Saturday, October 1, 2016

Family photo shoot

We are feeling more and more settled by His grace. We are still so thankful to get to be here and be at all useful to Him. It is a sweet season of expectation, grace and dependence on our heavenly Father. 

A few evening's ago, very kind friends who actually come from Tennessee, took some family pictures for us. It is always such a treat to have the season we are in captured in photo form.

I love the pictures so much but for the sake of space and your time, I'll only post a few of them here:

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouragement. We are so thankful for you. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Construction and other happenings...

I was sitting on the couch, texting my friend Meg when the ceiling fell down in front of me! Jude had just left the room and it missed me by about a metre. They were busy insulating the ceiling and the previous contractors had used the wrong screws or something! Thankfully they have reinforced all of our ceilings since then and I have stopped looking up with concern whenever I hear any sort of creaking sound! 
Here is a picture of some of the aftermath (a lot of the mess had already been cleaned, but you can see the part of the ceiling that had yet to be taken away leaning on the couch!
Then some of our pipes needed serious work and this has proved to provide hours of entertainment for the boys who had previously enjoyed the TV show called 'Bob the Builder' before being introduced to first hand experience in watching the real thing!
Jude has recently understood the gravity of just how much growing he has to do before filling Izak's shoes at any length! Haha! Finding this made my heart smile!
Jude is finally confidently walking around on his own! :)
This is hard to believe, but Izak may have another fan almost as big as me in the Gauteng area: (haha!)
Here is one of J really getting more and more used to his new bike:
My mischievous yet sweet Ben:
We have had some challenges with figuring out some important logistical details (like the car for our family) and our shipment from the States has been delayed but it has been a very helpful experience. Like Izak reminded me recently, our trials are tailor-made and we can be sure that He is very intentional with what He allows. I am thankful to be in His hands and safe. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Another few weeks...

Grace Fellowship has a Grace School of Ministries (GSM) that was held on the property this last week and Izak enjoyed being a part of the team hosting it! They had Dr. Ernie Baker (from the Master's College) doing the training and it was a blessing to see all the cars parked outside and to know that there was some great learning going on while I tried to keep the boys somewhat contained and less rowdy for a change! It did just help to show me how much freedom they are typically spoiled with! :) 

Apart from that, here are some more pictures of the boys enjoying our 'backyard':

Farmer Jude:
Boys playing with some new trucks they were given:

Teaching them the tradition of drinking rooibos tea from a proper teacup: Eeeek!

Making wrapping paper for our first ever South African birthday party! We had fun doing it and Jude hopefully discovered that eating paint was not his thing! ;)

Once again, it is so great to get the opportunity to reflect on the Lord's goodness to us by writing this post and to think about how we are enjoying getting to know new people and to find our South African rhythm once again! Thanks for keeping us in your prayers- it means a great deal to us! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Exploring our new surroundings

We are so thankful for our new surroundings. It has been so sweet to see the boys get comfortable with being outdoors and enjoying simple things in nature. We are so blessed to have such a big outdoors area. There is something so fun about being based on the church property and being a part of the action! It feels like everybody comes to visit us TWICE on a Sunday! :) :) :) 

Recently, we were walking around outside and we found this really unique looking insect that was red and had black African looking shapes on it! When we looked closer we noticed that it was carrying a little baby version of itself on its back! Needless to say, we followed it around carefully trying to protect it from a grabbing Jude for quite some time! Here is a picture of it, you may have to try and zoom in to see it!

Here are some more of our outdoors times:
The first is of Jude going off and wanting to go exploring all on his own from the door leading from our courtyard:

This has been Izak's first week of work and we are so thankful for this time here and the Lord's amazing kindness. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A little more calm

Well, we have been in our new home for two weeks today. We are seeing more and more glimpses of normal and are so thankful for that. 

I had a situation with my phone not responding for a few days and may have missed some messages. I had a picture that I had taken of Jonathan's interior decorating skill that was lost in the process. It was so sweet, we have these three little windows alongside one another and he had placed a few of his treasured dinosaurs on the window sill and nobody was allowed to change their placement. It was such a sweet reminder to me of who lives here now and how blessed we are to have these little treasures entrusted to our care. :) I wish I could share the picture with you but it's a warm memory now. 

We still have to figure out quite a few things but we have made progress and that is the key! Our church family has been bringing us meals and it has been a tremendous help! It has helped in that I am still finding my footing in terms of where to buy what, plus being able to work on other things AND seeing how the kids eat more variety than what I anticipated! :)

There is a big tree, down towards the bottom of our property and we all went down for a bit in the warmer winter afternoon yesterday and just enjoyed being together. There is something so refreshing about simply being outdoors and squinting in the sun. What a blessing to be here, in His timing and to know His special grace in this season. Here is a picture of Jonathan enjoying the area near the big tree: (Thank you for all of your feedback and love! It has been especially encouraging to my heart. We are so thankful for you!) 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A new life

We moved into our new home on Wednesday, last week. It still feels a bit like we are in the midst of a storm and every now and then we move into the eye of the storm and experience calm. By the Lord's grace, we have been spending more time in the eye of the storm recently and enjoying more peace.

I think that one of the things that I didn't anticipate was how hard this move would be on the kids. They just seem disoriented and like they are testing boundaries to figure out where they are and what has happened. They are also very emotional compared to their typically more relaxed selves. I know it will just take some time for everyone to settle in and for us to find our new rhythm. 

We had hoped to travel down to Jeffreys Bay towards the middle of July but getting settled seems to be taking a little longer than we had hoped! We have yet to figure out our vehicle situation (and have graciously been given other vehicles to use in the meantime and since arriving).

Izak spoke during the second service at Grace Fellowship on Sunday morning (they call it the Bible hour and they asked him to share his testimony as well as about his time at TMS). On Sunday evening, Izak preached his first sermon at Grace Fellowship and like I shared with some people, I caught myself beaming like a love-struck teenager several times because he did so well and I know how hard he worked at preparing despite the crazy schedule of moving in and change that we had just worked through. The Lord is so kind. 

We have been overwhelmed by the love we have received from Grace Fellowship's body of believers. People have brought us treats, grocery supplies, household goods, home-made coffee and tea containers and even signed up to bring us meals for the next two weeks! We feel so warmed by their love and are sincerely blown away by the Lord's grace. 

We still have to figure out sorting out some of our home details (figuring out some new built-in cupboard space) as well as getting drivers licenses updated and a whole host of other things and then there is the unpacking and finding a home for clothing etc. We love our new home and are so thankful for the huge area that our house is on for the boys to roam around and ride bikes etc!
This image depicts how exhausted they get from their backyard adventures! Haha! We had barely been driving for 10 minutes!

Friends recently got J a proper bike and he loves it! He didn't know how to brake at first and his little face got a little scraped up but it hardly phased him! Here is a picture of his little happy and scraped face! :)

We have so many testimonies of His grace shown to us recently and I would love to go into details but just know that our hearts are encouraged and we are thankful for all of your prayers and messages! J recently asked if he could go back to America to say goodbye to a few of his friends in the apartments we used to live in! Awwww- I just don't see myself making that kind of cross-world trip with small kids anytime soon! Haha! :) 


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Back in South Africa!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of work and emotion! We have never quite experienced anything quite like it! When we moved to Los Angeles for the Mdiv, six years ago, it was Izak and I and our two suitcases each. This time, we had to separate what we hoped to ship back to South Africa with what we hoped to pack in our luggage for our flight as well as what would hopefully be given to someone else and be a blessing to them.

With the flight that we had booked, we were allowed three pieces of checked-in luggage each. That is three pieces of luggage per person multiplied by five and that alone with the children in the car seats would mean that we would need two vehicles to simply get us to the airport! On the one hand this thought simply overwhelmed me since my natural inclination is to want to simplify things but instead I have been struck by how much we have been given in light of what we arrived with initially. What a blessed family we are!

It turns out that arriving at the airport was just the beginning of the adventure! I had thought that this would be one of the major feats! We were dropped off with the kids and 4 airport carts and in our line waiting to be assisted and realized that we were trapped if for some reason this didn’t work out but just bravely hoped that we wouldn’t miss the flight or that there wouldn’t be any complications. Well, there were complications.

Izak was on a visa that had an entry visa but then as he studied, the entry visa was updated by an overarching visa that was in the US system. His entry visa had expired but technically everything was in order since his I-20 (the overarching visa was still intact and updated). We had initially hoped to fly via Heathrow but the British Airlines representative informed us that since the entry visa was expired, they would not be able to look beyond that and could not even allow us to be in transit through the UK. We tried to get her to call again, to speak to TMS’ representative who had dealt with this so many times before and without an issue but alas, it appeared that the overarching I-20 form had no effect in the UK. This representative told us to go and see their help desk and we honestly had very little hope of getting onto South African soil in the near future. At the very least, we anticipated needing to buy new tickets and trying to obtain specialized visa’s.  By the Lord’s grace, the lady at the Help counter was very gracious and it appeared like she extended herself far beyond what we had anticipated or what was custom. She even booked us onto completely different airlines and after a few hours we were booked onto a midnight flight to New York and then a direct flight from New York to Johannesburg.

By the Lord’s grace, Izak had a plan that enabled us to maneuver 4 carts of luggage and a stroller all the way through the airport to get outside and then a very gracious airport hotel bus driver allowed us to journey with him to a different terminal. On top of everything else, the Lord in His mercy provided for us yet again in that the flight that was within the States (very limited in their luggage allowance), didn’t charge us for our severely over-the-limit-for their-domestic-flight-luggage-allowance.

When we were finally on the SAA flight headed to Johannesburg, it almost felt surreal. We were just so relieved to be there, finally on our way. We had temporary/emergency passports for the children which were scrutinized at every single check point and almost caused us to not be permitted onto the flight because of the changes in our flight itinerary since we were rerouted and the emergency passports had had the specific original flight details. All that to say, we were so thankful for His provision when we actually made it onto the flight and onto South African soil.

We have arrived! We are here and it has been a huge adjustment with jet-lag and our boys have gradually adjusted to the new winter season and lots of new friendly faces! It has been such a blessing to be reunited with family, our new church body and to see how He continues to sanctify and train our hearts long after we have left the actual TMS classes. J

My heart was encouraged by James 1:2b this morning, where the LORD reminds us that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness and it has been good to see just how much steadfastness my heart still needs.

Carrot field experience!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Our announcement picture...

We recently posted this on Facebook and thought I would share it with those who don't use Facebook...
Almost time to welcome our new little guy!
Let's just say that we're excited and I particularly enjoy this time of anticipation (most of the time) because you just never know when he'll make his arrival! (Both boys arrived 10 days early!)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Latest ramblings...

A friend recently took some pictures of our little family just before our new baby boy arrives and I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of them. 

Izak has a few weeks of school left and our baby is due at the end of May. Today is Izak and my 6th year anniversary and I am so thankful for such a blessed marriage by His grace. :) 

Here are some new pics:

We're so thankful to have some new pics! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Grace on Campus- UCLA

We have been attending and serving as 'staffers' (as the students call us) at a Grace church student ministry. it's a university called UCLA (university of California, Los Angeles- for the other foreign brains out there... :) ). 

It has been an amazing blessing for so many reasons but one of the highlights for us as a family has been the enthusiasm and joy that is clear from brief interaction with the students at GOC! It is a pretty big group and yet I will never forget how welcome we felt when we first arrived on our first Friday evening (we meet every Friday evening). Another big highlight is how sweet the students are with our boys! It is so fun to see how they pour love out on Jonathan and Benjamin! I can't think of anything better than our boys growing up in the midst of a throng of students who love Jesus and live their lives in a way that is different to the world because of their devotion to our Saviour. I am thankful that the Lord has brought us to this group of students at this time and look forward to seeing what He has in mind for us and for the students!  

This is a link to the Grace on Campus website- There is even a Youtube video on the site if you would like to see a little more about the ministry. 

Apart from that, we will be celebrating our next Thanksgiving on the 27th of November and I love the concept (even though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in SA) because it is such a reminder to count our blessings and be grateful. Who doesn't need an opportunity to eat together and celebrate life and His goodness to us? :)

Psalm 34:8, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It has been too long!

Well, it is official. The Lord has been so kind to us and Izak has graduated from the Mdiv. :) I can't help but exhale with thankfulness when I say that or think about it. What a gift from His perfect hand.  When they called his name for him to walk across the stage, it was as if heaven was celebrating with us in my heart! There was no doubt in my mind that the Lord had taken our hands and lead us through the whole degree and accomplished it in our lives by His grace! Izak worked so hard but the thing about ministry is that we cannot do it on our own strength and He was faithful to show us that!

After the graduation ceremony, we had an 'after party' in a room shared with a precious couple from the UK. Everything was perfect. We just laughed, cried and enjoyed each moment... reminiscing on His kindness to us small town South Africans!

Here is a photo from the evening of graduation!
Now, we are about half way through his first semester (of 4) completing the ThM (there were some other options but in the end this is what seemed the most viable one) and I can see how it is going to be so helpful to us for the future! It is so encouraging to see how He has a plan for our lives and is working it out for our good and His glory. Our God is our gracious and strong Saviour.

Isaiah 43:1b-3
"Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with  you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

4 years later...

Something Izak said in his Senior Testimony struck me (here is the link to see that if you haven't yet He said we arrived with 4 bags, nearly 4 years ago. We now are a family of 4 and have way more than 4 bags worth of stuff in our little home. :) I am just so encouraged by His faithfulness to us. I remember wondering how we were going to make it here for the entire time and not only have we made it through Izak's Mdiv (he graduates on May 11th) but by the Lord's grace, He has opened the door for us to stay on and complete his ThM (Another two years). I can literally only shake my head and smile in acknowledgment of His mercy and kindness showered on us. Wow. Great is His faithfulness indeed. 

I have been meaning to write for months. And, for once, that is no exaggeration! Benjamin Levi Bakkes was born on the 13th of September last year and has taken our world by storm! hehe! I wish I was kidding, but I was not aware that going from one child to two could be such an adjustment! I am convinced that the Lord will make me more like Jesus through motherhood than through any other means! It is such an incredible experience because I have never been this dependent on Him, this humbled, this in love with my Creator. He knows my name and has poured out my cup/portion for each day of my life in His perfect kindness. I am so thankful to look back and see His handiwork in so many areas of my life. Let's just say that I am even more aware of my need for my Saviour today than what I was two years and almost three months ago (when J was born). 

Well, I have decided to try to write more often and less lengthy posts beginning today. Here are a few snapshots of the last few months.

Here is little Ben with his Pappa and Mamma:

And a couple of our little family of four:

Psalm 103:11 (NET), "For as the skies are high above the earth, so his loyal love towers over his faithful followers."  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rowan's visit and some LA sight-seeing

It was such fun to have Rowan visit us recently for two. whole. weeks! :) It was really such a blessing to see Jonathan meet his UNCLE! I will never forget how sweet it was when Rowan said after we had put Jonathan down to sleep for the first night, "So we only get to see him again tomorrow morning? That is such a long time to not see him!" 

Here are some pics to highlight our time together:
*Manhattan Beach: 
Our personal favourite so far- it has an amazing walkway and lots of beautiful houses to peruse as well as surfing and volleyball playing areas set up for people to use...

Malibu: (we spent the day in Malibu with the darling Pinkers... and got to see a few fun spots- like two beaches and an outdoor mall area called the Lumberyard which had a fun outdoor aquarium and also a chocolate place with free samples that were well worth sampling!)

Universal Studios:

General family ones:

It was such a blessing to see Rowan and to have long chats with him and to catch up after all these years. It is crazy to see how easy it is to pick up just where you left off. One of the Lord's many mercies for sure. 

Well, we hope you enjoyed a quick tour of some sights in LA and our little family being reunited with Rowan. :)