Lincoln and Jenny - Missionary Associates to South Africa

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dr. Neil Visits

Today is Saturday and Dr. Neil comes every Saturday to check on the kids in the shelter. Jenny and I are on call this weekend. That means that if there are any problems at the shelter we are the first ones that the caregivers call. Since we are on call we are supposed to help Dr. Neil with whatever he needs, and just make sure that everything is o.k. He brought a whole car full of food from the local grocery store. It is stuff that expires today and they donate it for us to use. It was a lot of fun to watch Dr. Neil interact with the kids. He is so personable and fun with everyone. He takes a few minutes to play with each kid before he examines them. All of the kids love it when he comes. It was really cute to watch as the kids put on his stethoscope and listen to his heart beat. He'll pretend like they are the doctor. One of his favorites is Lewis. Everyone calls him Lu-Lu. Dr. Neil calls him Dr. Lu-Lu and Lewis just laughs. It's a real pleasure to watch how much they love him and how great of care he gives them. We are very grateful for all that he gives the kids here at the shelter. I'm sure that I'll write about Dr. Neil a lot in the future. He is a great guy who really sacrifices a lot to help others. He's a model of generosity and compassion for the rest of us mere mortals.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Freedom Park

Today we visited Freedom Park with Dr. Neil, the dr. who takes care of our kids here at Lighthouse. I just spent an hour writing on the blog about our trip there and when I tried to publish the blog, my entry go lost somewhere in cyberspace. So right now I'm contemplating throwing my computer out the window. I'll write about our trip later. Sorry to keep you waiting. For now I'll say that it was good to see the conditions that our children at Lighthouse have been rescued from. Their life here is a world away from what it used to be. We visited the medical clinic where Dr. Neil takes care of patients every wednesday, and we went into the homes of two patients with HIV and brought them a bag of food and prayed with them. It was very enlightening.
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Monday, March 20, 2006

Call me Mr. Fixit

I'm patting myself on the back today because I was able to fix our washing maching. We have two washing machines, and two dryers for 3 families. They pretty much run non-stop. One of them has been leaking and I thought that it was leaking from the drain, because I couldn't find any water coming from the machine. So I fixed the drain and over the weekend, water was still accumulating on the floor. So today I looked at it again and discovered that the pressure switch that keeps it from overflowing was bad. It only overflowed when it was filled full of clothes. So I found a used part here in town, and had it fixed by the end of the day. The first week that I was here I was able to fix the automatic gate opener, for our front security gate. I felt good about that too. Back in the states, as an electrician, our job was mainly to provide power to a device or appliance. If the appliance was bad, we called an expert. I never had to fix things like this before. It has been very satisfying to know that I can fix it myself, and save the shelter some money by not having to hire a specialist to come work on these things.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Dear Sissy

These are some pictures from Madison's party. This is inside the Lapa, which is a patio area with a thatched roof. It's really pretty. They have a lot of those types of roofs here.
This is a bar that is inside the Lapa. Yes, we served non-alcoholic popsicles for those of you that are questioning our integrity.
There is also a fireplace and a barbeque inside the Lapa.

Have you ever heard that Veggie Tales song, "Everybody has a water buffalo, mine is fast, but yours is slow."? This must have been the slow one. Too bad for him, but he makes for a nice place to hang baloons.

All of the kids sang Happy Birthday to Madison. I especially like Dineo's version. For several days now, she's been singing "Happy Birthday dear Sissy." It's really cute. After singing Happy Birthday, one person shouts "Hip Hip" and everyone responds "Hooray." They do that 3 times. It is very festive. Posted by Picasa

Jack the Dog

This is Jack. He's a dog. David bought him last week to replace a German Shepard puppy that he had that ran away awhile ago. Jack's just a mutt, but he looks like he is part lab. He's going to be a real good dog. He loves to be next to people and just tag along with anyone that is around. For the first week David didn't name him and everyone was calling him "puppy." So some of us decided the dog needed a name, so we named him Jack, (Jenny thought they said "Jacket" and that is the name she voted for.) David was fine with that, so now it's official. Daniel wanted to name him cyborg or lightning. Somebody suggested fluffy or marshmallow. I suggested squeaky at first, because for the first several days he barked non-stop, but his bark is more of a close mouthed squeak. We love him and think that he'll make a fine dog. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 17, 2006

Madison's B-Day

Madison got a new bike from mommy and daddy and papa and grandma. Here Dineo is helping her learn to ride it.

We invited all of the older kids from the shelter to join us at Madison's party. We ate cupcakes and fruit lollies (kind of like popsicles, but in a plastic tube).

Here are Lincoln and Gordon (the other MA from California) tending to the fruit lollies. Actually, I'm not really sure what they are doing in this picture. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rockin' Cowboys

This is just a cute picture of Kyler mowing the lawn. It has nothing to do with what I am writing about. I've had some interesting interactions with some South African's recently. Last week when I was at the "tool hire store", which is a rental store, the white Afrikaner guy helping me noticed that I was different. He said, "You're American?" I said "yes." He said, "You ride the big bulls, heh?" ("heh" is something that they say like Canadians and Wisconsonites say, "eh". I thought that it was funny that he thought that all Americans were cowboys. Then a few days later I was in the hardware store setting up a delivery of some plumbing pipes. The black South African helping me noticed that I was American and he told me that he wanted to come to America some day. He told me,"I hear that in America you rock all day long." I told him, "No, not everyone rocks all day long." A lady that worked there came by and asked what we were talking about. I told her that he wanted to visit America some day. She slapped him on the head and said, "You negro. You go to America, you'll be a negro." I thought that is was interesting that she saw America as a more racist country than South Africa. I've been reading about the history of South Africa. As recently as 1994 there were 2,476 political murders (primarily whites killing blacks.) It is interesting to see how the rest of the world sees America. On a different topic, we went out to dinner for Jenny's birthday. The steaks are listed as lady sized and man sized. Man, that's a lot of pressure on a guy to buy the bigger steak. Posted by Picasa


Learning how they install electrical systems here has been a challenge. They have a different word for almost everything, so I've had to learn the S.A. word for electrical terms. Their voltage is 220 single phase and 338 three phase. Almost everything runs off of 220 single phase. They don't bond the neutral to ground, so there is a high shock hazard on the neutral, which is something that we don't have in the states. They don't allow receptacles (which they call plugs) in the bathroom, because I'm told that too many people try to use their hairdryer while in the tub. So, Jenny has to do her hair and makeup in the bedroom because that is where the plug is. The oddest thing to me is the logic that they use in regards to how many plugs are allowed on a certain size circuit breaker. I was told by an electrician here that I should only put 4 receptacles in the whole apartment. (Which they call flats.) He said, "All you need is one for an alarm clock, one for a lamp in both rooms, and one for a hair dryer." I said, "What about when I need to plug in my computer, and a night light, and a curling iron, and charge my phone, and charge my camera, and the list goes on." He said something to the effect of "You Americans......" His logic is that if you have more plugs, then people will try to plug in too many things, like a welder, and a drill, and all kinds of other things, and the wire will get overloaded and there will be a fire. So, that is their logic, but what actually happens is that they only have two plugs in a room, so it forces you to plug in a multi plug surge protector, and then one more to that, and then an extension cord, and then another multi plug adapter, and then another extension cord and you have extension cords running all over your room all feeding off of one plug. Now, that is a fire hazard. But then, he tells me that it is common practice to run everything in the kitchen (including a washer, dryer, refrigerator, and counter receptacles off of one 15 amp circuit.) He says, "That is no problem, you won't trip your breaker." So, I'm trying to figure out how they do things, and hopefully I can improve on it a little while still staying within their codes. By the way, the also run almost everything surface mount here. Electrical and plumbing. I'm sure it's because they don't want to deal with the dust it takes to cut it into the wall. But to me, that is a big hazard having 220 volt flexible cable running everywhere. Posted by Picasa

Mountains of Dust

We've started work on the plumbing and electrical this week. As a commercial electrician, I've always thought that working with wood in a residence was dirty work because you tend to get sawdust everywhere. Well, sawdust is nothing compared to the dust that is made from working with bricks. Everything here is brick. (They can't use wood because of termites.) So, the way the build is they build the structure out of brick first, then they come in with a grinder like I am holding in the picture and they cut notches in the walls and floor for the plumbing and electrical. That dust gets everywhere. I have it in my ears, nose, eyes, pockets, socks, between my toes. There is a layer of dust anywhere within 200 feet of the flats that we are working on. In the bathrooms, even with a fan running and a bright light shining on the area that I am working on, the dust gets so thick that after 20 seconds of grinding I can't even see the surface that I am working on. I'll take working with wood any day. (And yes, for my Dad's and Darrell Ruby's information, I am wearing a respirator, safety goggles, gloves, and ear plugs. Even though, they aren't in the picture here.) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dineo meets Napolean Dynomite

Dineo came to our house today and saw a talking Napolean Dynomite doll we brought with us from the US (yes, this was a necessity!) She had a lot of fun with him. She actually carried on an entire conversation with him, and he promised to teach her all of his skills in the near future. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Picture of Our Dishwasher

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Jenny's Birthday

For those of you that have asked, yes, we were invited back to the home where I broke the glass last week. In fact, they (Adrian and Vanessa) invited pretty much everyone we know here, over to their house for my birthday on Sunday. Vanessa decorated her house in red, white and blue and had every one bring "American" food so that we would feel at home. We had quite a feast - turkey, meat loaf (better than any meat loaf I have ever had in the US), corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, rice and salad. And of course, rooibos tea and instant coffee! Vanessa really went out of her way to make feel at home on my birthday. For dessert, instead of cake everyone got a mini cupcake with a candle in it. Vanessa said that instead of only me making a wish, everyone else would also make a wish for me and then blow out their candles. I really loved this, and I think that I will adopt this tradition into our family from now on. I got some great gifts as well. There is a Christian bookstore at the mall, and one family gave me a gift certificate to there (I haven't spent it yet, because I am still too afraid to drive there!) We only brought 9 suitcases with our personal belongings to South Africa with us (the other 4 bags we brought contained Lincoln's tools and the kids homeschooling books and materials), so I did not bring anything that wasn't essential, mostly just clothes, books and toys! So David and Janis gave me some items for our home that are just mine! (We are staying in a home that belongs to another family, and they left everything as is for us to use. So, we are using their plates, towels, beds, sheets, everything! They have also left up all of their pictures, at first it was very strange to be looking everyday at the pictures and memories of a family we have never even met! I have their wedding picture on my nightstand, and every night before bed I tell them "goodnight". I guess we could just move the pictures, but now we are used to them.) So, Janis gave me a very cool candle and holder and a set of knives. These gifts were very meaningful to me since I really don't have anything here yet! (We now also have a water filtering pitcher and umbrella that are our very own.)
I got to talk to my parents that day, and the day before Jen U. called from the church with Lori B. and Katie L. to wish me a happy birthday. It was 11:30 pm their time, 8:30 am our time. I also talked to Lincoln's parents on Saturday. It was so great to be able to talk to my friends and family, it made me feel a little closer to home on my first birthday away.
Last night (Monday night), our next door neighbors (another MA couple from California that have been here for a year) took us out for pizza at a great Italian restaurant for my birthday. They have a little girl who is Madison's age. They know exactly where we are right now, and have traveled much of the same road to get here. We had a lot of fun with them.
So, I had a great birthday with our new friends here!
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Saturday, March 11, 2006


Today was Saturday and we decided to go out and swim in the hot weather. All the kids in the shelter came out to swim with us and we had a lot of fun. It was special for me (Lincoln) because the kids are starting to recognize me and are starting to consider me Daddy. I've been so busy working that I haven't spent a lot of time with the kids. There are not a lot of men in their lives and it's important for them to interact with their "daddy's" whenever possible. It's an honor and a pleasure to be Daddy to them all. We had a lot of fun. Madison is becoming a more confident in the water, and Kyler is making more friends.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006


Tonight before dinner we spent some time playing with the kids on the playground. It was neat to see Kyler playing with boys his age. It's cute to watch them communicate because they don't understand each other very well, but they don't seem to care. Here, Kyler was playing with Tshepo (pronounced T-Sepo) and Thapelo (pronounced Tapelo). Tshepo is on the back. He has the cutest smile and he is usually smiling.
Here, Madison is jumping on the trampoline with Mary.
Jenny was helping Dineo hang upside down on the playground. Dineo has the biggest smile and she is missing her two top front teeth. I'm sure you'll see lots of pictures of her because she is the biggest "ham." She loves to be in front of the camera and she is a hog for attention. At church, she stands in front of the children's section, faces the crowd, and sings like a star performer. Her worship is choreographed and everything. Posted by Picasa

Fun with Sewers

Remember last week when I wrote about Johannes pumping out the septic tank? Well, a week later it was full again. So we decided to dig a new, bigger septic tank. The one we made was actually an overflow from the first one. I think that we came up with a pretty good design. I spent some time on the internet learning about how septic tanks work and looking at designs. We modified the design for our site and I think that it will work pretty well. We had our temporary day workers helping us. With Johannes' leadership, they dug the hole in two days, and today we filled it in with some rock and poured cement over the top. Man, am I tired! I haven't worked that hard in a long time. It felt really good to put in a hard days work for a good cause. Tomorrow we'll hook it into the old tank and the kids in the shelter can use their sink and toilet again. Posted by Picasa

Jenny driving

I drove today for the first time. We just went in some residential areas where there were very few cars and people walking around. I actually did better than I thought I would. Having to shift with my left had was pretty easy to get used to. Our car in the USA was an automatic, so I havn't really driven a stick in probably 5 years. The hardest thing to get used to was turning on the turn signals! They are on the right side of the steering wheel, so every time I wanted to turn I put on the windshield wipers. I haven't driven on any busy roads, or through any of the very scary intersections yet. I wouldn't say that I am comfortable driving yet, but I know that if I really needed to, I could.
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jenny's Kitchen Disasters (and other insights into my life)

This is kind of long, but I need to get all of this out. I call it my Blog Therapy. Cooking and baking here has proven to be quite a challenge, to say the least. Everything is in milliliters and Celsius (see my oven above.) At home I fancy myself to be a pretty good cook, and I have had countless numbers of unbiased people tell me so. (Okay, so it was really just Lincoln and my dad, but they really like my cooking . . . at least that's what they said.) Anyway, trying to plan for, shop for and prepare an entire meal has been a humbling experience. (I could have also titled this "Humbled by Spaghetti Sauce, Cherry Pie Filling, and Tarragon-less Tarragon Chicken." Let me explain) I wrote in an earlier post about the spaghetti sauce in a pouch. Well, I made this delicious grilled chicken, and chopped it up and mixed with store-bought cheese-filled pasta. I then added the pouch-o-sauce and grated some fresh cheese (like parmesan) on top. It looked like a culinary masterpiece, the delicious aroma wafting to my expectant nose. So I decided to taste it. I couldn't even swallow one bite. The pouch sauce was horrible. The only thing I can possibly compare it to is watered down ketchup (I have never liked ketchup on anything, much less pasta!) Lincoln ate it, I kind of think that he would eat just about anything. I had cheese crackers for dinner. Yesterday we went grocery shopping again. (I hadn't eaten lunch before going, the only thing I had was some instant coffee, so I was a little jittery from the caffeine. I also had horrible motion sickness from Lincoln's driving, but I won't go into that now.) I have a recipe for Chicken in Tarragon Cream Sauce with White and Wild Rice. It is absolutely delicious (e-mail me if you would like the recipe). There are very few ingredients, and they are pretty basic. So there I was pushing my trolley through the store, a little dizzy, and on a caffeine high, happily picking out my groceries and ingredients for my delicious chicken. The main ingredients are listed in the title: Chicken- okay, we were able to find one package of chicken on the shelf, White and Wild Rice - no problem, Cream - got it (or not! When we got home I realized that I bought Full Cream Milk (whatever that means!), not heavy cream like I needed. Also, it curdled as soon as I tried to make sauce out of it.) Okay, I had everything but fresh Tarragon. I searched the entire produce section (Side note, you have to give your produce to a produce-weighing lady whose job it is to weigh your produce for you, and put a price tag on it. We weren't aware of this the first time we bought produce.) for my tarragon and after finding none there proceeded to the dried spice section. This section consists of about 50 different braai (barbecue) seasonings, some basic spices used for cooking, and several Indian and Portuguese spices. But no tarragon. So last evening we had Chicken in a Tarragon-less Curdled Milk Sauce. Yummy!!! Onto the cherry pie filling incident. I was asked to bring a treat to a meeting of all of the caregivers who work at the shelter. Wanting to impress them with my kitchen prowess, I decided to make something instead of recognizing that, as it turns out, I'm not a very good cook in South Africa, and just bringing a store-bought dessert. My friend Melissa makes this mouthwatering chocolate, cherry cake with the best chocolate frosting in the world. Of course, I don't have the recipe here with me, so I was working from memory (I should have known better!) I knew I needed a chocolate cake mix, a can of cherry pie filling, a bag chocolate chips, and butter. So after having picked up the ingredients for my tarragon-free milk chicken, I began looking for the baking section. Now at home this is an entire isle, with a plethora of cake mixes, brownie mixes, muffin mixes, pie fillings and crusts, icing etc. Coming down from my caffeine high, and now just having motion sickness, I was beginning to become a little weary. I just couldn't find the cake mixes. Then there they were! Hallelujah! There were 4 to choose from, all had a frosting mix included. I chose the least expensive one, which was still very expensive. I then looked for the chocolate chips I needed to make my own frosting, and found some bags about the size of a small M&M's bag. Even though the frosting is the best part of the cake, I decided that I didn't want to have to purchase 5 or 6 of these little baggies of chocolate chips, I would just use the icing mix that came with the cake mix. So far so good, on to the pie filling. It had to be there somewhere! But no it wasn't, apparently no one eats pie. So I did find a jar of pitted cherries in syrup. Close enough. I made the cake this morning (see the picture of Kyler on Lincoln's last post), and it went pretty smoothly. The cake came out looking like a cake, so I was happy. Then I made the frosting that came with the cake. And I was not happy. I had to "slowly melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler". No double boiler, so I put the chocolate in a mixing bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. The chocolate started to melt nicely, and I was beginning to think that my kitchen luck was changing. But no, before it was completely melted, the melted part started to get chunky. I was being so careful to not let any water get into the chocolate, but, with my track record, I should have known something would have to go wrong. There was also a mix called "fondant sugar" that I was supposed to mix with water. Being the creative chef that I am, I added cherry syrup instead. I then had to pour the sugar mixture into the chunky chocolate mixture. As I was doing so, the fork I had used to mix the bright red cherry syup and sugar, leaped out of the bowl at my cream colored shirt. I am not sure how, but I managed to get the sticky red mess on my shirt, my light green tank top, my jeans, my right foot and shoe, the top and front of the stove and on the floor - where I then proceeded to step into it and track it across the kitchen. Now the frosting mixture was a little less thick, but it still didn't resemble frosting. The meeting was coming up, and I didn't have time to get something else, so I spread the chunky chocolate frosting on the cake. It looked pretty bad. I cut the cake before taking it to the meeting so that the frosting chunks weren't as apparent. At the meeting Janis announced that I had made a cake for everyone, I was hoping that it would just remain anonymous. There were a lot of ladies there, so I waited to take a piece until I knew that everyone had one. I took a bite and although it tasted nothing like Melissa's, it wasn't horrible. I had a few more bites, then crack!! I chomped down on a cherry pit. I quickly looked around to see if anyone else had done the same, if they did, they weren't showing it. I was so embarrassed that I spent the rest of the meeting hiding in the kitchen doing the dishes. I don't think that anyone had severe dental damage or got food poisoning (yet!) so all in all, I'd say my chunky cake was a hit!
Everything is so similar, and yet at the same time, so very drastically different here. I don't have my support system, people here don't know me. I have no history with anyone. And the one thing that I thought I was good at has given me the most grief! I don't know yet where I fit in. It has been difficult trying to find my place, and trying to build relationships. Last night we were again invited over to the home of the family who had offered me coffee (and I embarrassed myself asking if it was "real coffee". See my post titled "Question for today" for the details.) There were many people there who are very good friends and know each other well. They are all very friendly, and easy to get along with. We had a great time, but it will take a while to attain the comfort level we left in the US. As the evening neared an end, I was cleaning up our glasses. I carried 3 into the kitchen. As I set them on the counter, 1 fell off and shattered onto the floor and my bare feet. (Now, I am not the most graceful person you may know, so my doing this probably does not come as a great surprise to you!) I once again embarrassed myself greatly. (I am also not easily embarrassed, so this MAY come as a surprise to you!!) These are people we are trying to become friends with, and here I am in their kitchen, with glass shattered everywhere and my foot bleeding on their floor! I wanted to disappear, we'll see if we get invited back. (They are very wonderful people and assured me that it wasn't a big deal.) I really miss a lot about the US, and at times I am very sad. But at the same time I really love being here, and wouldn't trade for anything. It is hard to reconcile these 2 very different and sometimes conflicting thoughts and emotions!
Okay, that's enough for today. And you thought you were only going to read some funny kitchen stories! Posted by Picasa

New Truck

Today I got my truck. It is a Mitsubishi Colt, 4 door pickup truck. It seems to pretty much be like a Mitsubishi Montero from the states without the SUV back end. They call trucks bakies here. That is pronounced "bahkee." It's not 4wd (which would have come in handy on some of these roads), but it's got a locking differential and it's lifted pretty high. It's got over 220,000 kilometers, which is around 136,000 miles. That's a lot, but it's a diesel, so it should be able to go for quite a bit more than that. Vehicles are very expensive here in South Africa, so this was the best that we could do for the money we had. It runs really good. David has a friend who knows the dealer that we bought it from. They grew up together and he knows him to be an honest guy, so that made me feel good about buying from him. Plus, David's friend drove this same truck as a loaner car for a few weeks about two months ago and he knew that it ran well. That made me think that it wasn't being held together with bubble gum and shoe strings, which is a common problem buying used cars in South Africa, I'm told.
This is just a cute picture of Kyler licking some cake batter that Jenny made. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Pub

This is Lincoln. Last night was an interesting night. We had our evening sunday church service. After church I had to take the youth pastor, Martin, home because he had borrowed the Suburban and I needed it today to carry construction material. Martin had a truck load full of youth that we had to drop off at their houses. He just had his first youth service last Friday night. Two of the young people came to church sunday morning, and 8 of them came to church sunday night. The amazing thing that I learned as we drove last night was that none of those youth have families in the church. Martin, who is 24, does school outreaches called "music against drugs" where he goes into the schools and speaks. Through his outreaches he has connected with teengagers. At his first youth service he had 24 young people. I thought that was pretty amazing. I can tell great things are going to happen in the youth group. It was kind of scary driving around Rustenburg at night. Mainly because I had heard from so many people stateside that you don't go out at night, and if you do, you use extreme caution. The people here don't seem to have that same fear. As we were driving around town dropping all the youth off we were going into some not so nice neighborhoods. I saw a lot of the makeshift taverns that I had heard about. They are these little shanty buildings on the side of the road and in neighborhoods, where people congregate to buy alcohol, and probably many other unsavory things. Everywhere we went there were groups of young men just hanging out on the street corners, looking like they were up to no good. Martin had to drop off some bibles at the house of a teenager that hadn't come to church that night and he left me in the car. It was a little scary being the only white guy in that neighborhood, but he came back and I survived. There was a little building across the street from where we were that had music pumping out. Martin told me that it is the most popular "pub" in town. After he explained it to me, it is basically a dance night club. It is in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Martin tells me that at 2 in the morning all days of the week, the streets will be lined with cars. All around outside children were playing in the streets. You could tell, and Martin confirmed this, that the children were drunk. The kids as young as probably 8 or 9 go to the pub and are sold alcohol. That image really disturbed me as I tried to go to sleep last night. It's so sad to see kids so young being destroyed like that. It really made me realize how important the job of the youth and children's pastors are here. This was actually a good experience for me. We are kind of in a protected bubble here on the shelter property. It was good to get out and see the need that is out there. Pray for the children of South Africa. Pray for our youth pastor Martin, and our children's pastors, Adrian and Vanessa. Posted by Picasa