those who want to know, we're safe at Heathrow Airport awaiting our flight to Capetown. In 2 hours or so, we'll be boarding the long flight. Thank you for praying.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A busy day... - Lisa

Today for me has been a very busy day! Starting with a luncheon that I actually chaired for Williamson Medical Center and St. Thomas for women and heart disease month, to getting everything ready to fly out, to continuing (unsuccessfully thus far) to get the FAFSA done for Sarah for college by Mar. 1st deadline.

The great news is that I wasn't sure how this would all work and like normal God has taken charge and the worries of the week have disappeared! The luncheon went wonderfully, the flights are going well so far (getting ready to fly to London) and the FAFSA form, lets just say I am counting on God to help with that process but no worries.

The group is having a wonderful time getting to know one another and we are all excited to see what God has in mind for us! The plane is here!! We will be boarding in about 20 min.



On Our Way - Amy J

Thanks to everybody who came to the airport to see us off—we are indeed on our way! We've made it effortlessly from Nashville to Chicago and now we're waiting to grab the 7:45 flight to London.

Allison and I were talking on the flight to Chicago; we noticed how this team is already settling in—if that makes sense. Trainings and meetings don't really train you to be a team, that kind of starts the second you leave the ticket counter and start down the terminal. Once you walk away from the familiar, the sense of team is so much stronger.

We're on our way and doing well. We're excited to see the next city!

Thanks for checking in on us. We'll be in touch very soon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What a week! - Allison

It has been an interesting week of preparation. I am trying to find a balance in not over analyzing but also being thoughtful about the events of the week. This week has included 2 car accidents within 3 days. Lots of conversation with insurance companies and random people, a sick grandfather and the preparation of a trip to the continent of Africa. Overall lots of distraction from planning to leave the country. Maybe I should be feeling a burden of leaving but today I am really just living to get on a plane. In some sense it feels like refuge from what appears to be madness. (which seems like a self consuming statement in lieu of an aids epidemic and all that I know of Africa-sorry)

I guess the over arching question is Satan ticked off we are going and bringing distraction in my life and possilbly your life to or is God teaching me and maybe each of you something that will be used in the days ahead. Maybe it is one in the same. I keep praying on both sides. Praying and believing that Satan has no hold on me and asking God to teach me from the madness Then there is living in the recognition that car accidents and sickness, while they seem overwhelming, are only pieces of a day, or a week, or a month and yet they have the ability to consume my time and thoughts. What might God be teaching me?
I think I am learning that life is not about convenience. I try to make it about that but it is not. I don't need a car! I think I do but I don't. It takes some extra planning and some kind friends but it can work. I am learning that other peoples decisions effect me. For good or bad I have to live life with the people who surround me. Sometimes we are forced through random circumstance to be in contact together, even when we don't want to , and my response in those moments matters! I don't really know if these are the things that I am to glean from my week but it is all I have so far. I am tired this week and feel empty going into this trip. But from what I know about going into a trip like this maybe it isn't such a bad place to be!

I have been praying Psalms 138 throughout today and just thought I would share it : " Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me 8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands."

This is my prayer as we start this trip. I am praying that God would fulfill his purpose and that he would not abandon the work of his hands in this trip, in Living Hope, in the city of Cape Town, even in the continent of Africa. I pray that as we have the opportunity to experience this new culture that we might have more of an understanding of what the hand of God is doing in this place and in our lives.

Monday, February 19, 2007

African Leadership Video

Many of our team members are requesting a copy of the short video from African Leadership about the work of Living Hope Community Centre and AIDS. Here's the link to a Windows Media (WMV) version, zipped:
African Leadership Video

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

South Africa 2007 logo

Hot off the presses, it's the official 'South Africa 2007' logo, designed by our own Heather Manning. Coming soon to a
t-shirt on you.

Monday, February 12, 2007

the journey begins

Welcome to the official Living Hope '07 blog. This is the first of many posts to come from fellow travelers. Eleven days and counting...