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!