Lincoln and Jenny - Missionary Associates to South Africa

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend

I was just going through some pictures and realized that it was a year ago today (Memorial Day weekend) that Gareth and I attempted Mt. Bierstadt, but we were turned away because of chest deep snow. The last picture is in September when we came back and made it to the top and spent the night on the summit. Good times. I miss Colorado's mountains. All my friends in Colorado, go climb some mountains for me and send me pictures.
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Saturday, May 27, 2006

About Freedom Park

This is Lincoln. Back in March I wrote about our trip to Freedom Park with Dr. Neil and it was lost in cyberspace. I’ll go back now to say some of what I should have said back then. Freedom Park is an informal settlement outside of town next to several of the big mines. People travel here from all over Africa looking for work. When they arrive, they find that there is no work and they have no money to travel any where else. This settlement has become an extremely poor and destitute conglomeration of desperate people. Prostitution is a major problem because of the poverty. The mine workers stay on the mine property and work 12 hours shifts and then have 12 hours off. They are payed relatively well and they have 12 hours to kill and money to spend, so they go to Freedom Park to find prostitutes. Obviously this causes HIV to run rampant within Freedom Park. They just recently installed a police station, and there is a medical clinic that Dr. Neil started and visits once a week. I think that it is mostly run by some catholic nuns. There is no water or plumbing. Only the school, police station, and medical clinic have electricity. The homes do not. Across the street is the “New Freedom Park” where they have running water, electricity, and plumbing. The conditions of the houses are a little nicer, but still very run down and basic. The houses in Freedom Park are built out of scraps of tin and cardboard and wood that people have found. They build outhouses over holes in the ground for their toilets. The conditions are appalling to me, but Dr. Neil tells us that this is actually paradise compared to some of the conditions that the people have escaped from in other parts of Africa. Despite the filthy living conditions, the people that we visit keep their houses remarkably clean; and they work very hard at keeping their clothes nice and clean. It really amazes me that in a house with no running water that they manage to keep everything so clean. Most of the shacks are about 12ft. by 12 ft. wide. One lady that we visited shared her tiny shack with her two little children. She had divided the shack into a bedroom and a living room/kitchen. I couldn’t believe how clean and orderly everything was. This woman had HIV and was very positive and energetic as she told us that it was her mission to educate others about the dangers of HIV. This is unusual because most people don’t want to admit that they have HIV because of the stigma that it holds. We visited another lady who was very sick. The care giver that was with us told us that she couldn’t get on the ART medication (the medication that treats HIV) because she had no income and couldn’t eat regularly. Without regular meals, the ART medication is useless, so this woman had no hope for the future. She lie in her shack all day, too weak to rise. Several weeks later Kaitlin returned and the lady had passed away. The children are always excited to see us and chant a word that means “white people.” They know that white people bring food and gifts. We brought food to one family that we visited. The little 4 year old boy grabbed a package of crackers and went outside to show off and taunt her friends that hadn’t received anything. I’m told that Freedom Park isn’t really safe for white people when you aren’t accompanied by somebody that is known there. I have never felt in any danger. Everyone that I meet and talk to is always very nice and welcoming. I look forward to more ministry there.

Freedom Park Pictures

The second picture is a place called the Creche. It is kind of a day care/school for the kids from Freedom Park. As you can see they pack them into this tiny little storage container with no air conditioning for school. Not really an environment conducive to learning, but better than nothing, I guess. I think that it is run by the catholic church, but I'm not sure. The third picture is their play ground. You can see it needs a little paint. The bottom picture is their outhouse. There is no running water or plumbing in freedom park.
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More Freedom Park Pictures

This yellow house is a day care inside Freedom Park. One of the caregivers from the clinic in Freedom Park leaves her child here during the day.
Kaitlin is from Canada, so she was passing out Canada stickers to the kids.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Jenny here – In the last week I have been involve in the adoptions of 2 children from our shelter. I have grown to know and love these 2 babies, so saying goodbye was very bittersweet.
Last week Rebecca and I took a little girl named Suzie (not her real name for privacy reasons) to Pretoria to meet her forever family. Suzie had been abandoned at the government hospital in Rustenburg last June; she was 2 months old at the time. The night before the adoption I was talking to Lincoln about how excited the new parents had to be at that moment, knowing that they would meet their baby the very next day. I have never looked at, or thought of adoption from this side of it – as the people bringing the baby to be adopted. Although it was a special occasion for us, it was basically routine to us here at the shelter. I got to take her into the placement room and hand her over to her new parents. After the parents spent about 10 minutes alone with Suzie, we went back in to the room and gave them some of her clothes and a scrapbook of her time here at the shelter. They had a lot of questions that we did our best to answer. It was a lot of fun to be a part of this process. I couldn’t help thinking that this was just a part of the normal everyday stuff that we do here, but for the new family this moment was life changing. It seemed kind of strange to me that we handed her over then went on with the rest of our day, just like every other day (afterwards, Rebecca and I had lunch at a big mall in Pretoria). At the same time, the family who had been waiting for their baby for over a year was just starting a new life all together.
Yesterday Kaitlin and I took a little boy named Johnny(not his real name for privacy reasons) to Pretoria to meet his new parents. Johnny has a very special place in my heart. Following is what I wrote about Johnny in our last newsletter.
“We would like to introduce you to Johnny. He is a very sweet, loving and happy little boy. Johnny came to Lighthouse Children’s Shelter last August. He was about 2 months old and had been abandoned by a railroad track wrapped in plastic. About a week after we arrived, Jenny went with Janis Betzer to take Johnny to be tested again for HIV. His initial test had shown up positive. In the first 18 months of life a child can still carry his mother’s antibodies, and if she is HIV positive, the baby can also test positive. We were praying the entire time that he would test negative so that he could be adopted instead of spending the rest of his life in a shelter suffering with HIV. (While I was in with this baby that was thrown away and un-wanted, God kept telling me over and over that He loves him and wants him.) A week later his test came back negative and Jenny has been getting his adoption paperwork in order so that he can be adopted into a loving family.”
Johnny's dad started to cry (and so did Kaitlin and I) when he was talking about how long they have been waiting for a baby, and anticipating this day. I am so thankful that God allowed me to be a part of this adoption. It was wonderful to unite a little boy that was so un-wanted with parents that so desperately want him. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Freedom Park

This is Lincoln writing.
Today I went to Freedom park with Kaitlin and Noel, the youth pastor from a church here in town. Noel goes there every week and visits people in their homes with a caregiver from the health clinic there. He brings a small sack of food, talks to the people, and prays with them. This was my second visit to Freedom Park, where we went into peoples homes. We visited 5 homes. Each home has been affected directly by HIV. One of the homes that we visited was a single mom named Sweetness. I’m not sure where her child is living. (Much of the story is lost in translation.) She was so happy and excited to see us. She brought in some makeshift wooden benches from outside so that we would all have a place to sit. She told how when she first got sick she thought that she was going to die, then they took her to the hospice and she recovered enough to come home. She told us that she now feels great and strong and full of hope. She was very frail and thin. Her thin clothes hung on her body as if from a wire hanger. She told us how she used to be a “big lady.” (In the Tswana culture, to be fat is to be healthy.) Before she got sick she was a “business woman.” She would go into town and buy milk and bring it back to Freedom Park and sell it. She told us how she would carry the heavy containers of milk when she was healthy. She brought out a photo album to show us what she used to look like. As I looked at her photo album I was shocked by the similarities and differences of our two worlds. On the one hand, here is a woman, dying in a shack the size of my living room. She has no family to care for her. She has no means of income. She lives a meager existence. Sweetness will soon be a number; a statistic in the reports of AIDS related deaths. My world of automobiles, airplanes, shopping malls, computers, internet, abundance of food, and healthy children, is a foreign world to her. We live 20 minutes from each other, but worlds apart. And yet, despite those differences I looked at her photo album and saw, not a statistic, but a healthy young vibrant woman with family, friends, and a future. I saw her as an energetic young woman posing with friends, family, and her children. I saw her laughing and goofing off for the camera. I saw a life that is not so different from my own. That was shocking to me.
We talked with Sweetness about Jesus and salvation and she said the sinners prayer with us.
We also visited a 12 year old girl that was born with clubbed feet who is mildly retarded. I’m told that she has lived her life laying on the floor of her shack. She is raised by her mother who is an alcoholic and her granny who recently suffered from a stroke. It won’t be long before her granny dies and she won’t have anyone competent to take care of her. She can’t speak, but we could see the joy in her face at having visitors. The care giver that visited with us told us that she is happy to have visitors because no one ever comes to visit. She told us, “When she has visitors she knows that she is loved.” Noel asked me to pray for her and her family. It was an honor to pray for her; as I felt that it was not me praying, but the Holy Spirit praying through me. As I stood in that shack I thought that this was such a vivid example of the scripture, “Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done unto me.” This little girl was truly one of the “least of these.”
I'll post some pictures when I get copies of Kaitlin's pictures.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Questions 3 and 4-Things to see and Americans

My Uncle Nathan asked some questions about South Africa that I thought everyone would be interested in so I wanted to post the answers here on the blog. Here’s the third and fourth questions. I’ll post different questions as I have time to answer them.

What things are there to see within driving distance?

There are actually many things that we can see and do within driving distance. We’ve been to the Lion Park in Jo-Burg which we talk about in the blog. We’ve also been to Pilanesburg, which is a game park about 45 minutes from here. We got to see Giraffe, Rhino, Wilderbeest, Wart Hogs, Zebras, Baboons, and Hippos there. Sun City is a casino/ waterpark/ vacation resort about 45 minutes from us. We haven’t been there but I’m told it is similar to Vegas. Johannesburg has a ton of stuff to do. There are a lot of big malls there. It has everything you would expect to find in a world class city. We could drive to the coast. (I’m not positive, but I think that Durban is about 4-5 hours away.) The people here are really into safari type 4 wheel drive expeditions. Some day I’d like to go on an overnight camping type safari. There is a place nearby called Magaliesburg. The do these canopy tours where you climb up in the trees and cross rope bridges and zip lines and things like that to go from tree to tree. I’d really like to try that some time. One of these days we hope to make it to Victoria Falls, but that would take several days I think. The options for fun things to see and do are pretty much endless if we had endless finances. We have been trying to get out to see some of the country whenever we can. We’ve been pretty busy, but we hope to do more.

How many Americans are there close to you?
We live on the shelter property. Including us, there are 4 American families here. (Actually Derek is South African, but Rebecca is American.) There are also several other missionary families working in Rustenburg and in the surrounding areas. We see them every once in awhile. Other than that I have only come across two other Americans since living here. One was a Mormon missionary that talked to us in the mall one day. The other was a lady I ran into in Jo-Burg. I was wearing my Boulder-Bolder T-Shirt and she asked if I was from Boulder. Apparently she used to live there and is now a teacher in Jo-Burg. We came across a store in Jo-Burg last weekend called the American Trading Post. They sold all of the junk you would expect to find in a cheap south western souvenir shop. It was all western stuff like cowboy hats and boots and pistols. They also sold some American products like beer, salsa and refried beans. They did sell Dr. Pepper which you can’t buy here. Michele and Gordon bought it for about $1.50/can. Sometimes a taste of home is priceless.


The top picture is Tshepo. The bottom picture is Lewis. They both have addictive smiles. Sometimes we write about some pretty heavy stuff in our blog. For example, Sphiwe going to the hospital. By the way, she is doing better. She has been eating and drinking milk and keeping it down. We’re not sure when she will be released, but hopefully it will be within the next week. We aren’t allowed to release medical information, but she is basically a very sick child who needs a miracle. In the midst of all that we see and experience that is so heavy, the shelter is a very happy place to be. Even the children with terminal illnesses are so happy most of the time. When they see us on the playground or coming into the shelter they come running and jump into our arms. They fight for attention and for who gets to be held and played with. They are almost always smiling and laughing and having fun. We get a lot of visitors and volunteers coming through bringing gifts and playing with the kids. So, even though we deal with some serious issues, there is a lot of fun and love here as well. We all work very hard to provide a good home and good care for these children, and we all love what we do. It is a very rewarding job. Sometimes after a stressful day working it is just nice to play with the kids on the playground to get some perspective on what is really important in life.

Question #2 - Travel

My Uncle Nathan asked some questions about South Africa that I thought everyone would be interested in so I wanted to post the answers here on the blog. Here’s the second question. I’ll post different questions as I have time to answer them.

How safe is it to travel?
Travel is relatively safe. The drivers are pretty crazy but not as bad as some countries. For some reason, they love 4 way stops signs instead of traffic lights (which they call robots.) They have these huge 4 way intersections with 3 lanes in each direction and it is pretty much chaos crossing those intersections. It is kind of like playing the old Atari video game “frogger.” They have these taxi’s which are mini vans full of 15 people. The drivers are insane. They’ll cut across four lanes of traffic without looking, just to pick up a fare. You pretty much have to keep your distance from them. Easter is a huge holiday here. Huge masses of people travel for these gigantic Easter services. I think that over Easter weekend there were over 100 traffic related deaths. The country roads around here are very narrow and people pass in some very precarious situations. I’ve heard that where we live in Rustenburg it is safer as far as crime and car-jackings than in the bigger cities like Johannesburg. I’ve been told that in Jo-Burg the crime is much more violent and without any regard for human life. I’ve only heard of one car-jacking in Rustenburg since we’ve been here. It was a brand new BMW and the driver resisted and was stabbed. He died on the scene. We are careful to lock our doors and keep our windows up. It is also acceptable to do a rolling stop through stop signs, so I do that to prevent being a target for car-jacking. At robots (stop lights) I try to not pull close to the car in front of me in case I need to maneuver out of traffic. I say that to say that I am careful to not be a victim of crime on the roads, but I don’t really feel in danger. There is a lot of wealth in South Africa and there are a lot of BMW’s and Mercedez on the roads. I think that someone is more than likely to car-jack them than a beat up pick-up truck. Safety is an issue everywhere you go. Everyone from lower-middle class on up has security systems, security gates, barbed wire, burglar bars, etc. Stores have tons of security guards around. The armored cars for banks look like military tanks and I’m told that they carry machine guns. Everywhere you look you see barbed wire. All of that kind of makes for an unsettled feeling. Subconsciously I think that makes us feel a little tense and unable to relax. But in reality I think that most of those things are remnants from the apartheid era and the high crime that followed the fall of apartheid. I don’t live in fear for our lives, but we do take some precautions to be safe.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I am really thankful that Kyler finally has a friend that is a boy. Malachi is the son of Derek and Rebecca. (The people whose house we were living in when we first arrived.) They were back in the state raising support and just recently came back. Malachi is 3 and has quickly become a close friend to Kyler. I’m so glad because for our first two months Kyler followed the 3 girls around as they played dolls and pretend and all other kinds of girl games. Finally, Kyler has someone to play trains with, fix things with their play tools, and get into trouble with. I am so thankful for Malachi being here. Posted by Picasa

Question #1

My Uncle Nathan asked some questions about South Africa that I thought everyone would be interested in so I wanted to post the answers here on the blog. I’ll post different questions as I have time to answer them.

What is the language like? I don't mean some other language than English, I mean words or phrases or slang that you don't understand.

There are two major languages spoken here other than English. The white Afrikaans people speak Afrikaans. Most of the blacks speak Tswana. I am making a pretty feeble attempt at learning Tswana. I can say a few phrases. Most everyone speaks English here, but there have been several times where people were talking English to me and I didn’t even realize it because of their accent. (Or actually their lack of an American accent makes it hard for them to understand.) In stores, people automatically assume that because we are white that we speak Afrikaans and will usually speak Afrikaans to us. Most of the black people also speak Afrikaans so they will speak to us in Afrikaans until we tell them that we only speak English. The other day I was in the hardware store and this elderly Afrikaans gentleman thought that I worked there because I had a notebook. He started asking me a question and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I said to him, “I only speak English,” and he responded very annoyed “I am speaking English.” So then I told him that I don’t work there and he quickly moved on. There are quite a few English words or phrases that they use that we have had to get used to. Tennis shoes are “Takkies.” If you are going to doing something in a little while you say, “I’ll do that just now.” If you are going to doing it pretty soon, say “I’ll do it now, now.” If someone wants to know how you are doing, they’ll say “how’s it?” and you would respond “sharp” if you are good; “sharp sharp” if you are really good. One word that I have a hard time remembering to use is the word “serviette” for an American napkin. In S.A. a napkin is a feminine product. That makes for an embarrassing blunder in restaurants. French fries are chips. Chips are crisps. Ketchup is tomato sauce. Water is not pronounced like in the states, it is pronounce Wo-tah. And even though they can understand almost everything said in our American accent, they cannot figure out what we want if we ask for water in an American accent. The other day at KFC jenny gave her order and everything was fine until she asked for water in her American accent. The lady went to the refrigerated case and kept picking up everything but water. She could not figure out what we wanted. There are many other different words than I can’t take time to write here, but for the most part we communicate fine. I still have a very hard time understanding people on the phone. In person I can watch their lips and body language to understand what they are saying. Depending on a persons accent, most of the time I cannot understand them on the phone. I usually get the basic idea of what they are saying, but not the details. Like when the lawnmower repair shop called to give me an update on the mower being fixed. Out of a 3 minute conversation all I understood was that it was done and I could pick it up. Everything else was gibberish to me. That makes it very hard to do any substantial business on the phone.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I learned a valuable lesson this week about sacrifice. This is Catherine. She helps out on the shelter property with housekeeping and doing the laundry for the kids in the shelter. She baby sits Madison and Kyler on Thursdays so that Jenny can go grocery shopping. She asked me to help deliver some concrete for her church. On the way we were talking and she told me that she had been saving up her money to buy this concrete for her church. She explained that they were in the middle of a building project and everyone was doing their part to buy the material for the church. She had put 5 bags of concrete on lay-a-way at a hardware store. She finally had enough money to pay it off and deliver it to her church. What is admirable about this is that as we talked she told me that her roof blew off of her house 3 months ago and she has been living in a shack next to her house. She told me that now that she had done her part for the church she could start saving her money to buy some new pieces of sheet metal to fix her roof.
Kind of makes you think, huh?
I think we’ll see what we can do to help her out.

Emergency Room

The other night we had to take on of our babies, Sphiwe, to the hospital. Kaitlin and Gloria took here in to the emergency room at 3:30. At 7:30 Gordon and I went to relieve Kaitlin and Gloria so that they could leave. In that time all that had happened was an x-ray and an I.V. It was so sad to see this tiny little one year old on a giant adult sized gurney in the emergency room. We have to take her to the Provincial Hospital which is basically a government funded hospital. The care there is pretty appalling. If we hadn’t been there with here, I’m certain that the nurses would have left her alone on that gurney and she would have ended up on the floor. At 9:30 that night she was finally admitted to the hospital. She is still there as she recovers. The nurses won’t feed, change, or bathe her, so we have to send people to the hospital several times a day to take care of her. The kids are not allowed to wear clothes in the baby ward because they will most likely be stolen by workers or mothers visiting other babies. As we sat there in the emergency room with little Sphiwe on oxygen, fighting to breathe, with an i.v. needle in her head, my heart broke for her. This tiny little baby is one year old, but looks like 6 months. She did nothing to deserve this. She is bearing the burden of someone else’s mistakes. Pray for this precious little girl.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

6 New Babies

The names of the babies in the following story have been removed to protect their privacy. Sorry for the vagueness, and lack of congruity to other stories.
In the past three weeks we have received 6 new babies at the shelter. I will briefly tell you about each one. I don’t have time right now to add pictures, but I will later, so please check back to this post.
Baby 1 (we can't give names for privacy reasons) is around 18 months old and was brought here in the middle of the night about 3 weeks ago. She had been found abandoned in a tavern at 2 am. She is a beautiful little girl with a wonderful smile, but for the first few days she was here she was very withdrawn and would not laugh or smile at anyone. She was old enough to know that her world had been turned upside down. Her mother was found, and has been imprisoned for abandoning her. She has grown much more comfortable in the shelter and is now happy and smiles and laughs all of the time.
Baby 2 came a few days later, I think that her mother died and there was no one left to care for her. She is 1 year old and is very sick.
I have already written about the next baby that came, Baby 3. Every day she improves.
On the day before Easter when we were preparing for the Easter party, Baby 4 arrived. His mother had been continually leaving him in the care of his older siblings, and his grandma decided that this time would be the last. I was in the room while Janis got all of the information from his grandma, and the entire time he just grinned at me. He is a cute little guy with a laugh that sounds like he is grunting. I am so thankful that that the Lighthouse Shelter was able to take him in, but it breaks my heart to know that his siblings are still out there somewhere being left alone on a regular basis. His grandma thought that he was born either in April or July of last year.
Tuesday I went with Michelle and Kaitlin to the government hospital to pick up a 2 week old baby girl named baby 5. Her mother signed her away at birth. She was in a room with about 8 other babies, 4 in incubators. In one of the incubators was a baby that was so tiny, it did not even look like a real baby. The baby was only hooked up to an IV with fluids; the other babies in incubators were hooked up to nothing at all. I have been in NICU’s in the US with friends of mine who had their babies being cared for there. It is so different here, not only in the quality of care, but also in the fact that we just breezed right into a room full of sick and dying babies without washing our hands or even having to really explain who we were. Baby 5 has an umbilical hernia (which is alarmingly common here) and may have some other health problems as well. She is a sweet and cuddly little thing.
Yesterday the police brought us a new baby who was 1 or 2 days old - her umbilical cord was still soft and wet when she arrived. She was found abandoned at the gates of a retirement center (which is called the Old Age Home) with a bag of towels and diapers. I can’t even imagine what must be going on in a mother’s head to go through 9 months of pregnancy, labor and delivery only to leave her newborn baby shortly after birth. Thankfully she was found in time and brought to us. She is a sweet little baby and she seems to be healthy.
The shelter has never had this many babies and children before. We are running very close to what we are licensed for, and we will have to start turning children away. Now, more then ever before there is a critical need for us to expand in order to allow more room for all of the children in need. We are also only licensed to take children up to 6 years old. We have several long term children close to that age. It is the dream and goal of the Betzers to open up foster care homes for these children who will be with us for the rest of their lives. Please pray that we can get the funding and land we need so that the shelter will not have to start turning children away.


The pictures in this story were removed to protect her privacy.
I took the top picture of suzie (not her real name) on the day she arrived here. She had such a vacant look in her eyes, and Dr. Neil was not even sure if she would live. I took the bottom picture 2 days ago. In the short time she has been here, with much prayer, proper nutrition and loving care, she has made huge improvements. The head caregiver overnight said that she was moving all around in her crib throughout the night. I had never seen her move anything but her head and her arms. (She is 3 months old) Yesterday I was talking to her and she was smiling at me, I actually got a picture of it. Today as I held her she cooed at me. I think these pictures show the difference in Suzie. She almost looks like a different baby.
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A new question: What are you thankful for?

There are so many things to be thankful for in our lives, and I think that we often take them for granted. I am so thankful for my family’s health and safety and all that God has done in our lives. It is a little easier to remember to say thank you for the big things such as these, but I almost always overlook the small things everyday to be thankful for. We have not had a shower since we arrived here over 2 months ago. The apartment we were staying in had a hose for a shower head hooked up to the faucet in the bathtub, but not enough water pressure to make the shower head work. So, we have been hosing ourselves off in a bathtub with a small stream of water. The new apartment we are now in has a shower with a ton of water pressure. I didn’t realize how much I had missed a nice hot shower. So, today I am thankful for a hot shower, and I am thankful that the electricity stayed on for the entire time I was in the shower and while I did my make up and dried my hair.
What are you thankful for, big or small? Click on comment below to answer this question.